Wed
Apr 11 2012 9:04am

H&H Book Club: Karen Marie Moning’s Beyond the Highland Mist: Your Thoughts So Far?

Welcome to the second meeting of the month for the H&H Book Club, which is discussing Karen Marie Moning’s hybrid time travel/medieval, Beyond The Highland Mist.

In our first H&H Book Club meeting, we talked about whether or not we actually like Hawk and Adrienne, how we would have reacted upon being shifted 500 years in the past, and how Adrienne’s cat back in the present is faring (we’re really worried!).

For this second round, a few questions:

Do you think it’s plausible Hawk would have found himself caring for Adrienne as much as he does after knowing her for such a short time? Could it be, as Grimm suggests to Hawk, “You are certain you don’t want her just because she doesn’t want you and he wants her?”

Hawk shakes his head no, replying, “Grimm, I have no words for what she makes me feel.”

Okay, then! Do you believe his feelings are as deep as he seems to think?

We start to get to know Hawk as Adrienne does, and man, he seems like a helluva catch already, what with being incredibly handsome, the laird of a castle, with mad bedroom skills. What’s more, he is a self-taught architect, laying out the castle in the most useful and attractive way, and Adrienne really loses it when she stumbles across the nursery for the children that Hawk has yet to have that he designed in preparation:

This room was made for babies. Crafted with such loving hands that it was almost overwhelming. A cacophony of discordant emotions skittered through her before she shoved them away.

Doesn’t Hawk sound too good to be true?

But then there’s the falcon training thing.

He growled and gave her a long measuring look. “I should treat you like one of my falcons, wife.”

When she comes to the mews—you know, where he keeps his falcons—he explains how he trains his ladybird:

“First I seel my lady, which is to deprive her of vision, with a black silken hood...Then I blunt her talons...I fasten jesses and dainty bells to her ankles so that I can be aware of her every movement, for am in the dark too...Then a leash to tether her to her perch until I no longer need leash her. Until she becomes leashed of her own free will. And the best part—the long, slow process of binding her to me.”

So Hawk wants to engage in some light bondage play with Adrienne, it seems.

Are you still reading? Still engaged in the story? What do you think?

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12 comments
Vanessa Ouadi
1. Lafka
A few times ago, we discussed the annoying character figures frequently imposed on us, readers, by romance authors. Among those character traits Lucy Dosch picked out, I thought many could apply to both Hawk and Adrienne :
- Adrienne has sworn beautiful men off, apparently because of a traumatic past, and yet she can't keep her eyes or hands off the Hawk, which is understandable because ...
- Hawk is such an incredibly beautiful universally acclaimed sex-god, every woman wants him, but he won't have none of it anymore given that he is ...
- kind of clingy, even before he sleeps with the heroine.
I could go on, but I think you get my drift : both Adrienne and Hawk ARE too good to be true. Even their "flaws" are actually hot _ Adrienne being so vulnerable despite her big mouth and Hawk being such a cutie pie inside despite his authoritary ways (the man crafts baby toys, what woman could resist that?).

Moreover, I didn't really buy the way Hawk, being such a womanizer and all, falls so hard and fast for his wife, especially given that he didn't even want her for a wife _ OK, she's not Mad Janet, but he doesn't know it now, does he? More than the too-good-to-be-true stuff, the love-at-first-sight thing had me roll my eyes.

But _ and that's a huge but _ their couple works pretty well. There is the "spark", there is the humour necessary to overlook the too-good-to-be-true stuff. I was annoyed sometimes at how perfect they seemed to be - individually and for each other - but KMM keeps me reading with her writing skills.
Wendy Lewis
2. wsl0612
First off I want to confess that I got very annoyed with the characters and set up of the book about half-way through and skimmed through the second half.
I didn't believe Hawk could have deep feelings for Adrienne after such a short time knowing her. Their chemistry doesn't ring true for me.
Adrienne's easy acceptance of being in the past and the other characters' ready willingness to accept she was from a distant future weren't plot devices I could easily buy into.
I REALLY got sick of Adrienne when she was so confident she could find her way back to the Comyn's, I mean seriously! Just because she managed to get from NOLA to Seattle on her own doesn't mean she can navigate 15th century Scotland, sheesh! She's just TOOOO cute with her ability to navigate and her ease in understanding the language.
I still can't get over Adrienne's rejection of beautiful men in particular. It would make more sense to me if her background had been revealed up front instead of bits and pieces and/or she was aftraid because she felt that Hawk was domineering.
Just too many areas of this book strained my willing suspension of disbelief.
Kwana Minatee-Jackson
3. kwanawrites
Both Adrienne and Hawk got on my last nerves plenty of times in this book. I could not get with her I can't stand beautiful men vow. It just seemed so short sighted to me. In all her years and travels had that been the only thing about Eberhard that pulled her in? And had she not met another good looking man or seen a film star? Seemed off.

