Highland Enchantment

Highland Flame

Highland Hawk

Highland Scoundrel

Highland Wolf

The Lady & the Knight

The Fraser Bride by Lois Greiman
(Avon, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-380-81540-0
In the Scottish Highlands of 1534, the brothers MacGowan are returning home to Dun Ard. There had been rumors that the evil Munros had been spotted on MacGowan land, but the brothers found no evidence of their presence. What they found instead was a beautiful young woman lying unconscious in the woods - a woman who had been pursued by a mysterious black-garbed warrior of whom they could find no trace.

The woman is Anora Fraser of Evermyst, but because she is unsure whether she can trust the MacGowans, she lies and tells them her name is Mary of Levenlair. She claims she was separated from her traveling party and now only wishes to travel back to her home.

Two of the MacGowan brothers, Lachlan and Gilmour, are immediately besotted by Mary and offer to escort her to Levenlair. But brother Ramsay is certain nothing Mary is telling them is true, not even her identity, so he refers to her instead, as Notmary.

Although content to let his brothers escort Notmary to Levenlair, something compels him to accompany them. His instincts prove correct when the mysterious warrior again makes his appearance and it’s Ramsay who saves Notmary from his clutches once again.

By this time, the pair have become separated from the rest of the group and must continue on to Levenlair alone. When they’ve nearly reached their destination, all of Ramsay’s fears are realized when he is suddenly confronted with the dangerous truth behind Notmary’s lies.

There are many things about The Fraser Bride that bother me, but it’s the characters that are the most troublesome. Ramsay, for the most part, was a good, strong hero. Unfortunately, he was another of those heroes who had been hurt by a beautiful woman in the past and is unable to let it go. Anora is beautiful and he had learned that “a lovely countenance oft hid an evil heart.” Therefore, a beautiful woman cannot be trusted. Unfortunately, in this case Ramsay is correct.

If you like your heroines deceitful and manipulative, Anora’s the one for you. Due to a traumatic event in her past, Anora has come to believe all men are “selfish and dangerous” and “tyrants whom she must outmaneuver at every turn.” Ramsay’s influence helps Anora get past her childhood trauma and learn to love, at least that’s what the reader is told. But I never really believed it, and that’s the crux of the problem with this book. Anora is an unpalatable heroine and I have no idea what Ramsay saw in her.

The Fraser Bride is the first book of the Highland Rogues series and I hope I’m wrong in my suspicion that Ramsay’s brothers will be featured in the other books. Portraying potential heroes as buffoons in the first book of the series does not compel this reader to wait with bated breath for Lachlan and Gilmour’s stories.

If you enjoyed author Lois Greiman’s book, Highland Flame, the hero and heroine of that book, Flanna and Roderic, make an appearance here as the parents of the three MacGowans. But on second thought, you may just want to stay away from this one. If you have fond memories of Flanna and Roderic, seeing the boys that sprang from that union may just shatter your faith in their happy ending.

--Karen Lynch

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