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Highlander Untamed by Monica McCarty

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Highlander Untamed
MacLeods of Skye Trilogy #1

Monica McCarty
Medieval Romance
Published in 2007

H/h - Roderick MacLeod, the Laird of MacLeod/Isabel MacDonald
Setting: The Isle of Skye, Scotland/1601-02.

Read in Oct, 2011.
My rating:


                                                               [spoiler alert]

Hmm, so I was looking forward to a sexy Highlander book with a great plot, story with a yummy hero and an adorable heroine. What did I find in this book? A hero, though a ripped, good looking Highlander, is so stuffy that he can’t decide whether to marry the heroine or to go on with his duties as a laird, which includes marrying another girl from another clan. He can’t trust her, not after sharing so many things and even saying ILU to her. He was always looking for a way of ‘convenience’ where the heroine was concern. The heroine, did she fight back? Nope. Oh she was perfect in every way; beautiful and strong, fiery and smart... NOT! Yah she was physically beautiful, we hear so many odes to that fact. It might’ve been done to veer us away from her perfectly BORING personality, who knows! Anyway, my 1st read of Monica McCarty was not fun or even interesting. It was pretty predictable (storywise) and yes, boring!

Roderick ‘Rory’ MacLeod aka Rory Mor or Rory the Great is the chief of the MacLeods of Skye. He wasn’t supposed to be a chief but for the death of his elder brother and nephew put him into this position. We don’t really know what happened to them. But, everyone knows that Rory The MacLeod is the best warrior along with all the MacLeod warriors he trains and leads. His family contains his younger brother Alex, sister Margaret and half-sister Fiona and his step-mother. Fiona, who is very young and her mother live somewhere else so we don’t get to see them, only know them by mention. But the MacLeods have years of feud with the MacDonalds. It started with the MacDonald of Sleat spurning and humiliating Margaret and rejecting the handfast between them. Margaret was blind in one eye after an accident but she’s actually very beautiful. Rory vows revenge on Sleat and it has been going on for the last 2 yrs. Now, King James has asked to stop this feud and bloodshed by another handfast. This time it’s between Rory and one of James-Anne’s favorite from the court, Isabel. Trouble is, Isabel is a MacDonald but that is why James wants them to stop all this by this handfast. So far, no one but the MacDonalds know that it’s Sleat, Isabel’s uncle’s plan. He wants Isabel to seduce Rory and make him fall in love with her; in return she’d bring out any information to defeat him (a task no one so far could accomplish) which includes the Fairy Flag of the MacLeods’. This Fairy Flag has a history which I won’t explain but it has a historical background and MM has been true to it. But the MacLeods believe that the Fairy Flag has a blessing on them because legend has it that MacLeods are descended from the fairies. Anyway, Rory is of Nordic descendent, with blonde-brown hair with a pair of sapphire blue eyes. He’s of course, very handsome and well-built. Great! But he was equally stuffy and I don’t know, the fact is, I didn’t really care for him and his good looks.

Now, why Sleat chose Isabel for this task? Because she is very beautiful with coppery hair and violet eyes; I mean so beautiful that men would have an eternal erection just by looking at her! Umm well, I might’ve exaggerated a little there but its close, the way she was portrayed. Sleat thought it’d be no problem for Isabel to accomplish the task. Sleat was a real SOB and threatened Isabel with her own clan’s ruination by the hands of their enemy, the MacKenzies. But, Isabel isn’t an evil girl. She was mostly ignored by her father and her older brothers all her life. Even being this beautiful, she has no personality or confidence to speak of. She thinks she isn’t worthy enough so to prove her worth, or so to speak, she agrees with this scheme. It was also because her father and brothers very shamelessly agreed with the plan, to push his daughter/their sister into such danger to save the clan. It was cowardly IMO. Anyway, the 1st scenes were good, how these two met. How Isabel saw Rory first and kept fantasizing about him. But it gets boring after sometimes. I’d rather read something more substantial than how ripped his body or how golden his hair is. Same goes for Rory’s thoughts on Isabel. It gave me an impression that if Isabel wasn’t as beautiful as she was, Rory might not have married her at all!

