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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Review: Escaping the Past

Escaping the Past
by Julianna Stephens

Lou Smith would be the first to admit that she’s the luckiest woman on the face of the earth. She lives on a farm where manners matter and the farm hands all come to eat when the dinner bell rings. Life is comfortable – so comfortable that it seems almost too easy. But Lou comes with a past, one that she will be forced to face, or die trying.

Lou’s early years were never easy. She lived a life of poverty and depravity, never staying in one place for very long. She grows up quickly when she suddenly becomes a mother and is thrust into the world alone. She resolves to try to un-live the life that her mother lived. And it seems to be easy to avoid sex, love, and danger. It’s easy until she meets Brody Wester, that is.

Brody is a handsome, successful surgeon who is way too busy for family. In fact, it’s been twelve years since he’s been home. He’s forced to face some demons from his own past when Lou calls him home to attend his dying mother. But his mother is not the only person who holds his interest.

From the outside, Lou Smith looks like an average twenty-seven year old woman. She has a successful career, a family and a daughter. But she has a secret. Most women do have secrets but Lou’s secret is more powerful than most. And it’s coming to find her.

Characterized by speed, 'Escaping the Past" by Julianna Stephens is an escape unto itself. Fast action and zippy dialogue means you won't want to put this one down. Most important is the determined and highly movitated main character, Lou (Louise) who captures our sympathies at once, and pursues her goals in varying levels of desperation, throughout. The vagaries of fate allow her that chance encounter with a good Samaratin, but she cannot rely on chance. Her history is intriguing, and only slowly revealed. Her immediate predicament is plain, but how she landed in it, less certain.

Daily life, references to horses and various stable duties create a pleasant backdrop, as do scattered, enriching details, like the smell of honeysuckle hanging in the summer air. The slightly southern sense - foods, friendships, words like 'hun' are just enough. The accurate horse tacking details add to ones' sense of reality, so riders will like this tale, although some editing program likely insisted on reigns instead of 'reins,' on occasion.

The very superior antagonist is not only unlikable, he is so unlikable, detesting him is entirely enjoyable. (And, I for one, never did warm up to the smart-mouthed, superior ass, even after he starts to dredge up slightly forgivable qualities.) But hating him goes on hold, at least for a little while, when suddenly - Lou's past returns, and we remember desperation.

This work has great, near-thriller moments, also wonderful moments of compassion and sharing. It is, in turns, intriguing, annoying, and terrifying. Yet, Stephens pulls off moments of humor, equally well. (There isn't anything quite like riding double...) I recommend this story and can't wait to see what Stephens comes up with next.



Reviewed by Snapdragon

17 comments:

KimW said...

oooh....a surgeon for a hero. It sounds good!

Dev said...

I'll be reading this. Thanks for the great review!

V. said...

Wow! The synopsis of the book at the start drew me right in. However, the review (and Snapdragon's candidness about the antagonist) really drew me in further. Looks like I've found my next read!

Allie Boniface said...

This book has been on the top of the best-seller list over at The Wild Rose Press for a while now, so it was nice to read a review of it!

Deborah said...

This seems like a compelling novel! Very interesting. I'm adding it to my list of books to check out in 2008!

ellie said...

An interesting novel which I find extremely intriguing. I will be reading this book in the New Year. Wonderful.

ruth said...

I enjoyed reading the review and the unique storyline as well. Sounds definitely like a book that I would enjoy.

pearl said...

A book that I can really get into and appreciate. Wonderful review and plot. Thanks and will look for it.

petite said...

What a great novel! Sounds unique and it would be great to read. review is well done and interesting.

Karen H in NC said...

Sounds good. I'll be adding to my BTB list.

Laura N H said...

This sounds like a fast-paced adventure with a heroine one can relate to and sympathize with. I am intrigued. It also seems like the scenery and setting is well in place. Interesting review...-laura hogg

Sue A. said...

The book sounds great! The review was really informative and makes me want to read the book. Thanks!

Nathalie said...

Everyone seems to think it looks good... I though the reviewer did a great job here trying to give us a fell of the book!

Lily said...

It is the first time I have heard from this author... she seems worth doing the research!

Happy reader said...

Great Review. You really peak the readers interest.

Estella said...

Unique storyline. I'll be adding it to my ToBuy list.

Kimberly L said...

What a great review. I can't wait to read this.