I fell in love with Pamela Clare's books with [book:Surrender}, the 1st of the Mackinnon's Rangers series. This is the 1st book in the Kenle3.5+ stars
I fell in love with Pamela Clare's books with [book:Surrender}, the 1st of the Mackinnon's Rangers series. This is the 1st book in the Kenleight/Blakewell Family Saga, and while, not quite as good as Surrender, it's got it's own appeal.
The story takes place in 1730, starting in London with Alec Kenleigh. One evening after visiting his mistress, Alec is kidnapped and taken aboard a slave ship bound for America. His wounds keep him foggy, but with enough fight to sustain several beatings. And when he makes it to the colony of Virginia, he's so ill with fever from his many cuts, he practically dies on the docks.
Cassie Blakewell has a tender heart - tender enough that she can't bear the thought of this man dying, so she buys him for less than 10 pounds. She's told that he's Nicolas "Cole" Braden, convicted of rape, and transported to the Americas to be a bondsman. Her purchase of him makes him her property for 14 years.
Cassie is running her father's tobacco plantation, while her father is supposedly either in England seeking a new wife or about the Americas looking for breeding horses. In reality, after her mother died giving birth to her 9-year old brother and heir, Jamie, her father simply lost his will. It's difficult to know if he sank into depression or was already suffering the effects of early Alzheimers or a combination of the two. Cassie's hiding her father, who's tended regularly by Takota, the Tuscarroa woman who one day simply appeared and joined the Blakewell family farm. Only a trusted few know the truth. And to keep from being forced into an unwanted marriage and to keep her brother's inheritance, Cassie's forced to take control.
She sees Cole as a much needed additional man. But when Alec awakens and learns his fate, you can bet he doesn't accept it easily. He even convinced Cassie to call the Sheriff and allow him to write a letter to England to establish the truth of his identity.
In the meantime, Alec/Cole finds his place on the farm and learns a lot about growing tobacco and the neighbors - including the poncy Geoffrey Crichton, Cassie's childhood friend. Geoffrey's father is offensive, beating his slaves and bondsmen alike; he's a rough, cruel task-master. Geoffrey is constantly looking for his father's approval, but despite following in father's footsteps, Geoffrey's schemes always seem to backfire.
Geoffrey is determined to marry Cassie. Except that, of course, Cassie and Cole/Alec have been falling in love. Quite a risk for Cassie, since Cole is a convicted rapist! But everyone on the Blakewell farm and most of the neighbors have seen how gentleman-like Cole/Alec is....
But how did Alec get in this predicament? Who's responsible? What happens with the letter to England? Will Geoffrey discover Cassie's secret hiding place for her father?
So much seems to happen in this book, I almost couldn't stand it! I was only 50% of the way through the book, and I swore it should be coming to an end. But it's well written, and in the reading of it, didn't seem overly long.
I was biting my nails at the end, however, and grateful when it did end. It's a romance, so we do have a happy ending, but there's a LOT that occurs before we can get there!...more
According to her bio, this is Kristy Tate's first book. I liked the book, and it's a good read.
BUT... my attention waned, mostly because of Mercy's vaAccording to her bio, this is Kristy Tate's first book. I liked the book, and it's a good read.
BUT... my attention waned, mostly because of Mercy's vacillating over whether to tell Trent the truth of her story. The story felt uneven - especially in the present day story.
I never quite grasped what the story of the present-day story was all about. Who is Odious to the mysterious woman in the present - Mrs. Michaels? Does that mean that her husband, Gregg, was related to the Michaels family, and thus to Odious? If so, they couldn't have been close relations...
The main story of Mercy, Trent, Eloise, Miles, Georgiana, and Mr. Steele is fascinating. And yet, uneven, too. The author seems to hold back details that might have helped the reader understand the story and the characters better. So much is hinted at, and yet not all of the pieces come together in the end. For example, there's a scene in the middle of the book where one of the "bad guys" is shot while stabbing someone seeking revenge. All we hear is the gunshot, and then all we see is the scene that Mercy sees - gruesome, to be sure. But what really happened? I suppose we can piece it together. And yet, would it have hurt for the author to show us that scene through one of the eyes of one of the people in that room?
The "mystery" involving who is whom among the characters is also not entirely satisfying. There's one character, especially, who comes and goes like a black ghost, and when we finally learn what's going on, it's a bare glimpse - enough to get the gist, but not enough to fill in the blanks.
When I'd finished the book, I wanted so much more! I completely understand withholding the full story until the end of the book, doling it out in pieces. But when I finish a book, I like to have a much better, more solid picture of what I just read. Mercy and Trent made me care about them enormously! And Lucky Island and the girls and Georgiana... what happened? We can put pieces together for Eloise and Miles and Chloe, but there's so much more. I feel as if my DVR cut off the last 20 minutes of a movie! It's frustrating! If I were the sort who didn't usually put things together quickly or didn't almost always solve the whodunnit in the first few chapters of the book, I'd just think that I'd missed something that I should have seen.
