Lord of the Highlands
by Veronica Wolff 
(Berkley, $7.99, PG-13)  ISBN 978-0-425-23113-5
**
Most of us have one annoying acquaintance who never has anything meaty to say about anything, but yammers away incessantly. Meet Felicity, the heroine of Lord of the Highlands. I spent most of this novel wishing she’d just shut up.  Alas, no such luck, and after thirty pages of her brainless drivel, I swear my brain started to melt.

Felicity lives in San Francisco and just can’t seem to find a good man.  The latest online dating service has pronounced her “unmatchable,” so one night she pulls out a Tarot deck and wishes for her very own Viking, and before she knows it, she’s been transported to 17th-century England.  Felicity lands at the feet of Will Rollo, a Scots nobleman of Viking descent who walks with a cane due to a childhood accident in which both legs were badly broken.  Felicity instantly just knows that this is her Viking warrior, her true love, and they will never be parted.

Rather than keeping her mouth shut and trying to figure out when and where she is, Felicity instantly starts blathering away like a self-impressed teenager, and the manner in which she expresses herself would make Paris Hilton sound like a nuclear physicist. “Do you have a castle?  In England?  Will we get to see stuff like Big Ben and the Tower of London?”  “Do you have a kilt, too?  You know, one of those hot – man – skirts.”  “Can you ride horses when you wear your kilt whatchamacllit?”   “I worked retail for years, and this guy would have been so fired.”  “Can you get me something in that blue?  That is just totally – does this come with bustiers or something?”  “Cool!  Scotland is soo gorgeous. I can’t wait till we’re in the hills.  But wait, what about moors?  There are moors here too, right?  I mean, what exactly is a moor, anyway?  Gosh, it all sounds so Wuthering Heights.”  “And you mentioned thistle.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen thistle.  Does it smell good?  And all these lakes, or what do you call them, lochs?  Okay, okay, I’ll shut up for real.  Promise.”

Oh, if only.

Will isn’t surprised that Felicity is from the future.  He’s had experience with other time-traveling heroines, courtesy of the author’s other books, and he accepts her appearance at face value.  Will is instantly attracted to Felicity, of course, but one gets the sense it’s because no pretty woman has ever looked twice at him because of his legs.  It certainly can’t be the stream of nonsense pouring out of her mouth that’s attractive.  Will is allied with the exiled King Charles II against Cromwell, and Cromwell’s men would be only too happy to get their hands on Will.  Plus, his nefarious older brother, Jamie, would turn him in to Cromwell’s soldiers in a heartbeat. 

Will decides to take Felicity north to his family home, where his father is unable to speak after a debilitating stroke, and his harpy of a mother takes an instant dislike to Felicity. When Felicity rebuffs Jamie’s lewd advances and he decides to get his revenge by claiming she’s a witch, Will has to decide how far he’ll go to protect her.

The sad thing is, though Felicity acts like a lovestruck ninny, I could almost believe in the romance.  Will is an interesting enough character.  I got the feeling he wasn’t very sexually experienced, and when he and Felicity finally get physical, it’s fairly steamy.  The brother is suitably evil, too, though rather cardboard.  The rest of the tale is predictable.  There’s a best friend, the Marquis of Ormonde, who might be featured in a future book.  I get the feeling the author isn’t done with the Highlands yet. 

But Felicity and her tiresome teenage-girl babble just drag this whole story down.  Every thought that enters her head comes flying right out her mouth.  She’s supposed to be twenty-something, but I can’t think of a single twenty-something woman I know who speaks like this, and most have learned to at least try to think before they speak.  She sounds like she’s fifteen, and that makes her someone I have no interest in spending time with.

Lord of the Highlands was a real clunker for me.  Give this one a pass. 

--Cathy Sova


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