Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Review: Monica MCarty’s The Chief: First in the Highland Guard Series a bit Slow with a Whiny Heroine

We all love a good Highlander romance, right? So I eagerly bought this one thinking I had a winner. I have read others by McCarty I enjoyed, which made this one all the more disappointing. She can certainly write well (good dialog, well phrased narrative, interesting storyline), and the idea of a special forces unit to defend Robert the Bruce was unique, but the story and the match of hero to heroine were only so so. 

The story began slowly. First, there were too many pages of introspective thought (pages of the heroine chewing over her circumstances like a dog with a bone. I just wanted to slap her). The hero’s inner lusting after her body parts went on and on (some is good, too much gets old). It was predictable in parts. The constant use of Gallic terms was a distraction (the book needed a glossary); and, she used clichéd characterizations. Finally, and this is a comment made by others who have reviewed all the books in the series, the hero may be a hunky Highlander, but the heroine was weak (and in this case, whiny). I like strong heroines. In this case, the hero and heroine were mismatched.

The Chief is the first in the Highland Guard series (The Chief, The Hawk, The Ranger and The Viper so far; The Saint is coming in 2012). Set in Scotland in 1305, the basic plot involves the creation of a medieval “special ops” team of Highlanders who will help Robert the Bruce gain the Scottish throne following King Edward’s brutal killing of William Wallace. Each book tells the story of a team member’s romance.

In this first tale, through manipulation by the heroine, Christina Fraser, and her father (the instigator), our hero Tor MacLeod, head of clan MacLeod, is tricked into a marriage he doesn’t want that will prevent him from making an alliance he needs for his clan and will expose his clan to the wrath of King Edward, because the alliance requires him to train/lead Bruce’s special ops team. OK, right off the bat, the whole manipulation-into-marriage turned me off to the heroine as well as the hero (it made him look weak). But I could have overcome that if it was the only negative. It was the relationship between them that so disappointed. Tor was a clan chief dominated by his duty and Christina was…not interesting…and really had no feeling for the burden he carried. By page 320, they had not seen eye to eye and the heroine was getting on my nerves. (Of course, he doesn’t notice the flowers on the table you ditz, he’s the head of the warriors!) When the hero finally did realize he loved her, it wasn't believable. I got that he lusted for her body but love? Don’t think so.

The book was too easy to put down.

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