Barbara’s rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Series: The McTiernays #9
Publication Date: 1/25/22
Period: Medieval – 1322 – Highlands of Scotland
Number of Pages: 352
I’ve waited a day since completing this book because it left me thoroughly confused about how I felt about it. I’m still confused. I think this story tried to be three or four books smushed into one. There were too many characters with too much going on – and well – it just seems disjointed to me. I thought I was going to get an exciting Highlander and his lass coming to find their HEA while investigating and saving the life of her sister’s husband. I envisioned exciting, tense, gripping battles and chases with lovely romantic interludes intertwined. What I got was a very exciting beginning that rapidly slowed down to a crawl. If you add all of the page time together, you’ll probably find that the characters from the previous books take up much more time than our current pair. Then, there were so many pages of descriptions of who was who that I began to get them all mixed up and I’ve read the previous books. All of that said, I actually liked Brodie and Shinae, and would have loved to have more of their story in detail rather than just glossed over quickly. I had liked Shinae’s sister in her book, but not this one. They hadn’t seen each other in five years and she made no effort to hurry to get to the castle to see Shinae – and when she did arrive, it was just “Hi, how are you?”.
The first page in the Prologue starts out so very exciting! If that had continued throughout the book, I would have given it 10-stars. The English are going from abbey to abbey in Scotland and burning them to the ground. When they arrive at the abbey where Shinae is a knife-carrying, dissatisfied nun, Shinae decides to do whatever she can to buy her fellow nuns the time they need to escape. She singlehandedly takes on and defeats five English warriors before escaping herself. Just as she is defeating the last of the warriors, a man appears in the doorway and she’s not sure she can take on another soldier. Luckily, he is there to help. When he learns she’s related by marriage to the McTiernays, he asks her to take on a mission for King Robert. Since that mission involves saving her sister’s husband, she doesn’t hesitate to accept.
Chapter One begins with Shinae and an uninvited companion, Isilme, having trekked (on foot) toward Lochlen Castle where ALL of the McTiernay’s will be gathering for celebrations. Though it is summer, the rain and wind are freezing them. They are almost to the castle when they just can’t trudge further. If they don’t find shelter, they’ll be dead from the chill by morning. Luckily for Shinae, she’s found and rescued and manages to ask her rescuer to look for her companion. So, Brodie rescues Shinae and his friend, Dunlop, went to rescue Isilme. Thus, our two romances are set up.
Then, all of the myriad legs of the story branch out and ultimately leave you scratching your head in confusion. Well, not totally, I could certainly follow it, but goodness I shouldn’t have had to work to do so. So much of it was totally superfluous and disjointed.
So, I liked Brodie and Shinae and their story. I liked Dunlop and Isilme and their story. The McTiernay’s portion of the mystery was okay, but – the entire solution was about 2 pages and the rest was chaff. Then, there was the Mahon thing – I guess it was there for a red herring, but it just added another layer of superfluous nonsense as far as I was concerned. IF we had broken this down into more than one book OR put more of the feature on the romances and much less on all of the McTiernay stuff, it would have been a much more enjoyable read. Yes, I understand this is part of the McTiernay series, but – they could have made cameo appearances and taken on a supporting role rather than the starring role.
I wouldn’t read this book a second time, but I am pleased to have met Brodie, Shinae, Dunlop, and Isilme. I loved that Brodie wasn’t a Laird and wasn’t becoming one. I liked that he was floundering with finding his place within the clan and I loved that Shinae was proud of him and supportive of him no matter what he chose to do. It was nice to see the ‘common’ folk get their HEA.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.