But I would definitely give another book by Ms. Tate a try. ...more
The Fiery Cross is such a complex book... filled with the beginnings of the Revolutionary War, tragedies, intrigue and suspLatest read: September 2012
The Fiery Cross is such a complex book... filled with the beginnings of the Revolutionary War, tragedies, intrigue and suspense re: the Frenchman's Gold, discoveries, laughter, lots of love, and the return of a beloved character.
So, so, so happy to receive this book! The wait seemed to last forever, but when it magically arrived on my Kindle, I was so happy that I4.5+ stars!!!
So, so, so happy to receive this book! The wait seemed to last forever, but when it magically arrived on my Kindle, I was so happy that I actually sighed! I got to immerse myself yet again in Jamie & Claire's world.
I have to admit, that having followed Diana G's Daily Lines for several months, I did feel a sense of deja vu while re-reading the passages that she'd grabbed the lines from. But mostly, I just felt that wonderful sense of "home".
I took my time reading this one, since I usually swallow the book whole in 24 hours or less. But I paced myself, forcing a slower read - a true absorption while I read. I also did *not* skim or read ahead, no matter how badly I wanted to. And yes, because I was concerned and (I'll say it) skeptical that I'd have some major beef with the ending, I really, really wanted to read the ending first. But I didn't do it. AND I'M SO GLAD THAT I DIDN'T!
The Jamie & Claire parts were my favorite. I thought I'd burst before they found their way back to one another again for more than a few minutes.
But I found the Roger & Buck parts especially poignant. I learned so much more about the characters involved in those sections... I even re-read "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows" again in the middle of this book, so that I could truly cherish those moments. (And while I have minor nits that didn't line up between that short story/novella and this book, they are minor and outweighed by the truly emotional and heart-warming feel.)
Always love Ian and Rachel. Enjoyed more of Fergus and Marsali, although I thought my heart would stop at "that" part. Found my liking for Jenny again. Despaired and then cheered for Lord John. And even felt myself wrapped up in William this time; it was amazing to truly compare and contrast William and Jamie - past and present. Some characters just didn't seem to make too much of a splash this time, but even in over 1,000 pages, it's tough to complain, because I'm so at peace with the story that I got!!!
OK, so the moment when I couldn't stop bawling came when (view spoiler)[Claire was reunited with the cat! (hide spoiler)] Yes, there were several tearful moments in this book; and yes, I thought my heart broke just a little. But that one particular moment simply laid me out, and I had to bawl until I was done.
And as usual, Jamie has some of the best lines ever!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
OK, I'm sort of holding my breath as I type this review, because I'm concerned that it will be misunderstood. I *liked* this book, but I re3-3.5 stars
OK, I'm sort of holding my breath as I type this review, because I'm concerned that it will be misunderstood. I *liked* this book, but I really wanted to love it, and I didn't.
The author truly focuses on the two main characters: Maggie our Heroine from South Carolina, and Andrew our Highland Hero. Maggie has "the Sight", a gift passed to her from her grandmother - it apparently skips a generation. Maggie sees visions of what will come, good or bad, but mostly bad. The only "vision" she has that is constant and "good" is of "the boy", whom she finds out later is Andrew. Maggie and Andrew have "seen" each other and dreamt of each other for as long as either can remember. As they've grown up together (even though an ocean apart), they've come to know one another and to love one another; neither has any doubt that some day, they'll be together.
In the meantime, tragedy after tragedy befalls each of them. Often, the other is able to provide some aid and comfort or even warning to the other. Knowing that the other is "there" is what keeps them both moving, living, going forward. It's wonderfully romantic.
But... as a reader, I felt confused at times, cheated at others. Time is relative in this book. We start in who-knows-what year with only a reference as to Maggie being born in 1730. After reading a bit and then getting to Andrew's part of the story, I had to go back and re-read everything I'd read to that point, trying to figure out what year it was and how old Maggie was supposed to be.
It seems that the author only wants to share specific events with us, and not the whole. We can literally leap from spring to autumn in the space of two sentences. And that's where my heart wept: it's what's in-between those sentences that could make this book so rich, so deep! It's those details, even mundane, that help us to really get the feel for the characters around Maggie and Andrew, and what's happening in their lives. It's what would make us care more... understand more... relate more... empathize more.
Because within this story is the germ of something really wonderful and magical. This gift that Maggie has and her connection with Andrew that is the reason for the story seems cheated by the miserly details within this book's framework. We learn a lot about the misery and horror of life; our only real comfort is from Maggie to Andrew and vice versa. There is a bit of comfort offered by others, but we never get the opportunity to really *know* them.
I still couldn't tell you much about Iain, except that he's a giant, he lost his family in the aftermath of Culloden, that he adopted 2 young kids, and that he traveled with Andrew to America.