I did like Hawk a little better. I could get him falling for her because men do seem to go for unavailable women and the fact that she would say no to him would make him want her.
Still the whole let's fight for her with Adam thing was a little annoying but necessary for the story.
Good think Karen writes sexy guys because it's the one thing to hold me to this book.
Jackie
4.
I agree with kwana about the "fight for the girl" madness; it was a little too "She's All That" or any other movie/book that centers on a wager of the sort. Though, I did enjoy visualizing all these tall, handsome men wearing nothing but kilts and doing hard labour, lol. (I've been to Scotland several times and have yet to see THAT happen :p )

What irritated me the most was Adrienne's knowledge of certain things:
One, she had a love of languages and was fluent in a few. This was meant to explain her ability to fit in with 15th century Scotland immediately? Pfft. Have you read a Robert Burns poem recently? And that was 1700's...
Two, she just happened to research ancient architecture on the internet...ya know, just in case of being zapped back in time? Riiight.

Besides these minor things, I was still cheering for them to work it all out.
kwitt
5. kwitt
I don't understand why everyone is tearing this book apart.
This is fiction everyone. It is here to entertain us; not a history nonfiction. I just loved the way Hawk just overpowered Adriane and broke down all her barriers. That was the only way to have her finally release her love for him. I have read all Karen Marie Monings books and loved each and every one. Can't wait for the next one.....
Wendy Lewis
6. wsl0612
@kwitt, I agree that fiction gets a pass from me in eschewing facts, but I still need some internal consistency/logic in the characters' actions given their respective backgrounds, etc. I just find that given Adrienne's apparent age and background it doesn't seem plausible that she is so well versed in the language and so confident she can find her way around. It just seems too far-fetched. I can't enjoy the book.
kwitt
7. HeleneMc13
Like: Hawke doesn't give up on Adrienne, leave her to Adam and then realize he wants her when it's nearly too late. He pursues her doggedly, going so far as "kidnapping" his own wife to play out the falconry scenario. I'm all for a little 15th century rough play. Hawke ultimately is such a good guy, pre-marriage womanizing aside, that it's hard to imagine he'd hurt a woman, let alone his own wife, so it's all in good fun.

As for believability, once you accept time-travel and/or fairies, anything is fair game, I think. Coming from a long history reading and watching sci-fi, fantasy and horror, I don't have a problem suspending disbelief for fantasy or paranormal elements.

Love at first sight- either you believe in it or not. I may be more inclined, since my husband and I were talking about marriage after dating just a month. That was 15 years & 2 kids ago... Hawke was resigned to getting married, he already had a nursery built, wanted family, so I felt he was inclined to leap at the chance his surprisingly in-crazy wife presents. He probably is more opportunistic than anything, in the beginning, but like many couples passion + head-butting = love...

Don't Like: Adrienne annoys me, with the whole "no beautiful men" bit. I agree that her reasons for swearing off pretty boys are weak at best. No men in general would have made more sense to me.

Also, both she and Hawke figure out major plot points about the fairies with a lot of presumption and relatively little fact to go on, that we're shown in the book.

Last, but not least, how the heck was Adrienne a virgin after being with Eberhard through an engagement. Maybe I'm not sufficiently virtuous, but I thought it was forced that she was a virgin.

FYI, I'm a huge KMM fan. In fact her books (the Fever series- more UF than PNR) got me hooked on romance when I first encountered them 2 years ago, which is such an addiction now that it's become quite the joke around my house.

