Master of Desire

A Pirate of Her Own

Claiming the Highlander
by Kinley MacGregor
(Avon, $5.99, R) ISBN 0-380-81789-6
Maggie ingen Blar is a determined lass out to end a clan feud in MacGregorís latest Highland adventure. Tired of watching so many of the MacAllisterís young men die senselessly, Maggie rallies her fellow clanswomen. Quite simply, they go on strike - and they tell the men that none of their needs will be serviced until the feud with the MacDouglas clan has ended.

Unfortunately, her plan isn't exactly going according to plan. The men are getting desperate, and some of them had even taken to punishing their wives for their disobedience. Even worse, Braden MacAllister has come waltzing back to the Highlands from his most recent excursion to England. Whatís a girl to do?

Never had the gods created a more devilish rogue than Braden. He loves women, and women love him - which is clearly illustrated in the bookís amusing first chapter. When he returns home itís to find his laird brother exasperated with the antics of the women - especially Maggie. Ever the peacemaker, Braden takes it upon himself to speak with Maggie and end her latest hair-brained scheme. After all, heís known the lass and her family since she was a babe - it shouldnít be that hard to convince her.

Maggie is afraid that the womenís resolve will crack when they learn Braden is home. Not only a rogue, but heís so deliciously handsome - how can any woman resist his charms? Even Maggie is not immune, for sheís been in love with Braden since she was a child. Too bad, heís been too busy dallying with others to pay her much notice.

When Maggie and Braden meet face to face itís a fiercer battle than any Highlander could ever imagine. However, when repercussions of Maggieís plan have them working together to end the feud, the two find themselves sharing close quarters and some wicked chemistry.

MacGregorís latest is a wallpaper historical in the strictest sense, but boy, is it a lot of fun! Maggie has never considered herself a prize catch - what with plain looks and a horde of brothers scaring off any interested parties. Still, she has pined away for Braden, only to have her heart repeatedly broken. She has vowed that if she ever does marry, it will be to a man who would be faithful to her. Braden has repeatedly exhibited with his skirt chasing that fidelity isnít in his vocabulary.

Braden freely admits that he is a bit of a womanizer, but honestly how can Maggie solely place the blame on him? Itís not as if he forces the women heís been with. Can he help his handsome face? Besides, he clearly knows heís not the marrying type. Heís seen what love can do to a man, having witnessed his fatherís ill-treatment of his English half-brother.

Itís how MacGregor resolves this central conflict that makes Claiming the Highlander such a fun read. Maggie wants fidelity, Braden only wants satisfaction - or so he thinks. When the couple finally consummates their desire, it is enough to singe the pages.

A fun, bantering couple, oodles of conflict, and enough secondary players to write a horde of sequels, Claiming the Highlander was such a good time that the skimping on the history was a mere passing quibble. Who needs a mind-numbing brogue when thereís nicely done dialogue, appealing characters, and enough charm to curl a girlís toes?

--Wendy Crutcher

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