Tuesday, June 18, 2013

If It's Not Scottish, It's Crap!

Having a bit of a Mike Meyers moment. Always did love that skit.

Once upon a time, back when Hellion was a young lass, Hellion read stories set in Scotland like they were Regencies. Instead of Regencies. Instead of most anything. If the hero didn't have a kilt, he was no hero. This can possibly be blamed on Julie Garwood and her string of lovely Scottish books. Who could ever forget The Secret?

Then I stopped reading Scottish set romances. I'm not sure why this was, but again, I could probably make an educated guess it was about the time I took that history research class and did this semester-long paper on William Wallace and the fight for Scottish Independence. This should have made me more of a reader of Scottish romances, but instead, I was suddenly annoyed by all the romances that had a man in a kilt, but seemed as historically significant as grated parmesan cheese in a bottle. Just not the same as the kind grated right off the block, if you know what I mean. Sawdust filler. So I quit reading them...and began avoiding them like vampire novels. In fact, this might have been around the time I started reading vampire novels. I had sunken into the Abyss.

Then I found a series by Monica McCarty, about a high concept series that was like Special Ops forces set in Robert the Bruce's time period. (My own sweet, dear William!) I fell into that series like a sinner falls back into vice, wholeheartedly and wondering where it had been during the last several cold empty years. Gradually, I began tentatively poking at other Scottish novels. Very tentatively. The back blurb really had to get me. I wasn't a fan of the man in the kilt on the cover. I don't care how pretty he looked. What was the story?

I was having a gander at the library selection last week and was struck by a book called THE WARRIOR by Margaret Mallory. Okay, the cover was really nice. And the hero's name was Duncan. (Yes, I was a fan of the Highlander series. Who wasn't a fan of the Highlander series? Adrian Paul is a god.) Anyway, Duncan captured my attention...and he was in love with the chieftain's daughter, Moira, who is wild and reckless and madly in love with him. I read the first page--and before I finished the first paragraph, I put the book in my pile and made my way to the check out line.

In the vein of Monica McCarty's novels, where the heroines feel true to the period--even the chieftain's reckless, wild daughter--this story had plenty of authentic feeling detail. It's not easy being a girl in this time period. The women are forged of steel, and the men better be strong enough to hold them or they're not going to last. These are men who are looking for redemption; and women who love them just the same. My kind of Scottish novel. Dark, gritty, angsty Scottish novels.

So I read THE WARRIOR in about a day...and now I've started the next in the series, THE CHIEFTAIN, and I'm just as delighted by the detail and weave of storytelling in this one. And though I started this series out of order, I've gone back and retrieved the other two in the series because I cannot bear to not read Alex (the Viking)'s story, his book aptly titled THE SINNER.

There you have it. My recommendations of the week...and my newfound delight again in Scottish novels. What are you reading--and have you rediscovered a new interest in an old love?


Marnee Bailey said...

I used to read Scottish books but I haven't in a long time. I"m not sure why not. Probably like other subgenres, I got Scottish book-ed out. I'll return, like I return to all the subgenres I love.

Thanks for the recommend! These sound great!

Terri Osburn said...

I can't remember the last time I read a Scottish set novel. For a while they got harder to find, then I got away from reading. Now I simply can't keep up. Heck, I haven't even watched Brave.

MsHellion said...

Marn, that's probably what happened. I got burned out. Too much of a good thing and then everything started reading (tasting) the same.

Terri, awww, you should try to watch Brave when you can. It's so darling.

Janga said...

I don't search romances set in Scotland, but I have some favorites by authors I read. I thought Cathy Maxwell's Chattan Curse books were really good, and I have keepers by Eloisa James, Teresa Medeiros, and Connie Brockway that are set in Scotland along with some real oldies such as Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart and Sarah's Cottage, Music in the Hills and others by D. E. Stevenson.

Today I'm reading Tracy Brogan's Hold on My Heart, and Sarah Mayberry's September release is next.

irisheyes said...

