Scotland, 1906. A mysterious object discovered inside an ancient castle calls Maximilian Haywood, the new Duke of Olympia, and his fellow researcher Emmeline Truelove north to the remote Orkney Islands. No stranger to the study of anachronisms in archeological digs, Haywood is nevertheless puzzled by the artifact: a suit of clothing that, according to family legend, once belonged to a selkie who rose from the sea and married the castle’s first laird.
But Haywood and Truelove soon realize they’re not the only ones interested in the selkie’s strange hide. When their mutual friend Lord Silverton vanishes in the night from an Edinburgh street, their quest takes a dangerous turn through time, which puts Haywood’s extraordinary talents—and Truelove’s courage—to their most breathtaking test yet.
A Strange Scottish Shore is book two in the Emmeline Truelove series. I started with the first book, had some niggles so cautiously picked this one up to see if it improved for me by giving the series another chance. It’s a blend of genres that is usually an all-systems go for me: history, mystery, strong female lead, compelling side characters including a potential romantic interest, and a dash of the sci-fi just when I wasn’t suspecting it.
Mmm, yes, but no. I was no more enamored with the series on my second encounter. There are a few things that just do not work for me, personally, that I wasn’t fond of in the first book and continued through into this one. And, there is yet another couple of iffy items that were added to the mix when I attempted A Strange Scottish Shore on audio.
First, what worked. Because yes, this one had a lot of good going for it as well- hence the average rating. I did love the world of the Emmeline Truelove series- both the early twentieth century and the mid-fourteenth because of the time traveling that allowed for both. I also enjoyed that clever time travel element that brings with it a built in aura of mystery because Truelove, Max and Silverton are pretty much winging it with how it works and why people are popping into and out of time. I thought the pairing of a straight-laced, sharp-minded Truelove with a lively, clever and witty Silverton was a great romance and adventure pair. The overall story has some appeal as well.
But… yes, there are some issues for me. While I can respect several facets of Truelove’s character. She can also pull some stubborn-stupid and gah, her squirreliness to admit to feelings and be honest with Silverton even after all that time was really starting to grind me. I wanted to shout back at my iPod- She acts like this independent strong-willed woman, but then goes all pokered up school marm when it comes to feelings.
Sigh… but also, the plot is disjointed and loose in many places. It just doesn’t stay neat and got me scratching my head. I had a lot of whys in the end and they had nothing to do with the dangling threads leading into book three. No, its just a loose plot that needed to be more focused. The time travel element seems to get out of control and cause some issues. This was my biggest issue in book one. Maybe its just me as a reader that just isn’t a good match up.
The narrator was a first time for me, Gemma Massot. Overall, I thought she did well. There were a few times I felt the story was bland, but I’m not sure if that was the fault of narrator so much as written material she was working with. I thought she did a pretty good job with Truelove’s voice and several others, but I struggled when it came to Silverton. He’s an aristocrat and yet she has him dropping his ‘h’s and sounding lower class. It was distracting. But otherwise I was pleased with her work and most definitely her narrative voice.
So, while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it. I liked it, but I don’t really feel a desire to keep going with the series right now. I will still recommend it to those who want to try what’s out there when it comes to historical romantic suspense and time-travel blends.
My thanks to Penguin Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.
New Release #173 Audio #64
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