Beyond the Highland Mist

The Dark Highlander

The Highlander's Touch

Kiss of the Highlander

To Tame a Highland Warrior

The Immortal Highlander
by Karen Marie Moning
(Delacorte, $15.00, R) ISBN 0-385-33825-2
If I am to believe the various online chatter and message boards, I am the only reader alive who did not love The Dark Highlander. In fact, I strongly disliked it. Frankly I was beginning to think that Moning was one of those authors I didn’t “get.” So you can imagine my mixed feelings when an advanced copy of The Immortal Highlander turned up in my latest shipment of review books. Trying to keep an open mind, I started it early knowing how highly anticipated this book is by Moning’s fan base. I’m here to report, they won’t be disappointed – and neither was I.

Adam Black is a Tuatha De Danann (the Fae) prince, but he’s finally crossed over the line. Due to his actions in The Dark Highlander, the Fairy Queen has banished him and made him human! Not only is he powerless, and no longer immortal, he’s also been cursed with invisibility. Humans cannot see him, and he cannot see Fae.

Gabrielle O’Callaghan is trying to live a quiet life in Cincinnati, Ohio. A law student, she’s been working for a personal injury lawyer and trying to make ends meet. Unfortunately for Gabby, she is a Sidhe-seer (she can see the Fae), and the Fae are literally taking over Cincinnati. She’s seeing them everywhere, and worse still she cannot acknowledge their distracting existence. Raised by her grandmother, who also had the sight, Gabby was taught to fear the Fae – for surely they kidnap Sidhe-seers and either kill them or enslave them.

She’s managed to go 24 years without blowing her cover until she sees Adam. Being devilishly handsome makes him impossible to ignore, and once Adam discovers that Gabby can see him, he latches onto her. He invades her life until she agrees to help him gain an audience with his Queen. In return, he vows to protect her – which proves to be difficult when an enemy of Adam’s decides to take advantage of his mortal and powerless state.

There’s a lot to like here, most notably Moning’s characters. Adam endears himself immediately in the first chapter when he muses how annoying the heroine from The Dark Highlander is. God bless him, I thought I was the only one! It also doesn’t hurt that he’s sexy and charming as hell.

Gabby, while a virgin, lacks the brain-dead pitfalls that seem to entrap most contemporary romance virgins. Outside of revealing herself to Adam (but then where would our story be?), she’s a smart girl. She doesn’t trust Adam easily and gives as good as she gets. She also has a wry voice that reminded me a lot of the Chick Lit sub genre. Moning seems fond of using parentheses to add humor to the story, which doesn’t necessarily make for “clean” writing, but that doesn’t make these asides any less amusing.

The only quibble here is that The Immortal Highlander is very much part of a series. It doesn’t always stand alone well. Moning does her best to bring newcomers up to speed, but she avoids the nitty-gritty. This is good news for fans that have kept up, but for those readers coming in late, they may find themselves playing catch-up. Moning has done quite a bit of world building, and while she covers the larger points in The Immortal Highlander, not every detail is fleshed out.

Still I found the whole story a large pleasant surprise. The characters were well thought out and interesting, the plot intriguing, and the love scenes particularly spicy. Adam Black isn’t only sexy; he’s also one heck of a seducer. While arriving in hardcover, Delacorte has priced this latest entry at such a reasonable $15.00, that I’d be hard pressed to tell fans to wait for paperback. As someone who previously didn’t “get” Moning, that’s high praise indeed.

--Wendy Crutcher

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