Friday, June 4, 2010

Book Review: The Spoils of Eden

The Spoils of Eden by Linda Lee ChaikinWhen my friend Jill Hart of sent out an email asking for people to renew Linda Lee Chaikin's book, The Spoils of Eden, from Moody Publishers, I jumped at the chance. I love fiction and am an avid reader, so it seemed like a good fit.

Let me state up front that this is a historical romance and that is not my favorite genre. I personally prefer mystery and suspense, and the only historical era that interests me in fiction is the 1940's. So this book will probably receive a much better review from someone who absolutely loves this genre and this era.

The Spoils of Eden is set in 1891 Hawaii, an independent nation struggling with the possibility of becoming a state and ending its long history of monarchy. The heroine, Eden Derrington, is a young nurse who is determined to abandon the man she loves to help her father, a well-known doctor, fulfill his dream of starting a clinic on a leper colony. His goal is to assuage his guilt over Eden's mother acquiring leprosy while assisting him years before. Eden's goal is to finally get her father's attention. And she's willing to sacrifice everything to do so.

A sub-plot of the story, though touted as the plot itself on the publisher's review, is that Rafe Easton, Eden's estranged fiance, has acquired a young child, born of a leper, and plans to adopt him. Eden, on the other hand, is on a mission from the Hawaii Board of Health to send the baby to the leper colony where he legally belongs. The story is filled with battles of the will between Rafe and Eden, the Derrington patriach and other characters, and even Eden's own battles within.

Even when I receive a book free as I did this one, I am determined to give an honest review. And while I would like to say I fell in love with this book, I can't honestly say that. For the most part, it is well-written, but there are several instances where the author's presence becomes felt as she reverts to "telling" to give information rather than "showing," which is what fiction is about.

Having read dozens of books on writing well, and being that avid reader I mentioned, I'm the first to admit that I'm a critical reader. No book that interrupts my suspension of disbelief will ever receive five stars from me.

With that said, this is a decent book. For those who especially enjoy historical novels, this would be a good pick. The characters are well rounded and true to nature (though part of my problem, too, is that I'm not crazy about Eden—I think she needs to grow up and be a woman instead of trying to be "daddy's little girl," but that's another issue). And I do like the hero, Rafe. He's strong, dependable, and is a very likeable character.

All in all, I'd give the book three stars and add that if you do like historical fiction, and you can get past the historical facts interrupting the story, you might really enjoy this book.

Purchase The Spoils of Eden.


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