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This is the first in a planned series of six book and billed as “An American Saga” and comes with a whopping 229 page count. 218 of those pages are story with the final ten being previews of book #2, Maps of Fate, coming out sometime later this year.

There is the slight possibility of minor spoilers in this review so consider yourself warned.

The first half of this book sets up the main characters, who for different reasons strike out for a new life in America. No matter what country or social background these folks have they all manage to end up on the same ship. Even more coincidental, no matter what their plans are for in America when they arrive they all seem to end up in St. Louis and sign on for the same wagon train. Oh, and they all get there just in time for about the last wagon train out of Dodge, get their wagons and supplies purchased in two days and no matter what their backgrounds seem to be expert at driving those wagons and handling the oxen just like a pro…

I’m a believer. Yes, there’s a lot more to it than that, but unfortunately a story idea with a lot of potential was ruined by poor execution. The alternating chapters of character set up went on way too long (100+ pages), and frankly by the time it was over I had forgotten much of what went on before – set this book down for a day or two at your own peril, as you may have to back-track for a refresher course. I’d have preferred seeing the book start when the action began, and then liberally sprinkle the story with the character’s back history.

Secondly, this book is too short and IMHO would have worked better as a trilogy of three big fat books instead of six slimmer editions, giving the reader more *meat* on the bones to convince them to continue. What this reader got was a plateful of unlikable characters and squicky male-fantasy sex that all ties into a mysterious map and a lost treasure of gold in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. The book comes to a dead stop right when the wagon train is pulling out and the adventure prepares to begin.

Still not sure? I’ll just leave you a couple of quotes from the book, a book that according to the jacket reviewers and authors are comparing to “Lonesome Dove and Centennial”.

“Her voice resembled a happy wind chime in a light breeze.”

Note, our wind chime lady was speaking German. Not the most romantic language no matter how beautiful the woman who is speaking it 😉

“There’s was definitely something between my friend Reuben…”

????

“Jacob growled out a knowing laugh as he ripped the fabric of her blouse down to her waist. He cupped his entire hand around the flesh of her breast. Sarah felt is if this really was not her…She was an observer who simply watched from some strange man and woman. She felt faint…His fingertips inched below her waistband. She opened her mouth again to cry for help, but he reached over to the pitcher stand, grabbed one of the cloth napkins and shoved it roughly between her teeth…She gagged as one of Jacob’s thick fingers found her center. She felt a stab of pain as his fiber penetrated her…Her entire body trembled and her thighs shook…”

Ick ick ick. Although don’t forget we’re getting some romance as well as rape so after one of our main pairs has rapturous sex in the baggage car and after they’ve dressed you’ll be treated to stuff like this,

“Deep inside her belly, she could feel her body absorbing his seething explosion and her abdomen pulsed with currents of energy. She knew her face glowed and impassioned tears filmed her eyes. ‘I…I have never felt like this.'”

Not quite my idea of romance. I’ll pass on the rest of the series.

FTC? A win off of Librarything’s Early Reviewers program.

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