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Blackmaddie by Rowena Summers
I'll start by saying that I won't rate this book but I will give my honest opinion of it. Those who read this review can decide what rating they would give it. For someone who loves reading gothic romances set in historical times, this one baffled me somewhat. I could not tell when this story took place, so I cannot comment on historical accuracy (and accuracy can be important at times). I take it that it was probably in the Victorian days - but when during those 60-odd years, I cannot tell. There are references to horses and cars and long dresses. Oh, and the witch trials were over a 100 years ago. That's about all the historical context you will get.

First of all, this is a modern book which I would classify as Gothic, though there is no such genre nowadays. It was probably published as historical romance, though erotica might also be a possibility. It involved an old Scottish castle, contained many references to witchcraft and of course, there was witchcraft at work, our heroine's life was in danger, and there was a "love" element, though I'd say it was more lust. So, all the ingredients are there for a Gothic romance.

My biggest irritation with this book is the preoccupation of our heroine (and presumably, the author) with sex. No, our heroine is not one of those insipid virgins. She starts out with a lover, then is raped, then is ready to go to bed with the next guy. Her thoughts were consumed with her experiences. I don't know how many times our heroine had to "lick her dry lips" - sometimes inadvertently arousing our hero. And I say the author was preoccupied as well for she seemed to describe her characters one way, then later another, just to suit her purposes for the moment. For example, one man was blonde- then later, redheaded. One girl was tawny - then later had black hair. Our heroine did not look like her father, yet took after his side. Then how about she threw a book out of the window into the loch, when that window opened onto the woods. But the author didn't want to make our heroine the only promiscuous female. There was the servant, questionably the cousin, but she was not content to leave the oh-so innocent best friend a virgin. NO, she had to go and get her raped as well.

I could not empathize with our heroine. She irritated me with her sexual obsession, not to mention her stupidity which caused her best friend, whom she had begged to be allowed to stay at the castle with her, to be mauled by a falcon, then to be raped. Luckily the friend's parents never found out, but if I had been the parent I would never let her stay friends with my daughter.

The climax was rather anticlimactic. Our heroine's sexual urges were sometimes excused as being psychical experiences, and her petty jealousies were made out to be because of her psychical powers. It was all justified in the climax, which by then I could not quite find believable. The happy ending made me want to roll my eyes. She pretty much stated that she was able to save her cousin's sanity as if she suddenly became a motivational speaker, having never proven herself in such capacity previously.

Then, to insult my intelligence, after it was stated that a Stewart could not inherit Blackmaddie, the heir was a Stewart. Did the author forget that little detail as well or did she gloss over it so smoothly somehow that I missed it? There were many other little details like this that may seem somewhat petty, but the overall effect was irritating to me. Many times I wanted to abandon the book, but I felt I had to see it through.

You might think that I would give this book an "F", but really I wouldn't. I just have a hard time deciding on what to give it. Some people might actually enjoy it and ignore my complaints about it. You see, the plotting wasn't so bad and the writing style was definitely easy to read and flows quite naturally. My opinion is that the editor should have returned it to the author to work out the minor details and it might have turned out really well. Of course, it could have done without the sex, which I believe takes up half of the 319-page book (the actual act and the heroine's obsession with it).

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