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Thursday, August 18, 2016

ARC Review: In The Barren Ground by Loreth Ann White

It's difficult for me to even review books by Loreth Ann White. The writing of her books is far superior to most of what we read. And I mean that across genres. I've read a lot of different kind of books, the writing of Loreth Ann White is not pop fiction, it's the kind of flexing of literary prowess that makes other authors reconsider if they really want to send their last work to the publisher. Just by way of warning, this book is not a traditional romance. A romance develops but the rhythm and emergence of it is much different than the usual arc of a romance. And while there is well described chemistry between the main characters, Crash and Tana, there is no actual sex. Now you know if I love a book without sex it's a good book.

This is a thriller-mystery-suspense and I don't want to ruin any of the plot twists so I'm going to be really careful about what I tell you. The first thing you need to know is that the set up to all White novels can be a little slow. White builds the story and introduces the characters in the first 30 pages or so. If you are impatient, you can get bored and miss important details. I guarantee you, by the 20% mark, you will be hopelessly captivated by this story and if you don't pay attention in the beginning you will be going back trying to find any details that you missed.

Tana is a constable in North North Canada, up where nobody really wants to be stationed. She has been sent to some remote outpost to police and entire indigenous population by herself. Tana is layers upon layers of complicated. She is some parts self loathing and other parts determined to self actualize. Tana has been dependent but in this book is fighting to prove her independence while learning healthy relationships are a requirement for a healthy life. Tana begins investigating what appears to be brutal animal maulings but quickly discovers that there is much more going on than what appears on the surface.

Crash...I'm not sure what I can tell you about him. Crash is not at all what he seems. Weather that is good or bad, I leave you to discover on your own. One thing that is clear right away is that something about Tana speaks to Crash and awakens his need to protect. Crash has so many ulterior motives and issues, it's not even funny. He does not want to care about Tana and does everything he can to stay out of her life. You'll have to read to find out how that works out for him.

Both Crash and Tana are some of the most well developed characters I've ever read. I love White's descriptions of their thoughts and feelings. I even like that they didn't have sex despite the obvious chemistry. That made them more real in my eyes. The mystery in this book is a thriller. Is there some strange other worldly spirit attacking and killing people? Is it an act of the wild with no human involvement or is it something else? At one point in this book, I believed all of those, at other points, I believed none of those. I was fascinated by the correlating story line of the diamond mining business and the way that was impacting the local population. I thought the way the locals reacted to Tana as a police officer was believable and made the whole story seem more credible. Most of all, I loved Tana's growth and the way she accepts her present circumstances and makes choices she would not have made a few months ago.

This is just a completely brilliant book. I have yet to read a Loreth Anne White novel that did not fit that description. It is not for the faint of heart, the murders are grizzly and described in depth. The POV rotates from the victims, to the suspects, to the main characters. The entire novel has a cold dark feel right up until the end. So this aint no sunny hopeful romance. Just remember that if you decide to take this journey.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | B&N |


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