Saturday, April 7, 2012

Reviewing Your Universe

Celtic Storms by Delaney Rhodes
Celtic Steel Series, Book 1
ARC provided through NetGalley

Rating: 2 Stars

After Darina O’Malley’s father dies, she learns she is to wed Patrick MacCahan. Though she is adverse to the idea, her clan depends on her—and they need a man to lead them. Bringing a husband and additional soldiers into the family is also necessary. The O’Malley clan is cursed. No males have been born into their clan for over 20 years.

Patrick MacCahan is the oldest son of the MacCahan clan. He’s a large, handsome man, a trained soldier and talented blacksmith, but is scarred from the death of his mother. He believes his damaged right hand and inability to communicate without stuttering make him an unsuitable husband for any woman.

The news of Laird O’Malley’s death spreads beyond their borders to the Burkes, a long-feuding clan of the O’Malleys. Old vendettas and plots for revenge threaten to destroy the O’Malley clan. Darina and Patrick must find common ground and establish their relationship if they are to survive a dangerous secret that’s been kept in order to ensure the future O’Malley laird’s safety.

First, let me say I loved the cover. It led me to believe I was probably going to read a historical novel with paranormal elements. Well, I did—sort of. The general idea for the plot is, I think, as I’ve summarized above. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite follow that path of logic.

As a reader, we’re introduced to Patrick. He is a grown man. He’s handsome. Has learned to fight as well as any soldier—in spite of­­ an injury he received as a young man. That’s a laudable trait, a testament to his character for determination. He also suffers from night terrors and stutters. These are the result of watching his mother die in a horrific and tragic manner. Again, psychologically acceptable. I viewed these handicaps as being issues Patrick would overcome as part of his character arc.

In the process of learning these things about Patrick, all of the information is delivered in large chunks of back story. Details are given about everything in a scene, and while some details are important, too much of the story was lost in extraneous things that didn’t add to the story.

Darina is portrayed as a strong, independent 17-year old woman. She stands second in command to her father, but cannot lead the clan because she is a woman—yet the O’Malley clan is the wealthiest clan in Ireland. Each of the sisters possess a different talent that makes them the best at what they do in Ireland. They hunt, sew, weave, mediate, fight…even wear pants on the docks to work, as there aren’t enough men to do “male” oriented jobs. In short, the O’Malley clan is perfect—except for the curse. They can’t have male children.

Then there’s the paranormal element of druids and magic introduced into the storyline. The curse is a spell cast over the O’Malley clan by Odetta Burke, a spurned female from the Burke clan. Odetta isn’t a druid, but she’s learned to use the spells and wreak havoc with her power hungry bitterness.

Darina has also been trained in the ways of the druids and can speak with her mind to her sisters. Interesting…and mighty handy I would imagine. Though Darina denies her druid powers to others. When Patrick arrives, he is able to speak with Darina through their minds as well. Now this is a big development in the story. But Darina doesn’t freak out or ask how or why…just gets angry at him for being in her head.

Patrick was also portrayed as a man that never spoke with women and rarely spoke with men. He didn’t like to communicate because of his stutter. Then he meets Darina and is immediately talking to her in her head and in person. He’s smooth and seductive and there was no building of a relationship between Darina and Patrick. We just arrived at the “I’m into you and I know you’re into me” stage without any real development between their two characters.

Then we have the O’Malley secret. Braeden McTierney is an orphan that’s fostered with the MacCahan clan. He was accompanied by a nurse named Mavis—except Braeden is not an orphan. He’s an O’Malley. The rightful heir and laird of the O’Malley clan. Mavis is really Raelyn Burke, Odetta Burke’s sister. Yes, this is a spoiler, but these are great twists in the storyline. Unfortunately, what were very interesting elements got lost in the shuffle of confusing scenes, head hopping and unclear points of view.

Finally, I must address the ending. As a reader, I love to read a series. An overarching conflict is woven into every novel of a series obviously. However, each individual book should have its own plot filled with conflicts that are resolved. I read the entire novel, and the conflicts were not resolved and the book ended with a major cliffhanger. It left me very frustrated and disappointed. I’m sad to say, unless a different approach is taken with subsequent books, I will not be reading the rest of this series.

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