Y’all, this book is odd. It’s both charming and cheesy, with a heroine who both made me want to cheer for her and want to throttle her. The titular Fraser in this is Jamie Fraser of Outlander fame and the story centers around Emma Sheridan’s journey to find her very own Jamie in modern-day Scotland. It’s quirky and frothy, and I finished with no problem. It wasn’t a slog, it just also wasn’t very good.
The structure of the book is told between first person narratives and blog entries, as Emma has decided to blog her journey to locate a real version of a fictional character. The blog, called “Finding Fraser” attracts followers from around the world, with the most ardent being in Japan. Emma’s sister is openly against the idea of Emma traveling Scotland to find a mate, and makes her displeasure known through blog comments as well.
This book is less of a romance than a fanfiction-y reaction to Outlander, which I have admittedly never read. I have seen the TV series and enjoy it tremendously, so didn’t feel lost at the plots or references, but I completely admit that I do not quite get the obsession over this series to a point where a grown lady would drain a savings account and then be willing to work illegally in the U.K. in order to find her own real life Jamie. It’s just lost on me.
Besides folks who are also quite taken with Mr. Fraser, I’m not sure who the target audience is for this book. There is no real romance or even any romantic encounters. Emma dates a total waste of space named Hamish for a while, but there is very little physical contact and almost no chemistry between them. They almost sleep together one night, but are interrupted by the birth of a lamb. (Emma is staying on a farm in the Highlands and these things happen.) The lad she ends up with at the end, a writer, is such a last minute bait-and-switch from Hamish that I have no real sense if they’d be good together at all.
Additionally, our Emma seems a bit of an idiot. At twenty-nine, she jaunts off around the world with the plan to get a job while she’s in the U.K. and on a tourist visa. As a former holder of a U.K. visa and someone who has been put through the ringer by the immigration authorities of that country, I have little patience with this plan to begin with. This didn’t endear Emma to me, let’s leave it at that. Furthermore, she befriends a clearly questionable girl at a hostel and ends up getting all her possessions stolen. This is shocking to her in a way that makes me question if she’s ever really encountered a world outside her own brain at all.
I will give credit where credit is due, however, because K.C. Dyer nails the description of life in rural Scotland. The town feels alive and authentic and I really enjoyed reading about Emma’s time in Nairn. Some of the side characters were more believable than Emma herself! And all of the parts of the story set in Scotland worked better than the those set in America. There’s a whole section at the beginning, while Emma is trying to make her way to the airport, about running into a reading group that feels a lot more like Ms. Dyer writing her friends into her book rather than plotting something necessary for the character arcs in this story. Once Emma gets to Scotland, everything feels purposeful.
I can believe that some readers may find her naïvété charming, but I just found it cloying. And yet, somehow, I kept turning the pages. Emma’s journey, as annoying as I found it, is nonetheless compelling and I was interested to know how she managed to solve her problems. If I look at this entirely as a kind of delayed coming-of-age tale, it’s delightful. If I focus on the fact that she’s an adult and this is billed as a romance novel? Then it’s definitely not for me.
Opinions around the internet seem mixed on Finding Fraser, with the majority of folks really loving it being those who really love Jamie Fraser. Those of us who are indifferent to him seem to be indifferent to the book. Perhaps if he’s your brand of magic, you might want to give this one a spin.