First let me say I love Hannah Howell; hers are among the books I reread regularly, just to visit with the wonderful characters she's created. I know the criticisms...much of her work is the same plot reworked again and again, but that's true of most romance authors with any longevity. The fact is, it's her people that make it work.
Unfortunately, it's her people that are lacking here. I understand this is a reworking of an earlier book, maybe that accounts for its lack of punch. I certainly liked the character of Ian McLagan in "His Bonnie Bride" (he was the brother of the hero). But in this, his own story, the spark is just missing. I enjoyed catching up with Tavis, Storm and the rest of their families, but this is a trend I've seen in too many recent books (Mine til Midnight comes immediately to mind), where the intrusion of much loved characters from earlier books seems to be intended to divert the reader from the lack of substance in the current book.
I know not every book can be a home run; still, even the weaker books from her earlier series (including surprisingly enough the wonderful character of Payton Murray, whom HH took great pains through several books to make a fascinating character, fell flat in his own book) were rewarding in their own ways.
This one isn't awful, it's just sort of there, like Everest. And for the first time, one of HH's books will go into the "don't read again" pile. I'm hoping that "Highland Wolf", James' story will make up for the lack here. Again, HH created a wonderfully realized, fully dimensional character in James, Gillyanne's adopted brother, who was such a presence in "Highland Bride", one of my favorites.
Truthfully, anyone but Hannah Howell would have gotten less than 3 stars for this one, I'm afraid.