Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Blue Bells of Scotland: Book One

Author: Laura Vosika
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type: Kindle ebook
First Published:
First Line: "Shawn means self and Kleiner means centered!"

Synopsis:  Shawn Kleiner is a world famous classical musician who loves himself almost as much as his adoring fans.  With money, power, a wonderful girlfriend in Amy and an endless supply of women on the side he feels that he's at the top of his game.

While on tour in Scotland, Amy finally has enough of his boorish ways and abandons Shawn in an old Scottish castle.  When Shawn awakes in the morning he finds himself being mistaken for Niall Campbell, a tough Scottish warrior.  He quickly learns that he has somehow been transported back into the early 1300's.  He soon finds himself on a dangerous quest being chased by English soldiers and a Scottish traitor with only the tough and very capable fiancee of Niall to help him along.

Meanwhile, Niall Campbell unexpectedly awakens in his castle .... 700 years in the future.  When Amy returns to the castle the following day to retrieve her lecherous boyfriend she finds 'Shawn' to be very much changed.   Niall plays along with the farce in order to learn more of his clan's fate at the battle of Bannockburn.  He vows to find a way to change the course of history, all the while trying to keep up the charade of being Shawn.  Will the two men be able to return to their own times?  Will Niall be able to change his clan's fate?

My Thoughts:  If I had to describe this book I'd have to say that it is a very light, slightly romantic, time travelling romp through the Scottish highlands.  The main thing that drew me to this book was the fact that it was set in Scotland (I love me a man in a kilt!) and had something to do with time travel.  These two things, of course, get me thinking of the "Outlander" series by Diana Gabaldon which I really enjoyed.

While this book wasn't nearly as focused on the historical details (which isn't a bad thing - in many spots the Outlander series was bogged down with details) it also didn't have that amazing, deep connection between the main characters.  I just didn't buy into either of the couples connection and I think that's because Amy, Shawn, Niall and Allene were one-dimensional cliches.  We have the girlfriend who is walked over -- check --, the lecherous lady's man -- check --, the brave and brawny warrior with a love of God and clan -- check and the strong and independent fiancee -- check!  A little more depth in their characters would have greatly helped me in believing who they were and their relationships.

I really think that if an author wants to hook me they have to be authentic to the time they're writing about.  I have to believe it.  I have to be able to picture how they dress, how they speak, their surroundings ....  Unfortunately,  there were many things that I found unbelievable with this book.  For example, how quickly and easily Niall picked up modern-day English and and how Shawn was able to easily converse with 14th century Scotsmen with his basic knowledge of Gaelic from his childhood in historical re-enactments with his father.  Please don't ask me to believe that that's possible!!

I also felt that the explanation of how the time travel happened wasn't addressed.  I kept waiting for how the swap happened but it was never explained clearly.   I don't necessarily need standing stones (a la "Outlander") or a Time Turner (a la Harry Potter) but I do need some kind of explanation! 

I think another reason why I luuurve books set in Scotland is because I've got a major thing for Scottish brogue.  Mmmmm.  Nothin' like a brogue where the r's seem to roll on forever, am I right??  Sadly, the brogue in this book was written very awkwardly.  For example, "Whoot nawnsense is this!?".   Personally, I feel my knickers getting in a knot when I'm phonetically spoonfed the accent of the character.  I think there is an art to writing in an accent and phonetically isn't the way to go (for me anyway). 

What I did enjoy about this book is seeing how the two men dealt with being thrown into a different era and all that that entails.  For Niall, he went from 1314 Scotland to the 21 century complete with our gadgets and modern conveniences, better health, lack of manners and living in relative safety.  Poor Shawn went from being babied in modern times to living with just the clothes on his back and learning that his schmarmy ladies man tactics won't help him in the 1300's.  Seeing Shawn learn the meaning of true power was enlightening even if it was pretty predictable.  For modern-day Shawn, money had always bought him power. When he's whisked back into the 1300's he quickly learns that authority, security, and strength of character are what help leaders get and maintain authority and respect from others. 

Overall, this was a very light and predictable read that I'd only suggest as an easy beach read.  I do not plan to read the other books in the series.

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

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