This book was provided as an ARC by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This 3rd book in the trilogy is similar to the otherThis book was provided as an ARC by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This 3rd book in the trilogy is similar to the other two in the series: it's comfortable and familiar, with hunky alpha-male Highlanders and feisty but secretive heroines. It follows the "rules" of its genre. But the bad boys aren't really so bad.... and that's why I can't give the book more than 3 stars.
Sybella (Ella) MacKenzie is forced into a marriage with the chief of the warring clan MacDonell, Alex MacDonell of Glengarry. A generation or so ago, the MacDonell's stole the Seeing Stone that helped the MacKenzie clan success in wealth and battle, and Ella's father, now the MacKenzie chief, wants it back. So he decides the best way is to have Ella on the inside - appease Alex MacDonell with a wife, while that wife finds the Seeing Stone. Once Ella finds it, her father fully intends to declare the marriage invalid, take back his daughter and the stone, and marry her to his other rival clan, the Lewis clan.
But Ella isn't aware of all the machinations, like her brother Colin is. She's frightened to marry into the MacDonell clan, but just a few years back, she ran into Alex MacDonell when she and her brother were swimming in the MacDonell swimming hole. She was immediately taken with Alex's good looks, and he seemed to be charmed with her as well. They exchanged light flirting banter and went their separate ways. When she sees Alex again on her wedding day, she's struck anew at how handsome and brawny he is. But Ella can't seem to find time to search for the stone; she's constantly guarded by Alex's men. While Alex seems to trust her, the MacDonell clan does not. So Alex compromises by asking his guardsmen to tend to his wife's safety.
As Ella gets to know Alex's clan, especially his Aunt Isabeail, she's torn between duty to her father and the kindness of her husband and his clan. That intensifies when Alex's cousin Rosalie, her infant son, and her husband Ciaran MacGregor of Glenorchy come for an extended visit. But Ella's father decides things aren't moving fast enough, and he sends an archer to put Ella's safety in jeopardy, thus hoping that Alex will move Ella inside and give her time to search for the stone.
But, of course, in the end, Ella discovers that her father's ambitions go beyond her well-being and happiness. When the archer is discovered wearing a Lewis tartan, Ella's father lies to Alex's face, trying to get Alex to kill his Lewis enemies or be killed himself. And then the inevitable moment when Alex realizes that Ella's after the Seeing Stone and hasn't been completely honest with him. That deeply hurts Alex, because after they were married, Alex asked Ella to always be honest with him, regardless. So we get The Big Misunderstanding between Ella and Alex in play.
However, all's well that ends well... as usual.
My BIGGEST COMPLAINT about this book is that Ms. Roberts didn't do her research. At the time in history that she's set this book (Scotland 1606), the MacGregor clan was outlawed - the name and the tartan. No MacGregor would have been allowed to hold a title and lands, as Ciaran MacGregor, Rosalia's husband is. And while Rosalia and Ciaran are only guests in this book (the 2nd book being theres), that one little fact really disturbed my enjoyment of the books.
Another nit is that the book is overly predictable, which makes it sometimes feel long and drawn out. But I will give Ms. Roberts credit for building engaging characters. I cared about Ella and Alex and what would become of them. I wanted their happy ending.
Overall, this series is a decent read. But it's not a great read, and for that reason, I'll read the ARCs or borrow the books from the library rather than purchase them for my own Kindle library....more
A solid 3 stars RECOMMENDED FOR: Lovers of historical Highland romances who don't get too caught up in historical accuracy
While this book is a solid, mA solid 3 stars RECOMMENDED FOR: Lovers of historical Highland romances who don't get too caught up in historical accuracy
While this book is a solid, mostly satisfying Highlander romance, I couldn't quite get beyond my suspension of disbelief in a couple of areas: 1. Davina being the first-born daughter and rightful Catholic heir of James VII/II. While the author did a good job of fitting in these elements within historical context, it just doesn't sit right that James would sequester his eldest daughter and not his younger daughters, Mary and Anne. Especially when James marries those daughters to Protestants who clearly want his throne. He didn't hide his son, James, but rather sent him off to the Continent.
2. The MacGregor clan... I'm not a Scottish historian, so I can't be completely certain, especially because this book takes place in the mid 1600s. BUT I thought that the MacGregor clan was still out of fashion and still outlaws during this time, since the proclamation made by the Scottish parliament was in 1617. And there's no evidence to support that any MacGregor clan held lands in, on, or near the Isle of Skye. Granted, that land sounds very romantic and remote.
So, while I enjoyed the story and its characters, I had those niggling thoughts in the back of my mind the entire time. If only the clan had another name, like MacDonald or MacLeod... then I would have been more on-board.
It's an enjoyable story - sweet and romantic with just enough peril and danger to keep the reader on edge.
Davina is such a wonderful heroine! She seems too-good-to-be-true, and yet, I fully believed in her character and sweetness. Her faith was fully a part of her, and her sunny disposition helped her through the roughest of times. Davina isn't weak nor spineless. And while she is an expert with bow-and-arrow, everything about her fits nicely into her time and upbringing. She's got spunk and fire, but she doesn't seem overly aggressive or feminist, like so many of the more heroines in historical romances written by American authors who don't seem to understand what most of the women of their time were really like. Davina walks that fine line, and yet she never comes across as a doormat.
Robert seems a bit fierce, but as you continue to read, you see why. I wish he'd been a bit lighter or spirit, but I think that's what Davina's supposed to bring out in him. Robert is definitely a man of his time, ready to take on the mantle of Chief of his Clan when the time comes.
I'll likely read more books by this author and perhaps in this series, too. She has a way with words and characters....more
Set in London in 1666, "Amethyst" is the story of Amethyst (Amy) Goldsmith and Colin Chase, the Earl of Greystone.
Amy lives with her fathe3.5-4 stars
Set in London in 1666, "Amethyst" is the story of Amethyst (Amy) Goldsmith and Colin Chase, the Earl of Greystone.
Amy lives with her father in their Cheapside Goldsmith & Sons jewelry store. Her mother died just a year before during the Great Plague. Amy is affianced to Robert Stanley, her father's apprentice. It's tradition that if there are no sons in the family, that the eldest daughter marries the apprentice. Robert is from a good jewelry family. But as Amy's gotten to know him over the years, she finds that Robert isn't so light-of-heart and fun as he first was. And Robert is determined that once they're married, Amy will stop making jewelry and be his wife only. Amy's convinced that Robert's jealous that she has more custom orders and her designs sell more. And she doesn't like the way that Robert is not only possessive of her, but the way he grabs her and kisses her.
But Amy's father is too lost in his grief for her mother and his work. He knows that Amy doesn't want to marry Robert, but he forces Amy to promise that she'll do whatever necessary to keep Goldsmith & Sons going. To him, that means marrying Robert Stanley.
Amy caught her first glimpse of the Earl of Greystone at the coronation parade of Charles I. Colin Chase is the 2nd son of a Royalist family that chose to be outlawed with and fight for the royal family against Cromwell. While he lost both parents in the final battle, Colin and his brothers and sister find themselves back in London and firmly in Charles I's court and affections. So Colin was riding in the parade... when Amy caught a glimpse of him. The looks that they exchanged - he, flirting openly; she amazed - finds Amy unable to forget about the way that her heart fluttered. She tries to convince herself it's only fascination and attraction.
But when Colin comes to Goldsmith & Sons to buy a present for his sister, Kendra, Amy & Colin find themselves sneaking glances at each other. The attraction is still there and very strong. Strong enough that Colin commissions Amy to create a signet ring for him.
Robert sees this exchange and doesn't like it one bit. He pushes for the marriage to happen, as does Amy's father. But Amy holds off.
