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Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya Banks

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Seduction of a Highland Lass
McCabe Trilogy #2

Maya Banks
Medieval Romance
Published in 2011

H/h - Alaric McCabe/Keeley McDonald
Setting: Scotland, the Highlands, In the time of King David I.

Read in Dec, 2011.
My rating:

                                                                     [spoiler alert]

The 2nd book of McCabe Trilogy was soooo good, seriously! I didn’t know what to expect yet I enjoyed it SO much. Both Keeley and Alaric gave a great read, surprised and made me cry as well. This book had its funny moments and those silly banters between the brothers. I loved them. There were also many frustrating things for me. Still I have to say, I’m truly enjoying this trilogy a lot.

From In Bed with a Highlander, we knew that Alaric, the 2nd McCabe brother was supposed to marry Rionna MacDonald to form an alliance with the MacDonald clan. They need this alliance immediately to defeat their most hated enemy, Duncan Cameron. It’s because of Duncan, Ewan, Alaric and Caelen lost their father and Ewan’s 1st wife along with the utter destruction of their clan 8 yrs. ago. So far, Ewan, the laird and all the remaining clan members, have shed much blood and sweat to keep themselves and their clan together. But money was always short in supply, things still needed to be repaired; many would still go hungry and cold when the winter arrived. But, very recently, Mairin Stuart, the illegitimate daughter of Alexander I and the niece to the current king David I, arrived in their lives quite coincidentally. She took the McCabe clan by storm, winning Ewan in the process and gave them back their financial backbone with her enormous dowry and a piece of land that is coveted by all the Highland clans out there called Neamh Álainn or beautiful heaven. Duncan wanted her too, made a lot of troubles for them but Ewan ultimately saved her from him by marrying her. Now, Mairin is pregnant with their 1st child who would ultimately own Neamh Álainn. So, protection is the most important thing for Ewan and the rest of the clan. With Alaric’s marriage to Rionna, many other clans will unite with the McCabes to fight with the Camerons. When this story starts, Alaric was on his way to the MacDonald holdings for his formal betrothal to Rionna. The alliance also mentioned that when Rionna’s 1st child was born, Alaric would become the laird of the MacDonald’s in Rionna’s father’s stead because he Rionna is his only heir. Here, I’d also like to note that the Rionna’s father originally wanted Ewan to marry her but before the matter was discussed any further, Ewan married Mairin and soon, they both found love. Now Ewan (and the other clans) wants Alaric to marry Rionna.

I was sure that Rionna would be Alaric’s match but it was surprising to find a different heroine. Keeley is also a MacDonald but because of a wrongdoing done to her, she’d been an outcast from her clan for a longtime; since she was but a young woman. Keeley despairs of ever being welcomed back into her clan. So far, no one did, not even Rionna, whom she’d always thought as the sister of her heart. They were very good friends but Rionna’s father is an old lecher, always been. He tried to rape Keeley but Rionna’s mother happened upon them at that time. It did save Keeley physically but she was cast out, for Rionna’s jealous mother cried her a ‘whore’. Keeley hoped Rionna would call her back home when her mother passed away. But she never did. Keeley is very upset about it but she hangs on. She has dreams like any young woman and daydreams quite a lot. I found this endearing at times; that she’d daydream away about certain situations and then berate herself. Lol Keeley is a gifted healer, so even though she’s an outcast, MacDonalds would come to her for her aid in for various ailments. This day, she was thinking of her bleak future, the winter ahead and the wood and food she’d have to gather before it when suddenly a huge horse comes in front of her small cottage which borders with the MacDonald holdings but not quite into it, carrying a fatally injured man. Keeley had to drag the big warrior inside with the horse’s help. Oh, she was a fiery one. I so enjoyed her sarcastic comments throughout the book, at least the half she wasn’t in one peril or the other. This scene was quite funny. She finds the warrior attractive but the wound on his side was bad. Keeley tries taking care of him as well as she could. The warrior would wake up from his delirium and call her his angel when it suited him, or would berate her calling her a she-devil when he was in the throes of bad feverish nightmares. Keeley didn’t know how to react. She loved the way he called her angel and would’ve been more than happy to become his angel in reality. But she knew it’s a foolish fancy as a man like him would never marry a cast out woman like her. She still didn’t know who he is or where did he came from but hoped the man would recover soon. I did love this part of the story a lot. Then, one day, suddenly a few men barges into her house and calls the man Alaric (a name she liked on-spot) and that he’s betrothed to Rionna, when all of Keeley’s fantasies die a premature death.

Cameron’s men injured Alaric and killed the few men he was traveling with. He had no idea how he came to be in this house but whenever he’d wake up, he’d see this beautiful face tending to him. When Ewan and Caelen, along with some of their men came for him, Alaric was unconscious. Seeing how well Keeley took care of him, Ewan demands she’d go with them, tend to Alaric as well as Mairin when she has her baby. Keeley fought at first, disliked the ever moody Caelen and the conceited ass of a laird on sight. But she really didn’t want to leave Alaric so she travels with them. I didn’t, at all, like the way Ewan would behave with her but I, like Keeley, had to understand that she’s just the healer. Mairin makes friends with her. But Alaric wasn’t helping the matter because he was always demanding that she be near and would want to hold her while he sleeps thorough his illness. This did say a lot to the brothers and Mairin. Keeley takes good care of him and Alaric soon recovers. Their relationship starts to develop to a more intimate level. There was no denying that these two wanted each-other very very much. But because of this impossible situation of the alliance, Alaric was unable to promise her anything solid. Seeing Alaric’s state of mind, Caelen even asks him to ‘just take her and be done with it’ but Alaric surprised me with his insights. Though he also at first wanted to make Keeley his mistress, soon he figured out his feelings are more than physical. It’s very solid, honest and intense. Keeley definitely returns his fervor but she also knew how impossible this situation was. Now that the king knows of this marriage and the alliance, he sent his blessings and wanted to attend the ceremony.

