Hero in the Highlands by Suzanne Enoch

October 18, 2016
Didnae, ken, och, oh my.


Yes it’s time to once again tramp through the rolling hills of Scotland where winter comes early and the wind is sharp. I will admit I am a sucker for Scottish highland or lowland romances (sometimes even crossing the border into Cornwall). But even with all the brogue and manly knees showing, sometimes the novel just doesn't grab me.

I always look forward to another Suzanne Enoch. I know what I'm getting; she's like a pair of old shoes - comfortable. Some of her books are gems and some not so much. This book is one of the latter. Hero in the Highlands was a "could-have-been-good" book.

The hero was great. Major Gabriel Forrester was/is a soldier and a darn good one. Being a soldier was all he ever knew and he liked it. Being in a battle was exciting. Strategy was one of his strong suits and he was one of Wellington's top guys. He didn't go into being one of the pampered elite soldier-aristocrats; in fact those guys really irritated him. Much to his chagrin, he has recently become the Duke of Lattimer. He has no time for idiots. On top of being the only one in the army who does anything right, he has now been ordered by Wellington himself to go to his estate in Scotland and find out what's going on. Gabriel packs up his stuff and along with his trusty aide-de-camp, Sergeant Adam Kelgrove, he's off to Scotland - but he's grumbling.

In Scotland Fiona Blackstock (another female steward) is trying to get a cow out of some mud. She and the cow are both stuck. Who should come galloping over the hill? Gabriel, our hero. As in all things, when Gabriel sees something that needs to be done he just charges right in. Well, Fiona doesn't think she needs any help getting out of the muck along with the cow. Right away there is a conflict of wills. Even as Gabriel is pulling her and the cow out of the goo, Fiona is berating him. And, it's that way through most of the rest of the book.

Fiona is one headstrong woman. She and the people on the estate do all they can to drive Gabriel from it. From taking him on rides in a wagon filled with manure to creating ghosts. It is just one set-up after another in the mistaken belief that Fiona can drive Gabriel away. He is having none of it. Every obstacle she throws in his path, he knocks aside. He even breaks through the "I-hate-Sassenach" routine the villagers sing. This book could have been a fun book, but there were a couple of things that diminished it for me.

Funny or not to be. This story had all of the ear-marks of a light-hearted romp and it could have been. There were some outrageous moments peppered throughout the story. And, just when I started to smile at some of the shenanigans something dismal would be thrown in. I wish the author would have either gone one way or the other - make this a completely outrageous book or make it totally angst-filled. There just wasn't a good balance of laugh vs. boo-hooing in this story.

No chemistry between loving-couple. Even though Gabriel walked around through most of the book with a giant tent-pole, I didn't feel any kind of spark between him and Fiona. Sure there was banter and funny dialogue, but I just didn't see this couple connecting. As the story progressed, I lost interest in what they were doing. Sure, there may been a lot of bouncing Toad moments but there wasn't a connection - no chemistry - nah, none, zilch.

There were also a number of things which were left hanging at the end. Where is her brother? What happened to the villains? What happened to his aide-de-camp? Maybe all of those things will be tied up in the next book, but I suspect they won't be. For me this story didn't work. I had to push myself to finish it. I was disappointed in the love story between Gabriel and Fiona. I didn't think it worked. This was not one of Ms. Enoch's best efforts.

Time/Place: 1800s Scotland
Sensuality: Lots of sex, no chemistry

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