I have liked other books by Christina Kingston, but RIDE THE WIND HOME was the first book in a long time to make me really angry. There has been a lot of media coverage lately about how romance heroines are "evolving" into strong, independent women--anyone who thinks that's true should take a look at this book, which demonstrates just how tightly the "ideal" of female submissiveness is ingrained into the industry.
Diana, the story's heroine, is (the author tells us) a strong, independent woman. So then why does she allow her father to pick husbands for her? I can understand when she was sixteen, but the second time is stretching the bonds of credibility. And, as she has her own fortune, one has to wonder why she doesn't just live by herself. Kingston may tell us she's strong and independent, but Diana's actions indicate that she can't do anything without another person's help and approval. She trains herself in self-defense (as if a woman in the nineteenth century would actually do that), yet spends all of the book depending on Smythington for defense, being nice to her father which he clearly doesn't deserve, reacting passively to everything every man does to her, and then making excuses for them! Aaaargh! Push her forward a hundred and fifty years, and she'd make a great Stepford wife.
Beside my principle objections to the story, this book is, to put is simply, badly written. It starts off wonderfully in the prologue, with Smythington as a likable, original, and interesting hero, and real chemistry between him and Diana. There is also a great, ready-made conflict to move the story along. But Kingston demolishes all of these factors almost immediately: the "conflict" dies, and Diana and Smythington spend most of the first half of the book apart, which is not only completely nonsensical for a romance novel, but BORING!!!!! I knew when I started this book that Kingston doesn't tend to think about plot (hence her writing what is essentially the same book four or more times), but this one apparently was not even edited to smooth out the wrinkles.
The most annoying aspect of RIDE THE WIND HOME, however, were the completely illogical characterizations. I've never encountered so many characters with absolutely irrational personality traits. The father is kind and sweet, yet he marries his daughter off at the first opportunity to a cruel, lecherous swine? An overweight man who hesitates to kill a fly, yet is somehow an expert marksman, swordsman, horseman, and highly decorated army officer? In fact, NONE of these characters behave consistently and that, combined with a story that would try the patience of Tolstoy, is what finally made me put this book down.
RIDE THE WIND HOME is, to put it mildly, not one of Kingston's better books. Try RIDE THE WINTER WIND instead and give this one a pass.