Kiss of the Highlander  - Karen Marie Moning My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...

Oh aye, Drustan, you take my breath away honey! Really, this book was amazing, simply because of him. As usual, I loved the stories/myths about Celtic Druids and their lore, how MacKelters came to be the main descendants of the Kelter druids. There were loads of scientific, astronomical stuffs that went wayyyy over me wee brain and made me think ‘huh?’ more than once, so I’ll avoid them very conveniently. *grins* This book has time travel from the present day.

Gwen is 25, orphaned and an ex-scientist who is looking for a ‘cherry picker’! Yah, well, 1st few times it was funny, the whole ‘cherry picking- hows and whys’ but after sometimes, it got a bit annoying for me. I was like ok, all right, you’re still a virgin- enough woman! So, now she’s in Scotland to find someone to ‘pick her cherry’. Well, I was like, why in Scotland but of course, that’s a stupid question (yah, I know, don’t look at me like that!). Anyhoo! Gwen is brilliant with high IQ, her parents were every bit as rigid, they were scientist too but Gwen always wanted a different life, where love and passion rules. We get to know a few things about her life now that her parents are dead; she’d given up her research work and trying to give up smoking with nicotine patches. Her dating life is going nowhere, because of her intelligence men usually give her wide berth so she hides it. And, Gwen is insecured about all these; including the fact that she’s short and a wee bit plump (not that it mattered to Drustan the hunk :p). This journey in the tour bus full of elderly people were turning out to be one of the most boring days of her life when she’s drawn into the most wild and wonderful adventure. While she was on a hike, her backpack got lost and while looking for it, she fell into cave and oh my, hello! On top of a living male... a sleeping beauty! Erm, couldn’t help it. :p Gwen is hurt but keeps looking and then when the sun heat her directly, the strange symbols on the man’s chest disappears and then, oh! He’s staring at her. Boy, that was some introduction as a century old sleep leads out Drustan to... ermm, think this lass might be the type one tumbles in a haystack. Her dress was wee bit too short and ... God, it was just too funny!

What happened to Drustan was that he was drugged and bind with the spell of eternal sleep by the Rom because of his priest Nevin’s deranged mother. The woman, Basseta saw visions that Nevin, her only surviving son would soon come to harm, possibly die and Drustan MacKelter, who’s soon to marry, would be the cause. And, she’d do anything to avoid that so she put him in an eternal sleep, into the cave near Lochness, from which he’d only wake up when sun’s ray hit directly, with blood on his symbols. Here, have to mention that Drustan is a druid, so was his desendents. They were mortal druids to the Tuatha Dé Danaan, who were left behind when the Fey went to some other place. After a violent war, the Kelter druids were chosen to guard their ‘lore’ and save the world from evil clutches.

The Keltar males were Druids, as their ancestors had been for millennia. But what few knew was that they were not simple Druids, struggling with mostly incomplete lore since the loss of so much of it in the fateful war millennia ago. The Keltars possessed all the lore and were the sole guardians of the standing stones.

Anyway, Drustan’s twin brother Dageus died in a battle while fetching his fiancée no 4. It’s upto Drustan to marry and keep the line. His father, Silvan is aged and won’t sire anymore sons. Even though women jump into his bed wantonly, they don’t want to marry Drustan when they know of his ‘pagan’ rituals. 1st 3 of his fiancées ran because of that. With Dageus dead, a grieving Drustan was an easy target for Basseta.

It was good to read how Drustan started to take all the 21st century things in. From Gwen’s dress to the cars and the sounds, were a bit too much for a 16th Century laird but he faced them well, with Gwen’s help of course. The ever logical Gwen thought he was ‘booboo’ in the head. Even though she’d thought about leaving him a few times, something about him she just couldn’t deny. It might be that he’s a tall and big, dark haired, silver-eyed hunk who’s also very charming and sweet. It can be that Gwen was utterly charmed, even though she didn’t know it at first. But, Drustan knew, from the moment she landed atop him that she’s his. When Drustan realized what happened and how long he’s slept, he’s tormented, thinking of his race and the loved ones.So, he asks Gwen to take him to Inverness and the standing stones that are called Ban Drochaid. Drustan have to time travel back, he has the power only never done that before. Gwen thought this hunk needs to be fitted into something more ‘modern’ than the plaids and the weapon stack he wears. The scene in the clothe store was just priceless, with Drustan having trouble with jeans and his big ermm, ‘sock’ and ... hell, I was laughing so damned hard. And they kiss, a very sexy kiss, which kinda showed me how much they want each-other. Pretty primitive and every girls dream, Drustan is! ;)