Then The Great Fire happens... and Goldsmith & Sons shop is burned to the ground. Amy loses her father in the fire, when he ran back in to get her mother's portrait. Amy managed to lug her case out - the case containing all the gold & jewels that make up the Goldsmith wealth for centuries... the materials that they use to make their jewelry.
Colin takes Amy and several children separated from their parents by the fire back to his eldest brother, Jason's home. There Amy's wounds heal, but not her heart. She writes Robert to call of their engagement.
Colin's family accepts and embraces Amy, but Colin stubbornly insists that she must go to France - to her aunt's home, where Amy can continue making jewelry. Colin finds her too irresistible, and Amy isn't of his class; she's a merchant! And Colin is engaged. He's already used a good portion of his fiancee's dowry to rebuild his own castle and lands, given to him along with his title by King Charles.
But, of course, this is a romance, and we all know where it's heading... it's just how they get there!
Other reviewers find Colin cruel and a real cad. But Colin is true to his times; and while much has changed in London with King Charles, the Great Plague, and the Great Fire, society is still what it is. It's a bit unusual and unlike the people and the times to accept Amy so willingly at court. She might be wealthy, but she's a merchant - not nobility. The way that Colin's fiancee treats her is more in line with how Amy would be perceived and received.
It's all a matter of whether he can overcome his inbred class prejudice (and society, too) and whether she can figure out how to love Colin & keep her promise to her father. Oh, and whether or not Robert Stanley can kidnap and coerce Amy to marry him, so he can get his hands on her jewels and her trade......more
The 3rd book in this trilogy is much like the other two books... different Hero and Heroine, of course, but similar story. That's n3-3.5 stars (maybe)
The 3rd book in this trilogy is much like the other two books... different Hero and Heroine, of course, but similar story. That's not all bad, but perhaps because I read them back-to-back-to-back, this book didn't quite seem as original as the first, IMO.
Lachlan needs to marry Flora MacLeod, but he needs to woo her into getting her permission to marry. Lachlan's brother is in King James' dungeon, and only the Earl of Argyll can get him released; and Argyll wants to marry off his difficult cousin, Flora, before she causes any more scandals. Lachlan also needs Argyll's backing against Flora's half-brother Hector; Hector took Lachlan's favorite castle, imprisoning the people who lived there and taking all the spoils and riches of the castle, people, and lands for himself. Lachlan is the chieftan and laird of his people, and he's been fighting since the age of 10 against Hector (who killed his father) to keep his family, his clan, and his lands. He's in a no-win situation, except Lachlan does have a friendship with Flora's other half-brother, Rory MacLeod. But Lachlan knows that Rory wouldn't allow Flora to be forced into marriage. And as badly as he needs the alliance and the man-power, Lachlan also needs the money and lands from Flora's tocher (dowry) to sustain his people.
Flora encounters Lachlan when she is trying to run elope with a court dandy. Lachlan and his men capture the carriage and kidnap Flora, taking her to Lachlan's only remaining run-down castle. In the process, the dandy runs off, leaving Flora to the mercy of Lachlan, and Flora manages to stab Lachlan in the side with a knife.
Flora is a complex woman. Her mother was married four times to four different men - her lands, her wealth, her connections all made her a bargaining chip. None of her husbands truly loved her or treated her with compassion... perhaps the only one who came close was murdered on her wedding night. Flora's mother raised her to be independent - to not make the same mistakes that she made... to not be a bargaining chip, but to hold out to make her own choice as to the man she marries. This in a day where marriages are arranged between those of title, wealth, and land - they were mostly political marriages. And women were definitely bargaining chips for peace between feuding clans, especially the dowry (tochers) they brought to the table.
So I *get* why Flora wants a choice. But I got tired of her whining and arguing and petulant behavior about it all... the same discussion endless times about she wants to CHOSE. OK, we get it! Perhaps Lachlan didn't get it right away, but even after he did, Flora had to make a big deal about it. And I understand her anger and feeling that he betrayed her, except that Lachlan was right about her response. So I don't know how anything could have happened differently. Flora needed to see that there was another side and a whole different world out there, where people like her brother Hector gave NO CHOICE to anyone, ever.
BUT, the same conversations over and over again... the sameness of the storyline (in many respects) to the other 2 books in this series... well, I didn't enjoy the story quite as much as I could have. I felt that there was some "dialing it in" on this one, even though McCarty's "dialing it in" is way better than most (because she's such a great writer). That's why only 3 stars. The .5 star is for the legend/myth about the curse (no Maclean chief will prosper without a Campbell by his side) and the amulet from Flora's mother made a charming addition to the story, which brought that sense of wonder and originality, brief as it was. (And predictable as we knew the outcome would be; but that didn't make it less enjoyable.)...more
This is Alex MacLeod's book. Alex has been roaming the Scottish highlands, supposedly a mercenary for hire, after a falling out with his br3.5-4 stars
This is Alex MacLeod's book. Alex has been roaming the Scottish highlands, supposedly a mercenary for hire, after a falling out with his brother, Rory, laird and chieftan of the MacLeods of Dunvegan on the inner Hebrides islands of Scotland (Skye and Lewis). In reality, he's working with his brother and the other island chieftans to thwart King James' plan to route the Highlanders, take their lands, and settle the islands with Lowlanders.
But when Alex and his men come upon Meg Mackinnon and her mother, surrounded by bandits and losing the fight, he can't help but step in with his men. The only problem is that Alex fears Meg's mother might recognize him, which could blow his cover. But Meg and Alex make that eye-to-eye connection, which neither of them can quite forget. And when Alex shows up at King James' court in Holyrood, Meg knows that it was Alex that saved them.
Alex's mission is to learn all he can about the king's plan - the dates, the numbers of people and soldiers involved... everything possible, so that the island chieftans can use it to their advantage. They've turned back the Lewis Adventurers before; they plan to do so again, and reassert their rights as chieftans and Highlanders. But in doing so, they'll likely become traitors, because they went against the king.
Except, of course, Alex can't keep his mind on his mission because of Meg. Meg's father is very ill, and her brother is simple-minded. Without a strong husband to support her brother's right to be the next Mackinnon chief, Meg's clan will likely become broken; many of the surrounding clans (not even feuding clans) have already been eyeing the prospects. So Meg is at court to find a husband. Alex can't stand to see her being courted, and Meg can't stand to not know what Alex is really up to.
Meg has just about convinced herself that she should marry Jamie Campbell, brother of her best friend, Elizabeth, and cousin to the Earl of Argyll, the man who is "king" in the Highlands in King James' place. Alex fostered with Argyll and knows both Jamie and Elizabeth. But now, Jamie and Alex are on opposite sides of politics. Jamie wants Meg, but so does Alex. The tense scenes between the two are hilarious and sometimes horrid, as the usual male testosterone gets in the way and makes Meg furious.
Meg only wants Alex to declare for her, but he won't. Elizabeth has warned Meg that while she loves Meg, her brother deserves someone who loves him back, and Elizabeth knows that Meg is in love with Alex. Meg even tries to seduce Alex and manages to get an engagement from him, in a harrowing scene in front of a steaming Jamie; but Alex finds a way to get Meg to break the engagement, by pretending to be only after her land and her clan. Of course, upon returning home now engaged to Jamie Campbell, Meg's father finally tells her the truth about what Alex has been doing...
Can Meg and Alex find happiness together? Or will politics, treason, jealousy, and warring clans determined to marry Meg get in the way? ----------------- I liked Meg and Alex together, but I did get a bit weary of the back-and-forth along the way. I was amazed at Jamie - I see now why the author created a book and a love story just for Jamie. He's an amazing man!...more
**spoiler alert** Well... unfortunately, this book totally jumps the shark, which is tough to do in the fantasy-paranormal-Druid genre.
