My One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch

May 10, 2017
I'm just a Prisoner of Love

Ahh, the kidnapping scenario. It's been around in Romanceland for a long time; dare I say probably from the beginning and not just in historical romances either. Maybe when I began reading romance this theme didn't bother me. Maybe rough pirates were exciting or dirty cowboys with kerchiefs around their face were mysterious. I remember a few of these guys from Johanna Lindsey and Kathleen Woodiwiss, but I have long since grown past the age when I find a woman chained to a bed romantic. And, I would like to think that an experienced author such as Ms. Enoch would have moved away from the kidnapping-I-love-my-captor routine by now. While I am not always a big fan of trying to write historical novels with a modern “I-know-how-you-feel-man,  I-see-where-you-are-coming-from, your-pain-is-my-pain” voice, there comes a time when I have to say kidnapping and chaining a woman to a bed is just not romantic. While our hero, Graeme, doesn't do the actual kidnapping, he does chain her to the bed. If the story had taken a different path after the kidnapping I would have been so much happier with My One True Highlander.

Anyway, here's the plot. Lady Marjorie Forrester is going to surprise her brother, the newly minted Duke of Lattimer, by showing up at his wedding. By the way, he was the hero from the previous book, Hero in the Highlands. If you have read Hero of the Highlands you will know that there is a clan war going on, although it was sort of settled at the end - but not really. I know that doesn't make sense, but this is Romanceland for Pete's sake and we have a meandering villain, the Duke of Dunneraigh, who wasn't disposed of properly in the last book. Marjorie and her brother haven't been together for much of their life; their lives have been a struggle and they were both forced to earn livings. Marjorie was a companion until her brother inherited his title and the wealth which came with it. Well, it seems that there are some things which money can't buy and in Marjorie's case it can't buy acceptance into the ton. Something she wants desperately, but has been denied. So, feeling blue, she's off to Scotland. Little does she know that's she's riding right into a clan war.

Meanwhile in Scotland our hero, Graeme, has been visited by the slimy Dunneraigh from Hero in the Highlands. Graeme owes his allegiance to this villain. While Graeme doesn’t have any great fondness for Englishmen, he isn’t about to disturb the Duke of Lattimer but he also realizes that he is irritating the villain. He’s hoping to stay neutral in the clan war. His plans for neutrality are tested when his younger brothers form a plan. By the way the three young brothers are the best part of the book. They are the belligerent Brendan (a very moody teenager), Dughlas (a smart teenager), and Connell (a nine year old scene-stealer). The boys think it would be a good idea to kidnap Marjorie and use her as leverage against the Duke of Lattimir. Graeme is now put in a very tricky situation, there could be all kinds of dire consequences. The story started to fall apart for me when Graeme comes up with a solution.

You come to a fork in the road. Do you pick it, no, no, that's something different. There are numerous paths which Ms. Enoch might have taken to continue her story. She chose to go down the heaving-bosom-days plot device and have Graeme shackle Marjorie to the bed. I'm only assuming this was so there was a reason for Graeme and Marjorie to be thrown together. But he could have returned her to the brother and still have had chances to interact with her. Instead we get to witness a constant battle of wills between Marjorie and Graeme. You know the routine, I-can't-trust-you-because-you're-a-Sassenach on his side. He sees a way out of his dilemma by asking her to marry him. Pshaw - she cannot marry him because she dreams of life among the ton. You know those people who have been snubbing her for months and months. Of course he may not be good enough to marry, but he's good enough to partake of her mommy-parts. Now, I can understand her not wanting to marry him - he did chain her to a bed and he's a perfect stranger. But her still wanting to be part of a society which shuns her was beyond belief. I am also growing weary of historical heroines who find a man hot enough to bed but not marry. That shtick is getting old. 

Graeme and Marjorie do nothing logical to solve the mess they are in. That, my little Petunia's, may be the bottom line to this book - logic. While I am in no way a Vulcan, there are moments in which I crave an author who isn't afraid to tip their toes into the "does this make sense" pool. Why does romance have to defy logic to be a romance? Have we reached a point when authors are running out of reasons for couples to be together? I don't think so. I think this book would have been better if the couple had worked together, if he had returned her to her brother, if they had at least known each other before she permitted him access to her golden tunnel. I could find no chemistry between the main protagonists. The only character in this book who was developed and interesting was the nine year old Connell. He was just toooo adorable for words. But this was not about Connell and all of his animals, this was about Marjorie and Graeme. For me, as a romance this story didn't work.

Time/Place: 1800s Scotland
Sensuality: Supposed to be hot


satwinder p said...

Do you mind if the hero is chained to the bed? I agree with your review.

SidneyKay said...

Satwinder - never thought about the hero being chained. Trying to think of a book with that in it. If he were chained for the same reason the woman in this book was, then I would not care for that either. I've read sooo many romance books, I know there have been heroes who are chained because they are prisoners, then they escape, then they are filled with angst. I find as I get older I have less of a tolerance for plotlines which at one time were the norm - kidnapping, chaining to a bed, wall, whatever, tstl heroines.