fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsBeyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie MoningBeyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning

Modern Seattle: Ravishingly gorgeous Adrienne de Simone (whose every body part is “perfect,” though she doesn’t know that) hates beautiful men because she just had a bad experience with the gorgeous man who was her fiancé. Never! Never again!
Medieval Scotland: Sidheach James Lyon Douglas, otherwise known as “the Hawk” (even his mother calls him that) or “the King’s Whore,” is the hottest laird on the Highlands, but he’s never met a woman he could love. Every one of his body parts is “perfect” and he knows it.
The Fairy Court: When the fae start to meddle with Adrienne and the Hawk, mischief ensues. Hawk falls in love with Adrienne and she, despite the promises to herself, starts to wonder what might be throbbing under his kilt.

From the beginning I had a feeling that Beyond the Highland Mist wasn’t going to be my book of the year, but I picked it up because I really liked Karen Marie Moning’s FEVER series, I like to occasionally step out of my comfort zone, and Beyond the Highland Mist was on a two-for-one sale at Audible.

I wish I had saved my credit. To put it succinctly, I hated Beyond the Highland Mist. It’s everything about romance novels that I hate, starting with the half-naked guy with the six-pack abs on the cover. Then there’s the story which, honestly, has pretty much the same story and plot devices as every other uninspired romance novel I’ve ever read. You know: they automatically hate each other but there’s some reason they have to spend a lot of time together, one of them (at least) keeps protesting that s/he will never (“NEVER!”) love the other but over the course of the story s/he finds out how awesome the other one is (usually something having to do with how he dotes on his mother or secretly loves children and maybe even secretly supports orphans and/or widows), one of them (at least) gets sick or injured and is nursed back to health by the other one while the sick or injured one never knows the other one is there, they keep having these misunderstandings about their feelings for each other (or maybe they’re mistakenly jealous of a third party) while it’s obvious to everyone else that they’re hot for each other…. It’s so boringly predictable and we all know what’s going to happen at the end. They eventually decide they want to get married though they’ve rarely had a conversation that consists of much more than “I will have you! You will be mine!” and “No! Never!”

Other than the back and forth lusty angst, that’s about all there is to the plot of Beyond the Highland Mist. There’s a little bit of intrigue with the fairy queen, but it barely holds the rest together. The story is all about sexual urges, jealous obsession and love-sickness and, even though I read romance novels very rarely, I have read this plot at least a dozen times before.

But that’s not the worst part of Beyond the Highland Mist. The worst part was the writing, which surprised me because I liked Moning’s style in the FEVER series. But it’s awful here, to the point of hilarity. On every page of Beyond the Highland Mist you’ll find some version of this sort of insipidness: rough velvet tongues, creamy breasts being cupped, nipples being traced, taut bellies, silken nubs, chiseled faces, arching backs, hungry tongues, hot shafts with velvety pink tips, ebony eyes, hot kisses, tiny taut nubs, betraying wetness, plum-ripe mouths, honeyed heat, satiny thighs, ragged breathing, buckling knees, weak knees, traitorous bodies, shattering defenses, velvety friction, throbbing shafts, bodies made of molten steel, velvet lips, husky brandy-rich voice, husky purrs and growls, hot silk tongues, brutal punishing kisses, hot spicy male scent, whimpering against mouths, eyes that are dark pools of shadow, and lots of mouth claiming and deep hot kisses. It sounds like every other over-the-top romance novel I’ve ever accidentally opened.

I can’t even tell you how many times her silvery mane was mentioned, or his chiseled steel body. And Moning actually tells us that he’s hung like a stallion. No, seriously. And I don’t want you to miss these little gems:

  • hard arousal rode between her legs
  • the raw pulsing steel of his hunger
  • the Hawk’s velvet purr had taken on the coldness of smooth polished steel
  • the last rays of moonbeam caressing his body with molten silver
  • she melted to him like liquid flames
  • his desire for her throbbed angrily beneath his kilt
  • his voice was like butterscotch

Get it? ButterSCOTCH? I know you think I made that up, but I didn’t!

As I mentioned, I listened to the audio version which was read by Phil Gigante, who sometimes overdoes it a bit and somewhat contributes to the over-the-top feel of Beyond the Highland Mist. All the same, I thought he did well enough with the male voices (even handling the Scottish brogue pretty well), but I didn’t care too much for his female voices (an issue I’ve noted before with Gigante). If you’re thinking about trying Beyond the Highland Mist, I’d suggest listening to a sample at Amazon or Audible. By the way, Audible will return a book you don’t like. I may return this one. There are more books in the HIGHLANDER series and I think they can stand alone. I bought two more at the Audible sale (groan!). I may try them to see if it gets better, or I may decide to return them, too.

Publisher: He would sell his warrior soul to possess her…. An alluring laird… He was known throughout the kingdom as Hawk, legendary predator of the battlefield and the boudoir. No woman could refuse his touch, but no woman ever stirred his heart—until a vengeful fairy tumbled Adrienne de Simone out of modern-day Seattle and into medieval Scotland. Captive in a century not her own, entirely too bold, too outspoken, she was an irresistible challenge to the sixteenth-century rogue. Coerced into a marriage with Hawk, Adrienne vowed to keep him at arm’s length — but his sweet seduction played havoc with her resolve. A prisoner in time… She had a perfect “no” on her perfect lips for the notorious laird, but Hawk swore she would whisper his name with desire, begging for the passion he longed to ignite within her. Not even the barriers of time and space would keep him from winning her love. Despite her uncertainty about following the promptings of her own passionate heart, Adrienne’s reservations were no match for Hawk’s determination to keep her by his side…


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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