3 out of 4 stars
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Samantha is fired from her job at a hospital after punching one of the surgeons right in the face. Not only that, but her secret boyfriend, the same man who said he didn't want a serious relationship, is now saying that he can't live without her. Sam decides to break off all her ties to that town and moves down to live with her uncle in Tennessee. She was hoping for peace and quiet on the farm, but it turns out that her uncle's farm is in danger as he's being pressured to sell his land to a company that's hoping to build a shopping mall in the area. In comes TJ Carter, a Civil War historian and the president of the battlefield preservation association that is desperately trying to save the land in the town, especially the old battlegrounds, from being paved over. Sam and TJ hit it off immediately, which is a good thing as they're fighting on the same side of a land development war that's threatening everything they love in Cindy Ziperman's Hallowed Ground.
Since TJ is a historian, I thought there would be quite a bit of history in Hallowed Ground, but in reality it was sprinkled throughout the book as romance and action took the main stage. Sam and TJ have great compatibility and are two characters who are strong independently and even better when they're together. Hallowed Ground is full of twists and turns, alternating between TJ and Sam's snarky romance, slapstick villains, harrowingly narrow escapes, and the loss of loved ones. There are a few erotic scenes, but nothing overly detailed or explicit.
Hallowed Ground is around 230 pages and was so interesting that I sped through it in mere days. The book starts with a punch -- literally! -- and keeps readers entertained with events that escalate into an unexpected and shocking ending. Ziperman is great at leaving red herrings and keeping the reader guessing. I thought for sure I knew what was going on -- but my guess, although correct, was only part of the overall puzzle.
I definitely think the characters were the book's greatest asset. Sam is a wonderful heroine, very likable and independent without being obnoxious. I was moved by the lengths she went through to take care of TJ when he was in trouble. Also, her fears are justified and add dimension to her character instead of being "necessary pitfalls so that she isn't too perfect."
However, the book also had a major downfall. The editing is absolutely horrendous, and it breaks my heart to admit it. I stopped keeping track of errors after just the third chapter. A good 80% of them were punctuation errors, such as lack of ending punctuation and starting new dialogue without opening quotation marks. There were also an abundance of typos. Honestly, it was a hot mess, which is a downright shame because with the right proofreader Ziperman could really shine. I was highly entertained even though I had to wade through a sea of errors, so imagine how great the book would be if it was polished and perfected!
I was dying to give Hallowed Ground 4 stars, but with all of the errors I found, I can only give it 3 out of 4 stars. I sincerely hope the book gets cleaned up by a proofreader and updated for others to enjoy. I know many people who would enjoy this book, but I cannot recommend it to them in the state it's in now. Still, Ziperman is a great storyteller and I know I'll be looking forward to her next works!
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