I have to say that Ms. Gabaldon wrote the heck out of this book. I swear I couldn't put it down. Jamie and Claire are the epitome of Hero and heroine of historical romance. I laughed, I cried, I scoffed at the audacity of the bad man and then I cried some more. This is a must read for any lover of not just historical, but of romance in general. And then you must read the sequals!!
I'll admit, I was mislead by the reviews. So many people labeled this book as the best romance book ever. I'm still trying to shake some of its disturbing images from my head. I won't do a recap of the book because it's already been done enough. I will say that some of the reviews that bashed the book about the amount of sex or Jamie beating Claire did not bother me while reading the book. No man should ever hit a woman, but that was how things were done back then and he also talked to her about the danger she put herself and others in before hand. He spanked her like you would a child. As for the amount of sex, it was more implying that they had sex, not vivid descriptions of sex. That is not the same thing. My problems with the book was that I felt too much time was devoted on threads that went no where. Why waste 10 pages on a person or issue that will never be mentioned again??? At one point, I just started skimming. My main issue with this book was the torture that the hero Jamie had to go through. I'm sorry, but there is NOTHING romantic about a man trading himself sexually to the villain for his wife's freedom. And then for the ordeal to be described???? Too much.
The first book I have ever read that I felt like I just wanted to turn back to page 1 and re-read. I know I will read this several more times in my life. I am only going to allow myself to read each of the subsequent books every six months or so, so that I can draw the series out for myself a few years. It's THAT good. I listed my used PBS copy, because I am going to buy a pristine paperback to keep on shelf just for myself to keep going back to.... can't say enough good things. I'm asking my husband for the whole series for Christmas.
You're either going to love this book or find it pointless. I have mixed opinions so I'm hesitant to recommend the book unless you're dying to read a 900 page book. The book isn't horrible at all, but neither is it the next Great American Novel. I was satisfied with reading the book, but not so thrilled that I am going to continue to read the rest of the books in the series.
The author clearly did an incredible amount of detailed research on life, fighting, culture, customs of 18th centry Scotland, but the level of detail is overkill. There are also an incredible number of secondary characters and backstories to remember.
The hero is intially very sweet, loving, and I hope I don't spoil this for anyone - is refreshingly a virgin, which is a rarity for a hero in this genre. It's actually the heroine who is more sexually experienced since she's a married woman. The hero has some really heartbreakingly lovely lines in the book - the kind that would make a grown woman swoon. However, this is more than a romance novel. It's a mishmash of romance, time travel, and historical. The author could have shortened the book by 300 pages without damaging the story. The plot should have been about her being torn in two since she loves her husband in contemporary time and she also cares for the 18th century Highlander. She seems to barely love her husband in the 20th century. You really don't get a sense of their connection and frankly her husband doesn't seem like a villain either so it's baffling why the author allows the heroine to quickly adapt to life in the past. She doesn't seem surprised by all the things in the past. She also manages to remember an astonishing amount of historical details (names and dates) for someone who wasn't a historian.
As the previous reviewers have mentioned, there's a lot of sex and at inappropriate times. Now I'm a big fan of smutty books so sex is perfectly good with me, but the sex here is not erotic or passionate. The sex scenes could have been better.
This book is not for anyone who has suffered any kind of abuse. I could see some of the things here being a trigger for bad memories. You should know there are some disturbing scenes of male/male rape (described in detail), wife beating with a strap (she can't walk or ride for days afterward), violent sex, lots of death, references to previous beatings, torture, whipping, at least three attempted rapes, branding, witch trials, and lots of fighting. I can't count the number of times the hero recounts, sometimes happily, the beatings he received from family members and others. I realize this book depicts life in a thankfully bygone era, but my gosh the author went overboard with the violence. Violence and rape are two big themes in the story. This is not light-hearted reading. This book will dig into your psyche. The sections leading to the ending are quite violent, and honestly the scene where the heroine tries to revive the ghostly memories of her husband's time in the dungeon was disgusting. Nor did I buy his quick psychological turn around either. People don't recover from trauma that quickly. I've watched enough Dr. Phil and Oprah to know this - I knew those shows had some value.
For those that care about the point of view, you should know this book is written from the heroine's first person point of view.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book, given the Harlequin romance novel premise. (I had to take other reviewers words that this was in fact a quality book) It's quite well written...the characters are complex and believable. The story is far fetched but fascinating. Some of the exchanges between characters are quite amusing, if not laugh out loud funny. The content of this book ranges from hilarious to downright disturbing. Clever segues and surprisingly few plotholes for such a complex story. The author has a gift, there's no doubt about it. I think my main complaint would have to be the enormous amount of sex in this book. I'm a prude by no stretch of the imagination (perv by nature, actually)....but my idea of love and romance does not focus on sex so completely. I lost count of how many times the heroine was saved from a savage rape in progress...or how many times Jamie stroked Claire's breasts whimpering Holy Gods and going down on her. I'm all about a few well placed sex scenes, but there were sooo many of them they seemed more deserving of a place in some above mentioned Harlequin romance smut than in cheapening this otherwise engaging novel. It's not going to stop me from picking up the second book in the series though, as overall it's quite an impressive read.