Series: A Modern Fairytale, #3
on March 22, 2016
Genres: Modern Fairytale, Romance
Buy on Amazon
Once upon a time there were two cousins:
one golden like the sun,
one dark like midnight,
one a protector,
one a predator,
one a Woodsman
one a Wolf…
both owning equal,
parts of a little girl’s heart.
In this modern retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood," the woodsman and the wolf are cousins, and Little Red is the girl with whom they both fall in love.
Beautiful Ginger McHuid, daughter of Kentucky's premiere horse breeder, grows up on her family farm, best friends with Cain Wolfram, the son of her father's Stallion Manager, and Cain's cousin, Josiah Woodman, son of a local banker. Throughout their happy childhood, the three are inseparable friends, but as they mature into adults, complicated feelings threaten to destroy their long history of friendship and love.
This story is set over a nine year period with three year time gaps. There are five different parts of the story with time gaps in between. While it’s told in 3rd person, we experience this story in each main character’s point of view – that’s right, we get three POVs. While I originally liked this idea, I wasn’t completely sold on it. In certain cases, each POV would showcase the same event, just told from a different character’s point of view. We didn’t get very much extra detail, whether it be what they were thinking in those moments or otherwise so I’m not exactly sure this was necessary.
There are things about Katy’s writing style that I liked and things that I didn’t. This is my first book by her so I’m not sure if all of her work is the same way, I just have Ginger’s Heart to base this off of. Her style is in no way superficial; it’s deep and unapologetic which I loved. However, at times she added in what seemed to be so much unneeded detail, I found myself getting taken out of the actual storyline. I understand creating imagery or drawing the reader to feel for the characters, but personally I think it went too far. I don’t need two pages to understand that everything about Ginger’s day seemed normal. I don’t need long winding paragraphs to know that she liked to ride horses. I needed there to be a point, not just writing to have words on the page. This was actually my main problem with the story – it seemed way too long because a majority of it was written like this. Reading it on the kindle, I don’t actually know how many pages it is but location wise it’s almost twice as long as the average book. I think a solid 100 pages could’ve easily been cropped out to become more concise and to the point. There were times I was bored and there were times I started to skim. I really wish this wasn’t the case because in turn there were some parts that I have a lot of brilliant things highlighted.
“For all that this might have been Cain’s millionth kiss, the most terrifying thing about kissing Ginger was that it felt like the very first. Like no one had ever come before. Like no one could ever come after. And as his heart thundered painfully behind his ribs, he knew—for the very first time, after years of hunting—what it felt like to surrender.”
“You’ll be missin’ me from Timbuktu,” she said, trying to keep her voice light, but failing. “Wherever I am,” he said in a tone of such heartbreaking longing, her breath caught and held in her chest, “I will always be missin’ you.”
I’m not sure if it was just me, but this book seemed extremely southern. The dialect seemed way over the top and a little forced. Heck, even Chris on the blog here is southern and while yes I can pick up on her southernisms, they’re nowhere near this strong. But then again, I could be completely wrong. I’m from Canada and have never visited the southern states, so for all I know this could be completely accurate.
I know at this point I’m just nitpicking, but I can’t help it. A majority of Ginger’s Heart was set on a horse farm. Personally, I’ve been around horses day in and day out for over twelve years. I currently work on a horse farm. I went to college to study horses. In high school I volunteered teaching lessons to kids. When there is this much of the setting on a horse farm, every detail better be accurate and unfortunate it wasn’t. Now I say I’m being nitpicky because obviously these differences wouldn’t be caught by anyone else, but for someone in the industry, they stood out.
My favourite parts of this book were when I could feel each character’s anguish and turmoil. Cain’s definitely hit me the hardest. It was raw because he didn’t feel worthy, heartbreaking because he could never have his chance. He was the rotten apple, the trouble maker with the rebellious childhood. Surely no one would allow the princess to be tainted by the wolf.
“From a young age, Cain had acted out, likely to get attention from his unhappy parents, and had been labeled a troublemaker by the third grade. And like a self-fulfilling prophesy, that’s exactly who Cain became for the good people of Apple Valley: their own little poisonous apple—beautiful on the outside but rotten to the core.”
Right from the get go you know there is going to be a love triangle. From the synopsis, you’re warned so there’s no surprises here. What I did enjoy, was the fact that even through the highs and lows in her relationship with both cousins, Ginger always knew exactly what she wanted; exactly who she wanted. Some things may have deviated her from this plan, but I liked that she was never back and forth over who she wanted and how she could possibly choose.
“And the great dilemma of her life—loving two different parts of two different men—came into stark focus as she realized, yet again, that while one man could offer her the sweetness and stability she craved, it was the other who challenged her and set her heart on fire. She could have security with Woodman or electricity with Cain, but she couldn’t have both with one. Neither cousin could offer her both.”
A quick note about characters. More often than not, for the first half of the book I found some of Ginger’s actions to be childish. Whether it was because she never had the freedom to make her own choices or never had the belief that she was strong enough to handle what life gave her, I’m not sure. Woodman was your classic town golden boy. Smart, strong, rich, destined to marry Ginger, he seemed on the outside to be the perfect fit. I can only recall one moment where he truly stood out for me. In other instances, he was fine… I didn’t love him nor hate him. Overall Cain would’ve been my favourite. He believed he was despicable, that he was worthless. Yes he had some rough patches but it was his other attributes that caused me to care for him. He was extremely loyal, loving, adventurous, protective. He would do anything possible to prevent another’s pain, even if it meant causing his own.
