Publisher: Bella Books
Estranged for years from her father and four brothers after her mother’s death, Carson Cartwright is surprised when she gets a phone call from her twin brother, urging a reconciliation before their father succumbs to his final illness. Though she has spent more than a decade trying to forget her family existed, she is suddenly pulled back to the Montana ranch where she grew up.
Carson discovers her brothers divided over plans to change their working ranch into a guest ranch, and their consultant, Kerry Elder, doesn’t seem above using her wiles to get her way. Kerry finds that while she may have her clients right where she wants them, it’s the wayward sister that may be awakening something she has long denied.
The big Montana sky crackles with thunder and lightning as emotions twist in unbidden directions. Neither Carson nor Kerry is prepared for the wild storms of summer.
[Originally posted on Amazon 1/20/12]
Before I say anything else I should state that I’m a Gerri Hill fan. The first book of hers that I read was Behind the Pine Curtain and it remains one of my favorite lesbian romances. I’ve also read several of her other books and don’t recall any that I disliked, though some were better than others.
Storms has all the right elements: a ranch setting in Montana, interesting characters, a complex family history, etc. It’s a good, solid story, the sort I expect from Hill. I don’t have any complaints about the characters or plot. And Hill’s descriptive abilities really shine in this one; I could picture the lake, the valley, the mountains as if I were there.
What was highly disappointing was the writing in general. It read like a first novel. One of the things that I’ve always appreciated about Hill’s writing in the past is that it seemed effortless and it got out of the way of the reader. It was almost always smooth, and dialogue felt natural.
However, in Storms the writing throughout the book felt stiff, forced, contrived. It never got into a groove and just flowed. It felt like Hill was trying to artificially convince me of everything, rather than me being carried along as an invisible observer.
There were also some issues that should have been caught in editing that weren’t. I understand about typos in books, it’s a rare thing for a book to not have at least a couple. But the problems here were things like wrong words being used (for example: “recanted” instead of “recounted” – wow does that change the meaning!) and verb tenses slipping into present tense when the narration is past tense.
The other main issue was repetitiveness. I have little patience with repetition of specific points and character inner thoughts. Twice is fine if spread far enough apart, three or more starts driving me crazy. In Storms there were several different points that were repeated several times, so the whole book felt repetitive. Repetition of this sort comes across as not trusting the reader to “get it”, and so it becomes not just annoying, but insulting.
In the end Storms is not a horrible book. It was just very disappointing to me that the writing wasn’t up to Hill’s usual standards and that it didn’t adequately support what was a good story.