Friday, July 29, 2011

Highland Arms by Cathie Dunn

TITLE: Highland Arms
AUTHOR: Cathie Dunn
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 63k)
GENRE: Historical romance
COST: $5.50

After her reputation has been sullied in Edinburgh, Catriona MacKenzie has been exiled to her godmother’s estate in the Highlands, an escape she is desperate for since she was falsely accused of promiscuous behaviors. There, she meets Rory Cameron, a man she wants to hate but finds herself attracted to even when he treats her appallingly. A Jacobite, Rory is determined to keep love and relationships far, far away, unwilling to have someone mourn or hurt for him, but from the moment he meets Catriona, his senses are cast awhirl. She is clearly in need of help, fragile and dependent on their good will. His political beliefs run deep, but just maybe, she is the woman who can change his mind about the future…

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much I love the history. If I don’t like the main characters, nothing is going to save the story.

Catriona is traveling with her awful brother Angus through Scotland, on their way to her godmother’s. She’s been banished from Edinburgh after her fiancĂ© made false accusations regarding her promiscuity, claims her brother backed up as part of a deal. Catriona is glad to be rid of the city and her terrible fiancĂ©, especially since the Highlands appeal to her. So does Rory Cameron, a not-by-blood cousin she meets along the way. She’s shocked to realize he lives with her godmother, mostly because he’s the most attractive man she’s ever seen and her senses go haywire whenever he’s around. Rory is deeply involved with the Jacobites and refuses to have any emotional connections to people, as a means of keeping them safe should something happen to him. And considering he’s stashing arms for an upcoming conflict, something most likely will. The problem is, Catriona figures out very quickly what he’s up to. Toss in the fact that he’s just as attracted to her, and it’s disaster waiting to happen.

My biggest problem with this story? Catriona. Hands down. She’s emotionally fragile and cries at the drop of a hat. Her tears are referenced more than thirty different times in this novel. By the halfway point, I was ready to shove her into the loch and hold her down just to put her out of my misery. Her moments of backbone offer hints of the character she could’ve been, but any hope for liking her is destroyed when she starts to cry or tear up again paragraphs later. How am I expected to believe that a man like Rory would fall for her?

To be honest, though, he’s not much better. He assumes the worst of Catriona almost from the start, and his constant pulling her close/pushing her away grows tiresome early on. His behavior turns at the drop of a hat, affording little continuity and almost no explanations that actually make sense. I liked that he was so politically involved and seemingly capable, but that was about it. Oh, and he didn’t cry as much as Catriona. In this story, that’s a point in his favor.

The suspense and action of his involvement in the approaching uprising could have been taut if it wasn’t ruined by Catriona’s presence. She dampens every scene she’s in, usually by crying, and shatters any sense of tension that might have been generated. There are some better personalities in the supporting cast, but their doting on her baffled me to the point of losing respect for them. As much as I love Scottish history, this might have turned me off to reading anything about it in the near future. I need time to forget about this one first.


7/10 – Repetition in description and actions gave it a ho-hum factor, though it was mostly clean


5/10 – His push/pull of the heroine grated


3/10 – Weak and too tearful for my tastes

Entertainment value

4/10 – As much as I love Scottish history, disliking the primaries really dragged this down

World building

6/10 – Though it’s obvious the author knows the setting, the repetition in the prose ends up stunting its vividness



No comments: