My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
Barbara Longley’s The Highlander’s Folly is the 3rd installment of her time-travel, Loch Moigh, series. I’ve read and loved the first two installments, but unfortunately, this one was rather frustrating. And I blame no one but Hunter!
Why? I’ll go there soon, but first a little recap. Loch Moigh started with True to the Highlander where we find that the Fae have been meddling with the MacKintosh clan for a long time. The reasons behind start unraveling as the story, and the series, progressed. I’d recommend reading the series back to back as the incidents happening are rather intertwined IMO.
Alethia, or True as the MacKintosh start calling her, is transported in time by a gypsy woman called Madame Giselle while she was working at a Renaissance fair. True had no idea what was coming, so all of it was very sudden, where she finds herself in the 15th c Highlands, rescued by the Laird’s heir, Malcolm. She ultimately finds a home at Moigh Hall, the MacKintosh Laird’s keep. True is an orphan with mixed origin. She’s part Red Indian. She had been ‘gifted’ ever since her birth, a fact though she tried hiding most of the times, becomes apparent soon because her ‘specialty’ lies in having the visions of negative things. She soon starts having those visions about Malcolm, his father William and how an enemy clan would betray them at a later point. Malcolm and his family believed in True’s seemingly fantastical story because they were familiar with Giselle. People here always sensed that she’s not human. Everybody who saw her, saw her as an old crone, no matter the year. She never changed.
At one point, True saves a little orphaned boy and adopts him. She names him Hunter because no one else knew his real name. When Malcolm and his family guessed behind the reason for True’s time-traveling, he becomes fiercely protective of her. It might also be the case that they both start falling for each-other too. Eventually they marry and Malcolm too, adopts Hunter as his son. When she finally saves them from the murder she kept having the vision of, True becomes a ‘true’ member of MacKintosh clan, revered by everyone.
At the end of the story, they visit Giselle to know the ‘truth’. Its then it becomes clear that Hunter is the pinnacle of all of Giselle’s activities and interest in this clan. Giselle claims to have once married to the first laird of the MacConnell clan. Hunter turns out to be a MacConnell. True already knew she had Fae blood because of her abilities. To their utter shock, she and Malcolm learn that Hunter is Giselle’s grandson, many generations removed. That Giselle’s main reason for bringing True here was to take care of Hunter. True didn’t really have anyone to return to, and now having married the love of her life, being with a family she’d come to love, she decides to make 15th c her permanent home.
Robley, the H of book 2, The Highlander’s Bargain, was introduced in book 1. A jolly fellow, Robley is the second son of Robert, William’s brother. He was to follow his father’s footsteps and become a seneschal when he met True and becomes smitten. Though Robley backed off because of Malcolm, he wanted to find a girl like True to love and settle down with. He was pretty sure that he can find someone like that in the ‘future’. And for that, he strikes a bargain with Giselle. Though that bargain brings Erin to him, and a taste of the 21st c for a short while, Robley soon learns in the hard way that striking bargains with Fey can only lead to bigger trouble. When that trouble finds them, he and Erin are returned to his time, without Erin’s consent if I might add, to deal with it.
Erin is gifted too, and her ‘specialty’ lies in detecting people’s health and well-being. She can also cure some basic illness and can provide healing energy to lessen the pain of the worse of them. That’s why Erin made a career in nursing, her goal to become a midwife after her training. She comes from a rather dysfunctional family and her mother’s crazy love-life made her swear off men. But with Robley, things are different. Though worried over a 15th c lifestyle, eventually Erin and Robley fall in love and gets married. But the Fey weren’t finished with him yet. In two different confrontations with Giselle and their High King, some surprising facts are revealed. That Erin is a descendant of Haldor, the High King’s right-hand man, and that Giselle is no old crone after all. She’s the daughter of the High King, Áine! Apparently Giselle knew where to send Robley, and why.
Erin and Robley’s story is not directly linked to this one but True-Malcolm’s is, since they became Hunter’s adoptive parents. Hunter had truly been treated as their eldest boy, even though we find that True and Malcolm had 6 other children ever since.
