Review: The Gem by Beth Williamson

gemReviewed by Jen

There are some historical romance series where each book works wonderfully as a standalone, but in this case, it was readily apparent that I was jumping into a story already in progress. This was the first of a number of problems I encountered while reading. It wasn’t a bad book, but there was very little subtlety and an awful lot of telling instead of showing.

Charlie is an oddity among women in the Wyoming territory. She rejects all things feminine and makes her living hunting and selling meat. She never wants to marry and intentionally isolates herself from those around her. Her behavior stems from a Very Bad Thing that happened to her 10 years ago, while traveling West with her sister. This was where it would have done some good to have read whichever book where those events took place. They are referenced, but for much of the book, no one came out and said exactly what happened. Even when Charlie broke down and told all to the hero, I felt like I didn’t have the whole story.

So let me backtrack a little. Like I said, Charlie is isolated. But she has one friend, the town handyman Eli. Apparently, everyone knows they love each other except for Charlie. After 10 years of pining, Eli is finally ready to give up on his feelings for her. A chance encounter that had her walking in on his bath has made things awkward between them and the strain leads him to begin courting another woman; This, as a new soldier shows interest in Charlie.

I had issues with Charlie’s behavior. I get that sexual abuse has long lasting consequences, but I just didn’t believe that seeing Eli naked would flip her switch the way it did. I didn’t believe the depths of her emotional immaturity, and how reckless and just plain stupid her actions were at times. And I didn’t really enjoy the plot device of added love interests to the mix.

There are some lecherous bad guys in the story with a grudge against Eli, which adds some danger to the plot. And there is a push from Charlie to get out of the town she associates with her abuse. But the story just didn’t do it for me. The romance never engaged me emotionally and I was never able to connect with the heroine. Maybe this will be better for those who have read the previous books in the series.

Rating: C-

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Gem
by Beth Williamson
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Publisher: Samhain

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