From book #1, I didn’t really know what to think of Alaric. I actually found him more of a gruff sort and Caelen the easy type, with something dark larking behind that façade. We knew that Caelen was betrayed by the woman he loved which led to the incident of 8 yrs ago and so, he forsworn marriage and love forever. Ewan, well he was the conceited a$$ even then, he’s the laird after all! We were also introduced to a few secondary characters I really liked- Maddie, the helper woman from the clan, Gerta the cranky cook, Cormac and Gannon, Ewan’s most trusted soldiers who are given the ‘miserable’ task of keeping the women (it was Mairin first) safe. Another helper girl, Christina had this crush on Cormac. Here, Keeley and Mairin helped her with this situation that ‘reeled’ Cormac in and they got engaged. But for Keeley and Alaric, it was becoming harder to live apart. It was already painful for Keeley to hear the talks of Alaric’s imminent marriage, along with the MacDonalds and the King’s arrival. She was scared to face them, especially because of what happened to her in the past. Now that she’s a McCabe (though it was a shaky start, they took her in well) she doesn’t want to lose this place and Alaric. Soon they give in. I actually was a bit pissed that even knowing the kind of mess they’d be in they slept together. But I had to accede that their feelings for each-other were very deep and the situation... ugh, it was so utterly frustrating! It didn’t help that Ewan kept reminding Alaric of this alliance and his marriage. Though he tried asking Alaric ‘if’ it’s what he wanted, it was pretty obvious what he left off. Alaric was ever grateful to his older brother for saving the clan so he thought it’s time to return the favor. Rionna isn’t bad looking or anything! He can make it. But it’s Keeley he wants and Keeley he loves. I totally wanted to slap Ewan because I couldn’t but feel that he was heaving this sigh of relief that he didn’t have to marry without love; two scenes where he was asked this question kinda proved this as he tried to dodge it with his customary bluster and so on. So let Alaric be the proverbial ‘sacrificial lamb’! It pissed me to no end, this whole situation. It made me sad too. Making love to Keeley, at least for a while (until the MacDonalds arrive), is all Alaric could have at the moment. In the 1st love scene, I didn’t know what a surprise Alaric is holding there for me! But then, the MacDonalds arrive before Mairin’s baby was born. Alaric knew he had, at least, to make Keeley understand that she’d always be his. And so came the 2nd love scene. Boy oh boy, Alaric has some inclination to light bondage, though he didn’t really know what it is and never even tried it with any other women. I was really taken aback but very pleasantly. *grins* That love scene was HOT.

Before this, Keeley and Crispen (Ewan’s son and heir from his 1st marriage) were kidnapped by Duncan’s henchmen but when they understood it’s not Mairin, they injure Keeley. She comes down with a fever because of the prolonged exposure in the snow. She was quite ill and Alaric took care of her. Alaric also knew about Keeley’s past now. He loathed the MacDonald laird and felt like murdering the man. When the MacDonalds arrive, it’s apparent that Alaric has to marry soon. The MacDonald laird, with the other clans and the king himself, isn’t willing to wait longer to seal the deal. Keeley faces Rionna again, who tells her that she knew of it all but was scared of what her father would do to her. Because of it, Rionna never called her back home but send the clan people to her so that she had some money to go on with. I always thought Rionna smart, she proved it in book #1. She’s a bit of a tomboy, loves to train with the men and very good with swords but it was apparent that she hadn’t much love for her father. She, again, proved that she’s not only smart but compassionate too in the end of the story. When Keeley got well, Mairin has her baby; a girl they named Isabella. She would dream of a home and children of her own with Alaric but it wasn’t going to happen, a fact Keeley took in even though it hurt like hell. It was getting more frustrating for me but I still didn’t know what was to come soon.

After the King’s arrival, the whole clan was planning for two weddings, Rionna-Alaric’s and Cormac-Christina’s. The lecher MacDonald laird tries to rape Keeley again, and here I saw Caelen’s new face, the very protective one when it comes to women, when he saves her. Keeley asks him later not to tell anyone about it. She wants nothing to go wrong for Alaric and for the McCabes. Wasn’t she a real saint, huh? I wanted to shake her real hard and scream ‘fight for your man, woman!’ This felt so unfair! And she had to go through another extreme test to get what she wanted (with me shaking my head and feeling really sad for these two). I won’t talk about it, just know that the ending was really heartbreaking and then very sweet too. I was thinking I haven’t read another book where the H or h both been ill/injured through the course of the story like this one and more than once at that! Funny!

Caelen has his layers, I can’t wait find those out. He was pretty gruff in this book and broody, was quite rude to Keeley at first, which she returned word by word. But he grew fond of her as the time passed and now that he knows Alaric’s feelings for her and the fact that it’s very real between them, Caelen can’t help but be protective of Keeley. It was said in this book that once Caelen gives his loyalty (and maybe his heart too), he gives it completely. When Alaric denies going through his marriage to Rionna in front of the king himself, Caelen steps up. It was the only viable solution at that moment. Poor Rionna! She didn’t really deserve all these careless tossing and turning by these men. She definitely didn’t deserve to be rejected by two men. It was already evident that the apparently ‘cold and emotionally detached’ Caelen would do her no good. Ugh. But, this interests me and I can’t wait to see how her and Caelen’s story goes! Meanwhile, 4.5 stars for Seduction of a Highland Lass.


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