It’s been a long time since Robley and Erin’s marriage, and Hunter is now a fully grown man. He has always been aware of his special abilities and ties with the Fae. Hunter can sense people’s emotions, can guess their inclinations. I must add here that half of Erin and True’s kids are gifted as well. Personally, I found it to be great, the combo of so many gifted people communicating in a way or talking about things that no ‘normal’ human beings do. But I think they kept their abilities a secret except for the closest of relatives. If anyone did sense anything, no one made any trouble. And why would they. The MacKintosh care for their clansmen as much as they do for their own families.
Gradually Hunter’s vulnerabilities are revealed as well. Though he had been treated with love and respect, he has always felt ‘less’ because of two factors; one, he felt he doesn’t truly belong with the MacKintosh and two, that no one from his own clan ever came to find him created a deep hurt within that he tried hiding most of the times. Moreover, Hunter is a very honorable man who would keep his words no matter what, even if his reasoning are ridiculous. These issues come to play big parts in the next chapters of the story.
Hunter has been away from home for sometimes to ‘experience’ the world, or so to speak and to take part in jousting tournaments to earn rewards. No one’s ever defeated him in any of those fights. He’s rather a legend by now, but Hunter knows he has a slight advantage over the others. His ‘gift’ lets him know his opponent’s moves, so there was no defeating him in any way. This fact humbles and bothers him. Hunter is not comfortable with his gift, but he has no way of blocking it completely. He’d rather he never had any gift to begin with. Bombarded with people’s emotions all day can be tough for even a bada$$ warrior like him. Hunter also doesn’t want to acknowledge his blood relation with Giselle/Áine.
But there’s no avoiding the Fey, in this case his grandmother, when she wants to be acknowledged as Hunter soon finds out on his way home. He’s lured in by Giselle into a Romney fair (fairs do seem to play big roles in these occurring) and rather emotionally blackmailed by her into doing something he’d later regret. Hunter finds himself in another fair, with people wearing queer pants such as True brought from the ‘future’, watching a jousting match between two very unmatched opponents; one is tall and big, the other one short and slight. Hunter thought that the big fellow was taking advantage of a younger boy and instinctively, he went in for a rescue. In a scuffle, he and the short boy is transported back to his time. But such happens when you have meddling Fey relatives! The next, Hunter finds that said relative and the fair, along with her tent, was gone. Not even a single sign remained. So he had no idea the kind of trouble he’d been forced into, neither did he know who he brought with himself. After a while, when her reddish brown hair come tumbling out of the helmet, it’s confirmed that the ‘he’ is a ‘she’! Hunter is completely slack-jawed, trying to figure out what the hell just happened.
Meghan was a secondary character in book 2. Her father Connor had that jousting/medieval sports academy where Robley, during his brief stay in the future, was given a job. He also visited their home on Connor’s invitation. Meghan has 2 elder brothers whom we never met in the course of this series but by mention. Now, her family also is harboring a secret; Connor is another innocent victim of the whimsical Fae meddling with the humans. He was transported into the future completely by accident and had no way of returning to his time in the 13th c Ireland. Somehow he managed to eke out a life for himself, but he, Meghan or any member of his family doesn’t possess any special power. It becomes apparent later that Meghan and her brothers were raised with the old sentiments and values of Connor’s time to certain extent. That actually helps Meghan along the way of her sojourn into 15th c.
From childhood, Meghan trained in mixed martial arts and some other athletic sports, thanks to her father. She has been a part of her father’s academy, as well as took part in the Renaissance fair Erin used to work at, which is also one of Connor’s ventures. That day, she was minding her own business when Hunter snatches her back to the past. Just like that. She had no way of knowing anything, so she was in no way prepared for this very unexpected and scary, if I might add, journey. But Meghan proves to be made of sterner stuff.