This 6th book i**spoiler alert** Well... unfortunately, this book totally jumps the shark, which is tough to do in the fantasy-paranormal-Druid genre.
This 6th book is about Broc and Sonya - finally! Except that most of the book is Broc & Sonya, Deirdre, some Malcom, and some Phelan. We barely see the Castle MacLeod folks at all, and once again, when we do, they're such background and say and do such obvious things that they might as well not have been in the book at all.
Sonya left Castle MacLeod because she thought she lost her magic, which is primarily healing. She barely healed the little boy injured in the big battle and she couldn't heal Reaghan. Then she saw her sister, Anice, dead with many other Druids from her village, AND she saw Broc hugging Anice and acting as if she were his soulmate; he was bellowing and demanded that Sonya heal Anice. But Anice was already dead.
So Sonya left and wandered outside Isla's magic protection circle all by herself. No food, no water, no clothes, no provisions... yeah, she left in a hurry and quite a state. And she's too stubborn to go back. So when we see her, she's battered and being chased by a mean, hungry wolf. Who comes to her rescue but... Broc! These two have had an obvious thing since Broc first came to Castle MacLeod, and I'm not talking about when he came for good; we got a glimpse of their story when it was mentioned that Broc rescued Anice and Sonya (twins, but not identical) and relocated them to a Druid village. We also got the idea that Broc and Anice had an affair... but why? If Broc was so enamored of Sonya, why did he sleep with Anice? *Then* we learn in this book that Anice wasn't quite "right"; so Broc took advantage of Anice. And he's not supposed to be a villain? Hmmmm....
So Broc takes Sonya to a village and checks in as husband and wife. Through the innkeeper's wife's eyes, Sonya realizes that Broc is originally from noble stock; which is later confirmed, as Sonya finds out Broc's father was laird of his clan, and Broc was next in line. We also discover that Broc has lots of coin hidden around Scotland in places where supposedly only he can get to. He uses plenty of it in this book.
When wyrran come to the village, Broc assumes they're after Sonya, even though she adamantly tells Broc that her magic is gone; but Broc can still sense her magic, and he's afraid that the wyrran are there to take Sonya (a Druid) to Deirdre. Broc lures the wyrran away from the village, only to discover that they weren't after Sonya, they were after him. Sonya doesn't stay put like she's supposed to, she follows the wyrran and sees them take Broc. She also sees Dunmore.
And now we get to the "jump the shark" bit... I realize for a fantasy, paranormal, Druid, Warrior tale that it's tough to jump the shark. But this book does: Sonya follows Dunmore and the wyrran back to Deirdre's mountain, undetected, AND she manages to enter the mountain, AND she manages to save Broc. Yep. Now to be fair, she uses Dunmore to do it (and manages to get him killed in the process - yay!), and Broc manages to hold off Deirdre. But still. Oh yeah, and Broc manages to mumble back Deirdre's spell to her - the one that unlocks his magic chains. Uh huh - jumping the shark for you yet? But there's more! You see, when the wyrran captured Broc, Dunmore poured blood from The Demon's Kiss all over Broc, so he shouldn't have healed, right? In fact, Broc had a hard time fighting the drough blood... but somehow, after leaving Deirdre's mountain, Broc is fine. No trace of lingering affects or damage from The Demon's Kiss. In the past, we've seen Lorena have to have Warrior blood - and lots of it - to heal. But not Broc. And unless I missed something, it wasn't even Sonya's returning magic that healed him.
While Deirdre was torturing Broc, he tricked her into delivering a villain's monologue - you know, where the villain basically spills his or her entire evil plan and gives away lots of details because, hey, the listener won't be able to defeat the villain! Broc finds out that Deirdre thinks he's the only one who can get inside an ancient Celtic tomb and get another artifact. So when Broc and Sonya flee the mountain, they head off to find the tomb. AND of course, they finally give in to their raging passion... and of course, we have lots of confessions and secrets about their growing up and many of the things that plague Broc, such as his believing that there's a curse on him that kills any female he takes an interest in. And of course, they waste a lot of time looking for the tomb when they could have flown back to Castle MacLeod and gotten help. But no. Of course they find the tomb just before Deirdre, and Broc manages to decimate the stone tablet that points to the artifact being somewhere else. And of course it takes both Broc and Sonya to enter the tomb. And of course Broc is captured by Deirdre, leaving Sonya sealed inside the tomb. The only surprise is that Phelan has seen Sonya and Broc, and because he's seen their "love", he uses his powers to confuse Deirdre and the wyrran into believing that there are many Warriors fighting for Broc, and Broc manages to fly back to Castle MacLeod - finally!
So using Gaelen's power of thought transfer, Fallon, Gaelen, and Broc jump inside the tomb and grab Sonya. Except she's trying to tell them something important about the sword she's discovered; she wants them to look at it. But it's too late, they've already jumped back. Sonya does have an amulet that was around the dead Celt's neck, something that points to a summer equinox, when the day and night are equal in length. And all the stuff you'd expect to happen at the castle does. Sonya and Broc avoid one another. Everyone gossips about them. Marcail still hasn't had that baby. And so on.
Meanwhile, Malcom left Castle MacLeod, too. And Deirdre finds him and unleashes his god, because of course, Malcom has the god from the Monroe clan inside him. (Lorena always suspected.) It seems that to regain the use of his damaged right arm, damaged by Deirdre's Warriors, Malcom is willing to go to the Deirdre side. Hmmm.... Deirdre decides that he's the perfect Warrior to lead her new army of Warriors that she intends to amass and fight against those in Castle MacLeod. Since many of her Warriors were killed when her mountain was destroyed and it was assumed she was dead, Deirdre knows that she only needs to venture out to those clans and unleash the god in the next fiercest Warrior of that clan. (The god moves to the next in the bloodline.) And Deirdre thinks that Warriors with no experience or knowledge of how to tamp down their gods will willingly work for her; if not, she'll kill them and resurrect them to make their god stronger and the god's evil take over until she gets her way. Hmmm...
Deirdre even boldly goes to Castle MacLeod to deliver a message, which she does - to Sonya, who's never seen her before. Sonya had to go "hear the trees", so she had to step outside Isla's magic circle of protection; Broc, of course, went after her, and they ended up naked and making love - yep, outside the circle. Smart, huh? So Deirdre tells Sonya that they're all marked. That's it.
When Logan and Duncan venture out in search of the 2nd artifact, Deirdre and Malcom catch up to them. Deirdre wastes no time in commanding her new Warriors to kill Duncan, which they do. But suddenly, Deirdre is shimmering and ... she disappears. Logan knows that even greater drough magic is at work, but whose? Logan takes Duncan's body back to Castle MacLeod to face an irate Ian, who already sensed Duncan's death and is irate - so much so that most of Castle MacLeod's Warriors have to hold him down while the Druids cast a spell of sleep over him. Except suddenly, Ian starts shimmering, and Logan yells at everyone to stand back. Sure enough, Ian disappears.
And then we discover that someone from the supposed "present" time (400 years past the early 1600s, which makes it approx. 2003) has brought Deirdre forward in time. He thinks that he's all powerful and will use Deirdre to help him rule the world. Why he needed Ian, I don't know. But in the teaser for the next book (not yet published), it seems that now the mission to stop Deirdre will take place in the future. What about Castle MacLeod? Why did we have to jump into the present time? And if this was going to happen, why not make it pre-9/11/2001, so this villain can take credit for the awful event?
