Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review- Nightshade by Ronie Kendig

The Sitch:

Nightshade starts fast: literally. One minute you’re reading the Seal Creed, the next you’re eavesdropping on a super-secret meeting between powerful men, and then, suddenly, you’re racing down a lonely highway on a motorcycle with Max Jacobs, an ex-military hotty with a death wish.

(Wow. We’ve covered a lot of ground in a really short time. But back to the hotty on the motorcycle, right? Because this, of course, is Edgy Inspirational Romance.com and I bet “hotty” and “motorcycle” grabbed your attention a lot better than the two powerful dudes having a meeting.)

For those of you who go for the brooding tortured hero type, Max Jacobs, former Navy Seal, could be your man -- except for one annoying little detail: he’s married… sort of. Separated from his wife and on the fast track toward divorce, Max is angry, alone, and… hopeless. Max’s anger is what has sent his marriage to Sydney, a journalist, to the latrine. Max now sees himself as unchangeable, unemployed, and unworthy -- he has lost all will to live. So he pegs his speedometer and hits the pavement. Literally.

Enter a big, Jesus-loving cowboy (also ex-military) who shows up at the site of Max’s motorcycle crash with an intriguing offer – join an elite team of discarded heroes (codename: Nightshade) to right wrongs and rescue the innocent.

And so it begins….

How it hit me:

Like an action flick from the late 1980s – with a little behind-the-scenes footage.

In other words: this story had satisfying action scenes but (thankfully) steered clear of the over-the-top testosterone and Stallone-isms so common in those semi-ancient films. But – and this was a BIG “but” for me -- although I found the military guys way more believable and human than the heroes of old action flicks, I found our main gal Sydney to be something of a weak-willed heroine who I couldn’t quite respect. Not to mention that I kept picturing her with big, frizzy 80s hair no matter how many guys in the story thought she was beautiful. (Once I get on the 80s action flick train it’s a long time before the next stop, I guess.)

But at least our “heroine” was consistent. Over and over Sydney’s inner thoughts showed that she knew the right thing to do, but she just couldn’t self-actualize and actually do it. Finally, forced by circumstance, she does let herself be rescued by the big-muscled men. Hooray! Maybe this was realistic, but… I was hoping for a dose of girl power and Sydney let me down. I wanted Sydney to become stronger, wiser, and bolder, but throughout the novel she remained consistently (and mildly cluelessly)… waffle-like.

What made me squirm:

On a personal level, I probably squirmed a little because I realized that, unfortunately, sometimes I’m a bit waffle-like myself. Sometimes I even bring my own syrup. But, uncomfortable introspection aside, on a technical level I must admit that, for a little while at least, I wasn’t sure I would like this book at all. The first few chapters shift the reader’s point of view between several characters (many of whom I do not even have time to mention in this review) and I found this a bit distracting; but as the character’s individual voices developed -- and I think Ms. Kendig does an admirable job developing these distinct voices -- I found it much easier to shift my imagination between locations and points of view.

To read or not to read, that is the question:

If you’re looking for romance, you might want to look elsewhere. This book deals with the darker side of love relationships: the one that comes with blood and pain instead of hearts and flowers. There is love to be found here, but not much romance. If, however, you would like a book with page-turning action, a movie-like plot, and a sprinkling of the inspirational, I would recommend this title in place of your Saturday night adventure DVD.

And finally, in the words of Inigo Montoya,
“No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

Although I found this novel a little hard to sink my teeth into at the beginning, I found it extremely engaging once the action took off. If you, like me, are a bit of an action-flick-junkie, try bypassing your local Blockbuster next weekend and fill your Amazon cart with Nightshade, the first book in Ronie Kendig’s Discarded Heroes series, instead.

Serena's Rating:

Reviewed by contributor Serena Chase
Follow Serena Chase on Twitter @Serena_Chase


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