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Taming the Scotsman by Kinley MacGregor

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Taming the Scotsman
Brotherhood/MacAllisters #4

Kinley MacGregor
Medieval/Highlander Romance
Published in 2003

H/h - Ewan MacAllister/ Nora ingen Alexander
Setting - Scotland, in the time of King Henry II.

Read in May, 2011.
My rating:

                                                                        [spoiler alert]
I was hoping for a fun read in Ewan's book and it is! Ewan is such an adorable giant of a man, I don't know where to start about him. I so love a man so surly, grumpy on the outside but sweet and intoxicating on the inside, Ewan is just that. And the quite ones are always da bomb in bed, Ewan is just that, too!

I'm not sure about Nora. She's a fun read, her incessant prattling was funny but some of her actions/thoughts I can't agree with. Mostly her confusion over Ewan, now that they're lovers. She knows she loves him, what is she waiting for I don't know. I think I even like Catarina more than her because she is smarter and a very perceptive woman.

So, the story started as Nora finds Ewan in his cave for a favor. I loved that first scene, it was hot and funny (what with Ewan being asleep and naked ...)! :p And, then when he woke up and saw Nora, that was so funny too. His thoughts on her 'assets' and how he can make use of them. Oh boy, I adored him on spot! Then of course, after knowing what Nora wanted from him, he came to his senses and the story began. We already know that Ewan's brother Kieran committed suicide over a girl who betrayed them both. Isobail was basically a slut who used the two brothers to get her way, which was to get to her lover in England and left a trail of distraction on her path; a dead and a living dead brother and a feud which cost many lives from both clans MacAllister and MacDouglas. Ewan ran away with her, thinking she loves him and then came back home with a heart break, only to find Kieran has taken his own life.

If you read Claiming the Highlander, you'll know some of the history. Here, we find Ewan all wallowed up in guilt and shame and heartbreaking sadness over what happened. He and Kieran were the closest of brothers and Ewan can't help but feel he deserves no pleasure in life for what he's done. So, he lives in a cave (which was later furnished by his concerned mother, against his will), without human contact (he avoids it as much as possible) and he's celibate. I think that he's only been intimate with Isobail (after reading many clues) and no one else after the debacle. Until, of course, Nora came along. She came up with this request, almost as same as Isobail but not quite and Ewan can't help but think is this some kind of joke?! Then, the story is taking place as they're on their way to Lochlan's and not London. Ewan, knowing a bit about Nora and of course, his past, decided not to take her to London.

Nora is betrothed to a man she despises and ran away to save herself. Her maid gave her the idea of meeting Ewan MacAllister and ask him to help her. Nora didn't know much about Ewan's past, only that MacAllisters are powerful and maybe, her father and fiance won't look for her if she can manage to get to her aunt Eleanor aka the Queen of England (a fact Ewan scoffs at, still doesn't believe it) with Ewan's help. Nora talks a lot, annoys Ewan but she's beautiful and charming, which Ewan can't help but find adorable. And, the more Nora get to know about Ewan and his past, the more she can't help but falling. Think I have to agree here. There are things about his past, not the Isobail incident but other things like how his father thought he's not manly enough because he's quiet in nature, his brothers always having their way and he always is sort of left behind. Women always choosing his brothers over him (oh, poor the babe! ). He's always been dubbed as the one who doesn't have much to offer in looks (too tall and gangly), charms (too surly) or brains (too impulsive) ... (me? absolute bulls*it!). These vulnerabilities, the blow all these did to his self-esteem is tremendous and I can so understand the poor darling. I felt so sad, his brothers were close to being cruel with him IMO. All these, inevitably lead to that incident; Isobail convincing him too easily that she 'loves' him and not Kieran, then Kieran in a fight over her telling him he's not good enough for Isobail and so on. I absolutely disliked the way Kieran judged him. Good-natured bickering is fine between brothers but this was downright malicious! [note: Keiran has an illegitimate boy from a girl he was courting before Isobail. It was in CtH and I hated him after knowing about the heartbroken girl who never told him about it as she learned he's already seeing someone else!]

So, obviously, not knowing much about Nora (and despite of the fact that he's becoming crazy about her as the story progresses), Ewan decides it's better to take her to Lochlan's, from where they can look for her family. Nora, being afraid of her father and her upcoming, unwanted marriage, decided not to give him much details on her family. Then, on the way, they were almost kidnapped by a group of gypsies but the kidnappers turned out to be nice people. Still not sure who paid them for kidnapping Ewan. The girl in the group, Catarina, befriends Nora soon and I've already mentioned I really like her. Also, another character, Pagan. He's very intriguing. I'd love to see his story. It's seen that Pagan has some kind of 'something' for Catarina but I know (from the blurbs) that these two won't be together since Lochlan would be her match.

I liked the way Catarina knew that Ewan and Nora belongs to each-other and is trying to help them. Nora is a bit thick headed when it comes to her feelings, she's trying everything to deny this. And Ewan knows better than this, to be rash in his actions since he doesn't know where they stand at the moment. I loved the love scenes; the last one I've read was really good, only I thought the eastern dancing-thingy (belly dancing?) was totally unnecessary. This has something to do with Catarina's mysterious past since she teaches Nora the dance. But, could Nora master it so well in one evening that she danced like some 'Saracen courtesan', as Ewan's musing tell us? I couldn't believe it. Anyway, they're both determined at this level to part since they both know they can't be together!