When they soon figure out that they’ve been duped, Hunter offers Meghan his protection until he can find a way to get her home. Meghan is scared, yes, but she’s not completely scared witless. When Hunter explains to her some of the medieval ideologies, she gathers she needs the protection of a man to avoid danger. And the sexy, kilt-clad Sir Hunter seems to be the best option at the moment. Meghan is more hopeful when she learns of Hunter’s relationship with Robley and Erin. At least she’d not be completely without a known face while her stay here.
When Hunter’s other knight buddies catch up with them, they’re surprised to find a girl with him. They’re also surprised the now absent fair but only one knight called Cecil makes a scene. He begins panicking, confusing Meghan with the Fey and condemning her of trickery. Though they try to squelch his suspicion and move on, Hunter senses that Cecil might pose a threat to Meghan’s safety, which means he needs to keep an eye on him too. On their way, they met Robley, who luckily heard the news of Hunter’s return and came to fetch him. But what takes Robley completely by surprise is to find Meghan among them. He instantly knew something is wrong and immediate offers her his protection. Robley deems it as his responsibility since he knew Connor personally.
Funny thing is, though Meghan thought it’s been only 7 yrs. since Robley’s visit to the future, turns out, time doesn’t work that way. I was also surprised when it was said that Robley has aged, when by my estimation (if I remembered his age correctly in book 2), he should’ve been in his early 30s. But later it was explained that it’s actually been 16 or so yrs. since Meghan last saw them, though she’d only aged 7 yrs. since then!
Hunter wanted to keep Meghan at Moigh Hall where his foster parents await his arrival, but Robley insists to take her to Meikkel Geddes. Though Meghan doesn’t like being away from Hunter, she’s nevertheless excited at the prospect of seeing Erin and meeting their brood. Hunter on the other hand, can’t wait to see his family, especially Sky, Malcolm’s eldest daughter. And we learn that he’d made this pledge in his childhood (think I vaguely remembered something like that) to marry Sky when she’s of an age. Hunter means to keep his word now that she’s old enough, and he has enough coins to live comfortably. As Hunter sees his family for the first time in years, I loved meeting Malcolm and True’s brood alongside him. He’s welcomed back with open arms, among laughter and happy tears. And though he missed Sky’s presence, who was visiting her aunt at that time, Meghan’s thought is not far behind. How come he’s already missing her when he’d just met her?! Hunter doesn’t know, and he can’t say that the thought made him happy.
In due time, when Sky finally arrives home, Hunter begins pursuing her, albeit in a very non-romantic manner. It was clear that Sky had no such feelings for Hunter. I can see why, he’d always been the big brother to her! Yet Hunter kept emphasizing one thing; he made a promise and he must keep it. No one can talk him out of him. He even asks for Malcolm’s permission, who is reluctant to give it. But the final verdict was left at Sky’s hand, who is not interested at all. Guess I said that, but this keeps happening over and over again. At one point, an ailing Robert (story in book 2) passes away and the whole family reunites in Moigh Hall for his funeral. Meghan accompanies them and so happy to see Hunter! It’s at that time, Tieren, Hunter’s closest friend, confides in Meghan about Hunter’s interest in Sky. This does jolt Meghan out of her daydreaming. She’s quite hurt, feeling like a fool that she let her thoughts run amok, when he had someone else in his mind all along!
Now, Tieren was a great character. He wanted Meghan right from the beginning and it felt genuine. Maybe not love at first sight but he was very impressed with Meghan’s fighting skills, especially when at Moigh Hall, Meghan is permitted to train the men in mixed martial arts. In fact, everybody is impressed, including Hunter. And he can’t stand Tieren anywhere near him, even though he’s still adamant about sending her away. He wants her but he’d still marry Sky, yet he won’t let Tieren near Meghan. If Tieran ever does, he’d start growling at him, threatening him. I mean c’mon! I felt so much for Tieren because it was worse. Meghan had no interest in him apart from friendship. I hate to see a perfectly nice character getting hurt, but there it was! I don’t think I have to spell out that I dislike love-triangles.
