When I worked in publishing many moons ago, I plucked this paperback out of the freebie bin. It was my first romance, beyond reading "Princess Daisy" with my middle school besties. I told my pretentious roommates that it was just for the snark factor, but girl please, I was a goner from the first page.
There's very little this book doesn't have, beyond maybe some restraint. You've got suspense, a plucky heroine surviving on the run, time travel, the strongest, hottest Highlander in all of Christendom, and two nearly star-crossed lovers beating the odds and getting their HEA after all. Brilliant.
Yes, some of it is truly clunky: the villain is over-the-top pervy, and he gets his in a weirdly lewd way. The hero does in fact speak in that annoying spelled out broooooogue. And the heroine skirts dangerously close to Mary Sue territory. Poor Grace is just not MEANT to be in modern times - she loves simple bland foods! (?) She is also one of those heroines initially deemed unpretty for very gorgeous reasons. Why, her eyes are just too large and grey! Her mouth too wide and full! Her hair is just too long and thick and silky! Given when it was written, she is Christy Turlington disguised as a computer nerd.
BUT. But. It's SO FUN! I mean, her flight from the villains, is uber tense and thrilling. Her frantic research, conducted on the run, is kind of awesomely interesting - made even cuter by the 1990s technology of modems, etc. And she has fevered sex dreams about Black Niall, who is described like our favorite blockbuster hero:
Niall is a 1990s alpha, my favorite kind. He is calmly, dangerously in charge, and treats Grace with intelligence and respect, even as he tells her in no uncertain terms that she will soon be in his big ole fur-lined bed. I miss those heroes - alphas these days are misogynist knuckledragging morons. In fact, if this was written today, the pervy villain would actually be the hero - he's handsome, rich, and a sociopath. Swoon!
Many romance readers complain that Grace and Niall don't get together 'til way late in the book, and it's true. I probably would have felt the same way if I hadn't been a romance virgin. I picked it up thinking it was a paranormal thriller.
Even when they are finally face-to-face, the widow doth protest a bit much despite her near constant orgasms in her fated lover's presence. But the big scene on the stairs, oh, wow. Smoking. Hot. My jaw dropped and I probably turned scarlet reading it on the subway. I've read a lot more explicit scenes since then, but I still appreciate the unadorned action.
I get why some people don't like this one, but it will always be one of my favorites. I read it every year or two, and still love it. It's just unapologetically bananas.