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Sexy Scots : A Review of Outlander
My thoughts condensed: when reading is just too much effort
Confessions of a bookworm
Well, guys, I finally did it. Finis. Caput. I have journeyed through the first book in the Outlander series, simply titled Outlander, (go figure) and I have emerged triumphant. It took me a few months, not gonna lie. Okay, so maybe I was dragging my feet a little.
But in my defense, it's not one of those sugary reads you can just pop open on a rainy day and finish in about an hour. There's a lot of characters to keep track of, a lot of history to follow (to the point where you lose track of the plot a lot), and ton of steamy marital sex to skip over (or take notes from, depending on your current station in life).
Close your eyes
I actually first heard of this book through one of my readers, who was commenting on my post,“Those Hanky Panky Times: Sex Scenes In Books.” You can check that post out at our leisure if you feel like sweating a little, but I'll summarize: my general view was that sex scenes in novels were hardly ever necessary and generally poorly written.
This reader, however, wanted to know if I'd read the Outlander series, mentioning that the sex scenes provided a beautiful portrayal of marital love. She coyly added that although “some of the might make you want to close your eyes,” they were well-written, relevant, etc. I kept this recommendation in the back of my mind, still not sure if I was going to give it a go, but when I went to work the next day I saw Outlander lying on my coworker's desk. I asked her about it and she had nothing but good things to say. So I took it as a sign.
And what did I think of it?
Still think my “hanky panky” post holds firm here.
Field sex for everyone
Now I don't want to spend too much time on this, since I already wrote a whole post about this particular topic. But it's pretty hard to review Outlander and not talk about it to at least some extent. The sex takes up at least half the book. Not kidding. Practically every time the characters are on scree—er, page—they end up having sex.
Unless they're in mortal peril. But traveling, being in the company of other people, having a huge fight—pft! That just means that you have to be more creative. Like doing it in a bush or on a haystack. Because why not, after all?
But good field sex, nonetheless
However, I will actually concede that a handful of them were indeed what you might call necessary. This is a very character-driven novel (which can make pinpointing the actual plot difficult at times; the author is much more focused on developing her characters than on giving you a fast-moving and clear-cut story line), and the love scenes between Claire and Jamie say a lot about where they are in the story; the way the scenes are described change as the characters change. And sex is an integral part of married life, so it makes sense that the author would explore that facet of her characters.
For instance, let's take the very first love scene and the last love scene. In the first, Claire is clearly in control; Jamie, being a virgin on their wedding night, doesn't know how to start or how to touch her. She gently guides him through the process and although he's willing, he's clearly timid about the whole process, even shyly thanking her for it afterward (not gonna lie, my adorb meter went wild at that part).
In the last love scene, however, Jaime has clearly become sexually dominant. He initiates the romantic advances and takes it through to the end; Claire just sort of becomes swept away in sensation, carried off by the sheer power of his raw, unbridled Scottish sexiness.
Now, these specific scenes show not only Jaime's sexual growth, but ties into the rest of his confident, cocky, and somewhat passionate nature. At the same time, it shows Claire's willingness to let somebody else be in charge every so often. As the book continues, she learns a little humility, both inside the bedroom and out.
Let's talk a bit more about that characterization, shall we? We'll jump out of the bedroom for now and talk about them as people; they're the ones we're watching do all the sheet bops, after all, so the least we can do is get to know them a little. And I have to say, this is some of the best characterization I've ever read.
Claire and Jamie had me laughing out loud on a variety of occasions, and even characters you don't like are fleshed out with a marvelously human realism that you have to admire. However, let's talk about making them INHUMAN. Let's talk about the villain, Captain Jack Randall.
Frankly, I don't know if he's the most terrifying bad guy ever or the most over the top piece of dark comical relief ever produced in all of literature. I'll explain by playing a game with you called “Wheel of Sadism.”
Spin that bad boy and think of all the possible acts of cruelty it could land on. Got it in mind? Well, you can bet your bootie shorts that Randall's dabbled in it. He's a murderer and rapist, for starters, and an implied pedophile to boot. Oh, and he may or may not be into incest. The author sort of leaves that open to interrpretation. Isn't that nice of her? The only thing left in the pot is necrophilia and bestiality. But no worries; I'm sure the Captain will get to it at some point.
I think I'd recommend this read to an older audience. Like, 40 and up. Okay, maybe not that old. But it's hardly Ramona and Beezus.
It can be hard to follow, some of the characters are totally over the top and unbelievable, and, though it does lend some relevancy here and there, the love scenes mostly fall into the category of soft core porno sleaze read by bored and sexually frustrated housewives.
Yet in a literary aura focused more on plot more than character, I did find the depth of Claire and Co. to be a refreshing break. And, of course, there's also the raw sex appeal of Jamie to be considered. Seriously, this guy's manliness may even surpass Darcy.
That alone is worth the read.