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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Friday, September 30, 2016

Treachery and love!

Highland Chieftain (Murray Family #21) by Hannah Howell

I liked the skeleton of this story. Sir Callum MacMillan is injured and fleeing from men determined to kill him.
Unconscious and foundering on the shoreline with a broken leg he is rescued by young woman, Bethoc Matheson, who hides him in her secret cave retreat. A retreat necessary because she is frequently beaten by father.
Bethoc's father is a dark and fearsome person who brings home young boys he 'finds' to help run the farm. Bethoc has a houseful of young boys, 'brothers' she cares for and a baby sister.
As Bethoc's mother was dying she pleaded with Bec to always keep her baby sister with her. The reason why is later an important revelation.
It appears that Bethoc has strange special abilities that fit with who her real father turns out to be--one of the Murrays.
For me the mystery surrounding Bethoc and her special facilities just didn't quite cut it, but I went with it.
I definitely didn't like that Callum sexually entraps Bethoc. His attitude, 'you saved my life and I'll sweet talk you into giving up your virginity because I just can't control myself' is unworthy. 'I owe you nothing!' Hardly the act of one raised to protect the weak. A serious lack of integrity here on Callum's part.
In the end everything works out, but really, I thought that Callum seducing Bethoc was low. However we apparently need to forgive Callum because of his background and lack of knowledge about what love is.
A secondary story develops where women are being accused of murdering their menfolk, imprisoned by a dastardly sherif, then tried and hung. Their lands go to a mysterious  buyer.
In the end there were more parts of the plot I enjoyed than I didn't, including the way Bethoc's 'brothers' care for her. Those relationships are tried and true and supportive.

A NetGalley ARC

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