Overall: (5 stars doesn’t seem enough)
Sex Scene Length:
All highlander novels…. Hell, all romance novels… My favorite heroines… Every other hero I have ever loved and will ever read… What are they? I’ll tell you. They’re ruined. The whole lot of them. Completely and utterly ruined.
I am Ruined.
Monica McCarty has just blown everything else I’ve ever read right out of the water with this incredible novel. It was exciting and exhilarating! It was downright amazing. I loved every god damn moment of it.
This book was decidedly…different. In every way. The plot, the setting, the characters. All of them original and wonderful. And so superbly written that I felt transported right into the thick of all the action and romance.
We’re introduced to Erik MacSorley, Hawk, in the first book, and getting to know him here was a joy. Early on we get a glimpse of his devil-may-care attitude as he antagonizes an English galley, only to escape them in a harrowing maneuver that leaves the English shipwrecked on the jagged shores of Ireland. The scene is described in such vivid detail that you can almost feel the wind whipping through your hair and chafing your skin and smell the salty sea air. And you quickly realize that Erik MacSorely is a man who can harness the wind and revel in the danger of it.
The action sequences and settings throughout the book are all breathtaking. The fact that so many of them take place out in the open water is part of what made this story so unique. Erik and Ellie, the heroine, spend so much time on boats and swimming and caught in storms and…wet…one could believe they were both born in the sea.
Both Erik and Ellie were first rate, three-dimensional characters. Erik, in particular, felt an especially rare hero to me. He was so different that at first I had a hard time visualizing him. I couldn’t imagine him or make sense of him. Or put him together in my mind. He’s like every hero balled into one. He’s alpha, he’s beta, he’s gamma, all the way to zeta and everything else in between. He’s an every man. Universally loved by women. He’s paradoxical. A clash of contradictions. Brave and bashful. Charming and fierce. Brutal and tender. Alternately conceited and modest. A warrior and a playboy mixed in one.
And he is gorgeous. He’s a bronzed ocean god and winter knight at the same time.
For all of this you might think his character was unfocused or confused. But you would be wrong. Each piece of him added up to be one of the most unique heroes I’ve come across. He wasn’t one note. He was dynamic and mysterious. And somehow, made complete sense. I had a hard time pinning him down, but once I grabbed hold of him there was no turning back. He became flesh and blood in my mind. Erik MacSorley feels like a real, breathing man. And, oh god, what a man he was!
The thing I loved most about him was that he’d so clearly never been in love. Oh, he certainly loves the ladies, but he had never loved just one of them. So when he inadvertently kidnaps Ellie and ends up falling in love with her he is completely unprepared, which is also a first for him. And the fact that he has a preference for larger, curvier women but then falls for a plain, “wee slip of a girl” for who she was and not what she looks like, only makes him even more perfect.
And Ellie is the perfect match for him. She may be tiny and she may be plain, but she’s brave and adventurous, heroic at times, and prepared to make personal sacrifices for those she loves. The fate of her life is wrapped up in her duties to her family and her responsibilities as a lady. She is betrothed to a man who she does not love and who does not love her. And this is all wrapped up in the political storyline of the book, which is way too complicated to explain here. But suffice it to say that her happiness is not a consideration for anyone, including herself. She’s someone who has fire and passion inside of her, but who has quashed it down due to the circumstances of her life.
It’s not until she ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, with Erik, that all of that fire and passion comes out again. And boy does the passion between them explode. They are driven to each other. She settles him and he brings her out of her shell and the combination results in a heart pounding connection that is both meltingly tender and as exciting as watching a volcano erupt.
The love scenes between them are scorchers. They’re an inferno. All heat. All intense. All unexpectedly intimate. Monica McCarty does eye contact like no other. The unfolding of feelings as two people come together who are both being seen and seeing someone else for the first time is conveyed with such emotion and depth. And the thing with this story is that you know there is no way for them to be together. They both know it. It’s hopeless and yet neither want to acknowledge that. The hopelessness and the realization that what’s blossoming between them has no future is heart breaking and gut wrenching. When they eventually have to go their separate ways they have no idea if they will ever find their way back to each other and their hearts are just torn apart by it. As was mine.
My one, teeny-tiny complaint, is that after they’re separated for a while and eventually come back together after months of heartache, we’re completely denied a reunion kiss. I can’t quite understand how after so much passion and heat that they aren’t flying into each other’s arms. It was overlooked somehow.
But, it’s a small complaint and doesn’t truly take away from the magnitude of this book. It was so satisfying. It was epic. It is going at the very top of my favorites. I simply don’t know how this can be topped.