Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mackenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard ****

I just did a sort of marathon listening - Judith Ivory's The Proposition, Linda Howard's Mackenzie's Mountain - unabridged, and Susan Andersen's Skintight. Mackenzie's Mountain is the only one I read before blogging, so have no existing review. I did have a review of A Game of Chance, one in the series of Mackenzies, in which I rated Mackenzie's Mountain 3 stars, and mentioned it might have been because I only read it in abridged audio.

Apparently there was a new, unabridged version made recently, and only available on MP3 CD. This was a challenge to get onto the iPhone, involving importing into iTunes and converting and stuff, but it is only 1 CD because MP3s are already compressed.

I'm giving this 1 more star because it did make a better story in unabridged, although frankly there were a couple of parts where I thought - why is a teacher better at detective work than their police? Or rather, why do they believe her theory (which is correct) when it's so out-of-the-blue? One of those assumption things - if the guy has freckles, he must be fair-haired, therefore the dark hair it appears he has must be a wig therefore he's gunning for Wolf and Joe.

This is about Mary, old-maid spinster teacher (she's all of 29 and it's probably the 1980s!! gasp!) who moves to a tiny burg in Wyoming to teach at their tiny school. She realizes that one of the former students who dropped out had a spectacular school record, so she hunts him down. It's Joe Mackenzie, half-breed son of Wolf Mackenzie, another half-breed. His mother was also half-breed, but she's dead. Wolf was wrongly imprisoned for rape, and released when the real rapist was caught, but the townfolk are still scared of him and consider him a dirty Indian/rapist. His son Joe also suffers because of this.

Of course, being one of Howard's earlier-to-middle books, he was very Possessive and Agressive, but not quite the asshole of Loving Evangeline. She was pretty spunky, even if it was laughable that a 29-year-old would consider herself an old maid. They face down the town and another rapist (wow, that's a lot of rapists in a town of less than 200...) and get married and start having more kids. There are books about Joe, Zane, the daughter (which I haven't read and cannot recall her name) and Chance, who is adopted. It's a pretty popular series among romance readers.

The new narrator is one I hadn't heard of - someone online commented they couldn't believe someone new was chosen to narrate this "romance classic" and I have to agree. Christina Traister sounds like, with a lot more experience, she might become an OK narrator. She used a distinctive, southern-accented voice for Mary who is from Savannah, Georgia, that was ok. Her voices for Wolf and Joe were done with an attempt to make them lower, but with no accent of any kind. Her other various voices were ... ok... Her narration was bland, using very little inflection. In my humble opinion, she needs to learn the value of pauses - like, uh, pause between sections, first of all. She just kept reading as if she didn't realize there was a shift in POV or time or something. She didn't use the character's voice at all when in POV - just a straight, I'm trying to put you to sleep voice.

I guess it's better that she didn't get all breathy and excited while reading Howard's hot and steamy scenes. But maybe some kind of inflection, feeling, something in her narrator voice would add to the experience - not just the hot and steamy experience, but the experience of hearing the book! And some pauses - not just between sections, but also for emphasis, for conveying meaning.

so I'd give her reading maybe 2.5 but the story 4.

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