Top critical review
Black Duncan's return.
on 9 October 2012
Monica McCarty has to be one of the most inconsistent writers I've ever encountered. Out of the six or so of her Highlander books that I've read so far, I've rated them anywhere from 4.5 stars to 1.5 stars. Some books have seen me so invested in the romance, that happy tears were streaming down my face as I read the final pages. Others have been tedious and left me completely unaffected.
This one falls somewhere in the middle.
I was quite keen to read this instalment to find out the full story behind Duncan Dubh's treason at long last, since it's been mentioned in the other books of the trilogy several times. The story opens with quite a bang in the present--albeit still in the 17th century--day, then it takes us back the 10 years to when the hero and heroine, Duncan and Jeannie, met and fell in love originally, before the alleged betrayal/treason nastiness all happened, causing Duncan to flee to Ireland for a decade or else face the hangman's noose. So it started very well, and I rather liked the couple at the beginning; they were very sweet together and had some great sensual scenes and some nice angst and drama. It was once we returned to present day that I found myself falling out of love with the story.
One of the main reasons I don't like romances featuring ex lovers, is the inherent bitterness they always bring with them. In this case, I never felt like Duncan and Jeannie truly got back that magic they'd had when they first met. There was just too much water under the bridge.
The next problem was that the plot just seemed to stop for about a hundred pages or so while they dithered about deciding whether or not to trust each other again. It was annoying to the nth degree to watch them get close and then retreat into distrust again, a cycle which was then repeated ad nauseam. I really think the book could have been a good hundred pages shorter and lost a lot of this padding and filler section. I realise it's the finale of the trilogy, and the one we've all been waiting for, but making it longer doesn't automatically make it more 'epic'.
It perhaps wouldn't have been quite as tiresome if we, as readers, didn't already know everything that was going on. We knew Jeannie's secret, we knew about Duncan's innocence, and we knew who the real villain was. It was just a matter of waiting for the characters to catch up.
All together, I'm glad I read it and that I've completed the trilogy, but it wasn't one of McCarty's best efforts.
3 Stars ★★★