Thoughts on my baby

Yesterday I saw the book I translated on the shelves of D&R for the first time… It was an amazing moment. It only had 4-5 copies standing at the bottom shelf of the New Releases section, but I was jumping up and down already, asking people to take a picture of me holding it…

So since I translated the damn thing, I might as well review it, right?

The Hawk by Monica McCarty

This is the first time I’m reading a romance novel not set in the 19th century England. I had thought of reading Madeline Hunter’s medieval romances but couldn’t quite imagine myself enjoying them. I mean everything would be too… primitive, right? Well, no. Regardless of the fact the The Hawk is a mediocre book, I realized that I would enjoy medieval romances just as much if not more *gasp* Turns out dashing knights and sexy Highlanders are my thing! No, not really but they’re great to read about too.

Take Erik MacSorley… He’s not my type of hero but he was very fun to translate! He’s your typical arrogant but extremely likable guy. You know, this forever-happy person who lightens the mood wherever he goes, who has never been serious about anything (except loyalty to his liege lord Robert Bruce) and who has this constant devil-may-care attitude (Monica uses this word way too much). And he’s a seafarer! I like him much more than Tor MacLeod, who’s the hero of The Chief, the first book in the Highland Guard series.

Here’s my favorite passage from the book when Ellie is getting to know Erik’s er, body for the first time.

“You’re so soft.”
Hardly. But he didn’t have the strength to quibble about semantics.

Did I mention that I love puns? *winks*

But Erik took a long (too long) time to admit to himself that he has feelings for Ellie and an even longer time to convince himself that they can actually be together. And along the way, he sometimes acted too much like a sexist ass for my liking. So when he and Ellie were finally reunited, the excitement was already gone for me. And I don’t think that scene played out very well. Ellie was almost reluctant to say yes to him. It was as if she were really saying, “Well, if finally that’s what you wish, fine.”

Don’t get me wrong, Ellie is fine (as a character *grins*). She’s not very pretty and she knows it. She’s also not one of these heroines who are all about how free-spirited and tomboyish they are. I seriously have issues with this disdain of the traditional feminine. I love tomboyish heroines (Hell, my all-time favorite fictional character is a woman who was raised as a boy by her father!) but I cannot tolerate them when they flaunt it as if being likened to men somehow makes them superior. Ellie is not like that. She’s free-spirited as she should be. She’s also dutiful, serious and a bit too bossy. In short, she’s the perfect nursemaid!

Unlike Erik, Ellie (by the way her real name, Elyne, is very pretty I think) is much more honest to herself about what she’s feeling. She doesn’t panic when she realizes she’s in love with Erik, but tries to make the most out of their precious time together. And you know I can’t resist a heroine who tries to seize the moment rather than run away. So Ellie is a winner!

But… both the hero and the heroine and also the plot basically ended up not satisfying me with its depth. Everything was just too superficial. It was a wonderful experience to translate this book. I strived to make it perfect and put an enormous amount of effort in it. In fact, I don’t think I ever worked harder on something in my life. But I don’t think I would pick up this book to read.  It lacked the maturity of the works of Madeline Hunter, Lorraine Heath, Anne Mallory and Sherry Thomas.

Actually, I think Monica is a great storyteller. It’s just that she’s not such a great author. I can only imagine how much research she has done for this story (the battles, historic figures, etc.) by how difficult it has been for me to try to keep up with her to convey an accurate translation. The way she turns all her findings into a story is astonishing. But when it comes to romance… everything seemed a bit too cliché to me. I know that romance novels are all about cliché, but the trick is to make the reader think it’s actually not. And Monica couldn’t really do that for me.

But I recommend The Hawk nonetheless. It’s a great book if you’re looking for a fun, irresistible hero and a heroine that you want to relate to. But most of all, if you’re looking for a story which offers more than just witty drawing room chatter, this book (in fact the whole Highland Guard series) is for you. Even if it’s not a great romance, The Hawk is a somewhat historically accurate story and it does a brilliant job at reflecting the all the aspects of an epic war.


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