William Hinde is a man waiting to die. Imprisoned for theft and murder, his life can be measured in hours, not days and illness just might kill him before the hangman. Then a mysterious man effectuates his escape and William finds himself utterly dependent upon the man’s mercy.
Richmond Burrows has been hired to free William and, having done so, he hopes their association will be a quick one. But as sickness, weather, and bandits slow their progress, Richard finds himself slowly falling in love. William doesn’t know where Richard is taking him, but he can’t help placing his trust in the steady, quiet man. Each man has secrets and as their journey comes to an end, one of those secrets might end up destroying them both.
Awkward. That’s pretty much the only way to sum up High Price. It was one of those stories that had a lot of potential, but failed to capitalize on it. Instead, it deflated under the weight of uneven and occasionally just odd writing choices and a lack of relatable characters. The plot itself, though somewhat thin, was intriguing and definitely piqued my interest. A jailbreak and a desperate dash for freedom are always great ways to get things off and running! Unfortunately it couldn’t sustain itself much beyond those opening pages.
Let’s talk about the writing first. There was no real flow or smoothness to it. Repetitive or peculiar word choices did a lot to completely distract me from the plot. Words such as “grotty” and the phrase “sack of spuds” were used far too often given the short length of High Price. And the word that distracted me so much that I could think of almost nothing else the rest of the story? Peepers. It was such a jarring word giving the context and implied time period of the plot. Additionally, there was an adjective overkill in High Price. In a way I appreciated the author’s attempt to build an imagined and descriptive environment for the characters, but this was just a step too far. Every little thing was described and done so to excess and to the point there was almost no real substance to be found. And often even when the flow of description worked, the adjectives were clunky and out of place.
William and Richard should have been enjoyable characters. They’re both men who have suffered: one from an unjust prison sentence and the other from the death of a beloved spouse. Together they discover a second chance at life and that is certainly their redemptive quality. Otherwise, both are rather flat and uninspired as characters. Richard’s tortured history seems like something out of a soap opera and while believable, it was presented with a bit too much drama for enjoyment. William has a massive secret, which is pretty obvious right from the start (or at least it was for me), and as a result never felt terribly interesting. When they’re together, their romance seems affected and I didn’t believe in what their courtship had to offer. Which was sad, because I really wanted to. I wanted to walk away from High Price with something, anything more than I did.
High Price could have been a simple, straightforward romance, with historical overtones and a few sweet moments. Unfortunately it felt into a complex trap of unbalanced writing and characters that failed to generate much interest. The plot had promise and there is a fair amount of action scattered throughout the book, but not enough to balance out the rest of High Price’s problems. I’d have to recommend giving this one a pass.