Highland Destiny (Magic of the Highlands, #1)

Highland Destiny - Laura Hunsaker Perhaps I've read too many Highlander romances... maybe I'm just cranky... but this book? It pushed me beyond limits. The plot sounds great: A 21st century woman is whisked back in time by two mysterious men claiming to be sorcerers. They tell her that she's the only hope to stop the Campbell, an English lord who's taken over Scottish lands and follows the dark magic arts. Arriving in that time, she is almost immediately kidnapped by a Highland warrior and laird -- incidentally, the laird of the castle she was staying in (as a 5-star hotel with a 5-star restaurant and a shopping mall?), and supposedly the ghost laird that haunts the castle this day -- a man who lost his 1st wife and lived his days in sadness. Of course this Highland warrior (Connor) is huge, with a god-like body and wicked sense of humor. Of course, he doesn't believe her story of being from the future, but he falls in love with her almost instantly... despite knowing that she is the intended bride of the Campbell. Of course, she's a virgin, who gives it up to the irresistible Connor. Of course, she's had dreams all her life of this exact scenario -- the Campbell, Connor, and a show-down where she's got to be a blood sacrifice for the Campbell to take over the world.... But our heroine is pregnant, with Connor's child, of course. (Really? Does every heroine dream of meeting the man of her dreams, only to become pregnant shortly after days and hours of lustful adventures?) And of course, in the end, everyone's happy. The End.EXCEPT... the story is badly written, the characters are ill-formed, and the history/details are just all wrong.1. The time our heroine (Mackenzie) is whisked back to is 1792. Anyone who knows their Scottish history (or has read Highland romances before, especially Outlander) knows that after 1745 and the big battle at Culloden, the English not only trounced the Scots, but they crushed the Highland clans, almost into extinction. Tartans and kilts were outlawed, punishable by beating or death. The English ruled with an iron fist, and the soldiers were allowed to do whatever they wanted, including frequent raids, rape, pillaging, and arresting the Scots men to be tried and either hanged or transported to America.But in this story, the clans are still strong and warring against one another. And while the Campbell is English, he's too whacked out a character to even count.Had the setting been 1692, the story would have been more plausible, albeit the sorcery and black arts, that would be much more "believable" in medieval times.2. Our heroine. Once again, she's a virgin. *sigh* But the interesting thing is that once she gives it up, Connor (the Highlander) doesn't even notice... no mention is made about the evidence of her maidenhood that he's just taken from her. In fact, it's only through conversation that Connor learns she was a virgin. Really? Didn't anyone pay attention to the blood that wasn't even mentioned? And she's not the least bit concerned about giving it up to this Highlander... she doesn't know if he trusts her, is using her, or anything, but because there's "heat" between them, she's more than willing. Now, if a gal's waited all her life and guarded her precious virginity, why is she suddenly so willing to give it up? Because this man is unlike any she's every known? C'mon!Mackenzie's emotions range from high to low in minutes. Her face is completely readable, at least by Connor. His people allow him to marry her, even though she is associated with the Campbell - either his willing bride-to-be or the woman who will most likely kill most of Connor's clan in the war that will start when the Campbell attempts to take her back.Mackenzie willingly goes with 2 unknown men, because they tell her she is urgently needed. How naive can one be? Even when they shove her through a secret passage? And then she accepts that they are sorcerers, and buys everything they tell her, including that she plays an important role in this story. But they forget to go into any detail about what that means, except they're using her to buy time to figure out how to destroy the "dark lord".Mackenzie is beautiful, but she doesn't recognize her beauty. *gag* This one is also getting old.Mackenzie is supposedly from Las Vegas, Nevada. She constantly thinks about the desert... et al. But she's from Vegas like Connor is from New York! No mention of what she does for a living, how she can afford this 5-star Scottish vacation, or much of anything about her life, except that her brother was recently killed in a car crash.Mackenzie's speech. Yes, she's a 21st century gal, but virtually every word out of her mouth is some cliche of our time. And her "wow"s are too liberally sprinkled.3. Time travel. Mackenzie is shoved through a secret passage, and when she comes out on the other side, she's *magically* in 1792. No mention of dizziness or lights or sounds or anything that would indicate she even knew she'd time traveled. OK, maybe this complaint is based on all the other time traveling stories, but *usually*, there's some affect or effect on the person who traveled. In this story, it's just all too easy... and very anti-climactic. The only nod is that this "gate" or portal can only be opened 4 times a year, coinciding with Samhein and the other "known" times when the veil is supposed to be thin.4. The characters. Everyone is a cliche, and there's very little character development between the beginning and the end of the story. Except that everyone's learned their lesson. Yeah.... no. Part of the beauty of a romance like this is the journey and how everyone got there.It almost seemed to me as if someone with a friend in publishing made a bet or a dare with said publisher that she/he could pen a Highlander romance in a few hours and, once published, the Highland romance readers would never know the difference. Ha!So why did I finish the story? Because it's like a car wreck - I just couldn't pull my eyes away, regardless of the horror. I, stupidly, hoped that the story would flesh out and be worth reading.I was wrong.