I have pieces of who Andrew's family might be, but they seem lost in the sea of getting Andrew to Maggie, as if nothing but bringing these two together is what really matters. But since that event doesn't take place until at least 60% of the book, if that's the author's intent, it seems almost cruel. And I don't believe that *is* the author's intent.
It might sound cruel of me, but I view this book as a really good, really promising first draft of a story that is epic and wonderful and great. Perhaps it's my own sensibilities, but I have a hard time bearing all the tragedy and horrors of what happens (especially to Maggie) without wanting more of the good. Like when Maggie is with the Cherokee. I want *more* about her time with Waw-Li, since this is the turning point of her life - her acceptance of her gift, her ability to survive and heal from the horrors she's experienced. I want to know what happened to Kokili, since we rarely hear anything of her after Maggie meets Waw-Li. I want to know more about the Cherokee life - more than just mating rituals and Soquily's interest in Maggie.
I want to know more about those Andrew encounters, too. I want to know more about Iain, more about Janet's family - especially her brothers. I didn't even know that Geoffrey could play the bagpipes, until he shows up as they're leaving! Is this supposed to be a signal? A farewell? Something more meaningful than a man playing the bagpipes? I don't know, because while I've gotten the sense that Geoffrey is close to Janet and upset at her leaving, I only have a few sentences to understand that. And while I know that Geoffrey plays the violin, how was I to know that he was more musical than that?
Even the sea voyage that Andrew, Iain, the children, and Janet make from Scotland to America is vague... swept away within pages, without any real detail. We learn that Iain doesn't like the hammocks; Janet and the kids got a berth; Andrew & Iain worked harder than they ever had in their lives. And that's about it. There's so much of that story left out that could deepen the overall. And once they "land" in America, the group doesn't seem to have a bit of trouble with anything - the new life, the new people, and certainly not money. Yet somehow, I have a hard time believing that Andrew's parents had saved that much. It sounds like the only money they use is from the purse that Hector gave his daughter Janet; but if Hector had that kind of money put aside, why didn't he take his family to America before Culloden? Why bother to hide them? (And didn't anyone find that appalling and cowardly? I'd have thought that Iain, especially would have, even if Andrew could forgive.)
As for Seamus Murphy, I'm still not sure if he's a good guy or a bad guy. I've had my doubts about him, probably because he's smooth and charming, as most con men are. But I simply haven't enough information about him to know. And that really frustrates me.
I am also frustrated at Maggie's ability to "see" visions and not interpret them. I understand that she's resisted her gift most of her life. But after her time and training with Waw-Li, I'd think Maggie could clearly make out WHO the coyote in her dream is, especially since the author was so kind as to make sure to tell us about the distinctive scar on the coyote's face. Why doesn't Maggie even have an inkling of danger around this man until it's too late? Sure, it makes some sense as a plot device to get us to a particular cabin and a box, but it's hard to buy that Maggie has so little control or comprehension of her own gift at this point. Also, Waw-Li - surely she'd see more ahead of time? She was the one who wanted Maggie to make contact with the white settlers at the fort... surely that meant more than Maggie negotiating trade prices for the Cherokee?
I'm also unsure of how we got from the fort, which is, I think in South Carolina near Charleston into North Carolina. In other words, how did Andrew and his group come across Maggie and her group? I didn't pull out a map, and I realize these states are close together, but still... it seemed like a very long way to go to escape. Why wouldn't the Cherokee head back into their own territory, where they'd be safer and have more numbers?
There are so many unanswered questions - answers to which were either barely touched on or not addressed at all. And that's what makes me feel as if this book is incomplete yet. A really great book lost inside something that was published while still in its infancy.
Perhaps if there weren't some similarities to the Outlander series, I could ignore some of it. (Although, because I still believe it's a great epic story yearning to be freed, I don't I could ignore it.) Character names are similar, although thank heavens, no Alexanders! But Sorcha is Gaelic for Claire. There's a Jamie. There's a Janet, even though she's referred to more often as Jenny in the Outlander series. There's an Iain, while his namesake in Outlander is Ian. There are Indians, Cherokee in this book. There are brutal men who rape, kidnap, pillage, and sell innocents into a white slave trade. There are lots of red coats and lots of Indians. The Outlander characters settled in North Carolina (northern part); it looks like Andrew's land is in North Carolina... and yet there are confusing references to Charleston (SC) - is it just where the Cherokee are? And then there's the author's own admission that Diana Gabaldon was an inspiration to the author, as she waits for the next Outlander novel.
