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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.


Seductive Musings

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Finally! A historical that I love!

After what feels like a century trapped in the desert, I have discovered a new-to-me author and a historical novel that I loved! The last time this happened was years ago when I was writing Ride the Fire and read Elizabeth Lowell for the first time. Apart from a handful of books I read written by her, I'd begun to think that it was impossible nowadays to find a historical author who writes what I want to read.

Okay, so I know I'm picky. When I read a historical novel, I want complex characters, a story that seems epic in nature, and historical veracity. I want dialogue that, as much as possible, feels genuine for that time and place. I want believable heroines who feel like real women, not proto-feminist "sheroes." I want heroes who feel like men, not metrosexuals. I want to feel the past surrounding me, carrying me away. I want a meaty story. And I want it to be as seamless as possible.

I don't want wallpaper historicals. I don't want "light, breezy" reads that feel like foam in my brain. I don't want novels about gowns and frippery and ballroom banter — unless they go to a deeper place than the wardrobe and the ballroom. I don't want anachronistic novels that put modern-day heroines into historical settings.

This week, I dug around in my TBR and found a novel I'd brought back from RWA this summer. It was Kathleen Givens' On a Highland Shore. I opened it up, plopped onto my bed... and vanished into 1263 Scotland.

Here's a description I stole from B&N:

On Scotland's western shore, the village of Somerstrath prepares for the joyous wedding celebration of Margaret MacDonald, the laird's daughter. But a dark storm of bloodshed and betrayal is closing in, as a merciless band of Vikings threatens the Highlands. Margaret is determined to hold the MacDonald clan together and to locate her abducted younger brother. But can she trust the noblemen from King Alexander's court, who insist that only by adhering to a betrothal conceived for political gain will she find safety? Or should she put her trust in an imposing half-Irish, half-Norse warrior? Gannon MacMagnus alone offers her hope of reuniting her family and vanquishing the barbarous Norsemen who would continue to rob her people of their God-given right to determine their own destinies. In whom should Margaret entrust the fate of the rugged, magnificent land she calls home?

There's sexual tension in this book, but very little sex. It's not a "hot read," but it's an amazing story. I ate it up, and at the end I wanted to read it again. That never happens to me. As I read the last page, I had a rush of goosebumps such as I haven't had... I can't remember when, really. I felt so satisfied by the story.

It's dark, gory, rich in history and full of believable, wonderfully drawn characters.

Kathleen Givens rocks. She's a RITA winner, and I can certainly see why. I sent her a slobbering fan-grrrl email, unable to help myself.

Historical novels are my absolute faves. And it's funny that any time a message board or readers' group asks readers to list their all-time favorite novels, so many of those are historicals. But, in part due to worries about being politically correct, and etc., historicals have been so muted lately. I think the publishing industry is in part to blame for that, as few houses want to venture outside the realm of Regency or European historicals. But that's another topic.

I don't make recommendations all that often, but I loved this book. It's a five-star keeper for me.

Needless to say, I haven't been writing...


Debbie H said...

Hey, girl! I love historicals, especially ones that draw you in so deep you forget where you are. That fogged feeling when the phone rings and you are wondering "what is that?" LOL I want the gory down to earth true history with the fictional story. I have seen her works advertised in my Scottish Life Magazine but haven't read any of hers yet. Now I will have to go looking for it.

Remember what I said about your writing, it will come back. You've had a lot on your plate lately and I bet you will be full swing after the new year. Take time to breathe and enjoy the holidays!

cherdwag said...

Well Thank you for the recommend. I will definately look for this book and pick it up.

It is good to see you back and I agree with Debbie take time and enjoy your holidays!


Karen said...

Kathleen Givens was one of the first authors I read when I started reading historicals several years ago. I typed in Scottish historical romance and the site that came up had Kilgannon listed. I loved it and proceeded to read everything written by her. She writes incredibly rich stories. She didn't have anything new out in quite a while, so I was thrilled to see a new book come out. I'll have to get it!


Hi, DebbieH -- If you like to disappear into a story so deeply that you think you're there, this book will do the trick, for sure! And I know you love Scotland...

I do remember what you said about my writing, you sweetie. I hope to catch up over Christmas vacation, when my kids will be mostly gone and it will just be me at home.

Hi, Cher — I'm certain you'll enjoy the story. And thanks! It's good to be back. You have a wonderful holiday season as well. And stick around! I'm going to have some prizes...

Karen, I'm so glad you've read most of her books. I'm going to track the others down. I just can't tell you how long it's been that I've enjoyed a historical quite this much. Hope all is well with you!

Ronlyn said...

I would have sworn I responded to this last night. Things were a little crazy at the time with dinner on the stove, baby in my arms and opening some goldfish crackers to prevent a meltdown...not sure what happened to my message in all that. LOL

Anyhoooo...I'm going to jot that name down to my ever growing list of authors to try out! thanks!

Too funny, Ronlyn! That's what happens with tiny kids and babies in the house! Good luck. And keep yourself armed with those goldfish crackers. A valueable tool for any mom. :-)


Ronlyn said...

goldfish crackers and chicken nuggets. I don't know what I'd do without them.
Plus, A got up on his hands and knees last night. He didn't know what to do once he managed that, but he's that much closer to crawling. Can you imagine the chaos then? LOL

You're in for fun times, Ronlyn. once those babies become mobile, they sure know how to raise a ruckus! Good thing A has S to watch over him. ;-)


JennJ said...

I actually have this book in my TBR list how cool is that! And now I'm moving it way up so I can get to it very soon because if you liked it that much I can't wait to read it myself!

Casee said...

Thanks a lot. LOL. I started this book late yesterday and was up till 1am reading it. I finally finished it a few hours ago. All I can say is wow. There are few historicals that stay with me, but I know this one will.

I'm off to Amazon to order as many of Kathleen Given's books as I can.

Thanks for the rec, Pamela.

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