Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Review: Michele Sinclair’s TEMPTING THE HIGHLANDER – disappointing installment in an otherwise enjoyable series.

While I have read the others in Sinclair’s McTiernay Brothers Highlander series and enjoyed them, this 4th one is disappointing.

Set in early 14th century Scotland (1310), the story involves twin sisters, age 21, who have avoided marriage (if you can believe it) until now because their father, the clan laird, can't seem to control them. They are spoiled, over indulged and, in some cases, ignorant of what it takes to run a clan/castle. (All of that seemed to border on fantasy.) In a set of circumstances that threaten both clans, the McTiernay (fraternal) twins, Crevan and Craig, become engaged (betrothed should have been used, I think) to the twins, Raelynd and Meriel Schellden. Raelynd is engaged to Craig, both the eldest, since Raelynd’s husband would become laird of the Schellden clan. But Craig, though the oldest McTiernay twin, doesn't want to be laird of anything. They are all thinking it doesn't really matter since the engagement is only pretend as a ruse to defeat a cousin's claim to the lairdship. And, of course, Raelynd will come to like Crevan and Meriel likes Craig.

Sinclair writes well enough, but this story just didn't capture me. I know I'm going to sound negative but in this case, it is warranted. First, it was all so predictable. I knew from the beginning what was going to happen. Then, there were things that just weren’t believable. The two spoiled twins were supposed to become wonderful young women after a month with the McTiernay clan. It didn't work for me. The long passages describing their learning the ropes of what it takes to run a castle were boring. The hero and heroine didn't charm me either. Raelynd, came across as a shrew; Crevan came across as critical and judgmental--oh yeah, and selfish. I didn't like them. In fact, there was a whole slew of unlikable characters in this one (I haven't even mentioned the cousin...). Maybe it was just the way they behaved, but the twins seemed quite young. When the servant told Laurel that Raelynd and Crevan loved each other, I didn't buy it. I will say that it picked up after about page 270, though the ending was never in doubt. Overall, I found this installment in the series too easy to put down.

WHAT I FOUND HARD TO ACCEPT: (1) daughters of a laird in the 14th century allowed to reject all suitors until they are 21 (and even then, they were only pretending to be engaged); (2) a leader of Highlander fighting men who doesn't want to be laird of his clan; (3) taking the two girls back to the McTiernay castle and keeping them there for a month wouldn't "ruin" them if they failed to wed the McTiernay twins; (4) a Highlander clan with an English surname; and (4) a hot-blooded Highlander who took great liberties with a young woman in his care, but stopped short of making love to her, though she would have been willing, because he thought she should marry someone better (please). And then, after having her, was still willing to let her go to another. Doesn't sound like a Highlander to me.

For one of Sinclair’s historical romances I did like, see THE CHRISTMAS KNIGHT. It was very well done—a great one for the holiday season, too.

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