The Pocket Watch by Cheyne Curry

I’ve always said that I don’t review stories I don’t like. I’ll make an exception, this time. It’s not the story that’s at fault, rather my ability to deal with angst and an ending which is not so happy.

When Jenna looks out of her window at the working place of her partner in the 95th storey of the World Trade Centre, everything seems to be OK. Five Minutes later… yes, we’re talking about 9/11. Jenna is a fire fighter, and of course she heads out to see if she can help in the face of catastrophy, all the while worrying about the fate of her partner, Brynne.

The story puts the reader right in the middle of the chaos: confusion, dread. sheer physical exhaustion, narrated from Jenna’s point of view. It takes some nerve to read, and I cannot help but wonder how Cheyne felt writing it.

There is a shift in perspective at the end, something I don’t usually appreciate. It is necessary in this case, though.

I am of two minds whether to suggest reading The Pocket Watch, or warn against it. But then, the people involved did not have the choice, but had to live or die right there.

Brilliant, but depressing.

http://web.me.com/cheynecurry/Site/Hot_Off_The_Computer!_files/The%20Pocket%20Watch.pdf

Nature of the Beast by Cheyne Curry

Caprice Gallagher is a fan of Hannah Brishen. In fact, she has a crush on the tall singer, but who hasn’t? Caprice would never dare approach Hannah at a concert, too much competition making the effort not worth the probably humiliating result.

It comes as a big surprise, then, when Hannah initiates a contact, and not just for a quicky backstage; in fact she seems relieved and a little incredulous at learning that Caprice is single. She begins to court her,
and the reader sighs in blissful expectation of a romance unfolding.

Why then did Cheyne put out an explicit warning about violence and intensity?

There’s this woman, Annie, Hannah’s Ex, who cautions Caprice, “Be Careful. She’ll hurt you.” Apparently she is in violation of a restraining order, but then she also seems frightened by Hannah…

It turns out that Hannah likes to be in control, to put it mildly. She also likes increasingly rough sex, and so the relationship goes on a downward spiral.

The story does, thankfully, not end in dispair, but it is not what I would call a comfortable read. Don’t misunderstand, it is excellently written, meeting the high standards I’ve come to expect from this authoress. But the subject matter may not be for everyone. As Cheyne herself says, “If it helps raise awareness, then I guess there was a reason my muse made me go to the dark side.”

You have been warned. Other than that, highly recommended reading.

http://www.academyofbards.org/fanfic/c/cheyne_natureofthebeast.html

The Tropic of Hunter by Cheyne Curry

You can chat with her daily or cut her out of your life, you can try to make her proud or you can decide that you don’t give a damn about what she thinks of your life. I say you can love her, hate her or feel something in between for her, but you can’t feel indifferent towards her because she is – your MOTHER 😉

Hunter certainly do feel something, at the moment it’s probably mostly surprise at her mother leaving Hunter – and not one of her two brothers – her house. A feeling that is easily explained by the fact that Hunter haven’t spoken with her mother since the day she – Hunter that is – was caught in bed with the wife of the minister of the First Congregational Church at the age of eighteen. I guess that could cause a raised eyebrow even in the best of families, and well Hunters family life do seem to have been a bit dysfunctional.

Returning to Otter Falls some sixteen years after the incident, to deal with the house and her mothers belongings, Hunter have to face not only her mother’s legacy, but also the family and friends she left behind. This proves to be an experience with lots of surprises – both good and bad.

For those of us with a romantic preference “The Topic of Hunter” holds a nice – but a bit hasty – romance based on the theme of a first love that never dies. For anyone with a fondness for a more dramatic storyline Cheyne digs up the remainders of a girl who died a long time ago.

If you want a peek at the romantic parts of the storyline follow Hunter when she goes for a beer at the local bar on the night of her arrival in Otter Falls. Find yourself a table and watch as Hunter bumps into not only her high school best friend Lesley, but also said friends – no longer so young – little sister Lisa. Keep your eyes on Lisa, she is not only the centre of attention at a little gathering of family and friends at the bar because of her birthday, but also a catching woman with an old dream she wishes to live out with … you can guess who.

