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Beyond the Highland Mist / To Tame a Highland Warrior (2003)

by Karen Marie Moning

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Beyond the Highland Mist / To Tame a Highland Warrior (Highlander #1 & 2) by Karen Marie Moning

Hardcover, 645 pages
Published 2003 by Rhapsody
ISBN: 0739437844 (ISBN13: 9780739437841)
RECEIVED FROM: Amazon Purchase

***NOTE MY REVIEWS OFTEN CONTAIN SPOILERS***

This Omnibus style novel includes the first two novels in Moning’s Highlander Series which is one of my favorite all time series, though I do prefer the later novels featuring the MacKeltars to the earlier novels in the series. Normally I like to break books like this apart into separate reviews but when I look at the size of my tbr pile I think it would be best to review this all as one novel. I’ll provide three ratings, one for each individual title and one for the overall. So it will be a little different than the average, and probably on the long side, however the series is definitely worth reading so I hope you’ll take the time to read through the review.

Beyond the Highland Mist

When the Fairy Queen boast of a mortal man whose sexual exploits can steal and woman’s soul, then claims to have experienced it herself the Fairy King and his Fool want revenge. The king sends his fool out to find the one woman immune to the handsome face of Sidheach James Lyon Douglas, laird of the Douglas. She must be beautiful, intelligent and too jaded to fall for a pretty face. When he encounters Adrienne De Simone whose tragic past has caused her to swear off men specifically beautiful men the fool believes he’s found the perfect woman. Adrienne’s already been badly used by one beautiful man she isn’t about to let another one play her for a fool, so when she finds herself whisked into an ancient hall in Scotland, 500 years before she was born she’s not sure what to do. When the vicious man whose lap she landed on demand she pretend to be his dead daughter and marry a stranger the following day, it seems she doesn’t have a choice. But when that man turns out to be more beautiful than the one left behind she swears she won’t let him get close to her. Hawk was devastated when the vengeful King James ordered he marry Mad Janet Comyn, a lass not only mad but rumored to be quite hideous. All he wanted was to choose his own wife, bring her home to love her and fill his keep with their children and now he won’t have even that. But when Grimm arrives home with his wife, a woman more beautiful than any he’s seen before he thinks the Gods might have smiled on him, that is until she rejects him as no other woman ever has. Will he convince his new wife to love him and even if he can will he be able to keep her in the past with him for all their days?

This isn’t the first time I’ve read this novel, I’ve never read the second book in this series before, but I have read the first. However the plot is interesting enough to read it more than once. The male leading characters has been nicknamed the King’s Whore so sex is used a bit more often than I usually prefer in a romance, and at least one of those scenes I don’t think was really necessary, however the love story and plot isn’t fueled by sex scenes and there’s not tons of them, just more than I usually prefer in a romance. In this kick off to the series we receive our first introduction to the fairy court as Moning pictures them. As many of these characters will not only reappear in later Highlander novels but will be important to Moning’s sensational Fever series this introduction is in my opinion important. Other than the love story the main plot to this is in order to make her husband and lover jealous the fairy Queen makes up this story that she’s slept with a mortal man who has a renowned reputation as a lover. Since the Fairy King won’t stand to be made a cuckold by a human he sends Adam aka sin siriche du to destroy the mortal Hawk, however they can’t just kill him because that would violate the pact between human and fairy. So Adam bring Adrienne back into the past, makes her Hawk’s wife in order for him to face her continuous rejection at the same time he appears in human form and pursues the woman himself intending to get Adrienne to not only reject Hawk but to choose him over Hawk. We’ve got a couple of other subplots that tie into who the characters were as well. One of Hawk’s ex lovers who’s jaded that she wasn’t chosen to be his wife despite the fact that he’s been ordered by the king who to marry keep trying to kill Adrienne in order to get Hawk to return to her. Additionally King James has ordered this marriage among other unreasonable things during the past fifteen years where he served the king. People from Hawk’s past, painful reminders of who he was keep appearing to further thwart the lovers from becoming involved. Not to mention the fact that the idea she’s from the future makes Hawk think she might be delusional, so she’s got to convince him of the truth. Then we add in the back story that Adrienne was once used by a rich sex drug lord to cart his shipments without her knowledge. The relationship basically tore her apart and almost cost her her life. So after that she sees every beautiful man as a curse, the same as Eberhard. With all that baggage she’s certainly not going to jump right into a relationship with a man who’s not only more attractive than the last one, but also has a bigger reputation as a playboy. Then of course since this is a romance we tie in the love story between Adrienne and Hawk to all these subplot and it makes for quite a fast paced page turning story. The book is a well written close third person and has so many interconnecting subplot revolving around the characters you can’t help but be hooked from page one.

