Monday, December 22, 2014

Another Scottish Romance That Doesn't Quite Work

Source: Author Website
Veil of Time by Claire R. McDougall (Gallery Books, 2014, 416pp.)

In the aftermath of a divorce, Maggie Livingstone retreats to Dunadd, a rural nook of Scotland far from her urban hometown of Glasgow, where she prepares for a major brain operation that will hopefully cure her epilepsy. While most epileptics simply have to worry about having a seizure while driving, Maggie's problems are a little different. Maggie has to worry about involuntary time traveling. Yes, you read that correctly. When Maggie suffers one of her seizures, she slips into a strange dream-state where she "travels" through time and visits famous personages, like Napoleon and Joan of Arc. None of these alternate times and places have made much impression on herthat is, until she travels to pre-Christian Scotland and meets sexy widower Fergus. Although her command of Gaelic is only rudimentary, she and Fergus quickly begin a romantic relationship. She'd love to stay in the eighth century forever, but if she did, she'd be leaving her son, Graeme, behind in the 21st century. What follows is a chronicle of one woman's choice between happiness and responsibility.

This being a romance and a time travel story, there will doubtless be comparisons to Gabaldon's Outlander. Like Outlander, the author focuses heavily on lush historical detail and scenery to great effect, creating a very realistic setting for her story. As someone with Scots-Irish ancestory, I found the day-to-day life details to be particularly interesting. In terms of the powerful love story the author was obviously trying to write, however, McDougall doesn't quite hit the mark. Although the two leads are automatically drawn to each other (despite the language barrier), they don't have very much chemistry--or, if they do, then it obviously didn't make the transitional leap from the author's imagination to the page as she intended. In any case, fans of Outlander suffering from Jamie+Claire withdrawal will at least find some relief in trying out this latest installment in the newly minted "Scottish romance/time travel" genre.

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