I've already spent waaaaay too much money and time on this series. I think it's time to throw in the towel, which is tough for me since I have this need to complete things I start - even bad series. Sorry, but I think I'm finally done....more
I can't quite explain why I keep reading this series, since in many ways, it's not my "usual" fare... and for a Highlander series that involved magicI can't quite explain why I keep reading this series, since in many ways, it's not my "usual" fare... and for a Highlander series that involved magic and Druids, it's not even what I'd consider better than "just average" or "good". And yet, I continue to read! So something must be going on here...
This book centers on the Warrior Gaelen and Reaghan, a mysterious Druid who can't remember more than the last 10 years. Gaelen and Logan are on a mission to locate a group of Druids in the Loch Awe area; Isla's magic told her that these Druids have an artifact in their midst that can help stop the evil Deirdre. Besides, they want to protect these Druids from Deirdre, because if and when she finds them, their lives are at stake to provide Deirdre the power she needs to regenerate her body and full evil power.
Gaelen's god has given him the power/gift of seeing into other people's minds with just a touch. Any touch. So Gaelen keeps to himself as much as possible and tries not to touch others. He feels that people have the right to the privacy of their own thoughts... and their thoughts and emotions spill over into him. But when Gaelen touches Reaghan, he cannot see into her mind or thoughts; is that because of the mysterious power preventing Reaghan from knowing her own past? And the Druids of Loch Awe have come from many parts of Scotland - this isn't their native home. They've intermarried so much, their Druid magic isn't strong, and many of their number - the hale and hearty males, especially - have left to seek their families and fortunes elsewhere. Why then does Gaelen sense that Reaghan in so powerful in her magic? Why is she so protected by the village elders, who refuse to directly answer questions about the artifact or Reaghan?
These Druids are very suspicious of Warriors, having been raised to believe that the Warriors are evil and all in league with Deirdre. But when wyrrans show up (Deirdre's evil created creatures), Gaelen and Logan have no choice but to reveal that they are Warriors. They try to convince the Druids to leave Loch Awe and go to MacLeod Castle. But it takes some persuading, and several of the older Druids take their lives rather than follow.
Of course the group is pursued by the wyrrans, and Dunmore, a human male who serves Deirdre. And of course, Reaghan and Gaelen fall in love along the way... and of course, they get very physical. But why does Reaghan have all these headaches? And is the falcon that seems to follow them friend or foe? Gaelen and Logan know the bird is spying on them, but who's behind it? (We only get a glimpse of another Druid community, hidden. Another community that distrusts Warriors.)
When they reach MacLeod Castle, what now? Deirdre has stirred up another clan to come against the MacLeods, their Druids, and Warriors. And Sonya gets a message from the trees that her own group of Druids is coming their way, too. Can the Warriors fight off Deirdre and protect all those under their care? ---------------- I rather enjoyed this book because for much of it, we were away from the castle. We were confined to a "new" group of people. I liked Reaghan very much, and Gaelen has always been sturdy and trustworthy. Learning more about him was a treat.
But the other stuff was more per usual with this series... and while events seem to take place within a short span of time, a lot happens. It's sometimes unfortunate that the "other action" that occurs between the other characters we've come to know is so background, that those characters are almost non-existent. Each book focuses on a specific couple and their story; everything else is just background, even Deirdre. That's a fault, IMO....more
Well, surprise surprise - Deirdre is still alive! Or at least her spirit is, almost like Voldemort in the Harry Potter series until he regains his bodWell, surprise surprise - Deirdre is still alive! Or at least her spirit is, almost like Voldemort in the Harry Potter series until he regains his body.
This book is about Hayden, the blonde giant Warrior who hates all drough Druids, because the drough killed his family. Drough Druids undergo a ceremony at a certain age where they cut themselves and give themselves and the blood shed during the ceremony over to evil. The blood is usually bottled and hung around the drough's neck; it's called The Demon's Kiss. (Still not sure why this blood is so important, except that we do know that blood from The Demon's Kiss causes an almost unhealable wound when it is poured or somehow enters a Warrior through a wound.)
Hayden is part of the MacLeod clan of Warriors and Druids, living in the MacLeod's old castle. The Warriors are rebuilding the castle and the village cottages surrounding the castle, expecting other Warriors and possibly Druids or normal folk to seek refuge. They *think* Deirdre is dead, killed by several of the Warriors when they stormed her evil fortress, Cairn Mountain. In the process, any Warrior who wouldn't join the MacLeod's fight against Deirdre was killed. We left with the mountain blowing up, and snow falling all around.
In the beginning of this book, Fallon MacLeod and Hayden Campbell are sifting through the mountain's wreckage, looking for survivors. But all the Warriors they find are dead. And then Hayden finds Isla, the drough Druid that Deirdre has control over - the one she's been using and possessing to do her evil bidding. In the last book, we wondered if Isla was friend or foe - she seemed to do what she could to assist Quinn MacLeod and others against Deirdre without really assisting. And we saw Isla's sister and niece die in the fight against Deirdre; they were the reason that Deirdre held power over Isla - she thought she was saving their lives.
When Hayden sees Isla, he doesn't know who she is, he just falls instantly for her. Not sure if the author tries to say that love-at-first-sight is possible or just that it's possible for one to recognize his or her soulmate with just one look. Regardless, we see Hayden fight to save Isla and bring her back to the MacLeod fortress. Of course, once there, Quinn, Broc, Ian, Duncan, and Marcail all recognize Isla, so it's not long before all know who she is. This causes big trouble for Hayden, whose black-and-white world is shattered. Hayden can't stay away from Isla, nor she from him, and it isn't long before they're passionately kissing... all leading to more.
Isla is upfront with everyone about who and what she is. She answers each question truthfully, causing the clan to believe her and to be shocked by her frankness. This leads to them accepting her as one of their own, and trying to befriend Isla. But she's so used to being alone, it's difficult for her to trust or to allow her emotions to go free. She's fought every emotion, every pain, everything for so long so as not to show her fear or hurt to Deirdre, that Isla isn't sure that she can take being around the MacLeod clan much longer. She tells them that Deirdre can control her, and that she'll feel splitting pain in her head right before that happens; she makes all promise to kill her (take her head) before Deirdre can break through.
Isla also uses her strong magic to put a shield around the MacLeod lands. She tells them that as long as she's with them, the shield will prevent Deirdre or other black magic from seeing, hearing, or hurting them.
Problem is, Heyden is having a hard time dealing with Isla being a drough. He can't stay away from her, he doesn't want anyone else near her and runs instantly to protect her, but he can't stand the thought of her being a drough like the drough who killed his family and village.
When Deirdre makes a literal deal with the Devil (another deal), all Hell breaks loose. Will Isla and Heyden be torn apart? Will Heyden be duty-bound to kill Isla to prevent Deirdre from using her? ----------------- I thought the whole "Dierdre is dead" in the last book was anti-climatic. Now I know why: Deidre's not dead. And since we've run out of MacLeod brothers, to continue the tale, we must see it through another Warrior's eyes... and why not Heyden? Yeah, let's have Heyden fall in love with a drough!
As the series progresses, there is less and less information about the main story... less and less about anything other than the lust/love between the Hero and Heroine of the story. And that's getting old......more
This is the third book in the series, and it's Quinn's book - the youngest of the MacLeod brothers.
At the end of book 1, Quinn was taken pri3.5 stars
This is the third book in the series, and it's Quinn's book - the youngest of the MacLeod brothers.
At the end of book 1, Quinn was taken prisoner by the evil drough Druid Deirdre, who long ago discovered the secret scrolls containing the spells that would unbind the gods that traveled within the bloodlines of certain clans. When the Celts were unable to fight off the Romans, they banded with the Druids; the drough (black magic) Druids used a spell to bring the old gods from Hell to inhabit the bodies of the fiercest warriors from several clans. Using their gods, the Celtic Warriors fought off the Romans and eventually sent them packing. But the gods weren't ready to give up their hosts and return to Hell; so the mie (good, healing magic) Druids and the drough Druids combined their magic to create a spell that would bind or freeze the gods; but the gods were still within the Warrior's bloodline, and they always traveled to the next fiercest Warrior, waiting.
