Karen Marie Moning

"Spell of the Highlander"

(Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie OCT 30, 2005)

Spell of the Highland by Karen Marie Moning

I have read every one of Karen Marie Moning's books and Daegus MacKelter, the dark, intense, super-alpha hero from the Dark Highlander, and his time traveling brother Drustan (Kiss of the Highlander), are two of my favorite fictional men. Although I remain loyal to Daegus, the MacKelter brothers may have some competition now with the introduction of their 9th century kinsman, Laird Cian MacKeltar, in Ms. Moning's latest novel, Spell of the Highlander. A major bonus in this new book is that all three McKelters, along with their mates, appear here.

Cian is a Celtic warrior and the most powerful Keltar Druid ever to live. He is heir to the arcane magic of the Old Ones, but has been imprisoned for eleven centuries in The Dark Glass, one of the four coveted Unseelie Hallows, objects of seemingly boundless powers. The Dark Glass has been stolen, along with other priceless antiquities, due to the intervention of Aoibheal, Queen of the Fae, (the Tuatha De Danaan), who is determined to destroy the dark Druid sect of the Draghar.

Lucan Myrddin Trevayne, a former pupil of Cian's back eleven hundred years ago, is the evil sorcerer and ancient enemy who imprisoned him and who will stop at nothing to reclaim the Dark Glass and gain more power.

Jessica St.James, a graduate student in archeology at the University of Chicago, receives a midnight phone call from her doctoral advisor. Apparently he has been involved in a fender bender and needs her to go to his office on campus to accept an important emergency delivery. What kind of package, she wonders, gets delivered in the early morning hours? A mysterious one. The package is huge, the size of a sarcophagus. It turns out to be a mirror with an ornate golden frame carved with symbols and glyph-like shapes, apparently an ancient relic. Her first thought is that she would love to authenticate its age and origins. But sleep and a hard days work beckons, especially since she will have to take the professor's classes the following day. When she returns to the office the next evening to grade students' papers, she finds a strange man there who attempts to kill her. Cian MacKelter calls to Jessi from inside the mirror and gives her the Celtic words which will temporarily free him from his prison to defend her. Her terror overcomes her disbelief and she recites the spell. Cian keeps his word and does save her. Did you doubt?

Cian's freedom is transitory and he has a lot of work to do before he can break the spell which has ensorcelled him and free himself permanently. He desperately needs Jessica to help him. Actually, he needs her to believe that he really exists and that she is not crazy first. On Samhain, in twenty-two days, Cian's hated enemy Lucan Trevayne must pay a tithe to the mirror to keep MacKelter imprisoned. All "Tuatha De bindings, both the Seelie (the good fae) compacts, and the Unseelie (bad fae) indentures, must be periodically reaffirmed by gold. Usually compacts only require reaffirmation if something is changed or violated within the agreement. However, since the Dark Arts run counter to the nature of things, the Dark Glass must be paid every one hundred years, on the anniversary of the original date of binding at midnight." Cian has to keep himself and the mirror hidden during the twenty-two day period and plan his revenge. He cannot allow Trevayne to continue to live. Lucan looks to obtain the Dark Book, the contents of which are so potent that "continual exposure to it will change a man forever...and not for the better." Lucan Trevayne is bad enough to begin with - the world does not need him to get worse! He must be stopped at all cost.

Obviously, Cian is the typical mouthwatering male hunk Ms. Moning usually creates. And Jessica is bold, beautiful, intelligent, etc., in other words, a perfect MacKelter mate. Their courtship is similar to previous MacKelter romancing rituals. I really enjoyed the Spell of the Highlander, however, here's where I might run into some trouble with other fans. My critique is totally constructive and I do write as a loyal Karen Marie Moning reader. Her storylines are usually much more complex - intricate plots, subplots, etc. Not so here. The narrative is interesting, but very simple, without any real twists and turns. Cian is a likeable character, but not at all complicated. In fact, at times he is almost caveman-like. And Jessi is so stereotypical. Heroines like Jessica exist in hundreds of romance novels. I have read many books by this author and know what she is capable of. Maybe it's me, but I wonder if pressure from her publisher is forcing her to pump out the books. I really hope not, because I so look forward to reading Ms. Moning's work. Also, BASTA!! Enough with women drooling all over men and visa versa. It is getting old and there are more subtle ways, and sexier ones, to express lust and sensuality.

