Monday, September 8, 2008

Hearts in the Highlands

Ruth Axtell Morren
Love Inspired Historical
Inspirational Historical Romance
Steeple Hill Books (2008)

London, 1890

Writing this review has put me in quite a dilemma. While I’ve read 1500+ romance novels in the last 7 ½ years, and am a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, psychotherapist, and business woman. I am a novice book reviewer. Also, being a Christian I want to tell the truth in love. That’s tough to do. All in all I found nothing in this book to make me want to hurry and turn the page to see what happens.

I found this book to be a chore. It didn’t seem to move forward fast enough to capture
my anticipation. I tried to analyze the problem. Was this a particularly boring part of history? Was there a reason to allude to things that were never divulged? The characters were not that sympathetic. All action took so long to happen. Actually, a chapter of introduction, and the epilogue might have been enough for this book. Admittedly, I like epilogues. They are good at rounding up all loose ends and drawing things to a final conclusion. I like that process.

Reid Gallagher, our hero, is an archaeologist whose professional life is in Egypt. Are archaeologists boring people? Reid’s lectures at the museum were well received and his audience was interested and had many questions. Maddie Norton, our heroine, is Reid’s aunt’s companion and lives a life of servanthood with many reminders that she is less than her employer and her employer’s family. I’m sure the class consciousness is a sign of the times and shows a society that thrived on unearned superiority.

Reid had devoted himself to grieving for his dead wife. He also felt guilty about her death but we never know why. That information might have helped. However, without it, he was stuck in his grief with no desire to get through it. As a psychotherapist, I’ve seen people in this type of trouble and it’s no fun! It also helped make him a somewhat unsympathetic character.

If this was a dull time in history then why write the book to be in this time period? If archaeologists are boring people, why did his audience at the museum enjoy his presentation and asked many questions?

Maybe, Inspirational Historical Romance is still struggling to come into its own. Inspirational Contemporary Romance has just recently come into its own. It took awhile. Earlier, this genre tended to be preachy and the lives described were stilted. Now there are a larger variety of authors who write in this genre whose characters are real people leading real lives. Inspirational Historical Romance may still have a way to go.

Am I missing something? What do you think?
In all fairness, I’ll read another of Ruth Axtell Morren’s books to see if it will be a page turner.

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