Onyx, $5.99, ISBN 0-451-41032-7
Historical Romance, 2002
I don’t get too many romance novels set in the Shetland Islands circa the 1600s, so I’m more than happy to pick up Janet Lynnford’s Shetland Summer. Unfortunately, this book is so dull that it is all I can do just to keep my eyelids open. The characters are flat, the dialogues have the liveliness of soggy molasses, and the external conflict moves along like sedated sheep on a lazy sunny afternoon. Rigor mortis is calling me home.
Drummond Graham and his buddies are in Shetland Islands Main Isle supposedly to buy wool and nothing more. But predictably, they have some secret agenda of their own. Since this Secret Agenda is an important plot thing, I guess I won’t reveal it here. But his plans derail a little when he meets our little Save the World Moppet, Gemma Sinclair. Gemma is a tragic heroine who is tyrannized by her Uncle, and her sole comfort is her horse Ting (good grief) whom she hides in some cave or something. Uncle threatens to hurt Ting if Gemma goes against him, so Gemma, who loves Ting since Ting is the only creature who understands and loves her, hee hee hee poppy dreams hee hee, is so sad and blue. How old is she, by the way? I’ll take a guess and say she’s really 8.
A storm and other contrivances of Mother Nature force Drummond to save Gemma. Gemma, who makes her life even harder by having some really twisted and rigid code of morals, then proceeds to make herself fall for him. That’s the impression I get, at least, because this woman keeps saying how he has saved her life and how she is now indebted to him and so she must love him. Likewise, Gemma appoints herself as the savior of Shetland Island, and soon she is trying to juggle between her self-imposed loyalty to Drummond or her self-imposed loyalty to Ting. If you ask me, Gemma is a really sick woman who needs to see a shrink ASAP. There’s nothing more depressing than to read about a woman who forces herself into difficult situations because she wants to feel like a martyr. And there’s nothing more irritating than a heroine who juggles ineptly lies and who runs stupidly into dangerous situations because she feels that only her can save the world. Please, she can’t even think straight, much less become the new Shetland Wonder Woman.
Drummond is dull. He is the usual guy who at first doesn’t trust Gemma, and then does when the plot requires it. But while he is a stock character, at least he doesn’t want to save the world. He only wants to save Gemma. And Gemma, believe me, needs a lot of rescuing.
The scenery isn’t as vivid as I would’ve liked, though. This story is supposed to be set in Shetland, but it could’ve been set on Uncle Marty’s Sheep Farm for all I know. The villain isn’t menacing, the pace drags, the dialogue drags more, and finishing this book is a chore.