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Fun Friday–Seeing RANSOME’S QUEST through Others’ Eyes

Friday, August 26, 2011

In the past eight days, Ransome’s Quest has been featured in two different blog tours, First Wild Card and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I thought today I’d feature excerpts from some of the reviews. If I missed yours, please post a link in the comments. If you’ve read it and want to post your review in the comments (before then posting in on Amazon and CBD and B&N and other sites), please feel free to do so! 😉 If you want to discuss the book with the others here, I’d love for you do to that (but try to refrain from spilling spoilers). ***Update*** If you’d like to discuss the Ransome series with other readers with all the spoilers you’d like, head on over to Facebook, where I’ve set up a discussion forum for that: https://www.facebook.com/kayedacus?sk=app_2373072738

(Click the title of the blog for the complete review.)

Land of My Sojourn

      Ransome’s Quest was a fitting end to an exciting trilogy. Though it was slightly predictable at times, the villain was believable, the characters consistent and the ending satisfying.”

The 160 Acre Woods

      “I love how plucky her heroines are – just at the right time and with the right mix of sweetness/feisty-ness! I also love that there are chances of hope and redemption laced in this book – it just makes for a sweet read!”

Day by Day in Our World

      “I will say that I could read this particular volume and enjoy it without having read the previous two books. All the fun swashbuckling adventure has me putting the preceding novels onto my reading list for the future.”

Black ’n’ Gold Girl’s Book Spot

      “The latest book in the Ransome Trilogy has sultry breezes, cerulean waters and huge ships that will take you on a journey to rival any trip to the beach.”

2 Kids and Tired Books

      “A delightful, entertaining story and a fitting end to an entertaining trilogy.”

One Desert Rose

      “The suspense, danger and ever-changing scenarios keep you riveted, and the budding romance and secrets pique your interest to the very end. . . . You will find differing insights into the title of the book. A good play on words!”

Under the Boardwalk

      “The contrast between the two pirates with different goals and reasons for being such is interesting and thought provoking. Is there such a thing as a good pirate?”

Sunny Island Breezes

      “As a former sea person, the lure of the sea and her salty air will always draw me. Throw in action, romance and history, and I’m totally hooked. The adventures in this last book outshine the two previous.”

The Overweight Bookshelf

      “The naval rhetoric and activities took some getting used to as did the contemporary relationship dynamics. Kaye is certainly well researched on the era and naval profession. I enjoyed the humorous respites that Charlotte’s character offered, especially in contrast to Julia’s predicament.”

Reading, Writing, and Ruckus

      “I don’t recommend reading it as a stand-alone novel. There was some backstory given, but not until later in the book and I always had the feeling that I was missing something. Thankfully, once I got about halfway into the book, the plot really caught me and carried through until the end.”

In the Hammock

      “This was a rollicking pirate adventure with lots of relationships and drama.” (And my favorite line from the review: “I’d say the woman on the cover must be Julia because Charlotte wouldn’t be caught dead looking so wistful.” :-D)

Just One More Paragraph

      “Charlotte is a strong female character who’s strength can be both a help and sometimes a hindrance, especially when she gets into her stubborn moods. She is a character I adore and am thrilled with this last book, but also sad, because the trilogy is over.”

A Little Bit of Sunlight

      “Kaye does an extraordinary job at creating characters. You will want to read the first book in the series, first, as these are not stand alone books.”

Mocha with Linda

      “This is an action-packed, suspense-filled novel and I loved every bit of it.”

Ladybug Chronicles

      “I didn’t have the chance to read the first two books in this series so it was a bit difficult to follow along. I highly recommend reading them in order.”

WV Stitcher

      “I would say if you enjoy reading about pirates, kidnappings, family secrets and a nice romance set during the 1800’s then you’re probably going to enjoy this one, but you really need to read this series in order to understand what is going on so I suggest starting with Ransome’s Honor.”

On My Bookshelf

      “In the hands of a more skilled writer, it could’ve been an exciting opening. . . . While this book’s adventures can feel like a ride on the high seas, overall it lacks a layer of the sinister. The pirates feel like ordinary bad guys, missing that dark, exotic, unpredictable air about them.”

The IE Mommy

      “I’m not a big fan of romance novels; I’m more interested in the action and adventure genre for books and television shows. Ransome’s Quest was totally an adventurous book, filled with pirates, ship voyages, and dramatic situations both on-board ships and on land. Romance did flow throughout the story but it was modest, and it was just the right amount for me.”

Come Meet AusJenny

      “One thing I took out of this book is how sometimes we can believe in something, but when something happens to challange the belief we can actually be holding a prejudice we didn’t realise we had.”

Projecting A

      “Kaye’s books never disapoint me. She’s a gifted writer with the ability of tugging all the right heart strings and humor chords when needed. Add in adventure and swashbuckling pirates and you get perfection.”

