At fourteen he found his father crouched over his mother's battered, bloody body...That same night, his home and his clan were attacked by an enemy clan and Gavrael Roderick Icarus McIllioch sold his soul to Odin in exchange for the strength he needed to save his home, becoming a legend, a Berserker.
Not wanting to have anything more to do with his name, especially the madness his father professed coursed through the veins of their clan—the madness that surely made his father kill his wife—Gavrael became Grimm Roderick, spending the next fifteen years in the employ of the king, trying desperately to forget his legacy...And the beast inside him.
Then a missive comes from an old friend, calling upon the vow Grimm had made when he was sixteen. To protect the girl who found him, covered in mud, hiding in the woods. "Come for Jillian", the missive says and nothing could stop Grimm from racing to the side of the girl who's turned into the only woman he's ever loved. The only woman he could never have...imm from racing to the side of the girl who's turned into the only woman he's ever loved. The only woman he could never have...
This is one of my favorite books in this Highlander. It has it all, a legendary warrior, secrets in the past, determined enemies, and a pair of star-crossed lovers caught in the midst of inner and outer turmoil as they navigate their epic romance.
This book stars Grimm Roderick, Hawk's best friend and captain of the guards and the wish upon a fallen star Adrienne made at the end of the previous book. Because that wish came true. ;)
I loved Grim to bits. What's there not to love about an obtuse man so utterly and completely in love with a woman that it's made him stupid. So stupid in fact, he tries to push her away for almost half the book and almost accomplishes his goal in the second half. Yes, he was an idiot, a jerk and as ass, but at least he had a reasonably good excuse for his behavior (a wrong one, but he didn't know that until almost the end).
So he hurt the woman he loved, and, bless her heart, she endured. Lucky for all of us, Jillian was too stubborn for her own good and once she realized the truth about how the man truly felt for her, she dug in, and refused to be defeated.
I just loved these two together, how they changed from the aloof, poised individuals they were separately, into bratty, sometimes childish, and rather stupid couple that was the epitome of the saying "if he teases you, he likes you". There was a lot of metaphorical hair pulling involved, but once they crossed the proverbial line in the sand, their feelings, their connection was almost palpable.
But because this is a romance and the story isn't short, there were quite a few hurdles to overcome before the requisite HEA, but instead of the story feeling stretched out and overblown (like Beyond the Highland Mist for example), the reader (at least this reader) was so "involved", having come to know the characters, what drove them, what drove the conflict, and having seen what could be, that the pages simply flew as fingers were being crossed that all would end well.
The overall conflict between the McIllioch and McKane clan was also very well done, and rather "realistic" in terms of combating force (compared to the mystical elements involved in the previous book). This conflict wasn't between a human and Fae, but between two Scottish clans, echoing the savagery of the time and the locale in which the story is set.
Though we never got to see a real battle, the "danger" was there.
But what I liked most of all, beside the romance and the main couple, in this book, was the supporting cast, especially Quinn, Grimm and Jillian's friend and the voice of reason in their love story (wonder if he'll ever get a book), and Balder, who made an appearance quite late in the book, but had by far the best lines in the whole story.
Gone were the inconsistencies of the first book, this one was well-written, well-paced, offered a pretty good twist of a bad surprise in the end, and delivered one hell of a romance. I'm still starry-eyed. ;)
Thanks to a woman's pricked pride, two people from different points in time, find themselves embroiled in the battle of wills...And hearts.
Aoibheal, Queen of the Fae, decides to make her husband, the King, and her jester jealous by talking about the almost mystical prowess (both in the battlefield and the boudoir) of Sidheach James Lyon Douglas, third Earl of Dalkeith. Apparently his appendage and stamina are able to possess a woman's soul. And the Queen claims to have experienced in first hand. Which makes the King and the Fool rather peeved and intent on revenge.
Enter Adrienne de Simone, all the way from 1997, badly burned by a beautiful, deceitful man with a black soul, which makes her hate all beautiful men at large. So what is she to do, when she's thrust back into 1513 Scotland and wed, by proxy, mind you (!) to a devastatingly beautiful (both in and out) man?
This is the first book in Moning's romance Highlander series. I prefer her in the romance author guise myself, because I like my books to actually have a beginning and an end all in one book, but that's just me.
It's obvious, this is the first book, since it sports the many first-book problems. It looks like KMM was still looking for her voice, tempo, and narrative style with this one.
For starters, the conflict dragged on for too long (almost two thirds of the story) and in the end came across as more of a stubbornness issue on the heroine's part than anything else. There was nothing to the conflict really to start with. Sure, she was badly burned, but hating all beautiful men because of the action of one specimen is a bit over the top.
