May 17 2006
Dear Mrs. Treanor,
As I started to read The Other Sea, I was all set to brave Triskelion and buy all your backlist at once. Despite the editing problems that I’m coming to associate with that publisher (smiles at Angie), I was prepared to glom. After finishing this book, I’m still willing to try your backlist, but I will restrain myself, buy them one by one and hope that they don’t have the same problems as this one.
Overall, my impression of this book is favorable. You have a wonderful, little used setting (1068 in Scotland or Scotia as some of your characters call it) and you appear to have done your homework regarding the politics and people of your story (thanks Maili). You use period names (again, thanks Maili for the pronunciation lessons) instead of incongruously expecting us to believe that medieval women were named Chelsea or medieval men were called Cody. Your descriptions seem accurate and thank God you don’t attempt to have the characters speak in dialect nor use anachronistic words. Huzzah!
I like that you don’t spoon feed us by stopping to awkwardly insert information nor dump a history lecture on our heads. But perhaps a short glossary of terms and people would have helped until we could stop and research on the Internet. I appreciate that the characters are well rounded and you don’t hesitate to give them both good and bad qualities. And that they act consistently with your descriptions of them and the backgrounds you’ve given them. I think your use of the first person POV and restraint in revealing information that the heroine, Gizella, couldn’t possibly know (no “later I was to find out…” or “at the time no one knew that…”) adds to the suspense and made me really sit up and pay attention to your narrative so I wouldn’t miss anything.
But despite all these good points, I feel there were some problems. The sex scenes are hot but in one you switched back and forth from medieval sounding terms (cunny), clinical terms (clitoris) and silly terms (feminine slit). That was bizarre enough to temporarily pull me out of the scene. And did no one in this time period give a passing thought to birth control? I’m just curious about that one and stand prepared to be corrected.
Throughout the book, the mystery of who is trying to kill the heroine and why takes a lot of space and time yet in the end, the only real clue that was revealed was never tied into any more information and the denouement had a deus ex machina quality.
I’ve read romances long enough that I’m getting tired of authors using the Big Misunderstanding to further the conflict. You gave Gizella some real reasons to mistrust the hero, Ruaridh mac Eochaid but then seemed to have had Gizella work through her trust issues. Then one incident suddenly pushes her into becoming a Bitchshrew from Hell. I guess this is supposed to be The Last Straw but it feels like a Plot Device. I also thought that the hero was way to ready to forgive her the immense hurt she caused him and at the end, her change of heart seemed more due to lust than anything else.
And what was the whole thing with Gyorgy? The heroine is working for him due to a shameful secret (I think?) yet you never revealed the secret unless it’s her illegitimacy– yet others appear to know this fact– or that
I don’t think I’m out of line in expecting mysteries to be resolved and questions to be answered or at least hints and plausible explanations given by the end of a book. If you’re going to make a big deal about something, don’t leave me dangling.
I can’t give you the high grade I initially thought this book would earn but I feel confident in a B- and as I said, you’ve got me willing to try Triskelion again to read more of your books. And that’s no small thing.