by Tess Mallory, time-travel (2003)
LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52526-7
Highland Dream won't be breaking any new grounds in the time-travel subgenre and it also has a few contradictions and loopholes in its plot, but this is one book that improves tremendously as it goes on. Unfortunately, the heroine's very annoying self-esteem issues and the perfunctory and overused Hero From The Past In The Present antics make this book a chore I have to work through before I get to the good parts.
Griffin Campbell is last seen in the author's related book Highland Dream losing the heroine to the hero in that book. Well, he's better off without her as that heroine has every screw loose in her head. In this book, he somehow manages to get to the present all the way from seventeenth century Scotland to avoid an arranged marriage. He stumbles into the company of that woman-that-got-away, Jix, and Jix's friends Samantha and Chelsea. Our heroine Chelsea Brown becomes attracted to Griffin but they will have to embark on some adventures (including going back to the late nineteenth century) before they can work out the issues standing between them and the happily ever after.
Chelsea starts off a truly irritating heroine. She's one of those flat-chested women who could somehow work her way through school and become a scientist but manage to remain completely devoid of self-esteem, and worse, are whiny about it. I never liked portrayals of scientists as women with serious mental issues trying to escape their social inadequacies by working on the supposedly clinical and dry world of science. Excuse me, but since when is science logical and clear-cut? But Chelsea makes things more unpalatable by whining incessantly. No man can love her! See, she's ugly! Eeee, she's so pitiful! She just wants to be loved, but there's surely no way that Griffin will want her! She just wants one night - just one night - to cherish for the rest of her life! Is that too much to ask? Oh, why is the world so horrible to poor Chelsea, why, why, why?
Now, if Chelsea weights nine hundred pounds, has seven chins, and a third eye growing on her forehead, I can understand about her feeling ocstracized by the people around her, but she's not. So what if she is flat-chested? Get some work done on the chest then, if she feels that she will die without some 36DDs. But Chelsea spends the whole time whining about how she just wants children and a husband but she just cannot even do anything but to wallow in self-pity - give me a break.
Griffin is a nice hero in that he is very awkward around women but becomes very protective when it comes to the woman he cares about. Even so, his character comes off quite badly early on, when he quickly decides that Chelsea is special just a few chapters after moping about how he and Jix weren't meant to be. The author tries to justify Griff's fickleness by saying that he isn't so sure whether he loves Jix, but I've heard that one quite a few times before.
It is only later on that, maybe by some lightning strike or alien abduction that takes place off-stage, Griff and Chelsea turn into two very likeable characters. She stops whining and starts taking proactive steps, and she even comes to Griff's aid a few times. Griff stops acting like a tool and morphs into a charming superhero. I like these new and improved characters and their pretty well-written adventures, but I am hard-pressed to reconcile these characters with their annoying selves in the first half of the story.
There are some inconsistencies in the story, such as when Griff brings up how contemporary people speak in ways that are alien to him yet he has no problems understanding people when these people throw contemporary jargons at his place. Bizarrely, at the same time he can't get the name of the television straight when he can grasp more advanced twenty-first century concepts. This and the equally inconsistent characterization lead me to consider Highland Fling an uneven book. It is quite enjoyable in the later half, but a little more effort put into hammering out the plot and character consistencies would have done wonders for it.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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