McCabe Trilogy, Book 2
Review of McCabe Trilogy, Book 1
Heat Factor: light-the-bed-on-fire sex all over the place
Character Chemistry: It was probably a combination of the sex and the angst, but it totally worked
Plot: I love you, but I must wed another
Overall: Don’t like the trope, liked the book
If you’ve never read a romance in which the conflict between the protagonists is that one (or both!) of them have to marry someone else because of REASONS, you have been missing aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the angst.
Here you have middle brother Alaric McCabe, who agreed to marry the heiress of clan McDonald in book 1. By the end, Alaric was really fitting that middle child role. Alaric is on his way to visit his fiance when out of the blue he is attacked by murderous warriors. Everyone in his party is killed but he is (miraculously) dragged to Keeley McDonald’s house, half dead of his wounds. Keeley McDonald is (miraculously) a healer, and she’s able to prevent Alaric’s death from all the little germies and exsanguination and other things that would so readily kill people in medieval Scotland.
Alaric’s brothers come crashing into Keeley’s cottage with their brawn and their unreasonableness and they take Alaric home … and also Keeley. The McCabe healer passed on and the laird’s lady is pregnant and Alaric is wounded so it totally makes sense for a big, hulking, highlander to sling Keeley over his shoulder and take her off to clan McCabe, where she is immediately adopted by the laird, his family, and the Utopian clanfolk who are astonishingly open-minded and forward-thinking.
Similarly, in the let’s-suspend-all-disbelief arena, Alaric and Keeley have a very serious case of love-at-first-sight. I don’t know how it works, but it does. They don’t know each other at all and then they’re declaring their love and having super hot, like, light-the-bed-on-fire, sex all over the place. It’s okay because Alaric will be faithful to Rionna after they’re married. Because being unfaithful after marriage would be dishonorable. But really, their chemistry was lit. I was all up in that angst about their relationship with them the whole time.
And then we arrive at the hallmark of the I-must-marry-someone-else-but-I’ll-never-stop-loving-you conflict: I want you to be happy with the other person, even though there’s no way in all of eternity that I’ll ever love again. It so belittles the other person’s feelings. Yeah, yeah, Keeley, wallow in your agony of romantic martyrdom. Feelings blah blah blah. But also acknowledge that saying that Rionna will be a good wife to Alaric and he’ll be able to love her in time while you’ll never love again is effectively setting yourself up as having a truer or more meaningful love than him. Love is, after all, a competition. Whatever keeps ya warm at night, amiright?
In sum, while it ended up being rather over-the-top (as one would expect of a medieval highlander romance), all the angst surrounding the romance was pretty fun. The trope is ridiculous, but Alaric and Keeley were darling.
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