Mills & Boon, £4.99, ISBN 978-0-263-91730-7
Historical Romance, 2016
Fia Mackintosh has watched her cousins fall in love, and now she wants a dark-haired man just like those cousins to sweep her off her feet. She watches every exchange and facial expression that passes between those two couples and actually sighs out loud. Ugh, she’s like that creepy quiet family relative that sulks in a corner and stares after everyone while making odd noises to herself now and then.
At any rate, you know what they say: be careful what you wish for. Someone is trying to rekindle a feud between her clan and her in-laws’, and our heroine is in the wrong place at the wrong time when she finds herself in the middle of an attack by what seems like outlaws. She is saved from rape and worse when one of them, Iain Dubh, claims her as his and warns the others to take their hands off him. And yet, Iain has no intentions of taking her against her will – he only asks her to go along with him and put up a show, clearly to protect her, so he’s clearly not what he seems to be,
Actually, Iain is Niall Corbett, who is currently on an undercover mission to uncover the cause of the violence taking place around this region. He can’t just stand by and let this woman be victimized by his “colleagues”, of course, and now he’s stuck in a conundrum. Can he protect her without blowing his cover and ruining his mission? And of course, they start to have feelings for one another, which only complicate things and.
Kidnapped by the Highland Rogue has a very generic title and a cover that screams “bad cosplayer” (the props look really fake and the guy isn’t holding his sword properly) but the story itself is pretty spectacular.
After the first few chapters that have me doubting that I’d ever be able to view Fia as anything more than a creepy, sighing creature obsessed with the idea of her cousins having sex with their wives, that young lady manages to transform into a pretty good heroine. The author neatly avoids Fia falling into the same trap that caught many heroines in her situation: there is no bewildering sassing or mouthing off at her captors, no dumb efforts to escape without knowing she is actually doing, no “I cannot lie, and I refuse to play along even a little to save my life because I am a virtuous heroine!” nonsense – nothing of that sort. Instead, Fia watches her words carefully, takes stock of her situation, and quickly adapts to her circumstances to save herself to the point that she is playing along with Niall like she’s his perfect partner-in-crime.
Furthermore, her developing feelings for Niall are unexpectedly believable and even mature. I never get Stockholm syndrome or weird crush vibes off her – the author did a really good job here in balancing the heroine’s character development with the need to keep the plot going, as by the last page, I find myself thinking that the romance is solid despite the circumstances that surround its blossoming.
Niall is a bit more of a stock action hero character, but that’s only because the genre has far more competent heroes than heroines. He’s a pretty nice hero. No angst, no woman issues, no hang-ups. He has a job, which he does for the greater good, and he also does his best to protect Fia. However, I feel that the author overplays a bit in describing Niall’s perpetual horniness for Fia; given their circumstances in which he has all the power and Fia has none, all those constant references to his chubby and his need to boink Fia end up being unintentionally disquieting. Not to mention, it’s hard to believe that a man can think about sex 24/7 even when everything hangs in the balance.
Still, despite the unfortunate “My erection is a like a jack in the box in a Scooby-Doo cartoon!” aspect of the hero’s character, this one is still a very satisfying read. The pacing is solid, the drama is gripping, and even when things become more mundane once Fia is safe and there are a few more chapters to go, the momentum doesn’t let up. Terri Brisbin can be an inconsistent author, but Kidnapped by the Highland Rogue sees her sailing past go to the finish line on a very good day indeed.