The Immortal Highlander
by Karen Marie Moning, paranormal (2005)
Dell, $6.99, ISBN 0-440-23756-4


Being that The Immortal Highlander was first published in hardcover and therefore marks Karen Marie Moning's debut in that format, I suppose it is understandable that the author will want to capture an audience as wide as possible, which could explain why the bad fae Adam Black turns into a cringe-inducing "just another Karen Marie Moning hero" when he gets his story here. But on the other hand, I have a strong hunch that the presence of multiple references to previous books mean that a reader new to the author has a high chance of getting lost and confused here, like she's been dropped right in the middle of a party where she doesn't know anyone and has no idea what everyone is talking about. These very two contradictory weaknesses in The Immortal Highlander leads me to suspect that maybe the flaws of this book arise more from flawed design than by accident.

Adam Black first appears in Ms Moning's first ever book with Dell, Beyond The Highland Mist, where he nearly succeeds in manipulating the heroine (which is easy, considering how that woman and her hero are complete morons). Adam last makes an appearance in The Dark Highlander, where he... well, I don't want to spoil that book for anyone who hasn't read it so let me just say that Adam did something really bad and he was punished by having his fae powers stripped from him. In The Immortal Highlander, Adam is mortal, has no fae powers, and cannot see another fae being. Oh, and he is also invisible, so that means both humans and fae cannot see him. However, our present day heroine Gabrielle O'Callaghan is one of the rare Sidhe-seer folks that have the ability to see fae folk. She is told that the fae will try to use any Sidhe-seer for their nefarious purposes so she has succeeded in pretending not to notice any fae folks so far in her twenty-four years. However, she manages to slip up in front of Adam - his "eternal hard-on" may have something to do with that, oh dear, and now Adam won't budge from her side until she agrees to help him get his powers back.

Now, where do I start with this book? How about the fact that Ms Moning has built up all this anticipation for Adam's story only to happily mutate him in this book into yet another cheesy overheated hero of hers? The Adam Black in this story isn't the unrepentant and cunning bad boy in the author's previous books: with his "eternal hard-on", he's an interchangeable hero of this author in terms of looks and personality. The heroine Gwen is another interchangeable heroine by this author: a sexually inexperienced heroine who's all thumbs in the presence of the hero and who also loses her common sense around the hero to the point that she stops behaving like a real person. Survival instincts fly out the window. Her reactions and her trust in Adam - all motivated by lust, apparently - only make sense if I am to believe that the hero, being the hero, will be a good guy so it's okay if the heroine acts like a birdbrained twit in heat around him.

Adam in the previous books is someone who embraces the dark side of his fae nature so to see him being turned into a mortal in this book should be an interesting experience. However, instead of exploring Adam's possible reactions and feelings to his current situation, Ms Moning instead focuses on The Sex. Yes, sex. Adam's sole reaction to being human is that The Sex Is Hot, therefore he doesn't mind being human after all. Gabby's mistrusts and whatever completely melt because The Sex Is Hot. Pages after pages of The Sex Is The Hotness can be found here, be it lusting or actual boinking, when surely a few dozen could be spared for... I don't know, something a little more important? Like actual character development? Why build a whole mythology just to have the entirely story boiling down to one thing, that thing being of course The Sex Is Hot?

Very late in the story, the author attempts to bring up the issues of sacrifice and trust but she then rushes to finish the story in a way that can't be any neater if it is wrapped up in shiny paper and placed under a Christmas tree. How about Adam's redemption and the issue about him being a soulless fae? Nah, don't worry, The Sex Is Hot! How about Gabby's personality - is she going to get one? Hey, who cares - The Sex Is Hot! And... and... yeah, I know, I know. The Sex Is Freaking Bloody Absolutely Hot. Pfffft.

I don't know, but I do know that I am disappointed to find Ms Moning merely being content to churn out a typical story from her when the hero and the fact that she is making her hardcover debut surely warrant even a teeny-weenie effort from her to give her readers a little something more. There are so many lost opportunities in The Immortal Highlander, it's almost criminal in how the author completely allows this book to sink into being just a rushed effort of her to rehash her bestselling formula.

Rating: 53


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