Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-051971-1
Historical Romance, 2003
A plot with flimsy foundation, stereotypical characters, and pacing as slow as a snail all make Sara Bennett’s latest Highland romance Beloved Highlander a tedious read. The psychobabble overwhelms the second half of the book and it’s the same old tedious pity party of unworthiness and unlovable woes. I’ve read books like this so many times before and those books aren’t as heavy in the whine department as this book.
The plot? Bear with me, please, it’s quite stupid. Long ago, Glen Dhui is lost to Gregor Grant when the Jacobite rebellion is crushed and Gregor is sent packing. Margaret Mackintosh’s father buys Glen Dhui when it comes up for auction. Daddy wants Meg (tomboy, martyr, Daddy’s girl) to marry into title, so he drafts a contract with the neighbor, the Duke of Abercauldy, so that Meg will marry the Duke. Meg knows that the Duke is pure evil. The servants know. Does anyone tell Daddy? No, of course not! Meg doesn’t want to hurt her Daddy, who’s already suffered when he lost his sight! Isn’t she a wonderful, virtuous heroine, readers? Now that Daddy learns on his own just how evil the Duke is, he sends Meg to bring back Greg, the long-lost hero of Glen Dhui. He wants Greg to marry Meg and protect Meg. And, er, that’s it.
From the time when Meg sees a drunk Greg in an inn and her hormones get flushed out of every pore of her body to the time they finally leave the inn, five chapters have passed. That’s an indication of how slow this book moves. Internal monologues make up the bulk of this book, but unfortunately, I’ve heard them blues before. The whine and pity party basically take on a familiar pattern.
He: I am not good enough for her.
She: He cannot possibly want me.
He: I want her to marry me on her free will.
She: I want to marry for love. But I will also do anything for Daddy. Oh! What am I to do?
He: I will take it slow.
She: He’s taking it slow – he really doesn’t want me! He just wants Glen Dhui!
He: I will wait until she tells me she loves me.
She: I will wait until I know he loves me.
He: I’m still waiting.
She: And waiting.
I guess I can say that Meg is okay, since she doesn’t actually do anything too drastically stupid (the making Daddy happy thing aside). Greg is an able hero provided he is kept busy and hence unable to find time to dwell endlessly on his self-esteem issues. But there is nothing here that can’t be solved if these two people talk or open their eyes and use their common sense and think instead of wailing and whipping themselves bloody because the other person doesn’t say the three magic words. Meg and Greg are two of the worst passive-aggressive whiners I’ve ever come across in a book and I fear for the world if these two have to make a decision between them. They would more often than not just sit there, look sadly at each other, and try to think up 10,000 reasons why the other person would disagree with them.
A familiar plot, unoriginal characters, slow pace, and tedious psychobabble all contribute to this book being more of a beloved sleeping pill, I’m afraid.