Highlander in Her Bed
by Allie Mackay
(Signet Eclipse, $6.99, R) ISBN 0-451-218981-3
***
Inheriting a Scottish castle is beyond American Mara McDougall's wildest dreams. Even more so when she realizes that there's a catch - as there always is. Mara must redeem the previous owner's reputation with the clan MacDougall and erect a memorial. The only stumbling block to this is the MacDougall hating ghost who happens to tag along with her new bed.

Alexander Douglas has been guarding the bed since his slaughter in 1312. That is, his slaughter by the MacDougalls. Tricked into marrying Isobel, Alex is betrayed by her true love, Colin MacDougall and framed for the theft of a magical stone. Now all that he has left is a blackened name and the bed he hand-carved in hopes of a new life. And there's no way a MacDougall (or McDougall) is going to claim it.

Highlander in Her Bed starts not with a bang, but with a prologue. Now, I have nothing against a good prologue. But this was unnecessary and bored me to tears. We start on the battlefield in 1312 - well, we know from the back blurb that the story takes place now, and Alex is a ghost, so the whole scene is kind of pointless. I'd much rather that Mara actually would have listened when Alex recaps this for her later in the story. But no, we start out with a battle scene about a character we could care less about. Alex's death isn't poignant, it's just filler to skip until the story starts.

And what a story it is. Somewhere in here is the story of a young American trying to redeem the memory of an old acquaintance, while restoring the glory of a Scottish clan in a foreign land. Somewhere in here there's the tale of woman coming to terms with the fact that ghosts not only exist, but also can be smoking hot. I just couldn't find them. The "subplots" are skimmed over with nary a mention to make way for the sexual tension (and activities) of Mara and Alex.

Where Mackay gets it right is the secondary characters. Alex's friend Hardwick (pun intended) and Mara's castle help all seemed more intriguing to me than the main characters. Hardwick's story fascinates me and honestly, leaves me wishing that his were the story Allie Mackay was telling.

Mackay has a wicked sense humor, evinced in both Hardwick and her dialogue. The scenes we get where Mara and Alex are interacting are great. They're just too few. Alex spends most of his time watching Mara, but not revealing himself to her. So it makes sense that he could love her. He sees her in moments of self-doubt, of stupidity and of courage. His character goes from thinking mean spirited (but hilarious) things about her to actually loving her and wanting more than just her bed. But, Mara only sees him for the most part at bedtime - he's her Hottie Scottie.

I could buy that these two characters would have hot sex, but I can't buy the fact they're pledging to love each other eternally. Especially not after Alex becomes a clichéd male during a trip to a ghostly pleasure island. It's near the end of the book, so I won't give you too many details, but I will point out that any affection I had for his character died right there. As did, for obvious reasons, the story. It was a sad end for what could've been a great book.

--Amanda Waters


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