So the main reason I read Lynsay Sands is that she’s reliable. I know I’m getting a murder mystery and a romance that’s based more on lust than actual emotion. I’m always relatively entertained and rarely outright disappointed. The major problems I have with this series are not noticeable if you’re not doing a reread of all six books right in a row. If you read them six months apart (or over the five years since An English Bride was released) you probably won’t get hung up on how similar the books are or how completely interchangeable the Buchanan brothers have been.
I really love Scottish romances–it’s the one genre where I am completely willing to lower my expectations because there’s just something about the Highlander as a hero that makes me happy, and I’ve always loved the clan system as a backdrop. My first Highlanders were Julie Garwood back when you didn’t cringe at her writing. (I don’t know what’s happened to Madame Garwood, but her last few books have been truly shocking). I’ve also always loved the natural tensions that get created with Scottish and English history — having your leads from opposite countries with that kind of animosity practically writes itself.
That being said, this particular series absolutely suffers from reading it straight in a line without any books to break it up. So don’t do that. Take a month between the books. I had read Surrender to a Highlander already this year when it came out in January, and I literally did not remember anything about the plot when I picked it up again yesterday.
Objectively, the weakest book in this series is Falling for the Highlander, which makes me sad because Murine Carmichael is actually the second-best heroine after Annabel in An English Bride in Scotland, but Dougall Buchanan is literally the worst main character out of the twelve we are given. There’s nothing interesting about him, nothing that makes him worthy of Murine.
The worst plot is probably The Highlander Takes a Bride only because it drags until I don’t actually care who killed anyone, but it does have the most surprising villain. The best couple and romance is absolutely Ross and Annabel from An English Bride. I almost want to go give that book another star because it is light years better than the five books that followed. Niels and Edith from Surrender to a Highlander are a close second, with Aulay and Jetta (The Highlander’s Promise) being a distant third. The last three couples are somewhere in the bottom.
Greer and Saidh from The Highlander Takes a Bride are fun and sexy, but there’s absolutely no depth and you get the feeling that they’ll just have sex every time they argue, so there’s no worry there. There was literally no romance in that book, only sex. Joan and Cam (To Marry a Scottish Laird) were kind of better, but not by much, and my feelings on Dougall and Murine have already been said.
I had thought we might not have any more books in the series since the rest of the Buchanan brothers were even less interesting than the first three we married off, and we no longer had any women from To Marry a Scottish Laird, but I just checked Lynsay Sands’s site and it turns out there’s a seventh book coming. I’m assuming it’s Rory, the Buchanan brother who acts as a healer but it doesn’t look like there’s a synopsis anywhere. I’ll review it ,but I doubt it’s going to change my opinion of these books.
If you’re going into this for a light read that won’t make you think too much, then you’re good to go. Don’t read them in a row, don’t think too hard about how boring the male heroes are in the middle there (2,3,4) because the murder mystery will at least keep you turning the page until the end.
January 2019: We got The Wrong Highlander in January, which I reviewed at the time and forgot to update this page with. As suspected, this book didn’t change my overall feeling much. Evina and Conran are probably better than Dougall and Muirine, but Conran isn’t much better as a character than Dougall was. It’s fine, but it’s not the best book in the series. The next book is Rory’s story — finally — so here’s to hoping we’ll be moving on from the bland Buchanan brothers soon.
August 2019 Update: I got an ARC for the next book, and it turns out it was not Rory’s book. I think she might be leaving that until last and I’m sure we’re getting a book for Alick, the last non-Rory Buchanan. Hunting for a Highlander is the story of Geordie and Dwynn and is probably the best book since Surrender to a Highlander. I think Dwynn is a great heroine, on par with Murine (Falling for the Highlander) and she actually got a hero that measured up to her in Geordie. Their romance is very sweet.