Highland Groom

Highland Groom - Hannah Howell “Just as the priest asked if anyone knew why Diarmot and Margaret could not marry there was a disturbance at the doors of the church and a clear, angry woman’s voice said, ‘I think I might have a reason or two.’Shocked, Diarmot looked behind him and his eyes widened. Marching towards him was a tiny woman with brilliant copper hair. Behind her strode eight large, scowling, red-haired men. She held a bundle in her arms and a small, dark-haired girl walked beside her carrying another.”I’m mostly over Howell’s incredibly repetitious books -- ooo, she’s tiny, never saw that coming! -- but how could I resist that? This plot about the man discovering he has a wife and twins he'd completely forgotten has intrigued me since I first heard about it and I was thrilled when I found it at the library. It turned out to be a pretty good read. My main complaint was that it was overly long; in particular, the hero is stubbornly distrustful of the heroine, and callous towards her, for too long. (Just for starters, he takes her to the nursery containing his six other children she hadn’t known about and tells her “Just toss yours in with the rest.”) At one point, Ilsa thinks, “Her attempts to win her husband’s respect and affection were beginning to feel like like self-determination and more like self-flagellation. At what point did she cross that fine line between patience and humiliation?” Well before the end of the book, if you ask me... and Diarmot doesn’t suffer nearly enough, despite getting nearly beaten to death twice. I prefer mental anguish. Ilsa gives so much and suffers so much and he isn't nearly as affected by it as I'd like.I wasn’t crazy about the obvious, unsubtle mystery plot either, though thought that Howell redeemed it by the end by making the villains have some interesting, albeit cliched, back story. If you haven’t read much Howell before, you might like this more than I did, because she can seem quite refreshing and original until you discover that all her books are original in exactly the same way. Worth a read if you like stories about heroines who take over the castle and fix everything up, and it's got some laughs, too.