I simply adored their conversations. Though I had a little trouble connecting with Gwen, I ended up liking her anyway. She’s bold and straight forward with Drustan and amazed that this guy brings out such characteristics in her! Then, after lot of squabbling about things, they reach the place. Drustan, meanwhile, told her his life story, some of it and Gwen, as usual, just humored him, not believing a thing. Even then, somewhere in her mind she felt he’s telling the truth. Then Drustan tells her something, a rhyme and requests her to remember it. Gwen does. When they reach the ‘standing stones’, Drustan is anguished to see the ruins of his castle, whose border once encircled the standing stones too. Drustan paints some symbols on the 13 stones. Before midnight and the ritual, Gwen gives in, knowing it was inevitable that this ‘cherry tree-chopper downer’ *snorts* is the man to whom she’d give her virginity. Drustan wanted this blonde, blue-green eyed girl with all his being too. And, that was one sexy love scene. I loved it and the things Drustan tells her afterwards in his ancient Druidic language. Afterwards, he binds her to him with the Druidic marriage vow, which Gwen knew nothing about. Then, the time arrives and in a hurry, Drustan takes a naked Gwen and paints the last few symbols. Gwen realizes this man, mad or no, is a genius himself, who knew astronomy and so on. Drustan feared, if he’s wrong, it’s going to end all wrong. And, sadly, he was wrong painting some of the symbols since he’d never done it before. Druids do no use the standing stone unless it’s of utmost emergency, something like ‘a question of their race’-emergency. Drustan’s plan was to go back a few days after his abduction but his counting goes wrong and he realizes they’re gonna land before his abduction. Since he’s already there in that timeframe, two of him can’t be there at the same time. So, as his future self melts, he tells Gwen to tell his past self ‘everything’, knowing he doesn’t have time to specify which ‘things’. He requests her to save ‘him’ and his clan.

When it all goes black, Gwen is still dazed and not sure what just happened. She was on the verge of tear. She’d just met this perfect man and had this amazing sex but he just left her? Just like that! But, soon she becomes aware of her surroundings and understands, yes, she’s not in 21st century anymore. Boy, I felt this odd sensation. What would you do in a situation like this? But, Gwen is smart enough. She soon sees the Castle, where it was a ruin before and starts banging. It was midnight, all asleep. Soon a motherly woman comes, opening the door and seeing Gwen naked with her virgin blood present and in MacKelter plaid, she takes her in. Gwen knew its Nell, the motherly housekeeper Drustan talked about.

I loved seeing Nell and Drustan’s father Silvan. It was so apparent they had tendre for each-other but never worked upon it. It was too sweet. Anyway, Nell talks to Silvan and they’re worried thinking this could only be Drustan. And, they meant to make him work on it, whatever it is he’d done. Then starts the series of hilarious incidents. Gwen won Nell, Silvan, even the roguish Dageus (who was still living) over. But, it’s Drustan who proved to the royal pain! When she said that he’d taken her virginity, Drustan is incensed. Of course he doesn’t ‘tup’ married women or virgins. Gwen knew she has to talk to him soon about everything but the man was avoiding her like a plague (which includes barring the doors to his rooms and jumping naked out of his window ... on a prickly bush ... :p). It was because Gwen was driving Drustan insane, with lust. The moment he saw her, he was in lust no doubt. There’s something about her he can’t deny, the awareness of her is just too much. Drustan saw this dream earlier on but didn’t give much thought to it and when the woman talks about dangers and stuff, he laughs it away. But Silvan, being ‘the wise one’ (Drustan likes to mock his father thus) gives some thought to Gwen’s words, a few that she’d said which includes the fact that she’s from the future.

Although some of the things she did seemed awkward at first, soon I begin to appreciate Gwen’s courage and persistence. She soon figured she’s in love with him. Although it hurts knowing he’s betrothed but she’s in love and she’d fight for him. And, if she can’t do anything for herself, at least she’d help him save his clan. It was funny, how the table has turned on Gwen. Now she felt sad thinking how she mocked him in the future whereas everything he said was true. So, Gwen kept on her pursuit of making Drustan believe in her and act on the immediate danger. Only if the stubborn, hot and delicious man would listen to her! Oh, I so loved the way Gwen thought of Drustan, it’s just oh-I-can’t-fight-him-anyway-so-I-give-in kind of attraction. Meanwhile, Dageus leaves for the Elliots to bring Drustan’s fiancée. Drustan sends a lot of his men with Dageus, just in case and now, is waiting to prove the ‘wee lass’ wrong so that he can send her somewhere, even England if necessary and wash his hands off her. Only if it was that easy!

Gwen, in the meantime, made good friends with Nell and Silvan and was spending more time with them. She was rather bold in her words, about her relationship with Drustan and so on and talked about it with Silvan. I kept on thinking, would I speak to my lover’s father about all those things? Heck no! But, Silvan was an endearing character and Gwen found a friend in him. His and Nell’s attracting, it’s Gwen who spoke it aloud to a startled Nell. I thought it was oddly funny. The things Nell and Silvan do to get each-other’s attention yet act as if nothing happened, were marvelous. But, the royal pain aka Drustan the hunk wasn’t helping them at all. So, Gwen comes up with a plan. Whatta plan it was! Hilarious!!

One night at about 4am, Drustan goes to the garderobe when Gwen locks him inside with the help of lances on the door (oh, spare me the scientific equations she did as to ‘how’ it’s possible). And, Drustan was MAD!

