8/15/11 - Addendum to original review. I did not rate this book after reading it because I was so upset about the ending, but in retrospect I have to allow that it was one of the best books (and perhaps THE BEST) I have read this year. While I am VERY stingy about 5 star ratings and this is NOT the HEA I would have chosen, I confess that the author's meticulous research, beautiful prose, and riveting parallel storyline has won me over in the end. I've decided to give it the 5 stars after all.
WHERE OH WHERE DO I POSSIBLY BEGIN?????
OK. With the beginning- I was in LOVE with this book. Absolutely enthralled with it - the writing style, the dual plot lines, the historical accuracy - truly enamored. I found it so easy to relate to Carrie in her methodical and thorough research for her historical novel and her deisre to get the tiniest details right. I enjoyed the beginnings of romance with the Keith brothers, and I immediately sympathized with the characters in Carrie's novel.
As it turns out, I am one of probably very few people who already had a very thorough knowledge of the Franco-Scottish plans in 1708 and the subsequent Jacobite risings and can say that the author was spot on with historical accuracy. I admire and respect how she was able to work so many true characters and events into the story in such an engaging fashion...
About 80% into the book, things take a bad turn and there is a particular detail of this that spoiled the entire book for me. Although there is a rather contrived HEA (one that I actually saw coming) the female protagonist does something that caused me to become completely alienated from her emotinally and I found I could never feel sympathy or respect for her from that moment on. Since I do not believe in "plot-spoiling" reviews, but try very hard to just give my thoughts on a book, I won't reveal what that "moment" was. Suffice to say, however, I felt the action was so far out of character that I had a hard time believing in the ultimate HEA. It was also so far removed from my own nature that I could not relate to it. I then found myself reading the rest of the book with an uncharacteristic detachment and just flipping pages to see how it would all be resolved.
This should have been/could have been a 5 star review but I am so conflicted about the resolution that I refuse to rate it.