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Gear Up for the Wild West in Janet Fox’s “Forgiven”

A review of Janet Fox’s 2011 book Forgiven.

Hitting shelves in June of 2011 as a companion book to Faithful, Fox’s lesser known novel is a perfect example of Young Adult Historical Fiction. Boasting 18 reviews on Amazon, and 288 pages, the book is suitable for teens and has an accessible length. Is there anything about the book that needs forgiving? Let’s find out.

Cover/Marketing

Honestly, I don’t feel like I can fully evaluate the marketing of this book because I hadn’t heard of it or anything about it really. I thought this was odd because it has a beautiful cover, but I should have been more aware when I found it on the bargain rack. The cover represents the heroine quite well, so much so in fact, that even though I found it in the Young Adult section, I thought it was Adult Literature. The young woman running in a stunning red dress on the cover definitely catches your attention, and the back blurb is written to suggest romance, and – call me a sucker – but that’s why I picked it up. (More on my being suckered later). Overall, I say the cover and marketing is great.

Plot (Spoilers – Hold Onto Your Hats!)

From here on out I have to comment both as a reader and as an author because I am torn between emotions for most of the following categories.

In an attempt to be honest, I have to say as a reader that the book has a slow start. Don’t get me wrong – starting the book out with a death-defying fight between good and evil definitely gets your attention; however, the language of the first person narrator takes a little getting used to. After a bit – call me hardheaded – I caught on that when Kula referred to herself in the third person it was part of her personality, but initially it was a bit confusing.

As an author, the plot is genius. Fox builds up this love triangle, tears one side down, and then brings two people together only let one of them sacrifice himself for the heroine. An act of love that no one can deny, taking the reader on a rollercoaster that will not permit them to exit.

As a reader, and this is my personal opinion which I fully expect most people to disagree with me, but to me, the whole idea of a romance is for both of them to live happily ever after. (Emphasis on the LIVE).

If you haven’t guessed already, you won’t be reading any reviews of Nicholas Sparks novels on my site. Sorry gals.

I digress, as a reader, the book tore my heart out. I couldn’t stop reading it – but it tore my heart out.

Otherwise translated in author-world as “Well done, Janet Fox!”

Romance

As I said above, Fox covered the romance well up until she killed one of them. Then again, if you love Nicholas Sparks, maybe that doesn’t bother you.

For me, if there’s romance, the two characters have to have a future together, otherwise it isn’t anything more than a short story that ends abruptly, sometimes unsatisfied and wanting.

Fox does an amazing job with the actual premise of the book which is not for Kula Baker to find a husband.

The premise – we find out later is for Kula Baker to find herself.

The Heroine

Kula Baker is a lovable character who wants one thing – to save her father from hanging for a crime he didn’t commit. She’s young, determined, and let’s nothing stand in her way. Like any other teenager, she makes mistakes in reading people because of her naivety, but ultimately wins the man of her dreams.

Only to have him die.

Again, I digress. Kula is a great heroine that any reader would want by their side to fight Snake Eyes.

Staying Power – Reverse: Should I Read the First Book?

As I stated above, I found this book on a whim, so I didn’t know it was a part of a series. Would I read the first book? Personally, maybe?

Would I recommend the first book? Yes, and I say that because as an author, it’s important that readers have the full set up with a series. You’re not going to get the best experience if you only read half of the story.

On that note, maybe I should read the first book.

The Bottom Line

Forgiven by Janet Fox is a heartwarming story of a young girl who finds herself and saves a number of young girls from ruin. Worth the read, and I highly recommend it.

To purchase the book, click here.

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