This was a fairly predictable and mild-paced Highlander Romance. The main couple, Maldie and Balfour, had enough chemistry and the conflict, though more hype than delivery, was a highlight for the book as well as for the whole series.
The Murrays, family of the Balfour, fights to save one of their own, who has been kidnapped. The heroine, Maldie, becomes a key player in this because she is the daughter of the kidnapper/villain, and she has a diabolical plan of her own.
The characters, from the Murray clan to those connected to the story through Maldie, are typical of this historical genre, with the wise old woman, the Highland warriors, the people of the Highland clans and the healer-heroine with a heart of gold. Howell gives this story a bit of angst, but using the characters of Maldie and the kidnapped, youngest Murray brother, brings about strong themes of family and loyalty.
Unfortunately, while the themes and characters have potential, two weak points for me would be the dialogue and major actions of the key characters. Firstly, the dialogue was overrun with "ayes" "nays" and contractions such as "havenae" & "didnae". IDK why, but "weel" and "ye" being used in place of "well" and "you" bothered me. I read and listened to this. The narrator definitely did not say "ye" very distinctly and most of the time it sounded like "you". It may be great for other readers, but the use of the antiquated English [incl. o'er & e'en, etc.] made me feel like I was reading Shakespeare or Milton, lol. I just felt like it was forced and lost the voice it could have had if less was used, and the narrator didn't help. But maybe I should read the next one, forego the audio, and let this style seep in
As Maldie says:
“I didnae think this through verra weel at all. It has the taste of a lilt some minstrel would use when he cannae think of the words.”
Secondly, Balfour's actions and his brothers' actions annoyed me. Granted, they had reason to doubt Maldie's motive for being around them, but Balfour was very obtuse at times and he effed up when it was time for him to face the music. Furthermore, he was very wishy-washy in making up his mind, and this condition didn't make his brother's "very acute" interest in Maldie any better. A good thing is there is no love triangle, but the brother's interest for Maldie disturbingly lingers. This added conflict doesn't flow well into the plot.