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Distant Dreams (Ribbons of Steel Book #1) Kindle Edition
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I felt that the authors were unfair to end the book in the way they did. I realise that there are more books in the series, but I feel that each book should stand alone within a series, it can offer the promise of more in follow on stories but should not leave the reader feeling dissatisfied.
The heroine is a "poor little rich girl" who wants to study and pursue a career in the Railroad. However, due to her gender there are severe restrictions relating to her ambition. The plot starts off great - pioneer intelligent heroine and the author really has researched her subject matter with regards to the railroad (some audience may find a surfeit of historical detail).
In the interim we are introduced to the heroine's family and other supporting characters, all of whom are pretty well fleshed out. However, there were far too many subplots introduced too early in the book, which did overwhelm the actual story.
Overall, I think the author relied far too heavily on plot cliches without really thinking about her characters.
1. The pioneering heroine who defies all to pursue her ambitions ought to have been handled with some tact and sophistication. The immature renderings of the heroine were understandable as she's 15 (and no one enjoys reading about goody self-sacrificing types), however, this heroine was far too self absorbed with deplorable conduct.
2. The sibling rivalry put the heroine rather than the opposing sibling in a bad light. Again, another plot cliche that was handled poorly.
3. The b*tch fiance of the hero (who happens to be the heroine's older sister) is a plot cliche that can be well worked out, but here I felt sorry for the "other woman"!
4. The tall dark handsome cliche is not enough to make a hero. Give him a personality we can like! This guy flits about women, careers and is also self absorbed. The author uses a cliched "foil" against the hero by introducing a Blond suitor for the heroine, however, this self made hardworking man who says it like it is seems far better than the weak, selfish little hero.
Heroine: This is where the book really fails. I appreciate the restrictions society has placed on women, however, the heroine is so self absorbed while people (including poor slaves) are dying and living awful lives while all she can do is "poor me" herself and rage against her parents.
Even towards the end when there is a huge tragedy - she's still inflicting us with her "poor me" self absorbed monologue. It was tiring!
Another issue I took exception to was her callous disregard to her sister's feelings. Ok - I get it - her older beautiful sister only wants to marry the "hero" for the "wrong reasons" (avoid being a spinster). However, that is no justification for trying to steal her man! That's your sister! And if the "hero" was meant to be with you than he'd make that choice without interference from you! Hence, not only is she self absorbed she's also selfish devious scheming horrible and spiteful.
Hero: what a weak, spineless and selfish character! This dude needs a backbone. Another self absorbed "me me me" type. His friend dies in a horrible accident, he breaks his leg (and might possibly lose the function of it) and all he's concerned about is becoming a cripple! A man has lost his life and he thinks the dude who died is better off.
He's so ungrateful to his parents doing the whole "poor me" routine that would rival the heroine's "poor me" monologue.
Also, this guy encourages a 18 year old gently bred girl to fall for him (he is openly courting her), however, feels trapped into marrying her while checking out her younger sister (the heroine). This despicable behaviour is of course not his fault - according to him - it's all due to his parents and his fiance's fault he's in this mess. He could have easily rectified the situation by NOT COURTING her when it became obvious he was eyeing up the younger sibling. But no - the dude just lets others drag him along till he realises he "oh no I must account for my actions!". So while he plays one sister off against the other - he then proceeds to continue his self absorbed lifestyle where everything is about "me me me"
There were many political issues dealt within this book which some people may find uncomfortable with or boring. The slavery references were a touch uncomfortable, however, I did enjoy reading about the banking details, how Texas was part of Mexico (and it was Mexico's opposition to slavery?) that created the rift which had the American govt steal(?) Texas from Mexico despite treaties. And the railroad politics were also fascinating.
I think most people will be impressed by the author's research, however, the may not agree with all the topics.
I didn't feel this book was a Christian book. Other than the heroine's father seeking God, the other characters were selfish and materialistic. The salve owning was also a problem (I don;'t understand why the "need" for slaves was so great - just cut back on your lush cushy lifestyle). I also didn't feel they were good examples of Christians with all the spitefulness and self absorbed sentiments raging throughout the book. Although I'm not a Christian hence I'm not an authority.
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