Review: Captured by the Highlander by Julianne MacLean

Captured by the Highlander (Highlander Trilogy #1) by Julianne MacLean
How did I get it: The library.

Why did I get it: I saw a review in RT Book Reviews. And I’d been wanting to read some Highlander romance novels for awhile.

How I would rate it: 2 out of 5 stars – Sadly the first half of the book was much better than the second half.

Summary:

Lady Amelia Sutherland would rather die than surrender to a man like Duncan MacLean. He is the fiercest warrior of this clan-her people’s sworn enemy-and tonight he is standing over her bed. Eyes blazing, muscles taut, and battle axe gleaming, MacLean has come to kill Amelia’s fiancé. But once he sees the lovely, innocent Amelia, he decides to take her instead…

Stealing the young bride-to-be is the pefect revenge against the man who murdered Duncan’s one true love. But Lady Amelia turns out to be more than a pawn of vengeance and war. this brave, beautiful woman touches something deep in Duncan’s soul that is even more powerful than a warrior’s fury. but when Amelia begins to fall in love with her captor-and surrenders in his arms-the real battle begins…

Review: (Note: Contains spoilers.)

I went into Captured by the Highlander expecting to relax on a reading vacation to Scotland while being entertained and amused. For awhile, I was. Overall the writing is good, the setting is very vivid, and the basic premise is a good one. Even the start of Amelia and Duncan’s interactions was very promising, but it all fell apart for me about halfway through when I just felt like serious topics were flying through the air –much like a head did in a later section– but that none of them seemed likely to reach a satisfying resolution. At that point, I abandoned the book for awhile and only returned to it last night.

As a reader, I honestly refuse to hold romance to a separate standard or just give it more leeway. I still expect for the romance to be enjoyable just as I would expect for the magic, dragon, swordsman, or sorceress in a fantasy book to be pretty darn cool to read about. I am also a firm believer in some semblance of logic being of great benefit to fictional characters, and that it is always best if they make decisions that make some degree of sense. I know that romance is rarely logical. I do. I even realize that the object of romance is to overcome all obstacles and conflicts with the power of love, but there comes a time where I still find myself staring at passages and yelling “Oh come on!” at various mass market paperbacks.

Obviously a reader has to allow for a certain suspension of belief, but when the main storyline hinges around a man whose betrothed was raped and killed getting revenge while the woman he begins to fall in love with doesn’t want her morally reprehensible fiancé to die even though he is a rapist and so clearly evil that I half-expected him to twirl a mustache as he set children and their huts on fire … I don’t know. I don’t even know. But I do know that I would have preferred crazy bisexual Black Jack Randall from Outlander to Richard Bennett. There wasn’t even a gray area with Richard or any room for doubt in terms of his guilt. And I think dealing with Richard became basically a necessity long before he instructed his men to roast peasants alive.

So it sort of drove me ’round the bend to have Amelia constantly wanting Duncan to spare this sadistic nutjob because he had never been horrible to her. Yet. Even when her guardian tells her he thinks the man’s unstable, bad news, and likely to get away with murder, rape, and arson because he only did bad things to Scots? Amelia still demands that he be allowed to live because a life is a life. Then when Bennett is killed anyway, she leaves Duncan because he took the life of a rapist and didn’t feel bad about it and a gentleman would feel bad. BUT she does make sure bad things happen to the guy who tried to rape her. So I guess Amelia doesn’t think anyone counts besides herself and that goes double for dead fiancées? Ugh.

Then there was the added dilemma of feeling absolutely ill whenever I was reminded that Duncan’s betrothed had been dead less than a year. It felt like she was a big deal while simultaneously not actually mattering enough to prevent him from fooling around with Amelia from the very second he laid eyes on her. In fact, Duncan even chose sex over his best friend who also happened his dead betrothed’s brother. That in of itself is a really big pet peeve of mine, but I digress.

This book would have done much better to take a more light-hearted approach to what sounded like a fun premise instead of overloading it with serious, distracting issues in an attempt to make the Happily Ever After take twice as long to obtain and presumably that much more rewarding for me as a reader. Instead, the romance was absolutely overshadowed by intense conflicts that were too important to overlook but not important enough to apparently matter for very long during the second half of the book, which bothered me and killed any sort of romantic vibe I had managed to sustain up to that point.

In conclusion, Captured by the Highlander ultimately left me with a very bad taste in my mouth, which is a shame because I quite enjoyed MacLean’s writing style in of itself. The next book in this trilogy will be about Angus who seems like much more of my type of character so I will definitely keep it on my To Be Read list. That said, it might be awhile before I’m willing to even so much as attempt Claimed by the Highlander.

In the meantime can anyone think of Highlander Romance novels that are not like this or like Outlander? Surely some of these books do not involve crazy Englishmen ruining everything.

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About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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2 Responses to Review: Captured by the Highlander by Julianne MacLean

  1. Pingback: Reader’s Progress #17 | CSI: Librarian

  2. Pingback: Disappointing Reads of 2011 | CSI: Librarian

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