Deirdre discovered the spell to unbind the gods, but first she had to know which bloodlines carried the gods. The only name on the scroll that she found was MacLeod, so Deirdre relentlessly pursued the MacLeod brothers three: Fallon, Lucan, and Quinn. Deirdre massacred, butchered, and burned their castle home, all their family (including Quinn's wife and son), and the surrounding MacLeod villages. But she managed to capture the brothers long enough to unbind their god - for all three share the same the god, the Apadatoo the god of revenge. However, the brothers escaped Deirdre's mountain and hid for 300 years. They've been actively fighting Deirdre, the Warriors who've turned to join her army and quest to take over the world, and the creatures that she's created to do her bidding for the past several months.
Deirdre captured Quinn because of some old prophecy she ran across that indicated to her that if she and Quinn had a child, that child would be the embodiment of evil and allow Deirdre, Quinn, and the child to rule the world forever. However, we never see the prophecy for ourselves, and it's only spoken of; no one but Deirdre has apparently seen the real thing. But of the three MacLeod brothers, Quinn was the one who unleashed the god within him frequently, using it to vent his anger over all the loss. And the more a Warrior unleashes the god, the more power the god has over the Warrior.
Quinn had never been able to control the god very well, but since being captured, that's all he's done, unleashing the god only when necessary to stay alive. He survived torture and being thrown into Deirdre's Pit, fighting off the Warriors there. The Pit is the deepest, darkest Hell of her mountain, and where many Warriors break and volunteer to go to Deirdre's evil side. But Quinn has managed to win over several Warriors in the Pit - those who were still holding out against Deirdre. Quinn knows that if he resists Deirdre long enough, his brothers will rescue him; that's what keeps him going... until Marcail is thrown into the Pit.
Marcail is a mie Druid, whose Druid grandmother was very powerful. Her grandmother buried the spell to bind the gods deep in Marcail's brain. Marcail has a healing magic, including one that allows her to feel the emotions and pain of others and take it into herself, healing the sufferer. But she cannot for the life of her remember the other magic, including that binding spell. However, her grandmother surrounded Marcail with many spells and curses, so that anyone who harms her instantly suffers. Deirdre knows that she can't kill Marcail herself, so she throws her in the Pit, expecting one or more Warriors to do it for her and suffer the consequences.
But Quinn immediately goes to Marcail's rescue, and he and his band of Warriors protect her. Quinn made it look as though he'd killed Marcail, so Deirdre thinks she's out of the way. But of course, Quinn and Marcail fall in lust immediately, and then in love. They can't keep their hands from one another anymore than his brothers did in the previous two books, when they found their "soulmates". Which poses a hefty problem... what happens when Deirdre discovers Marcail isn't dead? And how long can Quinn resist Deirdre?
And what the heck is keeping the other two MacLeod brothers and their band of merry Warriors from rescuing Quinn? Fallon and Lucan are getting some help from Broc, a Warrior with a winged god who is acting as a double agent. But it's still a maddeningly slow pace fighting their way to Deidre's mountain. But are they in time? Quinn has agreed to go to Deirdre and bed with her, on the condition that Marcail is set free - which, of course doesn't happen.
Will the brothers MacLeod be in time? Can they stop the evil Deirdre - do they have enough strength and magic? -------------------- While I enjoyed Quinn's story, the actual battle with Deirdre was anti-climactic. So the last fourth of the book wasn't as satisfying as I'd hoped it would be. It just felt as if all this build-up led to a final battle that fizzled. Even Quinn's battle with William, the Warrior who was jealous of Deirdre's lust for Quinn and wanted to be her paramour wasn't satisfying. This final, penultimate battle didn't seem any different from the other battles these Warriors have fought to this point. And that was just downright disappointing.
Then there's one more book... why? All 3 MacLeod brothers have had their day, and Deirdre is dead. What other business is left? For the sake of finishing the story and the remaining loose ends, I'll read it. But I can't say that I'm as thrilled with the series as I was when I stumbled into it.
The second book in the series focuses on Fallon MacLeod. Fallon has recently given up drinking to contain the god inside him, and he's trying3.5 stars
The second book in the series focuses on Fallon MacLeod. Fallon has recently given up drinking to contain the god inside him, and he's trying to be the laird and oldest brother. To do so, he needs to secure the MacLeod castle and surrounding lands, which were taken by another clan after the evil drough Druid, Deirdre, hunted down the MacLeods and slaughtered them trying to get to the 3 MacLeod brothers to unbind their god and force them to join her army to control the world. But the MacLeods resisted Deirdre and hid for 300 years. Just recently (book 1), did Deirdre learn of their location and of Cara, Fallon's brother Lucan's new bride, also a Druid and possibly drough with a magic necklace called "The Demon's Kiss".
Fallon is at King James' court in Edinburgh to ask the king to give him back his lands. Except that James is ruling from London and not at Edinburgh. Frustrated, Fallon tries to play the political games necessary to get someone powerful on his side to petition James on his behalf. Fallon is trying to get his land back to have a safe haven for his family, but also to gather other Warriors who will join in their fight against Deirdre. AND Fallon is trying to locate the Scroll that contains the names of all the clans with bound gods... his youngest brother Quinn was lured away and captured by Deirdre, and Fallon thinks the way to get him back is to use the Scroll as bait.
In the meantime... Lady Lorena Monroe is also at King James' court in Edinburgh, and she wants an audience with Fallon MacLeod. All the men at court are falling over themselves to win Lorena's favor, but she wants none of them. Lorena has a secret and has been in hiding for 100 years. Yes, Lorena is one of the Warriors; she has a goddess of Hell inside her, and because the goddess chose her over one of her male cousins years ago, her family disowned her - all except her father. Her father was killed by the only lover Lorena ever knew, so she's got intimacy issues. Lorena is also the Keeper of the Scroll, but she's bound by an oath to keep that secret. Not only does Deirdre not know that Lorena has a goddess inside her, but she also doesn't know that Lorena has the Scroll - in a ring that she wears on her finger.
Of course Fallon and Lorena fall immediately for one another and tumble into bed soon after that. Of course one of Deirdre's minions, following Fallon, discovers both Fallon and that Lorena is a Warrior. Of course Fallon and Lorena must escape back to MacLeod land. And of course Lorena doesn't tell Fallon about being the Keeper of the Scroll. She's afraid of her emotions for Fallon, afraid of the intimacy and admitting that she might be in love, and afraid what he'll do when he learns she's kept this secret from him. Of course evil Warriors come and attack Lorena - one of whom has dipped his claw in drough blood, which causes a wound that Lorena's goddess can't heal on it's own from. (AHA! One use of the drough blood and possibly The Demon's Kiss.) Of course Fallon has a super-power that allows him to jump from any place he is to any place he's been in a flash; it's called "teleporting" in our day. And of course, the new Druid in residence (Sonya) there to help Cara learn her Druid magic, immediately sees the ring and knows it contains the Scroll. Which means that of course Fallon must be the only one to give his blood to help Lorena, and that he's upset that she couldn't trust him with all her secrets since he's already managed to spill all his to her when they were in bed together.
Whew! So we've got more Warriors joining the MacLeods in the middle of all of this, PLUS an evil Warrior who may or may not be a double agent helping the MacLeods.
