This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Berkley
Released on May 3, 2016
Did someone mention Jamie Fraser? Yep, I perked right up when I saw that this book was tied to Outlander and Jamie Fraser. I may have acquired a mini-obsession over this series about five years ago when I started the first book in that series.
I was eager to read a story about a woman who went beyond loyal fan and book boyfriend crush to shaping her whole romantic hopes on tracking down her own real life Jamie Fraser and not just any place, but by tramping through the Scottish Highlands. It was a story of finding one’s self, growing as a person, and in the process of trial and- pitiful, sometimes embarrassing- error getting exactly what is needed for happiness.
I took the time to read through an author interview transcript and even some other readers’ thoughts before I dove in which is not my usual way of taking up a story. See, I didn’t want to make the mistake of having the wrong expectation of this book. Which, if I had gone into it with just a cursory read of the blurb or the seeing the cover, probably would have happened.
This book is not about Jamie Fraser or Outlander. It is a book about a woman who obsesses about Jamie Fraser and Outlander. Knowing this makes the difference in how I approached the book.
But that is not to say that there is not plenty of Outlander and other Scottish goodness along with heartwarming story and characters to appreciate and enjoy. I laughed and sighed.
After, losing the latest boyfriend and then her job, Emma Sheridan, takes stock of her life. Nearly thirty, no steady career, no relationship, a bit of tension around her perfect younger sister who has already achieved? Yeah, time to go about this life thing very differently.
Only Emma’s idea of figuring out life is a scheme that has her family and best friend convinced she is insane. Emma sells nearly everything she owns and let’s her Chicago apartment go. Everything she owns fits into her luggage including her laptop and well-read copy of Outlander. Emma has started a travel blog, Finding Jamie Fraser, and that is exactly what she plans to do. From selling it all, there are funds enough for a two month journey. She is going on a trek to Scotland, follow in the Outlander heroine’s footsteps and along the way, she will find her own handsome, Highlander warrior.
Romance convention, Jamie Fraser stripper, castles, cheap hostels, dubious encounters in pubs, wrong side of the road, ghost?, a professional thief, Fraser sightings, Scottish ways, seeing the sites, detours, quirky people, Highland Games, Loch Ness monster maybe, blogging, police, and Braveheart.
Along the way, she goes from feeling alone and scared, unsure, but determined, rigid in what she thinks she needs and needs to happen, then learning to step away from the plan and follow instinct. She draws a following on her blog, encounters some quirky and interesting people, some are good for her and some not so much. But Scotland? No matter what happens, Scotland was always a good idea and she learns to love it and find home. Love and Jamie Fraser stay elusive until she finds them in a surprising place.
This story was ultimately one of triumph after many different stops and starts along the way. It’s a steady story that is more women’s fiction than romance and yet romance is one of the themes at its core. Not to say there aren’t some exciting moments and it is never dull around this girl who gets into scrapes and situations without even trying.
Emma is the central figure of this story and how the reader feels about her will determine if this is a win or a disappointment. I went from seeing the heroine as a flake who just needed a reality check to seeing her as one of those rare someones who have trouble fitting in. She really did get lucky with the adventure of a life time that led exactly to where she needed to be.
In the process, she grew on me and I started rooting hard for her. The character development was teased out and was an ongoing process until the end. Emma was made known through the blog posts throughout the book, but also her thoughts and actions. She is introspective very often and it makes sense since she has to find herself even though she thinks her adventure is about finding her soulmate.
The background characters who people this story- some in passing and some recurring- are colorful and engaging. There were quirky Outlander fans or Scottish personalities, there were those who helped Emma along the way and those who seemed good, but turned out to be disappointments for her, and there was her family. I enjoyed the friendships she formed along the way and the sometimes humorous experiences and interactions. Humor is rife through this book.
As to setting, I felt Scotland was well drawn. As modern Scotland- city and countryside, but also the feeling of the history and mystery of the place. There are a couple occasions with the reader is left wondering if there was some ancient magic happening and a bit of magical realism. Also, the author did a nice job of describing Emma’s story, but also showing her great love and appreciation for the world of Outlander. Like I said earlier, this is not about Outlander, but for a fan there were several scenes and moments that bring a smile and the itch to snatch up a copy of the book or the show and immerse one’s self. The reader had Emma’s description of locales, but also her reaction to it which for me, made me very envious of Emma.
So, I found this an engaging read that had me disappointed when it was over. I loved this ‘finding herself’ travel adventure. The quest, humorous, and heartwarming moments were sheer delight. Contemporary romance who don’t mind a mild romance and women’s fiction fans should definitely give this a try.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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