So I end this review that seems more criticism than praise. If it's so, it's because I really believe there's so much MORE to this story that hasn't been allowed to be told... hasn't been explored. All those marvelous details and nuances that simply stand in the shadows and, like Maggie's visions, plead to be known and understood. That "more" would make this story and its characters breathtaking and spectacular, not just ordinary....more
Next to "Outlander" and Jamie & Claire, this is probably the BEST Highlander romance/story that I've ever read! OMG, I can't believe it - but thisNext to "Outlander" and Jamie & Claire, this is probably the BEST Highlander romance/story that I've ever read! OMG, I can't believe it - but this book so pulled me in... I couldn't put it down.
I loved reading about the colonies and the "French-Indian War" with Scottish Highlander "outcasts" and the British army. So much history, color, and "flavor" of the times was filled in for me from Diana G's Outlander series. This book takes place about 12 years after Culloden and 10-12 years before Jamie & Claire come to America. So there's so much I learned about Ticonderoga and upstate New York... the battles for Fort Ticonderoga long before the Revolutionary War battles.
I wept for Annie (Lady Anne) and all that she endured... Her horrid uncle, her imprisonment, her "life" in the colonies as an indentured slave. Then to face the French and hostile Indians, intent on raping and murdering her! Her courage was amazing, despite her youth and naivete about life in those times.
Iain and his brothers... well, you feel their hatred and frustration towards Lord William. And yet, the balance between Lord William and the Mackinnons is highly entertaining - a battle of wills and the mind. I alternated between hating Lord William with a passion and feeling compassion for him. He's trapped in his station and his role - something he doesn't even realize until Annie bests him in more ways than one.
Iain, especially, won my heart much like Jamie Fraser. He's strong, loyal, intelligent, "street smart" for his time, knowledgable, skilled, unafraid to take his place as a "laird". He's got the compassion for his men and the openness to listen to Annie and be a brother to Joseph and the Muhheconneok/Mahican tribe. Like Jamie, Iain suffers much for his noble and right decisions, including being flogged for doing absolutely nothing wrong. Like Jamie's men, Iain's men willing give everything they are (including their lives) to protect Iain and his.
I was awed by this book, which is strange, because I've read so many really, really good books lately! But something about this book and its characters touched me deeply. I'm sad there are only 3 books in this series, because I think I could read about Mackinnnon's Rangers forever!...more
I admit that, at first, I wasn't sure about this 3rd book in the series... I didn't like making such a time jump from book #2. I felt as though I'd miI admit that, at first, I wasn't sure about this 3rd book in the series... I didn't like making such a time jump from book #2. I felt as though I'd missed important things in the Bonner's lives.
But as I put those thoughts away and allowed myself to become part of the story, I realized that the author is intent on giving us glimpses of the most important parts of their lives. We still have most of the main characters, but this time, the younger generation is growing up and, in some cases (such as Hannah & Jemimia Southern) already grown.
This book gives us the chance to watch Hannah struggle with womanhood and come to terms with being neither red nor white. We get to know Lily and Daniel, who were only babies when we saw them last. We see how time and life have affected Elizabeth and Nathaniel, Curiosity and Galileo, Richard and Kitty, and Hawkeye.
Book #1 made my heart sing with Elizabeth and Nathaniel's romance and marriage.
Book #2 took my breath away with the adventure of piracy, journeys, and reckonings.
Book #3 caused my tears to flow with the realities of life, staying true to one's convictions, romances old and new, and loss....more
I've seen many negative reviews about this book on this site... I'm surprised! Yes, there are elements in the book that Outlander fans could say, "beeI've seen many negative reviews about this book on this site... I'm surprised! Yes, there are elements in the book that Outlander fans could say, "been there, done that", but "Dawn on a Distant Shore" doesn't mimic nor imitate Outlander.
Admittedly, it took a bit for me to become captivated, but I enjoyed the ride. The main characters reveal more of themselves and their past lives... all in character. Newer characters to the story take on deeper nuances.
Suspending belief is part of what fiction is all about. You can't have really good secrets or mysteries without it. And yes, there's a bit of neatly tied bow around the package at the story's end. But hey, it's fiction, right? And it's the journey of HOW we got there that counts... and this journey is well worth the taking....more
Wow! Thanks to Lauren Willig (The Pink Carnation series) for recommending this book! It has a mention of Claire, Jamie, and Ian from Diana G's OutlandWow! Thanks to Lauren Willig (The Pink Carnation series) for recommending this book! It has a mention of Claire, Jamie, and Ian from Diana G's Outlander series, which was such a treat!
Picking up on some of the characters from "The Last of the Mohicans", this book furthers the tale of Dan'l Bonner and family. It centers on Dan'l's son, Nathaniel, the town of Paradise, and Judge Middleton's son, Julian, and daughter, Elizabeth.
For me, this book was incredibly difficult to put down! I was captivated by the characters and the story. It reminded me of how I felt/still feel when I read/re-read the Outlander novels -- so caught up, I feel as if I've stepped through the pages and into the story as one of its characters.