And then there's poor Quinn, locked in Deirdre's dungeon, being tortured and beaten just enough to allow his god to heal him before it starts over. Deirdre wants Quinn to turn himself fully over to his god. And she thinks that when he does, Quinn fulfills some prophecy that means she can couple with Quinn and produce some super-child, and then reign with Quinn and their super-child through eternity. Except that she can't force Quinn by magic to succumb. And since he's been captured, Quinn has learned to control the god inside him; ironic, even to him, that he couldn't control the god until he was captured. But Quinn knows that he must stay alive until his brothers rescue him; and he must stay out of Deirdre's clutches - the only way to do that is to refuse to allow the god inside him any control.
And that's just the first 1/3rd of this story... and while it's chock-full of action and information, it's kind of a fun ride. More unbelievable (to me) than perhaps the 1st book, but there are more characters and good character development along the way. The author is revealing more and more of what's really going on, although that is at an almost glacial pace. How will we get through 2 more books and have a resolution?
The 3rd book in the trilogy doesn't disappoint! In fact, it might be the best of the three. We finally find out what happened that caused Duncan CampbThe 3rd book in the trilogy doesn't disappoint! In fact, it might be the best of the three. We finally find out what happened that caused Duncan Campbell to be branded an outlaw and banished from Scotland.
Duncan is the illegitimate son, brother to the legitimate children, Colin, Jamie, and Elizabeth - all of whom we've met in books 1 & 2. Duncan is the oldest, and their father claimed him and made sure that he was educated, had money, and had a position as his chief guardsman. For a time, Duncan was even his cousin's head Enforcer - the Duke of Argyll. But when he was banished, Jamie took the position.
The book starts with Duncan's return after 10 years and his attempt to get information from Jeannie Grant Gordon, the woman he thinks betrayed him. Duncan thinks that Jeannie made it looks as though he were responsible for an act of treason to cover up her father's treasonous actions... and perhaps to cover for the man she married, Francis Gordon, a marquess. He catches Jeannie swimming in a loch, naked, and we realize that Jeannie was once the woman he loved. Even though he overcomes her guardsman, more intent on watching the naked Jeannie swim than on guarding her, Jeannie surprises Duncan by shooting him in the stomach!
Rewind 10 years.... we see Jeannie at King James' court with her father, Chief Grant of Feuchie. Duncan is there to secure Jeannie's father's word to join forces with the king, his father (Campbell of Auchinbreack), Earl of Argyll, and other prominent lairds in the impending battle with the Earl of Huntly. But Jeannie's father plays hard to get, and while he's there, Duncan and Jeannie find ways to be alone and fall in love. The problem is that Jeannie is the daughter of a laird - chief of the Grants of Feuchie; Duncan is a bastard son, even though he's acknowledged. Duncan has no hope of getting Jeannie's father's permission to marry. But Jeannie is determined that they'll find a way. The two get swept away by their attraction and budding love, and despite Duncan's best intentions, he and Jeannie end up sleeping together. While he loves her, Duncan thought of walking away before that; now that he's taken her maidenhead, he won't rest until they're wed.
Except it's never that easy, is it? One complication is that Colin has gotten their father's permission and has made an offer for Jeannie's hand in marriage, which her father seems to accept. Duncan is furious, but he's not sure that Colin knew how he felt about Jeannie or what they were to one another. They tried to hide it from everyone. Did Duncan know? Their father is very sorry when Duncan approaches him to get his blessing and help; that's when Duncan discovers Colin's betrothal.
But the biggest complication is that Jeannie's father is an ambitious man who tries to play both ends against the middle, always to his advantage. With the upcoming battle, he manages to do it in a way that will implicate Duncan, all having to do with a map of the battle against Huntly. Except that Jeannie's father has every intention of taking his men and deserting their battle position the moment begins, switching sides to fight for the Earl of Huntly and not against. Oh, and he knows that the Earl of Huntly has cannons... something that none of the opposition knows.
And unfortunately, Jeannie sends an urgent message to Duncan - one whose wording ends up looking as if Duncan gave the map to Jeannie to give to her father the next day. Except that her urgency had to do with her discovering that she was pregnant with Duncan's child and knowing her father's promise to marry her to Francis Gordon almost immediately after the battle. Jeannie's hand in marriage is part of sealing the deal with the Gordons. Jeannie wants Duncan to run away with her right then - to leave the battle behind and elope. But she doesn't tell Duncan, because when they meet, she knows that he suspects that her father is up to something, and she's afraid that he'll find out that she overheard her father's intent. And she doesn't want her father to hang for treason.
But when the smoke clears, Duncan's head is on the chopping block. All believe that he gave the information to Jeannie's father, because of their feelings for one another. When the map that Duncan had when he visited Jeannie is missing... and when gold is discovered in the tent he shared with Colin... well, that and Jeannie's note seem to point to Duncan. So Duncan flees Scotland, thinking that Jeannie betrayed him. She waits a month for him to return, because he promised he'd never leave her; Jeannie's sure that Duncan will come back for her and take her with him to the Continent. Except that he doesn't, and because she's pregnant, she feels she has no choice but to marry Francis Gordon.
And so... Duncan escapes to the Continent and earns a reputation as the Black Highlander, gaining a reputation as a mercenary with is merry band and amassing a personal fortune. But he wants to return to his homeland, Scotland, and he wants to clear his name. Which brings us to the present.
Jeannie has pushed all feelings for Duncan aside; it's important to her to protect her son's future. If she reveals he's Duncan's son, her son is only the son of a bastard and loses all titles, lands, and money and is branded an outlaw with his father. Jeannie knows how being labeled a bastard affected Duncan; she doesn't want that for her son. Even though Jeannie didn't love Francis Gordon, he loved her and treated her well, finding a way to hide her son's real conception and birth date and raising the child as his own. And together, they had a daughter later. But Jeannie still carries the guilt of not being able to love Francis, and she harbors the anger and resentment against Duncan for leaving her and thinking she betrayed him.
Slowly the two put the pieces together, and slowly they give in to their love and attraction once again. But there are still missing pieces: Duncan doesn't know about his son, and they still don't know who was responsible for taking the map and planting the gold. Then there's also the mystery of what Duncan's father tried to tell him about his mother as his father was dying; why did it matter that Duncan find his mother? Duncan tells the story to Jamie, taking the chance that Jamie will believe him. Jamie has a reputation as a fair and just man, and it's well earned. He believes Duncan and Jeannie, and he sets out to help them. Elizabeth provides a bit more information, according to what she saw and knew at the time. And the missing pieces start to come together. As Jeannie and Duncan journey to locate the truth about his mother, the villains are closing in...
Will Duncan realize that the boy is his son, despite how Jeannie's hidden his real birth date? What will he find out about his mother that could possibly make a difference? And is there a traitor close to Duncan, perhaps even in his own family? ----------------- I enjoyed finally learning about Duncan and Jeannie. Sometimes the journey seemed long and tedious, but as I read, I realized that the author doesn't put in details that are meaningless. Everything and every clue truly leads to an important piece of the final puzzle. The question, as in the 2nd book, is whether Jeannie and Duncan can ever be together when it's all over. How can Duncan ever know and claim his son? And will the guilty be punished?
I have to say that the punishment, when it comes, is most satisfying. It's easy to have an inkling of who's behind something; it's another to see justice done to someone who's so powerful and arrogant.
While this book might have stretched the happily-ever-after (how they got there), it was still an enjoyable book and a great ending to the trilogy....more
When I saw the blurb about this book meant that the Hero was a MacGregor and the Heroine a Campbell (and Jamie Campbell's sister, Elizabeth!), I was iWhen I saw the blurb about this book meant that the Hero was a MacGregor and the Heroine a Campbell (and Jamie Campbell's sister, Elizabeth!), I was intrigued. After the set up in the first book, I wondered how that would be possible. And I wondered if this series was all about star-crossed lovers or enemies as lovers theme, which I found out it is.