Drustan raked a hand through his hair and fumbled in the dark for the door. When it didn't budge, a part of him was unsurprised. Yet another part of him met the fact with a kind of glad resignation. She wanted battle? Battle she would get. It would be a pleasure to have it out with her finally. Once he'd ripped the door from the framing, he would exact vengeance upon her wee body with gleeful abandon. No more honorable I-won't-touch-you-because-I'm-betrothed. Nay he'd touch her. Any damn place and any damn way he wanted to. As many times as he wanted to. Until she begged and whimpered beneath him. She'd been trying to drive him mad? Well, he was giving in to it. He would act like the animal she made him feel like being. The hell with Anya, the hell with duty and honor, the hell with discipline. He needed to tup. Her. Now.

Ooh *shivers*

For the next few hours ... Oh those few hours! Let me quote something:

By ten o'clock she thought he might soon be ready to talk. He'd threatened, blustered, even tried to sweet-talk her. Then the bribery had begun. He'd let her live if she let him out immediately. He'd give her three horses, two sheep, and a cow. He'd give her a pouch of coin, three horses, two sheep, not just a cow but a milking cow, and set her up anywhere in England, if she would just leave his castle and not bother him again for the rest of his life. The only offer/threat that had perked her momentary interest was when he'd shouted that he was going to "toop her 'til her bonny legs fell off."
She should be so lucky.

Me? *drifts away with some distracting thoughts ... sigh, should she be so lucky herself!*

Lord, this was too hilarious. Only made me think Drustan and Gwen were made for each-other. This is the kind of communication and attraction every girl seeks in her man. Then after all the roars, growls, threats and bribery Drustan finally gives in and asks her to tell her story. Gwen starts from the beginning, tells him about everything. And then, Drustan asks her about their love making. I really wanted to know the words she used to tell him ‘in detail’ of what they did, argh! But, hello Daddy and the house keeper?! Privacy please! Silvan and Nell was listening to them, hiding on the stairs near the garderobe. I mean c’mon! This got me really pissed.

And then, Gwen tells him about the marriage vow:

“If aught must be lost,'twill be my honor for yours. If one must be forsaken, 'twill be my soul for yours. Should death come anon,'twill be my life for yours. I am Given.”

Drustan mouthed the words with her and then informs her she’s well and truly married to him. Gwen is surprised! Oh, after all the running he did, thinking she was planning to trap him into marriage, now she’s married to him. But, Drustan explains to her about the vow. Soon, more talks about a few more things and memory spell, Gwen remembers the rhyme he told her in the future, which goes like this:

"Wither thou goest, there goest I, two flames sparked from but one ember; both forward and backward doth time fly, wither thou art, remember."

With a blinding headache, Drustan suddenly remembers it all. Oh man, I was grinning and wee bit jealous of Gwen because I knew the lovin’ she’s gonna get later on. But, I didn’t have to wait long for it. Oh gawd! It was insane and ... needy. I loved it! Then, they made a lot of monkey love, (oh my!) and talk. I don’t know if Drustan understood Gwen’s life as an ex-scientist but he was proud of her nonetheless. Even Silvan and Nell ‘sort’ things out between themselves.

Gwen tells Drustan to bring Dageus back and he does. I just loved how sweet Drustan was throughout the story. Nevin’s mother, Basseta, sees the vision again (it’s reality #2, remember?) and plans things to destroy Drustan anyway to save her son but this times, her plans change too, because of the way things changed in this ‘reality’. She pays the Rom and they abduct Gwen from her bed, too easily if I might add. How did they slip through the window without anyone’s notice when Drustan just left the room? Anyway, things really go bad from here and to save Gwen’s life, Nevin gives his. Drustan gets hurt in this fight with the Rom and ... Oh, Gwen is thrown back into the 21st century because now that Drustan isn’t asleep and things have changed, she has no purpose in the 16th century. It was so sad, I felt so much for Gwen, seeing how she thought this might be the end, that she won’t she her sexy Highlander lover ever again. In estimation, he’s been dead for 500 yrs. Then she finds out she’s pregnant. She’s overjoyed and goes back to Scotland to make peace with her restlessness. After that... the ending. Oh the ending swept me away. It was so wonderful! I wasn’t expecting the way Ms. Moning resolved everything but wow, I was speechless. I cried these last few chapters through, with sadness and then with joy. So, this book is 4.5 stars. It was funny, spunky, sexy and oh boy, full of Drustan!

In the ending, there was this letter from Silvan to Drustan, which reveals a little dark secret about Dageus. Ah, the babe did something for his brother and his love, I so appreciate it. I’m SO intrigued about him because he was a charming rogue in this book but he was lonely, seeing all the love blossoming around...

Here’s a pic of the Callanish Standing Stones by Woolfitt Adams. As I was doing my search on standing stones in Scotland, this is the one felt came close to the standing stones Drustan used. It’s thousands of years old and there are 13 main stones here all together.