REVIEW: Lovesick Braves, Crooked Rock Book #2 by Pamela Sanderson
The future of the Crooked Rock Urban Indian Center remains uncertain.
Ester Parker has it under control. She’s committed to her work with tribal people, she manages an untrustworthy roommate, and on the side she’s developing the skills to go after a new love—filmmaking. If only she had the courage to approach her secret heartthrob.
Theo Dunn left rez life behind long ago. Now, he juggles jobs and sacrifices sleep, doing whatever it takes to finish college and make his family proud. When the irresistible Ester shows up at not one, but two, of his jobs, Theo finds himself frustratingly—and pleasantly—distracted. But the more he gets to know Ester and the crew at the urban Indian center, the less he sees a place for himself in that world.
Ester knows Theo is the one, but can she convince him that he needs her, too?
Dear Ms. Sanderson,
I’ve been waiting on the sequel to last year’s “Heartbeat Braves.” While that book was complete in the romance, there were some problems still facing the employees of the Crooked Rock Urban Indian Center and their efforts to provide services for Indians away from their homes and families. “Heartsick Braves” picks up where the first book left off.
There is enough information given to catch up with who these people are and what they’re trying to do. The dreaded info dump is avoided and I think newcomers can pick up the story fairly quickly. I like these books because they don’t play to any stereotype but present modern Indians as ordinary people. We also see how outsiders, even with the best of intentions, view them or think Indians out to be viewed.
The overworked and underfunded staff of the UIC is still trying to work miracles on a shoestring budget only now their lease on their strip mall store office has run out and the city still isn’t returning their phone calls about the building the Center was supposed to have obtained. Ester, the IT wizard, is taking advantage of their current one room location at a community college to slip into the computer lab and work on some film clips she wants to turn into promo spots for their social media. It’s there that she sees Cute Guy – not that she has the nerve, as would her outgoing colleague Rayanne, to approach him.
Theo has noticed the shy, pretty Indian working in the lab but he’s so stretched thin with classes and his part time jobs he needs to pay what financial aid won’t cover that he feels he’s got nothing to offer her time-wise. Meanwhile UIC director Linda feels she’s running in circles trying to secure more funding to allow them to offer the kind of services urban Indians need as well as unravel the mystery behind the loss of the building the Center thought they were all set up to buy. She and her boss Arnie Have History first as Indian college students and protestors and now work colleagues but their relationship is far from smooth even though they understand each other’s quirks.
When Theo’s vis-comm professor becomes involved in directing a film Arnie hopes to use to secure attention and needed money, will it be the answer to their needs or just another disappointment?
There are little things I noticed about these characters to clue me in that they’re Indians: it’s the Elders and not the elderly, they point with their chins, introduce where they’re from and who their people are by which tribe they are a member of and Home means the rez. They’re “cultural things.” Theo also gets annoyed when his professor keeps at him to tell a story he’s “uniquely positioned to tell based on his heritage” and wonders if the non-Native students in the class get similarly scolded to tell whatever “their” exotic stories are as well.
A lot of time is spent on Theo’s difficulties in juggling his jobs and studies as well as Ester’s reticence in confronting a difficult living situation and then there’s Linda’s frustrations with Arnie and networking among other Indians. Once the romance focused on Theo and Ester, it’s wonderful but this took a back seat for a lot of the story.
I appreciate the view of Indians as just people, facing the problems everyone has as well as those prevalent to them such as alcoholism – to be explored more, I think, in the next book. Seeing Ester blossom at something she enjoys and watching Theo gain hope that his dreams can come true was fantastic. I’d love it if the relationship between Linda and Arnie gets more time and that we see more Elders. But this story got a little bogged down in administration details and the minutia of non-profit woes. B-