Me? I'm getting a bit exasperated at their pessimistic view on what could be a really sweet thing for both of them. At least I know if I had a man like Ewan, I won't be as confused as Nora! Even Catarina agrees with me. :/

Oh dang! I'm so jealous of that Nora, why can't I get my own bear? *sniff sniff* ... Every time she'd call Ewan her big bear, gentle bear etc, I felt so ... argh!

Read please, just couldn't help it!

...He reminded her of some great, hulking bear, what with his massive form, snarling tones and gruffness.

...Nora was stunned by his demand. The bear who lived in a cave was lecturing her on manners?

...Nora gaped at his expertise. Who knew the big, giant bear would be so talented? (he plays the lute like an angel)

...Nora watched in awe of Ewan's skill. For a bear, he was quite nimble. He moved like fluid. Graceful.

...She could even hear him tromping through the woods like some big, lumbering bear. (an angry Ewan)

...Her bear lay with his lips slightly parted, her braid laced between his large fingers. She hadn't even realized he'd touched her hair.

...But it was the quiet bear who called out to her.

...Her unrefined bear was so much more than what she wanted. He was what she needed.

...Nay, her bear was ever tender.

...How she loved her big bear. She could almost believe him when he said that. "Aye."

...Nora pushed herself to her feet and moved away from the wall before her strong bear pulled it down on top of her.

..."There are times when being a bear is a benefit." (this is from Ewan, the said 'bear'! :p)

...She would give anything to hear one of his bearish growls. (when he was injured and unconscious)

...He pulled back a moment later to answer her question. "What we have here, my lady, is a bear who wants to be tamed. Know you someone with a stout enough heart to lead him home and suffer his dismal ways?" (again, the said bear himself :D)

..."Well, 'tis early yet, but I missed my flow. I think my bear may have a cub coming to follow in his father's footsteps." (Arrrghh! Can you hear me growling with frustration?! :/)
 So, I want Ewan, is that so bad? He's worth having. *sigh*

Moving on. It was a seriously sweet book. I can't deny it, mainly because I adored Ewan and Nora's all lovey-dovey scenes (when they weren't being pessimistic about their relationship of course). Even in the love scenes, not only their communication together but Nora's unabashed curiosity was some read for sure! I did laugh quite a lot at her words and enjoyed them. The story was good and there were more mysteries in the end but overall, a big 4 stars from me.

On their way to Lochlan's castle, Nora sees her fiance, one lout called Ryan. It was later known he's the one who ordered the kidnapping. Then, Nora was kidnapped again, this time by Isobail's brothers, who also appeared before. Then the rescue scene, with Ewan was so hot! Ermm, what with he breaking down chains from walls ... his muscles rippling and so on ... Ahemmm! Poor babe was hurt by the villains and kinda angry at Nora when the supposed dead Ryan (he was injured saving Nora from Isobails brother and Nora thought him dead) comes back and Nora goes fussing on him. Oh bother! He starts ignoring her and wouldn't let her tend to his injury. Then with Catarina and teams help they reach to Lochlan's place, only to find Nora's parents and all the others are already there. Ewan falls sick with fever and infection. Nora tends to him, day and night. Gotta mention here, Catarina, whose past is still a mystery, knew more about the kidnapping (the 1st one) and some valuable information on Nora's father Alexandar. He actually wanted Nora to marry one of the MacAllisters for an alliance with them, so he planned it all in a way which would make Nora to run to Ewan for help to save herself from Ryan ... Ermm, this part was a bit hazy for me. If so, then why go through all these troubles?

Then again, after knowing Ryan paid for the kidnapping and after that lout lied about loving Nora, Ewan felt guilty thinking he's repeated the history again. And  then, there's no reasoning with that mule! He won't hear that Nora loves him, he won't listen to her pleadings. When he wakes up and in a very bad timing, heard Ryan saying something about Nora being his (oh you gotta read this!), the mule aka Ewan refused Nora when she went to him telling him if he'd have her, Ryan would release her from the engagement.

A heartsick Nora goes back home to marry Ryan. I felt like kicking Ewan's butt myself. I mean, you know this is what even her parents wanted from the beginning, why say 'no'? She said she loves you ... YOU! Didn't she? I was so irritated. grr! Then, it's his mother, Aisleen, who did the reasoning with Ewan and some of his childhood hurts were soothed by her words. Catarina, who'd been bickering with Lochlan before leaving with Nora, tells her with confidence that Ewan will come for her. And, of course, he does. Ewan saves Nora from that marriage and marries her himself in the alter ... The end! :p

Nothing much was seen about Pagan, about whom I'm really interested. And, just before the ending ... egads! Keiran's plaid comes back with one of Alexandar's man's (who was with Catarina's team) severed hands (eek!). Lochlan learns from Alexandar that the guy, Lysander, had this when he hired him in Paris. Lysander never wanted to part with the piece of clothing ... Lochlan is shocked to think Kieran might be alive ... Hell, I was left confused about the whole thing myself.

Never mind that, I'm just glad that Ewan the grumpy bear had his happy ending. :D


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