Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blood Line / Kate Hamilton

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Gothic Romantic Comedy

Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words


Kindle: US YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: YES  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords stores


An aspiring writer from an early age, Kate Hamilton grew up in London. After living around the world, she has now settled in Scotland. This is her only book currently available for your Kindle. For more, visit her website.


A gothic romance set in modern times. Without her knowledge or consent, Lauren MacBreach’s parents arrange her marriage to a Scottish Laird. Although a little on the old side, he’s rich, lives in a castle, and isn’t that bad looking. If only someone wasn’t trying to kill her.


Trying to formulate my thoughts on this book has been difficult. If you aren’t familiar with the definition of a gothic romance, I found the explanation on this website helpful.
Blood Line combines many of the typical elements of a gothic romance with some of the elements of a romantic comedy. It still has castles, but it is set in modern times. For another twist the protagonist Lauren’s guardian angel, a novice at the job, keeps popping in to help.

While a strange combination of gothic, romantic-comedy, and whatever genre a guardian angel fits, maybe supernatural, the story is fun, different, and creative. The setting for most of the book, a Scottish castle, is foreign to the American born Lauren and gives plenty of comedic opportunities as she deals with differences in culture and custom. After a warning from her guardian angel, Lauren is constantly trying to decipher potential hidden agendas, decide who is friend or foe, and working to figure out how to escape her strange situation.

I expect many readers who find what I’ve described appealing would be happy reading Blood Line. I wasn’t for two reasons, both items that bothered me early on that I was never able to get past.

The first is a matter of language. If you’ve been following my reviews, you’ll know I believe if you’re English speaking you should be able to adapt to variations in spelling and word usage. I believe an Aussie author writing about characters and events in Australia using the spelling conventions and local slang of their home country adds to the reading experience. The same rule goes for someone who is British, Canadian, or any other country. If the usage fits the character and locale, I’m happy.

Since most of the events in Blood Line take place in Scotland and most of the characters are from there I shouldn’t have any issues with spelling and language consistent with Scotland. I don’t with the exception of Lauren. Knowing she was an American I found myself questioning dialog that didn’t ring true. Sometimes it was the syntax, correct, but not how a character with Lauren’s background would speak. Other times it was the use of a specific word. One example is Lauren referring to the restroom as “the loo” multiple times before she’d even set foot in Scotland. Virtually no eighteen-year-old American girl is going to use that word habitually.

The other thing I had a hard time with was the idea that a mother and father would arrange a marriage without their daughter’s knowledge or consent and essentially arrange for her kidnapping to carry out that arrangement. In another time, place, or maybe just a set of parents with a different situation than Lauren’s I might have been able to suspend my disbelief. In this instance, I wasn’t able. An arranged marriage, while not completely unheard of, is very rare in modern America. If you have a hard time understanding how I can believe the guardian angel and not this part, I’m aware of the inconsistency.


The author uses British spelling conventions and turns of phrase.

Format/Typo Issues:

A moderate number of typos, word usage, and formatting issues.

Rating: *** Three stars


Kris Bock said...

>If you have a hard time understanding how I can believe the guardian angel and not this part, I’m aware of the inconsistency.

It makes perfect sense. We are willing to suspend disbelief about speculative elements, but not about human behavior, unless given a logical reason.

Walter Knight said...

That is not fair. I am an American, and I say 'loo' all the time: Waterloo, Lou Pinela, Lou Gehrig, Lou Dobbs, Lou Malnati's Pizzeria, Lulu, and Big Lou (no relation to Big Al).

So, I say Four Stars at least.

Kate Hamilton said...

Thank you Al for the review.
Typos, 'loo' and formatting are now corrected. Suspension of belief is part of the humour (humor).
Gabaldon's series is full of cultural and linguistic boo boos but they have not detracted from many readers enjoyment of her books. I hope my rather less striking ones do not mar my readers enjoyment of BLOOD LINE
I appreciate your review Al and that you took the time to put it up on and
Very many thanks.

Sibel Hodge said...

Hi Al!

Despite your concerns, this still sounds a really different and intriguing books to read. Like you, I wasn't sure what a gothic romance was, but it sounds like there's a big fun element to this novel, which I would like.

I'm used to reading novels by Americans, Brits, Australians, so I probably wouldn't have noticed the use of the word "loo" as being out of place.

Anyway, just popping off to the loo now! :)

BooksAndPals said...

@Sibel - I think there is a good chance you would like "Blood Line." Suspension of belief is tricky. I think Kris, in her comment, understood why I personally wasn't able to suspend disbelief in this instance. I'm sure there are a lot of people who wouldn't have a problem with it. In your case, the syntax and word choice Lauren uses is likely to be what feels natural to you.