"Warrior of the Highlands," Veronica Wolff

Pros: Sweet, engaging romance between the characters
Cons: Villain seems to be disposed of a little too easily
Rating: 4 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Haley Fitzpatrick, a graduate student, is working on her dissertation. While doing research, she discovers a mysterious artifact that sends her back in time to seventeenth-century Scotland, and into the path of Alasdair MacColla, a mighty warrior. Mistaking her for an enemy spy, McColla captures her. Experience quickly proves that she is no spy, and the beginnings of passion prompt him to take care of her. Haley finds herself falling in love, but she knows that without her help, McColla will experience a terrible fate. Can the two of them work together to avert disaster?

 

One of the things that struck me as I read this book was the way that Wolff allows the romance to develop between her characters. Instead of relying on conflict between the two to flesh out romantic feelings, the reader is instead able to watch as feelings unfold between two characters that seem to hold each other in esteem. For me it was a very refreshing change of pace, and made their feelings seem all the more intense.

Another element of the book that worked very well was the different ways in which Wolff was able to invoke the feel of Scotland. From descriptions of heather in the Scottish Highlands along with houses and castles, to the tartan McColla wears and the soft brogue and bits of Gaelic that are strewn throughout McColla’s speech,they were just enough to give me a feel for the area, without being too much. The one thing that did disappoint me a little was that there were a few Gaelic phrases that Wolff neglects to translate. They are either curses or terms of endearment, I couldn’t figure out which, and translation would have made those moments that much more real to me.

There was one event that marred the book for me. At one point, Haley and McColla need to fake his death to fool his enemy. They take a body and dress it up to look like McColla, leaving his famous claymore behind. This fools his enemy, Campbell, into thinking that he’s dead. And yet earlier in the book, Campbell, receives word that McColla has been killed. He promptly goes to inspect the body, discovering that it is not McColla’s. So I couldn’t help but wonder, wouldn’t a man so bent on blood feud check once again that his enemy was truly dead? And if he did, he would immediately know it for a sham because of who Haley and McColla used as a body. It just seemed a little inconsistent to me.

The romantic and descriptive elements of this story are both excellent, and the plot is not only engaging but moves along at a good clip. It is a very enjoyable read, apart from one seeming inconsistency. Haley and McConna’s characters, as well as their relationship, are well-created and interesting. Wolff has a skill for storytelling, and this was an enjoyable book to while away the day with.

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