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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Long Shadow by Barri Bryan

A Long Shadow by Barri Bryan
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length(157 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rated: 3 Books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

In 1955 Tyler Carson celebrates her thirtieth birthday by ending a two-year, going-nowhere love affair. She is determined that from this day forward to live life on her own terms. Then the return of old love and the upheaval of social change converge to cast a long shadow of doubt across her firm resolve.

Grant Madison, military man and son of the town’s most revered citizen is home after many years of serving in the army in Europe and Korea. So many challenges await him: The care and rearing of his ten-year-old niece, learning a new trade; adjusting once more to a way of life that seems, after all this time, alien and outmoded. But his biggest challenge is facing and working with the unorthodox and fiery tempered Tyler Carson, the woman he had loved and left six years before.

Barri Bryan’s A Long Shadow is set in the America, circa 1950, but the problems and challenges facing the heroine Tyler could be any-day America really. I was intrigued about a story set in the '50s, but disappointed to find that little of the time either showed up or impacted the storyline in any way. The morals of the time seem important at the start…but have less an impact than a reader might expect.

Tyler, the main character, is a little self-analytical, but strong: it is only her innate kindness that slows her natural decisiveness. She’s likable and it is easy to sympathize with her.

Grant Madison almost too good to be true. He has moments where his human side is revealed (like his faint impatience with his obstinate niece,) but he is moral almost to be out of step with the times. We are told enough of his background for his strong opinions to be believable… just. Paul is exactly the person we suspect he is at the start. He’s not a complete villain, through-and-through, but close enough: one of those that readers enjoy detesting. Secondary characters are also strong and never stereotypical. Even the smaller roles, like old friend Buzz, show a distinct personality.

The dialogue throughout is simply superb. It is consistently realistic and revealing, and never fails to move the story along. Some of the descriptive lines used to describe discussions are a bit overdone or distracting : “His sentence snapped like a twig in the wind.” However, the words themselves never fail to give us a picture of the speaker, and convey sometimes difficult emotion. Some explanations are a bit tedious, partly because they indulge in ‘telling,’ and partly because they hammer-home some piece of information already established in conversation. While a few more background descriptions would have been welcome (and not just as window-dressing, like references to TV show) descriptions of interactions already established dragged.

The challenges Tyler and Madison must face are interesting and unpredictable though, so the well-developed characters make A Long Shadow worth reading.