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Bodice-ripping Scottish joy . . .

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Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 4:00 pm

Remember when I mentioned that I'm behind the curve when it comes to current reading? In this case, that's about a dozen years. Only within the last year did I pick up Diana Gabaldon's first book "Outlander."

I'm not sure why I waited so long. It was given to me years ago along with high marks from a tried and true book buddy. But I waited. Maybe it's because it's a freakishly large book that I assumed would take up too much of my precious time.

I was wrong. It took up time, but that time flew by due to the fast pace and captivating plot of the book. It contains a few of my favorite ingredients in storytelling: Time travel, history, and steamy love scenes with a Scottish Highlander. What's not to like?

The heroine of the book, Claire Randall, is on a vacation with her geneology-minded husband in Scotland shortly after the 2nd World War. While out walking, she slips into 1743 surrounded by warriors, chieftains and a few truly evil characters. One of which turns out to be her husband's ancestor, Black Jack Randall. Understandably, she has a rocky start in this century. She's dressed differently, speaks and acts differently and gets accused of being a spy and a witch. But her skills as an army nurse serve her well in this era of sub-par health care (they'd hadn't learned that washing hands was a good idea). Soon she became a reluctant, if necessary guest of the Clan MacKenzie and her life got a bit easier for a while. (My husband is a MacKenzie and my life's pretty good.)

It was during this time that she nursed to health and began a bodice-ripping relationship with young James Fraser. This puts a fly in the ointment of her conscience since she's married to someone else in another century. But, things being what they are, and with no control over her situation, she embraces her new life and between running for her life, patching up warriors, and wondering if she'll ever return to 1945 - she has a rip roaring good time with Jamie.

Gabaldon weaves enough history into her story that the time travel element almost seems secondary. Although it's a concept that I find endlessly fascinating. By the end of the book, we're coming upon the Scottish Uprising and battle lines are being drawn. Just about this time, Claire has to make the decision to step back into 1945 or to stay with her new burnin' hunk o' love.

Quite the quandary.

Gabaldon has been criticized for dwelling on her sex scenes a bit much. And I have to admit that after the first hundred lust-filled encounters I was ready to get back to the story. It would be fun to believe that they had earth-shattering carnal relations, but they were also a busy lot ... what with wars, famine and shoeing the horses.

Mostly though, a good story. I was spellbound. I have the second book waiting for me and a 3-day weekend coming up so I'm anxious to see where Claire ends up next.