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REVIEW: Highlander Untamed by Monica McCarty

Dear Ms. McCarty:

Highlander Untamed: A NovelThis book brought back my early days of romance reading. It reminded me of a time when Scotland was the setting du jour and revenge and deceit were the main plot devices. Theresa Medeiros gave the cover quote and the book, at times, reminded me of Medeiros’ old historicals such as Whisper of Roses.

The book opens with a heartwrenching scene. Margaret MacLeod is being returned to her clan by MacDonald of Sleat who repudiates her on the basis of a physical defect. Margaret is sent through a barrage of villagers in a manner designed to inflict the most amount of humiliation. Rory MacLeod, Chieftan of the Clan MacLeod, watches and his rage against the MacDonalds grow. (Of course, I did wonder why he didn’t rush in and save her right away instead of watching).

Two years later, the King of Scotland has ordered the MacLeods and the MacDonalds to cease their endless warfare and has required Rory MacLeod to accept as his bride, Isabel MacDonald, Sleat’s niece. Rory sees a chance to return shame upon the MacDonalds in an eye for an eye fashion. Isabel is charged with infiltrating the MacLeods and returning information to her clan to help defeat the MacLeods once and for all.

The clan politics and the settings are the strongest part of the story for me. Isabel’s father went along with Sleat’s plan because he needed help with a feud against another clan. Sleat hates the MacLeoads. Rory sees a chance to cement a different alliance with another clan in repudiating the MacDonalds and gaining revenge. Both clans have to pretend to abide by the promises extracted by the king whilst trying to kill each other behind his back while making it seem like they are getting along. Clever! Devious! What is not to like?

Well, unfortunately, this is a romance and at its core, the strength of a book should rise on the development of the relationship. To me, the relationship between Rory and Isabel seemed quite forced. For one thing, their motives were at odds with each other for most of the book. How can I believe that they love each other when they are constantly lying to one another? Second, mental lusting on both parts was what served to bridge the gap between the rivals. Isabel was so beautiful it seemed that the whole of the MacLeod clan could forget the degradation of their clanswoman. In some respects, the story’s movements were driven by cliches: Isabel being beautiful; the evil puppetmaster uncle constantly appearing to threaten her; both Rory and Isabel suffering physical ailments that bring them closer together.

The story was serviceable but lacked, for me, the magic of the old Medeiros. I found the strongest emotional scene to be the one at the beginning. While the story had a great setting, it was the setting that was memorable and not the love story. I am sending this book on to my blogging partner Janine because her opinions vary a great deal from mine, particularly when I am emotionally unmoved by a story. C

Best regards,

Jane

This book is part of a trilogy. The first book, Highlander Untamed is due in stores on July 30, with the second book, Highlander Unmasked released in August and the final book in the trilogy, Highlander Unchained, released in September.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

13 Comments

  1. jaq
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 06:57:43

    uhm, I was trying to figure out what heck is an “Untamedy”, then I realized it’s a typo in your post title. ;-)

    ReplyReply

  2. Jennifer McKenzie
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 07:38:36

    I think this is why I don’t read historicals anymore. When I read an Amanda Quick book and it felt like she’d taken a previous story, changed the names and twisted the plot just a little to make another one, I haven’t bought one since.
    *sigh*. I can’t say anything. I couldn’t write one to save my life.

    ReplyReply

  3. Ann Bruce
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 08:13:52

    it felt like she'd taken a previous story, changed the names and twisted the plot just a little to make another one

    Just an observation: When a favourite author does something different koff*MJP*koff, some bash her for deviating from her tried and true formula. Yet when an author sticks to what works for her, others will bash her for not…evolving, I suppose.

    I will admit that JAK/AQ recycles her plot, but I faithfully read both her personalities because I know exactly what I’m going to get and it’s generally a pleasant way to spend a few hours.

    ReplyReply

  4. Teddy Pig
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 09:43:31

    I’m waiting for Highlander Undead.

    Zombies in kilts just makes me squeal like a little girl.

    ReplyReply

  5. Ann Bruce
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 12:06:07

    I'm waiting for Highlander Undead.

    OMG. For a second, I actually thought you were serious and had to reread Jane’s post. lol

    ReplyReply

  6. Teddy Pig
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 12:39:06

    LOL! I know I am very wrong.

    Would a zombie groan with a Highland Burr?

    ReplyReply

  7. Jayne
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 13:35:13

    LOL! I know I am very wrong.

    Would a zombie groan with a Highland Burr?

    Dunno, but I sure as hell don’t want to know what’s under his kilt or what it looks like.

    ReplyReply

  8. Jane
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 13:40:19

    Admittedly, I am on a lego kick, but this might be what the undead highlander would look like (with his horse).

    Link here.

    ReplyReply

  9. Teddy Pig
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 16:55:52

    Then there is the undercover thriller.

    Highlander Unmarked

    ReplyReply

  10. Kalen Hughes
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 17:32:44

    The book opens with a heartwrenching scene. Margaret MacLeod is being returned to her clan by MacDonald of Sleat who repudiates her on the basis of a physical defect. Margaret is sent through a barrage of villagers in a manner designed to inflict the most amount of humiliation. Rory MacLeod, Chieftan of the Clan MacLeod, watches and his rage against the MacDonalds grow. (Of course, I did wonder why he didn't rush in and save her right away instead of watching).

    He’s on a horse riding hell-for-leather trying to get there in time. He doesn’t make it. He sees what’s transpiring from a distance. He's not standing there watching her be humiliated.

    I loved Margaret. I really wish she was getting a book of her own!

    ReplyReply

  11. Jane
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 17:37:15

    I couldn’t really tell that, Kalen. I wasn’t sure whether, at the top of the hill, he paused or not. And the sense of urgency wasn’t really there as we were observing Margaret’s painful ride through the village. But, eh, YM obviously varied.

    ReplyReply

  12. Ann Bruce
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 18:56:20

    Admittedly, I am on a lego kick, but this might be what the undead highlander would look like (with his horse).

    Why do I feel the need to rewatch Army of Darkness?

    Ooh, if they do release a Highlander Undead, do you think Bruce Campbell could pose on the cover? I’d buy the book for sure!

    ReplyReply

  13. Riding School Stockport « Riding-school-stockport
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 07:00:25

    [...] REVIEW: Highlander Untamed by Monica McCarty | Dear Author … – Dear Ms. McCarty: This book brought back my early days of romance reading. It reminded me of a time when Scotland was the setting du jour and revenge and. [...]

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