Mills & Boon, £4.99, ISBN 978-0-263-24805-0
Historical Romance, 2015
Times have changed. People are still going back and forth about the presence of people of various race, religion, or skin color in romance novels these days, but there is one group of heroines that – unfortunately – look like they will always have a place in romance novels: the bloody imbeciles. True, these days, members of that species are dying out, but with Her Enemy Highlander, Nicole Locke is trying to rekindle the renaissance of those old school romances. Old school romances in which the heroines are best described as “big breasts, brain of a twelve-year old” paired with much wiser heroes who get all horny and randy by the “innocent” vibes oozing out from these heroines as the heroes constantly rush to save them from themselves. If you have a yearning for stories from those days, or if you have always loved these stories – it’s okay, nobody is judging here, just don’t act like you know me when I’m with my friends – this one is for you. Everyone else, you have been warned.
Not that the fellow who wrote the back cover synopsis hasn’t warned anyone – the word “impulsive” is used to describe Mairead Buchanan, and yes, this word is used accurately. She never thinks before she acts, and in any situation, think of the worst decision one can take, and she’d up you by doing something that is worse. When the story opens, her brother was murdered after he put up the family dagger (with jewels and such on it) while gambling like crazy, and now Mairead needs to get that dagger back. Without the dagger, there is no money and the entire family will be tossed into the streets, and we all know that just won’t do. On the bright side, she gets to see our hero naked in the process of screwing up and ranting about it, so at least things aren’t that bad.
Naturally, our intrepid heroine screws up things spectacularly, and the dagger captures the attention of our hero Caird and his brother, who realize that the dagger has a significance that goes far deeper than Mairead’s microscopic-sized brain would ever fathom. How did she get it? What is it? She must come along with them as they try to sort things out, as there are political matters that may be at stake if this dagger is allowed to fall into the wrong hands.
She won’t tell him anything, and he won’t do anything without knowing everything, so the bulk of this story revolves around Caird and Mairead going back and forth with our heroine doing her best impersonation of a dumb wretch begging for anyone to strangle her into blessed silence. She keeps running away, gets into trouble and needs rescuing or gets caught by our hero a few pages later, and generally behaves like something handed out when heaven had a “pop out a brat, get an imbecile free” day. As I’ve said, she never thinks before she acts, and her first thought after she acts is always of the “Oops!” variety. At one point, she actually realizes that whatever nonsense she is planning won’t work and she should have just told the heroine everything and this only makes me want to choke and strangle her before beating her senseless with a monkey wrench because GOD WHY IS THE AUTHOR PUTTING ME THROUGH SO MUCH PAIN?
Compared to the imbecile, Cairn seems far more mature and wiser than he probably is. He has a pretty good understanding of the way politics work, and he is capable too. This is good, as our heroine is too stupid for words and will need a babysitter for life. He seems to be attracted to Mairead mostly because of she is an “innocent”, and as I keep reading, I become increasingly convinced that the author has misspelled “imbecile”.
Worst of all, the author is making Mairead being a complete dumb wretch like this by design. Cairn often expresses his exasperation at our heroine’s imbecilic ways, and various secondary characters notice that perhaps Mairead may want to think a bit more before she acts. Therefore, I have this horrifying suspicion that the author may think that Mairead’s antics are cute, precious, or something. Well, good for her if she wants to parlay her strengths to a certain segment of readers that adore this kind of thing – she may have to win a cage match against Vivienne Lorret first, though – but you will find me shuddering in terror in this particular corner of the world.