Saturday, January 6

Karen Ranney's Autumn in Scotland

Have you ever read a book and said "Yikes!!"

Because you can't quite figure out what went wrong?

Yesterday was one of those day that I just wanted to curl up with a good book and read. Was going to pick up Demon Angel for a reread, but realized my mood wasn't going to put me in the right frame of mind to read something that complicated. I settled on Karen Ranney's Autumn in Scotland, figuring it would be a nice historical read.

Abandoned by a rogue

Betrothed to an earl she had never met, Charlotte Haversham arrived at Balfurin, hoping to find love at the legendary Scottish castle. Instead she found decaying towers and no husband among the ruins. So Charlotte worked a miracle, transforming the rotting fortress into a prestigious girls' school. And now, five years later, her life is filled with purpose-until . . .

Seduced by a stranger

A man storms Charlotte's castle-and he is not the reprehensible Earl of Marne, the one who stole her dowry and dignity, but rather the absent lord's handsome, worldly cousin Dixon MacKinnon. Mesmerized by the fiery Charlotte, Dixon is reluctant to correct her mistake. And though she's determined not to play the fool again, Charlotte finds herself strangely thrilled by the scoundrel's amorous attentions. But a dangerous intrigue has drawn Dixon to Balfurin. And if his ruse is prematurely revealed, a passionate, blossoming love affair could crumble into ruin.

What a strange book, umm, this may contain spoilers...

First, the blurb is incorrect--Betrothed to an earl she had never met... Not only had she met him, she married him and then he took off with her dowry after a week of marriage. How can the publisher screw up the blurb? This must be incredibly frustrating for authors.

It's a mistaken identity book, the heroine thinks the hero is her husband who disappeared after 1 week of marriage and never came back. It's now 5 years later and apparantly the missing husband and his cousin look more like identical twins than cousins. Gee, I remember there was an old tv series that used this as a premise--I'm showing my age remembering Patty Duke reruns--LOL.

The identity thing isn't resolved until page 335. And, that's part of the problem you never completely understand why Dixon pretends to be George for so long.

Ms. Ranney ends many of her dialogue sentences with names... "But don't think there's any chance of reconciliation for us, George."... "Do you find it easy to live alone, then, Charlotte."... "I have no intention of answering you, George."... "Ah, but then I'd welcome you home with open arms, Charlotte." This is all part of the same conversation, all of which is found on one page. I'm not sure if she's doing this for emphasis or she's not sure the reader can keep track of the conversation. This happens in just about every section of dialogue in the book, after a while it became incredibly distracting.

The most entertaining part of the book are the passages that include the Ladies of The Edification Society. Apparantly they've decided it's their responsibility to explain certain sex acts in rather explicit detail and terms, and help other women realize that sex is their friend. Actually I think they're the most intersting and funny parts of the book. And, some how their completely superfluous to the actual story. I'd love to quote from some of their dialogue, but I think it would increase my google porn searches--I get enough of those already.

There's a lot of dishonesty and half truths going on throughout the book. The George/Dixon identity thing; Matthew, Dixon's "servant" knows the truth, but never tells; other secondary characters already know/think George is dead, but never tell anyone.

What really makes it a Yikes book--I liked it, well kind of--LOL. The hero and heroine are interesting, but the secondary characters are more so. I enjoyed the servants' conversations and interactions much more than the main characters, even though they also had the name tags thing going on. And I think that's part of the problem, I'm not sure I even liked the hero and heroine and I had an overall feeling of detatchment toward them.

Found this quote from the closing of Mrs. Giggles review and she's nailed it...

Autumn In Scotland is well-written and far from a bad book. It's just that this book is too... I don't know, flawed in a very predictable and ordinary manner, if I am making sense here, to stand out in my mind.

I'm still a fan of Ms. Ranney's writing, her voice and style work for me, but this is the technical part of writing. And for a book to work the technical needs to work with the creative storytelling and for me this one didn't.

I think it's rather hard to explain--LOL.


Bookwormom said...

I've several of her older ones in my TBR I'm unsure if I'll add this one or not. Have a great weekend!

Suisan said...

I haven't read it, although I have it around here somewhere, but I think you said quite clearly what went wrong with it. And what you liked.

The dialogue tag would bother me greatly.

I occured to me a few weeks ago that Dave and I never call each other by name. He called out my name from the top of the stairs and I was surprised to hear it. How odd.

meljean brook said...

This is the one in my TBR I was going to pick up after THE RAVEN PRINCE (I'm halfway through that and loving it) ... uh oh. I usually love Ranney, but maybe I'll hold off a little while longer.

Tara Marie said...

Amanda, definitely read her older ones and maybe you'd like this one more than me. Perhaps yesterday's cranky mood bled into what I was reading.

Suisan, the dialogue tags drove me crazy. Like you we don't use our names, nicknames but if my husband Tara or TARRRRR, it's because I've pissed him off about something--LOL.

Meljean, read it, I'm curious to see what other people think--kind of like making someone taste something you think is horrible--"taste this, it's bad right..."

mamx said...

taste this huh haha. oh u need another historical to wash that taste out i guess.but where the author editor. and really how hard can it be to proofread or change things. name tag huh. there msut be times we need that though. was a book where i needed that mmmm. so how about anne stuart book lady fortune to wash out the taste hehee. it so medival which im not into really. got it dirt cheap . store has all the books for 3 buck no matter what. ton of old romance.too bad i can pick book up for others . i bet there old rare stuff in there. ton of howard books, nora roberts u get the idea. im rambling again sorry.

Kristie (J) said...

I'm normally a huge Karen Ranney fan - I have almost every one of her books except for her very first ones, but I saw the reviews for this one and while not detailed as well as your review, the reviewers didn't think this one is one of her best. I'm still on the fence about getting it - kind of more leaning towards waiting for the next one. But then I would break the cycle of owning all of her last books. So - do I buy a book I probably won't read to keep the continuum going or do I just let it break? Hmmm - decisions, decisions.

Kat O+ said...

The dialogue thing would also get me. (In fact, I've read books like that before and I've wondered whether I was just abnormal.) I never really notice *good* dialogue but it's very easy to get a sense of when something isn't quite right, even if I can't figure out exactly what's wrong.

Tara Marie said...

Kristie, if you're a Ranney fan you might be able to get past my complaints, she's an amazing writer. What the heck give it a try.

Kat, I love dialogue, when it works. This really was distracting for me.