12 February 2011


Locus Focus: Take Forty!

New to Locus Focus?
Read this page first!

I just remembered that we don't have a theme for March.

What do you all think of war- and battle-related settings? I got the idea because next month is when I've planned my big J.R.R. Tolkien reread and scheduled a certain non-fiction book about the bombing of Manila during WWII.

But as always, I'm open to suggestions from other Locus Focus participants, so please let me know what you think! =)

Highlands of Scotland
Kiss of the Highlander
by Karen Marie Moning

. . . It had taken [Gwen] only a few days to figure out that she never should have embarked upon this ridiculous quest.

But back home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as she'd peered out the window of her cubicle at the Allstate Insurance Company, arguing with yet another injured insured who'd managed to amass an outstanding $9,827 worth of chiropractic bills from an accident that caused a mere $127 of damage to his rear bumper, the idea of being in Scotland--or anywhere else, for that matter--had been irresistible.

So she'd let a travel agent convince her that a fourteen-day tour through the romantic Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland was just what she needed, at the bargain price of $999 . . .

When it comes to settings, Karen Marie Moning isn't very believable. There was no point in the entire novel when I believed her story was taking place in Scotland--whether the Scotland of our own time or of the sixteenth century. Yet although Moning can't deliver an authentic sense of place, she still expertly sets the stage for romance.

We can all relate to someone who feels stuck in "love limbo," perfectly symbolised by a cubicle workspace in some bureaucratic company's building. And we can understand the intense desire to break out of the funk which inspires the heroine to buy a plane ticket to Scotland. Any exotic location would have done, really, but serendipity--a true accomplice to romance--sets her up for Scotland.

And at first it seems like a huge mistake. The tour package is such a bargain, she discovers, because it's for a senior citizens' bus tour. She is the only young person there, and the only one who doesn't have a significant other. And she feels kind of pathetic.

Which means she's totally ready for her big, hard fall . . .

When the ground gave way beneath her feet, it was so sudden and unexpected that she scarcely had time to gasp before she plunged through the rocky bottom of the crevice. She fell for a terrifying few seconds, then landed with such force that the impact knocked the air out of her lungs.

As she struggled to draw a breath, crushed rock and dirt showered her where she lay . . .

She'd fallen hard and felt bruised from head to toe. Her hands were bleeding from her panicked attempt to catch herself as she'd plunged through the jagged opening, but, blessedly, it didn't appear that she'd broken any bones.

Yes, it's a literal fall--but since she lands on a sleeping man who has been sealed up in that forgotten cave for hundreds of years, she has fallen upon love, if not quite in it yet.

The Scottish background might be no more than what Romance fans call "wallpaper," but the soul-sapping cubicle, the exotic country and the hidden cave have a richer archetypal status. The heroine finds herself in a land where impossible romances can happen and two hearts which should have been separated by the walls of centuries can share a love that lasts forever.

I should totally have written this post last week.

Now it's your turn!
Leave the link to your Locus Focus post in the linky
and take some time to check out and comment on those of others.
I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! =D

Image Source: Kiss of the Highlander by Karen Marie Moning


Kate said...

I've never read any Karen Marie Moning - would you recommend her? I'm slightly leery of time travel ones but not wholly against it.

Thanks for the tip! I probably won't have mine up for a few days...I've been buried in Lear and Tudor biographies and deviant burials. Not terribly romantic, any of them.

Birdie said...

Aaaaah, the Highlander series! I haven't read them, but I've stocked them constantly. They flew off the shelves.

I finally got my new computer! *dancing for joy* So, I'll have to get on it with my Locus Focus this week!

Also, war scenes is just fine, as long as I can do books that only incidentally include the war....

Enbrethiliel said...


Kate -- It's hard to say. Moning writes a very specific type of Romance: innocent, inexperienced heroines and heroes who are powerful in the druid world. I guess I'd compare her to Julie Garwood--with some fairies thrown into the mix and the kind of sense of humour it takes to pull of the combination with a straight face.

For what it's worth, I consider this the best Time Travel Romance I've ever read (although, to be perfectly honest, I've read very, very few). Moning really gives us the sense that if the hero and heroine hadn't met, they would both have been lonely for the rest of their lives--he in the sixteenth century and she in the twenty-first. So the time travel "gimmick" is actually essential.

