by Joyce and Jim Lavene

March 2002
ISBN: 1-58749-095-1
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Itís immediately obvious upon reading this book that if you enjoy the tale of Anastasia, youíll find many things to enjoy about The Singing Trees. My attention was captured by the similarities of the stories and I was initially interested in seeing just how much the stories had in common and where the differences came in.

The gist of The Singing Trees is almost exactly the same as Anastasia. Two hustlers find a young woman, a bit rough around the edges, who greatly resembles a powerful woman who is looking for her long lost heiress. The two hustlers convince the woman to join in their scheme and proceed to polish the rough edges. I wonít proceed further with the similarities. If you know the tale you can figure them out for yourself. If you donít know the story then I wonít ruin it for you. The differences between the classic and the Laveneís version can be simply explained. Theirs is a sci-fi version of the classic and it spans various worlds. These differences definitely increased my level of interest in the story, as I am a great fan of paranormal and sci-fi romances. However, I donít think the authors realized the full potential of telling the story in such a fantastic setting. The bare minimum was done with the various different places and people that Kel, the hero and Ten, the heroine came across.

Also, the dynamic of the main group, Kel, Ten and Kelís partner, Ober, was set early. And Kel as the hero was at a distinct disadvantage. Ober was clearly the practical, intelligent and profit minded partner, while Kel was relatively compassionate (when compared to the cutthroats that were his contemporaries). Heís also a touch idealistic and more than a touch idiotic. Some of his thoughts made me want to take a bat to his head, like ďWhoíd have thought a bartender from Farga (Ten) had feelings and insecurities?Ē What reader could root for a hero who actually thinks like that? Talk about insensitive. On the other hand, a few pages later he partially redeems himself by displaying a bit of perception and understanding towards Ten, when itís clear that she doesnít understand herself.

Ten, in comparision to Kel and Ober is a bit harder to classify. She comes across as tough, able to handle herself, but lacking the knowledge she needs to make a good life for herself. She, like Ober, is practical. Yet, there is the barest hint of something softer in her.

What this story lacked more than anything was a good solid hero. Having lived a rough life, Tenís character would have been better matched with someone a great deal more intelligent and with a larger dose of maturity. Someone the reader isnít inclined to believe needs a keeper.

What the story has going for it, is hard to put into words. I kept reading because something about the story and the characters made me want to see what would happen to them. Ten was an especially intriguing character and I wanted to see where sheíd end up.

Overall, The Singing Trees has potential that it never lived up to. I think the characters, in and of themselves, were pretty good but would have done better in a different plot in a different environment and with a great deal more development as the story progressed.

Reviewed in July 2002 by JaToya.

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