Disclosure: I obtained the Kindle edition of this book when it was offered free on Amazon. I do not know the author nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter. I am an author of historical and contemporary romances and non-fiction.
This is one of those books that you think maybe has some potential, but the execution just wrings every last drop of hope out.
All it took was a paragraph. The first paragraph.
A sheep was gnawing on the corner of my coat. I snatched the fabric away, causing the animal to retreat, startled. I looked up, following her direction of travel. She had re-joined her flock on the hillside where I sat looking out, allowing rain to fall on my face, plastering long, wet, gray hair to my skin. I was struggling to breathe and closed my eyes intending to rest, just for a moment…
Styles, Pamela. Love Mystery (Love Magic Book 2) (Kindle Locations 15-19). Kindle Edition.
Gnawing. Causing. Following. Looking. Allowing. Plastering. Struggling. Intending.
This kind of over-reliance on present participles is the mark of an amateur writer. Perhaps one who hasn't done a lot of reading herself. Perhaps one who hasn't had a good critique group to help her through the process of developing a prose style.
Regardless the reason, it makes for a disappointing reading experience. And it only gets worse in succeeding paragraphs.
That disappointment is intensified with clumsy repetitions. "Pounding" appears three times in the next couple of paragraphs. Or this:
This was not the best start to my eighteenth birthday. I could hear movement outside my bedroom, surely my mother, come to rouse me to celebrate. She knocked on the door.
“Alexis,” she called to me through the door.
Styles, Pamela. Love Mystery (Love Magic Book 2) (Kindle Locations 23-24). Kindle Edition.
There's no need to write "through the door." It's just extra words that don't add anything.
But here's the thing that pulled me completely out of the story, far more than just the unpolished writing.
There's the cover, first.
I post it here because they get changed so frequently on Amazon. Lovely young woman, flowers, soft colors.
Then the opening section of the book is titled "Alexis."
Then the opening scene depicts a person in the rain, with long wet gray hair, which suggests that the person is a woman.
But in fact, "Alexis" is a young man!
I had already built up a mental image, based on the cover art, of Alexis as a young woman. Even though I'd only invested the few minutes necessary to get through two or three pages, the magic was completely broken when I learned my mental image had to be completely redrawn.
Shelly Lowenkopf, in his 1982 article for The Writer magazine "Creating the Rejection-Resistant Novel," says a writer only has three pages at the very most to capture a reader's attention. I was barely three Kindle pages into this book when my attention was completely thrown out of the book, not only by the weak writing but now by the false mental image I had created based on the clues the writer had left. That was enough for me to DNF.
Those problems were enough, but they weren't the end of my reasons.
The book is supposedly set in 1869 in the U.S., but the celebration of Samhain seemed out of place with that era and location. I could have bought it if the author had given me some kind of context.
The context is provided in the Amazon listing description, but we all know that books get withdrawn or descriptions changed, and they don't accompany the book files to the reading device. The description also clearly states that Alexis is male. But reading the book on my Kindle, without access to the original listing, I had no way of knowing that.
All in all, it was a very disappointing experience, and I'm not inclined to read any further. This lengthy review is to give other readers a full explanation of my analysis. I'm sure there are people who won't like that I wrote more than I read, but that's just too bad.