Top critical review
Entertaining Scottish Romance
on October 14, 2006
Fiona MacEnroy is fleeing an overtly earnest suitor through the hills and wilds of Scotland when she is set upon and captured by a group of men. Fully expecting a battle, she's rather surprised her many knives and swords are useless against their fearless and confounding leader, Ewan MacFingal. He whisks her away to his family stronghold, Scarglas, and she realizes she is in the hands of a family long held in contempt by neighboring clans. Despite rumors, Fiona feels a sense of peace within its walls and a growing sense of arousal for the enigmatic laird. Ewan himself finds much to admire in the bold and capable lass, yet he refuses to succumb to her charms. Fears of an unknown madness in his father keeps him at bay from anyone daring to get too close to him, especially Fiona, for he has long feared he is too much like his father. As old enemies, both of Fiona and Ewan, creep ever closer to the growing relationship between the two, will pride and fear keep them apart? Or will passion and love pave the path of their desires?
Author Howell uses pleasant details of Scottish countryside to draw the reader into her world. Scottish inflections are used throughout the story to lend that particular air of authenticity, though some words were used so heavily, and spelled as if a Scot were saying them, that it gets distracting at times. Secondary characters abound in the novel, and Ewan's father, Sir Fingal, plays an important role, one too important at times, for Ewan is extremely fixated on the problems that the man causes for the rest of their clan. Once the plot moved back to focusing on the hero and heroine, readers will once again be nicely entertained. Dialogue between all the characters is good, especially between Fiona and Ewan and Fiona and Mab, one of the clan's adoptive members. The secondary plot involving a n old, dangerous flame of Ewan's was somewhat weak, but still an interesting addition to help advance his and Fiona's relationship and shed light on Ewan's misgivings. Characters from previous books make an appearance and Ms. Howell actually sets the stage for the following book, "Highland Lover", very nicely without taking away from the main plot.
Considering the amount of characters that abound throughout, all were quite well developed. Readers will clearly feel Ewan's dilemma in remaining separate from Fiona due to his father's indiscretions. Fiona herself is an admirable heroine who more than proved her worthiness as one. She's never faint of heart and in fact jumps in, heart open wide and ready to claim her man. Despite its problems, it was an enjoyable read and I much anticipated reading about Ewan's awakening to the bold Fiona.
Official Reviewer for The Mystic Castle