Captured by the Highlander
by Julianne MacLean
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Okay, here we go again with another less than stellar review. Initially I rated this as a 3 star but after writing my review I realized I had to go back and change it to 2. Yeah, I know…I’m the review star Grinch.
Frankly, I just don’t get the rave reviews for this book. I dug this one out of my “to read archives”, it’s been buried in my Kindle for quite some time. I don’t even remember when I downloaded it but decided to go through some of the books that I knew were older in my library and give them a read.
(Deep disappointed sigh) This was mmmmm…okay. It was just…meh. Do you have any idea how much I hate writing those words?
Perhaps I’ve been spoiled; I have the opportunity to read some really great stories on a pretty regular basis. So when I read something that is just “meh” I feel really let down.
This story should be good; it has most of the elements that tend to make a good romance. We have the hot alpha male Duncan, who does at least come across as pretty yummy I will admit. There’s a beautiful historical backdrop with the Highlands of Scotland, and the “damsel”. Yeah….the damsel, that’s where this one goes awry; Amelia had me wanting to scream “grow the hell up” and give her a virtual bitch-slap and well….I’m not supposed to feel that way about her am I? I’m supposed to want to root for her not throttle her.
Okay, I know Amelia is a spoiled aristocrat, I get that. But even spoiled aristocrats have some sense of what is going on around them when they are living in a country knee deep in a battle over the throne Instead this woman is spineless with moments of clarity right from the beginning when a handsome and hunky highlander is looming over her with a battle axe ready to strike her head off.
Honestly, if we were friends I’d be sitting her bedecked butt on a tuffet and saying “girlfriend, snap out of it!”
You see this is the beginning of the conflict that this author uses as the premise of this story to justify Amelia not being with Duncan. Amelia won’t eventually marry Duncan because she doesn’t like mere fact that Duncan doesn’t feel anything for the lives he’s taken. Uh, really? He’s constantly battling for his life and she wants him to weep over the lives he’s taken battling for his country, its’ throne, and of course…defending his own life. Seriously?! That’s the conflict, that’s not a conflict. The conflict I would have had is “dude, you were going to chop my head off!!!”
But instead of beheading her apparently he falls under some spell of moonlight that has him besotted with her (bedhead and all.) The man lets her live and subsequently saves Amelia’s life multiple times and this is the moral high-ground she stands on, this is what she chooses to stand firm on that keep them apart. This had me saying “Dude, drop her! Push her beskirted my morals are better than your morals ass off your black charger and don’t look back! Go find yourself a highland lass who will hand you your broadsword and have your back!”
Perhaps you can tell, I like Duncan well enough but Lady Amelia Templeton really got on my nerves. I found her to be very flaky, judgmental, overly naive and then suddenly all too accepting of his ways once he is locked up in Ft. William and she realizes it was her selfish actions that landed him there.
This story felt to me as though the author was simply using a plug-in formula in the telling of it, something along the line of: Alpha Male + high born woman = love story. The problem is there’s really nothing that made sense to me as to why these two fell for each other and I hate it when stories do that. Then it dawned on me, it’s not a plug-in formula, it’s more like a page from another authors’ book….literally, and that book is Outlander; a book that came out long before this one did.
So here we have the following shall we say coincidental elements: Brave outlaw highlanders who are also titled gentlemen (Duncan aka The Butcher & Earl of Moncrieffe may as well be Jamie from Outlander who is both Lord Broch Tuarach of Lallybroch and the outlaw Red Jamie.) Amelia, of course is a woman who is kidnapped and out of her element, whereas Claire was literally removed from her own time in Outlander. Oh and I cannot leave out that Amelia’s fiancée is a dead ringer for Claire’s husband/nemesis, Black Jack Randall/Frank Randall in Outlander. This is even set in the same time period using some of the same locations such as Ft. William and a prison scene reminiscent of Outlander as well….but I can honestly let that one go since there is only so much one can really do in that area within that time frame.
Now, I understand that in a many romances there are going to be some similar components but come on! There’s being inspired by a story and then there’s damned near re-writing it. I won’t call this plagiarism, it’s not…but I do believe she was heavily inspired to write this by the Outlander series.
The thing Outlander has that this doesn’t though is a believable heroine and real, believable conflict. If you have read Outlander then you know Claire has real grit; she has experience to lend to her wisdom and bravery, she is not a naïve girl. Amelia is one of the most spineless heroines I’ve read. She has no real experience about anything which ends up making her appear spoiled, whiny, and wishy-washy; impossible to root for. Yes, she tries to understand her situation, she asks questions….but she accepts the answers all too easily.
The last part of this review has to do with the audiobook version. Antony Ferguson is the narrator; for the most part I didn’t have much issue with his performance, except when it came to Amelia and poor Amelia has enough going against her. As I have mentioned Amelia is a high born English lady but many times she comes off sounding….American?! That baffled me as I believe Antony Ferguson is actually British and it definitely added to my dislike of Amelia.
So to surmise, I wasn’t thrilled with this book at all…probably won’t check out the others in this series either. If you have read this one and disagree with me please feel free to tell me. I always enjoy a good discussion but I cannot with a good conscience recommend it.