Saturday, January 13, 2007

To Find You Again by Maureen McKade

It has been seven years since Emma Hartwell's capture by a tribe of the Lakota Sioux. But her recent rescue by the US Cavalry feels like anything but salvation. She has been forced to leave behind her beloved child, and return to the family who can't accept her, only to be shunned by the townspeople as an outcast. Emma is haunted by her life with the Elk tribe. She sets off on a dangerous journey, fueled by a fierce love of her son and fears for his safety, in an effort to find the tribe and reclaim him.

Only Ridge Madoc stands in her way. A former army scout with
a keen tracking sense and a keener sense of justice, Ridge has been sent by Emma's father to bring her back--a task that will give him the chance of reclaiming some of the land that was rightfully his. But, he never expected a woman as determined and courageous as Emma. Now, Emma must appeal to Ridge to help her with her desperate quest, and Ridge must struggle with his desire for a woman who no longer has a place in his world...

Spoilers Ahead.

If I was the grading type, I’d assign TFYA a straight, middle-of-the-road C. Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it. It was well written and McKade’s characterization was exceptional. The story’s pace however, was far too slow for me. It had an epic feel to me despite its relatively short time span.

Much of what the blurb suggests is accomplished by the book’s halfway point. The remainder of the story is what gave it that epic feel. More, unadvertised conflict on the way to the happy ending. The additional stuff did not detract from TFYA. In fact, it served to round out the story nicely. I was simply tired by the end, weary of the slow, muted pace.

Throughout, where I expected danger, a stubborn heroine and a frontier alpha hero with all the requisite sparks, I found an almost casual, most definitely subdued telling of Emma’s solo journey across the wilds, her polite request for Ridge’s help (when he finds her) and Ridge’s way-too-easy capitulation. McKade’s characterization supports Emma’s ability to take care of herself (she spent 7 years with the Lakota). So I can’t quibble over that. But Ridge’s easy acquiescence didn’t fit. Not entirely anyway. He too has a past association with the Lakota and appears confident in his ability to protect Emma in the company of Indians and the Army scouts presently hunting them. But his quiet strength felt inadequate. McKade played up his shyness far more than his capabilities IMO. And as a result, I found myself looking to Emma to get them out of whatever trouble they encountered. Emma was definitely the stronger of the two. She took the lead everywhere, including bed. Ridge followed without complaint and that made him less interesting to me.

The fate of Emma’s son is the source of the book’s most poignant conflicts. As a parent, I am a piss poor judge of stories with little ones. Emma’s five month long separation from her son (during which she wasn’t even sure of his survival) served McKade’s story well. However, my blind spot here prevented me from believing that Emma could function as she did let alone begin the stirrings of a romance before she found her child again. I’m sure it was my confidence in the HEA that carried me through the pages before her and Chayton’s reunion. And here, I do have to say that McKade portrayed Emma’s struggle to do what is best for her son beautifully. Had the story not turned (quickly) and ultimately reunited them permanently, I’m not sure I could comment as positively.

To be fair, I enjoyed TFYA in much the same way I enjoyed The Thorn Birds 20 years ago. Unlike the romances I prefer today however, Ridge and Emma’s story—shadowed by the sorrow of the Lakota’s fate—did not provide full out escapism. The harsh realities of that time and the steady but boring hero did not take me away. Still, I will read more of McKade’s books. I will simply save them for those times I prefer a softer (less titillating) read (using Lori’s apt description).


  1. Hmm. Now I'm pretty glad I haven't read her stuff and haven't had the urge to... maybe one day. Just so-so doesn't cut it for me. Not lately anyway and all too many times that's what I'm finding.

  2. I think I would have given this more of a B than a C, just because I think I liked her voice so much. I also agree that Ridge did seem to give in to her awfully easily in a time when men just didn't do that, and I also agree, it's definitely more of a softer read than others. But, I have another of her books and I'm giving it another go. Will let you know how it comes off.

  3. This sounds similar to A Reason To Live, she loves building her plot round children doesn't she? I know the child in A Reason To Live was dead, but it still sounds very similar.

  4. I wouldn't call McKade's writing so-so Anne. Sorry if I gave that impression. Her writing/voice and characterization are exceptional. I just thought there was a pacing issue here. And honestly, I didn't see it as a result of poor writing, but rather necessitated by the storyline itself. Like I said, saga or epic feel. She is an excellent choice when you're in the mood for that.

    I liked her voice too Lori. Was this your first by McKade? (Thanks for sharing BTW *g*) What other one do you have?

    Hi Karen! I'm vowing to be more open minded about reading this year. LOL Which means I want to get over not wanting to read about children. We'll see though. That particular one is gut deep.


Have you read it? What do you think?

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