It’s very apparent that Rory is also very attracted to her, like all his men. But he shows none of it, keeping his ‘I’m the stuffy Laird’ façade. I liked it that he hadn’t slept with anyone from the time when the talk of his handfast was going round but he certainly wants Isabel. Isabel tries whatever her uncle told her to seduce Rory by wearing seductive dresses and so on but she fails miserably. Rory doesn’t give in because he too didn’t want to consummate the handfast since he meant to repudiate it after the time is out. But Isabel is almost a saint. She is so nice; she makes friends with Margaret, helping her with the castle accounts and so on. She is very good with arrows, once saved her brother Ian from certain death. But, those narratives bored me nonetheless because in the end, I saw no proof of her being spunky or anything like that. She was very indecisive about what to do. She also tries to look for the flag in a few places and Rory did catch her once or twice. He doesn’t believe her but wants to, you know looking at her innocent, beautiful violet eyes makes him weak. Nonetheless, Isabel’s stay at Dunvegan (Rory’s castle) proves to be a success, except where Rory is concerned. But they did kiss and fondle and then Rory pushing her away like a jerk. He did act like a jerk over and over again with Isabel and wish, oh how I wished she’d sometimes show him her back just to let him know he isn’t always the boss! One example was: Since Rory wasn’t consummating and people were talking about their handfast, she asked him about it. There was this woman in Rory’s place, whom Isabel kinda instinctively knew (and seeing how Rory is very open with her) that she was his mistress at some point, maybe still is. So, upon Isabel’s question, the jerk told her that he’s been ‘taking his pleasure from elsewhere’, so she won’t have to worry about his needs. OMG, that was so crass! I wanted to slap him hard. It being a lie made it all the more appalling IMO. He just wanted to hurt her (enemy’s daughter and all that) and immediately after, he’d feel guilty of hurting her feelings. Trust me, it went on all through the book, again and again and again, making me sick of this at one point. Isabel is so hurt yet forgives Rory the next moment he smiles at her. Oh he’s so beautiful, how can one resist?!

Me? Watteva!

Anyway, everybody now likes Isabel a lot, even trusts her quite a bit. Margaret is now her closest friend and they’re like sisters. After a few months, Rory begins weakening towards her. It doesn’t help that they’re now sleeping in one bed, only not doing the deed that he wants so much to do with her. Isabel was already, totally daydreaming away about him. Seeing how she brings joy in Margaret’s life, Rory asks her to plan for a Highland games festival. Isabel is overjoyed that finally Rory, it seems, is feeling something different for her! Oh good luck with that! Afterwards, one thing leads to another and Rory thought WTH when Isabel came to their room and found him almost naked, getting out of the bath. They end up making love. And they kept on making love after that. Rory tries to be careful, not to come inside her which hurts Isabel since it tells her that Rory doesn’t have any plans for a future between them. Yah, Rory already informed her he means to reject the handfast. Then one day, Rory leaves for Scotland upon James’s summon and spends like 2 months there. In the meantime Isabel convinces Alex, who’s acting as the Laird now and obviously smitten with her beauty, to have a nice little excursion with Margaret and some guards. She didn’t think there’d be any danger, even with the MacKenzies, who are also MacLeods’ enemies, hovering around for a way to defeat them. They have some fun; Margaret is now almost as good as Isabel in archery, even with one eye. But on their way back, Mackenzies attack. Alex is hurt and Isabel ends up being almost raped... when Rory returns, so conveniently, to save them all. Rory is incensed by the MacKezies and kills the Laird’s son who tried to rape Isabel. He knows now there’d be more trouble. Isabel is of course shaken by this but keeps saying ‘sorry’ for this and she’d keep saying sorry for many stupid things she did over the book.

Meantime, Sleat’s letter arrives, asking for Isabel’s progress. Isabel feels guilty and very scared. She thinks of something like MacKenzies are her father’s enemies as well as Rory’s, so why not ask some help from the King and the Queen who so obviously prefers her. It was all about some land the MacLeods had, rightfully theirs but Sleat and the MacKenzies’ had their own vile plan to grab it for themselves. Isabel also writes letters to her family but no one replies. I couldn’t believe this but shouldn’t have been surprised, seeing the way they just dumped her here and fled right after the handfasting ceremony. The Highland games festival starts with a lot of aplomb and becomes a success for the MacLeods, inevitably. Sleat plans a meeting with Isabel but soon understands that she has fallen in love with Rory. Sleat is angry and threatens her with her clan’s destruction along with revealing her involvement in this scheme to Rory. Isabel is very scared hearing this. She knows Rory would never forgive her if he ever realizes her involvement. I mean after sharing such bliss, is this what she got? How sad and pathetic! Rory sees those two talking and makes a point of asking her questions later on. But no matter what he thinks of her, it doesn’t keep him from screwing her senseless. After the last day of the festivities, he ‘celebrates’ his win with Isabel, who of course, was more than willing to oblige.

The next day, they go out again. Here, gotta mention I loved the little snippets of Margaret and Colin, one of their clansmen and their budding relationship. I wish MM gave them scenes together and more information because I was more interested in them! Very frustrating for me. Anyway, in this outing, Rory is hurt and it seems mortally, when the MacKenzies attack again. Isabel takes care of him day and night, very much afraid for his life. After a few days, even Rory, when he’s conscious thinks that he won’t live. So he summons Alex and talks to him in private. Isabel eavesdrops... unintentionally? I don’t think so. So, Rory was showing Alex where he keeps the Fairy Flag since Alex would be the Laird after him. Whatever Isabel hears/sees, she knew that she’d never betray Rory. That I believed of her because I knew how pathetically besotted she was with him. She even makes out a plan. The flag looks much like one of his old nursemaid Bess’s (who accompanied her to Dunvegan and married someone here) shawls. She decides she’d dupe her uncle with the shawl. Later Rory calls her to himself and confesses that he loves her too. Isabel has already confessed it earlier, even though Rory was again being a suspicious jerk... ermm, don’t even ask.

