by Elaine Coffman, historical (2003)
MIRA, $6.99, ISBN 1-55166-738-X
On the bright side, the latest from Elaine Coffman, The Highlander, has much more romantic elements to it than her last few books for MIRA. On the other hand, when the rather silly heroine is most vividly drawn character in this book and "two-dimensional" will be too generous a term to describe her, this book is in trouble. Predictable, one-note, and filled with tiresome miscommunication and Evil Other Woman nonsense - oh yes, this book is in trouble alright.
The granddaughter of the French king Louis XIV, Sophie d'Alembert, turns up near-naked, unconscious, and still gorgeous in Scotland. What is she doing there? Well, you know how things are with these women: marry her off to some Englishman and she runs away and straight into trouble. Tavish Graham finds her and takes her to his brother (and our hero) Jamie Graham, the Earl of Monleigh. As Sophie recuperates, Jamie and she will bat eyelids at each other. Never mind that he's engaged to Gillian - when our heroine asks him about that Other Woman, Jamie dismisses her as insignificant in their getting naked with each other because she is Nasty and Greedy. And Sophie agrees - Gillian is Nasty and Greedy. Meanwhile, our hapless heroine feels so guilty because she doesn't tell Jamie who she really is by pretending to have amnesia. And when she is ready to tell, he's already found out and now she's condemned in his eyes. Oopsie.
Never mind that our noble hero wanted Sophie as his mistress even as he intends to marry Gillian, now he's keeping Sophie prisoner because she Lied to him - she Lied, Lied, Lied, how dare she? And this is me, rolling up my eyes in disgust. Enemies from her past will soon however force him to protect Sophie, et cetera, the usual.
The characters are pretty much cardboard characters. Jamie is the typical disagreeable somewhat-alpha hero, Gillian is one-dimensional Other Woman, the villains are evil villains, and Sophie is the only one that comes closest to being a two-dimensional character. And even so, she's a typical pushover heroine that gives the hero too much leeway for his nonsense while flagellating herself too much over the smallest things. These heroines really should realize that it's easier to tell a white lie for one's own survival instead of faking amnesia and then blushing and stammering while she's at it. It's a marvel how these silly creatures survive the Ice Age sometimes.
With bland characters running around doing silly things in an overused and trite plot, The Highlander does a pretty good job in leaving me high and dry.
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