Friday, February 20, 2015

Review of Gwyn Cready's JUST IN TIME FOR A HIGLANDER w/ excerpt

From RITA winner Gwyn Cready comes a Scottish borderlands time travel romance perfect for fans of Outlander

For Duncan MacHarg, things just got real…
Battle reenactor and financier Duncan MacHarg thinks he has it made—until he lands in the middle of a real Clan Kerr battle and comes face to face with their beautiful, spirited leader. Out of time and out of place, Duncan must use every skill he can muster to earn his position among the clansmen and in the heart of the devastatingly intriguing woman to whom he must pledge his oath.

Abby needs a hero and she needs him now
When Abigail Ailich Kerr sees a handsome, mysterious stranger materialize in the midst of her clan’s skirmish with the English, she’s stunned to discover he’s the strong arm she’s been praying for. Instead of a tested fighter, the fierce young chieftess has been given a man with no measurable battle skills and a damnably distracting smile. And the only way to get rid of him is to turn him into a Scots warrior herself—one demanding and intimate lesson at a time.
“Undine, do you see what your magic has wrought?” Abby stabbed a finger in Duncan’s direction.
The woman gave him a full look and her eyes widened. “Oh. Oh, dear.”
“What magic?” Duncan demanded.
Undine regarded him thoughtfully. “He’s handsome, at least. And tall. That could be useful. But that hair…”
“If I wanted handsome, Rosston would certainly do. He at least wields a real sword.” She took Undine by the elbow and turned her away from Duncan. “The poor man appears to have no skills beyond his fists,” she said in a lowered voice. “And I think he’s addled in his head—like Hal the sheep shearer.”
“What were you thinking?” Undine demanded.
“What was I thinking?! ’Twas your herbs.”
“I mean when you opened the paper.”
“I didn’t open the paper. It was shot out of my hand.”
“All of it?!” Undine paled.
“Except for the part that flew in my mouth.” Abby wiped the back of her hand across her tongue and made a sharp sound of disgust. “It tasted like burnt groats.”
Duncan had had enough of being ignored. “What herbs? What magic? What are you talking about? Did you bring me here?”
Undine considered. “You could try to make do with him.”
“Make do?!” Abby cried. “You make do with him! Can’t you see this is the last thing I need with the clans right now?” She pulled herself onto the horse. “You need to get rid of him.”
The “get rid of him” made Duncan’s stomach tighten. “No. Wait—”
“Abby?” a voice called from beyond the trees. “Abby, are you there?”
“Oh, God help us, it’s Rosston.” Abby gave Duncan a warning look. “Don’t say another word.”
“No!” Duncan grabbed her pommel. “I want to go home! Send me home! I don’t know what you two witches have done.”
“Silence, you fool.” She jerked the reins in an effort to keep the beast from lurching. The arrow fell from her bow.
A kilted clansman crested the rise.
“You, there!” Duncan called to the man. “Help me. These women have—”
Duncan felt a thwack on the head, and the world went dark.
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My thoughts on JUST IN TIME FOR A HIGHLANDER..... 3.5 stars

JUST IN TIME FOR A HIGLANDER, first in Ms. Cready’s new Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands series, is a lively, playful time travel adventure.

Grit, daring, humor, and wit are my favorite qualities in a heroine and Chieftess Abby Kerr has them in spades. Between those who think a woman can’t rule and teetering on bankruptcy, Abby is fighting an uphill battle.

Duncan, a modern Scot trading on Wall Street. Ginger-haired Duncan is used to women falling at his feet. He’s not prepared for the women or Scotland of 1706.

Abby keeps her eye on the prize and the welfare of her clan is always at the forefront for her. Unlike most chiefs, Abby seeks peace. She’s not gung-ho for battle and war with the English. She wants to maintain a free and independent Scotland but has different ideas on how to get there. Abby is politically astute and understands the undercurrents and power plays. She employs brains and cunning over brute force. Abby is heroic. She’s willing to sacrifice herself for her clan’s safety and well being. She’s carrying quite a load. There’s little opportunity to let her guard down and relax. Duncan allows her to do that. His mis-steps allow for levity in a life fraught with plots, peril, challenges, and danger. Duncan is comic relief and hero.

Duncan discovers women in 1706 Scotland aren’t attracted to the same attributes modern women are. Duncan has a lot of learning and growing ahead of him. For being plopped down over three hundred years in the past, Duncan does a decent job of coping.

I understand Abby’s attraction to Duncan. She hasn’t known him all her life, he’s charming, he’s unique (in more ways than one), and he understands women enough to let her take the reins in her role as Chieftess and leader of the clan. Duncan isn’t a wuss; he simply understands the difference between Abby’s public and private roles. He isn’t going to undermine her in clan affairs. He’s a great hero for Abby but doesn’t crank my clock. I like and enjoy Duncan but I don’t love him. As much as I enjoyed Abby and Duncan’s journey they weren’t the most interesting characters for me.

Nab is an adorable boy Duncan hires to spy for him. Nab is precocious and delighted me every time he appeared.

Undine, witch~wise woman~seer. Just what is she truly? It’s said her mother was a naiad. Undine also wishes for peace. Courtesy of her reputation and status she can move freely between the English and Scottish. I’m not clear on where she actually lives but as close as she and Abby are it’s possibly on Kerr lands. Undine excites my curiosity.

Serafina, a visitor seeking Undine’s help in a scheme to regain control of her inheritance and clear debts her n’er do well lover has incurred and assigned to her. A woman with a mission…

There was an issue or two with the beginning and end of JUST IN TIME FOR A HIGHLANDER but I had a large time with the middle.

Keeping an eye out and fingers crossed that Undine and Serafina will each get their own books in the near future.

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