Monday, November 27, 2006

Keegan's Lady by Catherine Anderson

Finally. A book so wonderful, I'm compelled to talk it up immediately. I'll get back to my catch up reviews tomorrow. For now, I'll go on about the book I finished only moments ago.

Catherine Anderson has been on my TBR list for some time. No particular title. Just enough buzz about her to warrant her name on my list of authors to try. Last week, I picked up Only Your Touch, a contemporary from Anderson published in 2003. It featured a divorced, single mom, new to a remote mountain town, and an exhiled Native American (mostly) healing wild animals with science and a bit of magic. It failed to grab me. While I found Anderson's writing phenomenal, the story felt laden with cliches. It wasn't, really. I simply found little that I hadn't already seen assembled in a dozen other stories. Though Anderson assembled them with admirable skill and an uncanny attention to detail, it didn't grab my attention completely. I skimmed the better part of the book.

It was that skill and the detail in her decriptions that compelled me to try another title. Keegan's Lady. Wow. It is a western historical constructed upon a tragic injustice and the ensuing pursuit of revenge. Only Anderson turns the previously used plot on its head. It reads nothing like anything I've ever read. Every turn felt unique.

Anderson's characterization is powerful. Ace and Caitlyn could walk from the pages. Her terror is heartbreaking; his frustration palpable. Anderson puts readers there with them, in every moment, missing not a single detail of any given scene. She reveals every side, every facet of their personalities. The heroine is battered, but independent minded. The hero is strong in physique as well as moral character, but suffers some ineptness and stumbles when trying to express himself. Anderson is not afraid to give readers characters that don't exactly fit the fantasy. And it is there, in their imperfections, that readers find humor both poignant and gut-busting, and charm that will interupt your heart's rythym.

The book's setting and its premise suggests the potential for violence--frontier town with corrupt law enforcement and townfolk who turn a blind eye. There is violence. Just very little in the big picture. This book is devoted to the romance. Focused there, giving readers all the time in the world to relax and enjoy the fall each character takes into the other. Character driven. Not plot driven. Basic, I know. But I so rarely see a clear cut example of a good, character driven book. It just stands out to me here. Anderson draws readers into the romance between hero and heroine, capturing our attention with the simplest interplay and spending little time elsewhere. A page turner where the only element of suspense is in the breath-hitching moments when each admits their love for the other.

Anderson's characters come to life with an ease that belies the precision of the craft beneath.


  1. HA! Sooo glad you liked it, Jen. A wonderful rec from Miss Sarah that I had to share. Great book, wasn't it?

  2. Ooooh, I loooved this! Summer Breeze, which I have yet to writeup, is Ace's brother Joseph's story. That's the one I was bragging on last week. I PROMISE it's in the mail. I'm such a flake!

    I'm so glad you discovered the Coulter family! These historicals are their family history, and the contemporaries are the current family stories. I love that she wrote the family this way. The entire line is fantastic! She is one author who can do both contemps and historicals beautifully.

  3. Awesome book Anne. Thanks for sharing it. It was on my list as well thanks to Sarah. *g*

    Lori? The Coulter family? Is that another series?

  4. Jen, I'm a huge fan of Catherine Anderson, and Keegan's lady was Amazing!

    My fave book of hers is Annie's Song.

  5. Jen, If you look inside the book, there may be a family tree. Although this one is an early one, so it might not be in there. Look inside Summer Breeze when it comes in the mail. (It's coming, honest *g*) There is a family tree in there along with all the books in the series. Some are historicals, and some are contemporaries, which is a totally cool way to do it, I think.

    There are, ummm, 5? contemporaries and I think 3 historicals in the family series. And there is another one due out in January, I think. A contemporary.

  6. You finally read it! Yeah!!! I looooove Catherine Anderson and I think her voice just shines it's strongest in her wonderful historicals.

  7. I'm on again off again with Catherine Anderson, but haven't read this. I've been in a western sort of mood lately and I think I look for this one.

  8. Karen - Waving! Annie's Song is now on my list.

    Lori - No family tree in this copy. But I'll poke around her site. Thanks!

    Sarah - Thanks for compelling me to put her on my TBR in the first place!

    Rosie - Keegan's Lady won't disappoint. Let me know what you think.


Have you read it? What do you think?

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