Title: Vanguard of Hope
Author: Kathy Steinemann
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Sapphire Brigade # 1
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About the Book:
LISETVILLE, 1890 — Murders are committed; homes are burned; family secrets are buried; an unexpected romance complicates lives. Amid the mystery and violence, a vigilante brigade emerges to administer justice.
Flowing through the intrigue and drama is a dark undercurrent that will touch your heart as you empathize with the victims.
I apologize in advance, but this will not read like one of my normal reviews. I just couldn’t bring it together in a cohesive format, and I am still undecided about my final feelings on the story. Firstly, Steinemann has crafted a story that is told in diary-entry from, which provides an interesting point of view to the story, although it is not without difficulties. There is a great deal of confusion and time hop in this story, that don’t really ground it solidly in any timeframe. While some of the current issues spoke greatly to the late 19th century, societal conventions, speech and even the concern with the issues raised were not even present at that time in most of society, not to any great extent. This misalignment of terms to time and the reactions kept me unsure of the date and not able to comfortably believe in the trials the characters were facing.
There was also no truly clear grounding to place in this story: the blurb starts in the south, but there are several passages in British English, using a ‘marriage to an English man’ as the justification. If these passages were meant to derive an ‘otherness’ for the character, it was not effective. Lastly, vigilante justice was neither a concept nor a term used until more recently. Frontier justice possibly, but vigilante-ism is a more modern construct. Several other instances of modern language and use appear, marring the feel of the story and keeping date/time confusion the most memorable part of the story.
Sadly, this was a struggle for me to read: the action, questions and romance may have been more compelling had I found a solid sense of place and time before the conflicts in plot points appeared to throw me. Now, being perfectly aware that much of this could be entirely my prejudice I did try to find the positives that struck me as unusual or unique and well done. Hope, as a main character was far more modern and sophisticated than many of her time, although she is horribly damaged from abuses in her past. That leads to disconnected relationships, and ultimately her issues also affected my thoughts about her as a reader. Coming through strongly, however, is the tension and the questions that surround Hope and her thirst for retribution, losing her secrets and attempting to make a romantic connection with the most unlikely source. Those are compelling elements, and will please many readers who like suspense and darker themes to their reads.
I was provided with an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
About the Author:
Kathy Steinemann won provincial public speaking and writing awards during her early years, wrote the school news column for the community paper, and was a regular contributor to her high school newspaper.
She has always eagerly embraced new technological advances, creative projects, and continuing education. Her career has taken varying directions, including positions as editor of a community weekly, computer-network administrator, and webmaster. She has also worked on projects in commercial art and cartooning.