Morning Song
Grade : C

I raced through the first third of this book on a tear, totally engrossed in the tale Kim Cates was telling, thinking to myself, "Goody! This one is going to be as good as Stealing Heaven!" Then I came to a critical scene. On one hand I applauded the author for handling it in a wholly unexpected manner. But then I realized that by taking the less cliched road, she had deflated the gothic aspect of the story I had so been enjoying.

Morning Song really does read like a classic gothic romance for the first third. The hero and heroine meet on a stormy night when the heroine is fleeing with her young charge from incredible danger. They are both half-starved, half-drowned, and half-dead with fatigue. She bravely climbs the hill to the lord of the manor even though the lord is said to eat nails for breakfast. Our half-dead heroine talks her way into the dangerous devil's lair, in his employ, and the fun begins.

Hannah Gray is our feisty heroine, on the lam with young Pip. She convinces the powerful lord of the manor, Austen Dante, to hire her as his musical transcriber, even though she is not at all skilled for such a job! Dante is tortured by musical demons - he composes and plays long after normal people have dropped from exhaustion.

Dante is curious about his new hire - she is obviously from a good family, but why is she so stubborn about what ails her, and where is she hiding that blasted boy all day while he works her to exhaustion? She is spunky, that's for sure - he asks what she thinks of his music, and she bluntly tells him it's nothing special.

She is curious about him as well. Why doesn't he open the mail that arrives daily from his family far away in Italy? Why does he keep composing when it's clear he's no Mozart? Why hasn't he figured out she can't write music?

Each of them seek to find answers to these questions, and, of course, there are layers of truth to be discovered. At each critical juncture, when something is revealed, the author can either turn up the heat, or turn it down. During that glorious first third, the heat is literally poured on.

Then, Hannah comes to Austen with an important confession. His response is totally unexpected and brilliantly poignant. Unfortunately, that was the climax for this reviewer and I had another nearly 200 pages to read!

Hannah and Austen begin their slow dance toward togetherness at this point, each taking the lead upon occasion, maneuvering around the dance floor, checking the forward and backward path for obstacles. While I did enjoy their dance because, after all, the author is a masterful story-teller, this part of the dance was like a staid and steady waltz compared to the tempestuous tango Kim Cates wrote at the start of this book.

The other reason this book ran out of steam for me was that I figured out the hero's problem far too soon. With the tango over and the hero's secret revealed, there was little left to excite me. I watched the rest of the dance as a bystander with little interest. As I said, because the author can spin a good yarn, it wasn't a total bore - just a sad feeling that what could have been was no more.

Once it was revealed to me that Austen was no evil spider luring Hannah into his dark den, it was revealed to Hannah as well. For all his dark and tormented reputation, there was just too thin a veneer of nastiness covering a heart of gold. Had the author layered Austen a bit more than just wrapping him in black tissue paper, I would have been more interested.

Kim Cates' Stealing Heaven was a wonderful read, and while Gather the Stars earned rave reviews from this site, it did not equal Stealing Heaven to this reviewer. Neither does Morning Song.

Reviewed by Laurie Likes Books
Grade : C

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : July 1, 1997

Publication Date: 1997

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Recent Comments …

  1. Yep, that’s the long and short of it – I like her more as a contemporary writer because of this.…

Laurie Likes Books

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