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REVIEW: Immortal Hope by Claire Ashgrove

Dear Ms. Ashgrove:

This book came to my attention because someone mentioned that you were the same author as Tori St. Claire. I reviewed your erotic romance, Stripped, earlier this month. Immortal Hope’s world building follows in a long line of paranormal romance books that feature the wounded hero who needs to find his mate to make him whole again. I’m a big fan of this trope so while this book didn’t work for me, I am hopeful the next one in the series will.

Immortal Hope by Claire AshgroveMy main problem is the heroine and the flawed worldbuilding and that the conflict, which was based upon her forgetting something very important, made her look like the dumbest heroine in a long time.

The series involves a fight between immortal Knights Templar and fallen angels.  The Knights can only kill so many demons before succumbing to the dark side.  God has created seraphs and if the Knights Templar can find their seraph they will be saved by her goodness.  The story starts out by describing nine cursed Templars, but there seem to be several hundred spread all across the world or at least the white, Christian part of the world like Europe.

The heroine, Anne MacPherson, is a PH.D candidate writing her thesis on Templars.  Let’s just stop for a moment and consider this.  A Ph.D. candidate. Writing a THESIS.  It’s a dissertation in any university in the U.S. except maybe those pay for degrees that you can achieve online.  But then the book goes on and compounds this error with another, even more amazingly incorrect assertion:

But with most of the documentation about the Order’s demise lost to time, her driving theory hinged on discovering what the Order had found—something no one in history had ever been able to discover. As such, her paper was at a dead standstill, unless she could find the evidence through the metaphysical.

If she didn’t manage to prove the statement by Christmas break, Dr. Phillip Knowles would retire, and she could kiss the position as head of the History Department good-bye. As Dr. Knowles’ protégée, and the foremost expert on medieval France despite her relative youth, it had been conditionally promised to her.

A non PhD, non published, non tenured, not even a professor is promised to be the HEAD of a history department?  Heads have exploded.  The entire conflict of Anne’s is built on this flimsy and inaccurate premise.  In sum, she cannot do whatever it is that is asked of her because she wants to be the head of her history department in which she is some kind of teaching assistant. I feel like a fool even typing this description out because it is ridiculous. And to become the head of her history department she needs to prove the objects found by the Templars.  How does she plan to do this? Well, she gets kidnapped by Templars and when she realizes that the actual artifact might be in the compound, she resolves to seduce the location out of one of the Templars and thereby prove her theory.  How this proves her theory, I know not. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Anne does find the artifact. How does she intend to prove its existence in a paper?  What are her sources?  Shall we read in the footnotes of her thesis that she found an artifact held by immortal Templars in some compound in Kansas?  Because that’s believable, right?  Is she going to steal the artifact? What kind of provenance would it have? How would she pass this off?

Why do I care? Because, as I said previously, this need to prove her thesis position is the crux of her emotional conflict.

So Anne gets kidnapped and taken away to some compound in Kansas that houses the North American Templars. Or something. It’s not really clear because even though we started out with nine, we now meet hundreds of poor warrior Templars looking for a seraph.  Anne is found to be a seraph and warrior Merrick is assigned to find her mate.  The warrior and the seraph is known as a pair by their matching markings. It’s like the tattoo version of memory games only it is played with body markings instead of faces or objects on a flip card.   Anne sees immediately that Merrick is her match but refuses to tell him.  Instead, she allows him to take her around to meet the other men, all of whom hope that she is their match.  I found this to be incredibly cruel. It would be one thing if Anne thought these were all crazy men and she was just humoring them.  But she had studied the Templars. She bought into their magic and immortality almost immediately.  She actually uses the matching game to incite jealousy in Merrick because he is not quick enough to her bed:

Pretending interest in these strangers lost its appeal after she’d witnessed the hope in the second man’s eyes dim, then flicker into nothingness. Though maintaining the charade came easily enough, now on the tenth potential knight, she felt more like a betrayer than any preordained savior. Her heart broke a little more with every grim expression, every brusque nod.

But as she snuck a glance at Merrick from the corner of her eye, the agitated way his jaw worked when she took a few moments to delay her verdict, said her efforts were working as she’d hoped. He’d paced all the way through her initial conversation with this man, only stopping to lean against the table’s edge when this knight presented his hand. Every once in a while, when she caught him looking, his eyes sparked with the same unmistakable fire of a man who couldn’t chain his jealousy.

