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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Currently reading

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ann J. Lane
Wizard and Glass
Stephen King, Dave McKean
River of Blue Fire
Tad Williams
Richard Ford
Progress: 36/420 pages

Shakepeare's Champion / Charlaine Harris

Shakespeare's Champion - Charlaine Harris

There's something rotten in Shakespeare... — Lily Bard was running from shattering memories when she moved to Shakespeare, Arkansas. Now cleaning houses pays her bills. Working out helps her heal. Still protecting her scars, she hides a hard body and impressive skill at martial arts under baggy sweats. And nobody knows how strong she is until racial violence has her looking behind closed doors for a killer -- doors to which a housecleaner might have the key.

When Lily uses her training in goju to help a black man jumped by white teens, she does it for justice...only to hear he's been abducted and beaten to death a few weeks later. Then a bodybuilder is killed at her gym. Both incidents jar Lily's need for security and refuge. Looking into closets, sweeping under rugs, she soon uncovers enough dirt to confirm that something sinister is growing in her adopted town. Getting involved could endanger her life. But Lily is seeing a new man and dreaming new dreams. And no one can make this strong woman run again.


  I would rate this book just a touch below the first book, maybe 3.5 stars, perhaps because I am now familiar with the setting and with Lily. I still like Lily a lot and she continues to surprise me. Harris introduced a love triangle at the end of the first book and I was anxious to get reading to see where it went. Boom! 
Lily dumps them both! Gotta like a girl who’s decisive like that. Plus, she’s no dog-in-the-manger. She is quite happy to see her exes move along with other women—quite different from Sookie Stackhouse, Harris’ other small town gal, who always seemed to resent any women that “her” men took up with after their break-ups.
(show spoiler)

It’s a treat to read about a woman who can protect herself and develop her strength to overcome past trauma. However, I’m a bit disturbed by her current love-interest, who also has a traumatic past, knows Lily’s situation, and seems drawn to her because of it. I will be interested to see if he lasts in the relationship for more than one book. I’m also hoping that Lily can come out of her hard, protective shell a bit more. At least in this book, she is starting to allow people into her life gradually, even if she has mixed feelings about it. There is true potential for this series to pass the Bechdel test.

On the other hand, after protecting her personal secrets in book one, all of a sudden it seems that everyone and their pet cat knows about Lily’s past in this book. Which is an uncomfortable situation if you’re still sensitive about the details (it seems Lily is, though it was no fault of her own) and you live in a very small community. Lily has been a discreet cleaning lady ever since she came to Shakespeare, but suddenly people are questioning whether they want someone “like her” to clean for them. Another way of blaming the victim, something we can read about in the current media.

An enjoyable sequel and I shall look forward to the next installment when I have the time to read it.