I’ve read a couple of Paula Quinn’s Highlander books here and there, but I’ll admit, when I saw that huge birth chart in the beginning of this story, I was a bit intimidated. But fear not, you don’t have to be a longtime reader to jump into this book. It works just fine as a standalone.
Malcolm is a known rake who believes himself incapable of love. For a long time, he was content to love ’em and leave ’em, but for the past few years, he has taken a step back from his promiscuous ways. The flings only left him feeling emptier, so now he is trying celibacy on for size. That doesn’t mean his younger brother has to suffer the same fate, though. As the story begins, Malcolm is taking Cailean to his old favorite brothel to, at long last, lose his virginity.
Trouble finds him the minute he walks in, in the form of some ruffians who get a little too rough with Cailean’s lady of choice. It quickly descends into violence, leaving the bad guys dead and the Grant brothers at death’s door. Fortunately, Emma is there to nurse them back to health.
Our heroine is the blind sister of the brothel owner, Harry. Malcolm and Harry go way back, since Malcolm once saved Harry’s life. Now Emma has a soft spot for him too, since he convinced her brother to allow her seeing eye dog in the house. The thing is… every woman in the brothel has a soft spot for Malcolm. Before his celibate days began, he made himself into something of a legend among lovers. Now all the ladies of the house want to get him back between the sheets.
Emma can’t see his handsome face or charming grin, though. She gets to know the real man. And he finds he has to dig deep to charm her. It’s the first time he’s ever had to make an effort and he finds that she is totally worth it.
I liked these two together. Emma has an inner strength and self-assurance thanks to her healing skills. But at the same time, her inexperience in romance and interpersonal relationships makes her vulnerable. The cool thing is, she can really see Malcolm when no one else can –and he recognizes the value in her. It would have been easy for him to keep living his charmed life, but he chooses to make a change and in doing so, opens himself up to something so much greater.
There are some interesting secondary characters who help carry the story like Cailean and his romantic interest, Alison. I was also intrigued by Sebastian, even though he entered the story late. Maybe he’ll be a hero for one of the unattached females in the series.
Some of my previous Quinn reads lost me a little with too many characters and too much political sidestory. Not here. The focus was firmly on the romance and the surrounding events and it was better for it. I liked this one and would definitely try Cailean’s book when it comes out.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
The Taming of Malcolm Grant
by Paula Quinn
Release Date: September 29, 2015