Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ransom by Julie Garwood ***

This is another of the AAR Top 100 books I've read to meet my self-imposed "challenge" - to be honest, I'm also reading lots of other stuff and haven't even made it half way through this list, I don't think. But I'm doing it to find new authors and stories to love.

What is my opinion of Ransom? I'm conflicted. Truly, I feel a little inadequate as well as disappointed when I don't love a book that so many other people love. I mean, several of this author's books have made it to AAR Top 100 status, and I just Don't Get It. Is it me? I tell myself everyone is a little different, but I still wonder - why don't I like this more?

This is the second in her medieval series, and the first was The Secret, which I finished yesterday. The writing wasn't exactly the same - I didn't have quite the same issue (wondering if it was a comedy or not) but there was a touch of the Keystone-cops, everyone-talking-at-once thing going on here that befuddled me in the first book. And there was a conflict-obstacle trick I really hate, when the character intends to say something, but doesn't - or it doesn't come out right - or the other person misunderstands in a way that makes me want to shout at them. I'm talking specifically about the heroine not realizing she was married, not betrothed, in the ceremony she participated in - when it was so obvious to me, the reader - and when several characters sort of told her. Well, that's just it, they didn't tell her - they just kept saying, "no, you are not betrothed" instead of "YOU GOT MARRIED", leading her to believe nothing happened at all. But I found it irritating and annoying and wanted to shout JUST F**KING TELL HER THE TRUTH.

I liked this story - I did. But I didn't love it. It's not a keeper. I have no desire to read it again.

The plot involves an Englishwoman, Gillian, who helps the son of Scots laird Iain Maitland (The Secret) escape his captors. In order to take him back to Scotland, she calls on his Protector (Brodick, also now a laird) by sending a message saying his bride is waiting for him. The son was mistaken for the young brother of a different laird (Ramsey), so now we have 3 lairds involved in getting the son home and seeking revenge on both the English who sought the brother and the Scots who betrayed him. Of course, being a romance, we also have the growing relationship between Gillian and Brodick.

I kept wondering how historically accurate (or inaccurate?) the plot was - does the author mean to stray from the times? Is it meant to just be fiction, without regard to what the lives of people during this era - c. 1210 I guess - would actually be? I don't really know history well enough to call out any particular issues, but I'm pretty sure they didn't bathe as much as these characters did. And they surely didn't talk anything like these characters did, but maybe that was her "translation" as it were - from whatever they would have said that we couldn't understand to the modern version of what they said.

So - ok, another one to check off the list and put back in my PBS bookshelf. And I'm disappointed I didn't love it. 3 stars.

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