Review – The Laird’s Choice by Amanda Scott

So, it’s been a while since my last post.  This season is always a bit busier at work and home, and I found myself in a bit of a time crunch.  I’ve also been reeling a bit after the horrific events of this past Friday in Newtown, CT.  My heart breaks for that community, for all those families, for the world.  When pondering those events, I found it easiest and most healing to come to no conclusions, to attempt no analysis.  I have no idea what would prompt an individual to act in such a manner, and I cannot want ever to understand such a thing.  Anyway, that’s where I’ve been.  I hope to be mostly back on schedule now, but we’ll see how things go.

Cover image, The Laird’s Choice by Amanda Scott

While I found nothing truly objectionable about this book, I also didn’t really enjoy reading it, but I suspect that lack of enjoyment has more to do with my personal pet peeves as a reader than with any real flaw in the book. The fact is, I’m just not a fan of historical fiction that has more history than fiction. I had a difficult time connecting to the characters, caring about their story, and that disconnect made it difficult for me to want to read the book. There were numerous occasions when conversation between characters would be derailed (I thought) by info dumps about history and/or events occurring beyond the scope of the story, and this hijacking of the story by the truly remarkable historical research just irked me.  Amanda Scott obviously did a heck of a lot of research, and her world-building of 15th century Scotland was lovely (if only I cared about that sort of thing), but there was not an equal amount of energy spent developing the characters.

I never was able to figure out who all the villains were–although that may derive from a combination of my terrible memory and the amount of time I spent reading this book (it’s easier to keep these details straight when one reads a book over a day or two rather than over two weeks)–there were so many Stewarts and Walters and some dude named Murdoch who had some sons(??), that I just couldn’t keep track of them, and they become one muddled group of “bad guys” without any sort of personal character.  Part of the trouble with this book is that the reader is never actually introduced to any of the bad guys. They are all just a menace lurking over some mountain or beyond a river.  As difficult as I found it to connect to the characters, I might have felt a very human response to their being in danger, but they didn’t really seem to be in any danger, not personally.  Since I was never given the opportunity to get to know the one character who was in some danger from that faceless mass of menace, I didn’t really care whether or not he met with an untimely end.

The ending was very etch-a-sketch (à la Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey, if you will allow the comparison).  There’s this huge intrigue plot that drives nearly all of the action in the book, and it all gets resolved in a throwaway epilogue (!!).  Since I wanted to stop reading the book about thirty pages in and kept it up through sheer force of will, it was more than a little disappointing to have the story end in such a slapdash, anti-climatic way.  This book is the first in a series, and it’s possible that the story will get taken up by subsequent books, but the ending was still annoying.

Now, that all sounds quite negative, but I’m certain that some readers will enjoy this book. Die-hard fans of historical fiction set in the Scottish Highlands will probably enjoy this one, as will any reader who likes a hearty helping of history with her historical fiction and does not mind if there is not so much romance.

The Laird’s Choice was released on December 18, 2012 as a mass-market paperback and e-book by Forever.  If you are interested in finding more information about this book, please click on the cover image above to visit the book’s page on Goodreads.  You can also visit the author’s website at http://www.amandascottauthor.com/.

*FTC Disclosure – I received an e-galley of this book from Forever via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

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4 thoughts on “Review – The Laird’s Choice by Amanda Scott

    • Yes, indeed. This book was marketed as ‘historical romance’ and ‘Scottish romance’, but it really doesn’t fit either of those descriptions. There just isn’t much romance. I think I might have liked the book a bit better if there hadn’t been an attempt to make it a romance novel, because the attempt just didn’t work. The story was not about the characters–it was about the history and the intrigue–and all the romance elements of the characters’ story were a bit slapdash. The sex scenes were bizarre, and this book didn’t really need sex scenes, so I had to wonder why they were there.

      Sometimes I wonder if I just read too much to truly enjoy the genre that I prefer to read. So many of the books I read in the romance genre irritate or infuriate me for some reason or other, and it’s difficult not to assume that I’m the common denominator there. If the masses enjoy these books, then perhaps the problem is that I should be reading something else. But then I read a romance novel that just sings to me, and I realize that quality (or the lack thereof) is not actually, or should not actually be, the indicator of a genre. I remain, then, a critical reader of romance novels. 🙂

      • I think most genre readers feel the same way. I mean, 80% of anything you read is going to be crap. If I expected to only ever read books that were amazing, I’d probably be like my dad or brother and read a book a year. Part of the fun is wading through the stuff you don’t like to find the books you do, right?

      • That’s probably true… Taste is so subjective, anyway. There are books that I’ve loved that other folk just hate, and none of us is wrong in our estimation of the book. Books, then, are like all the great art, simultaneously uniting humanity and dividing it, providing us an opportunity to discern our similarities and differences. (I put on my fancy pants voice, just for you.)

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