Dangerous Passions

The Dream

Fanning the Flame

The Fire Inside

Heartless

Night Secrets

Perfect Sin

The Secret

Silk & Steel

 
Midnight Sun by Kat Martin
(Zebra, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-8217-7380-1
***
A tale of modern day gold miners in the Yukon seems like a grand adventure at first glance, but soon after the initial anticipation this story looses steam. Kat Martin’s experienced hand can’t redeem an unworthy hero and weak subplots, causing this Midnight Sun to ultimately burn out.

When Charity Sinclair leaves New York City and heads for the gold territory of the Great White North she also leaves life as she knows it: her slick, long term boyfriend, Jeremy, and the tedium of a well-ordered, well-plumbed, predictable life. Answering the call of the wild, Charity leaves her comfy job as an editor of action/adventure novels, determined to have adventures all her own. Amid protests from virtually everyone in her life, she buys a little cabin on a claim near Dawson City in the Canadian Yukon.

Charity arrives and immediately realizes that shopping for mining cabins sight unseen is a risky enterprise. The shabby state of her little claim doesn’t break her spirit, though, and she goes about setting up her gold mining operation. Charity hits a few snags on the road to high adventure and riches, mainly because half the people she meets in her new community are not to be trusted. The good news is that her claim was never fully worked, and offers the promise of a gold strike. One of her neighbors, Buck Johnson, offers to hire on to teach Charity about mining. The bad news seems to be that Buck has a very low opinion of women.

When Charity begins work on her dilapidated cabin, she meets another of her neighbors. Annoyed by the racket, reclusive Call Hawkins stalks over to Charity’s place and rudely makes her acquaintance. Though Call is unfriendly and makes no secret of his displeasure over Charity moving in next door, she can’t help but notice that he’s a hottie. He complains unreasonably about the construction noise and is generally annoyed by everything and everyone, although he in turn notices that Charity is attractive. He tries to buy her out but she refuses the offer.

Things take off from here and we learn why Call has such a bad attitude. The accidental deaths of his family prompted Call to ditch his successful high tech business and move north. He clings a little too much to his emotional baggage, not to mention making a bad first impression. Charity should heed the inner alarm bell sounding at these first meetings, but she doesn’t. Maybe feelings of isolation and a guy with long legs and a nice butt will keep even the most independent girl from jumping to obvious conclusions. They warm up to each other quickly enough and Charity decides to have a fling with Call as part of her “northern exposure”, as it were. She isn’t planning to stay forever, and Call doesn’t want a committed relationship either.

The sub plots kick in, including Jeremy showing up, Buck getting scary and attempts being made on Call’s life as his past catches up with him. Speaking of past lives, Charity experiences some memories and feelings that link her to events of long ago, before she was born. Charity could have had a great story here, without Call, but no. I had trouble buying into any of it. Somehow I wish that Ms. Martin had fixed on one theme and developed that fully.

The superficiality of some characters in contemporary romance bugs me, and here Call constantly gets hot and bothered staring at Charity’s breasts, while her brain logs off when she thinks about the way his jeans fit. When Call addresses Charity as ‘Baby’, he’s not teasing. An independent, intrepid woman may have smirked at this, but she doesn’t. Call wasn’t very likeable. He was self-indulgent and seemed like the kind of guy who would want the vacuum marks on the carpet to line up perfectly.

While we’re on superficial matters, Charity’s clothes drove me nuts. She dressed like a much older woman. Show me a 28- year- old woman from New York City who owns a sweatshirt with a checkered collar! This is the pierced and tattooed generation, my dears. Her sweatshirt needs a hood!

There is a sweet secondary romance here, involving a younger couple, and I found the sincere old poems of Robert Service that marked some chapters to be more romantic than this story, really. Midnight Sun was written with practiced style and I liked Ms. Martin’s descriptions of the Yukon. I will read more by her and hope for the best.

--Deann Carpenter


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