Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 0-7434-5308-5
Paranormal Romance, 2003
Oh great, this time Janet Chapman has paired yet another same old hero with another “career woman” – this time a surgeon – who just wants to get away from her job to have babies. Unrealistic heroines, paper-thin characterization (macho = good, want to have babies = good), and very obvious secondary characters playing at being plot contrivances mar Wedding the Highlander as much as they mar the previous two books in the author’s trilogy.
Michael MacBain’s supposedly grand love with Mary Sutter in Charming the Highlander is cheapened by the end of the book (not that it is anything grand in the first place) and now I know why. Michael is going to find his real love eight years later with surgeon Elisabeth “Libby” Hart. Libby is fleeing her career-mad and ambitious family (bad family, bad!) and unrealistically lousy ex-boyfriends to live the life her Granny Bea and she always wanted: a life in the mountain log cabins just like the life Janet Chapman herself is leading. Wow. Libby has a special ability to heal people. She can easily be a refugee from a Christine Feehan novel because Libby prefers to flee from her talent and her job instead of taking control of it and doing some good with it. She answers an ad for tenants in Michael’s log cabin (an ad placed by Robbie, Michael’s son, eight going on thirty with many Creepy Too Sage Kiddie Moments), meets Michael, and sparks fly.
The Mary Sue overtones of the book are quite annoying as the author gushes so much over Michael being a highland warrior and he is sooooo sexy because he is sooooo macho and he is soooooo much a single daddy when I would prefer to see some meatier depths in both his and Libby’s characters. Also, the author uses Robbie the plot device in a pretty blatant manner that the boy comes off as nothing more than a contrivance with a pet owl. There are some attempts at addressing genuine concerns in the relationship between Libby and Michael, but these attempts are half-baked at best, swept aside by Highlander groupie moments (“She was in love with a Highland warrior. Life didn’t get any more real – or more magical – than that!”) and sex.
With characters that don’t come off as realistic or at least deep in a plot that is just another mishmash of overused romance novel plots and themes, Wedding the Highlander tries to use the reader’s shared fascination with the author of the rugged mountain man fantasy to carry itself to the finish line. Since I am the type that will run away screaming from a log cabin in a small town that doesn’t carry books and movies and cable TV and fast Internet connection, this book has to put in a bit more effort to win me over. Effort that Ms Chapman ultimately fails to fully deliver, unfortunately.