“The girl he loved was making the right choice. The cousin he loved was getting the girl of his dreams. And Cain? He was going back to a job he loved, in a world he understood, where Ginger and Woodman and Apple Valley would eventually lose their sharpness and color, and he’d figure out a way to bear their loss. It was enough, right? It would be enough?
“It’s all you get! It has to be enough!” He shouted.”
I really enjoyed how Katy brought the story round circle. Bringing everything back to it’s roots and where it started. She did this from overlapping quotes at key times, reminding the reader what had transpired earlier. I’ve never read a book where this was done and in the later chapters, I think it helps to prove the story is unraveling the way it should.
“Jump to the one you love the most, darlin’.”
I don’t really see how someone could be upset with the way the story turned out. Sure there were a few plot elements that personally I wasn’t a fan of, but overall you could generally expect what was going to happen in the end. The story was more to show the journey of how each character’s got to each destination. While a major event involving one character I really didn’t appreciate, I can respect that this was the authors decision in how to take the story and move it forward. I just wish it could’ve gone another route; I think it would’ve created a different, more emotional outcome.
I’m a sucker for the endings in a story. Even if the beginning or middle fall flat for me, if the ending is powerful it can change my perspective on a large part of the book. This was exactly the case with Ginger’s Heart. I think it was the last five or so chapters (definitely the last three), where I fell in love. The last chapter especially hit me hard, but left me feeling peaceful and a lot better about the conclusion. It was not only powerful but beautiful. I loved the way that Katy made the entire story come back around to the beginning; from characters and quotes to dreams, I truly enjoyed that aspect and respect how it was done. For all intents and purposes, if every chapter was written like Chapter 35, I would be head over heels, yelling my love for this from the rooftops.
I really like the concept and ideas that Katy has with this series. It’s a fresh idea of retelling old stories that everyone knows with new twists. Apart from my above grievances, I did enjoy the book. I’m taking away a sense of peace over what happened and how even though I may not have loved the entire thing, but I did enjoy it despite this (mostly Part 5). I’ll be interested in taking a look into the first two books in the series, I’ve heard excellent things!
*An ARC was received in exchange for an honest review.
Just about everyone called Woodman “Woodman” except Gran and sometimes Cain. Gran insisted on calling him by his Christian name. Cain used “Josiah” and “Woodman” interchangeably with no real rhyme or reason that Ginger could follow.
“Rumor is you’re gonna marry Josiah someday,” said Gran, her sixty-something blue eyes merry. “But what do you say?”
Ginger giggled self-consciously, thinking about her grandmother’s question, something clenching in her twelve-year-old heart as she thought about marrying sensible Woodman and abandoning her wild feelings for his cousin, Cain.
“I don’t know,” she said, feeling her forehead crease in confusion.
“Or maybe you’re thinkin’ you want to marry…Cain,” said Gran softly.
Cain, with his jet black hair and ice blue eyes, appeared like a vision before her, and Ginger’s heart thumped faster. The way he’d run off to see Mary-Louise Walker this afternoon made her brown eyes spitting green with jealousy. The way he swaggered made her breath catch. Woodman was so predictable, so safe in comparison.
Then again, Woodman hadn’t exactly been predictable this afternoon, had he? He’d surprised her with the gift and even more with his words. His body had been hard and warm when he’d held her, the embrace awakening something new and foreign within her. Something she wasn’t sure she wanted. Something that didn’t feel safe and even scared her a little bit. She pulled her fingers away from the charm bracelet and faced her Gran.
“What do I do if I love them both?”
Her grandmother’s eyes, which had been mostly teasing, flinched, and her mouth tilted down in a sympathetic frown, which made her face seem so serious and sober.
“Choose, dollbaby,” said her Gran. “Someday you’ll have to choose.”
The same feeling that she’d had in the barn, when Cain had yelled, “Jump to the one you love the most, darlin’!” flared up within her—a fierce refusal to love one cousin more than the other, to give up one in lieu of the other.
Choose? Her memories skated back through a dozen years on McHuid’s Farm that had always included Cain and Woodman. When they were little children, they played together, swimming buck naked in the creek and racing over the green hills and pastures in impromptu games of tag. As the boys grew up, they started working with Cain’s daddy, Klaus, who was her father’s right-hand man, mucking out the stables and grooming the horses. She’d run down to the barn every day after her lessons to see them, working right along beside them until they were all covered in hay, dust and barn grime.
Though the Wolframs weren’t generally included in the McHuid’s active social life, the Woodmans were, which meant that in addition to seeing Cain and Woodman on the farm, she also saw Woodman at every holiday and birthday party…and they always managed to slip out unseen with some smuggled sweets for Cain.
They were the Three Musketeers of McHuid’s Farm and Ginger knew both boys as well as she knew herself—Cain’s smirking, hot-headed, impulsive ways, and Woodman’s level-headed patience, caution and kindness. Regardless of their differences, she also knew that as the only children of twin sisters, Cain and Woodman were much closer than most cousins. Genetically speaking, they were half-brothers, and while they surely liked to tease and torture each other, they wouldn’t hesitate to jump into front of a train to save the other’s skin either.
In Ginger’s mind, she envisioned them like two halves of the same coin that she held carefully in the palm of her hand.
She loved them both desperately.
No, her heart protested. Impossible.
“What if I can’t?” she whispered, leaning back and resting her head on her grandmother’s comforting shoulder.
“Then you’ll lose them both,” said her grandmother softly.
Ginger’s shoulders fell, relaxing in surrender as she closed her eyes against the burn of tears.
“But don’t let’s think about that now, dollbaby,” said Gran, leaning her head upon her granddaughter’s, the constant tremble of her unpredictable body almost soothing to Ginger as they rocked side by side in the twilight. “You’re just twelve today. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.”