3 out of 4 stars
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What’s not to love about a Scottish romance novel? Dashing men in kilts, fiery lasses, and the inevitable fireworks that occur when the twain meet. Claudia Wilson gives the reader all that and more in her debut novel, Highlander Unknown. Susan Stewart is a young and boisterous woman awaiting the arrival of Alexander McDonald just a few days prior to their arranged marriage. Though she is promised to a man she has yet to meet, an unknown wedding guest has caught Susan’s eye and has stolen more than a few kisses from her.
To say that Alex McDonald is pleasantly surprised by his bride-to-be is an understatement. His desire to learn more about Susan before their big day has led him to sneak into her keep and hide his true identity from her until their marriage is sealed with a kiss. The happy couple does not have long to enjoy their honeymoon stage because someone is actively trying to harm Susan. Alex and his men must find out who is behind the attacks and what is motivating the aggressor to harm his new wife.
Wilson weaves a tale of harmless deception, anticipation, and intrigue that will keep readers guessing. In addition to the obligatory romance plot, there is a very complex mystery that spans multiple clans and keeps the reader guessing for much of the book. Her writing keeps you invested in the affable characters and immensely interested in the unfolding plot against Susan and Alex.
While the romantic thread of the plot is cute and captivating, the book can have a tendency to drag on when dealing with the politics behind the attempts on Susan’s life. Characters suddenly appear that aren’t always fully explained, and the dialogue can feel a bit repetitive and banal. Aside from a healthy number of grammatical errors, there were accidental inconsistencies that may be distracting for some readers. I noticed a mention of harvesting lemons when lemons were not yet cultivated that far north in Europe. Also inconsistent to the time period was an obsession with constant bathing and cleanliness. The ending of the book wraps up very suddenly despite a meticulous buildup.
I think that some time with an experienced editor would take this fun book to the next level. There were enough enjoyable aspects to make up for the errors I encountered. While this is a historical romance novel, it is written in a modern manner that would appeal to lovers of classic historical romances as well as those into novels that tend more toward new adult. Since this book has so much great potential, I rate it 3 out of 4 stars.
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