A REASON TO SIN by Maureen McKade
I finished the third Forrester brother book A REASON TO SIN by Maureen McKade.
I'm a big fat cheater because in the process of searching for an excerpt for this review I ran across a few reviews. All of them were pretty stellar. However, I find I can't really slap my own breathless "Wow!" on this book.
This is a good book, but not the caliber of story I've come to expect from Ms. McKade. When I read A REASON TO LIVE, the first Forrester book, I was overjoyed to come across such a well written and thought provoking book. Ms. McKade was so profound and poignant exposing the pain, deprivation and sorrow of those two flawed and very human characters Creede Forrester and Laurel Covey that I find myself looking for that same depth of human emotion in all of her books. She's set a very high bar in my eyes and I really look forward to each of her books.
The two characters in this book, Slater Forrester and Rebecca Colifax have pain and suffering a plenty themselves. Slater was a spy during the Civil War and incarcerated in the hell hole Andersonville. While the incarceration is touched on I didn't feel like we had any real knowledge of what he suffered and why he sustained some of the injuries he's still recovering from. I have to say I felt a bit cheated in that department. Do I want to know every single nitty gritty detail? In this case I think so because it informs the character in the story so much. I just didn't feel like I got enough information about his past to understand who he is in this story.
Rebecca has been abandoned by a husband who had gambled away her fortune. When we meet her she is frantically searching for the scoundrel and ends up working in the same saloon Slater has settled in three years after the Civil War. While Ms. McKade provides a reasonable explanation why Rebecca would leave the only place she has lived, people she knows and take off for parts unknown all on her own, I didn't understand it. Or accept it. I just didn't. There is a very compelling mitigating circumstance here that I think worked more against Rebecca leaving her home in St. Louis than for her to go off to try and find her husband.
Rebecca, who introduces herself as Glory, begins her first job as a hurdy gurdy girl to make money while she is looking for her husband. Even though she is married Rebecca blushes her way through much of those first days living above a saloon. Do you believe a sheltered 22 year old woman in 1868 would sit soaking her feet with women who dance and have sex with men for money just two days after she's met them? I didn't. I also didn't buy that she would be able to sit and have a candid conversation with the soiled doves about sex. It just didn't jibe with what we had learned about this character to that point. I can definitely see that sort of relationship developing over time, but not in just two days.
There are other issues that arise, like those of the color prejudice Rebecca was raised with. In the course of a few sentences by way of a reprimand by Slater, Rebecca seems to put aside everything she's been taught about people of color to that point in her life. I applaud Ms. McKade very realistically tackling this issue but was disappointed it was resolved so easily and blithely.
The attraction between Slater and Rebecca is intense and immediate. Most times I have no problem with physical attraction being the basis for a couple getting together. Hey, it's what makes the world go round. However, Rebecca had been burnt in that sort of relationship in her marriage. It didn't make sense that she would so easily fall prey to that sort of attraction again and with a gambler to boot.
The conflict involving the saloon and the protection money in a town trying to boom and grow was a bit too pat and felt rushed at the end. Of course I felt that way about the resolution of Slater and Rebecca's story as well. However, I don't fault Ms. McKade for her epilogue in this one to put reader questions to rest. I understand completely why it was done.
All said. This was a good book when I was hoping for a great one. It wasn't everything I hoped it would be, but the good writing and sound story telling is all there on the page. I'll definitely be in line to buy her next book.