FICTION

Bound in Flame

Passionflower. (Hawaiian Ladies’ Riding Society, Bk. 1). Oct. 2019. 371p. ISBN 9781733607704. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781733607711. F
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[DEBUT] In 1909, Letty Lang, an 18-year-old native Hawaiian woman, challenges tradition by studying to become a veterinarian, training horses, helping women get the right to vote, and learning to harness the magical power growing within her. Along the way, she attracts attention from those who would help her, including a handsome white Englishman, and those who would harm her for being different. As she comes into her powers, Letty finds strength from her work, her community, and the love of her life, all while living in a society that struggles to accept her gender, skin color, and marriage for many generations to come.
VERDICT More of a coming-of-age tale than a romance, this debut’s lush early 1900s Hawaiian setting fails to overcome a meandering story full of details but lacking in focus. Magic is used as a convenient plot device to prop up a heroine of color who deserves to be extraordinary in her own right. Issues of racism, colonialism, and sexism are handled clumsily. Not recommended

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