by: Fern Michaels
Kensington Publishing Corp. New York, NY 2013
I find Fern Michaels to be an uneven writer. Much of her early work is about battered women getting away from their abusive relationships and those themes continue in her current work. What I appreciate most about her later writing is that her heroines don’t need to be 22. Many of her Vigilantes (from the Sisterhood series) are in their late 60’s and 70’s. She writes a strong grandmother figure.
I enjoy her Vigilantes the same way I enjoy the Punisher and for much the same reasons. I am very much aware that our legal system is occasionally unfair and unjust. Sometimes we have all fantasized that the true culprits get the comeuppance they deserve. Just like the Punisher, the Vigilantes are graphically violent when meeting out that justice. More like Batman than the Punisher, the Vigilantes get away with it because they are filthy rich, well respected in the community, and ultimately little old ladies.
This book is framed by the Vigilantes and so it is a part of that series. I was rather confused though when the focus immediately shifted to our heroine (in her 50’s). The plot centered on the heroine moves along much like a typical romance novel. The allusions to the “hardship” which drew the Vigilantes attention are minimal and undefined.
A freak accident changes everything and again the focus is back with the Vigilantes finally showing up at our heroine’s door. In the end this is indeed a Vigilante novel with the potential of romance rather than the romance novel it appeared to be.
The other interesting thing about this piece is the way the abuse figures into the story. For once the abusive relationship is very mutual. There is no interest in separating the woman from her abusive spouse or visa versa. They’re both villains and come up against the Vigilante’s in full form. This time the true victim redeemed is a child. This minor character has a resilience and in spite of her exposure to the abuse seems to come through it all without a scratch to her psyche.
Fern Michaels also writes about dogs. It’s clear she knows them and loves them. It’s the dogs in the story, rescued from the pound, who have apparently suffered the trauma of abuse. The secondary story allows us to watch the dogs find their way past their anxieties. They also seem to find a purpose for themselves in their new and loving homes.