It seems that this grading scale has come to the attention of some of my more regular readers, because recently, one put forward a new series for contemplation based on its coming adaptation for Starz television network: the Outlander novels, by Diana Gabaldon (printed as Cross Stitch in the UK). A historical romance, you say? Alright, I can dig it.
Oh Lord, I was not prepared. I was not prepared at all.
Outlander, the first novel in the series, follows Claire Beauchamp, who served as a field nurse in WWII, vacationing on a second honeymoon with her husband, Frank Randall in Inverness, Scotland, when a rift in time at the Craig na Dun transports her back in time to the time of the Jacobite revolution; in fact, she lands right in the middle of a skirmish between the British and Scottish highlanders! Taken by the clansmen to Castle Leoch, Claire desperately tries to find a way back home... but when she suddenly finds herself married to handsome Jamie McTavish, will she ever want to go home again? (Not with all the raucous sex they're having.)
Historical romance, I was prepared for. A historical romance EPIC, I was not. Topping out at over 800 pages, I was questioning what I had managed to get myself into with this hefty tome.
It wasn't so bad. But it might have gone down easier with me if it hadn't been so much of a romance... it leaned pretty heavily on the side of a bodice-ripper with enough cultural history pumped in to keep it anchored into the realm of not-so-distinctly-pink bookshelves. It reminded me of some kind of hybrid between Game of Thrones and The Secret of the Pink Carnation... the former, because of its length, sex, and near-sadistic bits, and the latter for its distinctly female audience and tendency for snatches of history lessons mixed into all that gooey material.
Well, it's over now, and though writing the CF article for it was a little bit hard without entire outfits composed out of plaid or lingerie to sum up exactly how MUCH of a Scottish romance it was, I think it turned out well.
Here's my favorite outfit from the article, based around Claire's status as a nurse, and later, a healer for the Castle: