Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review: Catriona by Jeanette Baker

by Jeanette Baker
Release Date: August 1st, 2011
2011 Sourcebooks Casablance (Reissue Edition)
E-book version; 400 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-402-25586-1
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Paranormal
Source: Review Copy from Pump Up Your Book

4.5 / 5

Kate Sutherland always felt out of place in brash and modern Southern California. But when she comes to her ancestral home in the Shetland Islands to seek a mystical guide who May shed light on her true heritage, Kate is plagued with visions of a life from five centuries past....A fiery young woman of royal English blood, Catriona Wells is determined to save her family from the deadly political clashes of 15th-century Britain. But Cat's cunning is no match for Scottish border lord Patrick MacKendrick. When this powerful warrior betroths her against her will, Cat must decide whether she dares to love him -- and to trust him with lives that are more precious to her than her own.

Meanwhile Kate, whose dreams rapidly take on a reality of their own, is caught between a present-day attraction to a charming Scottish historian -- and risking everything in Catriona's dangerous world of passion and bloodshed.

My Thoughts
Catriona was an intriguing and fascinating novel about love, betrayal, redemption, and coming to terms with who you are in terms of knowing your strengths and your weaknesses and using them to discover more about yourself and those around you to make your life richer and fuller.  When Kate discovers a secret about who she is and sets off on a journey of self-discovery, she sets in motion a series of events that will change her life as well as the way she always viewed the world.  I enjoyed this novel tremendously as it was packed with plenty of historical intrigue, romance, and characters, yet it also took place in the modern world, holding secrets and mysteries to the past that needed to be unlocked in order to discover the truth.  This is the kind of thing that I just soak up and adore.

At first though, I wasn't too sure of Kate as a principal character as she seemed cold and withdrawn.  When she received the news that would change her world, I definitely don't think I would have reacted in the same calm manner in which she reacted and I wondered what kind of person she was deep inside.  Although she had all of these supernatural powers which is something I was looking forward to discovering about her, I definitely did not feel empathetic towards her at first.  Luckily, this changed as I delved deeper into the novel and without knowing how it happened, I realized that she had grown on me.  She had a backbone and stood up for what she believed in, and often said what she thought even if it was sometimes out of line.  I admired that about her and it made people around her look at her differently; by that, I mean that people didn't think of her as a pushover, but realized she had pluck and courage.  With a cast of very strong supporting characters, it made the dialogue between them very interesting, if somewhat frustrating at times, as some of the other characters were also strong personalities and no-one would give in, creating problems for themselves that weren't always necessary.  But that's what also made it so much fun!

Naturally, being a history buff, what attracted me to this novel was the chance to read more about the past and about the lives of people who lived during the time of King James IV.  With a few minor historical inaccuracies that I noticed, I enjoyed the trips to the past very much, and the inaccuracies did not deter from the storyline at all, at least for me.  I found the descriptions were vivid and quite detailed and helped the plot tremendously as it made everything come to life and feel so real.  I felt very sympathetic for the women and children caught in the middle of all of the fighting that was occurring during this time period, but I also like how Catriona often states how women are as strong as men, just in a different way, and I think this novel begins to explore this avenue quite well.  I do wish that a little more of this exploration had taken place as I don't think we often give women during the past their due when it comes to holding everything together while the men are off fighting, or that many women defended their castles and properties themselves.  The links between the past and the present were so fluid and well-done that it made the novel seemed seamless; sometimes when a novel is done in this way it can feel choppy and unfinished, but this was not the case in this novel.  Great care was made to ensure the trips back and forth worked well and seamlessly in the scenes.

I found myself intrigued by the descriptions of the modern-day Wicca as well as some of the other early practices that predate early Christianity and continue to be practiced today.  I thought Ms. Baker wrote about many of the issues with sensitivity and great warmth, as well as a lot of respect; it was always an area in which I have wanted to do some more research, so I read many of the descriptions avidly and with interest.  As it's not an area of specialty for me, I have no way of knowing the accuracy of her work, so I just enjoyed it trremendously, along with everything else in the novel.  The author definitely has a ways of drawing you in with her beautiful writing, and letting your imagination explore the endless possibilities that exist.  While I have been to Scotland, and have explored many of the areas she mentioned in this novel, I was pretty much ready to buy a ticket and head back there, as the descriptions of the forests and landscape and the sea were vivid enough to make me want to return.

Catriona was a beautifully written paranormal romance novel about a woman haunted by another woman's tragic life some 500 years ago.  With vivid descriptions of both the present and the past, Catriona captures the spirit of the Scottish people, and draws in the reader with a story that is both intriguing and captivating.  Fans of historical romance as well as of the paranormal will certainly enjoy this engaging story as Kate tries to come to terms with her own link to Scotland, with her dreams and visions, and why she feels such an attraction for the amazing Niall.  I am looking forward to when Nell is re-released in 2012, a time-link novel set in Ireland.


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