"A Highlander Christmas" (Multiple authors)

Pros: Interesting takes on Highlanders and magic
Cons: The length of the stories made a couple of the stories feel rushed
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

With Christmas being ten days away, now seemed like a good time to read A Highlander Christmas. One of my favorite holidays, combined with romance and bold, brawny men (who, if the cover is to be believed, are impervious to snow) sounded as delicious as a hot cup of chocolate. Dawn Halliday, Cindy Miles, and Sophie Renwick deliver tales of receiving the most wonderful gift to get- love.


 

Dawn Halliday’s Winter Heat is the story of Maggie MacDonald, an independent woman who refuses to submit to cretinous Innes Monroe’s suit. When he breaks into her home and kidnaps her, she manages to fight her way free during a heavy snowstorm. Collapsing in the snow, she is rescued by the handsome Logan, who takes her to shelter and warms her. Though the two of them are snowed in, they make good use of their time and quickly become acquainted. But will their time together develop into something more? Or will they part ways after the thaw?

Reading this story, I felt a little thrown around. Innes Monroe is completely unlikeable and abusive, while Logan is his complete opposite, gallant and handsome almost to a fault. Maggie goes from abducted and almost raped to trusting and lovestruck in about two days. It felt as if Ms. Halliday felt constrained by the length of the story and was rushing to get everything in that she wanted to, resulting in rushing the emotional connection and painting the two main male characters in exaggerated caricatures. I would have enjoyed this story a lot more if the pacing could have been slowed and the characters developed more.

Yuletide Enchantment is Ms. Renwick’s contribution, and one of my first shapeshifter romances. It is the story of a Sidhe king named Daegan, and his mortal love, Isobel. He is willing to risk his position and himself to be with her and save her from a marriage she doesn’t want. I absolutely loved the mythology of this piece and the way it was used in the story, but I had some trouble liking Daegan. Again, I think that that might be a result of the length; his discussions with the Sidhe queen might feel like less of a temper tantrum if I saw something of him outside of his single-minded pursuit of Isobel.He even makes the comment that he wants her enchanted before they make love. That struck me as a little off.

I actually found myself with more sympathy for her betrothed, St. Clair. Although he seems shy around her, he’s not entirely unwilling to talk, or to share his experience of the Otherworld with her. I got the feeling that they could grow to love each other, and although they might not have the fiery intensity of her and Daegan, that wouldn’t make it any less real.

My favorite by far was Cindy Miles’ A Christmas Spirit. Paige MacDonald is spending another Christmas alone. But instead of being trapped in her apartment, she has booked a driving tour of Scotland. A few days before Christmas, however, her car dies in the middle of the countryside during a snowstorm and she takes refuge in the castle Gorloch. The only other person she’ll have to share the castle with is Gabriel Munro. Well, his ghost, to be more specific. But they have plenty of time to get to know each other; they’re snowed in. Soon, trust turns into affection, which has the opportunity to turn into so much more…

Ms. Miles neatly sidesteps the problem of crowding the story with action by narrowing the focus of the story down to Paige and Gabriel getting to know each other and opening up to each other. The emotional intimacy is what I enjoyed the most about the story; it reminds me of my husband and I and connections between the characters outside of sex make the happily ever after much more believable to me. I also loved the use of little bits of Scottish dialogue and accent to make Gabriel’s voice stand out. The one little rough spot was how quickly and neatly the misunderstanding is cleared up; it’s almost too convenient. The rest of the story was so enjoyable, though, it was easily forgivable.

This was an interesting read, but it felt as if two of the three stories could have used a lot more room to expand; because I don’t have as much perspective, character traits and pacing that could be adjusted or balanced with more room to tell me more are off-putting. That being said, there are some creative happily ever afters that mean a few lucky ladies will have many more Christmases to spend with some very sexy Highlanders.

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