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Claiming the Highlander by Kinley MacGregor

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Claiming the Highlander
Brotherhood/MacAllisters #2

Kinley MacGregor
Medieval/Highlander Romance
Published in 2002

H/h - Braden MacAllister/Maggie ingen Blar
Setting: England and Scotland, in the time of King Henry II.

Read in May, 2011.
My rating:

                                                                  [spoiler alert]

Alright, a bit more than halfway thorough the book and it's not as bad as I thought. The hero Braden is, of course, as bad as I thought but I'll survive, I guess. I'll come to that point soon enough but before let me start by introducing our charming hero!

The story begins with the description of Braden and his love for women. He doesn't care about the size, shape, coloring- he just loves them. And, they love him back! Braden is good looking [read: pretty boy] with dimples and hard body. In the beginning, we find a stellar example of his wenching around. He's in England and entertaining 3 ladies ... at once ... and they're sisters! Don't even ask! Then unfortunately, the married sister's older husband returns and then, starts the Zorro-style escape, of which he's a master just as his bed skills (examples are aplenty in the beginning as well) ... again don't even ask! ... Braden is popular everywhere; more so in his home, the Highlands. Soon, he returns there with his older half-brother Sin.

But, the homecoming isn't as good as he'd expected. No women of all ages to welcome him. Soon from his brother, the clan chieftain Lochlan and the other, Ewan he finds out one woman, Maggie hatched a plan for all the women of the clan to ignore their men and marital duties. No cooking and no sex. Oh the horror! This can't be happening, Braden even pales thinking of no sex! Men are getting restless and they need a solution. And Braden, being ever the charmer and negotiator, is selected by Lochlan to work on the matter.

Maggie has always been dubbed as scrawny as a chicken with red-hair and freckles. She's always known she's 'homely', almost all the boys in her village have seen to that. Only the fact that she has 4 older brothers saved her from something dire! And Braden of course. Sadly, she's crazy about Braden, even after knowing about his scintillating character. Though the ever cautious and intelligent, Maggie couldn't help herself from falling. I did love the reminisces of her childhood when Braden wasn't a womanizer of the worst order and a kind of a hero to her since he saved her from her twin brother; she 7, he 10.

Now, when she hatched this plan to save the rest of the men in village from the MacDouglas clan, Maggie didn't think it'd go wrong or that Braden MacAllister would come back to ruin it (and you know why!). Two of her brothers among many other men fell victim to this feud that's been running for the last 6 yrs. It was stated by a woman and her betrayal with one MacAllister brother, Kieran committing suicide over it. So, Maggie is kinda incensed that the MacAllisters send Braden to handle this. She's determined, anyhow, to end this feud. She has even managed to bring the MacDouglas women, including the wife of the chieftain, into this rebellion.

Braden doesn't find Maggie ugly (wait a min, he doesn't find any woman ugly!). He's actually surprised that he'd never looked at her that way, even though he has been fast friends with her 2 older brothers. Me? I'm rolling my eyes by now whenever I'm reading about Braden's softer feelings. He's such a good man, in everything- sweet and kind and generous. But, when it's about women, he just can't help himself, it's like his 2nd nature! (trust me, Maggie reasons with herself to why she should hate him and this is one of the reasons she comes up with!) *rolls eyes even more with an exasperated sigh*

I thought the women of the MacAllister clan and elsewhere were pea-brained and pathetic! They've been literally pouncing on Braden since he'd reached 15, there is actually an incident... But, Maggie had been there to save him. And, Braden of course never says never! Lord, by this time I was tired just thinking of his exploits. I actually hated that Maggie, who's very intelligent and a likable heroine, can't seem to toughen up against such a cad! But, she's been trying and she did give him some stuff back on his face. I only wish she made it all the more painful for him. But, Braden is shameless and has the skin of a rhino, so I wasn't really sure it'll work.

