Saturday, January 22, 2011
Three centuries ago in Scotland a curse was born of the long-standing feud between the Claren and the MacKinnon clans. Now, generations later, destiny has decreed that three women, the last of the Claren line, be granted one final chance to set things right. — Maggie, Cailean, and Delaney Claren are three cousins who grow up unaware of one another-until an inheritance brings them together. Now mysterious journals and the deed to an ancient Scottish castle will bring them face-to-face with the warriors at the heart of the MacKinnon family, three brothers sentenced to cruel fates by a terrible curse.
Duncan is trapped in the form of a ghost, Rory must live an immortal life alone, and Alexander has been wrenched by time from the past to the present, with no way back. Ferociously compelling, dangerously relentless, they are bound by no mortal laws-except desire for the three Claren women. The journals speak of one key that can break the powerful spell. And finding that key will plunge them all into a world of unforeseeable danger and tantalizing desire...
I thought this sounded interesting and something I'd really like, but it turned out to be just a so-so time travel story set in contemporary Scotland. Three cursed brothers from 300 years earlier meet the descendants of their clan's enemies: three women who are cousins, though they have never met. Eventually the cousins all come together due to an inheritance they've been notified about. All meet their match (and mate) in each brother while trying to figure out how to end this blasted curse. This took me forever to get through, it just didn't pull me in or keep me interested. It wasn't bad, but nothing compelling in it for me, when it should have been.
The book is broken down into three parts. We begin with the first cousin, a young woman who is fleeing from her ex-boyfriend who is now stalking her and trying to kill her. This story has the most background and detail to it. Maggie has just received communication about a ramshackle cabin she has inherited from some long lost relative in the back woods of Kentucky or Tennessee, maybe North Carolina (I can't remember) who has left it to her in his will. This is her chance to get away from her crazy ex-boyfriend who'll never find her now. When she arrives at the cabin she meets Duncan MacKinnon. He is a ghost, but he doesn't seem like a ghost, he's very real and solid, and very much a Scottish Highlander in full regalia. Neither one likes the other, but they form a truce of sorts and eventually develop feelings for one another. Duncan pops in and out at will, he's gruff and doesn't trust Maggie because she's a Claren. The Clarens are his worst enemies, never mind the feud was from 300 years ago. Still, he had one very bad experience thanks to a Claren woman and because of it, Duncan is in a sort of after life "purgatory", cursed from long ago. He is allowed to be human and live on earth once a year for a month - in the cabin. Duncan is always angry, primarily because of this curse hanging over his head. Can Maggie somehow help lift the curse? Their relationship was only skin deep, not much to it and I felt like Maggie should have been a bit more freaked out over the fact that Duncan was really a ghost. She just sort of seemed to take it in stride. She didn't seem all that upset when her ex showed up and nearly killed her before Duncan killed him for her instead - blood spattering all over her to boot! Again, she held it together pretty well... An odd sort of love story between them.
Part two of the book is the story between Cailean and Rory. Cailean has sought out Maggie for help with this inheritance and family curse. Cailean has "the sight" and is aware of the curse and the history of the two feuding clans. By the time Maggie and Cailean meet, Maggie has already fallen in love with Duncan and doesn't want to leave him, refusing to join Cailean in Scotland. Her time is short with Duncan, their time together is running out. Maggie goes off to Scotland on her own to where their clans lived three hundred years earlier. There she meets Duncan's younger brother Rory. His curse is that he is immortal. He is sort of a mysterious legend, known as a sheepherder. As it turns out he's been living in the MacKinnon Castle all this time, it has been hidden underground and no one has ever discovered it (this called for a big stretch of the imagination - but let's face it, this whole story did!) Soon Cailean and Rory have a torrid affair and can't keep their hands off one another, they seemed to have the most chemistry together and passion of the three couples, but still, nothing all that compelling, I just didn't care about them - or any of these people for that matter. Still, I kept with it...
Next, along comes Delaney, who was some sort of covert operative for the government - until recently. She's cute and feisty - just what the third brother, Alexander needs. Alexander has time traveled from the past and has had no way to get back. All three of the brothers have been unaware of what has happened to the other and by the time we get to Alexander and Delaney's story, Alexander, who is the eldest and laird of the family just bothered me more than anything else. I didn't even like him! By this point Maggie and Duncan have joined up with the others in Scotland and the brothers are reunited which was an emotional moment. Yet Alexander wants them to go back in time with him to finish off the Clarens and regain their castle. Never mind that Alexander has no idea how he can achieve this! Meanwhile, he's been stockpiling guns and all kinds of weapons in the underground castle (amazing that he and Rory have never bumped into each other in over seven years!) so he can take them back to medieval Scotland and wipe out all the Clarens! Duncan and Rory can't join him, nor do they want to. The curse prevents them from it and they've fallen in love with their respective Claren cousin! There's no way they're going to go back in time and wipe out their ancestors! Plus, Alexander's plan is pretty far-fetched. They manage to talk him out of it. Alexander took the longest to come around to falling for Delaney who basically launched herself at him. I didn't identify with either one for their characters were so undeveloped. I barely knew them. I felt like Delaney and Alexander got short shrift in this book, so much time was devoted to Maggie and Duncan, a little less with Cailean and Rory, and by the time Delaney and Alexander have their turn, it's in record time and only a few pages devoted to them! But, they fall for each other eventually, as I knew they would.
Once the three brothers all admitted their love to their respective Claren woman - and said it aloud - voila! Guess what happens?
I can't exactly pinpoint what went wrong with this book, it should have been so much better. This is the second book I've read by Ms. Kauffman, and I'm afraid it's my last. Her last one was only lukewarm as well. I guess it was just simply dull in parts and there was a real lack of passion or emotion - not much action either (except when Duncan killed Maggie's boyfriend). Too much talking and searching for this key that no one could find. Lots of hand wringing by everyone, though I did feel sorry for Maggie and Duncan who had to say good bye to each other once Duncan's time was up after his month with her. That was about the most emotion I sensed throughout the entire book! The weak characterizations and lacklustre sex scenes didn't help. Overall, a disappointing read for my last Time Travel Challenge book for 2010.