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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-10-24
- Reviewer: Staff
Somewhere under the endless exposition and irrelevant detail, Stepp has a grasp of character and a love for the mountains of Tennessee that glimmers through the murk. The third novel in her Smoky Mountain series shows no growth in narrative technique, however, and that makes it, at best, a frustrating read. Alice Graham, a 29-year-old social worker, has broken the cardinal rule of her profession by stepping into the case of six orphaned children and becoming their foster parent. Needing a bigger house, she finds a perfect 14-room Victorian next to the horse farm of Harrison Ramsey, a hard-bitten case who doesn't believe in "women's libbers." Neither of them wants to admit that they have, literally, been dreaming about one another ever since a brief encounter during Alice's house hunt, and spirited head-butting ensues. The story doesn't suffer for being familiar; rather, it's the clunky dialogue, repetitiveness, and lack of action that prevent the novel from ever coming to life. (Apr.) Haven Joel Shepherd Pyr, trade paper (450p) ISBN 978-1-61614-363-3 The battle is on as the armies of Rhodia converge for one final showdown at Jahnd that will determine the fate of the spiritual serrin and the humans whom have oppressed them for their religious zeal for generations. In the stunning conclusion of A Trial of Blood & Steel, the young warrior Sashandra Lenayin revolts against her brother, the king, fighting for the rights of the Serrin whom she has come to love and respect. Meanwhile, her sister, Sofy, the Queen Regent, attempts to bring peace to the conquered cities, only to find that she is a pawn in her husband's greater plans. Series readers will welcome the fast-paced, action-filled war story, though Shepherd's detailed fantasy world will leave new readers lost as they try to understand the complicated geo-political factors leading to the climax. (Apr.)