Monday, August 1, 2011

In Bed with a Highlander

My name is Beth and I like romance novels. Before you dismiss me consider this: According to the Romance Writers of America website, “In 2009, romance was the second top-performing category on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists, beat only by the movie tie-in category.” Also, in 2008 more than 74 million people read at least one romance novel. So out of 311 million Americans (and that’s a 2011 estimate), I would be among 23%. I prefer historical romances, and even more particularly Regency romances—I love to let out my inner Jane Austen. But regardless of a romance’s subgenre, RWA explains that there are two basic components of every romance novel: “a central love story and an emotionally-satisfying optimistic [emphasis added] ending.”

So In Bed with a Highlander firmly fits in the romance category. As a bonus, because of its medieval setting, it has a brawny alpha-male hero (seriously misrepresented on the cover), and because of its decidedly modern author it has a plucky heroine (whose cover version seems to be wearing lingerie from Target). Sadly, neither is enough to make me recommend this book. The main characters—Scottish versions of John and Mary (seriously, look it up if you don’t believe me) – aren’t original or compelling enough to care about their story. The story itself seems merely to be an excuse to order up One Dominating Hero, please, Extra-buff, but with a protective bent (as becomes a clan leader) and an unexpectedly gentle heart. Throw in a motherless son and you’ve got a great opportunity for Miss Plucky to rescue and be rescued, while giving the keep a makeover… of spirit.

Romance novels are supposed to have an optimistic ending, which is part of their appeal. According to The Romance Readers’ Advisory by Ann Bouricius, “Romances are about overcoming serious obstacles and coming out on the other side stronger for the struggle. Romances are about women winning.” Unfortunately, the plot seemed to include the kitchen sink of challenges for MP and her Highlander and I found myself wanting to tap my foot impatiently waiting for the last challenge to be presented and met with predictable measures.

In Bed with a Highlander, due out August 30th, might be interesting for a reader new to romance. As a bonus, sequels featuring the hero’s brothers will be coming out in successive months.

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