Blaylock's Bride

Gabriel's Gift

Hidden Secrets

It Happened at Midnight

Leaving Lonely Town

Silence the Whispers

Sleepless in Montana

Three Kisses

When Night Falls

With Her Last Breath

At the Edge
by Cait London
(Avon, $5.99, PG; ISBN 978-0-06-114050-1
No matter how many times the author told me the same things about these characters, the information never got any more interesting. Weird, huh?

Claire Brown is one of a set of triplets who all inherited psychic powers through their mother, a “world famous psychic” and Claire is an empath. At age ten the sisters were abducted and subjected to two days of nightmarish probing and testing before their mother could rescue them.

Twenty-two years later, all three are resentful of their powers and trying to avoid them. Unfortunately, painful and upsetting events augment their abilities, and Claire’s were enhanced by the traumatic loss of a baby five years earlier.

Now she lives in a remote house in Montana. Her elderly neighbor, Eunice, recently died, leaving her home to her nephew. Neil plans to live in the house and to build a workshop where he’ll construct the unique campers that are his livelihood.

Claire is not pleased. She wants quiet and isolation, and is very disturbed by the racket involved in building Neil’s workshop and the hurly-burly created by his visitors. Claire is equally distressed by the fact that Neil is an attractive, macho-man who would like to have sex with her (which she senses empathically), and his deep emotional anguish over the kidnapping of his baby son, Sammy, several years earlier.

Although Ms. London has an engaging, page-turning writing style, she doesn’t use it to best advantage in this book. The first three chapters are full of info-dumping – always a risk in a series book, and even more prevalent in books with paranormal elements. The author has a lot of background information she’s sure we must have immediately in order to appreciate the characters and understand their special circumstances. I sympathize with the writer’s challenge – but it’s her job to make it interesting for me and she didn’t.

Then, after having dumped all these details, the author proceeded to tell me the same things over and over again throughout the book (Claire’s in pain, Claire’s in denial, Claire needs peace and quiet, Neil is big jerk for assuming he can do as he likes with his own business and property).

Neil is nice hero material – unpretentious and unabashedly male, struggling with the pain and guilt of his failure to protect his son and the subsequent end of his marriage, mourning his beloved aunt, and trying to do his best by a selfish and demanding brother. He wants to be a good neighbor and comes to Claire’s rescue without hesitation when she’s attacked, even though she’s done nothing but carp at him since he moved in.

Claire, sadly, is not nearly so likable. The guest of honor at her own pity party, she comes across as humorless and self-involved. While it may be understandable that she spends so much time protecting herself from the emotional assault of the world around her, for an empath she isn’t very, well, empathetic. In Claire’s world, it’s pretty much all about Claire, all the time. Except when Neil gives up and pushes her away, at which point she simply knows she must go after him and help him. Make up your mind, Claire.

And while the author says she to understands what an empath is (Claire’s “ability ran more to emotions and sensing rather than specific word-thoughts”), in the next paragraph Claire is picking up Neil thinking “She’d either have to adjust to the noise and the traffic, or she’d have to move.” Sounds pretty word-specific to me. This kind of inconsistency is for the convenience of the author and undermines the credibility of the story.

The book ends rather abruptly, with all the characters suddenly behaving extremely reasonably about some very emotionally charged issues. A little more realism would have added a lot more dramatic interest. And there are some important plot threads that are left unresolved – presumably to be continued in subsequent books about the Brown sisters – a device I always find annoying. Since all the Brown women sound alike, except for their specific powers, I am not inspired to read the other women’s stories.

An interesting premise, but not a particularly compelling read, I’m sorry to say.

-- Judi McKee

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