This is disturbing.  Even though she recognizes she is giving the men false hope, her need to incite jealousy trumps.  And then she engages in some nice little slut shaming. To set the table for this quote, Anne is trying seduce all the secrets out of Merrick in order to prove her paper:

A blush crept into her cheeks, Ranulf’s insinuation about her intimacy with Merrick too fresh to dismiss. Even if she was doing something unethical—not to mention dangerous to her heart—by seducing Merrick, she wasn’t a whore, and the fact even one man might think of her that way, left her mortified.

…How her sister managed to go through life without feeling this kind of humiliation, she’d never understand. Always a flirt, always accustomed to men’s attention, Sophie flaunted her affairs without regard. Somehow, she never suffered for it either. In some weird way, it seemed to boost her reputation with the elite.

Who cares that Sophie didn’t hide that she slept with men. Heaven forfend! At least she isn’t parading herself in front of a bunch of lonely desperate men pretending that she might save them in order to make another man jealous.

I was further made  uncomfortable by the reference to the  people in the Holy Lands as heathens

Twas 1119, and I was but a young knight desperate to prove himself worthy. I grew up in the shadow of the first victory in Jerusalem and longed for the respect the returning knights received. The cause presented, and I rode to it with Hugues. ’Twas a noble endeavor, a fight worth spilling blood. Protect the pilgrims on the road to the holy places we claimed from the heathens, defend what rightfully belonged to Christians.”

I could excuse this thinking if it was indeed 1119 but it was the 21st Century in this book and one would think that the Templar would recognize that all the good people aren’t just Christians.

My dislike for Anne grew steadily.  Merrick believes that Anne is someone else’s seraph and is beset with guilt over the face that he is attracted to her.  Worse, he actually has sex with her, betraying one of his brothers.  Rightfully Merrick is beset with guilt. He feels terrible and he expresses this to Anne. She just laughs

“What amuses you so? You do not mind that the entire Order will know I have taken you to my bed?”

Still chuckling, Anne shook her head. “Did you forget I’ve studied your Order all my life? I know the Code. I’ve seen the surcoats in the hall. I just wanted to watch you squirm a bit.”

and

There was something fantastically erotic about having the entire Order know she’d given herself to Merrick. Merrick led these men.

She knows the Code. She knows the Order. She believes in demons. She has the second sight. She believes in mysticism and magic. She also knows she is sent to be paired with one of these men yet she doesn’t appreciate the anguish that Merrick is going through and instead thinks it is fantastically erotic? I was just dumbfounded.

Worse (and I know, how can it get worse, right) and I don’t think this is a spoiler because it occurs early on in the book, but I’ll put it behind a spoiler tag:

[spoiler]Anne’s mark is on her ankle.  Merrick tells his superior that he knows that he is not Anne’s match because he’s seen every part of her body.  Except for the fact she wears SOCKS in every sexual encounter, but Merrick somehow believes that her sock wearing is incidental and that her mark couldn’t possibly be hidden from him.  [/spoiler]

I weep for the stupidity of Merrick yet he is probably a perfect match for Anne because the ending results in something so incredible stupid that if I wrote reviews with gifs, it would be appropriate to insert one with Homer Simpson saying “Doh!”

[spoiler] Anne refuses to show Merrick her mark later in the book because she has seen a vision in the future of him dying.  Her mentor reminds her that the future was always changing based upon actions that happen now.  Anne is surprised and replies that she forgot! She forgot. Dude, the entire world building depends on her forgetting that she, as a foreseer, can change the future by changing events happening now. How is that forgotten? [/spoiler]

Yet, I’m totally on board for book 2 and hoping that the portrayal of the characters will win me over in the next book.  What can I say? I am a total sucker for the wounded warrior trope and given that I really did like Stripped, I am hoping that this book is simply an aberration.

Best regards,

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

28 Comments

  1. Annette
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 10:58:33

    One of the things I love about your reviews, Jane, and I’m not sure if I’m going to explain this right, is that you take a close and insightful look at characters’ behavior through the lens of what is honorable. I completely trust your opinions in this realm and admire you for pointing these things out. I don’t enjoy reading about heroes or heroines who do not at least struggle with doing the right thing. I love me a villainous villain, but my hero/heroine must care about how their actions affect others. I can even tolerate stupidity more than the behavior you described above. So yeah, the writing itself seems pretty good in these excerpts, and the world sounds intriguing, and a wounded hero trope is an automatic draw for me, but I’ll pass on this one, thank you.

