Gwen Cassidy, virgin extraordinaire, wants to be a virgin no more. That's why she's in Scotland on vacation—she's looking for her cherry popper. Unfortunately, she ends up on a seniors bus tour of Scotland and right when she's quit smoking.
To get away from her travel companions, she goes on a short trek in the hills above Loch Ness only to end up chasing her backpack into a ravine, and ending up in a cave, on top of a male body. A warm, hunky male body. A warm, hunky, hard male body. And he doesn't seem to mind.
Pity, the kilt-clad Highlander isn't entirely sane, trying to convince her he's from the sixteenth century and literally kidnapping her to help him get back to his home.
Unfortunately, this is the second worst book in this series for me (after Beyond the Highland Mist). It's not that it's badly written, slow of pace or that the story is weak. It's the "conflict" and its span that bothers me.
For the first hundred or so pages, she's the stubborn one, refusing to believe him, thinking he's crazy...Then she falls for him (after mere three days of acquaintance), gives him her virginity (because we have to keep the reader engaged; sex is the best way)...And for the next hundred pages or so, the roles are completely reversed, with him being stubborn, refusing to believe her and thinking her crazy, while she takes on the role of "sexual pursuer", determined to seduce him (like he did in the beginning), while he secretly lusts for her (as she did in the beginning).
It went on for too long, this back and forth, not really adding depth or "crunch" to the story. Instead of spending that (unnecessary) time by giving depth and layers to the characters, providing much needed information to the reader as to why these two were in love (personality and personality traits, character etc.), these two hundred plus pages are spent with one of the other trying to change the other's mind, while drooling over the other's body. And in the end, poof, they're just in love.
Why? Because they're just too stubborn to give up? Because they're hot enough for the other to notice? Because they're open-minded enough to accept even the least possible explanations? I don't get it, and it bothers me.
The second thing that really bothered me, was the initial "incarnation" of the heroine. At the beginning, this supposed genius, came across as an air-headed, desperate virgin with only sex on her mind. She was twenty-five, not fifty-five, yet so desperate she was willing to toss her cherry at a complete stranger just to get rid of it.
The third problem was the hero. Sure, he was chivalrous, sexy, smart, tender, etc....Every character trait a hero in a romance novel should have was there, with that added dash of blind hard-headedness toward the end, but he still somehow came across as bland. He was a template, a form filled to perfection, but that was it.
Then there were their antics in the second half of the story, where she tried to pin him down to tell him the story, and he kept eluding her, going so far as jumping out the window, until she finally managed to trap him.
These attempts might've started off as slightly humorous, but quickly turned pathetic and too desperate for comfort.
This book also had its redeeming qualities (luckily). The "magic" elements, the wonderful supporting cast (with Silvan, Nell, and, of course, Dageus, the Dark Highlander, topping the list), and the enchanting setting of Alba. And yes, those pages where all was good between Gwen and Drustan, where they were on the same wavelength, woke up the romantic in me, and I was willing to suspend my disbelief for those moments (we all need those "aww, how cute is that" moments in our lives and our fiction).
Yeah, even on this second read, I had difficulties with this book. It's a wonderful romance story in all, but it could've been so much more.
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.
I liked this one a lot. I added this book to my reading list on a complete impulse. I liked the cover and when I took a closer look at the book's description, I thought it sounded like something I would like. That impulse worked out well in this case. I did take me a bit to really get into the story but once I was hooked, I didn't want to stop reading. I am so glad that I made the decision to read this book.
I really liked that the book was set during the Victorian period. I thought that the era was well represented in the story and I really liked seeing how a crime might have been solved with the resources that they had on hand. I found the scenes from the mortuary really interesting and found myself wondering how many crimes were missed. There were a lot of descriptions that really made the period come to life so it was really easy to visualize what was happening.
The mystery in this book is very solid. I usually read a book's description once when deciding if I want to read it and then promptly forget any details. I was shocked when the discovery was made about what was taken from the murder victim. I couldn't figure out what the killer's motive might have been and I had no idea who might have been behind the crimes. This is a book that kept me guessing until the very end.
The characters in the book were very well done. Londale was determined to find out what had happened and I liked the way that he went about finding out. He was smart and resourceful. I found myself liking him more and more as the book progressed. Hulda was such a fun character. She is the only female reporter working at the newspaper and she doesn't seem to worry if she is acting like a proper lady most of the time. When she needs to play a part to get someone to open up, she can quickly fit into just about any role and you never seemed to know what she might say or do. Londale and Hulda made a really good team and I liked the way they interacted with each other.
I would recommend this book to mystery fans. This had so many wonderful elements that came together to tell a rather thought provoking and entertaining story. I do hope to see more books featuring this amazing group of characters very soon..
I received a digital advanced reader edition of this book from Severn House Publishers via NetGalley.
I ended up liking this one a lot. I had a rather hard time getting into the story but I think that had more to do with my life than the book. I thought that the mystery was interesting and complex. I liked the characters quite a bit and thought the period was well represented. This one did keep me guessing until the very end which was a big plus.
I'm enjoying it, and it reads very smooth and easy, but it's not the most original thing I've ever read. a lot of very familiar scenarios. my favorite Murder Mystery is a "boat trip"--The False Inspector Dew--and some other good ones have created in me a fondness for the sub-genre, so all the claustrophobic effect, and the roster of strangers who may or may not be a threat to the main character, are fun things for me to get into again. we'll see; I have no idea how this book is going to rate with me by the end, but not 5 stars, because 5 stars means something either more original, or something so freakin' cool that it overrides all complaints including "reminds me of such-and-such, a bit". I don't think this is that.