Can't wait to begin the next of the series!...more
1st read: June-July 2011 2nd read: Feb 2012 3rd read: Dec 2012-Jan 2013
3rd read thoughts:
YIKES! I'd forgotten just HOW MUCH takes place in this book! It1st read: June-July 2011 2nd read: Feb 2012 3rd read: Dec 2012-Jan 2013
3rd read thoughts:
YIKES! I'd forgotten just HOW MUCH takes place in this book! It wears me out just thinking about it.
Not only do we have all the history stuff, but we've got so much personal drama... and frankly, some of it seems to go on and on. The stuff with Malva and then the whole "bring Claire and/or Jamie to justice" thing seems to take MONTHS. Yet, in reality, it's only a month or two. Almost unbearable, all the little details stuffed in there... all the events.
This book makes me cry so many times in so many places...
Yes, I get that this book is a turning point for Jamie and his stand for liberty in the Revolutionary War. I get that there needs to be a lot of the historical events leading up to that war, but... while I find all that happened in North Carolina fascinating (and I do - I had no idea how much happened there because we're always so focused on Boston and Philadelphia), there is almost too much to absorb.
And bringing Stephen Bonnet, Lord John, and William back in brings both a sense of completion and a sense of leaving many things hanging. But the LJ and William stuff is, obviously, a set up for the next book, where both play larger roles than they have in the Outlander series yet.
While I'm sad that there aren't more love scenes between Claire & Jamie, there are many times that their love-making is referred to - but only as almost an afterthought in a sentence. THEY are the primary reason for these books, despite the many other characters and pairings (like Roger & Bree) who are now entrenched in our hearts.
Dunno if this is DG's way of trying to show a more "mature" love by showing us more of their thoughts about the other and their conversations. But Jamie & Claire are TOUCH people; they need TOUCH to feel connected, and that's why, IMO, many fans feel that this book lets us down. We're used to Jamie & Claire needing to be and feel connected by physically connecting to one another; and we love to read about those joinings, because they're so... Jamie & Claire.
The Malva-Tom-Allan Christie story arc is... maddening, heart-breaking, and so, so sad. It's interesting how we must see and hear things every day, and yet our own impressions of what those things really mean are often so wrong - as in the case of this family. We see the events through Jamie's, Claire's, and Roger's eyes... and yet, could even I, one who is almost never fooled and can put the pieces together to make the right picture at the end, didn't predict what the eventual outcome of this story would be. Fascinating!
And the Wendigo Donner stuff... YIKES! Who'd have known?
The storyline involving Jocasta-Duncan-Ulysses-Phaedre... another big YIKES!
The Bugs... well, it wasn't completely unexpected. My issue is more with what happens in Echo In The Bone with the Bugs. But it's still so sad....
And Major Donald MacDonald... until this re-read (probably my 3rd, at least), I didn't pick up on his demise until this time. I think that there are so many details in these books, that I often focus only on Claire & Jamie and the main characters, thus losing the fine points. And Major MacDonald is a fine-point in this book. It's fitting, based on his last visit to Fraser's Ridge... and then it seems almost cruel.
Another thing that I "lost in translation" so to speak was the significance of Murtagh's "reappearance" and how that battle seemed to settle Jamie's mind and spirit with regard to BJR, Murtagh, and Culloden. I'm hoping that bodes well for Jamie, since we've seen him lay Dougal to rest... and in Daily Lines from book 8 (MOBY), we see that Ian seems to be visiting Jamie; sure hope that means good things, too.
This book was almost exhausting! I found myself putting it down so many times, simply because I knew what was coming next, and I couldn't bear it. Or because of all the "devil in the details" that seemed to muddy up the main story. Sometimes, it seems as if DG puts her characters into situations SIMPLY to force her readers along with her, as she reveals some neato history facts she's discovered... or to put us into the "You Are Here" mind frame. And sometimes, those very devices back-fire and make me want to put the book down and keep it down.
But alas, DG is such a fantastic writer... and Jamie & Claire are so much ingrained into me, that I can't leave them for long....more
**spoiler alert** 1st read: June 2011 Current read: Feb 2012
So much happens in this book! I still feel for poor Roger... his life has been torn apart s**spoiler alert** 1st read: June 2011 Current read: Feb 2012
So much happens in this book! I still feel for poor Roger... his life has been torn apart since almost the day he "arrived" in 1769. And certainly since he set foot in North Carolina! I don't quite know why Roger has to endure so much. My thoughts turn again to what it cost to love a Randall woman; does Roger have to prove himself to Bree, Jamie, Claire, and himself? It's just so sad to me that Roger loses his beautiful voice....more
I finally read the entire book this time! And I realized that I'd missed a lot in my rush to find out what happened to JaFeb 2012: 4+ stars (2nd read)
I finally read the entire book this time! And I realized that I'd missed a lot in my rush to find out what happened to Jamie & Claire and how in the world we got to the situation at the end of this book with Lord John!
