For some reason, I bought this book in 2015 when it was released, read the first chapter, and then just...I don't know...stopped? I bought the second book when it came out, last year, I think, but I never got around to reading that either. That's not usually something I do--I'm a read on the day I buy 'em kind of girl. One the reasons I chose this series was to force myself to finally read the final two books.
And then I started rereading that first chapter, and I remembered why I put it down. I wasn't, and I'm still not, a huge fan of insta-love connections, so I think I got interrupted reading and then never got back to it.
I'm annoyed with myself now because this is a fantastic book, one of the best since the original Mackenzie brothers. There are some tiny details that keep it from being the full five stars, but overall, I really enjoyed it. Books set near or around Culloden have a special place in my heart, but this is one of the few that really go into the divided loyalties of the families themselves.
I will say that perhaps the romance wasn't all that interesting until Mal took Mary to Kilmorgan and they had to work together--Mary also disappeared for a bit while Mal took center stage. I liked the supporting cast, and I guess part of me is happy because I know, at least for two more books, that Daniel and Ian Mackenzie aren't going to show up. Unless Daniel Mackenzie figures out time travel, and then I guess he'll be around to annoy me forever. (I'm sorry, I love Ian, but Daniel drives me crazy and the fact that Jennifer Ashley is head over heels for both of them is evident every time they show up with no narrative purpose).
I'm irritated that it took me almost three years to read this, but hey, I've got Alec's story now which makes me happy and Will's is getting released in a few months, so probably good timing.
The one thing I wasn't entirely wild about was the how...foggy the background of the Mackenzies were. I'm trying to figure out how to articulate my issue with it--I think that Will is a character that I never quite understand--and Alec leaving his wife pregnant with his child in France while he goes to Scotland is something I can't quite wrap my head around. I'm not really going to judge either of those characters because I know they get their own books so maybe those issues will be cleared up.
I was annoyed that Wilfort, Mary's father, didn't get more a closure. He was a supremely difficult character to warm up to, and I did a little bit, but I would have liked to see more of an ending with him and Mary--something maybe even with Mal.
I did like Captain Ellis, who I think is getting his own story at some point. I'm curious to see more of the old duke who was a right asshole for most of the book, but somewhat sympathatic. He loved his wife so much that he was a jackass to the children she gave him? I dunno, it's always a trope I don't like.
The only thing that makes me sad is that I know Mal and Mary's great-grandchild is the sociopathic violent monster who serves as the father of the Victorian Mackenzies and it kind of sucks to know that ends up as part of the story. It's not anything I'm judging or reviewing, just one of those sad things that ends up in everyone's family from time to time. You end up pretty glad that neither Mary nor Mal live to know him.