Saturday, November 10, 2007

Caine's Reckoning by Sarah McCarty


When I was younger, I used to create stories in my mind as I tried to fall asleep at night. The tales in my head featured heroines who were vulnerable yet strong, heros who were tender yet forceful and love scenes that were lush and unhurried (and quite explicit). While my hazy fairytales had a larger plot to give the love story a context, the focus was always on the relationship and how that relationship developed through physical and emotional intimacy.

I think that in many ways, my romance reading has always been something of a quest to find those inner stories reflected on paper. To have those vague plots and emotions come to life through the talent of someone who has the gift of storytelling more than I can ever hope to. While I've read many romance novels, it's been the rare case that I've run across one that really matches my expectations, allows me to relax into the story and to surrender myself to the journey that the author is creating for the central characters. Sarah McCarty's Caine's Reckoning is one of those rare books.

Caine Allen is a hard man who has seen a lot of death and destruction. Desi is a woman who has been to hell and come through with her spirit intact. In order to rescue her from her enemies, a hasty marriage is arranged. These two relative strangers are now put in the position of living together and learning how to trust one another. Sure, this marriage-to-save-the-heroine plot has been done before, but in McCarty's hands, the promise of the unique opportunity for relationship building in intimate ways is actually realized. Caine is a persistent man and remarkably astute about Desi's emotional and physical scars. He helps her work through her inner demons and never lets her hide her reactions. Although he's dominant and possessive, he's not aggressive or arrogant. Desi too is a strong personality, but she's also very vulnerable. Her past experiences with men have taught her only to mistrust and fear them. But even through her fear, she stands up for herself and shows amazing courage. Part of her journey of learning to trust her husband involves her learning to love herself and to trust her own emotions.

McCarty does an excellent job in drawing not only the inner motivations of both Caine and Desi, but also in using sexual intimacy between them to show the internal growth they are both taking towards each other. The love scenes in this book are blistering, make no mistake, but they never feel gratuitous. I've said before and will repeat here, what I've always enjoyed about McCarty's writing is that she manages to strike that fine balance between erotic romance and romantic erotica. For my money, she's one of the best out there writing these kinds of books and Caine's Reckoning is her best yet. I can't wait to reread this book and to take the journey again.

A+

18 comments:

Karen Scott said...

It was a great story wasn't it?

Sarah McCarty said...

Ah, Sula, that was the most touching review. Thank you so much!

lisabea said...

Excellent. I loved this book, too.

Go Sarah!

Sarah McCarty said...

Is it time to get out my pom poms? I was a cheerleader and gymnast back in the day. (not that you would know that from looking at me now) My body typo has morphed but I could probably manage a high kick or two without causing permanent damage. *G*

Sarah McCarty said...

Okay, Lisabea. I think thi is your fault. *G* *limping into the room* The "Go Sarah" made me think of my cheerleading days, which led to my comment which then got me to wondering if I really still could do a high kick…

I should have stuck to the wondering and kept my illusions intact. *sad pained face while rubbing tendons in right thigh* the answer is no. My high kick days are long gone. *sigh*

sula said...

karen, yes it was a really lovely story. I'm very much looking forward to the rest of the Hell's 8 books.

lisabea, look what you made Sarah do. Now she's injured. lol. Hopefully it doesn't impair her ability to keep writing. *g*

Sarah, it was a fantastic book and obviously it worked very well for me. :) I kept waiting for a major misunderstanding or a TSTL moment and was pleasantly surprised when there really weren't any. I love a couple who talks things out and spends a lot of time together through the course of the book. Like I said in my review, it's rare to read a book in which you feel that much in tune with the author and her plotting choices. So yeah, I'm a very happy reader.

Random note, I think this is the first A+ I have given a book in a long time. Definitely the first since I started this blog. (not that the blog's been around that long. lol)

Who's next? Tracker? Sam?

Kristie (J) said...

Sula: as you know I'm reading this one too although I'm not that far into it yet. Sounds like a have a most excellent reading experience to look forward too :)

Sarah McCarty said...

Hi Sula,

The leg injury, (Who knew a high kcik could hurt so much! *G*) isn't hurting the writing, but Mom visiting is. Too much talking and card playing. I love to play cards.

The story order for the first four books is Caine, Sam, Tucker, and Tracker.

Again, so glad you enjoyed. I quoted you!

Kristie- fingers crossed you enjoy!

lisabea said...

Why is my favorite always last on the list? boo.

That's what's happening in both Nalini's series (wolf) and Meljean's (michael). *whining & pouting*

Sarah McCarty said...

*blinking innocently* Lisabea, I have no idea to what you refer… (Tacking on an innocent smile for extra measure)

sula said...

eep, I've been quoted! Damn, now I almost feel like I have to start writing real reviews instead of just rambling whatever comes to mind. lol. Then again, I'm too lazy, so....

And ms. sarah...after reading your books, the word innocent isn't exactly the one that comes to mind. *g*

lisabea, I'm with you. I was hoping for Tracker's story to be up next. *pout* Do we get to know who Sam's intended will be? Is it Desi's sister or is she destined for Tracker (yes yes yes!). grr, I hate waiting.

katiebabs said...

I will never look at a bath the same way again *G*

Sarah McCarty said...

Sula-
*blinking harder with more wide eye on the upsweep of lashes* I have no idea of what you speak. *G*

Sarah McCarty said...

Lisbea- How do you know Tracker will remain your favorite? What if new men are introduced? Sexy Latin men who just grab your heart, Hmmm. Maybe Tracker is just your favorite for now? (seriously, I don't plan these things, but a couple intriguing sorts popped up in Sam's story.)

Sam's woman is not Ari. They just wouldn't suit. Sam's a very tortured guy under that easy going way. He needs someone that can reach past the sadness to the smile he hides. Isabella does that. She's as unconventional as they come, but Sam does unconventional well, appreciates it, relishes it. Despite Sam being a very tortured hero, his book has an upbeat sassy earthiness weaving through the storyline thanks to the optimism and strong personality of his heroine. Isabella has never met a challenge that she hasn't welcomed and can lay claim to a stubborn streak that refuses to acknowledge the meaning of impossible. She's the perfect compliment to the sense of humor Sam possesses but often forgets to enjoy. At first, Sam doesn't know what to make of Isabella. She's sweet, opinionated, young and determined on her course no matter how ill advised he thinks it is, but later, he soon comes to appreciate the strength of her personality and the beauty of her optimism. To him she comes to be joy in motion and the one thing he won't let anyone, her family or the outlaw that claims her, take away.

To give you an idea of the book's feel, the book was written while listening to C'est La Vie. (You never can tell.)

Misty G said...

My local book stores don't have this one yet. It's driving me crazy. I have to get it through Amazon now. Sigh.

Sarah McCarty said...

Misty,

Maybe they just couldn't order it? They should be able to now if they wanted to.

sula said...

ok, sarah, now you've got me craving Sam's book, and I'm sure it's not due to be out for months and months. *sob* Evil torturess.

oh and I'm all for the sexy latin men. Bring it on, I say!

misty, I feel your pain. My local Borders didn't have this in stock even when their online system said they did. I snagged my copy (there were only 2 on the rack) at a Waldenbooks during a business trip. Hope you're able to find it soon!

Sarah McCarty said...

Only 8 months until Sam. Not so long.
Spice is putting these books out every 9 months. Enough time between for each of the men to press his suit to be your favorite. ;-)