Patrick MacGregor is one of the outlawed MacGregors, forced from their lands and clan by King James' vengeance for some particularly brutal massacres that the MacGregors were supposed to be behind. Whether or not it's true depends upon whom you talk to; history isn't clear (I looked it up), but then history is also usually written by the victor. It's true that the MacGregor clan, name, and tartan were outlawed, but it's unclear if they deserved any more censure than any other clan; mostly they simply fell on the wrong side of those in power.
So the MacGregors are "broken" men - men without a true clan or laird. Patrick witnessed his father's and mother's brutal deaths; he and his brother Gregor and their clansmen have been on the run since Patrick was only 10. Patrick's uncle Alasdair is the most sought-after MacGregor; but Alasdair has talked King Jame's out of banishment and hanging before. Unfortunately, from the 1st book, we know that's not the case this time. The Earl of Argyll intentionally uses the letter of the law where an agreement is concerned, only setting Alasdair's feet on English soil before yanking him back and hanging him and 25 of his men from the cross-roads.
When we meet Patrick, he and his brother have accompanied a clansman to some Highland Games, where the clansman will show off his archery skills. Patrick and Gregor will keep watch and create a diversion, so that they can all get away safely. But Patrick overhears a particularly crass conversation between some men, discussing one of the men's intended bride in gross and mocking terms. And Patrick witnesses that intended bride overhear, too, and then slip in the mud, landing on her backside. Rather than rushing to her aid, her fiancee simply laughs with his friends. Incensed, Patrick rushes to her aid and is taken in by her beauty and humility... and empathizes with her embarrassment. Patrick helps her up, almost losing the chance to get away. Who is the intended? Elizabeth Campbell, of course - the cousin of the Earl of Argyll and the sister of Jamie Campbell, the earl's Enforcer, determined to capture all MacGregors.
Fast forward in time... In book 1, Jamie thought his sister had been kidnapped, so he left Caitrina and her people to find his sister. In this book, we learn that Patrick and his brother Gregor are part of that plan. Except that Gregor and most of their clansmen will attempt to attack the carriage that Elizabeth is in, so Patrick and his men can ride to their rescue, thus endearing themselves and securing places as part of Elizabeth's guardsmen. Then Patrick plans to seduce Elizabeth, who's already had 3 failed engagements; Patrick will convince Elizabeth to run away with him and elope, and by marriage, he'll regain part of his family's lands and money through her dowry. But he has to accomplish all of this in a way that secures the dowry so that it can't be ripped away when his real identity is revealed.
There's a deep-seated hatred for the Campbells and all who benefited from his family's deaths and the loss of their lands. But Patrick is, of course, drawn to Elizabeth and she to him. The question is never will she find out, it's when and how. Gregor is feral and fierce; his time of living from the land, watching his people and men starve, and being an outlaw have stripped away any feelings other than revenge and anger. Which eventually pits Patrick against his own brother.
Can love overcome? And even if Elizabeth does elope with Patrick, what kind of life will they have? How will any type of happily ever after occur? -------------------- Surprised the heck out of me! Again, a story that could have so easily taken the usual or safe route did not. It was a full-blown story with rich characters and situations that walked the fine line between predictable and completely surprising. The way that the predictable parts of the story resolve is what's surprising - yes, you might know what's coming or what's eventually coming, but the way in which it happens and how those involved react is not as predictable as you thought. And that's both intriguing and compelling.
The author allows us into the minds of her main characters - to see the depths of emotion and the events that caused them to think and act as they do. Yes, it's a love story, and based on the 1st book you *think* that love will conquer all... but you literally have to wait until the last pages of the book to find out. Because true love is not selfish - it wants what's best for whom it loves, even if that means walking away... or does it?
This series isn't what I expected. I should have known by the title that it was more than your "usual" Highland romance with warriors. This se3+ stars
This series isn't what I expected. I should have known by the title that it was more than your "usual" Highland romance with warriors. This series is heavy on the paranormal, mythological, druid, magic stuff.
The author does a good job of setting up the premise and then reminding the reader all the way through. According to this series, there are two Druid sects: the mie, who are the nature loving, healing, use-magic-for-good, and the drough, who are the dark, human sacrificing, power-loving, use-black-magic-for-gain-and-evil. When the Romans tried to conquer Britain, the druids banded together to fight them off. The Druids joined forces and their magic to call up old gods from Hell, the gods who once ruled the earth with brutal tactics and violence, to defeat Rome. The gods bound themselves into each Celtic clans' fiercest warriors, and the warriors with the aid of the gods defeated the Romans until they gave up and left Britain. Except the gods were still thirsty for blood and battle, and they weren't willing to give up their freedom. They turned the warriors against each other and anyone who got in their way. Even the Druids' combined forces couldn't force the gods back to Hell. So the Druids combined magic and black magic to bind the gods - freezing them inside the warriors. The warrior hosts returned to normal, but the gods inside them were passed down from generation to generation, warrior to warrior, through the blood lines, always staying with the finest and fiercest warriors of each clan. Those whom the gods inhabit are known as the Warriors.
Knowing that humankind was at risk from the Warriors if the gods discovered a way out or if a drough Druid was evil enough to free the gods, the Druids kept a close eye on the Warriors through the years. And they passed the legend down from one generation to the next. But one of the drough, Deirdre, found the hidden scrolls that contained the spell to unbind the gods inside the Warriors. She was more evil and more power-hungry than any drough yet, and she decided to use her knowledge to control the gods and give her an army that she could use to control the world. But while legend had it that there existed a scroll that contained all the names of the clans with bound gods, Deirdre's scroll only contained one name: the MacLeods. So Deirdre destroyed the MacLeod clan, searching for the MacLeods. Their god, Apadatoo is the god of revenge, and this god chose all three of the MacLeod brothers - being bound ("frozen") inside all three: Fallon, Lucan, and Quinn. After seeing the horror and destruction that Deirdre wrought, the brothers were captured and Deirdre unbound their god. The brothers escaped, though, and spent the next 300 years fighting to control the god inside each of them. Fallon turned to wine to dull the god. Lucan learned to control the god, and he looked after his brothers. Quinn used his rage and anger to exercise the god as much as possible. And so they found a way to live with each other in their old, crumbling castle, scaring away anyone who came near.
Cara, an 18 year old, beautiful orphan living at the nearby convent stumbles onto the three brothers - literally. Lucan saves her from a fall that would claim her life. But to do so, he has to reveal the god inside.
Here's where it gets sketchy for me. We've got the love-at-first-sight going on between Lucan and Cara. We know that Cara is special immediately - she's the Heroine, right? And she's got some special, magic necklace from her mother. Turns out, Cara is Druid, and the necklace is her mother's blood - the blood of a drough, called The Demon's Kiss. Just what it does and why it's important, we're not sure... for most of the story! The problem is that if Cara's mother was drough, it means that she could be, too. And to become drough requires a blood sacrifice in the eighteenth year - and remember how old Cara is again?
So Lucan fights to withhold the whole god thing from the frightened Cara, but of course we know that won't last long. And the lust between them leaps off almost every page from the moment they lay eyes on each other. This book isn't explicit like some are, but there's no doubt that you're in for some descriptive sex scenes - starting with lust and what the two think about doing to one another... and then eventually do. Problem is, Lucan's immortal with his god; Cara isn't and she's possibly drough. Each brother has his issues... and Deirdre is coming for Cara. Deirdre takes Druids and uses them to increase her own powers and magic.
When Lucan and Cara encounter another Warrior, the question is, can he be trusted? Is he part of Deirdre's Warriors, who are after the MacLeods and Cara? Or is he a friend?
