For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones …about a love that transcends the boundaries of time …and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his ….
Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart …in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising …and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves….
Given how fast I finished reading the first Outlander novel, I was eager to read the second instalment in the series and it did not disappoint! While Dragonfly in Amber has a far slower pace and is more centred around political intrigue and machinations in Paris and Scotland, it still has the heart and romance which is what I love the most about the Outlander series.
The novel begins in 1968 with Claire returning to Scotland with her daughter Brianna, in a bid to finally reveal the secrets which have haunted her for 20 years. Since the novel starts off this way, we already know something caused Claire to travel through the stones and leave the love of her life *sobs* Jamie behind. Gradually we found out why and Brianna finds out her true parentage, which was so exciting to read about. Like what a bombshell finding out that your real dad is an 18th century highlander and your mum has travelled through a couple centuries a good few times! My head would have been spinning!
Through the sections set in 1968 we get to know two new characters; Brianna Fraser-Randall and Roger Wakefield. Roger is a young and bright academic who is packing up his late fathers estate when Claire and Brianna meet him and seek his help for revealing the truth of Briannas parentage and much more. Due to Claire travelling back through the stones, she believes that Jamie perished at Culloden and all the evidence seems to support that theory…that is until Roger unearths some sources to the contrary. Could Jamie really be alive? and if so what does this mean for Claire? Find out by reading the book. *wink wink*
“Claire,” he said quietly. “Tomorrow I will die. This child…is all that will be left of me–ever. I ask ye, Claire–I beg you–see it safe.”
While Roger was likeable enough, I found the chapters in his perspective a tad tedious as I just wanted to get back to Claires narrative. After reading some more reviews, I can see that other readers also feel this way. I did however find the budding romance between Roger and Brianna to be quite sweet, although it was predictable but it didn’t really bother me too much. I liked the glimpses of Brianna we saw, especially the little quirks and behaviours she had that are reminiscent of Jamie. I feel like we’ll see more of her in future books in the series as this felt more like an introduction to her rather than a full exploration.
The majority of the novel is set in the 1740’s exploring Claire and Jamies time in Paris and their efforts to stop Charles Stuart aka Bonnie Prince Charlie coming to Scotland and making a bid for the English throne. Since Claire has the benefit of hindsight, she knows if this does happen, it will result in a terrible outcome for the Highlanders in particular. Claire knows that they will lose their customs, cultures and many of the clans will perish on the battlefield of Culloden. Understandably the Frasers try their best to stop this from happening and so they become part of Paris society, attending dinners, balls and various other social events in order to influence history. While some readers might find this boring, I absolutely loved this section of the novel and found it so interesting! I love history but prior to reading this novel I didn’t know much about Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Jacobite cause so this book was both entertaining and educational.
I also really liked the various host of characters we come across in Paris; from Master Raymond, a mysterious man who works in the apothecary, to Louise De La Tour, a princess who is having a scandalous affair with Charles Stuart. I also liked the introduction of Alex Randall and Mary Hawkins, who are interestingly enough related to Frank, Claires first husband. My favourite has to be Fergus, a parisian orphan who Jamie and Claire basically adopt and take care of, he was such a precocious and funny little guy. All these characters compliment the overall story and it was entertaining seeing how they weave into Claire and Jamies lives.
At the end of the first novel we see Jamie slowly start to recover from his sexual assault and this is explored further in this book. He is deeply traumatised but bit by bit he manages to find his way and recover both emotionally and physically. We see Claire help him through his trauma and be the most amazing and understanding partner and it makes them an even stronger couple. Due to events in the novel, Jamie and Claire are forced to separate and he sends her back through the stones to save her life as well as that of their unborn child. It was SO HEARTBREAKING AND I LITERALLY CRIED for the entirety of those scenes.
“Blood of my Blood . . .” I whispered.
“. . . and Bone of my Bone,” he answered softly. Neither of us could finish the vow, “so long as we both shall live,” but the unspoken words hung aching between us. Finally he smiled crookedly.
“Longer than that,” he said firmly, and pulled me to him once more.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Dragonfly in Amber and while it wasn’t as action packed as Outlander, it was exciting in it’s own way. I also think it leaves off on a perfect cliffhanger and sets the stage for the next installment so well. I would definitely recommend this book, especially to fans of historical fiction and heavy political intrigue with a touching love story too.
Until next time,