Daysong Reflections

      “Although the plot revolved primarily around Charlotte Ransome and Ned Cochrane as well as William and Julia Ransome, the pirate El Salvador de los Esclavos and his first mate Declan nearly stole the show. I would love to see another novel featuring El Salvador.”

From the Heart of a Bookworm

      “You will LOVE William, Ned, Julia and Charlotte and if you are like me, you will feel like you have made some great friends! In Ransome’s Quest, you will meet Salvador ~ (hubba hubba).”

Reviews from the Heart

      “Unlike the comical adventures found in The Pirates of the Caribbean, this one deals with the unyielding black hearts and ruthless, cut-throat pirates from real history. This all ties together perfectly along with romance and faith that makes this high-seas adventures a must read.”

Knits, Reads, and Reviews

      “The storyline kept me captivated from the first hit over the head at the very beginning of the book straight through to the end!”

Reading ’n’ Writing with Patricia

      “As much as I love Kaye Dacus’s contemporary romances, her writing really sings in this historical series.”
15 Comments
  1. Kav permalink
    Friday, August 26, 2011 6:07 am

    Great reviews, Kaye! I really enjoyed Ransome’s Quest too. Here’s a link to my review:

    http://bestreads-kav.blogspot.com/2011/08/ransomes-quest.html

    I’d love to engage in a real booktalk about Ransome’s Quest. There’s so much to talk about but it’s hard not to mention particulars which could be spoilers.

    Like

  2. molly permalink
    Friday, August 26, 2011 6:18 am

    Great to read everyone’s reviews! Thanks for posting snippets on your site 🙂

    Like

  3. Audry permalink
    Friday, August 26, 2011 3:39 pm

    Aha! I just had a eureka! I was just trying to think of how to write my thoughts about “Ransome’s Quest” without giving away any spoilers and also without sounding too critical – since I DID enjoy it – when I suddenly realized why it is that I don’t typically enjoy historical romances as much as contemporary ones. (Bear with me; this might be long, but it will eventually come around to RQ.)

    It all has to do with the bad guys. There are obviously going to be exceptions to this rule, but in my (admittedly limited) experience, where contemporary romances have misunderstandings and even jerks, historical ones tend to have villains. These villains are often exceedingly one-dimensional, and due to the fact that much of the story’s conflict centers around them, they can really compromise the credibility of the whole novel.

    One of the main problems is in how authors convey their villains’ awfulness to the reader. I can’t think of a historical romance villain who hasn’t talked about his nastiness – usually he (or she) will explain his motivation to the hero or heroine at some point. Or he’ll explain the cleverness of his plan to someone. Sometimes he won’t actually frame his explanation as an explanation, but will hide it in a silly declaration to his intended victim: “you will marry me, and then your inheritance will be mine!” (cue the maniacal laugh).

    However it’s packaged, this drives me absolutely up the wall. Every time I read a story where the bad guy ends up explaining his actions to another character, I have been able to think up a way in which that motivation could have been “figured out” by the other characters in the story. Having a bad guy explain himself ALWAYS rings false to me.

    Sometimes though, it’s a little more subtle – the villain gets to be a viewpoint character. In this case, he doesn’t have to actually talk about his badness to other characters, he can think about it instead. The problem with this is that (again – in my admittedly limited experience) these thoughts almost always end up being egregious instances of TELLING. Inevitably there’s a history that’s made the bad guy bad, and he’ll have to think about most of that history in order to inform the reader about it. The bad guy will think about how he feels, what he’s up to, what others have done to him in the past, what unfair circumstances he finds himself in currently, and often – probably in attempt to humanize him a little – why his current villainous actions are justified.

    Aside from the difficulty of showing something that takes place entirely inside one character’s head, this attempt at giving a bad character justification for his badness is a good idea – most people, when you understand their motivation, are not 100% bad. They may be sick and twisted, but you can understand where they’re coming from, even if you disagree with it. However, I think it often hurts more than it helps, because most romance novel villains are grossly underdeveloped. Either their motives don’t actually justify the extent of their treachery, or their explanations make them seem contrived. A monster is much scarier when it’s hidden in the shadows and you have to speculate about it than when you take it out in the light and examine it with a microscope. I think in an effort to make their bad guys real, (yet still very bad and dangerous) romance authors often end up shooting themselves in the foot (feet?) by giving away everything about what makes them tick. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with leaving a little to the imagination.

