I bought the Kindle version of this book because it was on sale and because the descriptions made it seem like a fairly blatant knock-off of Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander." Who doesn't love a story about a modern doctor thrust back in time; who must then hide the reasons for her medical expertise while simultaneously falling for a dark, virile, Scottish Laird? I sure do. This book, however, is so poorly written, it's impossible to be swept away by the familiar romance of the story. After reading the prologue and first three chapters, I was left with an urgent desire to warn other readers. DON'T BUY THIS BOOK UNTIL YOU KNOW FOR SURE YOU CAN STOMACH THE WAY IT IS WRITTEN. Had I done that, I would never have wasted my money on it.
Below are a few of the reasons sampling would have convinced me NOT to buy this book. These errors frustrated me and pulled me out of the story, until it was frankly impossible to focus on the characters or plot. I can ignore a few writing errors and chalk them up to my nitpicky English-major sensitivity. As the errors pile up, however, they become ALL one can see. The story is lost.
1) Right away, the author sprinkles in quotes from a wide variety of literary sources. If she really wanted these quotes to be effective, she should have picked quotes from the century in which the story takes place. In the alternative, she should have limited the selections to Scottish poets or dramatists. That would have pulled the reader into the historical or geographical context further. As it is, the quotes lend nothing to the story. It seems like Ms. Coffman just wanted to make it all sound more "literary."
2) Next, I knew I was in trouble when I read the first paragraph of the Prologue. The scene is late at night and includes the sentence, "From the swells of the Atlantic below, a blue mist rose, spangled and spiraled." "Spangled" in that sentence is misused. As a verb, "spangled" means "to set or adorn with glittering ornaments." I seriously doubt the author meant us to imagine the blue mist hanging ornamentation on something. A better choice would probably be "sparkled," "glimmered," or "glowed." The error is compounded when "spangled" is misused again 2 pages later in a description of the rising sun. In my frustration, I did a word search for "spangled" on my Kindle. I was sincerely hoping I wouldn't encounter it every two pages for the rest of the book. It shows up again in Chapter 18, again in reference to the sun, and used improperly. "Spangled" may mean "sparkly" when used as an adjective, but does not mean "sparkled" when used as a verb.
3) The overall language used throughout the first three chapters is a mishmash of archaic phrasing and what I can only think of as "teen speak." The phrase, "She ...stared at the low-burning flames until they were naught more than glowing embers ..." does not belong in the same narrative as, "... she would love to punch him flat out!" Plus, I don't know any adult woman who finds romance in the image of their heroine "looking happier than a smiley face." The author should pick a style of writing - preferably an adult one - and stick to it.
4) Speaking of picking a style, the book also fails to pick a consistent narrative voice. A helpful article on the types of narrative voice is found here: [...]
It is very jarring to the reader when the author - after pages and pages of being a detached narrator - suddenly acts like Burl Ives' talking snowman in the old "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer" program, sagely commenting on what's to come. I can wait and read it for myself. I don't need the narrator to tell me: "Poor Elisabeth. She needn't have worried about being so happy, for personal turmoil was about to come her way."
5) The story starts slowly and poorly by describing a lengthy, and ultimately irrelevant, conversation between the heroine and her sister. In literary critics' terms, this is called "a waiting room." Readers are forced to sit around in this room and read a bunch of backstory. To me, it was neither sufficiently informative for me to understand just how these women wound up in 1517 Scotland, nor was it relevant to Elisabeth getting on the road and meeting her new love interest. I was bored. The author needs to start her story with the first relevant thing that happens. All the backstory can and should be inserted as the plot advances.
6) The author is fond of making sweeping statements about people and not explaining them. This left me stopping reading - again and again - to puzzle out "why?!" Two prime examples jumped off the page to me. When David's father dies in a fall, David "felt some satisfaction in knowing his father got exactly what he wanted, for David did rue this day." Why did this give David satisfaction? He didn't want to please his father, so I just don't get it. Second, when Elisabeth decides to leave her sister and strike out on her own, the narrator comments that she knows "remaining ... was not in the best interests of ... Isobella." Why does she think leaving her sister and infant nephew without modern medical personnel nearby is in their best interests? We'll never know.
7) Pages and pages of flowery descriptions of Scotland's history and castles ... enough said.
There are a host of other little irritants, inconsistencies, and tortured analogies along the way but that's enough of a rant after reading just a Prologue and three chapters. I'm kicking myself for ever buying this book. Don't make my mistake. In the meantime, everyone considering buying this mess should go instead and try "The Duchess War," by Courtney Milan. That book is also currently on sale and it's delightful.