Courting Carolina

Janet Chapman
September 2012, Fantasy Romance
Jove, $7.99, 304 pages, Amazon ASIN 0515151068
Part of a series

Grade: C-
Sensuality: Warm

By page twenty, I knew Courting Carolina was going to be a long book. During that time the hero gains and loses then gains an accent with "ye," and "lass," decides the heroine’s bottom looks like a perfectly upside down heart – you know a heart does have a pointy end - and rather than break down over being abducted and threatened, the heroine loses it over cut strands of hair.

On approximately page eighty-four, I read that the heroine is sprawled on top of the hero with her hair tickling his chin, her mouth drooling on his chest, her hands tucked into his armpits but her breast are nestled in his groin. And I wonder how this is possible – unless she needs a boob job in the worst way? And while all these issues in themselves are distracting, it was the lack of world building, and flip flop in characterization that drove me crazy.

After saving a young woman from two attackers, Alec MacKeage takes the unconscious woman to his lean-to. She quickly recovers and after he informs her he is going to call the sheriff to pick up the men and her, she anxiously ask him not to inform them of her presence. Bored by his own company and intrigued by the mystery surrounding her, he agrees to let her stay a couple of days. He is amused by her name – Jane Smith - but not so much by her emerald necklace or the lone condom that is with her jewelry, indicating its importance. Unable to understand why she doesn’t want to inform her family of her safety, Jane finally discloses her fight against her father’s autocratic control. He wants to marry her off, and she is determined to be the boss of herself. And if she has to do so she will use the condom to lose her virginity and devalue her worth. It is only later that Alex discovers that she is the daughter of Titus Oceanus – the legendary mythological god that chose to champion mankind when all the other gods were fighting to control them. Of course Alec is no ordinary man. He is the son of a twelfth-century highland warrior brought to the 21st century by a bumbling druidh.

But Alec is famous in his own right, too. Serving in the military, known only as the Celt or the weapon because of his ability to succeed in successfully completing impossible missions, he walked away disillusioned and scarred after his twenty second mission. Now he spends the winters working for his family at TarStone Mountain Ski Resort and the summer and early fall working for his uncle who is doing earthwork for Olivia Oceanus.

For two years Jane aka Carolina Oceanus has been searching for a man to love. At the beginning it didn’t seem infeasible to find and fall in love with an ordinary man and have his babies, but no matter how desperately she tried to fall in love, the men just seemed like buffoons. She doesn’t want to be a pawn in her father’s scheme to marry her off to the right warrior especially since that might require living in a different century. Alec MacKeage is different, though. She wouldn’t mind losing her virginity to him but while he seems to enjoy their heavy petting, he stops short of consummating their relationship. As Jane grows to care for him, she realizes that she doesn’t want to put him in danger - because there is no one as powerful as her father. But with her kidnapping and the loss of her protective anklet, things are put in motion that she is powerless to stop.

Pick an adjective and it will probably fit the heroine. At times she is clingy, bossy, assertive, meek, sexually aggressive, and then embarrassed. When Alec mentions the possibility of bears being in the area she fearfully follows him like a shadow. But later in the story when he stumbles into her camp looking somewhat the worse for wear and mumbling about a bear, she informs him that he need not worry, she will protect him. She is thirty years old but also from a mythological time and still a virgin.

Alec’s characterization is all over the place, too. He is supposedly this retired hotshot secret weapon, but is demolished by a thunderstorm and a fall, requiring Jane to look after him. He figures out who Jane is but wonders who sent her to him. He suspects Sam Waters and confronts him by putting a knife to his throat. I just wondered why he couldn’t just ask the man. He can’t give Jane what she wants, but doesn’t think it is dishonorable to dabble a little bit with her. Alec also made a life altering decision two years ago based on the fact that he killed a fourteen-year-old boy - focusing on his age, rather than the boy’s culture or actions.

The world building is touched upon, but it is given out in bits and pieces that leave one confused. And of course there are characters that are in and out of the story –I suspect from previous books - so if you haven’t read any of the books, I definitely don’t recommend starting with this one. At one point it is mentioned that two years ago Carolina’s brother Mac and Olivia were newlyweds and expecting a baby. However, there are three children in the family. So I assumed that the two others were Olivia’s from a previous marriage, which is mentioned in the story, and the baby Ella is a true Oceanus. But then later the book states that another child is of direct blood. I was only able to figure out which children came from which relationships by reading a review for a previous book in the series. And while the setting is basically contemporary, the book bounces back and forth with historical plot devices.

Maybe if I had read the previous books, and cared about the characters I might have found more enjoyment in this book. But for the most part I found it confusing and full of clichés, and it is not a book I would recommend.

-- Leigh Davis

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