Guest Reviewed by MsMiz(Tina)
Title: Wicklow’s Odyssey
Author: R. Cooper
Heroes: Wicklow Doyle/Alexander Rhoades
Genre: MM Historical
Length: 350 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: July 7, 2014
Available at: Dreamspinner Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Union soldier Wicklow Doyle is infiltrating enemy lines to set up new radio communications technology in Confederate-held Charleston when his location is betrayed. After sacrificing himself to get his team to safety, he’s on the lam, friendless in a hostile town. Determining who betrayed him without discovery by Confederate soldiers is dangerous, but Wicklow grew up in the slums of New York and knows how to handle himself. He isn’t expecting anyone on his team to return to help him, much less Alexander Rhoades.
An effete dandy of great intelligence and conviction, Alexander Rhoades speaks through stories instead of giving orders, and he has earned the confidence of the rich and powerful. While Wicklow has come not to trust men with those traits, Rhoades has never once let him down. He looks at Wicklow in ways that make him burn beneath his skin and tells him stories of love and bravery Wicklow yearns to understand. Wicklow has absolute faith Rhoades’s brilliant mind will uncover the traitor in their midst and find them a way out of the city. But when Rhoades tells him he’s not alone, Wicklow isn’t sure he can believe him. For the first time in his life, though, he wants to.
Review: The majority (90%+) of the story takes place in Charleston over a single week. Essentially, Wicklow and the team (spies, muscle, gentleman leader, etc) have a twofold mission: find the traitor within this very small tight knit team and find out what the Rebels are planning. Both objectives prove to be very difficult to achieve as the team is shocked to realize that one of them is a traitor and the Rebs have saturated Charleston making it difficult to move around.
Wicklow’s Odyssey overall is a good story. The things I appreciated:
1. I am a character-based reader, so I always gravitate towards books with well-developed character centric story lines. R. Cooper does a good job with both the main characters and builds the story with very strong secondary characters. This story has it all – tortured souls, loyalty, humor, betrayal, love (and love from afar), sacrifice, misfits, in all its yummy goodness. Each character is well developed (all of them flawed – Yeah baby!), and you will feel like you know each of them very well by the end of this book.
2. The writing, as well as the voice of the story, is so beautiful at times. It often feels lyrical, and the prose of Wicklow’s voice is well done.
3. Storyline – honestly the storyline is intriguing. I love a good who done it with spies, war, machinations, and bad guys! This story certainly had all the elements to keep a reader engaged and really want to keep reading.
Now for the things that did not work:
1. The amount of words. I know, I know – really? It’s a book, don’t you expect words? When it takes more than a sentence or two to tell me Wicklow is hungry, but is not quite fond of hardtack, well, that is too many words. Due to the amount of words, I found myself confused more often than I ever care to admit. Important things would get lost in all the details, and I would lose the thread. Most of this does seem to smooth itself out after 30% once the team is together again and a plan is devised, but the first half (including the prologue) felt over written.
2. Often repetitive
3. It is steampunk, but not really. R. Cooper put a few technical toys that did not exist during the Civil war, thus making it steampunk. However, even though this story was long, there was not much world building, so I would not call this a steampunk, but more a story with steampunk elements.
4. Backstory – some of this would be covered in bullets 1 and 2. Some backstory is needed. We needed to learn about Wicklow, Rhodes, Louis, etc., but there was SO much that it began to erode what the team was there to accomplish. Most of the repetitive items were within the backstory, so this could easily be fixed.
Overall Impression: I liked it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*