I have a greater appreciation for the history enmeshed in the book this time. It seems strange that for all I know about the Revolutionary War, I find that I know so little. Places like Ticonderoga were just names to me before reading this book (thoroughly this time). And through DG's words, I smelled the smoke, felt the panic and fear... and I felt as if I lived the aftermath as one of the straggling Revolutionaries (rebels), as they made their way back to safety.
First time through, I wasn't so sure about William Ransome's part in this book. This read, though, I saw him as the young man aching to be a real man - to make his own name as a soldier and not just parlay his father's name (Lord John, his step-father) or his uncle's name (Hal, LJ's brother). He's still a bit spoiled, but he's grown up with so much security... so many resources... taken so much for granted. Through his experience in this book and especially his battle experiences, William is just starting to learn the cost of war and bravery; the cost of life. And it's hard to fault him when he's in love with someone who's always out of reach; how frustrating!
Young Ian Murray, like William, is searching for love. He's been empty since he was turned away from the Mohawk and lost his wife and several children to stillbirth or miscarriage. With Bree, Ian was able to recapture some of his sanity; but Bree's no longer there. And with Claire's reassurances about the likelihood that it was the Rh factor that caused the pregnancy issues with "Works With Her Hands" (Emily), Ian has a bit of hope. But as with all great men in this saga, Ian has to endure a lot of heartache and pain before finally seeing the possibility of life and love again.
We cover so much ground in this book, it's no wonder its length!
While I'm still not a fan of the major cliffhangers at the end of this book, I now understand them better. Diana Gabaldon said in a recent online "chat" that too many folks thought that "A Breath Of Snow And Ashes" was the end of the series because it wrapped up so nicely; so she wanted to make it *clear* to her readers that "An Echo In The Bone" is *not* the last book! We're not even sure that "Written In My Own Heart's Blood" (aka MOBY) will be the last book - and we'll have to wait until probably mid-to-end of 2013 when it's published to find out!
But I better appreciated the "modern" storyline with Bree, Roger, Jem, and Mandy this read. And after reading several of DG's short stories and novellas (especially "A Leaf in the Hallows"), I find so much satisfaction in the rich, deep story and characters that continue in "Echo". And the links back to previous bits that we've been told, but filed away at the time, not realizing that they might be important later.
The truth is that if you're a fan of the series, you can't *not* read this book! (Double-negative acknowledged.) It might break your heart, leave you spitting nails, or make you tear your hair out, but this book is part of the journey that's not finished yet...
August 2011: 2.5-4.5 stars (1st read) Overall, I liked this book. Yes, it was overly over-long, even for Diana G. Yes, it was chalk-full of history - overly so, even for Diana G.
Many readers didn't like all the cliff-hangers that she left at the end of the book. While I wasn't particularly happy about having so many cliff-hangers, I could have lived without ONE particular cliff-hanger: the one involving Jamie & Claire. WHY Diana G thought she needed to introduce a very bizarre love-triangle so late in the book is beyond me. The wonderful characters that we have grown to know and love suddenly behave completely out of character? NO!
The William storyline... hmmmm... well, let's just say that I've had a difficult time believing that William didn't recognize his birth father for some time now. You could argue many reasons why he doesn't, but the revelation (again, almost on the last pages) doesn't shock. It almost disappoints.
So much to love... and so much to abhor. After reading it the first time, if would have thrown the book across the room if it hadn't been on my Kindle! I re-read the book to give it another try, and I found it much more to my liking. But I have to say that I CANNOT recommend this book to fans of the series. And I'm seriously concerned about where Jamie & Claire will go from here. They're THE REASON I love this series, and it's going to be difficult to wait another 2-3 years for the next book. And believe me, I won't be buying it until I read it first!!!...more
1st read June 17, 2011 Current read: July 24, 2012
Latest review - July 2012 OK, so I gained an entirely new p**spoiler alert** Changed rating to 4 stars
1st read June 17, 2011 Current read: July 24, 2012
Latest review - July 2012 OK, so I gained an entirely new perspective on this book this read. DoA still is among my least favorite of the series books, mostly because it's so dark - hangings, robberies, rapes, beatings, misunderstanding that lead to selling innocent men to the Mohawk... But somehow, this time, I was able to stop thinking ahead or remembering what I thought the last time I read the book. I was able to approach the book as a new read and appreciate it for its own merits.
Which means that I saw my previous objections against Jamie's behavior in this book differently. Yes, he allowed Stephen Bonnet to escape; and yes, many paid for this "mistake", including his own family again and again. But Jamie never expected Bonnet to rob them. I still wonder why Jamie, Duncan, Fergus, and Young Ian didn't set out after Bonnet immediately or put the word out about him soon as they arrived in Cross Creek. I'd have thought Jamie would at least try to get back part of what he lost. I guess he was so rattled by it, and then so absorbed in life at Cross Creek and this new world?
