laird: A landed proprietor. In ancient times limited to those who held [land] immediately from the king. The southern form lord was as early as the 14th c. introduced into Scottish use in the English senses of the word.
highlander: A native of the Highlands of Scotland. Also, a soldier of a Highland regiment. First introduced in 1642 by James Howell's "Instructions for forreine travell."
So, in summation: laird rich, highlander ripped. Now that we've cleared that up . . .First Glance: My first instinct was "magical highlander." It's the background, really, that gives away the magic - the various textures layered on top of the ocean, the ethereal quality of the colors, the line drawing at the top that might be a griffin. These things all equal some sort of magic. Moving on to our hero, his chest tattoo may be magical. I'm guessing he belongs to some kind of order who claim the bear as their mascot (UC Riverside, mayhap?). Furthermore, the detailing on his boots looks pretty magical. And finally, while his ab and chest definition are impressive, I think the last word on his magical powers lies in his half-ponytail. Score: 4 out of 5
Title: Moon Awakening: Book One of the Children of the Moon - Initially, I thought Moon Awakening was meant to sound like "rude awakening." Perhaps a story about a naive young girl from a small Scottish village who meets a man who teaches her a few life lessons, most importantly how to love. They all live on the blustery moors ever after, the end. Maybe the magical element is just the magic of true love?
But then I saw the subtitle and came to the conclusion that werewolves are our magical element. Making this book a part of the apparently rich vein of were-hybrid romance. I suppose our hero is a werehighlander? Score: 3 out of 5 (for making me think it might be a pun, but then pulling the rug out with the subtitle)
Tagline: "Bestselling author Lucy Monroe introduces an enthralling new romantic tale that pushes the boundaries between love and hate, passion and pain - and man and beast."
Ummmmmmm, nope. I can see where they're going ("these things are opposites! but the story shows that they're not so different!"), but I'm not headed there with them. It's just not a very catchy tagline - it gets bogged down at the end with the weird sentence construction + overuse of the word "and." Oxford comma, friends: look it up! Score: 2 out of 5
Back-of-the-Book: I think, with this one, it will be best to just get into it:
"When Emily Hamilton's family is ordered to send a woman to the Scottish Highlands for marriage to the laird of the Sinclairs, Emily volunteers in order to save her younger sister from such a fate."So, our brave heroine sets off for her new life as lairdess of the Sinclairs, only to find that her "stubborn streak" compels the laird of Sinclair to cancel the marriage. Emily's "stubborn streak" compels her to remain at the castle of her rejector, refusing to return home.
So, while Emily's dealing with the various effects of Stockholm Syndrome*, we learn a bit more about our hero. His name is "Lachlan (of course), laird of the Balmoral clan - and leader of his pack." So I guess that makes him a werelaird, rather than a werehighlander. Anyway, apparently he's quite villainous:
"One of the most feared werewolves prowling the Highlands, he is on the march against the hated Sinclairs . . . He kidnaps the sister of the Sinclair laird, planning to marry her off in revenge - but the woman he takes along with her proves to be the greater prize . . . "Ugh, really? A double kidnapping? And what makes Emily the "greater prize"? She was only at the castle because she was refusing to leave - the Sinclair guy doesn't want her there. I don't see any substantial ransom coming your way, Lachlan buddy.
" . . . For Emily feeds a desire he never knew existed."Oh. Of course. Right you are, then.
"And though Lachlan would not think of marrying a human - an English-woman at that - he must know how a mere woman could take his heart so easily . . . "Um, because she offers you table scraps and scratches behind your ears? Score: 3.5 out of 5 (I only read the back of these novels and already I'm bored with the revenge kidnap that turns into passionate love storyline)
Final Score: 12.5 out of 20 - Moon Awakenings really should get the Steele Pendant, but I'm awarding it the Bronze Feather because of its strong showing in the First Glance category. They're lucky I'm a sucker for a magic man in a half-ponytail.
*I made the mistake of thinking I was clever with my Stockholm Syndrome joke, but apparently I've already used it in my critique of Miranda and the Warrior, a similar tale about the loving bond between kidnapper and kidnappee.