cover image Highland Destiny

Highland Destiny

Hannah Howell. Zebra Books, $5.99 (316pp) ISBN 978-0-8217-5921-9

Howell (A Taste of Fire) kicks off her new 15th-century Highland trilogy with the story of Lord Balfour Murray, laird of Donncoill. His arch-enemy Sir William Beaton kidnapped Balfour's younger brother, Eric, and an attempted rescue ends in defeat and injury. During the retreat home, Maldie Kirkcaldy emerges from the bushes and offers her healing services. She, too, has a score to settle with Beaton and wants Balfour's help. Although the unkempt Maldie protests loudly and frequently about not being a whore like her mother, she and Balfour quickly become lovers. Torn between lust and duty, an increasingly suspicious Balfour imprisons Maldie, who escapes to Beaton with Balfour hot on her trail. While the narrative is rich with detail and the plot promising, the pacing is uneven and the dialogue clotted with ""havenae""s, ""cannae""s, ""isnae""s and ""verra""s that add little authenticity but much confusion. And any reader who cannae ken the wee secret, isnae trying verra hard. (July)