I read lots of good books. Lots of non-fiction. Today, I’m reading Toynbee’s A Study of History. It has characters who figured long ago in far away places with strange sounding names. Judas Maccabaeus. Bar Kokaba. Mithradates, King of Pontus. Spartacus. There is a lot in history that parallels what we are currently experiencing that I find interesting.
My fiction choices range from LitFic (Toni Morrison, Umberto Eco, Virginia Woolf, etc.), through MythFic (Tolkien, Rowling, Kay), to SciFi/Fan (Outlander, The Expanse, Vampires, Werewolves, and Anything by Bernard Cornwell).
What I don’t read – never did, really – are out and out Romance. Bodice Rippers. Manly Men and Buxom Beauties. Never having been buxom, I didn't relate.
And then I decided, on a whim, to read the first of Jesse Gage’s (USA TODAY) best seller series, Highland Wishes, titled appropriately enough Wishing for a Highlander. Even the title made me feel a little curdled. If I was reading it on a beach, I’d probably hide it in a copy of The New Yorker. I’m just that kind of arrogant. Not that I’m proud of it or anything. Serves me right, then, to bury my arrogance in a Bodice Ripper.
I met Jessi Gage in my Seattle Writer’s group, Writers’ Cramp, and critiqued the book that I think will turn out to be Volume 2 of Highland Wishes, which I will read before the year is out. Jessi is charming, funny, and as buxom as her heroine, who is also charming and funny and whose bodice does get ripped, but not by the hero. The hero runs the bodice-ripper through in a most satisfying way, and the book is off to the races.
I enjoyed the bloody hell out of it. Did it smack a little too much of Gabaldon? Yes. There’s time travel. Were there cliched plot twists? Of course. This is a genre book, and genre books need to give the reader what they have come to expect. What is delightful about Wishing for a Highlander is how much over the top Gage goes – things you wished that Gabaldon had put in, Jessi puts in and it’s fun (what did the Tinkers do with the car, Jessi?). There is a mystery to be solved by series’ end, I hope. And in the meantime, you just read yourself into a mythical medieval Scotland that never was but should have been.
And all the while you are in this never-never land, you have not given whatsisname a single, solitary thought, and when you drift off to sleep, you drift off with a dream already tucked inside. Ya know, The New Yorker has never, ever done that for me.