I also see that Jamie's reactions to Bree are based on her being his daughter - PROTECTION of what is his. We know that Jamie is fierce where family is concerned. Again, I wonder that with his doubts, Jamie didn't take "Wakefield" up to confront Bree and ask her what she wanted to do with him; but, I suppose that Jamie thought he was protecting her by simply taking care of the problem. Hindsight is 20/20.
The relationship between Bree & Jamie was rough, but I "got it" this time. I saw that Jamie's way is to SHOW, not just to tell - esp. with someone like Bree, who he recognizes has that stubborn Fraser streak. I saw this time that his actions in the barn were focused on showing her she couldn't have overpowered her rapist; he goaded her into sufficient anger to give it her all. I mistook the goading for Jamie's doubts - the ones he mentions later.
IMO, Bree still carries a heavy weight. She gets angry with Roger about not telling her about the newspaper article, and yet she doesn't tell him about her trip to Jamaica or finding that same article. She *assumes* it's OK for her to time travel and then return home; because she fears he wouldn't agree with her, she hides it from him. But then she comes apart at the seams at him for following her and keeping his motives from her. Very double standard.
Also, not telling Claire & Jamie about handfasting with Roger. OK, OK - I see where, after the rape, she wouldn't want to obligate Roger to her without choice; and she'd have learned quickly that Jamie would see it as obligation. (He did. And he held them both to it, despite it all.) But still... even if Bree had mentioned to Lizzy about the handfasting!
Roger still gets the majority of my sympathies. And while it's a sacrifice for Young Ian to be adopted into the Mohawk tribe, since he had such a fascination with Emily, he might have done it of his own free will anyway. And I doubt the Mohawk would have changed their "rules" about him not speaking any other language or identifying with his previous heritage just because he choose it without coercion.
For all the heartache, there are so many tender scenes in this book: * Jamie & Claire finding Fraser's Ridge, including the bear scenes, but especially the strawberry scene * Lord John and William's arrival - my first read, I wasn't a LJ fan at all. I truly resented his presence in this book at all, and I was angry that he brought Willie, even tho it benefited Jamie. I did lighten up a bit when he helped Bree. This time, I enjoyed him and took him at face value. * Roger & Bree - while I still see why so many dislike Bree, there are so many times when we see their love. IMO, Roger is more in love with Bree in this book, but it might only be because he allows himself to be, where she's still holding back.
One complaint is that, while there are "love scenes" between Claire & Jamie, most are simply alluded to - not the usual feeling of "you are there". That seems to be passed on to Roger & Bree. I'm not complaining about the Roger-Bree scenes, I just missed sharing the intimacy of true love scenes with Jamie & Claire.
Voyager, the book just before Drums of Autumn is my 2nd favorite in this series, so admitted DOA (LOL - just realized the acronymn!) has a lot to live up to.
And for me, the book just starts off on the wrong tone. A hanging, an escaped prisoner whom Jamie allows to go free, a burial, and then a robbery. And that's just the beginning of the book! Life in the 1760s and 1770s in America is tough, no doubt. But gee, welcome to the land of the free, Jamie & Claire!
Roger's and Bree's story doesn't grab me as it's done before. I get irritated with Bree for being so... secretive with Roger. I grew up in a loving 2-parent home, and both my parents are still living, so perhaps it's tougher for me to relate to her confusion about marriage. I can understand her caution with Roger - her wanting to know that his feelings for her aren't about the excitement they went through finding Jamie for Claire and going through the experiences of Gillian Edgars (aka Geillis Duncan) and Claire's return. I can understand her feeling orphaned and alone.
But I *don't* understand her not confiding in Roger about her trip to Jamaica and her intent to see Jamie & Claire. She could have saved everyone a LOT of trouble if she'd only been upfront with Roger. And Roger... this poor man. It's almost as if those who would love the Randall women must prove their love by the ultimate trial of betrayal, slavery, beating, and threat of death. Is this supposed to convince us that Roger truly does love Bree? If so, then why his hesitation at the end of the book? Shouldn't he have already decided? Or is it that Roger must decide to stay in the past?
Jamie... we see aspects of Jamie's personality that are somewhat shocking and very uncomfortable.
First we see him allow Stephen Bonnet, a convicted thief, escape justice: Bonnet is one of three men slated for hanging, along with Garvin Hayes, a man Jamie knew from Ardsmuir prison. There's a bit of a ruckus, and in the fray, Bonnet runs from his captors. Later, when burying Hayes' body, Jamie, Fergus, Duncan, Ian, and Claire discover that Bonnet has stowed away in their wagon. While Jamie believes that Bonnet is likely guilty, he still allows Bonnet to escape - going so far as to get Bonnet through more than one line of lawmen looking for Bonnet.
