Pam Hillman’s ‘New Voice’ Shimmers with Electricity!
Expect the Unexpected in this 1874 Historical Romance!
Tyndale House Publishers
My favorite books to review are those by debut authors from major publishers. It is so hard to get published today by these big houses that debut authors must have something very special going for them to break through the crowd of aspiring writers. I always enjoy discovering the unique features that sold the editor on the debut author.
Pam Hillman is exceptional in her own way. She has a unique voice. Her story line, Chicago street children sold into slavery to work in sweat shops, is a theme I have not yet encountered. Her characters, from new born to those at death’s door, are especially sympathetic. You’ll instantly care about and feel for her large cast of characters. (And if you vicariously identify with the hero, as I did, you’ll feel a whole lot.) The characters are three dimensional in various shades of gray. There seems to be a battle between good and evil in all the characters. The plot is so zigzagy that I gave up trying to predict what would happen next in the story. I just went along with the flow and enjoyed all the twists and turns.
The bottom line here for me was that “Stealing Jake” is a totally enjoyable reading experience. It’s the kind of one-off experience you can only have with a debut author writing in a way that is new to the romance scene.
The hero, Jake Russell, is a deputy sheriff in Chestnut, Illinois, whose father was killed in a coal mine accident in which Jake was a survivor. While Jake owns part of a coal mine he won’t open it again for fear of other men dying. He also fears going back into a mine.
The heroine, Livy O'Brien, is a former street kid from Chicago who, at a young age, became notorious as a lock picker and pick pocket. She was saved from her life of crime by an older Christian woman, Mrs. Brooks. Livy saw her sister die in childbirth and fears falling under the influence of a man and having children. Livy and Mrs. Brooks are trying to run a small orpahage in the older woman's house. They are not paid and get no public support so life is very hard for the orphans.
In the backdrop to all this, there are child-slaves working in a sweatshop 12 to 15 hours a day and the town does not even know about it. There are many major objectives in the story and it takes a lot of action to bring the story to a conclusion. All this action will keep the pages turning!
“Stealing Jake” is a very ambitious first book and it does experience a few growing pains. I’d like to see more physical description in the next book to better frame the action and a little more attention to tying up loose ends.
“Stealing Jake” is fast moving, the characters are endearing and the reading enjoyment is romantic fiction at its best.
Highest Recommendation for a Debut Novel!