3 out of 4 stars
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Becky is a young seamstress student from Red Wing, Minnesota. Together with her best friends, she signs up for an exciting day cruise on Lake Pepin – a daring thing to do without a male escort in the year 1890. The delightful adventure turns into a horrifying nightmare as a sudden storm sinks the Sea Wing and the majority of the passengers drown in the raging waters. Becky survives barely, with the help of Army Lt. Bill Cravats. The destiny bounds Becky and Bill together in the aftermath of the Sea Wing disaster, and the two fall in love. Their blossoming relationship is interrupted when Bill gets reassigned to the 7th Cavalry in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, where Indians are said to be causing trouble. Becky is forced to stay behind and decides to follow her dream of becoming a doctor. A woman as a medic was almost unheard of, but against all odds, Becky gets accepted to medical school.
Together with the 7th Cavalry, Army Lt. Bill Cravats faces some horrific confrontations with the Indians in South Dakota. Becky’s dearly beloved fiancée is reported missing in action, and the two lovers lose track of each other. It seems that Bill Cravats is dead, but his fellow soldiers never manage to find his body. Becky is heartbroken when she receives the news. She now commits all her energy to her medical career and to the dream of becoming a trauma surgeon. Unfortunately, her womanhood stands in the way, and no major hospital will admit her into their trauma surgeon intern and residency program. She commits some unimaginable deeds to reach her goal. Is she going to make her dream come true? Is she ever going to find true love again?
Not the Same Water by Karen Black is a historical romance novel consisting of five different parts, which are bound to well-known historical incidents. The author has created a set of imaginary characters placing their stories inside of past real-life events. The mixture of reality and make-believe is intriguing, as I enjoyed learning about the historical background. It was fascinating to imagine how the world looked like in those days when there were no cell phones or internet available, and women could not do what they wanted. Instead of making a career, they were supposed to dedicate their lives to finding an appropriate man to marry and raise a family. The descriptions of women's clothing were utterly fascinating, and learning about the traces of unwritten social rules felt rather incredible.
The author’s style of writing was absorbing. It made me feel like located right in the middle of the events instead of just flipping through the pages of another book. The story was smooth and entertaining but also very predictable. Much to the author’s misfortune, I have read at least a dozen romance novels with almost identical plot development. Therefore, I was able to guess how the story would unfold. Until the very end, I was hoping for some element of total surprise to occur, but to my vast disappointment, all my conjectures hit the target with a sharpshooter's accuracy. Besides, there was one detail that kept on disturbing me. The story was somewhat jumping back and forth in time, and even though the dates were marked at the beginning of every chapter, I found myself checking and re-checking until the verge of frustration. I couldn’t help but wonder if there had been another less-disturbing structural solution available.
Not the Same Water is more than a suitable companion for some sunny Sunday afternoon daydreaming, and hence, I warmly recommend it to all adult fans of historical romance. The book has some slightly erotic scenes included, as romance novels often tend to have. Consequently, I do not feel comfortable recommending it to the minors.
As mentioned above, the reading experience was entertaining. Even so, this was not the best book I have ever read. Editing was on a satisfactory level, as I did not encounter more than a few typing mistakes and other small mishaps. The thing is, I feel that one of the most significant features of a good book is the element of surprise. Unfortunately, this is where Not the Same Water by Karen Black failed to fill my expectations. Therefore I am willing to rate this book with 3 out of 4 stars. However, Karen Black has managed to create a believable picture of the times. Therefore, I want to congratulate the author for offering an intriguing glimpse into the life of times before modern technology.
Not the Same Water
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