Special thanks to Jennifer Hudson Taylor for sending me complimentary review copies. All opinions are honest and are my own.
I have always loved to read, but my list of "books wanted" is too long for me to ever have time to complete. I've really been trying to be more selective with what I read lately and make the best use of my time. That's why I've been making it a point to contact Christian publishers and authors to request review copies---rather than just read whatever comes my way.
In being more selective, I've tried to focus on Christian literature because it's (supposed to be) uplifting and encouraging. However, there's more to a good book than a good message. I want to promote great literature but, I'll be honest, sometimes the Christian publishing community can be embarrassing. More than the not-so-wholesome-for-everyone topics like sex or murder, sometimes simple things like poor editing or amateurish writing skills can take a lot away from the heart of the message being shared.
That's how I feel about these first two books in Jennifer Hudson Taylor's series, The MacGregor Legacy. The stories could be engaging tales of adventure, suspense, love, and redemption, but they're difficult to read for lack of professional editing. Much of the two novels stumbles awkwardly, rather than flows smoothly, and it's very distracting.
Book Description from Hudson Taylor's website:
"Malcolm MacGregor vows to free his family and exact revenge against Duncan Campbell. When the opportunity arises, Malcolm decides to use Duncan’s daughter as the bargaining price. Lauren Campbell is the perfect answer, until she begins chipping away at the bitterness in Malcolm’s heart and changing everything. Her bold faith and forgiveness ignites guilt he would rather avoid and a love he doesn't deserve.
Lauren Campbell never expected to discover such a caring and protective man behind the façade of Malcolm MacGregor’s fierce reputation. When they arrive in America, things turn against them, and Lauren finds herself in a fate worse than death. Now Malcolm has the dilemma of freeing the rest of his family or rescuing Lauren, but time is short and with little means, he needs a miracle."
The dialogue was very distracting with all of the "Mithers" and "cannas". I know some readers enjoy trying to pull off the Scottish brogue in their imaginations but, in this case and coupled with the rocky storytelling, it made it hard to stay on track.
In addition, I felt there were way too many characters introduced too soon and all at once. While it was easy to get the general gist of the story, trying to understand and develop a sympathy for the characters just left me confused and frustrated.
What did I like? The cover art. The photo of the girl in the cape, along with the castle in the background, grabbed my attention and made me want to read the book. It also made me want to like the book---but it wasn't enough.
Book Description from Hudson Taylor's website:
"Tyra MacGregor is successful at thwarting and confusing the British Army of her colonial spy efforts until Captain Donahue Morgan arrives and the British take over her home. Like relentless hounds, they have her followed, questioned, and under house arrest.
Hugh is intrigued by the courageous woman the natives call “War Woman”. More daring than most men, intelligent in defending her convictions, he discovers her faith is just as strong.
When Tyra saves his life from a band of angry Indians, Hugh vows to return the favor. Before he can intervene, she is caught by his superior officer and imprisoned. His honor, faith, country and love are on the line. Hugh must risk it all to gain everything."
Again, this one was hard to follow. One of the biggest struggles I had with this sequel was, again, too many characters introduced without enough to establish them in my mind. It doesn't really matter that they're more fully developed later on if the author is delivering seven characters in the first two pages. It's too much---at least it is for a mom of nine who has trouble getting the names of her own children right the first time.
Another problem that I faced again in this one was wordiness. For example: "Hugh twisted to see his comrade clutch the arrow in his chest, a look of shock and then pain carved his expression into a memory of guilt and it would not soon leave Hugh." All one sentence. One very long, wordy, run-on sentence. Sure, I'm used to finding them now and then---we're all human, after all. However, two novels full of them tells me there's more than just some "overlooking" going on. Someone is doing a major disservice to this author by not correcting things like this.
What did I like? Cover art. She's got someone professional designing her covers, for sure.
I've emailed with the author on a couple of occasions and she really is a sweet woman. I think these stories have great potential, so I'm going to blame the editors on this one. Hudson Taylor had a great idea for a series spanning multiple generations and highlighting the history of America that so many of us love to read about. It's obvious that it took thought, talent, and prayer to bring these stories to life on the page. I believe Hudson Taylor has that talent, but her editing team dropped the ball in a big way.
Whomever told her these books were ready for publication needs to develop a backbone (or maybe just retake Grammar 101). They're doing her no service by ignoring embarrassing cases of wordiness and run-ons.
At this point, The MacGregor Legacy series is a perfect example why we shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. However, with some polishing and sharpening by the right editorial staff, I think this could be an excellent series and a positive addition to the Christian history buff's bookshelf.