Onyx, $5.99, ISBN 0-451-40942-6
Historical Romance, 2000
I have only read one other May McGoldrick book, The Flame, and that book didn’t exactly grab me. The same thing happened with The Firebrand, the concluding book in the Highland Treasure trilogy. I didn’t follow the series regularly, but I can understand this one perfectly, so it’s a pretty much stand-alone book.
The artwork of a bare-chested Mike Dale at the back cover grabs me, now that one, oh yes indeed, but I find The Firebrand very easy to put down and forget. It’s just that whenever I put it down, I find myself looking at the glorious, rugged “Lemme touch that stubble on his jaw, oh dearie me!” chiseled face of Mikey, and I can’t resist picking it up again.
I’m not exactly sure what it is that doesn’t grab me about this story, but I have a feeling it may be the rather one-dimensional characters.
Anyway, the story. Adrianne Percy is the last of the unwed Percy sisters. The Percy sisters are separated and sent to various places to escape the persecution of the mad, bad English king. Each sister holds a portion of a key to a great treasure called Tiberius, and everyone wants a piece of that. This story starts with Wyntoun MacLean escorting Adrianne from her refuge (or hell, as she will tell you) at the Western Isles, at her sisters’ request. But the sisters’ mother is now in the clutches of the English arses, and Adrianne wants to save her. Wyntoun manages to convince her that probably doing a solo She-Ra act and dashing into the enemy stronghold isn’t the wisest thing to do, and so she seethes.
As everyone good and Scottish starts to plan for Lady Nichola’s freedom, Adrianne and Wyntoun agree to a marriage of convenience.
Thing is, Adrianne displays a lot of feistiness as befits her The Firebrand name, but she isn’t very interesting. Wyntoun is a brave, courageous hero, but he too isn’t very interesting. I mean, when they kiss, I don’t get this feeling that sparks actually fly. The prose is clean and technically faultless, but it doesn’t grab me the way Mike Dale on the back cover does.
Reading this one is like listening to a pleasant, well-mannered Martha Stewart-like woman telling me about her life story. It’s pleasant while it lasted, it’s even enjoyable at places, but thing is, I just can’t find in myself any burning desire to find out more about the characters, the story, or to track down the previous two books in this trilogy. The Firebrand isn’t bad, not at all, but it is so bland that it just fades into the wallpaper too easily really.