This is a Scottish Highlander book set in 1559. The only other men-in-kilts book that I’ve read is Outlander, and that was mumblemumble years ago, so I want you to know that I’m reviewing this book as pretty much a novice to the genre. Why did I read it, then? Because the title was such a blunt statement of the plot, and because of the cover. Have you looked at it enough?
So, the setup is this: Lady Anne has been married by proxy to a 58-year-old bad guy because her custodial uncle doesn’t want to bother with her. Her new husband is a baron and he lives near Scotland, where he has battled a few Scots and burnt their castles because he’s evil. Anne is unceremoniously put onto a ship that will take her to meet the old geezer, and she’s not happy about anything.
Calum is a fairly new laird of a small Scottish island. His father gave him the title and the island as compensation for being a less-important second son. The trouble is, the people on the island are starving, and their living quarters are falling apart. Calum does what he can, but he also decides to plunder a British supply ship to help his new civilization flourish. His motives are noble, you see.
Calum’s ship of pirates quickly captures the British ship, and the crew members are sent off in rowboats. Anne, unfortunately, has been hiding in her cabin, and Calum is shocked to find such a delicate English lass with such a heaving bosom on his new ship. He can’t put her in a rowboat, and he can’t take her back to England, so he decides to bring her back to his island and then send a ransom note to her husband.
I was disappointed with the captor/hostage relationship, because there wasn’t one. Anne sees Calum as this tall, strong, noble giant who is much more young and virile than her husband. Calum thinks Anne is the most beautiful woman ever, and he imagines that his large hands could span her waist. They spend their time on the ship staring at each other longingly. Back at the castle, Calum keeps obsessing about Anne’s straining breasts. Anne glimpses “the white alabaster of [Calum’s] rock-solid bum cheek” when he dances at a Scottish festival (because real Scotsmen go commando underneath their kilts) and she wants to love him the way a woman loves a man. They kiss a few times, and feel guilty about it afterwards. There wasn’t any sense of Anne being captured, because the life that she was captured away from was so much worse.
The first half of the book moved slowly for me, maybe because it was a lot of castle life and inner longing. Calum kept thinking about ravishing Anne, which began to worry me because he sounded like a guy who’d never had to restrain himself before. I also worried about his lovely island home — after a night of dining and dancing, Calum didn’t think Anne would be safe walking alone back to her room because she was so pretty and the menfolk had drunk a lot of whisky. Is that the clan culture, then? A girl can’t walk up the stairs by herself because the men are drunk and will take advantage of her? Is this showing the rough, rugged, Highlander lifestyle?
Things picked up in the second half once the ransom plot kicked in. The villain had several scenes from his perspective so I could really understand how wicked he was, as if his large belly and flaccid penis weren’t enough clues. The climax had a lot of action, and Calum got to prove that he was pretty much indestructible.
This felt like an old-fashioned book to me, but maybe the super-human Scot plus English maiden trope is just how Highlander books are done. Calum was good, strong, and noble. Anne was sweet, beautiful, and smarter than the average villager. The bad guy was bad. There weren’t any modern twists or shades of grey in the characters. Kilts were worn, logs were thrown, virtue was protected. It was a little bit exciting, and then they lived happily ever after.
Click to purchase: Amazon
Captured by the Pirate Laird
by Amy Jarecki
Release Date: January 23, 2014
Publisher: Rapture Books