I’ve read the story more than once and each time I’ve found that Cheyne tells a catching story in an enjoyable and fluent writing style. In the beginning the focus of attention of the story is Hunter, her relationship with her family, and the rather fast-moving romance with Lisa. At some point the focus of the storyline shifts to a drama involving the death of a young girl, and then – when we have survived the peak of the drama – we get treated to a very abrupt wrapping up of the romance, which I find a bit disappointing, but if you like a well woven story with a mix of romance and drama you could do a lot worse than spending your time with “The Topic of Hunter”.

Should you like Cheyne’s writing style and wish for a pure romantic storyline I can recommend the series of short stories “In The Light Of Day”, “Chance and Choice”, “Decisions”, “From This Day Forward”. You can look up Jarlings review if you want an introduction to the story.

http://xenafiction.net/scrolls/cheyne_the_tropic_of_hunter.html

Permission to Recover by Cheyne Curry

A novel-sized story about betrayal, friendship, love, and the US military. Also a story that leaves me in two minds whether to love or to dislike…

Dale Oakes is a lieutenant of the US military police, who has, after thwarting a criminal plot, almost been killed in revenge. While she awaits her discharge for medical reasons, she is reactivated by her close friend, Lieutenant-Colonel Anne Bishaye, to investigate apparent setups of drill sergeants in the 10th Battalion, where she is to work as an undercover agent in the disguise of a trainee together with another MP officer.

That other officer turns out to be Shannon Walker, a good friend of Dale’s that she had lost sight of. And no, Dale does not fall in love with her — Cheyne rarely, if ever, takes takes well trodden paths with her stories. Still, Dale does come to grips with her awakening attraction to the fairer sex while the story unwinds.

So, the story is about relationships, and not all of them are friendly. It is also about the trials and tribulations of women in a ‘man’s army’ in the mid-to-late 1970’s. And it’s a whodunit with the pace picking up towards the end, so much so that I almost missed the time to go to work while reading over my morning coffee.

So what’s to dislike? Let me quote from the introduction: “there will be sometimes … many paragraphs spent on military detail”. And that’s where the rub lies. Assuming that American readers are well informed about their military structures, my objection is that a non-American will have a hard time with understanding a lot of procedures, not to talk of abbreviations, that this story contains — and, yes, this reviewer is European. Pay grade ‘O-4’, ‘Article 134’ and so forth? Not all of it is entirely unexplained, but it does make for a somewhat strenuous reading. At times, I was ready to hand the author the “American Globe” award.

Apart from that, the story is brilliant. Not only are the main characters very believable, portrayed with strengths and flaws, the many “supporting acts” also have depth and roundness. There’s suspense and an unexpected conclusion. It exposes the problems women have in a male oriented society without being lamenting.

Even given my exception — it’s hard to put this one down. Go for a ride (but watch your clock:-)!

http://www.academyofbards.org/fanfic/c/cheynecurry_permission1.html

In the Light of Day by Cheyne Curry

“When Riley Vaughn awoke, she instantly knew she was not in her own bed.”

That is how the story starts, and it is the beginning of one of the most impressive opening scenes I can remember. It is indeed not Riley’s bed, but the one belonging to Kya Liberis, the only lesbian present at yesterday’s bachelorette party, during which Riley had become so intoxicated that she hardly remembers anything about it. Not only that, she also has no idea of how she might have wound up in Kia’s bed, with a very naked Kia lying by her side — not that she can even remember her host’s name…

Now, Riley is not a lesbian. Definitely not. Why then does her body tell her of ‘activities’ from the last night? It is an embarrassing situation, and it becomes worse and worse as she is told of what happened at the party — and I had tears of laughter in my eyes as I followed the progress of discovery.

Riley is so shaken up by the experience that she begins to question her assumptions about herself, and admits to being attracted to Kia. She decides not to turn her back on this unexpected experience, and thus friendship and romance are given room to grow.

Very likable characters, brilliant humour, dealing with homophobic reactions — this story has a lot going for it.

There are three sequels:

‘Decisions’
(http://www.academyofbards.org/contest/challenge20/stories/cheyne_decisions.html)

‘Chance and Choice’ (http://www.academyofbards.org/contest/challenge20/stories/cheyne_chanceandchoice.html)

‘From This Day Forward'(http://www.academyofbards.org/fanfic/c/cheyne_fromthisdayforward.html)

But all four parts really make up one story, a story that made it into my eternal hall of fame without a second thought.

Do yourself the favour and relish it!

http://www.academyofbards.org/fanfic/c/cheyne_inthelightofday.html