Review: Beyond the Highland Mist, Karen Marie Moning*

*Complete with super fun interactive quiz! See below.

Setting: Early 16th century Scotland, with some scenes in present day New Orleans

Series?: Yes, this is book 1, published in 1999, of Moning’s Highlander series, of which 8 books are in print.

Hero and Heroine: The Hawk Douglas, 16th century Laird of Dalkeith-Upon-the-Sea, “legendary predator of the battlefield and the boudoir”, “sculpted of molten steel” (an early Terminator prototype? Maybe — this is a time travel story), and Adrienne de Simone, 20th century misandrist, late of a deceitful, abusive relationship with “catch of the decade” Eberhard Darrow Garret, who, unfortunately, was merely using her as a drug mule (don’t you hate it when that happens?).

Plot: Hero falls in love with heroine. Heroine resists hero. In an interesting twist (which does not, alas, make her motivation any less unbelievable), she’s the one who has sworn off everyone “beautiful” of the opposite sex. Various evil, but luckily quite inept, baddies attempt to keep them apart.

Distinctive features: This was originally published in 1999, and I would guess some of the depictions of the Faerie world and time travel elements were cutting edge at the time.

My take in brief: It was pretty dreadful, but I’m a sucker for Highlands romance, and it had the kind of appealing earnestness of a daytime soap.

Fun factoid: BTHM  was nominated for two RITAs –does anyone know which ones? I’m guessing best first novel, which went to My Darling Caroline, by Adele Ashworth, and maybe paranormal, which went to The Bride Finder by Susan Carroll.

Word on the Web (all over the map):

LLB, AAR, Grade: D

Sharl, AAR, D

Ann, The Romance Reader,  3 hearts

Book Minx: 3.5

Bookwormom, mostly positive

Amazon.com,  4 stars after 144 reviews

Audible.com, 3.72 based on 68 ratings

The Racy Romance Review:

I listened to this on audio. The selection of romance at audible.com is not to my taste at all, and I knew I was taking a chance on this one. Well, as you can already tell, I could not resist the urge to type some snark. Just trust me when I say I am being as positive as I can.

There’s a real “everything but the kitchen sink” feel to this book, with a plot that zigs and zags in a haphazard way. You’ve got time travel, fairies, gypsies, gods, curses, sexual servitude, scorned women, a geriatric secondary romance, a pregnancy, etc. At several points I was sure I either inadvertently skipped ahead, or had purchased the abridged version by mistake. The writing makes the winners of AARs Purple Prose Parody context read like The Paris Review. The characters are walking clichés with the complexity of ameobas, the depth of rain puddles, and the motivations, attention spans, and boundless capacity for navel-gazing of hormonal teenagers. This book is everything about romance that people mock, and rightly so. It reminds me of why I didn’t read in this genre for so long.

On the other hand (and yes, there is one) I did stick it out for the 8 or so hours it took to get through it. Why? After about 15 minutes of listening with my mouth hanging open, I realized that I was either going to have to go with it, or give up.  This series, and this author, has legions of fans, and there’s a reason for it. I can’t put my finger on it, but there was an earnestness, an exuberance, a kind of non-ironic joy in story-telling, that came through and kept me listening. It reminded me of Sherrilyn Kenyon books in that way.  By the end, I honestly did feel a kind of affection for these one dimensional and incredibly stupid people. This is the Grease 2, the Bachelorette, the Rock of Love, of my romance reading.

QUIZ:

(answers at bottom)

1. Which of the following does the hero not utter in BTHM:

a) “I will suffer no honeyed lies from that sweet snake’s lair you call a mouth.”

b) “You are inundated with pearly nectar.”

c) “Fly for me, sweet falcon!”

d) “You’ve no idea how often I imagined the feel of this silvery-gold fire spread across my shaft.”

2. Which of the following euphemisms for vagina does not appear in BTHM

a) her honeyed heat

b) the very center of her hunger

c) her beckoning wetness

d) her nethermeats

3. Which of the following characters does not appear in BTHM?

a) A diminutive Cuban housekeeper who lovingly befriends her employer, keeping her apartment tidy while she is visiting the 16th century for some sexxoring

b) A falcon with the power of human speech and the tendency to interrupt the h/h’s lovemaking with strings of rude Gaelic remarks

c) A hero whose manhood at half mast would make a stallion envious

d) A heroine with a heart of gold who escapes an orphanage with only her irrepressible spirit and her stray kitten …  Moonshadow

4. Which of the following is false?

a) The hero, serving a 15 year term of brutal servitude to King James, uses his rare leaves to return home and build a nursery for his future bairns, inclusive of brightly painted wooden soldiers, lovingly crafted dolls, and “cradles of honey oak, curved and sanded smooth so not one splinter could work free and harm baby soft skin”

b) The hero’s best friend wishes on a falling star for him to meet a women who will refuse him, and it comes true.

c) The heroine, despite having been engaged to the most eligible playboy/drug dealer in New Orleans, is a virgin.

d) The hero’s widowed mother, in a bold move that raises the bar for animal loving queens of the future, attempts sexual relations with a horse.

