Monday, February 20, 2017

Short Rant: Highlander Claimed

Highlander Claimed

by Juliette Miller
Book 1 of Clan McKenzie

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  2.5 Stars

Since her adoption by peasants of the Ogilvie Clan, Roses has been marked as an outsider.  Her fair hair and golden complexion set her apart, as does a mysterious tattoo she keeps hidden at all costs.  So when Laird Ogilvie corners her with an indecent proposal, Roses has no ties to stop her from fleeing.  Outcast and alone, her escape across the Highlands is interrupted by Wilkie Mackenzie, the wild and handsome brother of nearby Clan Mackenzie's leader.

Wilkie is honor bound to marry into the family of a valuable ally.  But when Roses sweeps him off his feet--literally--settling for an arranged match is no longer an option.  Torn between duty and desire, Wilkie dedicates himself to Roses's protection, but Laird Ogilvie knows her secret and will stop at nothing to steal Roses back.  Now, these star-crossed lovers find themselves in a fight to defend both their hearts... and their lives.

Okay.  So this wasn't exactly what I'd expected, but I hadn't actually expected to be bored and frustrated out of my mind for the first 60% of the book, and was honestly quite surprised that I had made it that far.  Highlander Claimed has it's charms, but seriously, this isn't a book for me.  Truth be told, I feel like it was maybe 200 pages too long, lingering too emphatically on how much our hero and heroine love each other, on how beautiful they find each other, on how they feel relentlessly, fatefully bound to one another, and on how wildly our hero reacts whenever he's parted from the heroine.

It would have made a pretty romantic story for many, I suppose, if you don't think about the fact that these two had met all of one day, had fought and injured each other, and are both really only consumed by each others' beauty, before almost instantaneously claiming that neither would be able to live without the other.  This book gives "love at first sight" a whole new layer of definitions I don't even want to get into.

The first and second chapters of this book were extremely promising, presenting to me, a heroine who seemed to be strong and decisive... before turning her personality around into a subservient damsel.  Roses's actions, from stabbing an abusive lord who was trying to rape her and running away, then determining to travel where she could find safe haven, then finally to bravely walking into the McKenzie Keep even though it was probably not a good idea, had presented her as a strong heroine.

Then the moment she and Wilkie fall in love--like a couple hours after they try to kill each other--she loses all of her spunk.

I understand that women during historical times were supposed to be subservient and defer to the men... and this is probably why I've never been drawn to historical fiction... but I kind of feel like the behaviors of both Roses and Wilkie seems a bit over-dramatic and extreme.  Roses's every word and action paints her in an extremely demure, subservient role, much different than the Roses we first met in Chapter One--because now everything is about making Wilkie happy, even to the extent of letting him dictate all of her movements and keeping her locked up in his antechamber.  And all Roses can think of is not wanting to further anger Wilkie by disobeying him.

And I'm just all flabbergasted, because what makes her new situation so different from that of her life in the Olgivie clan if she escapes one tyrant just to subject herself to another possessive neanderthal?

Wilkie simply comes off as a little creepily obsessive, and childish in his tantrums.

If this man were not ungodly good-looking, predisposed to being the "good" hero of a historical romance, or given many, many excuses for his behavior... how many women would truly swoon?  Replace him with the repugnant Laird Olgilvie from the beginning of the book, give him the same behaviors that Wilkie presents, and I imagine Roses's reactions would not be as forgiving.

Really, all that this couple had going for them in their love story was how unerringly beautiful they found each other.  It also doesn't help that both hero and heroine also turned out be super-perfect people.  Considering that this is a romance novel, first and foremost, I could almost forgive that.  But honestly, after 50% of our couple waxing poetic about how perfect they find each other, how much they love each other, and how hard it will be to be parted, I think I had enough.

The ending chapters were actually kind of exciting which lead to a nice little reprieve from the frustrating love story, which is why I'm just giving this book a 'meh' rating, rather than straight-out dislike.  The big secret about Roses was blatantly obvious when there was talk of a lost child and how important this child would be.  Come on now, those neon arrows are absolutely in your face!


I read this book for Romance Bingo 2017 for the Man in a Kilt square.

Other squares that may count include:
  • Insta-love - The hero and heroine fall in love before they even properly introduce themselves, and suddenly can't live without each other.
  • Virgin & Best First Time
  • Historical Romance
  • Secret Billionaire - As a historical, I think being secret nobility or royalty of a sort could work for this square.
  • Love (Free Space)

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