But, Rory doesn’t die of course. He gets fit in about a few months and they resume their love life too. After a passion filled night together, the next day, when Isabel was replacing the flag to work on her plan, Rory catches her and instantly condemns her of betrayal. Actually much much more than that, calling her a whore (in a way) and just another beautiful woman he wanted to have. He calls her pathetic, someone who craves for attentions which he only provided her! He denies his confession of love, telling her that was because he thought he was dying. He commands her to leave Dunvegan at once and never set foot here again! Ok, why would I want to do anything with an a$$ like him? Tell Me! But oh, Isabel, the stupid woman tries to talk to him; of course he doesn’t give a damn about what she has to say or her explanations because in his mind, he’s already condemned her. After such humiliation, did Isabel just give him her back? Nope! In her uncle’s estate, Dunscaith, she plans to do something, ANYTHING to prove her loyalty to Rory the a$$. She finds some letter from Sleat to the English king (not sure but something like that) which smells of bigger conspiracy. She also suspected Sleat had his alliance with the MacKenzies too. BTW: Isabel’s been fighting nausea for sometimes but still has no idea what is wrong with her, thinking this is just stress. Does any of you know what happened to her? *rolls eyes* Then what does she do when she’s this sick? She rides for two days, alone at a breakneck pace, to reach Rory. Big feat, that!

Me? Watteva!

Rory in the meantime, has got an idea of how big an a$$ he really has been. Letter from James arrived telling him of granting Rory of his wish: which was that he already planned to stick to the handfast and not marry the Campbell woman he planned all along, to save his clan (something pissed me off utterly, his ‘convenient’ way of thinking!). Rory, when he was in love (I see no other way to put it) with Isabel, planned to keep her and marry her and asked James for help so that he doesn’t have to make an alliance with Argyll (and marry the other woman) but it’s a load of political clap-trap I don’t feel like explaining. James also explains that he’s granted Isabel’s wish as she wrote to the Queen of her happiness. Isabel’s wish being granted the land they’re fighting over, to the MacLeods as her tocher or dowry. Rory now realizes, with a little talk from Margaret, that he needs to reclaim Isabel no matter what. Isabel, on the other hand, enters the castle with the hidden passage (the one they used to fool the MacKenzies when Rory was hurt). What she didn’t know that the MacKenzie Laird already knew of this passageway and followed her, right after her uncle informed them of her treachery and planned to kill her soon. Rory finds her like that, weak and dirty yet beautiful (oh puhleez!) nonetheless, trying to sneak into the Fairy Tower, where Rory lives. Don’t think Rory is looking good himself, as he’d spend the last two weeks only drinking and drinking... and more drinking! He is angry to see her but this time, gives her a chance to explain. She does, the pathetic fool and suddenly, Rory is all loving, starts calling her ‘my love’ and all that. Oh spare me the drama, I’m already bored beyond anything! Afterwards, they go to the tower, takes a shower, eats and then takes rest... Oh no, you’re so gigantically wrong! They have sex, quite rough sex at that... I felt like screaming in frustration and throw the book away. SO PREDICTABLE! I mean hello, at least take a shower, you two!! That night the MacKenzies attack, don’t wanna go into details but Rory actually kissed Isabel with a lot of passion just after the MacKenzie Laird was killed, infront of his dead body! Ermm, can anyone feel anything with a dead man in the room staring back at you? Oh but that was creepy! Anyway the next day, it’s Rory who asks Isabel about her nausea and explains her sickness and monthly fluxes, to make her understand what’s ‘wrong’ with her. Oh good! I don’t care anymore. Glad that I finished it!

The only interesting thing about this book IMO was the author’s note. It seems like there are real MacLeods (still present) and a real Castle Dunvegan. Oh, wow, it felt great knowing that many of the events of this story were taken from history. I only wish the story and the characters themselves were as good as the history. 3.5 stars.


I did my own research on Dunvegan and the Clan MacLeod. You can go to their websites to know more about them (yes there was a real Rory MacLeod or Rory Mor, who married one Isabel MacDonald and sired 11 kids! Why oh why I couldn’t find one of his paintings... or anything at least?!).


            More on him can be found in Wikipedia.




Here is a pic of Castle Dunvegan I couldn’t help posting:

Castle Dunvegan

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Punya
I'm a simple girl. I love to read in my spare time and do reviews the books I read. I also write, mostly songs/poems, though I'm not published. I love music and traveling. Sometimes, I wish I could live inside a book, having my own HEA. :)
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