The Last Good Man

The Last True Cowboy

A Mother's Gift

The Night Remembers

Once Upon a Wedding

Something Worth Keeping

Sunrise Song

What the Heart Knows

You Never Can Tell

 
Night Falls Likes Silk
by Kathleen Eagle
(William Morrow, $24.95, PG-13) ISBN 0-06-621470-X
***
After the lighthearted (some would say superficial) Once Upon a Wedding, veteran author Kathleen Eagle swings back to her darker side for Night Falls Like Silk, sequel to 1997ís The Night Remembers. While itís a much stronger book than Wedding, Night doesnít meet the high standards set by such Eagle classics as What the Heart Knows and Sunrise Song. The characters, especially the heroine, are sketchy, and the romance suffers accordingly. Also, the book would have benefited from an additional hundred pages to more meaningfully develop some of its promising subplots. †

Itís lust at first sight for Cassandra Westbrook and Thomas Warrior, even though theyíre bidding against each other at an art auction for valuable Native American ledger drawings. Surprisingly the two meet again just weeks later when Angela Brown Wolf, Thomasí adopted mother, asks him to mentor Cassieís troubled but artistically talented nephew. Thomas is a successful creator of graphic novels (donít call them cartoon books) who first developed his gift when he was a homeless teenager living on the streets of Minneapolis. Despite his success, the African-American/Native American man once known as Tommy T is still wary of other people, so his attraction to wealthy widow and art patron Cassie is hard for him to accept. For her part, Cassie is fascinated by this mysterious man but concerned that the ten year difference in their ages makes her look like the infamous Mrs. Robinson. †

Cassie and Thomas quickly become lovers, but when the artwork Cassie recently bought disappears along with her nephew, their new relationship is tested by issues of trust and honesty. Just how badly did Thomas want to obtain those drawings so he could return them to the Lakota nation? When the situation starts to mirror the events of Thomasí novels, even he starts to wonder if heís leading a double life, or if heís just plain crazy. †

Eagleís novels are usually notable for their strong characterizations and witty repartee between hero and heroine, but unfortunately the former is sadly lacking here. If youíve read The Night Remembers, youíll already be familiar with the difficult childhood Thomas endured before he formed a new family with Angela and Jesse Brown Wolf. Eagle provides his backstory in this novel, but itís more telling than showing, and as a result itís difficult to get a handle on him. If this is your first encounter, Thomas comes off as cocky and somewhat immature. The reader gets a better sense of Thomas, however, than of Cassie. We know sheís a wealthy widow and we learn a little about why she married a man twice her age, but we never really understand what makes her tick. This lack of connection with hero and heroine renders their flirtation empty and shallow. †

Night Falls Like Silk is more successful as a suspense novel than a romance. Eagle alternates the regular narrative with chapters written from the point of view of Thomasí pivotal fictional character, Victor. Itís an intriguing alter ego concept Ė is Victor real or not? If heís real, is he Thomasí alternate personality or has someone else taken on his identity? Although I solved the mystery before the novelís climax, I still went back and re-read those chapters to catch the clues I missed the first time around. †

At slightly more than 250 pages, the book seems to be lacking key sections that might have been edited out by a cost-conscious publisher. Iíd like to see a ďDirectorís CutĒ version of the book featuring the ďdeleted scenesĒ that would have provided the novel with greater depth. For example, Thomas is estranged from his adopted father, Jesse, but because there are no flashbacks to their original closeness (you have to read the prequel for that), their rift and inevitable reconciliation donít pack much of an emotional punch. †

Surely Kathleen Eagle still has great novels inside her that are yet to be written, but sadly, Night Falls Like Silk is not one of them. Still, for those who were disappointed by Once Upon a Wedding, this is definitely a step back in the right direction. †

--Susan Scribner


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