I have to admit that for a large chunk of this book, I was hovering right around 3-3 1/2 stars. It was very good, but not amazing.
Gabaldon really knows how to tell a story and suck you in. I felt like I was there, in 1743 with Claire and the clans and the Redcoats. I could smell the trees and feel the clear air, and could hear, or not hear, the silence that is the absence of 20th century noise pollution. I even dreamt about the book, which is a sure indicator of my being absorbed.
But that being said, I did find her writing a bit distracting at the same time. Certain conversations and situations would be incredibly vague to me, but would have Claire jumping to a conclusion or answering in a way that made no sense to me. I'd have to read it several times and I still wouldn't know what was going on. And then later, when the resolution or explanation came, I would be confused as to how the previous thing led to it. Around the third time, I just went with it, but it annoyed me.
I do like to have a little mystery, or suspense, or whatever in my stories. I don't expect everything to be handed to me on a silver platter- that would be boring. But, I do want to be able to follow the action or dialogue without feeling like I'm watching a one-sided conversation in Spanish, which I don't speak. Ideally, I would read the passage and come to the same conclusion as the character does. This was a small thing, but it happened a couple times, and frustrated me.
Anyway, let's move on to what everyone is dying to know: How much I loved Jamie.
It seems that Jamie is legendary in the 20th century. Mention this book within 50 miles of a girl who's read it and they start to swoon and fan themselves. If the poor guy was real, he would really have to live in the highest and most secluded of the Scottish Highlands just to get some peace, but even so, he'd probably never leave home without a stick to beat the teeming female masses back.
He really is like 99.8% perfect in every way. Too good to be true perfect, actually. He's attractive (if you like red-heads, which I don't as a rule), smart as a whip, witty, funny, brave, chivalrous, fair, wise beyond his years, makes a girl feel all warm and safe, etc etc etc. Really, if there's an adjective that indicates a positive trait, Jamie would probably embody it somehow. He accepts absurd and unreal situations that would have most other men of the 18th century shouting "WITCH!" and building the bonfire themselves without batting an eye.
I think that it was this near perfection that I just couldn't get over. His ONLY poor trait was his stubbornness. I really do love chivalry, intelligence and a sense of humor are absolute musts, and I'll even settle for an attractive guy if necessary, but keep going on past those things, and you start getting into the realm of fantasy. Jamie doesn't exist, because no man can be that perfect.
And this, in itself is what held me back from loving Jamie like the hordes of women mentioned above. Don't get me wrong, I did like him a lot, but love it wasn't. I want to be able to love a fictional character that is REALISTICALLY perfect, and Jamie is just perfect, no realism about it. But that was before I reached the last 50 pages of the book when Jamie is describing the torture he endured.
I won't go into a lot of detail here, to avoid spoilers, but I will just say that my heart BROKE for Jamie. His fear and pain made him vulnerable, and THAT made me love him when all his perfection could not. I'm not talking about fear of death, or physical pain from his injuries, I mean his fear of being with and being without Claire was causing him pain, and just watching him in so much agony tore my heart out.
So, the short answer would be that yes, I loved him, in the end.
I did enjoy the story, and might even read it again one day, but I don't think that I will continue the series. I think that this book on it's own was enough.