Silver Threads, Golden Needle
by Paula McKinley
(Jove, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-515-12953-4
***
There are quite a few recommendable aspects to Silver Threads, Golden Needle. The book is well written, the protagonists are likeable for the most part, and the romance, though a late bloomer, is a solid one. What keeps this novel from a higher rating is the author's employment of a couple fantastical plot devices that are difficult at best and impossible at worst to swallow.

The premise of the entire novel, for instance, revolves around the heroine's ability to weave together magical healing quilts with her magical golden sewing needle. The golden needle apparently gained its potent magic powers when it was cursed (or blessed?) by an angel 900 and some odd years ago because the original owner refused to be courted by new suitors after her beloved husband died. Now the needle will find its way to a woman in need of it, giving her the power to find happiness and love if she chooses to embrace them...

Lynn Powell is a woman in hiding, having all but dropped off the face of the earth to allude her abusive ex-husband. She now runs an underground shelter for other abused women, taking in victims of domestic violence when the judicial system fails them. To support herself and her activities Lynn sews together quilts that have major restorative qualities about them. Whenever someone lies beneath one of her quilts, they become emotionally and physically healed.

Although she has some reservations, Lynn agrees to take in a girl named Betsy who, although she is not a victim of spousal abuse, feels the need to run away from her overbearing family. Lynn's worst nightmare becomes a reality when the ditz of a girl leaves behind a diary that allows her brother Grant to track her down to the hidden shelter.

Grant Major is a well-to-do construction company owner looking to get into politics. He doesn't have time to go galavanting around Texas in search of his wayward little sister, but he loves her enough to do so any way. From the first moment Grant sees Lynn he feels an instant and inexplicable connection toward her. When Lynn's abusive ex-husband shows up on the scene, Grant will do the only thing his heart and conscience will allow him to do - he will protect Lynn at all costs.

The first problem the novel runs into concerns the employment of a tired cliché. When Grant and Lynn first meet, despite the fact that she is wary of all men and despite the fact that she is rather nasty to Grant upon meeting him, the protagonists experience that inexplicable instant electricity thing. Given the circumstances under which they meet coupled with both of their histories, such a notion is hard to credit.

The plot device I find the most troublesome, however, is the premise of the novel itself. To put a fine point on it, Lynn's ability to make magical quilts comes across as far-fetched and at times even ludicrous. Yes, I realize that this romantic offering is brought to us via Jove's "Magical Love" line, but such a storyline is a bit too other-worldly for a contemporary novel.

In an historical novel it's easier to accept the fantastic because none of us were alive to see the past play out. Our minds, therefore, are better able to say "ok maybe that could have happened", with the "maybe" being enough to keep the novel's premise legitimate in our eyes. In a contemporary, however, accepting the mystical isn't quite as easy...especially when it's supposed to be taken seriously and is not presented in a comedic format. For me, I'm afraid, the magical quilts are a bit much and I wasn't able to stretch the boundaries of my belief system enough to truly get into the book.

Silver Threads, Golden Needle is, regardless to my criticisms, a very well written novel. The prose is nicely done and the action-packed plot is often times quite engaging. If you don't mind an "instant electricity" plot device and if you're more able than most to suspend your notion of what's plausible in a contemporary novel, then chances are you will enjoy this read.

--Tina Engler


@ Please tell us what you think! back Back Home