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Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Highlands are weeping...

** Warning-NOT for the faint of heart or L.G. fans! **

Highland Scoundrel by Lois Greiman

Femicide/C-

Reading Highland Scoundrel was like dying a slow death. The setting (1509) and background were well constructed and the story line was plausible, but what ruined the book for me were too many minor details and sub-plots that were never followed through.

The beginning chapters made me very hopeful for the story line, but the strong, detailed and believable scenes on pages 1-27 were thrown off course by the forced dialogue and weak external factors. The easiest way I feel I can explain the book is to lay out the points of issue.

Problems in Highland Scoundrel:

“Ye”-The overuse of the ‘ye’ within the story came across as forced dialogue and really began to detract from the story by page 155.

The amulet- Dragonheart, the mysterious and magical amulet that played a semi-relevant role in the story comes across as a big, bulky Mr. T-like piece of jewelry that may or may not have influenced the plot line. The amulet feels hot and heavy when the characters, Shona and Dugald, are near each other and (possibly?) causes a stinging sensation on the back of Shona’s neck when she is around other male characters. It almost came across in the book that the characters were not falling in love with each other but were being forced into lust by the magical properties of the amulet. But, we will never know because the amulet was lost in the river and never addressed in the final pages of the book. I guess I’m supposed to be smart enough to know the answer to that.

Sex- Of which there was very little. The only full scene in the book comes 2/3 of the way into the paperback. However, the scene was forced, uncomfortable and unbelievable. The scene felt to me that Greiman finished the book and realized that she had left out a sex scene. Wanting to appeal to another demographic of readers, she closed her eyes and pointed to a random place in the story where she ultimately inserted ‘the scene’. This interaction between the two characters came at a strange and inappropriate point in the book. They have been together for weeks at the castle with numerous opportunities to ‘do the deed’ but no, they wait until they are surrounded by dozens of strange men and soldiers on their way to see the king. Hence, the uncomfortable part. Am I to believe that this woman who has fought off amorous suitors for years, including the hero, is willing to strip and do ‘McNasty’ out in the open on the edge of a camp with anyone who walks out of their tent to see? And she’s going to be the one to take the lead? Not likely.

The unbelievable part of this scene begins with the amulet, being as involved with the sexual tension as the two main characters. At this point I’m wondering if this is a mutual decision or just a magical spell. Not a lot of convincing by this point in the book that the characters like each other, let alone love each other. The unbelievability ends with Dugald withdrawing from Shona and ‘erupting on the mossy ground.’ So what, right? Did I forget to mention that a battle is taking place 20 feet away? They are so into-the-moment OR under the magician’s spell (another point never really cleared up) that they can’t hear half of the camp being slaughtered right next to their shoulder but he can think to pull out? Nope, don’t think so Ms. Greiman. Try another sucker.

Book 2 of 3- Highland Scoundrel is among a long list of books that chronicles the Forbes family. I had read The Flame several years ago, which was about Shona’s parents. Shona’s story is number 2 of 3 about the daughters of the parents from the first series of books. A small amount of background was given at the beginning of the book about the cousins and a pact that was made on the amulet, but it was not enough to explain the story line. Since Highland Scoundrel was not able to stand alone with its story line, it should be indicated on both the spine and the introductory pages that this book relied on book 1’s story in order to be understood.

The cousins, the Irishman Liam and the Wizard Warrick- What can I say? I still don’t know why they were in the book. Just more examples of sub-plots that were thrown in the book but never played out.

However, this book did get a C-, so there were apparently some salvageable features. As I mentioned earlier, the book did have some very well written scenes in the beginning. Scenes that were interesting enough to keep me from throwing the book against the wall until I was finished.

The cousins make for an interesting trio. There was a really good story here and I kept reading hoping the author would get there, she just never did.

The secondary characters, Liam and Rachel, were shrouded with mystery and innuendoes and very interesting! I found myself wanting more information about them, having already become disgusted with the main h/h. Because of this factor, I will read book 3, however, I’m going to read book 1 first and hopefully straighten out this mess in my head!

Confused yet? I am.

…Fiona…

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