Wednesday 9 January 2013

#CBR5 Book 4. "In Bed with a Highlander" by Maya Banks

Page count: 368 pages
Rating: 1 star

I was going to start this review by presenting some facts about how big a sub-genre of historical romance the Highlander romance is, but it turned out that it wasn't easily found by just briefly searching Google, and this book isn't worth the effort to actually spend a lot of time researching the odd quirks of romance literature. Suffice to say, there are a whole bunch of sub-genres to historical romance.

There's Regency - which is when Jane Austen wrote her books, this is a huge sub-genre. Victorian, Medieval, Pirate, Western, American Civil War - usually the hero and heroine are on opposite sides, oh noes, how will they ever make their romance work? Then there is Highlander. There's a bafflingly huge number of romances with covers featuring half-naked men wearing kilts and/or tartans. Just look up and over to the left, to the cover of this book. Tartan, all over the place, despite the fact that the hero never wears any (probably because a huge amount of these books are pretty much Medieval romance set in the Scottish Highlands, when tartans were NOT what Scotsmen wore, I don't care what Braveheart made you believe).

Anyways, you want to hear what this book is about, do you, not hear me rant about the historical inaccuracies of romance novel covers? Mairin Stuart is the illegitimate daughter of the former Scottish king and niece of the current one. She's been hiding in a convent for years and years because she doesn't want unscrupulous Scottish men marrying her for her huge dowry and possible political influence. Then she gets kidnapped by one such unscrupulous Scottish Laird, who beats the snot out of her when she refuses his proposal, and because she's sheltering a charming plot moppet she rescued while being taken from the convent to his stronghold. She's helped to escape by some of his servants (no good explanation given as to why) and takes the child with her.

He's the runaway (and conveniently motherless) son of another Laird, who fortuitously for Mairin is the sworn enemy of her kidnapper. He's happy that she rescued his son, and once he discovers her true identity (which thanks to her dear old Dad, who branded the royal seal into her thigh as a baby (!) is easily verifiable), he decides that the best way to save her from evil kidnapper Laird is to marry her himself, which would of course mean that he could strengthen his impoverished, but oh so noble clan with her generous dowry.

Being a woman in Medieval Scotland, Mairin basically has the choice between marrying her abusive kidnapper, or the overbearing lummox whose castle she ended up in because she happened to save a wretched child from being beaten for horse thievery. Having spied on Ewan (widowed single dad Laird) and his brothers swimming naked in a nearby Loch, and being kissed a couple of times (Ewan thinks that kissing her is a good way to shut her up when she's trying to have her say, he's charming like that), she clearly decides that better the devil you know, and all that.

There's a bunch of complications where Mairin keeps being nearly killed in attempt on Ewan's life, and then another complicated plot by Evil Kidnapper Laird to claim he married her first, so he can claim her dowry for his own. Mairin keeps being wilful and trying to do her own thing, and gets yelled at a lot by Ewan. They have a lot of sexy times in between the shouting at each other and Mairin's near death encounters.

Everyone in the book has pretty much one character trait. Mairin is spirited. Ewan is brawny and protective (these go together). His two interchangeable brothers who are heroes in the rest of the McCabe-trilogy are very loyal. I don't even remember their names, and I finished the book about half an hour ago. Evil Kidnapper Laird is evil. Plot moppet is an 8-or 9-year-old boy, who despite his age keeps sneaking in to sleep in Mairin's bed, both before and after her marriage to his father. I found this creepy and inappropriate, but I'm pretty sure the author was aiming for adorable and charming.

I read this book because it's the alt read in January's Vaginal Fantasy Hangout, and I re-read the main pick, Outlander, just last year. It became clear quite quickly that the book was dreadful, but I decided to see if it got interesting or the characters actually developed as the book progressed. No suck luck. I'm pretty sure this will be a top pick for my 2013 Worst of the Year List, so there is that.

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