This story is historical romance, but has the feel of a fantasy book, with a touch of world-building thrown in for good measure.
What was the book about?
Lady Jane Crichton is one of the Edinburgh Seven, the first women to study medicine in the United Kingdom. Jane’s real love is science and invention, and she builds a time machine. Her first flight, attended only by Dr. Joseph Bell, ends badly when she crash-lands in 13th-century Gaelic Scotland. Her rescuer, a gruff warrior woman named Ainslie shows her the delights of island life and teaches her more than she’d ever learned in the university’s hallowed halls.
Historical romance. Instalove. Butch.
Historical romance, but has the feel of a fantasy, with a touch of world-building thrown in. It didn’t matter that we don’t get any details of Jane’s time machine. It’s a time machine. There are mechanical parts. One breaks. She gets stuck in 13th century Scotland. Ainslie, who is heir to throne of the Sea Kingdom of the Isles, decides that Jane is a faerie from the sky and that’s that. It’s absolutely great that Amy Hoff loves her Scottish history and Gaelic language because those are the aspects that drive the book. Hoff decided to phonetically spell out a lot of the brogue and it’s fantastic. I am positive there will be readers who’ll hate it, because it slows you down and forces you to hear the Gaelic accent in your head, but I loved that aspect.
This is a romp. Yes, there are illogical parts to the story. Yes, there are sections where I wrinkled my forehead and said, “huh?” out loud. But that’s okay, because this book is based on history and history is fuzzy, particularly women’s history, and more particularly LGBTQI history. Sure, Hoff has taken artistic license and run away to the Highlands with it, but it works. This book is about suspending your belief—because it’s fiction—but appreciating that years of study underpins the basis of the plot.
Asexuality is not really written as well as it could have been. As Jane spends time with the clan, she is shocked to find herself becoming very attracted to Ainslie when she’s never had an attraction to either sex. Yes, that can happen, but it happens much too quickly, and it felt like the romance needed to be hurried along to ensure the historical bits and pieces occurred in time.
Ainslie and Jane are hot and heavy pretty quickly. The romance is sexy, although content warning for some readers; Ainslie and Jane don’t have THAT chat before one sort of non-consensual sex scene. They do afterwards. Ladies, that’s the wrong way round. But Jane and Ainslie certainly know their way around a bedroom.
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I love when professors or experts in a particular field write a work of fiction drawing on their knowledge to centre the story. Sometimes it doesn’t work well because many can’t manage the delicate balance between storytelling and fact delivery. Amy Hoff walks that line nicely. My Heart’s In The Highlands is fun, factual, fantastical fiction.