Beyond the Highland Mist is not the best of the Highlander novels of KMM, but it's got some good points. My favorite in this series is the one eschewed by the group because it's 4th, Kiss of the Highlander. If you liked but didn't love Beyond the Highland Mist, try Kiss. It's best read in series with Dark, immortal and Spell of the Highlander, but these stand alone from books 1-3.
Amy Mello
8. almello
I am a huge KMM fan and have read all the Highlander and Fever books. I did enjoy this one (it's the first) but I like some of her other books in the series a little better.

Both characters had a few things that didn't add up with me (such as the virgin and engagement thing) and I didn't really relate to the whole no more beautiful men thing. Who says that???? Hawke seemed a bit too good to be true but I do believe in the whole love at first sight thing.

All in all, I read her books to get away from reality for a bit so if things in her story don't seem to "add up" in reality I'm fine with that. I really do enjoy all her books and can't wait for more to come out.
Wendy Lewis
9. wsl0612
I've been thinking about time travel books and this seems like a good place to ask the question :-) Has anyone ever encountered a TT book where the heroine is a military trained soldier who travels back in time? I think that would make for an awesome story, I'd love to read about a kick-ass woman going back in time to deal with arrogant, sexy Highlanders ;-)
Marian DeVol
10. ladyengineer
I liked this book and fell a bit in love with Hawk myself. I'm not sure Adrienne truly hated gorgeous men, but given her experiences with Eberhard, I can understand her having a strong distrust of them. That could easily have come across as "hatred" to the faery fool since I'm not convinced he was looking very carefully. The Fae came across as being quick to judge which is consistent with tales of their exploits.

Like @HeleneMc13, probably due to a life-long love of fantasy and science fiction, I was able to suspend disbelief and accept the deus ex machina elements of interfering Fae, time travel, and love-at-first-sight. Since these factors are introduced openly and early in the book (the Fae, and hence magick, in the prologue), in my mind they became legitimately included. It only annoys me when such "from On High" solutions are introduced in the final chapter in true Greek drama "God in the Machine" style - that is cheating (and lazy plotting LOL).

Regarding love-at-first-sight, I have experienced something similar. It was not "Love" at first sight, but more "Lust plus an immediate, acknowledged connection of importance". It was a long time ago. We have been friends off and on ever since, but unfortunately (at least in my mind) never more than close friends. Years later I learned he felt the same connection at the moment of our meeting, but because I did not have the self-confidence to pursue the lust end of it (he was the focus of every female present) nothing ever came of it.
Elizabeth Halliday
11. Ibbitts
Megan, I don’t understand the questions…
Everything is plausible.
Of course, Hawk falls for Adrienne in too short a period of time!
Of course, Hawk is too good to be true!
And the falcon thing, well, that’s just mesmerizingly sexy, isn’t it?
This is historical fantasy romance. By the very nature of the genre, the implausible becomes plausible. Isn’t that why we’re reading this genre to begin with?
I love this book!
Lynnette Kirk
12. LynnetteKirk
When reading a romance I rarely look at what is plausable or realistic. My whole purpose of reading them is to escape the day to day reality of this world. Character wise, Hawk probably did start off just wanting Adrienne because he couldn't have her. That's how men are even outside of fiction. Not all men but alot. I do think his facination did turn to love and admiration once he began to uderstand Adrienne. Adrienne - Realistically most people would have freaked at being thrown into the past and the people around them would have had an enormously hard time accepting that she wasn't a witch and burning her on the spot. But perhaps I can relate to her acceptance because as readers of this form of fiction what are we doing but deep down wishing it was possible and that it could happen to us. I'm not saying it really can but there is no other reason for reading romance/paranormal romance than to put ourselves in our characters shoes and living their exeriences in our imaginations. Now I do feel that her reasoning of "hating beautiful men" is really lacking but I do understand her inability to trust. She had been hurt not only by having her "financee" attempt to kill her but he betrayed her by using her innocence and naivete against her. Regardless of looks, this would lead to trust issues and since she was thrust into the past, that would make it even harder to trust. Hawk's lack of ability to believe in her though was getting annoying. Yes she kept refusing him but he was always too quick to believe the lie. Hawk too good to be true? Yes in today's reality but in romantic fiction, they are never too good to be true. Over all, I like the book and enjoyed re-reading it.
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