Spell of the Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love KMM's Highlander series - I haven't read the 1st 2 books yet but the other ones were all 5-star reads to me - so I was really anxious to see if this latest installment would live up to my high expectations. Well, I'm glad to say it was another winner. :)
On a Friday night, close to midnight, Jessica St. James, an overworked and exhausted Archeology graduate student at the University of Chicago, is asked by her advisor, who's just suffered a car accident, to go to his office and receive a package for him. She wonders what kind of package gets delivered at such unusual hour, but it's not like she has a life and she can't really refuse her advisor's request. The strange delivery turns out to be the Dark Glass, an ancient mirror with a 9th-century hot Highlander Druid locked inside, and Jessi's life takes a turn for the worse... or for the better?
Cian MacKeltar, the Highlander hottie from the past, is the most powerful Keltar Druid ever born, but he was betrayed by Lucan Trevayne, a "fellow" Dark Sorcerer, 1,133 years ago and has been imprisoned in the Dark Glass since then. The powerful artifact is the source of Lucan's immortality, so he's more than annoyed when it's stolen from him - by a mere thief! - and he'll stop at nothing to get it back. Too bad Jessi is in the middle of the battle between Cian and Lucan now...
Cian needs Jessi's help in order to break the spell that keeps him imprisoned inside the Dark Glass and, after the initial shock - it isn't everyday that you find a hunk in a mirror and, worse, an assassin after you -, she realizes she needs him to keep Lucan's assassins from killing her. The trick is, Cian can be summoned out of the Dark Glass for short periods of time only, so he has to make the best use of his free time if he wants to play his revenge against Lucan and seduce Jessi at the same time. The outcome of his battle against the Dark Sorcerer is uncertain, but there's no doubt in Cian's mind that Jessi is his woman and, soon enough, there's no doubt in her mind either. But what will happen after the spell is broken? Will Cian be able to survive outside the Dark Glass?
Okay, I'm going to say it: I liked Cian, but I didn't love him. Don't get me wrong, he was hot and yummy, but I thought he was like a "mix" of the previous heroes in the series and, as a result, he paled in comparison with them. Having Dageus and Drustan playing strong secondary roles in this book didn't help Cian's "allure", as I found myself more interested in getting myself reunited with the MacKeltar twins than reading about Cian pacing inside the Dark Glass.
As for Jessi, I loved her. She was intelligent, brave and bold. The stunt she pulled at the Edinburgh Airport was a bit farfetched, but the whole ancient-Druid-imprisoned-in-a-mirror thing wasn't exactly ordinary so I went along with it happily. There was a scene near the end when I thought she was going to have a TSTL moment but, thankfully, she retreated before putting herself - and Cian, as a consequence - in danger. Gotta love a smart heroine!
The plot was interesting, the action was fast paced, and the love scenes were hot. The solution for Cian's "conumdrum" was kind of obvious, but I wasn't disappointed by it because it made sense and it was consistent with what had happened before in the series. The ending was a bit "strange", though. Instead of writing an epilogue, KMM chose to write a "Dear Reader" letter telling us that what happened to Cian and Jessi after their final confrontation with Lucan. It wasn't how I wanted to see the story end, but it wasn't "bad" enough to ruin the book.
All in all, this was another great installment in the beloved Highlander series. I wish KMM was still writing new books in this series but, alas, it looks like she's dropped it in favor of her Fever series - at least, for now. Oh well, it was good while it lasted.
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