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Captured by a Laird by Margaret Mallory

captured by a lairdNarrated by Derek Perkins

Albert Einstein defined insanity as being the act of “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Well, I’ve said several times that “Highlander” stories aren’t really my cup of tea, yet I still read and/or listen to the odd one or two and end up saying the same things, which, in the light of the above quote, probably says more about me than anything else.

Or perhaps I’m just an eternal optimist and hope to find one that works well for me.

Don’t get me wrong. Captured by a Laird, Ms Mallory’s latest book, and the first in her new series set in sixteenth century Scotland is by no means a bad book. In fact, it’s generally well-written and entertaining… but much as that particular historical period interests me, and no matter how much I appreciate the fact that the book is well-researched and that many of the principal characters actually existed – it doesn’t mean that I can ignore the fact that the story is just a variation on every other book I’ve read or listened to set in Scotland during the 13th-17th centuries

The heroine was married, when little more than a child, to an older, cruel man, who either a) dies before the story begins, or b) dies in the first few chapters. (Here, it’s option “a”). Rejoicing in her new found freedom, said heroine determines never to marry again – only to discover that either a) her male relatives have already lined up the next groom or b) the next groom has lined himself up by attacking her castle (and no, that’s not a euphemism!) and deciding that in order to hold on to said castle and lands, he must marry the heroine. (Here, it’s option “b”.)

Heroine is aghast – although unable to refuse the marriage – and determines not to like the hero. Who is, of course, manly and gorgeous and almost irresistible, but somehow she manages to hold him off, and because he’s a good guy and likes his women willing, he won’t push the consummation issue, no matter that he’s got a severe case of blue balls.

Hero proves himself over and over again to be a decent man (he likes animals and children, that sort of thing) – but heroine is stubbornly determined to think the worst of him, which is helped by the fact that he never tells her anything important, encouraging her to think his interest in her is purely as a bed-partner and not a true partner in their marriage.

Heroine’s relatives – who have either a) not lifted a finger to help her or b) are sworn enemies of the hero (possibly both) then decide to poke their noses in. Heroine must heed their call or advice otherwise something terrible will happen, but she doesn’t dare tell the hero – which causes greater distrust between the newly-weds who have, in the meantime begun to fall in love. And this thing or event drives a deep wedge between them, which dooms their relationship for ever.

That’s pretty much it, in a nutshell, in terms of the plot. In Captured by a Laird, the heroine is Alison Douglas whose brother, Archibald Douglas, was the second husband of Margaret Tudor (sister to Henry VIII), and thus the stepfather of the infant King James V of Scotland. In her informative historical note, the author tells us about her inspiration for the story, and that Alison and her hero – David Hume – did actually exist and were married, and that some of the action in her story is based on actual historical events. I found all that fascinating – but wish it hadn’t been transposed upon such a well-used, clichéd plot.

In spite of being based on real people, the characterisation is quite thin; Alison is passive for most of the story and David is rather a stereotypical rough, tough, scary Scotsman with a soft centre. They’re not unattractive characters, but there isn’t anything especially memorable about either of them. The love scenes are hot, but I’d have liked to have heard more development in the romance, which seemed to jump from lust to love without much in between. David is desperate to bed his beautiful new wife from the get-go, but Alison determines to hold him off for a while in order to get him to see that he needs to trust her and share information with her. Yet when she gives him the green light, not much has changed; and not long after that she realises she’s in love with him – and I thought I must have missed something, because it seemed to come out of nowhere.

Derek Perkins has narrated a number of Ms Mallory’s books before, and also has quite a large number of historical romances to his name. I very much enjoyed his work in Teresa Grant’s Vienna Waltz, and had wanted to listen to him again which is why I requested this audio for review. His deep, pleasantly modulated voice is attractive and easy to listen to, and he’s a dab-hand with a Scottish accent, which is always an important consideration for me when I pick up an audiobook I know is going to feature a lot of different regional accents. All the characters, from the gravelly-voiced Laird Blackadder (I know these people actually existed, but I couldn’t help waiting for someone to yell for Baldrick!) to David’s two younger half-brothers are clearly differentiated, and he (quite rightly) steers well clear of falsetto for the female voices, opting instead to perform the women using a softened tone with a slightly raised pitch. The narrative is well-paced and expressive, and he gives the action sequences an appropriate sense of urgency. It’s an engaging and accomplished performance, and he’s a narrator I’ll definitely be listening to again, but I don’t think I’ll be revisiting this particular audiobook.

Caz


Narration: B-

Book Content: C

Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in

Violence: Graphic – some hand-to-hand combat and swordplay; scenes of attempted rape

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Margaret Mallory

Captured by a Laird was provided to AudioGals by Margaret Mallory for a review.

3 comments

1 ping

  1. Diana

    See, Highlander romances are some of my favorite because of the formula! I don’t have to worry about any surprises, I know exactly what I can expect. Thus I can sit back and listen for pure indulgent fun. :)

    This one has been on radar for a while but I’ve been hesitant because with this formula there is a tendency to traumatize the heroine, either through past rape, attempted rape, or domestic violence. Can you tell me how descriptive the attempted rape scenes get? I’m not sure if I want to listen to it or read it in print.

    1. Caz

      It’s obviously a popular formula, hence all the Highlander books out there! And I have nothing against formulaic – romance is full of tropes, and historical romance probably has more of them than most. But clearly, this isn’t the formula for me.

      On the near rapes in the story – do you know, I honestly can’t remember much about them, which perhaps shows that I didn’t find them overly graphic or traumatic. Certainly, they weren’t used to traumatise the heroine.

      1. Diana

        Okay, that doesn’t sound too bad. I may try to listen to it after all.

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