Monday, March 14, 2011

Review: Erlina of Whispering Pines by J.J. Burgess

Erlina Andersen has known much tragedy in her short life. Her mother was killed when she was a young child. Her father was lost at sea when she was eight. She was raised by her iron-fisted grandfather. Her husband was an unfaithful gambler who died young and left her and her two young children buried in debt.

And that's where our story begins.

Upon learning she is penniless, Erlina also learns her grandmother secretly left her an inheritance: an estate called Whispering Pines.

Erlina moves her children and two faithful servants to their new home in Australia and quickly learns the demands of running a household are more rigorous than she imagined. She dreams of racing her prized stallion, but the locals will not so much look at her as consider to allow her to participate in a man's sport.

Enter the Cairds: the Scottish family that bought Erlina's previous home. Jason Caird, the master of the house, is so intrigued by the previous owner, he seeks her out.

Jason is captivated by Erlina, but Mrs. Andersen does not return his affections. She shouldn't snub him too quickly. There are many family secrets that seem to rise like mist and swirl around Erlina.

And Jason might just have the answers she's looking for, even concerning the whereabouts of her father.


I was pleased with the story. It was interesting and intriguing. There were many twists and turns, especially near the end. Well done.

It took a little time to get into the book, but mostly it took time to get used to the author's writing style. There were far too many exclamation points, which was distracting.

I was often confused. I was confused by the characters (who was speaking, who was who since there were few introductions). I was confused by the plot. I was confused when the characters were discussing something vitally important, but I, as the reader, had no information about it. I often had to reread passages to see if I'd missed something - and usually I hadn't. I was confused by the point of view. Books are usually written from a single character's POV, sometimes alternating between two characters with a very distinct transition. In this case, we were told what every character thought and felt. It was confusing and overwhelming.

I felt that there was too much telling, and not enough showing. For example, the author writes, "they conversed." Instead, I would have liked to read what they said. There were many scenes that had so much potential, and I felt completely let down. There was a fantastic racing scene that the second half of the book works into...and the scene is about two pages long. There is also a marvelous wedding that is described in a page and a half. The author had one great example of showing instead of telling. A young carriage driver enters the room, removes his hat and twists it in his hands as he speaks to the mistress of the house. Clearly he was nervous, but no one had to tell me. I figured it out by the clues the author gave me.

The romance aspect was completely lacking. Jason did his best to care for Erlina, and she never gave him so much as a second glance. I would not have even considered this a romance if it hadn't been categorized as such on the publisher's website. The ending was even left wide open for a sequel. Or at least another chapter.

I felt like the author had so much more to give. This book really could have been amazing! The author is very talented, but she needs a good editor to help her reach her potential.

I desperately wanted to give this book 3 stars, but I just couldn't given the confusions and lack of showing.

I received a complimentary copy of Erlina of Whispering Pines as a member of the    
    Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team.  Visit
    to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team. To purchase the book,
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