  2. Ruthie
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 11:09:48

    As the wife of a history department chair, I can only say… *head explodes*

  3. JacquiC
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 11:16:02

    I am a member of a family full of academics, all PhDs and full professors for LONG periods of time before the question of being head of a department could even be considered a legitimate possibility. Ack.

  4. Sunita
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 11:33:05

    My head did not explode because I was laughing too hard.

    My father used to say about some TV shows and movies that they were so stupid they were funny. This would be Exhibit A for him.

    My new exhortation to my grad students: “Hurry up and get that thesis done so you can be head of the department.”

    If you unpack the paragraph you quoted, there is so much awesome WTFery. She has to finish by Christmas break, because … I have no idea how the timing matters. She is the foremost expert on medieval France … yeah, that’s an understudied field. No problem getting up to speed and past everyone else in your 20s.

    Also, she *wants* to be Department Head. Hahahahahahaha.

  5. cbackson
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 11:36:00

    Yeah, as the child of an academic (and a part-time prof myself)…no. Just no. I mean, inter alia, nobody lets straight-up medievalists be the heads of history departments anymore. Maybe if she was some kind of critical studies post-structuralist historian of Templar homoeroticism or something…

  6. Isobel Carr
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 12:23:06

    Knights Templar were forbidden to have ANY physical contact with women! They took vows of celibacy (as well as poverty, piety, and obedience). On top of the academic WTFery the basic premise has me ARGHing.

  7. SonomaLass
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 13:01:16

    She *wants* to be department head? I am laughing along with Sunita. Then again, perhaps this explains other issues with the book. If the heroine is delusional…?

  8. cleo
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 13:41:26

    @SonomaLass: Exactly. That’s what I thought – she *wants* to be department chair?! Oh honey.

  9. Jane
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 13:47:18

    @cleo: To be fair, the text says that the chair is conditionally promised to her by another professor.

  10. cleo
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 17:08:41

    @Jane: They probably see her as fresh meat :) But honestly, it sounds like the academic wtfry here is similar to, and probably no worse than, the usual romancelandia version of academics (where it’s not uncommon for 20 somethings to have tenure, etc). If that was the only problem you described, we probably wouldn’t be laughing so hard. The rest of it sounds like a train wreck.

  11. Jane
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 20:21:40

    The author is going to come and offer some insight into her authorial decisions, particularly about Anne’s profession. I encouraged her to do this and I encourage readers to respond but hope that we can have a spirited but civil exchange.

  12. Claire Ashgrove
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 21:00:02

    Hi folks! I’m not trying to interrupt your discussion, or make anything uncomfortable for folks. I’m not here to defend the review, or argue it in any way. Truth be told, I’m a little afraid to be here at all, but don’t know how else I can find insight to a concern that’s now been raised in my mind. Would you forgive me for jumping in and asking for some of your readerly thoughts?

    I understand that in large state-run colleges, in Universities, and in accredited colleges/universities that the prospect of someone being slated, even conditionally, or under discussion for conditional promotion, wouldn’t happen. But within the midwest and in some lesser schools, smaller schools, particularly private schools that don’t have high accrediations, an MA’d Student is able to teach and would be conditionally eligible for a promotion, especially if he/she is published extensively. This was something that I verified during the writing process through several resources. I also spoke with sources that know the Benedictine system and was told while very unusual, it could happen, but was more likely to be “under discussion” pending the achievement of a PhD.

    As an author, I’m unsure how to present information like this that evidently carries a *drastic* difference depending on region/experience. It’s something that I certainly don’t want to run into again, and as you can well see, wasn’t something that hit the rader screen given my location.

    I would very much love to hear your thoughts on how such things could be better presented so that differing reader groups aren’t so polarized, or so they don’t immediately discount something I craft.

    Thanks so much, ladies!

    Claire

  13. Sunita
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 22:12:53

    @Claire Ashgrove: I’m not going to say it’s absolutely impossible, but I am having trouble thinking of the conditions under which it could happen. I’m not even sure it’s acceptable by AAUP standards.

