16 April 2011

The Eternal Highlander


First sentence:  Untroubled by the cold, Cathal MacNachton watched the shadowy figures emerge from the depths of his keep and disappear into the thick, mist-shrouded forest surrounding Cambrun, hiding it from prying eyes.

Publisher's Synopsis:  Cathal MacNachton and Connall MacAdie are cousins bound by far more than blood ties and the rugged Highland landscape their clan calls home. The ancient curse of their ancestry has fated them to live by night with an unquenchable thirst that neither can tame. The only thing that can save their souls is marriage to Outsiders -- mortals whose untainted blood will weaken the curse in their children and break the chains of fear that have made their clan  a breed apart.

Bridget Callan and Eva Caxton are the women who will shape the clan's destiny. Marriage to these strange and mysterious men will rescue each of them from desperate circumstances -- and draw them into a web of danger, desire, and intrigue...

I bought this book because I adore Lynsay Sands, but I'd never read anything by Hannah Howell. Ms. Howell's story, Nightriders, is the first of the two stories, and I went into it with anticipation.

I enjoyed the story. I did. It was a little bit of a different take on vampires. In fact, the word "vampire" is never used. Cathal MacNachton, the hero, is a laird who is a "halfling" - his father, a Nightrider, married an Outsider, as normal mortal people are called. The Nightriders no longer feed off humans, and Cathal wants to breed out the undesirable traits from their bloodline. But more importantly, he wants to breed, period. There hasn't been a child born to his clan in twenty years, due to excessive inbreeding. So when Bridget Callan, an Outsider, falls into his life, he decides she will be a suitable bride. Though she, of course, is not at first convinced.

Bridget has a secret of her own, which we, the reader, are not privy too, though it was fairly easy to figure out, long before Cathal did. But their banter and eventual coming together was enjoyable.

It was the dialogue that about did me in. Not what the characters said, but the way they said it. I realize that the author was striving for authenticity in her characters. But there were just too many verras, and dinaes, and willnaes, and kens, and weels, and the like. It interrupted the flow of the story for me. An example of the dialogue:

"Ye dinnae belong here"

"Nay? Why shouldnae I be here? I am nay upsetting the horses."

"Dinnae play the fool. Ye ken what I mean. Ye should leave Cambrun."

I did love this line though: "I recently decided that I best take ye as I dinnae seem to want anyone else to have ye."

A brief scan through Ms. Sands' story leads me to believe that her characters' dialogue will be similar, but I'm hopeful it will be easier reading. However, I'm setting the book aside for the time being to read some Jane Porter books that I've now promised to a Book Mooch member.  So my review at this time is only for the first story in the book.

(I purchased this book at Half Price Books.)

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