Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Highland Master

Highland Master by Amanda Scott 629

The Cameron and the Chattan clans have been feuding for centuries and the cruel Duke of Albany, brother to the King of Scotland, decides that they should have a great battle to finalize everything. At the end Sir Finlagh is the only member of his clan who is left and, at the encouragement of a Cameron friend, he jumps into the river and escapes certain death. Four years later, Catriona Mackintosh finds Fin wounded in the forest and takes him back to her castle where he learns that she is the granddaughter of the leader of the Chattan Clan, the Mackintosh. Her father had lead the Chattan clan during the great battle and Fin had sworn to his father right before his father died that he would kill him. But the Mackintosh family takes him in and he realizes that he cannot kill his own host, or do that to Catriona, whom he is quickly coming to respect and like. Catriona has a reputation in her family of being a wildcat who acts and talks before she thinks and it does not take her long to discover that Fin will not stand for her losing her temper with him.

However, danger lurks in the form of the Duke of Albany and Fin is actually working for the future King of Scotland in an attempt to form an alliance with the Mackintosh. When Davy Stewart shows up he immediately begins flirting with Catriona and this makes Fin very nervous, and quite jealous but there is little he can do because Davy is royalty. The leader of a neighboring clan, the Comryns, also has his eye on Catriona and is determined to make life difficult for everyone until Catriona agrees to marry him. The meeting between Davy and the Mackintosh, and several other clan leaders, doesn't go precisely as planned and there is quite a bit of bickering. Things calm down temporarily when a misunderstanding leads Davy to insist on Catriona and Fin getting married and they are both worried about the other's feelings for them. Albany has one last trick up his sleeve and pulls out all the stops in a move that could threaten the Chattans, the Camerons, and all of Scotland. Catriona and Fin must work together to put an end to the threat and then admit their feelings for each other.

When I read a romance novel I like having some historical elements thrown in, especially when they are true and it's history I am interested in, but it is really important for the romance and the relationship between the main characters to be the central focus. Everything else to me should be in the background and should serve as a backdrop or an impetus to speed things along, but either way it should not overwhelm or take over from the next story. This book really suffered because the focus of the book was on the history and the suspense surrounding the Duke of Albany and the alliance between the Mackintosh and Davy Stewart. I felt like the romance was not even the secondary element, but more like the fourth and their relationship/ their meeting was merely the impetus for getting Fin to converse/ form an alliance with the Mackintosh and, just as bad, a way for the reader to learn more about the feuding between the two different clans. Catriona and Fin were rarely alone, had far too little quality time, and when they were together they were dealing with the other elements of the plot.

Catriona started as a likable character because she was independent and caring but as the book progressed she got incredibly annoying. It started with everyone talking about what a firecracker she was and although she eventually did show that she had a temper, by almost slapping someone who insulted her and then talking loudly without thinking (gasp!), it came across as incredibly condescending on everyone's part and made her almost childlike. Fin was one of those condescending people so it was difficult to like him and, aside from his loyalty to Davy Stewart, whom I did not think deserved it, he didn't really seem to have anything going for him. His guilt over what happened during the clan battle was ridiculous and obviously meant to flesh him out, but it failed miserably. They were apparently very attracted to each other, but absolutely nothing happened until near the very end and, without going into details, there was one scene that rather repulsed me in it's abruptness.

Rating: The book was far too long and far too little of that was on the relationship. I did not like the book, but I appreciated the writing style and the historical elements to some extent.

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