5. Which is the most unusual trait exhibited by our hero?

a) His habit of referring approvingly to the size of his own penis.

b) His thinking about another man when he takes our heroine’s virginity.

c) His obsession with the hot smithy who wants his woman.

d) While serving a 15 year term of indentured servitude to King James, he uses his rare leaves to return home and build a nursery for his future bairns, inclusive of brightly painted wooden soldiers, lovingly crafted dolls, and “cradles of honey oak, curved and sanded smooth so not one splinter could work free and harm baby soft skin”.

6. What does the heroine like best about life in sixteenth century Scotland?

a) Bad breath, b.o., and lice

b) Her new status as property

c) The constant threat of war, famine, and disease

d) Everything — medieval times are full of win!!

7. Despite being forcibly married to a man she instantly dislikes, how long does it take our heroine to transition to her new life?

a) Too long! Claim the musky scent of your new existence already!

b) Exactly the same amount of time it takes to have her first orgasm.

c) Transition? What transition? Wait, just give me a few more minutes. I know it’s in here somewhere.

Extra credit: In 30 minutes or less, find 3 unmodified nouns in Beyond the Highland Mist. Proper nouns don’t count.

Answers:

1b. This is actually from “The Duke“, written by author Sherry Thomas, her winning entry for one of AAR’s Purple Prose contests.

2d. I so wish I could take credit for that one, but it’s from Muffy’s World of Vagina Euphemisms

3b. Would have been cool, though.

4d. Duh.

5. All of the above

6d.

7c.

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Published in: on September 18, 2008 at 2:57 am  Comments (11)  
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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. ROTFLMAO – what a hilarious review!! And *still laughing* I loved the quizz too! I think I might even have this one. Guess I can leave it further down on the TBR pile 🙂

  2. Now look at what you have done! LOL, I am gagging and coughing from trying NOT to laugh since I am at work.

    “I will suffer no honeyed lies from that sweet snake’s lair you call a mouth” and “Fly for me, sweet falcon!”
    Have GOT to be the cheesiest lines of dialogue EVER! LOL>

    wonderful review. Staying away from this one, sorry.

  3. Hi there~ Found you via comments you made on the Dear Author review of Jo Goodman’s newest book. Love your format & I find the reviews helpful. And funny!

    I posted my thoughts about this book quite a while ago, here’s the link KMM’s Beyond the Highland Mist if you’d like to link. FYI- I don’t “grade” my reviews as I can’t decide between B and C and D.

    Have a great weekend!

  4. Welcome Bookwormom. Thank you for visiting! I believe I already linked to your review. Did I not do it right? I am still verra new at this.

    As for grades, I don’t do it at all. Reminds me too much of work! 😉

    Kristie and Ana — Glad I could give you a laugh. I just could not write this review any other way no matter how I tried.

  5. It got me (not in a good way) at “Laird of Dalkeith-Upon-the-Sea.” As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one Dalkeith and it’s this one. It is not “on the sea.” I suppose this would be the equivalent of someone Scottish writing a romance in which the Scottish heroine time-travelled back to Pittsburgh-Upon-the-Sea.

  6. And, do you know, it was always referred to as Dalkeith-Upon-The-Sea, just like the heroine’s ex was always referred to as “Eberhard Darrow Garret”.

    Still, Pittsburgh-on-the-sea has a nice ring to it!

  7. Jessica~ You did it right, it’s my fault. 😦 I saw the Do You Review button & the cover shot & thought I’d read it already (but couldn’t remember, which is why I started the blog. lol). SO I looked it up & posted my link and then read your review.No offense intended. Maybe I should look before I leap. 🙂

    Pittsburgh Upon the Sea! ROTFL :0

  8. LOL Great review, Jessica! I actually have a few of KMM’s Highlander novels on my TBR pile (including this one) and after this review, I seriously have to move them up just to find out what I’m missing!

    By the end, I honestly did feel a kind of affection for these one dimensional and incredibly stupid people. -Jessica

    This often happens to me as well, and for the life of me, I just can’t put my finger on why. Maybe I’m just too easy to please/entertain? ::shrug::

  9. Oh, Moning’s crazy Highland warriors. They sure know how to have a good time, those nutty kids, what with the faeries, sorcerers, modern women popping round and all.

    I read this one in a frenzy of page turning, knowing all the while how…not good it was but I just couldn’t stop. I really, really needed to find out what happened to Hawk and Ms. I-Hate-Beautiful-Men. In the end I walked away entertained – not an unpleasant way to spend a few hours, I suppose.

  10. I love Karen and all her books. Your review was not funny, and I wonder what you write besides this silly blog.

  11. Marsha,

    Yes, they call those books “crack”, irresistable, but not necessarily good for you. I think we all have our “crack” romances!

    Jennifer,

    Based on your view of my blog, I’m going to assume that your interest in what else I write is purely rhetorical. Thank you for visiting. 🙂


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