ISBN 1 898030 61 8
Retail price, £9.50, $18.00
The only thing I really don’t like about N Y W Peacocke’s latest novel, Mirror My Soul,
is the cover design. It seems as though the influx of affordable computer graphics into the publishing industry has made for
worse, not better, covers. This one is ruined by the garish foreground picture of – well, I don’t really know
what it’s supposed to be, a coffin maybe, covered with the American flag. Get rid of that, print the title in a darker
shade and a bolder typeface to make it visible, leave the background as it is, and you might find yourself with a half-decent
cover. Braiswick made a bad call when they went for colour and clutter.
It’s a couple of years since I read Ms Peacocke’s previous offering, Savannah Spell, and
my initial reaction is that this is a more accomplished piece of work. Not so much in terms of production – I’ve
already made it clear what I think of the cover art, and there are far too many typos (the errata slip that accompanies the
book probably lists less than a quarter of the total). So the publisher doesn’t get many marks for proof-reading, either.
Nevertheless, it’s a likeable story, with more polish to the writing than Savannah Spell (which,
incidentally, was published under a quite different imprint). It still belongs firmly in the romance genre, but the "let’s-give-a-history-lesson"
tendencies that were present in the original have been toned down in the sequel. At the same time, it is well-researched.
British readers may well be surprised, as I was, to discover just how many loyalists there were in 18th century
America. Books and films have tended to give us the impression that the "patriots" had it all their own way.
From the first book, I recalled the somewhat conventional "Pride & Prejudice"-style romance between beautiful, headstrong
Loyalist Kathryn Cameron and handsome, wealthy Patriot, Martin Caldwell. In this sequel they are planning their wedding, but
threats to their future happiness are all around, in the form of Martin’s old flame, Nicole Bradley (egged on by Martin's
autocratic father), and Kathryn’s old flame, Brent Robertson, not to mention the witchy slave-girl, Sky, who lurks around
every corner with her spells and potions. Kathryn and Martin seem to have improved on acquaintance, though Kathryn’s
mother is still a pain in the neck, and Martin is apt to wander off into musings on the nature of Southern women. As well
A good sequel should be able to stand alone, and this one does. You do not need to have read the story of
Kathryn and Martin’s romance in order to appreciate it; and a further romance is spun into the sub-plot to ensure that
you don’t lose interest. It is an exciting enough story, with duels and battles to keep all the readers happy. Banastre
Tarleton, a real historical character whose name has been sullied in recent years by the artistically-licensed portrayal of
him in Mel Gibson’s film, The Patriot, also puts in an appearance. All in all, an enjoyable read, especially
if you like a bit of schmaltz.
Review by Deborah Fisher
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