This act comes back to bite Jamie in the butt more than once... and brings horrible consequences to him and his family. Bonnet returns the favor by robbing Jamie & Claire and their party of the jewels that Jamie took from Geillis in the cave at Abandawe. Those jewels were the only security that Jamie & Claire had. In addition, Claire's gold wedding ring from Frank is stolen; one wonders if it had been Jamie's ring, if Jamie would have pursued Bonnet? Because uncharacteristically, Jamie and company do *not* go after Bonnet and his robber friends. Hmmm... Nope, they continue on to Cross Creek to meet Jamie's Aunt Jocasta Cameron, sister to his mother Ellen and his uncles Column and Dougal MacKenzie.
Secondly, and probably most horrible to me, Jamie and Ian lay in wait for Roger. Because Roger has decided to go by MacKenzie in this time instead of Wakefield, and because of Bree's indentured servant Lizzy's confusion over what happened between Bree and Roger, Roger is mistaken as the man who raped Bree. In truth, that man is Stephen Bonnet. Except that Bree hasn't told her parents that she and Roger were handfast and so "legally" had sex on their wedding night. And much too late, Bree shares with Claire that she (Bree) saw Claire's wedding ring and so visited Bonnet on his ship - the scene of the rape. In Bonnet's eyes, a transaction. Bree tells Claire this at about the same time that Jamie and Roger are fighting tooth-and-nail.
We're supposed to believe that only because Jamie has doubts about whether Bree was truly raped or not does he decide not to kill Roger outright. IMO, it would have been a blessing for Roger to die, but no - DG isn't done with Roger yet, by any means. Nope. Jamie decides to "save" Roger's life by allowing Ian to take him to the Indians and essentially give Roger away as a slave. All without Jamie spending any time talking to Roger, trying to get his side of the story. Nope - all on the word of Lizzy and the little that Jamie knows from Bree.
It's easy to see how many readers dislike Bree. If she'd told her parents more about Roger and what happened... Claire knows what Roger looks like, but Jamie and Ian don't. Why didn't Bree draw a picture of him earlier?
After all Jamie's been through, to almost kill a man and then sell him without asking questions - without even seeking the truth.... It's tough to swallow. Yes, Jamie is acting on behalf of his family, and we know he's fierce when it comes to them. Yes, he's the father protecting his daughter. But because Jamie has so many doubts, it seems almost out of character for him to take so drastic an action. I would expect him to beat Roger up - disable him - and then take him to Bree to confirm the story. IF this was the man who raped her, then either hang him or take him to the Indians. Why the rush? You see, the doubts that he had, and the fear that perhaps Claire would talk him out of these actions verifies that Jamie knows he's wrong. Which makes it all that much worse when Jamie and Ian discover their mistake. We only believe the mistake can be rectified *because* it's Jamie... we know him to be a man of honor; but somehow, his actions towards Roger seem to be anything but honorable until he seeks to rescue him from a hell that he (Jamie) caused.
Thirdly, Jamie's and Bree's relationship. While the scene when Jamie and Bree meet is touching, and the scene where Claire and Bree reunite brings tears, the uneasy relationship between Bree and Jamie is just... strange. It seems logical that the two would have to get to know one another; but there is so much distrust on each side.
Especially difficult is when Jamie proves his point to Bree about how she couldn't have fought off Bonnet. Jamie comes off... cruel and unfeeling. But this does give insight to Jamie's own growing up. We see that stubbornness that the Fraser's are known for, and perhaps, get a glimpse of why Jamie received so many whippings in his time from his own Da, Brian.
Yes, I can see that the dynamics have changed by introducing Bree in-between Claire and Jamie. Whenever a child comes into parents' lives, that child disrupts the normal flow of that relationship. And with all the tension and mistrust, it's easy to see how Claire is in the middle; one can almost forgive her for staying there for so long.
So many pay the price for one act of "mercy" from Jamie to Stephen Bonnet - a mercy that Jamie didn't even consider showing to Roger. Jamie must pay the ultimate price - the damage to his relationship with Bree, the loss of Young Ian who is Jamie's foster-son and who Jamie had to pursue to the West Indies to recover, and even a bought of discomfort with Claire.
To some, it was necessary for Roger to be "seasoned". Some readers think he needed to mature a bit... to be more cognizant of how the 18th century really was and not be such an historian. I don't agree. Roger learned a lot on his voyage from Scotland to America, and he showed every sign of being willing and able to learn the harsh lessons of that time without being beaten and given away as a slave. And then, Roger has to endure the thought that the son Bree bears isn't his own. All because Roger was trying to ensure Bree's and his safe return to their own time - by stealing jewels from Stephen Bonnet... the same jewels Bonnet stole from Jamie and Claire.
For those reasons, this is one of my least favorite books in the series. There's much to enjoy and love in this book... but Jamie's departure from his character -- or perhaps seeing another side to Jamie's character, Bree's strange behavior, and the cruelties that Roger must bear... these things make the book almost unbearable to me....more