The Highlander's Gift by Eliza Knight
A fairly standard rollicking Scottish historical romance in a lot of ways, there are some deeper aspects to The Highlander’s Gift than most. Yes, Niall Oliphant is a ‘supreme warrior’ type, but there’s a lot more to his story, because Niall lost his left arm in battle and has had to struggle to relearn everything one handed, from dressing himself to a new way of fighting. When a spoiled princess rejects him as a cripple, he’s convinced he’ll never marry.
Bella, daughter of Laird Sutherland, has other ideas. Incorrect ones, since she believes an arm wasn’t the only thing Niall lost in that battle. Thinking a husband in name only will suit her, she convinces him into marriage.
I actually found Bella’s misapprehension about Niall’s marital capabilities absolutely hilarious, and I wish it had been played out for longer. That and the way Niall’s lost arm were dealt with were well done, as was Niall’s character. From the beginning, he was presented as a fair, kind-hearted man, and his dark moments were more than understandable given the severity of his injury and what it meant for his future.
However. There was plenty about this book I didn’t like, and it’s not just confined to the excess of Scots dialogue - my brain got really tired of the constant ‘ye’s’ in every line of dialogue.
Bella’s ‘magical conception’ despite her supposed barrenness was an insult to infertile women everywhere. The fact she was supposedly one of the best archers in Scotland and also well-trained to fight was completely useless considering she never shot anything more intimidating than a target and allowed herself to be carried off not once but twice, without doing anything more than kicking and screaming. She was pretty much the opposite of a self-rescuing princess despite her training. I desperately wanted her to pull a dagger out of her sleeve and stab her kidnapper in the throat, at least the second time around after having learned her lesson the first time, but no.
It’s hard to rate a book where you like one half of the main pairing but not the other. The author actually includes disabled representation… and then displays breathtaking insensitivity about infertility. I considered a three-star rating, trying to be fair, but eventually realized that given the opportunity, I don’t think I’d read another book by this author simply because of the really overdone Scots dialect. At the end of the day, I didn’t really like it, and therefore I have to give it two stars.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through Barclay Publicity.