REVIEW: Antonia Barclay and Her Scottish Claymore by Jane Carter Barrett
Antonía Barclay and Her Scottish Claymore is an unconventional historical romance that hums with energy, wordplay, swordplay, and a touch of melodrama. In 1586, Antonía Barclay embarks on a quest to find her real mother, Mary Queen of Scots, as well as the long-lost Scottish Royal Sceptre. Along the way, Sir Basil Throckmorton, a well-known villain and alchemist, kidnaps the beautiful Antonía and plans to use her to pave his way to the English throne. If Mr. Claymore, Antonía’s partner in love, does not find her soon, she will be forced to wed Sir Basil, and both Scotland and England will fall under his control. Readers of historical romances will enjoy the feisty heroine, her outrageous adventures, and the humorous take on a well-loved genre.
Dear Ms Carter Barrett,
The blurb for this book caught my eye at netgalley. The descriptions of funny with swordplay and wordplay that (seems) to say “to hell with anachronisms, we’re here to have a good time” sounded like something different and refreshing.
Yes, the story is cheerfully anachronistic. In it, little tributes to various beloved romance novels, movies, and tropes abound. “A six fingered man, I’ve heard that somewhere … .” The evil villain is evilly evil with a vile and nasty son while I’m LMAO over the hero’s name. And while Jimmy Choos and haute couture are mentioned there are also “honest to God” real historical facts scattered about.
Yet while it’s initially fun anachronisms and zest all around, I finally remembered that feisty heroines (or for that matter feisty heroes) can eventually wear on my patience if that’s all they are or do. Once Antonia was in the hands of the evil villains, or back in the hands of the evil villains, or back again in the hands of the evil villains, or – well, frankly everyone in the book plus me lost track of how many times she got rekidnapped – hauled off by the evil villains yet once more, the book seemed to settle into rerun territory. Antonia gets captured, slobbered over (really distastefully and this never altered), threatened, cajoled, slobbered over some more and trades barbs and bickers with Villain Pere. Repeat a few times. She did keep her chin up and stayed verbally sassy but actually had little agency as the men in her life had to repeatedly free her before the whole process started over.
The villainous duo due get their just desserts and in spectacular fashion. I was delighted, given how helpless she often appeared to be throughout most of the book, that Antonia and someone special in her life get to do the actual honors. Then the book wrapped up another loose end and …. dragged far too long to get to the end. A special guest star appears at the end whom I wasn’t expecting but after an initial interesting segment, even he seemed to be doing little but hamming it up and trying to drag out his page count.
So my final take is a book that started well. Was fun and interesting for a while as I laughed at anachronisms and played “spot the homage” but which then got repetitive and limped to a close. C