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Tuesday 22 October 2013

Torn by Gilli Allan

I’m often teased for my dogged determination to finish every book I start, regardless of its quality. Had I been the sort of person to discard a book at the early stages because it wasn’t grabbing me, this might have been one such book. At the beginning, I couldn’t engage with the main character, Jess—a fast-living, good-time girl with a young son of indeterminate paternity. I'm so glad I have a ‘read-it-at-all costs’ policy! This turned out to be a romance with attitude and gumption, and I found myself page-turning frantically.

With a three-year-old young son, father unknown—the product of alcohol- and drug-fuelled free living, Jess finds herself fleeing her abusive boyfriend, taking refuge in rural England. Her old habits die hard and she finds herself boomeranging between a young ‘eco-warrier’ and a ‘gentleman’ farmer. Two men, completely different, both with their own ‘baggage’ and crosses to bear. She loves both. She knows one is unsuitable and the other perfect husband material. She is torn.

Allan brings the three main characters to life vividly. Actually, she brings all her characters to life. They are superbly drawn, and I had a clear picture of all of them. Allan didn’t make me work hard to imagine them. Her research, too, was in-depth and meticulous. There are many references to and scenes involving farming practices. Far from blinding me with science, they were described in just enough detail to set the stage, but fascinating at the same time.

I didn’t like Jess at first, but she grew on me, despite her questionable morals. She knows her own mind, is strong, focussed, and determined. Her choices aren’t obvious. And that’s what I liked about this romance: there was no predictability about it. 

Unfortunately, I had an issue with the editing, or rather lack of it. It was obviously self-edited, and it was littered with innumerable errors, some wayward tenses and the dreaded homophone it’s/its. Too many errors for me to be able to give this five stars, regrettably. It’s such a shame when the standard of writing isn’t matched by the standard of editing.

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