In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks
Series: McCabe Trilogy #1
Also in this series: In Bed with a Highlander, Never Love a Highlander, Seduction of a Highland Lass, In Bed with a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy, #1), Seduction of a Highland Lass (McCabe Trilogy, #2), Never Love a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy, #3)
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Historical Romance
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Maya Banks' beguiling new trilogy features three unforgettable brothers risking everything to save their clan and their legacy—and to surrender their hearts to love.
Ewan McCabe, the eldest, is a warrior determined to vanquish his enemy. Now, with the time ripe for battle, his men are ready and Ewan is poised to take back what is his—until a blue-eyed, raven-haired temptress is thrust upon him. Mairin may be the salvation of Ewan's clan, but for a man who dreams only of revenge, matters of the heart are strange territory to conquer.
The illegitimate daughter of the king, Mairin possesses prized property that has made her a pawn—and wary of love. Her worst fears are realized when she is rescued from peril only to be forced into marriage by her charismatic and commanding savior, Ewan McCabe. But her attraction to her ruggedly powerful new husband makes her crave his surprisingly tender touch; her body comes alive under his sensual mastery. And as war draws near, Mairin's strength, spirit, and passion challenge Ewan to conquer his demons—and embrace a love that means more than revenge and land.
I heard quite a bit of buzz about this series being very similar to some of Julie Garwood’s early medieval novels. Since those are some of my favorite books, of course I had to read these. While I would agree there’s much about this book that’s reminiscent of early Garwood, there are also many differences. I felt like a lot of the humor from Garwood was missing. About halfway through the novel I stopped comparing the two and took this book on it’s own merits. Once I did that I really fell into the story.
Mairin Stuart is the bastard daughter of Alexander, King of Scotland. Before he died, Alexander gifted Mairin with an extremely large dowry and put into trust for her firstborn child one of the most coveted pieces of land in the country. The danger to her because of this is great, so she was hidden in a convent at an early age. Though she knew the possibility existed, she still wasn’t prepared when Duncan Cameron burst into the abbey and abducted her. Duncan is the kind of man she’s been hiding from all her life. He wants nothing more from her than a child so he can secure her dowry, then he plans to kill her. On the way to his keep they catch a young boy who is trying to steal a horse from Cameron.
Mairin rescues the boy, Crispin, and they eventually escape, but not until after Cameron beats Mairin severely. Although injured, she does her best to get Crispin home. When they’re found by Cripsin’s uncle, Mairin is afraid she’s swapping one brutal captor for another, despite Crispin’s assurances that his father will protect her.
Ewan McCabe is struggling to keep his clan going after an attack 8 years ago decimated his keep and most of his lands. Though he’s struggling to feed his people, he still has one of the strongest fighting forces in the Highlands. When his son disappears, he fears the worst. His relief when Crispin is returned is great, but so is his need for answers about how he came to be with the woman who is dressed in Cameron colors.
When Ewan realizes who Mairin is, he knows she’s the answers to his prayers. Her dowry will restore the clan to it’s former glory and the land she brings will cement the future for them all. But as time goes on it isn’t her dowry that Ewan is thinking about, it’s Mairin herself. The fiery woman captures his attention and his heart. There are many threats to them, however, and things aren’t easy.
Both Mairin and Ewan were very well written. Mairin is young and innocent, but she isn’t stupid. She knows she must marry a strong man with a large fighting force, because he’ll forever be defending her land and dowry. She’d been working with the abbess to find an acceptable husband, but hadn’t settled on one when she was abducted. I liked that she wasn’t silly or naive, thinking she’d hold out for love. She just wanted a place she could call her own, with a man who would protect her, her future children and offer her respect. Her practicality appealed to me.
I think too often romance novels focus too much on the word love. The angst the couple goes through over one or the other of them not saying that four letter word can be kind of over the top. Banks did an excellent job of showing us that they were falling in love, instead of just having them obsess over the other not saying it.
In the beginning Ewan and Mairin really butted heads over the proper way to run the keep and Mairin’s place in the clan. I found this to be believable and enjoyed the way Banks had them work through their problems. They argued and fought, but at the end of the day they wanted only the best for each other and their people. I especially liked how considerate Ewan was of Mairin’s feelings. Not at first – he is a man, of course – but once he realized his actions were hurting her he did his best to temper that.
That’s not to say they didn’t frustrate me at times. Mairin was stubborn and often silly in her actions. So was Ewan. I was especially annoyed during the first half of the novel.
The outside conflicts were interesting and worked well with the internal conflicts. Banks struck a good balance between the two, though I do wish a bit more detail would have been given to the final resolution. I was left feeling…unsatisfied. Maybe like I was being baited to read the sequel, which annoys me.Especially since it worked – I’m anxious for the next book.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5.
I gave my review of this book pretty close to what you did, but my issues were more the feel of the story. I never felt like I was in the Highlands. I never felt about Mairin and Ewan like I do about other Banks’ characters I’ve read. There’s just something lacking, and I’m not sure what that is. Other things in the book, i.e., the mysterious attempts on Mairin’s life and the like and Banks’ writing, kept me reading, but those two never grew on me like I thought they would. First time I’ve ever been disappointed in one of her books.
I like your blog and perhaps need to read more. I did buy a couple of books recently but need to open the sci-fi novel because it can’t read itself. Then, maybe I’d review it. I used to review movies and the difficulty for me is making sure not to tell too much which would spoil it for moviegoers.
@Sandy – Other than Coulters’ Woman, I haven’t read any other Banks novels. I have many in my TBR pile, but I’ve been avoiding them since I’ve been off Romantic Suspense.
I enjoyed the series as a whole, though I did have problems in each story.
@Scott – Spoilers are a major issue. It’s hard finding a good balance.
I was bothered by the overuse of the word laird. It felt like “laird” was used in every other sentence. Yes, Ewan’s the head of his clan, but can’t another form of address be used just to break things up? I also never heard of the term skirt as the author uses it. I interpreted it to mean a jagged piece of land, but why the emphasis throughout the book? Finally, the first time Miarin expresses her thoughts out loud it was cute, but the author kept using the device over and over again.
A couple of positives was any scene that little Crispin was in and the overall writing in the novel was good.
Ugh. I couldn’t get past the historical inaccuracies left, right and centre, or the TSTL ‘feisty’ heroine.