2008, European Historical Romance (Regency England and Scotland)
Avon, $6.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0061122106 Part of a series
Cathy Maxwell’s In The Highlander’s Bed started out strong – especially since I usually enjoy a good kidnapping story with a Scotsman involved. However, there are two critical elements that I found lacking as I delved into the story and reached its end: The hero and the HEA.
Constance Cameron is a homesick American living in England after she was dragged across the ocean by her sister with the goal of finding duke to marry. Her sister, happily married to the brother of a duke, is content and wants Constance to be more ladylike. To achieve that goal, she sends Constance to an exclusive school for girls. Constance, however, has other plans – plans that involve escape and sailing back to America on her own.
Gordan Lachlan, Laird MacKenna, has other intentions regarding Constance. He plans to kidnap her and use her to ransom the Sword of the MacKenna, an artifact that will reinvigorate his people and encourage their fledging rebellion against England. However, much in Romancelandia often goes awry.
As they travel to his camp, Constance begins to realize the type of man Gordan is. She finds him admirable, but he refuses to let her escape. She finally understands that this sort of escape might be just as good as any other. Gordan, on the other hand, is constantly amazed by Constance. He knows that leading a rebellion against England will most likely go badly for him and, as a result, he hasn’t allowed himself to grow close to anyone or to develop the relationship he longs for.
Within just a few days, Constance basically takes over Gordan’s rebellion and forces him to realize how badly it was organized. Without effort, she has the camp reorganized and the people’s spirits raised – without the Sword of the MacKenna. Gordan and Constance also realize how right they are for one another. Yet, things come to a critical point when ransom demands must be met. Gordan has decisions to make and has to put his heart aside, even though he knows his rebellion is pointless.
Gordan and Constance’s story has momentum and held my attention until near the end. Constance is a sensible heroine (well, except when she planned to run away to America by herself) and I initially found Gordan sympathetic. However, as the story progressed, Constance became both the hero and the heroine of the novel. Gordan, though he never wanted the position he was in, was ill prepared for every situation that arose and had no clear plan for survival.
However, my biggest disappointment with Maxwell’s story is the ending. Rest assured, it is a romance and does contain the required ending, however, it was an HEA I felt was loaded with uncertainty. I expected the epilogue to ease that uncertainty. Unfortunately, since Maxwell’s epilogue did not even pertain to Constance and Gordan, the book almost hit the wall.
Despite my reaction to this book's ending and sometimes its hero, In the Highlander’s Bed isn’t at all bad. Those who enjoyed others in this series may enjoy this one more than I, but others might want to give it a pass.
-- Heather Brooks
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