Verdict: SACRED GROUND, part three of the McCloud Family Trilogy, satisfies readers with it’s irresistible adventure, captivating passion, a pained yet commanding Tom McCloud, and courageously feminine characters.
In SACRED GROUND, the third and final book in the McCloud Family Trilogy, M. Lee Lederhos reveals the story of Tom McCloud, the family patriarch. The reader learns about his painful childhood, his court-ordered military service, his ill-fated marriage to his first wife, and the harrowing ordeal that nearly robbed him of his second wife.
The man has experienced so much agony and suffering, beginning when he was a young child. It’s almost like Lederhos imagined the worst possible things that could happen to a man and scripted them for Tom, who can’t seem to catch a break. Tom’s resulting machismo, therefore, is almost unbelievable. But author Lederhos is correctly betting that his resilient passion and commitment to his family are just what readers are looking for.
Though it’s the third story in this series, it’s still easy to follow most of the plot. Lederhos does a nice job of subtly introducing the reader to some of the periphery characters whom returning readers probably know more intimately. She might include too many characters, though, and it does seem that certain personalities are getting forced, gratuitous attention just because they’ve played roles in the first two books.
Lederhos is able to make this work because she wants to show off the tight-knit McCloud family, a family network who remains loyal to one another through tragedies, feuds, and unfair criminal allegations. She deliberately boasts their dependability, integrity, and undying devotion. The setting, on the other hand, is depressing. On the reservation, poverty, resentment, and alcoholism persist. The anguish is harsh and authentic, but also sad. The Navajo culture, on the other hand, sets a romantic, almost enchanted tone, particularly the mystical white wolf that serves as Wenonah’s reincarnated protector.
The two loves stories, between Tom and Hana and Tom and Wenonah, are not flushed out enough and seem redundant and difficult to distinguish, because Lederhos crams two stories into one plotline, leaving neither one that inspiring. The plot is otherwise well-paced and keeps the reader engaged, though some of the legal charges are weak and unrealistic. And with several time periods and points of view, there are plot pieces told in flashbacks, which is a bit confusing.
Overall, readers will be charmed by Tom’s adoration for his wife and loyalty to his mother and brother. Carried away by the exploits and romance, returning readers will enjoy the continued tales of familiar characters.
~Erin Greenhalgh for IndieReader