The Lawman's Vow
A hero who ends up unconscious on a beach after a storm encounters a beautiful maiden, her little brother, and their strange house crafted from an upside down ship. It almost sounds like Shakespeare’s Tempest – except it’s really not that interesting. O mediocre new world with such uninteresting things in’t.
Flynn O’Rourke heads out to confront Aaron Cragun, a man last seen crouching over Flynn’s dead sister’s body and stealing her jewelry. His boat sails right into a storm and washes up on a California beach. When Flynn regains consciousness, he’s looking into the eyes of a beautiful woman – and he has no idea who he is or why he’s in such an isolated place.
Sylvie Cragun has seldom seen another soul. She lives in an isolated home with her young half brother Daniel, keeping house and educating herself from the books her father salvages. Sylvie and Daniel see a battered ship on their beach and carefully come down to investigate. When she discovers the nearly dead Flynn half-buried under a boat, she pulls him out and carries him up to her home with Daniel’s help. Since he can’t remember who he is, she calls him Ishmael.
As plots go, this sounds pretty interesting. We have a man bent on revenge (Flynn is in fact a detective for the San Francisco police, though he doesn’t remember that), and a beautiful woman who falls in love with a man she can’t really trust (who is hunting her father, though neither of them knows that). It sounds interesting, but isn’t. The reality is that for at least three quarters of the book Flynn/Ishmael has no notion who he is, and both he and Sylvie occupy themselves with mundane tasks. They cook breakfast, wash dishes, repair fences, and make goat cheese. I could say that things really heat up when two men show up bent on mischief or when Daniel gets tick fever, but the truth is that none of that is really that fascinating either.
It’s not fascinating because the characters aren’t fascinating. Sylvie in particular is as dull as dishwater. There’s nothing to her; she’s beautiful, dutiful to her father and brother, and she milks goats. Oh, and she’s attracted to Flynn/Ishmael. Really, that’s it. Flynn/Ishmael can’t remember who he is, so there’s not much to him either. Why anyone would care what happens to either of them is beyond me. As a love story, it leaves much to be desired.
Ironically, the most interesting character is Aaron Cragun, who is absent from most of the book but shows up at the end. Once he does, there’s finally some fairly entertaining action. But by that point I didn’t much care what happened to either Sylvie or Flynn. It was too little, too late.
The Lawman’s Vow has a different setting – 1859 Northern California. Like the plot itself, this sounded promising. But it’s a promise that doesn’t deliver. Though I wish I could recommend this one, uninteresting characters and a mundane plot don’t make for much of a read. You’re better off skipping this one.