Hard-Hearted Highlander by Julia London
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
This story was not for me, at all. As much as I loved the first in the series, I did not like this one.
No, men didn't intimidate her. No one intimidated her.
Our heroine is now a lady's maid after eloping with a dude below her station. Her dad wasn't having it, got the marriage annulled and sent the dude away on a ship. (view spoiler)[ship sunk, dude died (hide spoiler)]. She's twenty-nine and after living through the disillusionment of happily ever after, she has a bit of a crusty outer layer. I generally liked her, but the numerous sad inner thoughts passages didn't endear her to me so much as keep any momentum between her and the hero from getting rolling.
"You are wretched, Rabbie MacKenzie."
Took the words right out of my mouth. Seriously, the hero goes beyond depressed, grumpy, or broody, he's a d*ck. His rudeness towards his fiancée (who heroine works for) is completely uncalled for. I get it, he doesn't want to marry her, and he’s depressed and still hurting from his first love. Oh that's right, not only is there a fiancée to compete with the heroine but also a lost first love. He comes off immature and d*ckish with his attitude towards everything. I would have accepted standoffish with the fiancée, 'cause hey, she's not the heroine, but his attitude made me severely dislike him.
Not being able to connect with the hero and heroine definitely led to me not feeling their romance. It was probably also the occasional flashbacks to the hero falling in love, with the first woman. I would unscientifically guess that 70% of this story is the hero and heroine bemoaning their losses. They both have reason to, hero missing his first love and the utter devastation the English caused in the Highlands after the failed Jacobite rebellion (no specific history mentioned, except for Culloden referenced, it felt weirdly like the author was trying to give us the emotions from this without giving a solid focus on it) and the heroine had a miscarriage (not a spoiler, told pretty soon).
I'm going to put this next part in spoiler quotes because if you know the outcome, it might ruin some reading enjoyment. (view spoiler)[There is a sort of secondary romance where the hero's fiancée starts to become attracted to his brother, because he is at least decent to her. However, after completely misleading the reader it turns out the brother does not like the fiancée, at all. I wanted to scream to the heaven's "WHAT WAS THE POINT?" The portrayal of the fiancée was so mean, lol. She's only 17 and naïve but holy guacamole is the hero mean to her, the heroine says she's a friend but bangs her fiancée and kind of talks smack about her, and then the guy who she thinks likes her, is like no way jose. So mean. (hide spoiler)]
Basically, I found the hero mean, too many long hero and heroine inner sad musings, and the impediments to their relationship weren't resolved until waaaaay late in the story; I spent most the time wondering where the romance was in this romance. Also, there was a hero with his first love flashback in the EPILOGUE. Like, no. I get this was supposed to be emotional reminiscing about lost loves because of society and war but for me, it badly missed the mark.
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