|Michelle Jerott: All Night Long|
Romance (Paperback), ISBN 0-380-810662
Freelance writer/photographer Annie Beckett spent ten years researching the 1832 disappearance of her distant relative Lewis Hudson in the Black Hawk War. Abandoned at an early age, the peripatetic Annie views her long quest to learn Hudson's fate as a way of connecting to the family she never knew. She senses the trail ends at Black Hawk's Hollow, an unusual outcropping of rock in the middle of Wisconsin farmer Rik Magnusson's cornfields and refuses let the proud and private Rik to keep her away.
Rooted to the land by 150 years of family history and current family obligations, Rik doesn't trust Annie or her motives. Worse yet, Annie pushes Rik's hot buttons like no one else -- not even his ex-wife. Rik seethes when Annie's research puts her within the orbit of Rik's former best friend and ex-wife's current husband. At the same time, Rik can't deny his attraction to Annie or the void he feels in his heart whenever he thinks about her abandoning him for her next project.
Jerott draws the reader inside her main characters' heads and hearts, deftly showcasing their differences and similarities. Although Jerott paints Rik as a stoic, down-to-earth guy, she also demonstrates his wit and depth of understanding. Jerott's ability to capture the nuances of a superficially "simple man" lends unusual credence and richness to the farmer/photographer romance.
The slow unfolding of the historical mystery provides a lovely counterpoint to present day events without ever straining the laws of probability. Jerott's historical and fictional references mesh seamlessly, and her brief, true-to-life depictions of forensic anthropologists in action leave the reader hungry for more.
I would've also welcomed little more information on how the first Magnussons settled their farm -- an odd plaint, considering that sometimes the book's abundance of good stuff occasionally interfered with its narrative drive. I also found the "big climax" a little larger than it needed to be for such an intimate story. But that wouldn't stop me from recommending All Night Long to anyone who likes a well-drawn, well thought out, contemporary romance and can ignore a cover that looks nothing like the characters described inside.
Jean Marie Ward
Click here to share your views.