    Institutions are either accredited by a recognized body or they’re not. Even smaller schools, less prestigious schools, etc. are going to need accreditation if their degrees are going to be worth anything. Being in the midwest has nothing to do with it; all regions of the country seek the same types of accreditation (although the accrediting bodies can vary).

    Benedictine colleges and universities are frequently quite well regarded, and they would be competing with other institutions for students and faculty, so I don’t think they would have radically different procedures. If someone knows more about this, though, I’ll happily defer.

    M.A.s are able to teach in most universities and colleges; they can have tenure-equivalent job security in certain fields. But history isn’t one of them. History jobs are really difficult to come by these days; the competition is fierce. A grad student could teach as part of her fellowship requirements, or for training, but in the long term most colleges would hire a Ph.D.

    The problem I had with the setup (and remember I haven’t read the book) is the combination of unlikely scenarios. The chair thing was glaring because it’s *so* unusual. But then you made the heroine a top medieval France expert. If she’s so good, she wouldn’t be at the kind of institution that would let an untenured faculty member be chair. And on top of that it sounds as if she would want to be chair. While there are definitely people who enjoy it, it’s an administrative job that sucks your soul out (not that I have strong feelings or anything). It would verge on professional misconduct to ask a new, promising academic to be chair, especially if she had to deal with senior people with whom she trained. It just boggles the mind. Maybe you have a good reason for it in the book, but you’re asking us for a huge suspension of disbelief.

    Any single thing would have been okay, but the combination did it in. For me, at least.

  14. Christine
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 22:37:00

    @Claire Ashgrove:

    It sounds like if you had the character acknowledge that she’s in an unusual situation (being at a smaller, less visible school, etc.) that could go a long way towards making her “promotion” easier to swallow. (I went to a small liberal arts school for undergrad and I can see them giving hiring preference to an alum. I doubt very much that that person would go in as department head, though. Particularly if they hadn’t been away for awhile acquiring department-head type skills.) But then that leaves you in the position of saying, on the one hand, that she’s the foremost authority in her field, and on the other hand that she’s at a (how to put this?) sort of non-rigorous institution… This is problematic. (Since I haven’t read the book, there may be extenuating circumstances that make this not an issue.)

    I hope you won’t mind two more observations, even though you’re only asking about her promotion.

    Reading the excerpt at the beginning of the review, I got to the part about her absolutely needing to find the object/evidence in order to finish her dissertation, and my immediate reaction was, “No way! Her advisor should just have her restructure her argument so that she can finish with the evidence she has! Especially if she’s on a deadline!” (Also, I wrote my entire dissertation after my advisor retired–he was still able to head my committee as a professor emeritus.)

    The other thing is that while there are maybe some fields in which a relatively young person might rise to the top and be a super star in short order, medieval French history is just not one of them, IMO. It’s like, you have to master 1000 years of history, 100+ years of modern criticism, and then also learn a variety of both living and dead languages. And there’s not a whole lot of new stuff to say about any of it! That being said, is it really important that she be the best in her field? I know a lot of PhDs, and while a couple were considered rising stars and really got some attention as grad students and new PhDs, the ones who were more average (and largely didn’t stay in academia) have by and large ended up being the more well-rounded, interesting people. (But still really, really smart.) (Not that I’m biased at all! Nope, not me!) Personally, I would rather read about a heroine whose success is defined by other measures.

    I really appreciate how gracious you’re being here! I hope you find whatever responses you get to be helpful. (Also, I typed this while pretending to pay attention to every. last. little. thing. my kid had to say about the lego submarine he just built, so I apologize if it’s somewhat incoherent. It’s a very complex submarine.)

  15. Claire Ashgrove
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 23:50:42

    @Christine: Laugh! I can so understand the every. last. little. thing — I deal with that regularly.

  16. Claire Ashgrove
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 00:06:01

    Thanks for being gracious about my commenting!

    You both bring up good points that weren’t outside the realm of consideration — ie where she’d be working with her background etc. There is another aspect that was mentioned in the text that lended to where Anne came from her background: She followed her father’s footsteps and (it’s late, my words are failing me) is building on the stepping stones he laid, adopted a lot of his knowledge as well as being absorbed in it for most of her “impressionable” life. That probably wasn’t emphasized as much as it should have been to help alleviate some objections on this issue.