But, things changed when they planned to go to the MacDouglas's. After some incidents and the men kidnapping Lochlan and Maggie's brothers, Braden goes to Maggie for help. Maggie comes up with the plan to go to the MacDouglas laird and reason with him. Sin, who is very brooding (his past is just so, made the man) and has a biting knack for sarcasm, agrees to accompany them. On the way, a new Braden is revealed, who doesn't only think of getting laid ... err, he still does (and now, it's all about Maggie) but he can actually think of other things too, such as: their childhood memories together. I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't read it for myself. I thought only one of his heads work and the other is practically useless ... Hmmph!

Maggie is a gone-case dreamer when it comes to Braden. Well, I know I've mentioned it before. She tries to tell Braden that his callousness did hurt her and there are scenes that made me sad for her. Her thoughts on Braden, her own father, oldest brother, men in general and their infidelities. It really was sad, I really felt for her. She knows Braden is no good for her; if she really wants to save her heart and herself, she'd have to ignore him, at all cost. But, it's easier said than done! When the said rogue is doing everything to get her attentions, how can she ignore him? And, Braden is. It started out as a plan between the brothers to seduce her and then bring the women out of the kirk but now, it's something different. He feels it and something of a seemingly unknown feeling is tugging at his heart. He doesn't care to examine it closely. He's aware of the bond they formed as a child, though it has frayed a bit mostly because of him. But, Braden knows to a primal level that he won't ever hurt Maggie and he's not the type of the man for her, the marrying, adoring kind with fidelity. Me? Thinking- "Lord, this is becoming really tiresome! I'm  going to have a hard time believing him!"

But as I got to know these things about Braden, the book started becoming more interesting to me. Before that, I was like- have to finish, review, rate and be done with it. I knew I won't care for Braden either way. But, I'm willing to see what he does to win Maggie. Already said, there are scenes between them as they're on their way to MacDouglas, scenes I really enjoyed and thought Braden could've been an adorable, easy-going hero. He actually has a soft heart, it's only when it comes to women he can't ... eh, no more! I'm not sure if I'll adore him (after reading Master of Desire and the hero Draven...) but I only hope he does something positively worthwhile and makes Maggie happy.

Well, not much to talk about for the rest of the book. I liked some parts of it, while felt kinda bored and distracted by the others. After the first love scene and their entering the MacDouglas land, things were going fine. But, after that I kinda lost interest and then, again the solution to their initial problem and the ending were good.

Things that annoyed me, number one was the talk of an illegitimate child at the MacDouglas's, whom at first glance Maggie thought was Braden's and I was like- oh plz, now she has to go through this exam, too??! [ref: Sin's past for 'why'] But, thanks the Good Lord, it wasn't Braden's but his deceased brother Kieran's. Another thing was, while in the MacDouglas land, they stayed with a farmer for a night and then they had to fight with the man's lusty daughters (I was so irritated and just couldn't believe it!) ... In a scene in between, Sin and Maggie talk while Braden was out. I didn't believe the number Sin gave to Maggie concerning Braden's affairs. Really? Well, the way Braden behaves and thinks (among other things), just doesn't add up with this certain number! Also, the starting of the book and Braden's reputation. But, in short, Braden is the victim of pawing here, not the other way around. He only humors them, if he feels like it. Also, the rumors concerning his affairs are mostly exaggerated. But, I got to know about Braden's vulnerabilities about love [ref: his brother Kieran's suicide], too. The fact that women tend to use him somehow was another matter. His musings were kinda sad regarding that and I thought it was understandable, the way he felt about loving someone and getting married. Still, I wasn't convinced about a lot of the information regarding Braden.

The feud ended by another plan from Maggie. It wasn't as impressive as Master of Desire but it was good. I loved seeing the laird of MacDouglas, Robby being brought down on his knees by his wife Ceana. The epilogue was ok. So, all in all, I was pretty distracted throughout the book so giving it a 3.25 stars.

PS: Though Master of Desire is a part of this series, in this book I saw nothing common with Master of Desire except the time frame, which is the reign of king Henry II.


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