REVIEW: A Hearing Heart by Bonnie Dee
Dear Ms Dee,
Thanks for offering Dear Author the chance to review your latest historical from Liquid Silver. And then for following up with me to be sure I got the book. I do fall behind on my reviewing at times.
After the death of her fiancé, Catherine Johnson, a New York schoolteacher in 1901, travels to Nebraska to teach a one-room school and escape her sad memories. One afternoon, violence erupts in the sleepy town. Catherine saves deaf stable hand, Jim Kinney, from torture by drunken thugs.
As she takes charge of his education, teaching him to read and sign, attraction grows between them. The warmth and humor in this silent man transcends the need for speech and his eyes tell her all she needs to know about his feelings for her. But the obstacles of class difference and the stigma of his handicap are almost insurmountable barriers to their growing attachment.
Will Catherine flout society’s rules and allow herself to love again? Can Jim make his way out of poverty as a deaf man in a hearing world? And together will they beat the corrupt robber baron who has a stranglehold on the town?
The scenes of Catherine teaching Jim to read then of them both learning sign language are fascinating. Since I’m not a teacher, I wouldn’t have the first clue as to how to start. I think you did a great job showing how Jim’s new learning is opening up the world for him. I can’t imagine not being able to communicate beyond simple pantomimes. Not being able to hear, speak or write would be terrifying and immensely isolating. You conveyed this well.
The book avoids sugary sweetness. It is matter of fact and down to earth. Brava. I did get tired of reading about the state of Jim’s cock. It was almost to the point where I was looking for the scene “cock alert.” Is it hardening yet? Has Jim managed to hide his physical condition from Catherine? The inclusion of the hawt sex scenes at the end of the book were jarring as compared to the low heat level of most of the rest of the story.
Jim is ready to help people, even when he initially doesn’t like them as we see with Dean and his filly, but when the chips are down, he steps up to the plate – though thank you for not turning him into a sudden Superman. He’s never fired a gun, as I believe was the case with most men of the time, and it shows. This is a good thing, IMO.
The villains and the lengths to which Karak is willing to go to get what he wants don’t surprise me. This was the age of range wars and men owning towns – just as you’ve described him as doing.
Jim isn’t made to be a poster child for pc-ness nor does Catherine treat him like some pet project – she sees him as a man and realizes early on she is attracted to him as more than a friend. But here’s the trouble for me – the first time they kiss, she’s not expecting it and she feels guilty and thinks – “we can’t do this because of the social differences.” Then – while they’re on their picnic – she thinks that if there’s going to be any kissing that day, she’ll have to instigate it. WTF? And she does, knowing that she doesn’t feel they’re social equals and that she could hurt Jim with any rejection. Then she keeps letting them get more physical all the while knowing that she isn’t up for a social relationship. I know you want to present a flawed heroine, and I’m grateful for that, but I couldn’t help but finish reading the story thinking that she’s damn lucky to get Jim rather than the other way around.
The ending is nicely done. They obviously can’t stay in a town that views Jim as nothing but low class hired help and the location of the School for the Deaf in Catherine’s home state is fortuitous. Win-win situation all around.
Despite the issues I have with the book, I’m glad I read it and glad that you sought out a review for it. I’m sorry that it didn’t work quite as well for me as you would probably wish it had but it’s still a B- for me.
FTC discloser – A free copy of this book was provided to DA by the author for a potential review.
This book can be purchased Liquid Silver Books in ebook form.