Posts tagged ‘Scottish history’

A Highland Laird….Yum

“Lizzie, if you hate horses so much, why did you agree to a riding lesson,” my dearest friend Julia asked me, slightly exasperated watching me have mild panic attack on the back of her horse Africa.  Easy answer Julia: romance novels.  Duh.  Right before my semester abroad in Scotland, I realized something really vital: OMG, what if I go to St Andrews and somehow end up in nature–shudder–only to fall through a fairy ring/time vortex/wormhole and end up in a romance novel? I can’t ride a horse.  I would so be screwed.  Thus, following this astounding logic, I ended up on the back of Africa, ordering him not to move at all.

I know I’m a little insane.

It almost looks fake, doesn't it?

But see, Scottish romances have always been my favourite.  I’ve been crazy about them ever since I picked up my first technical romance novel: Tess and the Highlander by May McGoldrick.  It was one of those teen romance novels, meaning it was pretty much your typical romance minus the sex.  Lord, I loved that book.  Filled with danger and passion and people washing up on islands, I was captivated by Tess and Colin’s story to the extent that I literally read it three times in a row.  It was so amazing that I blame on my current obsession with Highland romances on it.  Bad Ms. McGoldrick!

From there, I went through the whole “I don’t read romances phase” until Julie Garwood’s Ransom, which was my first adult historical romance novel.  Take one guess where Ransom takes place.  If you answered “Scotland,” then you’re a WINNER!  Congratulations you!  I probably snuck that book out of the library 20 times before finally giving in a buying it.  I thought I was being so clever hiding it in a pile of “serious” literature that I didn’t read.

Now, some ten or so years later, I still love a good Highland story.  There’s something sexy about a rugged laird, a tartan, and  a big sword.  Sigh.  So this weekend, when face with a mountain of papers and books due for class on Monday, I did the most logical thing: picked up another sexy Highland read.  Again, I know you are amazed by my epic and logical decisions.

This weekend’s read: Dangerous Highlander by Donna Grant.  The first in her Dark Sword series, the story follows Lucan MacLeod and Cara Sinclair through a passionate tale of ancient gods, magic, Druids, and a family curse. Overall, I enjoyed the book–reading it in a day–and due to a cliff-hanger ending, will certainly pick up the next in the series. A sexy read with just enough magic to keep it interesting. For my full review, check out my Goodreads!

Romantic Question: What do you dearest friends think about the Highland romances?  Are they overdone, well-done, or a little too rare? (I must be craving a streak or something?)
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April 16, 2011 at 10:42 pm 2 comments

Review: Tempted by a Warrior by Amanda Scott

I was certainly tempted...

My Goodread’s review of the historical romance, Tempted by a Warrior by Amanda Scott.

Summary

Trapped in an abusive marriage, Lady Fiona’s life is a living hell until the day her husband Will goes missing.  Though she does not mourn his disappearance, Fiona worries that she had something to do with it but cannot remember any of the events from that night.  All she can remember is Will striking her, then nothing until she wakes up alone in her bed.  However when Will’s cousin Sir Richard comes to investigate the disappearance, Fiona finds herself drawn to the brave knight.   Despite her disdain of marriage, she begins to trust Richard with her biggest secret regarding her husband and her heart, but will conflict drive Fiona and Richard apart?

Review

Though the book was at parts a little slow, “Tempted by a Warrior” was an interesting read. The heroine’s back-story was properly grim and the hero was strong and honorable. Thankfully, Amanda Scott appeared to actually research for this historical romance. She deftly blended history with fiction, creating a realistic and three-dimensional world for her characters. An enjoyable read.

3 Stars

April 7, 2011 at 10:02 pm Leave a comment

Is Historical Accuracy Important?

Remember when you were a child and you would pluck petals off flowers? He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me.  Well, sometimes I feel like I am stuck with a never ending flower.  Doomed to forever switch back and forth between loving and hating one of the most popular subgenres in romance:  the historical.

Oh the conflict!  I mean I love them, but sometimes historical romances make me want to scream.  Just for you romance novices out there (you know who you are) historical romances come in many shapes and forms.  Most popular are the Regencies, the Victorians, with a scattering of American Revolutionaries, the occasional Renaissance and my favorite: the medievals.  I have dozens of historical romances littering my shelves, even more stored on my Kindle, and quite a few piled in my closest.  Obviously I must like them, I mean I keep coming back, right? Sure, but for me I just can’t finish a historical that is too, too historically inaccurate.

I am not saying I want everything 100% authentic, right down to the street names, but call me crazy, but I like my romances to at least have the major facts down.

Example: This summer I read Melody Thomas’ Claimed by a Scottish Lord (Avon, Jul. 2010), and it drove me absolutely bonkers.  Set right after the Jacobite Revolt in Scotland, around 1755 or so, Thomas’ history was all over the place.  I can handle details here and there that aren’t strictly true, after all it is fiction, but this book crossed the line from historical into fantasy in terms of facts and accuracy.

The Cover for "Claimed by a Scottish Lord"

Not exactly historically accurate

Okay here comes the rant.  The book kept making references to the Scottish clan system.  The hero is seen on the cover wearing the traditional plaid, which the book also makes reference to, and the Catholic Church plays a huge role in the plot.  Now here is my problem: The Scottish clan system was disbanded after the Battle of Culloden in 1746.  Traditional tartans were outlawed, and the Border regions where the book takes place? Predominately Presbyterian.  According to BBC:

“In the aftermath of the ’45 uprising the government decided to end the Jacobite military threat once and for all. Determined to bring the Highlands to heel, the army showed little mercy. Jacobites were rounded up, imprisoned or executed. Estates were forfeited, the clan system dismantled and weaponry, plaid and pipes were outlawed. For Highland culture it was a disaster.  However, it was not an unmitigated disaster for the whole of Scotland.

Painting of Madam de Pompadour from Louvre

Portrait from the same year as "Claimed"

For the Lowland Presbyterians the defeat of the Jacobites was a cause for celebration. The Union and the Presbyterian system of church government were safe.”

This meant: clan system gone.  Plaids gone.  Catholic Church not a driving force.  Thomas’ Scotland looked, felt, and read more like a medieval than a Georgian period romance.  Even look at the fashions on the cover.  They even look medieval.  Look at the heroine’s dress in the cover. See it? Good.

Now look at this painting of Madam de Pompadour–exhibited the same year that Claimed by a Scottish Lord takes place–1755.  Even though the portrait shows the French king’s mistress, the dress styles are very different.  Historically, the waistlines were lower, the bodices more squared, obvious corsets, and fuller skirts.

I know on some level I am being ridiculous, but I feel it is an author’s duty to make his or her historical…well historical.  I know that most people are not going to care and if I hadn’t spent a semester abroad in Scotland, I probably wouldn’t know these details, but it ruins a book for me when I am taken out of the narrative due to bad history.  It breaks the flow, and really, it’s something that can be easily avoided.

This summer I got into an argument/debate with the Assistant Web Editor at RT Bookreviews while I was an intern about this very subject (you can read the debate here!), and while historical accuracy may be important to me….others are more inclined to go with the flow.  But what do you think?  Do historicals have a duty to try to present the world as it was to the best of their abilities? Or is it really unimportant? Hmmm, universe?

March 7, 2011 at 6:45 am 5 comments


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