Dear Reader, I’m taking a short break from my novel in progress to present another in my unplanned series, A Different Kind of Book Review. It all goes into my NaNoWriMo word count, but not necessarily into my final draft of Clemency. Then again … . Well, read on, Dear Reader, and I hope you enjoy.
Chapter 8 is here.
Misty handed the tattered paperback to Lorene Jeffers, the prison librarian, and pulled the mug of hot chocolate to her. Somehow Lorene had contrived to set aside an hour each week to sit with Misty and go over books she was reading. They even allowed her to make hot chocolate, although it was the packaged kind made with water. Misty didn’t care. It still seemed like a luxury to her.
Lorene tapped the cover of the paperback. “So what did you think? Did you like Dawning?”
“Yes.” Misty started to take a sip of her drink and blew on it instead. Still too hot. She wished Jeffers had gotten her the kind with marshmallows. “I liked the story. It was very romantic, but I don’t understand why Triona made things so difficult for Ronan.”
“Let’s back up a bit.” Lorene leaned back in her chair. They were sitting in a small alcove of the the library, where it was okay to talk as long as they keep their voices low.
“Okay.” Misty took a small sip of her chocolate. She didn’t understand what Jeffers was after. She supposed it had something to do with her studying for her GED, although Jeffers never said so. Misty wasn’t doing so well with that. She had never done well in school.
“Well, I really like how it starts out, with Triona and Ronan kind of like equals. You know, him teaching her to defend herself.” I could have used some help like that, Misty thought. “And I got the part about him feeling like he had to prove himself, you know, go away and make his own money, not just live off of Triona’s father.”
Lorene nodded. “Good. How about the setting? The time?”
“Oh, that it was long ago and far away?” Misty smiled. She loved stories of far away places. Even better if they were set in the past, long before her time when she thought things were simpler. Although, in Dawning, life wasn’t really that simple. “I loved that it so long ago—“
“The seventeenth century.”
“What? I thought it was, like, 1600 or so.”
Lorene stifled a sigh and decided not to correct Misty, not to point out that the 1600s were the seventeenth century. At eighteen years old, Misty should be able to grasp that little temporal nuance. But the young girl was very, oh, what was the word her counselor used? Concrete? Not literal, but concrete, like her brain was a cement block. It didn’t absorb much.
Misty grimaced. She knew the 1600s and the 17th century was the same thing, although she rarely had any reason to think about it. Just another useless bit of information to show off how smart you are, or aren’t. Just say what you mean and mean what you say. Smart people always made things complicated.
“Anyway, yeah, I liked that it was so long ago and in Scotland. It looks like a beautiful place. I looked at one of the books on Scotland, the one with all the pictures. All those castles. I’d love to live in a castle.” With plenty of hiding places, she thought. “And I really like how the woman who wrote the book describe the clothing and stuff without making me feel I was reading a textbook.”
Lorene crossed her legs and pulled her own mug of chocolate to her lips. She steadily sipped while Misty gained speed and animation. Once the young girl got going, it was hard to make her stop. A good thing in some cases, but not in all.
“The story slowed down in the middle with Triona and Ronan going back and forth about whether they would get back together. Sometimes I wanted to scream at them, but I didn’t blame Triona for not being sure after all those years. And then not being sure about what he had become.
“But then they were back at the castle and they were being threatened and Ronan had to leave again to protect the castle. That stuff was interesting but I like the parts about Ronan and Triona best. It was different, you know, because they had known each other as children, grown up together, really, and so it wasn’t like that those stories where it’s all love-at-first-sight crap. It’s why you knew they belonged together and why Triona wouldn’t budge. Why William was coming between them. They belonged together but I felt at any moment, Ronan could have lost her.” Misty grabbed her mug and took a big swallow of the cooled chocolate. She wished she didn’t go on so much. Diarrhea of the mouth, Jimmy used to complain. But she couldn’t help it. Not really. If she got excited about something, she just wanted to talk. And she had been excited about Dawning, about the love between Triona and Ronan, about the mysterious Blackhawk. She had once believed in love at first sight, but that had been Jimmy and he quickly made sure she never believed in it again. No, Ronan reminded her of her half-brother Michael. Tall. Dark. Strong. Hardheaded. Stubborn. Protective. Everything you could want in a brother or a lover. She knew her half-sister Melody had her sights on him. At least she used to until Michael joined up and left. And she knew he was disgusted by Melody. He called it incest so Misty kept her feelings to herself.
“Time speeded up near the end and I liked how they were becoming a family even though I was always worried because they were always in danger. But … but they weren’t cruel people. They even gave their enemies a second chance.” Misty’s chin began to quiver. God, how she hated crying. The harder she tried not to cry the more likely she was to cry. She wanted a second chance.
Lorene leaned forward and placed a warm palm on Misty’s wrist. “You know, this paperback has seen better days.” She held it up by it’s spine and Misty could see how pages were coming loose. How many women have read this book, she wondered. How many have read it and gone on to dream of rich green lands with castles and forests and heather, where there were men who would love and protect you and be always faithful. She had liked that William was such a man too. That both he and Ronan were honorable. She thought some such men must exist. Somewhere.
Misty held out her hand for the well-worn paperback. “Do you think you could get another copy? And more by the same writer? I think we need her books here.”
Well, Dear Reader, Olivia Stocum did write more. You can find her novels, Dawning and Moonstone, at these reputable vendors:
Barnes & Noble (seems to be limited to Moonstone)
And she has a new novel which will be available starting November 20th (but you can pre-order now!): Enduringly Yours
Olivia Stocum also has a lively social media presence. Follow her through your favorite medium (or two):