From what Ms. Moning writes in a brief afterward, she is planning more novels about the MacKelters and the Fae. I say "terrific!!" I only hope the author grows as a writer as she further develops her wonderful characters. Highly recommended!

  • Amazon readers rating: from 48 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from Spell of the Highlander at RandomHouse.com

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"The Immortal Highlander"

(Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie SEP 16, 2004)The Immortal Highlander by Karen Marie Moning

I have been waiting for over a year for The Immortal Highlander to hit the bookstores. I may be Karen Marie Moning's biggest fan, having read and loved every magical, unique novel she has published. I especially like The Dark Highlander and The Kiss of the Highlander. Adam Black, our hero here, had small, but important roles in these two novels, and Ms. Moning does not disappoint with her latest Adam's story. It is not necessary to have read her prior books to enjoy this one. The Immortal Highlander stands on its own.

Black belongs to "Tuatha De Danaan," a highly advanced race of immortal beings that settled in Ireland thousands of years before the birth of Christ. Although this race is called by many names, they are most commonly referred to as Fae or Faery. Frequently portrayed as tiny, luminescent creatures who flit around, the true "Tuatha De Danaan" are neither small nor benevolent. Adam Black is a rogue among his own kind. He meddles too much in the affairs of men, frequently taking on the human form of a tall, dark, and (you got it!), handsome male, powerfully built and extremely seductive. He is unpredictable, arrogant, mesmerizing...and Trouble, with a capital "T."

Aoibheal, Queen of the "Tuatha De Danaan," punishes Black for his interference in the world of mortals, by stripping him of his immortality and making him human. And to make matters worse, she curses him with the threefold power of feth fiada - which makes him invisible to mankind. No one can see him, hear him, touch him. And almost as bad, now he feels hunger, thirst, fatigue, lust, and loneliness. His own kind, although they can see him clearly, have been forbidden to acknowledge him. After months in this state, Adam is desperate.

Enter human female, Gabrielle O'Callaghan, who is (yes) lovely, intelligent and has the gift of sight. She can see both worlds - mortal and faery, which to her has always been a curse rather than a gift. Gabrielle can see and hear Adam. Once he finds this out, and he does very rapidly, he will not leave her alone. Besides wanting very much to seduce her, she may be the only means he has of communicating with humans or faeries.

Adam must persuade Gabrielle to help him in his quest to regain his immortality - a quest that will take them into a world of magic where they discover a conspiracy to destroy both mortal and faery realms.

As with Ms. Moning's other novels, this one has it all - romance, magic, time travel, extraordinary characters, great plot, writing that flows, and most important, an original theme and storyline. It just doesn't get better than this!

  • Amazon readers rating: from 82 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from The Immortal Highlander at RandomHouse.com

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About the Author:

author photoKaren Marie Moning was born in 1964 in Cincinnai, Ohio. She graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor's degree in Society and Law. She worked as a bartender, a computer consultant, and an insurance specialist before returning to her first dream: writing. Her first novel, Beyond the Highland Mist was nominated for two RITA's, won a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, and made Ms. Moning Waldenbooks bestselling debut romance author for 1999. Her third novel, The Highlander's Touch was awarded the prestigious RITA in 2001. Her fourth novel, Kiss of the Highlander was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the best mass market novels of 2002. Her fifth novel, The Dark Highlander was chosen as one of the Top Ten Favorite Books of the year by Romance Writers of America. Her novels have appeared on USA Today, Publishers Weekly and the New York Times bestseller lists.

She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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