    In Ransome’s Quest, the names of the bad guy’s ships were so clever! I think it would have been so much stronger to have several clues to his motivation, the ships’ names among them, and have the characters figure out his general motivation. Having it all spelled out so clearly in one place just makes it too easy to see how ridiculous it is for him to blame what he’s blaming on whom he’s blaming it (no spoilers here!) and totally undermines any emotional impact the story might have had if it had been discovered piece by piece and incompletely. Likewise, most of his thoughts seemed almost detached somehow. I’m guessing it would be hard to write the real thoughts of such an evil man in a G-rated Christian novel. In my opinion the novel might actually have been stronger without the additional viewpoint characters – the bad guy could be so much scarier if readers only saw his evil deeds, rather than having a view straight inside his head.

    While thinking (and writing) out that absurdly long explanation, I also realized that the historical romances I’ve enjoyed the most have been ones without villains, and the contemporary ones I haven’t enjoyed have frequently been ones with villains. So I might have to revise my thoughts from last week. I don’t necessarily like contemporary romance better than historical; I like authentic, credible characters, and I tend to find more of those among the contemporary novels I’ve read than the historical ones. I’m also betting I wouldn’t be a huge fan of romantic suspense for this reason.

    I hope you don’t take my little criticism the wrong way Kaye – I did enjoy this whole series, particularly “Ransome’s Crossing” (hm, the one that didn’t really have a villain 🙂 ) and I hope my attempt to be vague to avoid any spoilers doesn’t make me sound harsh.

    Like

    • Friday, August 26, 2011 4:04 pm

      Ransome’s Crossing did have a villain—he just wasn’t a viewpoint character.

      Like

      • Audry permalink
        Friday, August 26, 2011 4:38 pm

        Hmm, I post that long, thoughtful exposition on villains in romance novels and your response is to the last little side note? I thought it was a pretty interesting observation and might spark some conversation. Oh well.

        Anyway… you’ll notice I said “didn’t *really* have a villain” – because he wasn’t a plot-driving villain, which is the type I was talking about.

        (how do you get italics and so on in your comments? Is that something only the owner of the blog can do?)

        Like

        • Friday, August 26, 2011 4:43 pm

          I learned quite early on in my career not to respond to anything said about my books without serious thought and contemplation—plus I’m hoping that others, who have a different perspective on the book than I do (I write what I feel is necessary for the character/story to work) will come by and chime in as well.

          As far as italics and bold in comments: http://www.ncsu.edu/it/edu/html_trng/basic_commands.html (scroll down to Boldface and Italics). I’d try to type it in here, but the site will try to convert the characters to code.

          Like

        • Friday, August 26, 2011 4:51 pm

          Also, if you’d like to try to get a discussion about this going without having to worry about spoilers, try getting it going over on my FB page: https://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=16283&uid=30626117435

          Like

  4. Audry permalink
    Friday, August 26, 2011 6:12 pm

    I guess it’s my fault too for making a comment that’s mostly general commentary on villains on a post that was meant for comments on Ransome’s Quest and then expecting a response to that. I guess I’m still a few days behind…

    Like

  5. Lady DragonKeeper permalink
    Friday, August 26, 2011 10:57 pm

    @ Audry – Great insight!

    “Having a bad guy explain himself ALWAYS rings false to me.”

    I definitely agree, and when it happens, it kind of reminds me of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries I used to read in middle school or the Scooby Doo t.v. series.

    In relation to Ransome’s Quest, I think it would have added a lot to the story if (as you suggested) the main characters pieced together the villain’s motivation (plus it would have made the story last a lot longer). On the other hand, the Ransome trilogy isn’t really a mystery series or romantic suspense … ?

    Like

    • Saturday, August 27, 2011 12:05 am

      In the romantic suspense my crit partner is shopping around, the bad guy actually says something along the lines of “This isn’t a superhero movie where I spill my guts”.

      Like

    • Saturday, August 27, 2011 12:46 am

      You have to remember, though, there’s a difference between a character who’s trying to commit a crime and get away with it unscathed and a character who is seeking revenge because of a perceived wrong. A character who is seeking revenge is going to make sure that the people he perceives as having wronged him know that he’s triumphant over them. If they say they don’t know what they’ve done to hurt him, he’s going to spell it out in detail before he exacts his revenge, because he wants to revel in his victory—and make sure they understand that he is now victorious over them.

      A person who’s committing a crime and trying to escape punishment/consequences of that crime is not going to sit down and confess, in detail, all of the motivations behind why he chose to commit that crime (which is one of the things I loved about Law & Order: Criminal Intent so much—because it dealt with the police having to figure out not only the crime, but the motivation; that, and I absolutely adore Vincent d’Onofrio as Detective Bobby Goren).

      So before we lump all “villains” together as far as whether or not they’d explain their motivations behind their actions, let’s remember to take a look at those motivations and the outcome those “villains” hope for. Revenge doesn’t mean anything if the people the revenge is exacted upon don’t understand why they’re now being punished.

      Like

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