The characters are well developed, as mentioned about they both have some serious hurts in their past that color their judgments about the present. Obviously for both of them it’s a major character flaw, additionally they’re both stubborn and hardheaded refusing to see what’s right in front of them, tie in some additional communication issues and it makes for some serious spark between these characters. The characters both have some serious strength as well Adrienne is bright and though guarded has a heart of gold. Hawk is devoted to his people and the kind of many everyone would sigh over. Both characters are interesting and memorable. Moning also creates some exceptional secondary characters in this novel. Other than the few that only exist for the spans of a couple pages, pure background characters, I can’t think of a single secondary character that wasn’t so well developed you felt as though you knew them. Adam who later in the series gets his own novel is almost as well developed as the main characters in the novel. The remaining secondary characters are close to that as well.

Overall this isn’t a story to be missed. I’d recommend it to fans of historical, fantasy and time travel romance.

To Tame A Highland Warrior


Fifteen years ago Gavrael McIllioch left his home a monster and a broken child. He lived in the wilderness more beast than boy until a little blond girl coaxed him out of the woods, took him to her father and asked “Is he an animal Da? May I keep him? Please? He’s an ever-so glorious beastie! He’d be fiercer than my Savanna TeaGarden Da! He’d protect me well, Da, I know he would!” And from that day Gavrael McIllioch, who changed his name to Grimm Roderick and hid his tragic past, vowed to protect the young Jillian, even from himself. When he began to develop more than brotherly feelings for her he pushed her away and when his past troubles followed him to her home, unleashing he beast inside him yet again, he walked away. But Grimm never forgot young Jillian, nor did he stop watching out for her from afar. When he receives a summons from her father at Dalkeith-Upon-the-Sea which stated nothing more than Come for Jillian he can do naught but obey. But Jillian St. Clair isn’t a little girl anymore and her Da has summoned him and two others in order to find a husband capable of handling her. The twenty one year old beauty has convinced all her suitors she’s too beautiful, too perfect to pursue and the three warriors summoned are her father’s last hope of a marriage for Jillian.

Jillian St. Clair has never loved anyone but Grimm Roderick even when he treated her with disdain, picked on her and called her names. She hasn’t forgotten the kiss he gave her before he walked away and she’s never forgiven him for leaving in the first place. Now she can’t decide whether she loves him or hates him, but whatever the cost she isn’t ready to let him walk away from her again. But when Grimm’s past comes back to haunt him at the risk of not only his, but Jillian’s life can she convince him that their love is enough to fight for? If she learns Grimm’s secrets will she still want him?

