Well 6 months for a romance novel, a book doesn't stay in my currently reading shelf for 6 months but gets more than a 2 star rating.
I think Susan King is a good writer with a very lyrical style. It was a pleasure to read on because King's writing is full of imagery and brings the historical background to life. What is lacking in Susan King's book, from where I see it, is the ability to weave a compelling story, which I think Monica McCarty has aplenty.
The book follows Sebastien on his journey, by the King's order, to Alaina, a Scottish lass who was the only heir to the clan leadership. Their main conflict is that Sebastien wasn't willing to give up his name to become Alaina's husband so that her clam could live on. While King painted a vivid picture for the book, the fiction itself was plain and needed more spice for its genre. It's not about sex. It's about the characters, they have no characters in my eyes. Just stubbornness and unwillingness to compromise. The plots might as well be non-existent. Clan feuds with an enemy clan, whose crule leader wanted to marry Alaina himself but this plotline had limited page space. The romance felt rather forced. I felt no chemistry between Sebastien and Alaina, especially with Alaina being the fairy type of heroine, embracing druids and such, serving the Stone Maiden, a supposedly magical feature in the clan history. The entire story has a paranomal feeling to it because legend predicted such a warrior (Sebastien) to unite with his Stone Maiden (Alaina). The bard played an important role because he told the ancient stories which somehow were supposed to carry the story. I mean all of these little pieces were supposed to carry the story forward but what they did was take the attention away from the romance.
As for the main conflict of Sebastien wanting to make his name and his ambition, I had thought of the solution to their conflict, which was mentioned only at the end of the book, from the beginning. The conflict dragged on and on. The book had to go on for 300 pages before they came to that solution. I was thinking people what is the big deal? It happens all the time and could be so very easily resolved. I think this is one of the reasons why this book dragged. There is not enough meat to the romance.
So all in all good writing and I love the historical details. But the pacing was too slow and the fiction was plain. I think what Susan King needs to be a really great writer in this genre is more complex characters and complicated plots. She has got the historical feeling nailed, but it is fiction after all, a dramatized version of life. There is not enough drama.