    And oddly enough, something I didn’t put in because I figured it would be a ‘given’ — personal choice to stay where she is as opposed to move on to a more accreditied university. Teach me, huh? :)

    So am I correct in interpreting that this may be a case of too little backstory included to ground the experts in the character’s chosen field? If so, that’s an easy thing to keep in mind for forward writing — goes back to the “how much do you explain, how much do you go with” quandary every author struggles with.

    Sunita — there’s a lot of points you make that I all I can say in response is that the information I was presented when I inquired isn’t in the same vein. Which brings up the different point of different experts have different approaches/takes/views, and that’s not something that can be navigated easily in any fashion. Case in point, I’d consider myself on many levels an expert in horses and I can guarantee if I were put in the room with another we’d have completely different thoughts and views to present and different guidance to offer if we were polled for research.

    I will say that when the Benedictine conversations occured politics were mentioned frequently. That’s not to be taken as a deragotry, but more or less that the internal political climate can vary and lend to different circumstances.

    True it isn’t necessarily a regional thing. But what stood out to me was that the sources who vetted the set up were local and didn’t object. When the region expanded, this cropped up. Hence my initial “Hmm. Now what to do.”

    This is insightful to me. I’m going to call it a night and see if there’s any more discussion tomorrow.

    Thank you very much, indeed!

    Claire

  17. Ruthie
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 07:40:21

    @Claire It’s nice to have you engaging in this discussion. As a Ph.D. historian married to a Ph.D. historian (who is currently chair of his department), I doubt there’s any way for me to suspend disbelief sufficiently to accept that any Ph.D. candidate who hasn’t completed her dissertation could be offered department chair, anywhere, ever. It’s simply not how the field works. There are numerous steps and numerous years between “Ph.D. candidate teaching classes” (who *might* be hired as an instructor or lecturer but wouldn’t be considered eligible for “promotion” because there is no promotional ladder that leads from instructor/lecturer to tenured professor) and “tenured professor eligible to serve as chair.” No matter how smart someone is, how much of a rising star, how lax the rules at her institution, it simply doesn’t happen.

    That said, fiction asks us to believe all sorts of things about what professors do that are silly. The Da Vinci Code — yeesh! And Indiana Jones is an “archaeologist.” Sure, sure. So there’s certainly a proud tradition of unbelievable professorial characters out there.

    Also, I wonder if your character wants “a chair” — as in “a chaired professorship,” rather than to *be* “department chair”? Chaired professorships are prestigious. They come with extra money, too. Chairing a department is a boatload of nonglorious work, and for most history professors it’s a burden that must be endured, rather than a career goal.

  18. JL
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 10:24:39

    Most of it’s already been said, and I wholeheartedly agree with the other commenters. Bear in mind, I’m a social scientist, not a historian. But, as someone who was in the academic job market quite recently, the chance of getting hired at any university without a PhD is becoming increasingly miniscule. Not impossible, but we’re not far off from it being an impossibility. There are too many well qualified PhDs out there looking for work, and Masters level only just aren’t as competitive. Now, go out into the real world and that’s not the case. But unless the person is on the verge of defending and had a stellar PhD, it’s increasingly rare to get hired. Postdocs are becoming more of a norm in the arts and humanities. But, the biggest inconsistency, to me, is that the chances of having a stellar publication record is near impossible if you’re just writing your thesis. Top publications usually result from the thesis, not before. Historians may want to jump in and correct me if I’m wrong, but my impression is that a monograph thesis is more common than paper-based in History, and that book publications have a higher prestige factor in the humanities than they would in other disciplines. If my understanding is correct, I wouldn’t be able to buy the idea that someone could have outstanding publications without finishing the thesis.

    A second point is that the knowledge one gains through ‘life experience’, even with a historian as a father, is not all that relevant to one’s academic career. This for me is the part that makes my skin itchy. A PhD isn’t equivalent to lots of topical knowledge. It’s largely based on critical analysis and synthesis skills to make sense of that topical knowledge. You can’t rush those skills. Plus, that topical knowledge generally needs to be evidence- rather than trivia-based, in which case the time it would take to source information and make it relevant to one’s academic pursuits would still take a considerable length of time.

