The Bride of the Beast – MacKenzie #2 – Sue Ellen Welfonder

I’m sorry, I just couldn’t finish this book. I tried. I really did but I just couldn’t get into it. I pushed myself to get to 37% of the book but had to stop there.

Like the first book, there was a lot of introspection…too much but unlike the first book where I liked the heroine, I could not stand the main female character. She was a total bitch. She was mean and condescending to her best friend and she was judgmental and bigoted. I couldn’t find any redeeming or endearing qualities about her. I didn’t warm up to her at all which is too bad because I really liked the leading male character. So, having too much introspection and a unlikeable leading character ruined the book for me.

get to the point

Caterine has been married twice now. The second husband was elderly and the first died by the hand of English soldiers…at least that is what it sounded like in all of Caterine’s memories which were fragmented so I never really got a clear picture of what happened which is what the author probably did on purpose to make the reader curious but it had the opposite effect on me. I think the author was not giving all the details of what happened also to show that Caterine’s memories were just too painful to dredge it up even in her own mind but it just irritated me. Whatever happened, it was inferred that the English soldiers raped Caterine. Now she hates anyone who is English.

Her late husband’s clan, castle and land are in ruins because nobody is there to lead them. Very few strong men and servants stayed or are loyal to her. She has a step-son old enough to take over but he is a weak man who doesn’t believe in himself so no one will listen to him. Their provisions and store rooms are empty and they are on the verge of starvation.

Sir Hugh de la Hogue, a vile, fat and cruel Englishman, has threatened to take over her castle and he wants her for himself. He has been terrorizing the countryside and people who live there. He has an order from the King and if Caterine doesn’t come up with something fast, she will be forced to marry him.

Caterine’s friend, Rhona, comes up with an idea that Caterine needs a champion who will marry her and whip the castle back to its former glory but Caterine rejects Rhona’s idea. Caterine’s sister is married to a powerful man who knows many people. She doesn’t want to get married again so Rhona tells her that maybe they can get someone to pretend to marry her instead. Caterine still rejects the idea. I thought it was a pretty good idea but Caterine was rude and dismissed her friend’s idea like her friend was some air headed bimbo. It was sad how she treated her friend. Rhona sent a message to Caterine’s sister anyway.

Marmaduke (Yes that is his name, poor fellow; it was probably a fine name back in the day before someone decided to name their cartoon Great Dane Marmaduke) has pledged his life to the MacKenzie clan and its chief where he has lived for many years even though he is an English knight. He was beaten and whipped and left for dead after he turned his sword on the soldiers he was with when they started raping and killing women and children in a village. The MacKenzie chief found him and took him in and treated him like a brother. In fact, he married the chief’s sister but she died.

We met Marmaduke in the first book of the series. He was loyal and an all-around good man. He has a scar on his face and one of his eyes is blind from a sword fight but he still charms the ladies. His chief’s lady has asked him to be her sister’s champion and pretend to marry her. He would do anything for the lady but he will not pretend to marry something. He will marry Caterine for real but he won’t take the sanctity of marriage in vain.

When Sir Hugh comes to hassle Caterine, Rhona tells him that he need not bother the Lady Caterine anymore because a champion is on his way to help her, Caterine is surprised but Sir Hugh tells them that he will be there and wants to see the actual ceremony or he will not believe it and take Caterine for himself so now Caterine will have to marry the man her sister sends.

When Marmaduke and his four guardsmen arrive, Caterine is immediately rude and dismissive of them because Marmaduke is English.

I kept thinking that she deserved Sir Hugh if she was too proud and biased to accept help from anyone. I mean, she lives in a dark, cold and dank castle and is eating watery soup and her clothes are threadbare yet she is a total bitch to the people who are there to help her. Her only other choice would be to marry Sir Hugh so I didn’t get why she was so nasty to Marmaduke. I get that she had a horrible thing happen to her at the hands of Englishmen but once she saw that he was a good person, she continued to be cold and rude to him.

Someone snuck into the castle through the garderobe with the help of someone on the inside who got away when Marmaduke and his guardsmen accosted them. That person keeps slinking around in the shadows and is planning something devious.

Marmaduke has a plan to get Caterine’s step-son to lead his people by training him and giving him more confidence and he wants to make Caterine fall in love with him and take her back with him when he goes home.

