Adam's Promise

Captured by the Highlander

In My Wildest Fantasies

Love According to Lily

Portrait of a Lover

Prairie Bride

Surrender to a Scoundrel

To Marry the Duke

When a Stranger Loves Me

 
Claimed by the
Highlander by Julianne MacLean
(St. Martinís, $7.99, G) ISBN 978-0-312-36532-5
*****
I met Angus MacDonald in MacLeanís Captured By The Highlander, the first in her Highlanderís series, and I was scared of him.

Angus ďThe LionĒ MacDonald was introduced as a terrifying figure, a heartless, vengeful warrior who cares for little except regaining his familyís home. His family lost Kinloch Castle of Scotland when his father died, and the castle was awarded to the MacEwen clan. While the current head of the MacEwens, Murdoch, is away seeking education, Angus swoops in and easily defeats the MacEwens, although Gwendolen, Murdochís sister, puts up a valiant fight.

Strategically, Angus decides to take Gwendolen as his wife to unite the clans without dispute. Gwendolen isnít planning on standing by while the Lion takes over her familyís home, so while she outwardly bargains with Angus, she has a back up plan. She writes to the men stationed at Fort William to seek the assistance of the English against her clanís hostile takeover but nothing truly comes of her actions, except that she has angered her husband.

Gwendolen decides to try a different tack, and decides to submit to her husband and try to commit to his way of doing things, as it seems that he might be willing to work with her needs. She has asked that they might tentatively try to live in peace. Angus has agreed to some of her terms, but he has also asked Lachlan, his steward of war to seek out Murdoch MacEwen to offer him land to keep out of Kinloch Castleís business.

Angus and Gwendolen create a careful, fragile relationship. They are passionately attracted to each other, and find each otherís challenging personalities interesting. As the days pass, they become more and more interested in each other, getting sucked into their ethereally intimate newlywed days. Unfortunately, neither of them see that while they try to accustom themselves to their new life, there are many around close to them who havenít found happiness in the union of the clans.

While Gwendolen finds herself falling in love with her virile, commanding husband, she knows that she must try to win the heart he doesnít believe that he has. She must be gentle, and persistent to try to win his limited affections, and she mustnít rouse his self-protective instincts. However, in the midst of the clan dissension and her own familyís uncertain loyalties and whereabouts, in the case of Murdoch, Gwendolen questions her own feelings as well. Will she truly be able to support her husband as laird in all circumstances? And, when Angusí former lover, the Oracle Raonaid, comes to Kinloch to tell him that she has seen his new wifeís betrayal, who will he believe when Gwendolen isnít sure of her own loyalty?

Claimed By The Highlander is a wonderful action-packed love story that never dips or disappoints. While the background characters are numerous and the plot is complicated, MacLean manages to keep the story aloft with wonderful writing.

Background characters, here we go: we meet several members of the MacEwen and MacDonald clans, as well as various stewards and maids that serve within the walls of Kinloch Castle. Even though the reader is well aware that Angus and Gwendolen are the stars of the show, this has moments that seem like a play in the best way.

By virtue of the many well-fleshed out characters in the Castle, the plot is richly layered and everyone has a part to play. Even though the villains arenít completely well-disguised, there are many in varying degrees and it keeps the story interesting.

Angus is the perfect villain/hero. Heís scary enough to freeze a girl in her tracks and passionate enough to thaw her out the same day. He manages to retain his threatening edge while becoming endearingly vulnerable in a very small way. Angusí way of slowly revealing himself keeps true to his warrior ways, and reinforces his strong character.

I loved Claimed By The Highlander, and it is a wonderful addition to MacLeanís Highlander series, full of action and romance.

--Amy Wroblewsky


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