The Destiny
by Kathleen Givens, historical (2003)
Warner, $5.99, ISBN 0-446-61053-4

The Destiny is closely related to The Legend and loosely related to the author's Kilgannon saga. It is also a more lively read than The Legend, although the characters aren't any better in the brainpower department.

Neil MacCurrie, a Highland laird, is on his way back to Scotland from a secret rendezvous with King James II when he ends up being captured by the Englishman Milford. Living in the same house as Milford is our heroine Eileen Ronley, who is actually Neil's distant kin - I'll leave readers to work out the family tree themselves. She takes a liking to him, and even as she calls herself fool, fool, fool, she just has to succumb to the classic Dumb Heroine Taken With A Pretty Face syndrome and aids Neil's escape. When they meet again later at William III's court (again, I'll let readers work out the historical chronology of the successions to the throne of England circa the late 17th century), she realizes who he really is and whee, everybody form a conga line and party all night! Or something.

The history is pretty impressive, and I like how the author actually uses the political climate of those times to drive a wedge into the relationship between Neil and Eileen. Eileen, a woman who is pretty much alone and vulnerable despite her connections to the English royal family, will not be wise to form a relationship with Neil.

Unfortunately, while the history is well woven into the story, the author uses standard plot devices to force her characters to interact. There's the ever-popular Prophecy thing, firstly. And of course, the also popular damsel-in-distress development that requires the heroine to be indebted to the hero in some way. There's also the ubiquitous "I'm a spinster who just want a pity shag one last time to last my lifetime" character development from Eileen. And without going into the plot developments, let me just say that Neil and Eileen do some really shockingly stupid things like trusting people they know are evil just to make the above mentioned plot things happen.

But Ms Givens could have still gotten away with all these, because I find The Destiny an enjoyable read. The prose seems to sing and it is cleanly written, the characters may be familiar but hey, they're still decent people who don't annoy me. Yet. Then the author puts in a really ridiculous Big Misunderstanding that is brought upon by equally ridiculous actions. My whole enjoyment screeches to a stop. The Destiny doesn't seem as fun as it is now annoying.

Maybe the next time, if Ms Givens just has to liberally bring on the formulaic plot thingies in her story, she really should have exercised some moderation and try not to pile up the smelly pancakes too high in one small wheelbarrow. When the whole pile tilts over - like it does in this book - the result isn't very pretty at all.

Rating: 73

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