I consider this the Mercy installment written for the romance fans. When I first read it years ago, I felt like the pacing was awkward but overall appreciated and enjoyed the story, particularly the exploration of Mercy’s heritage. Re-reading confirms the overall issues with the series (series review) but it remains an enjoyable installment.
It begins with Mercy rescuing a male friend from himself, followed by pre-wedding jitters, encouraged by Mercy’s mom now including butterflies and balloons. There’s a wedding, and all the important men are there, along with Mercy’s two sisters. Adam and Mercy then hitch up a camper and head to a private campground along the Columbia River where they have lots of tastefully alluded to sex in between eating hot dogs and going for runs. Mercy and Adam are innocently playing along the river when they discover an injured man in a boat. Not long after they pull his boat to shore, his family comes looking for him.
The setting for the book is lovely, with the affection for the area shining through. Mercy’s narrative is interrupted by an alternate viewpoint dream sequence. Plotting is decent. The wedding and initial parts of the honeymoon were enjoyable and a fair payoff for the ups and downs of their relationship. Mercy and Adam choose to fight the river creature because of altruism, not because someone is kidnapped (although it’s noteworthy that a kidnapping helps engage Mercy’s personal resolution to fight). One of the plot lines has to do with Mercy finding out more about her own heritage/history, moments that cause me mixed emotion out of amusement, enjoyment and eye-rolling that Briggs just couldn’t resist the lure of the Super-Speshul-Snowflake. I enjoyed the inclusion of the Native American folklore, although I will note that it made me both a little uncomfortable that Native lore might be being co-opted and that everyone involved insisted on calling themselves ‘Indian.’ The villain was intimidating and creepy, and powerful enough that winning felt somewhat questionable.
As a complete aside, I’ll just note here that there’s a bit of obsession with going ‘decently clothed,’ although from book one, Mercy assures the reader she doesn’t have any nudity hang-ups. It’s just that now she’s married to Adam. And she doesn’t want anyone seeing his marvelous body either. I’ll attribute this to the romance novel tradition, because I can’t think why else we need to go on so much about states of undress if everyone’s all copacetic about body image. I feel like Briggs’ own issues are showing again.
Once again, almost every introduced is male, except for the villain, a trio of Native avatars, and one injured guy’s wife in a hospital scene at the end.
Ms. Briggs, we need to talk.
Initial read July 2011