Caterine is attracted to Marmaduke but keeps fighting it because he is English. Ugh! I hate when characters fight their feelings for so long that it just ruins the book. Plus she was just an ol’ bitty so how could Marmaduke even like her?

The book kept dragging along and I just couldn’t take it any longer so I stopped reading it.

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Devil in a Kilt – MacKenzie #1 – Sue Ellen Welfonder

I’m on a Highlander historical romance kick. I’ve been searching high and low for a good Highlander series that has at a few books already written. I found this series and looked at the reviews to see if it was worth reading and the majority of readers liked it so I downloaded the first book.

The story and plot were pretty good but I had such a hard time getting used to the authors use of expletives, not because they were harsh but because they made me laugh. I think they were supposed to be meant to show how mad or excited the characters speaking or thinking was but instead it made me think of southern belles with big yellow dresses and parasols fluttering their fans saying things like, “Land sakes!” with their exaggerated southern accents. The author used various expletives a lot and I never really got used to it. Most of them had to do with religion; probably the Catholic Church since that was the dominant religion in Scotland at the time. Here’s a list of some of them that I started writing down in the last third of the book.

Staff of Columbaf!

By the Staff of Saint Columba!

By the Rood!

By the Saints!

Christ’s Blood!

God’s Blood!

Breath of the Apostles!

Saints, Maria and Joseph!

St. Margaret!

For the love of Saint Mungo!

As you can see, they were strange sayings and I had a hard time keeping a straight face even though the situations when the expletive was used was serious. Also, calling nether parts on the man and woman a manroot and sweetmeat made me cringe.

One more thing that drove me batty was the over use of introspection and self-dialogue. Anyone who reads my reviews knows I think less is more when it comes to introspection. If the characters keep repeating their inner turmoil, excuses and misgivings, it becomes monotonous to me. What really bothers me is when there are paragraphs and paragraphs of introspection while something important is happening like a romantic moment. It ruins the moment for me because instead of a moment, it becomes fifteen minutes of non-stop garbally-goop. There was a lot of it in this book and it annoyed me.

I’ll get to the point now and stop all my garbally-goop.

Linnet MacDonnell is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter which gives her the gift of “sight”, where she has visions and is a bit psychic. She is the least beautiful of all her sisters who all have been married off by their drunken lout of a father. Now, her father is marrying her to their enemy. She listens in on a conversation between her nursemaid and her father about how she will be marrying a man is called the black stag and rumored to have killed his first wife. He only wants her for her gift of sight to tell him if the child born of his first marriage is his or his half-brother’s son and so she can warn him of any trouble coming to his clan.

Duncan MacKenzie has sworn off love after his first wife’s betrayal. She was one of the most beautiful women ever but she used her beauty for evil. She slept with his half-brother and killed both his mother and sister by poison. Before she died, she taunted him by telling him his son might not be his. He wants to know if he is the father or not so he decides to marry a woman for her gift of sight. He has heard she is not a great beauty and that is what he wants because he does not plan on bedding the lass. He wants the marriage in name only but when he sees her with her fiery red hair, he thinks he has been lied to by his kinsmen about her looks.

Linnet knows immediately that Robby is Duncan’s son upon meeting him but she decides not to tell him that she knows because she thinks Duncan should love the boy no matter who fathered him. I thought that was a bit manipulative on her part and I thought Duncan was a dick for ignoring his son. Since his wife’s death, (I think it had been two years) he put Robby on the other side of the castle and makes sure that he never sees him. The boy doesn’t even eat in the great hall with the rest of them. Before his wife told him that Robby might not be his, he spent a lot of time with him. I thought it was heartless to ignore the poor child. It wasn’t the boy’s fault that his mom was unfaithful.

Another dick move by Duncan was when he finally sleeps with Linette and right afterwards when he sees her look of adoration in her eyes, he gets scared of his own feelings so he tells her that he has no feelings for her but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy having sex together. The way he made it sound was like she was just a convenient piece of tail. It was really hurtful.

Duncan’s half-brother Kenneth wants what Duncan has. He is going around killing families on the outskirts of the MacKenzie lands trying to cause trouble. He threatened Linnet when she was outside the castle gates hunting for herbs and promised to see her again.

I like the secondary characters in the story especially the brief glimpse of some of Linnet’s brothers.

I am going to try the second book. Hopefully, I can get used to the expletives and the author will limit the use of introspection.

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