I’m of a mixed opinion on Yvonne Harris’s “A River to Cross.” The book started off well with fast-paced action and plot development. Harris did a great job creating a believable and enjoyable romance between the two main characters, Elizabeth Evans and Texas Ranger Jake Nelson. The plot remained interesting throughout, yet the book began to lose its hold on me, the difficulty I’m having is putting my finger on exactly why. I believe one reason is that there’s a certain expectation for a flavor of “old-fashionedness” when reading a book set in the late 1880’s, yet “A River to Cross” frequently felt much more modern. Heroine Elizabeth is a college graduate and soon-to-be newspaper editor in an era when less than one percent of American women ever went to college and when those that did attend (and later sought employment) generally faced a substantial amount of social criticism. Yet, Elizabeth is greeted only with enthusiasm and awe when she steps into her late brother’s newspaper office to officially begin taking over. Another instance of too much modernity was when Elizabeth- an upper class Senator’s daughter of high reputation- stayed the night at Jake’s quarters because she was too agitated to stay home alone. There were a number of other places where the story didn’t quite seem to fit the era, and to a certain extent this detracted from the quality of the book. The occasionally awkward narrative and delivery also bothered me, and it seemed to become more frequent later in the story. For example, Elizabeth’s and Jake’s internal dialogues about their doubts and feelings for one another grew redundant after awhile, and the description of a dark alley fight scene with a group of Arroyos was terribly stilted. Also awkward was the climax, when bad guys Chavez and Diego arrived in Texas and acted more like buffoons then cunning or skillful soldiers.
On the positive side, I did genuinely enjoy the romance, the humor, and the characters. Despite my somewhat negative critique of “A River to Cross”, I am looking forward to reading another of Yvonne Harris’s books in the next few days, “The Vigilante’s Bride”, which I hope conveys that my overall impressions of this book, though mixed, have not turned me away from her writing.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.