Like Chaff in the Wind by Anna Belfrage
Author: Anna Belfrage
Genre: Fiction (Historical / Time Slip / 17th Century / 21st Century / Scotland / Colonial US / Nautical / Family Intrigue)
Publisher/Publication Date: Matador (3/1/2013)
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: Twentieth-century born and 17th-century living heroine must sail to the American Colonies when her husband in kidnapped and forced into indentured servitude.
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction
Do I like the cover?: I adore it -- very striking and pretty!
First line: Matthew Graham congratulated himself yet again on not having brought his wife Alex or wee Mark along to Edinburgh.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: If you've read the previous novel, get this one -- the ebook is under $4.
Why did I get this book?: Intrigued by the 17th century setting!
Review: This book continues the story of time traveling Alex and her 17th century husband Matthew started in A Rip in the Veil. Sadly, while others found this one to be the stronger novel, I have to admit I far preferred A Rip in the Veil!
Set in the 17th century, the story picks up sometime later (months?) after the first book ends. As with the previous novel, the action starts immediately: Matthew is sold into slavery by his villainous brother, shipped over to the Colonies, where he's abused and used. His wife Alex, modern lady that she is, doesn't accept this, and sets off after him. (This is the first ten pages.) From there, Belfrage continues the action -- rescue, attacks, betrayals, more time travel, soap opera-ish twists, and modern sentiments clashing with historical ones.
I can't quite nail down what felt so different in this book than the previous one other than I just was less taken with Alex and Matthew, our romantic leads. Even though I would normally admire a woman like Alex -- tough, pragmatic, capable of being more than just a mother -- I was actually quite put off by the callousness she displayed toward her children. After easily abandoning her first child (and subsequently rejecting him), she left her second one to embark on a trip that could have killed her. (When she's pregnant again, there's a scene where she thinks about how reassuring it is being pregnant, and honestly, all I could think was, when are you leaving this kid behind?)
I also found the sexytimes between Alex and her husband a bit much -- both in frequency -- and at times, the level of violence. Matthew is understandably damaged from his time in near slavery in the Colonies, but regardless of the psychic wounds, I'm never ever going to get behind rape, even when the author tells me the heroine is okay with it.
Still, there's something to be said for an otherwise fluffy-ish novel having some complicated grounding, dark emotions, and a heroine who isn't insta-happy-homemaker. The villains are particularly evil but family ties run deep, and Alex (and we the readers) have to accept brushing elbows with some unsavory people. Her family's ability to evoke 'time nodes' through art is again addressed in this book, a gift and a curse that affects more than just Alex.
For a sense of the novel, the author has the first three chapters available online, and unlike the first book, this one ends on a cliff hanger -- so be prepared to yearn for the third book in the series!
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