Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Highlander Most Wanted, Maya Banks (2013)

Book Source: NetGalley

This is the first time I've read a Maya Banks book.  I decided to give it a try as I've read and heard so many good things on her novels, so when I saw an available ARC at NetGalley, I eagerly requested it.
What can I say? Was it entertaining? Pretty much, at least the first half, after that it went downhill.

Genevieve McInnis (great name!), the daughter of a powerful laird with connections to the crown, was kidnapped by the evil Ian McHugh a year before when she was on her way to her betrothed,  and forced to become his leman (whore).  She underwent all types of horrible physical and psychological abuse during the year she lived with him, but she manages to survive in one peace, except for the scar on her face.

The story starts when the Montgomerys and the Armstrongs came to avenge the kidnapping of the wife of the Montgomery laird, even though they had already killed Ian (told in the previous book, which isn't necessary to read to understand this one), they still wanted the McHugh laird's head (Ian's father).  Unfortunately, they only found a keep filled with women, children, and some husbands, and of course Genevieve.  All the others had left and the laird had abandoned their people.  Bowen Montgomery, second in command of the clan (as his brother, the laird was back in their own keep), decided to take over the McHughs and their keep in retribution for the wrong done to them.  The only one willing to face him from the beginning (since the McHughs are painted as cowards), was of course, Genevieve, so they get to know each other and fall in love, regardless of her sordid past.  

The first half of the book was truly emotionally gripping as Genevieve's story slowly unfolded and we became witnesses to the injustices done to her, not only by Ian McHugh, but by the clan itself who turned a blind eye during her sufferings.  We got to view how in spite of it all, she was still filled with honor and tried to do the best under inhumane circumstances, a quality Bowen recognized and appreciated in her, and even made him fall in love with her.  It was really tender to see how he didn't care that she was 'soiled goods,' all he cared about was bringing back a semblance of humanity into her life.  
It was a great decision on behalf of the author to make the heroine not only not be a virgin, but to have a scarred face, a Middle Ages depiction of the Scarlet Letter.  Oftentimes, the heroines in these kinds of novels are picture perfect (I mean, Genevieve was too, except for the scar), so it makes one wonder how could there have been so many beautiful women running around in the Highlands, but the author took a different road with this heroine, which was a bit refreshing for this genre.  
The hero, Bowen, was flawless, not only physically, but also emotionally.  He knew just what to say/do to make our heroine happy all the time.

Not So Positive:
One of the highlights of the novel is the strength Genevieve had to overcome it all, and the fact that the hero wasn't the typical chauvinist who didn't understand her, on the contrary, he was super understanding. BUT... about half the book is concentrated on how Genevieve was grateful for his understanding; grateful for his help; grateful for his protection; grateful he accepted her; grateful that his family accepted her; grateful that they gave her a real bed to sleep on... and on, and on, and on! Yes, we get it that she lived in horrible circumstances under the McHugh rule, but we went from a woman who had the wit and strength to kill her enemies, to someone whose eyes filled up with tears every.single.time someone did something nice for her. It was frustrating to read how AGAIN she was appreciative of someone's kindness and how she burst into tears in gratitude.
The second half of the novel also had no real conflict; granted, the "conflict" was how Bowen had to 'set her free,' but it was really obvious that they would end up together anyway, since they loved each other from practically the beginning and they voiced it.  There was no tension, insecurities about what the other felt, nothing, therefore, the book could have easily ended about 5 chapters before it did.

Final Verdict: It was OK. Will I read this author again? Probably not. There are still some Julie Garwoods and Mary Baloghs that I haven't read if I want to go into the romance genre, Maya Banks will not be amongst them.


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