Outlander itself came out in 1991. It's been the inspiration for many historical romance writers and a book reverently spoken of over the years. By it's self it could sit happily as a historical romance with sci-fi/paranormal elements. It's been on my bucket-reading-list for quite some time. Some how, some way, the fact that this is a gigantic saga of penny dreadful proportions escaped my notice.
During the regency era, penny dreadfuls were serials that were like the soap operas of their time. The lead characters were in constant turmoil. The unimaginable always happened to them and they would often be put through decades of strife before their happy ending.
A hard won happy ending it was, after suffering every trial and tribulation known to man, over a long series of stories.
That's what Outlander is. A super big penny dreadful. Things get pretty soap opera complex by book two. And you think Claire and Jamie are put through everything in book one. Oh, no, not even close. I read the synopsis for the next books in the series. They make some decisions that make my stomach feel queer just thinking about. I'm not sure if I can bare the emotional upheaval of seven more of these.
Diana Gabaldon insists in interviews that her books are historical fiction, not romances. Reading book one I thought she was delusional. Like I said before, book one is a romance. Just reading the synopsis to the rest of the series I now understand the whole of it. It's a lurid sensational series, with a romance that spans decades of strife, along with romantic relationships with other people.
Oh the heartburn. I can feel it rising just thinking about it.
I adore book one. It was fantastic. But good heavens, clear your schedule and be prepared to be pissed of at Diana Gabaldon and her plot choices. She is a self admitted sadistic author. She likes to put her characters through the most horrible shit imaginable to see how they react. She goes on books tours with George R.R. Martin for a reason. They have the same masochistic fan base.
Her books should absolutely come with a warning label.
For right now I'm taking a break before plunging into Dragonfly in Amber, book two in the series. I'm not being overly dramatic when I say my soul cannot take that kind of torturous roller coaster of heartache at this time.
You get to a point of no return, and it becomes all consuming.
Aside from inspiring tears and ulcer, reading Outlander made me reminisce some great old historical romances. And when I say old, I mean from the 90's.
The first is Catherine Coulter's Devil's Embrace. Does anyone remember this one? There is a punishment scene in this one, that I was greatly reminded of when reading Outlander. This one was also first published in the late 80's early 90's, it was met with much controversy then, and again when republished in 2000.
Honestly, it's a tough read for a historical romance. The heroine of this book has an almost love scene with her fiance, whom she is greatly in lust with. She then undergoes kidnapping, very forced seduction by our anti-hero, whom also beats her with the cat-o-nine after she does something on his ship that warrants severe punishment.
Later she goes back to the fiance, has full sex scenes with him, where she realizes she should be with the other guy. Full sex scenes in hist/rom with the 'other guy' were never done then and almost never now. On top of all that Devil's Embrace features one of the most horrifically disturbingly graphic rape scenes I have ever read in any genre of book. (not by the hero)
Seriously, I still get chills thinking about it. It's rather shocking. Every book I had ever read, up until that time, would have the heroine rescued before she was that heavily violated. Other books skim over the gruesome details. For whatever reason, Catherine Coulter dove in, and refused to apologize. At the time I was very upset with Catherine Coulter for needlessly traumatizing me, but I now applaud her for being true to her book and characters.
She took on subjects and the truth of human spirit in a way romance authors avoid. It's a book that, for good or bad, will stick with anyone who reads it till the end of their days. Not many historical romance authors can say that.
The second book that came to mind when reading Outlander is Jude Deveraux's Legend. This book is different from anything Jude Deveraux has written before or since. It's a time travel novel and the heroine has three love interests in the space of one book.
I loved this book, but many people's feathers were ruffled when the heroine leaves who you think will be her HEA hero and comes back to the present to meet who she's actually supposed to be with. It's very light hearted and a book I've read three or four times over the years.
Karen Marie Moning's Highlander Series. If you've never read it, I highly recommend it. I read these years ago, when they first came out. Aside from To Tame A Highland Warrior (which, ironically is my favorite) all of these books are time travel novels, predictably set in Scotland.
KMM actually has said that Outlander was part of the inspiration for these books, so it's no wonder they came to mind when reading it. The heroines are all very strong, intelligent women that through one thing or another fall back in time. The heroes are all the king of men type, heart-throb throwback highlanders. They're lusty fellows that fight, fuck and fall in love with all their being.
The romance is strong and the sex scenes are steamy. KMM has a way with raw passion. Just thinking about these books gives me the warm fuzzies. I've read many of them multiple times. Knowing KMM has sworn never to write historical romance again only makes me treasure these books all the more.
Shana Galen's Sons of the Revolution series. Making A Duchess, Making of a Gentlemen, and Rogue Pirate Takes a Bride. Okay, what I'm about to say is going to sound weird, but Outlander made me think of this series because I was pissed off the hero of Making of a Gentlemen was not raped.
MofaG is hands down my favorite book in this series. It's a great series, but IMO that was the best. The hero has been imprisoned since a child. He's tortured for years and eventually forgotten. When his brother finds and rescues him, he's messed up. He can't talk, he's lived forgotten inside a cell for almost two decades.
In all the atrocities that happen to him, while tortured, and imprisoned in France since he was a child, he's not raped. Not once. Not by the sadistic guards or anyone else. Huh. This detail seemed more far fetched to me than the fact that the guy survived.
Still, he's simple, barbaric, and kind of abducts his sister-in-law's piano teacher in order to have his Tarzan-esk way with her. It's super hot and hearts will melt while reading.
There are other books I thought of. Books by Lisa Kleypas, Catherine Anderson, and other authors I can't recall the names of. Authors that may have featured time travel or tortured heroes. Heroes that were raped and maimed are a favorite of mine. Maybe I'm as twisted as Diana Gabaldon, because I really love those severely tortured heroes. The more tortured the better.
I'm still taking a break before book two. I'm thinking something light and fluffy, like something by Kitty Thomas. ;)
Happy Book Hangover Everyone!
Have you read Outlander or any of the books mentioned? Now's the time to share your thoughts and feelings.