I guess my final word is that it has the potential to be your greatest guilty pleasure! =)

Birdie -- Yay! I'm so happy to hear that you're back online! I've missed you the past few weeks.


As for the "War" theme: of course you may get as creative as you like! =) I've been toying with the name "Battlegrounds", but I think it might confuse people. Any wartime setting or war-related setting (such as a museum people can visit in peacetime) is welcome! And you'd better bring your A game, sweetie! ;-)

Kate said...

I think I've only read two time travel romances, one Jude Deveraux's A Night in Shining Armor, which I loved, and Diana Galbaldon's whichever the first one was with Jamie and Claire, which I abhorred. I know, people would skin me alive for saying that. Oh, there was also sort of time travel in Seducing Mr Darcy and The Man Who Loved Jane Austen...so maybe I have read more than I thought? But I do remember liking Julie Garwood's medieval Scottish historicals when I was like fifteen...hm. I wonder if I could find this at my library?

Welcome back, Birdie!!!

Enbrethiliel said...


Oooooh! Let's talk Time Travel Romances!

I used to be part of an online community of Romance readers which had (before I even joined) reached the consensus that Outlander was the best TT Romance ever written. (Yes, that's the Gabaldon one.) I gave it a try and kind of liked it--primarily because I was looking for all those good points everyone said it has.

And then I learned more about the series and realised that the flaws I decided to overlook in that first book came out full force in the subsequent ones. =(

But the thing I hate the most about the Outlander series is . . . Claire herself! I really don't't like the way she first sleeps with Jamie in the past, even while she is trying to get back to Frank in the present; and then, after she makes the decision to dump Frank for Jamie, returns to Frank in the second book and expects him to raise Jamie's child with her. Then, of course, she hops right back to Jamie when she can again. Biatch.

And whenever anyone tried to argue with me on the message boards of the aforementioned community, I pointed out that if the sexes were reversed and Jamie was the one hopping back and forth between women, they wouldn't like it so much.

I haven't read A Knight in Shining Armour, although I've read Legend, also by Devereaux. No, I emphatically DON'T recommend that one. But I won't spill the spoilerish reason unless you ask.

If you ever get around to a Highlander book, please let me know what you think of it! =)

Kate said...

You know, I've actually read Legend and totally forgot about it...I didn't hate it, but definitely not one of my favorites.

It's been ages and ages since I read Outlander, but I just remember thinking that Claire annoyed me and there was just so much crap in there that was extraneous crap. Claire was the ultimate Mary Sue, and Jamie was designed to be every woman's dream and therefore read like cardboard to me because he was just...so...predictable. And tiresome. I do like your points about Claire and the difference between her sleeping around and if it had been Jamie. But I never got beyond the first book :) It was hell to me.

I checked my library and they don't carry any Moning :( I'll have to keep it in mind next time I'm near a good used bookstore in the States!

Enbrethiliel said...


Legend was forgivable fluff to me until the point when the hero, who was afraid he wouldn't be born in the future, convinced his great-grandfather to seduce his great-grandmother, still a happily married woman (who presumably wouldn't become a young widow because the hero and heroine go back in time to save her husband) as many times as necessary to get her pregnant and ensure the future.

Just not funny.

And the good news is that Moning is so much better than that, although she does spread the alpha male cheese as thickly as she can. =P Good luck finding one of her books!

Birdie said...

I love that yall are chatting time travel romance. WIN!

Enbrethiliel said...


And I notice you are holding back! =P Come on, spill! Which titles are good and which ones should we avoid like the plague???

Lesa said...

Blech on Outlander!!! I read it back in my addicted to romance days and thought it would never end!!

The Knight in Shining Armor sounds familiar. I've only read 3 or 4 time travels and wish I could remember the titles because I did like them.

I actually finished a Sherrilyn Kenyon one a few months ago about a minor greek god zapped into our time due to a curse-- It was pretty good.

Enbrethiliel said...


I actually didn't mind the rambling pace of Outlander. =) It was what Gabaldon chose to stick into the story that made it so hard to swallow. =S

If I'm not mistaken, A Knight in Shining Armour is the one in which the heroine sings showtunes to the king and queen after she is "zapped" back in time. (I haven't read it myself because Legend was such an epic fail.)