Heat Factor: It’s cold in Iron Age Scotland in February. Gotta do something to keep warm!
Character Chemistry: Him: “I need a woman so my village doesn’t die out. You’ll do.” Her: “Look at those yummy biceps! Did you say something?”
Plot: Druid magic sends Connall to San Francisco, where he places a Craigslist ad for a wife. Ashley answers because her current life suuuucks and ends up in 2nd century Scotland.
Overall: This book is ridiculous and I was utterly tickled.
Before I get to the romance, I want to talk about the GENIUS plot device of “Transference.” See, this time travel comes with bonus magic, which means that when you are sent through time, you can speak the language / will be wearing the right clothes / have comparable skills, status, and wealth. So when Connall ends up in 21st century San Francisco, his 10 sheep (mega wealth!) have transferred into an AmEx Black Card. Even better, when Ashley ends up in Scotland, she has Google powers – except they manifest as divination. Basically, instead of booting up her laptop, she can throw some dirt on a leather hide and ask it a question – but only something that Google would know. Like the weather, or her GPS location, or major historical events.
Transference is so genius because a) that shit is hilarious, and b) it takes care of a lot of the issues that come up with time travel stories, and c) did I mention that it’s hilarious? However, the transference doesn’t mean that Connall and Ashley immediately understand the new worlds they find themselves in, so we also get some good fish-out-of-water stuff going on.
Even though this is a comedy, Quarles does not shy away from portraying the time period as harsh. Connall needs a woman because the women of his village were all captured in a raid (I do wonder why the clan decided that druid magic was a better bet than, I dunno, trying to get the women back, or even raiding the next village over). There are some fight scenes that, while not graphic, do show that fighting means killing, up close and personal. Connall is very proud of his stone house with his pile of furs for a bed – which Ashley sees as a hovel.
My challenge with time travel romance is that I find it very hard to believe the modern women who are like: “Sure! Sign me up for scary high maternal mortality rates and no penicillin and no tampons! I found my true love!” Outlander was hard enough for me to buy, but at least in 18th century Scotland, they had sheets. And glass. And wine. 2nd century Scotland, on the other hand…brutal. So Ashley feeling like this was the place she finally belonged was a little hard for me to stomach.
The central conflict between Ashley and Connor is whether they can find the common ground to make the relationship work. After all, it is doubtful that they have comparable ideas of romantic love, much less of equality between the sexes. Quarles handles this conflict well. Both points of view are understandable (though, of course, I side with Ashley here), and there’s a good balance between sexual attraction and the tension that arises between them.
If you have trouble suspending your disbelief, Some Like it Plaid might not be the book for you. On the other hand, this is a time travel romance, so you probably already knew that. If you love feisty, competent heroines, alpha heroes who have to be schooled on gender relations, or tartan, you have just discovered your next read.
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