    All that being said, kudos to the author for engaging in a polite and impressively non-defensive conversation. The reality is that if I tried to write about a career outside my own, I’d probably get a lot wrong, too, and I’m sure that I’ve loved books that get other things wrong and I’d never know. Academics just tend to get a little defensive because the work and hours (at least in the first few years) can be gruelling, and yet it’s often portrayed as very glamourous. My husband, a t-t science prof at a top state-run school on the West Coast, works close to 70-80 hours a week, and makes less than a high school teacher’s salary. Despite being super success (what, me biased?) in his publishing and grant record, he’s racked with insecurity, as are all his new colleagues, about their job security. Heck, even finding time for romance amidst the thesis writing/job hunt or first year t-t phase is practically impossible!

  19. Jane
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 10:34:34

    I thought a lot about Claire’s question yesterday and last night. My first thought was why does she have to be a teaching assistant earning her Ph.D. Then I realized that it is because the stakes have to be high enough for her to provide the impetus to a) stay in the Templar hangout and b) obtain the artifact. But could it have been constructed with the same level of stakes only a different way. Could Claire have already been a professor, published, but not to much acclaim who was up for the chair of the department against a rival who had published to much greater commercial success? And Claire is actually working on a book, a commercial one? Robin and I talked about this briefly and I don’t know much about it, but I think publication doesn’t necessarily have to be academic in nature?

  20. Ruthie
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 12:30:15

    @Jane: Publication for tenure in history has to be “peer-reviewed,” but what that means is open to interpretation. Certainly, that scenario would be easier for me to accept.

    And JL: “All that being said, kudos to the author for engaging in a polite and impressively non-defensive conversation. The reality is that if I tried to write about a career outside my own, I’d probably get a lot wrong, too, and I’m sure that I’ve loved books that get other things wrong and I’d never know. Academics just tend to get a little defensive because the work and hours (at least in the first few years) can be gruelling, and yet it’s often portrayed as very glamourous. My husband, a t-t science prof at a top state-run school on the West Coast, works close to 70-80 hours a week, and makes less than a high school teacher’s salary.” — Yes, this! It does oversensitize one to portrayals of academics.

  21. Dhympna
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 13:04:04

    @Claire Ashgrove:

    I am a medieval history PhD candidate and none of this passes the sniff test. I also talk to many medieval historians at a variety of institutions, so my experience is more than a few people here and there. I have been to small, medium, and big schools in my academic career and what has been presented makes very little sense and is not realistic for someone in my field of study.

  22. miz_geek
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 15:28:36

    Another prof-spouse here (and the spouse is dreading when he’ll have to do a stint as department chair). Regarding department heads – I know he adjuncted at a community college when he was in grad school where the department chair was a fully administrative, permanent position with no teaching at all. But I think the chair still had a PhD. At any rate, what most people want from a department chair is administrative, networking, and organizational skill, not subject area expertise. Work as the chair takes away time from research, and generally the more research you want to do the less you want that sort of position.

    About lower-level schools where standards might be more lax – the problem is that most of those don’t have PhD programs, so they’re not going to be able to hire from within. They might do some hiring from Big State School next door, but even then, the job market is so crazy these days there’s no reason they would. As other folks have said, it’s not that it’s impossible; it’s just highly unlikely.

    As far as knowledge gained from dad – maybe if she had learned Latin (and whatever other language you’d need for Medieval History – Middle French?) as a kid, that might take some time off the whole dissertation process.

    A more realistic scenario to me would be that her funding is being cut off if she doesn’t show progress by the next semester, and she can’t make progress without the artifact. Or that she’s been promised some kind of job as an ABD, but it’s contingent on her finishing by X date, which of course she can’t without the artifact. I wouldn’t think either would be affected by her adviser retiring (was he her adviser?), unless he was retiring and moving to Antarctica or something. Or maybe he’s just a jerk and wants her to be done by the time he retires? But then, you know it’s going to take her a while to write up all that, even if she finds all her evidence by Christmas. Of course, that’s not really all that exciting, and it IS a fantasy romance, so maybe I should just learn to overlook these things.

  23. Dhympna
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 16:25:16

    @miz_geek:

    Medievalists have to have Latin, French, and German plus any other languages they may need for their geographical/chronological area.

  24. miz_geek
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 18:09:00

    @dhympna – thanks

    @claire ashgrove – I also want to thank you for being so civil, and I’m glad to hear that you did run this past some academics and didn’t just pull it out of your kazoo (even if they led you astray).