Same for me, Hellie! I picked up THE BRIDE by Julie Garwood at the library and after finishing went out and glommed her backlist. THE SECRET and SAVING GRACE were my favorites. I went through a whole medieval period - read some Jo Beverley, Madeline Hunter, all Julie Garwoods. I think I burned out too. Then I found the newer medievals/scottish laird books just weren't doin it for me. I'd read a chapter or two and they seemed kind of comical so I just stopped.

Right now I'm really in the mood for a good western. Something like Lorraine Heath's TEXAS DESTINY or Kaki Warner's Blood Rose Trilogy. I'm in a slump and can't seem to find something to hold my interest.

I'm also anxiously awaiting the next book in 2 of the series I'm following - WILLOWLEAF LANE by RaeAnne Thayne and HOME TO WHISKEY CREEK by Brenda Novak.

Wow, Janga. I'm so jealous you're reading Sarah Mayberry's newest. Isn't that the first of a trilogy she's working on. Maybe she's what I need. She always delivers. I think I have 2 of her backlist that I've been saving.

Janga said...

Irish, I don't know if you've ever read Barbara Bretton's older titles, but yesterday two of them were free on Amazon. I really like her romances. And Mayberry should cure any reading slump.

P. Kirby said...

I'm in a reading slump. None of the books I'm reading are doing it for me. But I payed cashy money for them - heh, like a buck - and I'm determined to finish them.

The closest thing to a Scottish romance I've read is Outlander. At least, that I remember.

"(Yes, I was a fan of the Highlander series. Who wasn't a fan of the Highlander series? Adrian Paul is a god.)"

Actually Methos was my man. Hmmmm., Methos. On that note, I'm going to rediscover my love of Methos fan fiction.

MsHellion said...

Janga, I probably have many of the same keeper novels of "Scottish but not necessarily Scottish set" novels of beloved authors. *LOL* Your current TBR pile reminds me I need to go back over to your blog to see what you're recommending this week...this day. :)

MsHellion said...

Irish, I'm with you on the "a good western is hard to find"--and it's hard to top TEXAS DESTINY. I still owe you a great big thank you for turning me to that series!

SAVING GRACE is probably my favorite of the Scottish books of Garwood. His name was Gabriel, named after the archangel who protects women and children; I think this was the one with the crazy bishop guy who dies calling out for his mother (women are last in God's love/consideration, below animals.) And in the opening prologue when she finds out her husband is dead--BEST cliffhanger "I didn't see that happening" line from the heroine. And then she saves the dog...and it's all so lovely. Going to have dig out my copy again. I wore out my first copy and had to buy a second one.

MsHellion said...

Pat, Outlander classifies as the Scottish romance of all Scottish romances. *LOL*

Oh, I forgot about Methos! HE. WAS. AWESOME! I'm going to have to dig him out again to remind myself about him. *swoons* And some fan fic would be cool too. *LOL*

Maureen said...

Hmmm...well I read Jennifer Ashley's Scot romances...but I think that's about it.

But let's face it, I actually don't read a lot of romance.

I read the newest Longmire book last week! And I, uh, started a book on America's obsession with food...

Janga said...

Oh, I love Jennifer Ashley's Mackenzies, but it was a hero with Asperger's Syndrome who first hooked me on the series, not the setting.

Maureen said...

Yeah, me, too!

irisheyes said...

Thanks, Janga. I just downloaded a few of her ebooks for free!

I LOVE Gabriel and Johanna from SAVING GRACE, Hellie. That has to be one of my all time favorite tropes - the big fierce warrior who is really just an honorable, gentle protector. Jo Beverley's DARK CHAMPION has sort of the same premise. Imogene has to marry FitzRoger and doesn't want to and he knows it. She is awful to him, but he understands she's been put in a bad situation, puts up with her but most importantly takes care of her.

I forgot about the Mackenzies, too! LOL I love them!