I love Tracey Jane Jackson’s Caulde Ane books. They’re full of passion and suspense. In BOUND BY TEARS, Jesska suffers a tragic loss just as she’s about to graduate high school and embark on what she thought would be a wonderful life with her childhood sweetheart. In her grief, she begins to self-harm to a degree that frightens her family and forces them to act on her behalf in a way that only alienates her further. Jesska’s life stalls.
Bound by Tears
For ten years not much changes. Jesska works at a job she hates. Relations with her family have thawed a bit, but she associates mostly with her older half-siblings, Cameron and Megan, and Megan’s daughter Sofia. This all changes when Sofia’s paternity is revealed and her uncle comes to Portland to meet her. Kaspar is King of his people and used to getting what he wants. After identifying Jesska as his fated mate, he won’t take no for an answer. Jesska is wary of this bigger-than-life man, but also drawn to him as he and her brother work to discover who is responsible for the plot that separated Megan from her first two children.
There’s so much to praise about this novel. The Cauld Ane (and their Icelandic counterparts) are as fascinating as ever. The chemistry between Kaspar and Jesska is through the roof. The suspense ratchets higher and higher, especially when the man behind the tragedy Jesska suffered tries to force himself back into her life. I do wish the author had dragged that bit out a little. In my opinion resolving it so easily was a missed opportunity for additional drama and character development.
On the subject of characters, Jesska isn’t quite as likable as Jackson’s previous heroines. When Kaspar mentions his financial support for animal welfare organizations, she asks if he’s “one of those people who thinks animals are more important than children.” Huh? What sort of logical leap is this? One by a character who thinks cats are “little devils,” I guess. Also, for someone who was so attached to a “purity” ring, she’s ready to jump Kaspar quickly enough. Most irritating, she (in her despair) has renounced God, yet she’s pretty intolerant of other faiths. Poor Kaspar has to point out that being Catholic doesn’t mean he’s without a “moral compass.” But don’t feel too sorry for him. He thinks Wiccans are going to burn in hell. This, from a 1000-yr-old immortal-type with supernatural powers. Apparently, a pagan minding her own business as she dances naked under the full moon (and one must assume also any similarly peaceful Hindu, Buddist, Jew or Unitarian) is less entitled to an afterlife than the maniac who killed Jesska’s first love. As long as he repents and accepts Jesus before death, he’s golden. Oh, well, for every reader this religious arrogance irritates, I’m sure there’s a fundamentalist who’s clapping and cheering, which is why it didn’t keep me from giving the book a high rating. But, as this is MY review, I get to say what bugged ME.
To be fair, in the first five books the religious convictions of Jackson’s heroines adds to their charm. They manage to maintain strong beliefs, morals and standards during stressful, scary times and without condemning others. It’s one of the things I’ve loved about them. For me, Jesska just doesn’t measure up to Sam, Pepper, Grace and Charlotte.
The ending of the novel is exciting but crowded. At times it’s hard to keep the action straight because of all the characters involved and the number of late plot twists. But in the end, as usual, I was satisfied and eager to find out what might happen next to this ever-expanding Cold Weather clan. There are still a couple of hunky unmarried FBI and Private security guys. I’m hoping Jackson gives them their own Happily Ever Afters.
So, despite some unsettling religiosity, BOUND BY TEARS delivers all the passion and excitement Caulde Ane fans have come to expect.