  25. Claire Ashgrove
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 00:01:40

    I’m sorry that I couldn’t get here earlier today to be an active participant. It’s been all I could do today to get a chapter written on a huge deadline.

    @Ruthie — I wish I could claim the brilliance of that “chaired professorship”. Unfortunately… no. Though you can totally feel free to super-impose that on the motivation ;)

    @JL – you bring up a point that might have some relavance as to why my research doesn’t mesh with the experience brought to light here. Immortal Hope was composed a while ago. I wonder if perhaps the ‘near impossibility’ now was less of an impossibility and therefore influenced research done. Doubtful we’re talking like overnight radical changes, but I wonder if that might explain some of the discrepancies that have frankly left me a little… confused.

    You mentioned outstanding publications without finishing the thesis. I do know that a significant other of mine years ago was published with only an MA, while actively teaching and pursuing his PhD. (Caveat – different area of study).

    @Miz_geek — “Or that she’s been promised some kind of job as an ABD, but it’s contingent on her finishing by X date, which of course she can’t without the artifact. ” This was the -intention- with the set up employed. The set up, however, as I learn now, despite being vetted by experts in the field, isn’t working for experts in the field. Chuckle. Connundrum for me. Small school was also to play into that, only I’m becoming more convinced that for educated people in the subject matter, I didn’t spend enough time grounding.

    I think Jane actually hit the nail on the head. “because the stakes have to be high enough for her to provide the impetus to a) stay in the Templar hangout and b) obtain the artifact.”

    Stakes can really bumble authors at times. Get hung up in making them high enough to drive what might be implausible reactions (really would you hang out willingly with a temple full of men you didn’t know?) and then you run the risk of ‘over the topness’ when it becomes layered for people who deal with any particular aspect of a given plot on a day-to-day basis.

    As I’m reading responses, aside from Jane, every one of you are experts in the field. And Jane herself possesses the equivalent of a PhD, with a JD. I would wager I skimmed over details that would make something function for you all, but would in all liklihood be dumping insignificant facts to those who aren’t. And in the romance novels I am the most familiar with, I don’t see many heroes or heroines who are in more… how to put this… specialized fields of expertise (excluding surgeons and medical romances). They tend to be fields where it is easier to more liberally manipulate aspects OR the job itself doesn’t play a high roll in the plot. Whether that’s the driving issue, or merely plays a part, that’s great insight because it teaches where boundaries of forgiveness come into play.

    So… what I’m taking away from this is (forgive me while I transpose this to my field of expertise.) it’s like my picking up a book where a horse that’s been blind from birth wins the Olympics at the age of eight years old. I could endorse a horse having a successful show career as a blind horse. I could endorse a horse that was competing at Olympic level prior to sudden blindness possibly overcoming the issue. I could even, if written the right way, believe an 8yr old horse could win the Olympics.

    But given that I know intimately the number of years required to achieve that level of competence, that most horses don’t go under saddle until age 3-4, and how doubly hard it is to train a blind horse that has no understanding of training before blindness… I’m going to snort.

    When it comes to presenting something that is possible, but only under extreme circumstances one factor, maybe. Combine them all, nope, unless it is clearly explained in relative detail how such an anomaly could occur. But someone who hasn’t spent over 20 years with horses isn’t going to have the same snorting reaction, or, more importantly, be looking out for those things.

    Would you agree my take is on the mark?

    Claire

  26. Lizzy
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 08:43:33

    Not really an important comment, but I keep reading the title of this book as “Immortal Hype.” Must be something about the font.

  27. Christine
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 10:43:41

    @Claire Ashgrove:

    Excellent analogy–yep! This book is obviously already written, but just hypothetically, maybe she could have been an academic who just had a burning personal curiosity/need to know about the object of her quest? Or had promised her father she would vindicate his theory about it? And then it doesn’t matter one way or another if she’s an academic super star. In any case, 98% of readers will probably just gloss over that part anyway… *g* People with PhDs in the humanities (and probably other PhDs, as well) are going to be a bit touchy these days (to put it mildly), what with the job market being pretty much DOA…

  28. Review: Immortal Hope by Claire Ashgrove | Smexy Books
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 11:31:35

    [...] Reviews: My Bookish Ways – 4/5 Dear Author – D All About Romance – D Urban Girl Reader – 4.5/5 [...]

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