Set in the early 1800s, this romance novel follows the adventures of a young red-haired gypsy woman named Zhavanna, whose mother was kidnapped and never returned. Although she can communicate with the spirit world and animal kingdom, she has difficulty talking to Josh McCloud, the son of an earl who fell in love with her when they were children.
When they meet again as adults, Josh expresses honorable intentions, but she mistrusts him and displays dramatic mood shifts, wanting him one minute and rejecting him the next. With ample foreshadowing, the mayor’s crazed daughter, Annabelle, kidnaps Zhavanna, which forces Josh to come to the rescue.
Driven mad from rejection by Zhavanna’s father, Annabelle has been kidnapping red-haired girls (who remind her of Zhavanna’s mother, whom she also kidnapped), crimes to which she readily admits during questioning by authorities. With Josh’s assistance, Annabelle is punished for her crimes, ensuring the safety of red-haired females in the region.
The cover doesn’t indicate the book’s intended audience, but the brief length, uncomplicated language and simple story seem most appropriate for young adults ages 12 to 18. Although there’s no explicit sex or language, violence occurs throughout the book, beginning on the first page of Chapter 1.
Malapropisms (“what the day had install for her”) and run-on sentences, as well as numerous spelling, capitalization and punctuation errors, slow the reading. For example, Josh reassures Zhavanna after they weather a storm on his boat: “You have nothing to fear you Zhavanna, I promise my ship is very sea worthy my men and I have been living of your shores four a year.”
Professional editing could correct inconsistencies (Josh McCloud is sometimes referred to as “Josh McGee”) and plot errors (the “big reveal” is revealed more than once). Without substantial reworking, this book will remain a disappointing read.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.