The second problem I have with this story is the fact, the romance doesn't really "register". It's there because it's written, the resolution comes across as plausible, believable and sweet, because of the length of the conflict, so in the end the reader wants the hero and heroine to be together just to end the idiocy of the conflict that's keeping them apart.
Unfortunately, the story is so focused on the conflict and heroine's trust issues that it never lingers overmuch on the characters, leaving the reader slightly bewildered to the fact why these two love each other so much in the end, when the reader barely knows them.
And the third problem is the antagonist, but that's just me, since I loved him in his own book that comes later in this series.
Still, the story is well-written, though slightly underdeveloped, overblown in places and rather plodding in others. It's set in Scotland (my favorite setting of them all no matter the time frame), it features a yummy Scottish, kilt-wearing laird that falls (inexplicably) head over heels for the first woman who resists him (novelty, I guess), and is filled to the brim with wonderful supporting cast.
It could be better. It should be better, but it could also be a lot, lot worse, so it gets three stars.
I like it and I won't mind re-reading it in the future.
For quotes/comments as I read and others commentary: Buddy Read Perfect
700pgs. 700 PAGES
The first 30% was good, with amazing development and laying foundation down for our characters. In newer published books, that first 30% would have been edited down to around 10%. I miss layers like that. Having said that, oh my god, could a lot have been edited out. I think. Secondary characters that seemed to add depth to the story, characters, and setting, started to become skim worthy as they didn't seem to add to the main arc. There's twin sisters that add flavor and a thinking commentary storyline but towards the end, I was wondering what the point was. Adding to a lesser degree, the heroine's boyfriend Greg(?) and the storyline of a FBI agent falling in love with heroine. They add to the layers of the story but they also meander the reader from the main arc and end up disappearing with no real conclusion; I was left with "what's the point?”
This would not only satisfy your old tv show Dynasty cravings, this would fulfill 3 seasons worth. I feel like I lived three lifetimes reading this. Season One is the childhood of our heroine and hero and the development of how they came to be as adults, Season Two is the November sweeps lust, murder, kidnapping, and D-rama, and Season Three is the lies, betrayal, revelations, and happily ever after.
All this D-rama of secondary character stories, lusting, murder, and life living is told through an early '90s romance view point. I ended up not liking the hero because of his overly aggressive, I know you love me/want me so I'm going to sexually man handle you until your body forces you to admit it, a heroine who could be read Mary Sue-ish with some innocent, too sweet to be real, 26yr old virgin, wishy washy, and "Perfect", a puritanical vibe, and a overhanging view that good wives are cooking and doing laundry.
The murder mystery got a bit washed out as it was pushed to the background by the D-rama and not for my 21st century woman self, views. After I read the last sentence, I started to think about the ranting review I was going to type up, until I saw the Author's Note. Due to our heroine's childhood, she grew up illiterate until the 5th grade. As a result, she becomes a middle school teacher and after hours teaches adult women to learn how to read. Then in the note, the author talks about how harshly illiteracy affects women, which is also shown through secondary characters (heroine's grown women students) she weaves in how women are trapped in abusive relationships and poverty because of their illiteracy. She brings up a program called "Literacy. Pass. It. On.", a program funded by Coors Light and how it is working to help women gain literacy. I looked the program up and through my weak, quick research it went five years and earned 5 million dollars (looks like they were shooting for 40mil). Was this whole book, a story rife with sexism and clearly a prevailing view of its time, showing and relating to women, a cloak for a message of how women are held back and a way to help prevent that? Maybe, maybe not. It is why I love the romance genre, because there is a message here, even if its veiled, because maybe it had to be. Social commentary and women reaching out to women, hearing, acknowledging, and addressing our issues, that is what is commonly hidden behind those bare chest men covers.
Did I like the story as a whole? No, too much editing needed, main couple's relationship was not built on a believable, solid foundation, and the whole Dynasty-like D-rama. However, the sub-plot of illiteracy and its harmful effects on women and how we can help them? Sign me up every time. (Secret: The romance genre is chalk full of this and why I'm signed up a lot for these books)
The Literacy. Pass. It. On. Program is not around anymore but please considering donating whatever you can at any literacy non-profit/charity. Share the love of reading
*** copy provided by publisher through NetGalley ***
I'm quite a fan of suspense/thriller novels (even without the romance aspect) if they're written well. Unfortunately this one wasn't.
The premise was good and at first it did look promising, but the overly descriptive narrative style ruined it. It was all about what the characters wore, what they ate, what roads they took...On and on and on it went until it got so bothersome it overshadowed the story.