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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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10/23/2005 Archived Entry: "Book review: Only with a Highlander"

Only With a Highlander
By Janet Chapman
Published by Pocket Books

Review by Lynn Loper

I started out this review by picking the book apart. But then I thought about it.

The embittered man who cannot love, and the young innocent woman who loves him and endears herself to him is an old, old plot, and that's essentially what you'll get with "Only With a Highlander" by Janet Chapman.

There's a very superficial Scottish flavor (Scottish names, the usage of "Nay" and "bairns" a few times, kilts, sword fights), but really, these people might as well be Hungarian, for all the Scots cultural traits they show.

There's some popular magic (Druids, time travel, a ludicrous "I'm my own grandmother" ending). But a ten-year-old who's read a Harry Potter book would expect something more sophisticated. There are hidden identities, trees of life, spells and talking animals. These are all things that a mundane writer who's watched 24 hours of TV on Scifi can pick up and use.

The sex is the "His arousal touched her desire", followed by fireworks (literally remember the Druids part?) type. There are a few hilarious phrases like "...took off her boots before stepping into the monstrous kitchen..." (Monstrous? Abnormally large? Twisted? Hideous?), and "...only to gasp at the sight of her tiny white legs wrapped around his tanned body..." (Tiny? Tiny??? If they're tiny, how do they wrap around him? And how does she walk on them? They said she was five feet six and she has tiny legs? Is her torso five feet four?).

It's not generally badly written. The problem is that it's too crowded with too many unexplained incidents (people suddenly announcing that they're 800 years old, to no public shock), too much magic (people call the rain), too many trips inside the mind of the heroine (you'll know what I mean), too many talking animals, and way too many characters. By the end, the author could tell you that you're a talking crow yourself and you'd be too tired to argue.

But the embittered man does love the girl in the end, and if that's what you're after, and you've already read 'Jane Eyre' or other books that did it a lot better, then you could read this. Same principal as if you have some nice pasta and artichokes in the refrigerator, and instead you pull out a 20-ounce bag of potato chips and have that for dinner.

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