Saturday, July 30, 2011
Egan MacDonald was the one person Princess Zarabeth couldn't read. Yet even without being able hear his thoughts, she knew he was the most honorable, infuriating, and deliciously handsome man she'd ever met. And now her life was in his hands. Chased out of her native country by bitter betrayal and a bevy of assassins, Zarabeth found refuge at the remote MacDonald castle and a haven in Egan's embrace. She also found an ancient curse, a matchmaking nephew, a pair of debutantes eager to drag her protector to the altar, and dark secrets in Egan's past. But even amid all the danger raged a desire too powerful to be denied....
Third and final installment in Ashley's Nvengaria series, this is Egan, the Mad Highlander's story. It was okay, but not as good as the first two books. It was disappointing because I really liked Egan's character in the previous books, but I suspected his story would be somewhat of a let down because we already knew he loved a woman who married another and Egan could never get over it.
Egan is now back at his home in the Scottish Highlands near Ullapool. His life is about to change big time. The love of his life, the girl that got away - Zarabeth - has left her traitorous Nvengarian husband and has been smuggled out of Nvengaria (a mythical kingdom somewhere in Eastern Europe) to the wilds of the Scottish Highland where she will be safe at Egan's castle until she can get her divorce. Old friends with Egan, her father knows she will be safe in his care while fleeing from her ruthless husband.
This is one of those stories where the hero and heroine are in love with each other, but neither one will act on it. It took forever for Egan and Zarabeth to finally get together, though inside both were dying to. The constant stand off between them grew tiresome and I never really bonded with Zarabeth, though I liked Egan. Egan, a handsome highlander is too noble to bed Zarabeth while she is still married. He will wait until her divorce is final. But even then, he's worried he's not good enough for her and will be unable to provide her with the expensive kind of lifestyle she's been accustomed to. She's torn about Egan, one minute she wants him, the next minute she hates him, mostly because Egan keeps giving her mixed signals! Zarabeth could care less about gowns and jewels. She takes to the Highland life immediately and loves meeting his family and neighbors. It's what she has always longed for. Do either of them discuss this with one another? No! So, they have this constant miscommunication through the whole book!
Meanwhile, someone has infiltrated Egan's castle and is trying to kill Zarabeth. It was a bit anti-climatic about who it was, and the demise of Zarabeth's evil husband back in Nvengaria was also a let down - almost to the point where I didn't believe he was really dead. Of course, all I could think of was - good, now he's dead so Egan and Zarabeth can finally get together! Egan doesn't have to worry about sleeping with a married woman. But no, then her father shows up and Egan is torn, how can he sleep with Zarabeth right under her father's nose as a guest in his own castle? Aargh! I was ready to throw the book at the wall at this point.
What happened to the charming, sexy, swaggering Egan from the previous books? Mealy-mouthed Zarabeth had him tied up in knots and I just couldn't figure out what he saw in her in the first place. Maybe you will.
There's also a minor side plot going on with Egan's widowed sister and a logosh (a mystical shift-changing animal unique to Nvengaria) who is sworn to watch out for Zarabeth. I kept wondering if we had already been introduced to him in the previous books or not. He had a background story and I felt like the reader should have been given more information about him to understand where he was coming from. Their storyline was brief, but I liked it and almost preferred it over Egan and Zarabeth's! Maybe his story continues in one of the author's other shift-changer series (which I have yet to read.)
All in all, I enjoyed this series, but this last one book of Egan's was seriously lacking. Still, despite this minor set back, Jennifer Ashley is a favorite of mine. I've loved just about everything else I've read by her, so this is just a blip in the radar as far as I'm concerned. Still, if you haven't read the first two books in this series, I would not bother with this one, or who knows, maybe you'll like this one better if you haven't read the first two. It could go either way. Going through her back-list is helping me while waiting for the next installment of her Victorian Highland Pleasures series featuring the Mackenzie Brothers. The Many Sins of Lord Cameron comes out next week! I can't wait!