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Reluctant by Kerrigan Byrne

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reluctant (novella)
Highland Historical #6/The Mackays #3

Kerrigan Byrne
Medieval Romance/Fantasy/Paranormal
Published in 2013

H/h - Soren Nielson/Kamdyn MacKay
Setting: Medieval Scotland.

Read in June, 2013
My rating:

                                                    [spoiler alert]

In my review of Redeemed, I mentioned that finding out what’s next in Kerrigan’s book is like unwrapping a gift. And that Reluctant truly was. At the end of that book, I had no clue as to what is going to happen to Kamdyn, the last MacKay sister. But I was more than surprised to find who it is Kerrigan made Kamdyn’s H. Surprises were aplenty in this book; some definitely good, some... not so much. I’ll try to explain as I go.

I’d recommend to anyone wanting to read this book to start with book 1 of the Highland Historical series. They’re not intertwined in that sense, and Reluctant is not really connected to the 3 MacLauchlan books but the MacKays were introduced in those. Either way, they’re lovely stories so go ahead and pick them up anyway. Kerrigan certainly knows how to write!

I’ll try to do a short recap first. Kamdyn and her two sisters, Katriona and Kylah died in a fire long time ago. Their mother barely survived, but stuck a deal with the then Banshee queen to make them banshees so that they can exact their vengeance on the men who were a party to their gruesome death; most especially Angus, the laird of the MacKays who raped Kylah before setting her on fire. But Angus died before they could do anything, so did his mean father in the hands of the MacLauchlan brothers Connor and Roderick. Katriona and Kylah have already gotten past their vengeance, embracing the men they love in the previous installments. Katriona was in love with Rory, the new MacKay laird, a sentiment he returned tenfold. He might be Angus’s brother but nothing like him, in neither looks or bearing. Kylah and her druid, Daroch meet in the first book of MacKay trilogy in an electrifying moment that seals their fate. Their story was about how they finally find a way to be together. The nasty Banshee queen dies and her own handmaiden, Tah Liah becomes the new queen. Kamdyn agrees to become Tah Liah’s handmaiden in exchange of Kylah’s mortality, so that she can be with Daroch.

I need to talk a little about the berserker MacLauchlan brothers Connor and Roderick, Connor being the laird of the clan. They find an illegitimate brother of theirs, Finn, in book 3 of their trilogy. Finn was born in the North (Nordic descendant) at the temple of Freya. His mother was a whore and abandoned by their father. Finn didn’t know he was sent here to kill his own brothers. I loved his story, alongside Connor and Roderick’s. At the end of Finn’s story, some people from his homeland, berserkers and the like, follow him to the Highlands. Their aim was the same; to kill the Highland berserkers (Finn, too for his ‘failure’) and cleanse the tainted line of berserkers from this earth. Soren, our H of Reluctant was one of them. Honestly, I don’t remember him because he was a really minor character, not mentioned that way. All I know that he was as misinformed by their so-called leader as Finn was before he learned all the facts.

20 years have passed by since Kamdyn has become Tah Liah’s handmaiden. She has tried her best to serve her queen, but Kamdyn sometimes scares of being alone in this world. She’s an immortal, and so hasn’t aged at all because she’d lived with the Fae. But her sisters and their husbands are not immortals. Neither are their children. Kamdyn has formed strong attachment to them and it’d be really hard for her to see them go.

Fun begins when one day, the MacLauchlan brothers seek Tah Liah’s help in finding this ‘Laird of Shadows’; a villain of all villains, who pillages and burns houses alongside his rowdy group of miscreants. It pains to admit but Finn does admit of not being able to capture this guy at all. He has escaped all their previous attempts. Finn and his brothers are desperate to put a stop to all these. With the help of the Banshee queen, they want to see this man dead. Tah Liah doesn’t want to get involved into human matters anymore (there are reasons) but she agrees on this. The queen decides that a banshee would be the best way to kill this Laird of Shadows and she chooses Kamdyn, who was there, day dreaming away about the big and strong MacLauchlan bunch, along with her own BILs... as usual not paying attention to the details. :p I agree, it must be verra distracting to see those big, handsome and muscle-bound men (all 5 of them) together! *heehee*

Kamdyn was not my favorite of the MacKay sisters but here, she really impressed me. She might sound like an air-head… well, she’s anything but and she proves it soon enough. The story itself doesn’t let you take a breath because from the moment Kamdyn sets her eyes on Soren, things start moving fast... and sexy. Kamdyn is very, VERY distracted by the handsome (and quite naked) Northman who was asleep when she finds him in his tent. She’s entirely unhappy to discover that her so-called prey has the face of Cupid and a body that she’d like to ogle all.day.long... every.single.day. Too bad that he won’t live long enough for that. *sigh*

Oh... what can I say! I loved those first scenes, Kamdyn and Soren’s dialogues, the looks they gave to each-other, Kamdyn’s embarrassment about male nudity, which quickly turned into fascination. Soren steals her heart since the beginning with his open and honest words. And there was the baffling fact that he’s not afraid to die! What Kamdyn doesn’t know that seeing her blood (from a knife would inflicted by a sleep-dazed Soren) brought out Soren’s berserkergang and his beast, the poor thing, goes and claims her as his mate!

I’m not sure why Kamdyn wasn’t aware of such details though. But, Soren’s beastly kisses takes her breath away. Kamdyn was still a virgin, never being attracted to the too perfect Fae male, a fact Soren didn’t know. He was simply elated to find his mate, a lifelong dream for any berserker. Yet, he was equally sad to realize that he won’t live long enough to explore this bond with Kamdyn. So, Soren settles for something they can do in this short time. He very straightforwardly asks Kamdyn about having sex.

And they do have sex all night... HOT sex, if I might mention.

Oooh boy, fan me some air cause it’s too hot in here!!

*daydreaming.................. (do not disturb)*

Returning to the reality *sigh* and back to the review... Reluctant doesn’t have a lot of action in that sense. It’s more about the tale of Soren and Kamdyn’s relationship. As they spend that one contented night together, Soren realizes that he loves her, as clear as daylight. Kamdyn can’t believe in his confession, but inside, she knew that something has changed between them irrevocably... and it’s not just her non-virgin state. She still has to kill Soren because contracts were signed and so on. Yet when Kamdyn looks at Soren, she knows she can’t do it... she just can’t.

Later, when she was sorting out her confusing feelings towards Soren, Tah Liah pays them a visit with some distressing news regarding a clan that has been bugging the MacKays for sometimes now. And it’s not looking good right now. They’re at war and Kamdyn needs to be beside her clan and her loved ones. Soren follows her (I mean of course, he’d go wherever his mate leads him to... how sexy!) to the MacKays, knowing the danger he’s putting himself and his men into. Before he dies, Soren would gift his mate with a victory for her clan and secure a place for his rugged band of men if possible.

In the end, Kamdyn does find a way to ‘rescue’ Soren from his death penalty.

Ah, it was fun and sweet. Some emotional scenes were there too... and sex was as usual super hot. Seeing the older characters like the MacLauchlan brothers were an added bonus. When the story ended on a positive note (I’m still not sure if Kamdyn and Soren are staying immortal or not), I sighed with pleasure. But it didn’t feel like the wrapping up of a series, as I later found Kerrigan mentioning in her Facebook page. I felt sad when I read that because I simply don’t want to let go of this series. There were some secondary characters who I thought might have their own books.

I sincerely hope Kerrigan writes more spin-offs... more from this setting and definitely more berserkers! I’d even love if she revisits our favorite couples, giving us a glimpse of their lives together. Well, I’ll take just about anything!!! 4.5 stars.


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