Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review: Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes

Tabitha Eckles is a unique midwife for her time (early 1800's). She is unmarried and without children and that's a bit of a no-no for the culture she lives in--she gets away with it, because the area simply doesn't have anyone else to turn to for medical help. Since she needs to know the secrets of the patients she treats, she seems to be a constant threat to them.

Another threat looms for the area, though. Tensions are thick between Britain and the United States and Britain, being a much more powerful country is constantly pressing men into service. It would seem most of these men have some ties to Britain, but they are disappearing and being kidnapped off their shores.

Tabitha is very concerned about this and can't help but suspect Dominick Cherrett of being involved when she meets him--he's paying off a debt as a household slave, but she often sees him out of the house when he shouldn't be. Her feelings are complicated, though, because she develops quite an attraction to him. To make things even more confusing for Tabitha personally, her ex-fiance comes back after being away for two years fighting for the British in the war. Raleigh hopes to win her back, but Tabitha is keeping her heart in check--even though his appearance is vastly improved.

I enjoyed Lady in the Mist, but I have to admit it's not what I was expecting. The book is part of a series of books on midwives and so I expected more of the drama to come from the birthing of babies. But it seemed in many ways incidental to the plot. It was interesting, because it gave Tabitha a non-traditional source of income as a woman and there were some interesting parts of the book when this really became a problem. I couldn't help but feel enraged when the men hold a meeting to determine whether or not she should be allowed to continue with her duties, despite the fact that she was the only skilled for it and that such personal issues as whether or not she was married and how she conducted herself had any bearing on things whatsoever.

I did enjoy the plot around the men being pressed into naval service, since it's something I never thought about before. So this was an interesting storyline to explore.

I have to say that while the writing was fine for the most part, there were a few over the top metaphors. Another thing that bothered me was that several chapters ended in a sort of cliff-hanger and the story picked up significantly later. This really weakened the tension in the story, because so many scenes that should have been rich with drama and conflict took place off page.

Even so, this was a nice easy read, and enjoyable in many ways. It's definitely old-school Christian fiction in that there's a clear literal arc of returning to God for the characters. I do have to say that when Raleigh thinks his returning will help Tabitha see God is still at work in her life, I had to laugh at the arrogance, and also the sad fact that many people do actually think of themselves in this way.

Rating: 3.75/5
Things You might Want to Know: Christian fiction
Source of Book: Review copy received from publisher
Publisher: Revell a division of Baker Books


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