Thursday, September 01, 2011

IN BED WITH A HIGHLANDER by Maya Banks

IN BED WITH A HIGHLANDER – Maya Banks
Highlander Series, Book 1
Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0-345-51947-4
September 2011
Historical Romance

Scotland – Many Centuries Ago

Mairin Stuart has been hiding out among the nuns in the abbey for over ten years, until one night men from Cameron Duncan’s clan come and threaten Mother Serenity. They kidnap Mairin and intend to take her to Cameron, and she knows what he will want to do. He will marry her, take her dowry and land, get her with child and then do away with her after her child’s birth. Mairin is the niece of the Scottish King David, and her dowry and the land of Neamh Alainn is a prize wanted by every strong man in Scotland, and now that Cameron has found her, who knows what will happen? What does happen is a small boy is caught by the soldiers as they are camping out, and Mairin immediately protects him. He is Crispen McCabe, and he was looking to meet his Uncle Alaric when he got lost. After hiding out in a farmer’s cart, he tried to steal a horse and find his way home—a big job for a seven year-old boy. When Mairin refuses to marry Laird Cameron in front of the priest and his whole clan, he beats her almost to death, and it’s the small child who takes care of her, and a sympathetic woman who helps them escape in the dark of night. The Laird had threatened to kill the boy to get her to agree to marry him, and Mairin has no doubt he would do that. On horseback, barely holding on to the boy, they are finally found by Crispen’s father’s brothers, Alaric and Caelen, and despite Mairin being dressed in Laird Cameron’s colors, Crispen insists that she saved his life and she must return to McCabe land with them.

Ewan McCabe is beside himself thinking his son Crispen had been kidnapped for ransom, or even worse. After a major battle eight years ago, the Clan McCabe has had to start from almost nothing to rebuild their land. Their children need food and clothing; the soldiers need weapons, not to mention the condition of the main house, or keep, is in general disrepair. When Ewan’s brothers, Alaric and Caelen, bring Crispen back along with a woman wearing the cloth of Clan Cameron, he doesn’t know whether to praise Mairin for saving his son or worry about her being a spy. When he finds out what happened to Mairin and why she was kidnapped, he believes the only way to stop Cameron from coming back for her is to marry her himself and consummate the marriage. Mairin knows she needs a strong warrior for a husband, so the quick marriage and marital relations occur as Cameron is riding to the keep with his warriors. As Ewan grows to know his wife and the way she can pick a fight about anything and refuses to listen to his orders, he gradually comes to enjoy her and the way his son loves her. The rest of the clan loves her, and even his brothers come to respect all that she does for the clan. When Ewan tries to claim her dowry from the king, he finds Cameron has already tried to claim it, and the mud is about to hit the fan because it is up to the king to decide who is Mairin's husband.

Maya Banks is a shining star in hot, contemporary, and even erotic writing. Now she has turned her hand to the Scottish historical novel, kicks it and makes it her own. Mairin and Ewan are crafted to perfection and immediately draw us into their lives, even though they live in a century hundreds of years before ours. Mairin is strong-willed, courageous, and knows her hand in marriage and any child she might have is a gift many men wish to take advantage of. In fact, after the birth of any child most men would kill her and keep her dowry. Ewan is the Laird of Clan McCabe, and he has worked many years to grow his clan and protect them from their main enemy, Duncan Cameron. While marriage to Mairin is more a matter of survival for his clan, her spontaneous personality and love for others, including his son, has him in awe of how she so easily can twist him around her finger.

Secondary characters in this story are exceptionally diverse and interesting. Ewan’s brothers stand fast by their brother and are integral parts of the story. Crispen is Ewan’s son, and it’s because of him that Mairin is taken to McCabe’s land. Two trusted warriors of Clan McCabe are Cormac and Gannon, ready to fight and die for their clan. Duncan Cameron is the one who found Mairin in hiding, and if not for his beating of her she might have ended up married to him.

IN BED WITH A HIGHLANDER welcomes Maya Banks to Ballantine Books, (hooray to them) and she has penned a dynamite historical novel. Brother Alaric’s story in the Highlander series (SEDUCTION OF A HIGHLAND LASS) will follow in October 2011, and Caelen’s story (NEVER LOVE A HIGHLANDER) in November 2011. Even if you don’t particularly like historical romance, you’ll love IN BED WITH A HIGHLANDER. If you enjoy historicals, this one will have tears coming to your eyes, and yes, unfortunately, you’ll be staying up too late reading. At several points your heart will beat frantically trying to race out of your chest with all the excitement of Ewan claiming his bride’s love. I guarantee a great read with this story!

Carolyn Crisher

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