This Stolen Moment

Penelope Neri, Author Zebra $5.99 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8217-4584-7
Those who enjoy romances set in exotic locales will relish this story of 19th-century Hawaiian lovers. Neri brings various tropical landscapes to life in lushly vivid detail and engages the reader with interesting accounts of native Hawaiian lore and customs. But if its background is rich and well-realized, the story itself is better described as overwrought, plunging frequently into turgid melodrama and lurid emotional and physical violence. Emma Jordan and Gideon Kane are teenagers when they meet on a beach and enter into a passionate affair, which is cut short when Gideon's parents ship him off to Harvard. The son of Hawaii's largest cattle rancher, Gideon is destined to become one of its most important citizens, while Emma is the daughter of poor farmers. But socioeconomic differences can't thwart true love, and Gideon, who becomes embroiled in the horrors of the Civil War while stateside, is kept alive only by the thought of the beautiful lover who has sworn to wait for him at home. At last returning to Hawaii, Gideon is erroneously informed that Emma is married and, in a drunken stupor, weds another woman, the ruthless femme fatale Julia. Getting rid of Julia and of Emma's evil oppressive ``father,'' Jack, proves to be an ugly task, fraught with danger and emotional upheavals. Gideon is a sexy, sweet hero, while Emma, who possesses a truly wicked wit and a strong sense of responsibility, is both likable and admirable, but their story is unusually convoluted, Wodin's 1989 Brothers Grimm Prize winner, explores one young woman's painstaking efforts to transcend a past deformed by brutality and alienation as she describes growing up as an Eastern refugee in the chaos of post-war Gd and bizarre. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
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