Carved Wooden Heart – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest
Elizabeth Horton-Newton & Starla Hartless
Readers will find a unique romance within the pages of Elizabeth Horton-Newton’s and Starla Hartless’ novel, Carved Wooden Heart. Dani Stone interviews drop-dead-sexy artist, Jesse Wolf Carver for a series of articles she was writing on the arts of indigenous people. At first, he wanted nothing to do with her, but it didn’t take long before he gave her far more than an interview. The two fell into a very brief, wild love affair. What Dani came away with was more than she’d bargained for. Therefore, when a fellow student, Doug, began to court her and offered to marry her, she finally took him up on his offer of love and marriage. Yet, her chance at long-lasting happiness was still a long way off.
Carved Wooden Heart has a very unique concept, but it is marred by a few minor things. There are times when it feels like a contradiction between the strength of Dani and the way she actually behaves. Jesse is an enigma from the beginning showing exceptionall y rude behavior, then drastically shifting to being flirtatious and seductive. Furthermore, his aggressive behavior pops up out of the blue, and while Dani isn’t fully accepting of it, she also allows him to get by with some of it. She’s a tough young woman; therefore, that strength within her would’ve better been displayed more consistently. Weakness is natural, but this is an important piece of the female protagonist that could be more fully developed.
Though the storyline was a bit dry and slow at times, Horton-Newton and Hartless did a wonderful job of writing a life for Dani that is believable and seems actually possible for readers. Few women only experience one relationship during their lifetimes, and Carved Wooden Heart dives into not just two major romances for Dani, but the fringes of a third. The ending is somewhat stereotypical, yet it’s just what the reader is rooting for. Yet, there are surprises and conflicts until the end. Elizabeth Horton-Newton and Starla Hartless wrote a fabulous romance filled with sexy scenes, sweet romance and deeply emotional challenges. Carved Wooden Heart is a work of art in its own right. Well done.
Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.