There's a lot going on in this book. I'm not typically a fantasy, paranormal reader, although I've read Karen Marie Moning's "Highlander" series and a few others where "other worldly" things happen and people have powers. This book is set in the early 1600s, so from that perspective, it's all "old school" magic and myth, which sometimes makes it easier for me to accept. There's just a plethora of characters and motives and possibilities... and then there's all this lust and sex going on... it's tough to get a handle on this book and this series.
But I will say that I like the MacLeod brothers. Cara seems the "usual" Heroine to me, although I do like her. And while the reader has an idea of where we're headed on this journey, it seems the author is going to stretch it out over a few books. Even then I'm not sure if we'll find a true resolution.
Compelling enough to keep me reading... wondering... and yes, blushing. But predictable enough that I feel safe inside this "magic" world that I'm not used to. We'll see......more
This book surprised me... I expected the run-of-the-mill Highlander romance story with a dark Hero and a plucky Heroine. And this story has much moreThis book surprised me... I expected the run-of-the-mill Highlander romance story with a dark Hero and a plucky Heroine. And this story has much more depth and texture than that.
Jamie Campbell might seem dark, but he's not really. Jamie's reputation as Argyll's Henchman and The Enforcer have been exaggerated to make him out to be ruthless and merciless, when the truth is that Jamie dearly wants to bring law and order to the Highlands. With King James on the throne, a king rules both England and Scotland for the first time; and King James wants to put a stop to the warring and feuding. He's appointed his favorite, the Earl of Argyll (Jamie's cousin) to do it. But Argyll is a Campbell (sometimes called King Campbell), and the Campbells have a rough reputation of taking lands that don't belong to them.
Jamie is on the hunt, looking for a group of particular MacGregors thought responsible for a bloody massacre at Glenfruen. The burning, pillaging, and fighting was considered one of the worst in its day. And Jamie is out to get those responsible and make them pay - not revenge for its own sake, but for justice. Jamie truly believes that it's possible for Scotland to be free of the escalating conflicts between clans, and he's ready to do what it takes.
Jamie comes to Lamont land looking for the MacGregors, because of an old Highland tale of hospitality, whereby the Lamonts (sometimes supporters of the MacGregors) wouldn't be able to refuse the hiding MacGregors the hospitality of Lamont lands and supplies. But should the MacGregors be caught on Lamont lands, it means sure death for the Lamont laird - penalty set by King James. Jamie knows it's a good time for the MacGregors to be on Lamont lands, too, since the Lamonts are hosting this summer's (1608) Highland games; an extra man or two roaming around would be thought a guest attending the games.
Caitrina Lamont is the Lamont laird's only daughter, and hostess of his keep and castle since her mother died several years ago. She's 17-18, and her father wants to see her safely married - it's one of the reasons he decided to host the Highland games. He hopes that she'll chose a husband from among the many men attending - many of them suitors willing to take her in marriage. Caitrina is beautiful, although in typical Heroine fashion, she's not aware of her beauty; she seems vain and spoiled at times, though, because she wears finery and jewels and she knows little of the true politics of the Highlands. Her father and brothers have kept it that way, and Caitrina doesn't like to think of such things. But she's also not aware that her father's lands aren't as profitable as they once were, nor is she aware of the possible danger of the MacGregors. Caitrina only knows that the Campbells are her clans sworn enemies. Caitrina's mother was a Campbell, and instead of forging an alliance between the two clans, it only drove the wedge deeper; her mother was cut off from all Campbells - something that haunts Caitrina to this day.
When Caitrina and Jamie meet, Caitrina is literally up a tree. Her youngest brother Brian convinced Caitrina to help him get a little kitten from the tree, but then Brian dashed off and left her. Caitrina is dangling from a limb, trying to figure out how to get down when she hears a deep voice asking if she needs help. This stranger is one of the most handsome Highland warriors that she's ever seen - all chiseled muscle and handsome face; but she also sees that he's a warrior through-and-through. As a result of his teasing and her haughtiness, Jamie earns a boon for helping her down from the tree - a kiss. Caitrina tries to make it a kiss on the hand, but Jamie pulls her in and kisses her thoroughly, taking away her senses. She's afraid of the strong emotions and feelings that kiss leaves with her. And while he doesn't show it, Jamie is disturbed by the strength of his own emotion.
Jamie decides to use courting Caitrina as a means to hide his true purpose - finding the MacGregors on Lamont land, if they're there. But he is drawn more and more to Caitrina, realizing that this attraction is more than just desire or lust. And even Caitrina's father encourages her to consider Jamie Campbell's offer of marriage; it might not be a bad idea, he thinks, to be aligned with Argyll's Henchman. But Caitrina resists, appalled that her father would even consider such an alliance. She kisses another young laird who'd like her hand, only to discover that the young laird isn't as much a gentleman as he purports - he tries to force her into more than a simple kiss... a kiss that didn't move Caitrina at all. Jamie Campbell to the rescue of course! Except that Caitrina is so angry at Jamie's attitude of possession and the surety that she'll accept his hand, in a fit of pique she flatly rejects him. As he hardens his heart, Jamie tells her distinctly that she'll regret refusing him and she'll soon have her eyes opened to the real world.
And it's not long afterwards that Caitrina sees Jamie's words come true, as his oldest brother Colin storms onto Lamont lands, kills her father, and in the ensuing fight, kills her brothers and burns her home down around her. If Jamie hadn't rescued her, Colin's men would have raped her and done who knows what else. But Caitrina isn't sure whether Jamie was part of this plan or not... and when he comes to her a few months later and asks her to marry him, she doesn't know what to do. Jamie tells her the truth about what his brother did and that he (Jamie) wasn't part of the plan, but off elsewhere; as soon as he heard of what his brother planned to do, he rode as fast as possible to try to stop it. But when he arrived, the worst was already happening; all he could do was save her from the man who was trying to rape her.
Jamie tells her that she can regain her home, her lands, and her clan if she'll marry him. He wants her to trust that he'll love and care for her, but of course, he never says the word "love". Caitrina decides that it's her duty to her clan, and it doesn't hurt that there's such a strong connection/attraction to Jamie. But she's wary - he's a Campbell, and even if he wasn't directly responsible for what happened, his brother and his cousin were.
Can Jamie and Caitrina find love and happiness when they're on opposite sides of the Highland clan feuds? Can Caitrina trust Jamie - or trust his relatives - to do what's right by her and her people? Can Jamie win Caitrina's faith and love to see that he wants only law and justice to stop the fighting? Will she trust him enough to look out for her and her people?
Both Jamie and Caitrina are put to the test time and again, and their love is both shattered and strengthened. But can either of them or their love survive? --------------------------- The MacGregors were really outlaws in Scotland in this time. In fact, the MacGregor name was banned - no one could take that name without penalty of death. So the feuds, fighting, and horrors are all true history, as is the Earl of Argyll.
What impressed me about this story is that it doesn't take the "easy" route or the "formula" route. Yes, there is a Big Misunderstanding, but there's actually more than one. And both Jamie and Caitrina are fighting against years of prejudice and hatred. Both discover that love, trust, and respect take time - they can't be forced or forged through passion alone.
I like that Jamie is always honest with Caitrina. He never deliberately keeps the truth from her or tries to sugar-coat it. He definitely makes mistakes, but he really does his best to show her how much he cares and try to allow her to find happiness, peace, and safety with him. Caitrina is still growing up, although the death of her family and the loss of her home, clan, and lands does a lot to force her to grow up in a short time. But she's still coming-of-age, still finding out what it means to be a woman (a Highland woman at that), and still grappling with the questions of love and loyalty and trust.
This isn't a bodice-ripping, fun-fluff, beach read. It's a story with depth and characters with layers - compelling and heart-breaking, as it takes the reader on a journey of life....more