My main issue with this book is not the book itself, but the fact that it’s part of the series. I’ve always viewed the Highlander series as part of the build to the Fever series which though unexpected coming from Moning was phenomenal, the kind of series readers will talk about many many years after they’ve been published. The Fever series was shocking and intense and unlike anything I’ve seen before. But though not the same it tied in with the Highlanders series, characters crossed over, and reading many of the highlander books you can see where the stones were being set for the Fever series. While Beyond the Highland Mists didn’t contain the MacKelters who exist in both series, it did introduce the Fairy Queen and the idea of the compact. It also gave a clear picture of how the fae saw the world and humanity as toys to be played with. That book begins the world building, so even though the characters who fall in love during that story aren’t really seen again outside of these two novels (or maybe three I haven’t read books 3 or 8 in this series and I’m rereading the rest both for enjoyment of the story and because I like the idea of reviewing every book I own.) it does serve a purpose in setting building blocks for the world and the rest of the series. This book however while it features some of the human characters from the previous novel doesn’t feature the fae at all and instead moves into the Norse legend of the Berserkers. Don’t get me wrong the Berserkers are a fascinating creature and Norse myth equally as intriguing as Celtic Myth however other than Grimm having been a secondary character in the previous novel and moving to a main character in this one it does not fit with the rest of the series. I truly enjoyed this book and had it been listed as a spin off series or a standalone title I might have considered giving it a five stars but as it doesn’t fit into the overall build of the series I can’t give it a five stars because it’s listed as part of a series. It’s a fast paced, well written close third person historical/paranormal romance. One thing I didn’t like though it seems we’re living the scene where Grimm first calls the Berserkgang and hearing Odin in that scene it’s later explained that it was basically all in his head and it’s hereditary. Why would his father bother to tell him myth of calling Odin if that scene was all a product of Grimm’s imagination? Additionally though a lot of the love story is the main characters having history and shown in flashbacks sex is used pretty heavily in this book. Don’t get me wrong I like a good sex scene; I just get bored when I read a lot of them especially when they’re close together. The characters don’t just jump into bed together by any means and probably at least the first half of the book there isn’t any sex, but once they start having it there are quite a few sex scene in a short amount of time. It almost felt like there was some sort of romance sex scene quota Moning was trying to fill so you’d only get a few pages in between each scene. It was probably more than that, but that’s what it felt like to me as a reader. Had they been spaced out a little more I might not have noticed, but it seemed like one had just finished before the next began. After having read over half a book filled with just tension between the leading characters to then get that I don’t know, it just kind of put me off. In addition to the love story there’s a secondary plot that Grimm is a Berserker who after thinking he’s witness his father murder his mother, then having his clan attacked and almost decimated leaves his clan, his people, changes his name and never looks back. He became a Berserker to save his clan and in his mind all they showed for him was disdain for his troubles. He hasn’t come to terms with who he is and has spent his adult life hunted by a clan hell-bent on killing all berserkers. Because of both what he is and the people hunting him he’s outright mean to Jillian to try to keep her away while the other two called to court her are determined to win her hand. But isn’t that always the way it goes that you don’t want the ones who chase you, you want the one that doesn’t. So she brings a male lead with some serious baggage to the table in this novel and who definitely fills the angst quota for the book. If the male lead and his history weren’t enough to keep your turning the pages, the assassination attempts, the love story and everything else going on would be. As a standalone title this book is excellent, their main issue in my opinion is being brought into the series.

I mention Grimm’s very angst like personality earlier, he spend much of the book waging and internal war with himself. He doesn’t dare have Jillian because he believes his father murdered his mother and then claimed it was in his blood to do so. Even without being a Berserker that kind of hereditary madness would threaten her safety. Add to that he feels he’s a monster and believe if she were to ever learn the truth about him she would too. In his mind her rejection would be the one thing that would destroy him. At the same time as much as he rejects her he can’t walk away either because if he admits the truth to himself there’s nothing he wants more than to have Jillian. He has a reputation of discipline, honor and control, but since he loses time while in the Berserkgang he feels he’s dangerous and uncontrolled. The truth is that Grimm hasn’t come to terms with himself and if this were the real world he wouldn’t really be able to come to terms with anyone else until he accepted himself. But since it’s not the real world and it’s romantic fiction he takes Jillian even though he shouldn’t and allows her to give him that acceptance that he really should have found alone. Jillian could have pretty much any guy she wanted, she’s hailed as the most beautiful lass in Scotland. The thing is she’s never wanted anyone other than Grimm who constantly rejects her. In some ways she’s outright blind to what’s right in front of her eyes, but she’s got a heart of gold and an incredible curiosity. Both characters are realistic for the most part, having positive and negative attributes. I mean they have some characteristic that are less than normal, but if you accepts that Berserkers existed these are definitely some fleshy characters. Many of the secondary characters are extremely well developed as well, though not to the same degree that they were in the first novel. The characters aren’t one dimensional by any means but you just don’t feel like you know them as well as the secondary characters in Moning’s first novel.

Overall I’d definitely say the story is worth reading as is the overall book. Both are filled with memorable characters, interesting plots and romantic love stories. I’d recommend this to readers of historical and paranormal romance. ( )
  jdonnelly14 | Apr 10, 2012 |
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THE FRAGRANCE OF JASMINE AND SANDALWOOD DRIFTED through the rowan trees. Above dew-drenched branches, a lone gull ghosted a bank of mist and soared to kiss the dawn over the white sands of Morar. The turquoise tide shimmered in shades of mermaid tails against the alabaster.
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