Return of the Highlander
Just when I thought Return of the Highlander would never take off, it finally did, and the last third of the book was a very enjoyable read. However, it did take a long time to get there and the book never really came together into a totally satisfactory read, but on the whole, it was still a slightly better than average read with a yummy alpha hero.
Morwen (The Black) Maclean is a highland chief who for years has been suspended in between worlds. One day he finds himself conscious again and in the presence of the Fiosaiche (a witch) who has wakened him. The Fiosaiche tells Maclean that he has a second chance to right the wrong that he did back in the 18th century – a wrong which resulted in his death and the slaughter of his people. The Fiosaiche sends Maclean into the 21st century.
Arabella Ryan writes historical novels. She has a small audience which could be larger if she’d only promote herself more, but she won’t do that. Bella has little self esteem – her elegant mother thought she was dull and frumpy, her father didn’t understand her passion for history, and her boyfriend Brian is controlling and critical. It’s only when Bella is writing that she feels happy. Bella is in Scotland where she has found the subject of her next novel – a man named Morwen (The Black) Maclean. Maclean was known as a strong leader until he inexplicably led his people into a massacre. Bella has come to Loch Faisal where Maclean lived in the hope of finding out what really happened. She always researches her novels with great care and she thinks that she might find out the truth about Maclean. Brian comes with her grumbling all the way.
In the meantime, Maclean is wandering around Loch Faisal invisible and insubstantial. When he makes his way to the cottage where Bella is staying, he sees that she is writing about him. He also sees that Bella is beautiful and unhappy (Brian has stormed off and left her). Bella senses a presence in the cottage and sometimes feels a chill (when she walks thorough Maclean). As she begins her new book, she gets a call from her agent with good news. Her last book has become a surprise best seller and gone into a second printing. Her publishers want her new book now, in order to cash in on her surprise success and in order to do that, she needs to find out the truth about Maclean.
As he spends more time with Bella, Maclean finds himself becoming more substantial. One night – overcome by her beauty – he fondles her and when she wakens she sees him as a shadowy presence and can hear his voice. She is outraged, then scared, but as he explains, Bella and Maclean come to realize that their fates are entwined and they must find out the truth about what happened so many years ago.
Return of the Highlander took a long time to get off the ground since Maclean was insubstantial/invisible for nearly half the book. Once he did become substantial, the book took off and I found myself reading until late in the evening. Maclean is a true man of his time – an overpowering alpha male who is more than just a little bit sexist. Some readers will love him and others will find him a bit of a knuckledragger. Me – I liked him. When I read a book where the hero is an 18th century highland warrior, I don’t like him to act like a sensitive modern guy in a kilt. Maclean does learn some gentler ways as he gets to know Bella, but he’s still uncomfortable without his broadsword.
Bella begins as a victim. He boyfriend treats her like dirt, her parents are disappointed in her, and her books are not best sellers, but she gains confidence as the story progresses. Having her book become a best seller is the beginning of Bella coming out of her shell, and when she finds out that Maclean thinks she is beautiful and loves her, her confidence grows. Eventually, she becomes his savior and he hers. The ending is sweet and satisfying, and since there are more warriors for the Fiosaiche to waken to fix their lives, readers who enjoyed this book will have more in the future.
Sara Mackenzie also writes under the names Sara Bennet, Deborah Miles, and Lily Sommers. After the slow start I found myself enjoying Return of the Highlander enough that I will check out Beloved Raven, the next book in her Immortal Warriors series. It will be about Nathaniel Raven, a Cornish highwayman. Sounds interesting and a nice change from Lords and Ladies in London.