Though Meghan was initially jealous of Sky, she soon found out that Sky’s not a big threat to her. I liked it that Meghan knew what she wanted and tried to convince Hunter throughout the story. But he was determined to ignore his feelings. Yet that wouldn’t deter him from kissing her senseless whenever he can, then pushing her away over and over and over again, and I can’t explain how frustrating that was for me! Meghan would’ve stayed with Hunter but seeing how stubborn he is, she finally begins giving up. She was also feeling guilty about hurting Tieren but she tries her best to be gentle at her rejection. But it’s never easy, is it?
Though Hunter was sure that he can break Sky’s defenses given time with his persuasion, at one point, Sky puts her foot down and refuses to even consider this proposal, causing a slight rift in their relationship. I can’t blame Sky since Hunter was the one who was being dumb. I mean I read this boy growing up from a 4 yrs. old, I must’ve missed something. I wonder what went wrong and why he refused to see logic or use his brain? I know Meghan agreed with me wholeheartedly! At one point, it gets into his thick head that there’s no chance for him with Sky. At the same time, a few men from the MacConnell clan come with big news for Hunter. Apparently, he’s now the Baron DúnConnell since his grandfather was the laird. The whole perfidy behind Hunter’s past is suddenly dumped on the poor guy. His Fae-hater grandfather was the reason why his father, who had the gifts, left his clan, and why his mother was forced to hide him. Now Hunter has a new mission in life; saving his own clan from distraction now that it’s without a leader.
Meghan made it clear many times that she’s a smart girl, except when it came to Hunter. She can see Hunter’s vulnerabilities, as I mentioned before, of always having the feelings that he didn’t belong anywhere. Even though he was loved, there was that emptiness inside Hunter that never went away. His mother and grandmother’s death hasn’t been easy, and even though he was very young, he remembered the worst days of his life before True saved him. All in all, he was rather scared of taking chances. And he was so scared of losing Meghan that he won’t even give her a chance in his life! I mean, yah sounds ridiculous and Meghan tries her best to convince him with logic, but that oaf won’t listen to anything. Moreover, when he’s made laird of his clan, Hunter knew there’s danger ahead, so taking Meghan with him was out of question. According to him, it’s for the best that Meghan is send back to her time. He acknowledges that he loves Meghan but he’d marry for duty once he secures his clan’s future. Oh boy!
I tried to understand like Meghan did, but I also knew that if he considered all the possibilities, he would’ve found a way. When they learn of Áine whereabouts, they start preparing for the journey. No one could still convince Hunter otherwise. But what totally ticked me off was the fact that he ends up having sex with Meghan even knowing he’s sending her back, though Meghan took it as a positive sign. I didn’t like it at all, especially when later he starts sprouting the same stuff, breaking her heart all over again. I was so mad, I wanted to bash this thick skull with something and be done with it! *SMH*
Later though, near Áine’s hut, Hunter refuses to accompany Meghan knowing he’d gone low this time. But things would soon start unraveling and Hunter would finally start considering the consequences of losing Meghan. He knows he loves her but can he, at all, live without her? I know Áine plays her part for sure and I’d say Hunter did beg prettily to her for returning Meghan to him. Oh that almost melted my heart... almost, but he annoyed me for such a long time, it was too late I’m afraid to change my mind completely.
There was villain and he did try to harm Meghan a couple of times but I wasn’t that into that part. I was too embroiled in Hunter’s drama over Meghan. But when the story ended, I began thinking... We were never shown Meghan’s parents and siblings’ reactions over her time-traveling. Also, it seemed that Meghan was fine with never seeing her family ever again. How is it possible when her transportation was so sudden?! It just didn’t feel right. Shouldn’t there have been a reunion to explain what was going on? As a closure or something?
Anyway, I’m hoping that this is not the end of this series, and that Tieren has a chance to find love. Otherwise, it’d be a very disappointing end. 3.5 stars
This ARC was set as 'Read Now' on netgalley, thanks to Montlake Romance, which didn’t influence my review and rating in any way.