Apr 4 2012 8:29am

H&H Book Club: Karen Marie Moning’s Beyond the Highland Mist—Discuss!

Welcome to the inaugural meeting of the H&H Book Club! Today we’re talking about the first third of Karen Marie Moning’s Beyond the Highland Mist. If you can’t join the discussion yet, no worries—just check back in when you are able to, and we’ll update the discussion ever week or so, through April.

The description:

He would sell his warrior soul to possess her. . . .

An alluring laird...

He was known throughout the kingdom as Hawk, legendary predator of the battlefield and the boudoir. No woman could refuse his touch, but no woman ever stirred his heart—until a vengeful fairy tumbled Adrienne de Simone out of modern-day Seattle and into medieval Scotland. Captive in a century not her own, entirely too bold, too outspoken, she was an irresistible challenge to the sixteenth-century rogue. Coerced into a marriage with Hawk, Adrienne vowed to keep him at arm’s length—but his sweet seduction played havoc with her resolve.

A prisoner in time...

She had a perfect “no” on her perfect lips for the notorious laird, but Hawk swore she would whisper his name with desire, begging for the passion he longed to ignite within her. Not even the barriers of time and space would keep him from winning her love. Despite her uncertainty about following the promptings of her own passionate heart, Adrienne’s reservations were no match for Hawk’s determination to keep her by his side. . . .

Here are some questions to spur the discussion:

Have you read either time travel or medieval setting books before? If not, what do you think so far? How far out of your reading comfort zone are you?

Do you like Hawk and Adrienne?

The descriptions of the various settings are lush and dramatic; do they add to the story, or distract you from the romance?

Do you like the inclusion of fairies into the plot?

What the heck do you think happened with Eberhard?

...Or talk about anything that struck you while reading! Stick to the first third of the book, please, so we don’t have spoilers for later discussions.

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Megan Frampton
1. MFrampton
I'm gonna kick things off because, hopefully like many of you, I am dying to talk about this book.
I think it's incredibly silly, frothy fun. I don't particularly like the fairies being the ones who manipulate the time traveling, or save Adrienne from the weird poison dart thing. It feels too deus ex machina, although that could be a lame comment, since the whole time travel thing is deus ex machina.
I don't think Adrienne's motives for resisting Hawk are strong enough--at least not as they're written. I could see not trusting a gorgeous sex god, but her motives aren't believable to me. Maybe when we know what happened with Eberhard we'll get it. For right now, I'm sceptical.
But, that said, I like just how over-the-top it is: Hawk's incredible beauty and sexual prowess, how evil Janet's dad--Comyn?--is, how revengeful the king is, making all the action SO HUGE and DRAMATIC and full of passion. That is cool.
2. mlsimmons
This series is great on audiobook. The Scottish accents are wonderful.
Robbie Thornton
3. Button
I read this book about a year and a half ago and loved it. Actually, I read the whole series back then. I reread this book (on audio), again in the past week. I say all this because this wasn't my "first impression" of this book. It's a book I've given a lot of thought to, mainly because I kept feeling like I shouldn't like it as much as I did.

From this reread, the first 1/3 of the book, I got to know the characters again. Hawk, with his mighty ego and Adrienne, with her stubborn will and mysterious past. I actually liked the way Hawk was baffled by Adrienne's refusal to bed him. That was sort of cute in a "ego takes a blast for the first time" sort of way. However, the way Adrienne used Adam Black's name as a weapon disturbed me on some "don't pass THAT line in the sand" sort of way. So by the end of the first 1/3, I'm still not sure why I like these characters. Hawk is amazingly arrogant, and ordering everyone not to welcome his new bride when he thinks she is ugly and insane was downright mean. Then he is steadfast on the course of seduction from the moment he lays eyes on Adrienne in the clearing with Adam and realizes his wife is not only pretty (superficial much, Hawk?), but also desires someone other than him. After that, it's "game on".

As for our heroine, she hates beautiful men. Really. Alot. We get glimpses of why, something to do with her ex beau Eberhard. So she pushes Hawk away by mentioning Adam (as mentioned before, not good voodoo in my book). Other than that glaring flaw in her behavior, I don't really fault her for her other actions early on in the story. Really, open to magic as Adrienne apparently is, she didn't expect to be ripped through time by a fairy, now did she? She was presented with some pretty base cruelty at the hands of her "Father" Comyn, married off by proxy and then not greeted or acknowledged. Suddenly, just because she got a little eye candy action with the blacksmith, there's this gorgeous egomanic trying with every breath to get into her pants.
Were I Adrienne, I'd be pretty freaked out right about now. I'm not saying there weren't odd times when I got frustrated with Adrienne, just that when I did, I tried to temper that with a little compassion for her situation. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not so much.

As for the fairies, I liked the concept well enough. Time travel that annoys me is the "she's looking into a pool of water and looks up and it's Loch Ness, 1832" or some such thing. I need at least some sort of explanation, even if it's just an old fashioned time machine. Fairies or gods tossing people around in time I can deal with. Besides, since I have read the whole series, I know that these fairies grow on you with time.
4. anna-lissa
First- time travel. I'm okay with it, and the explanation of how Adrienne was able to fit in without being labelled a witch or demon was simplistic, but it worked for me. (I'll read sci-fi if I want more detail and technicality)
As for her strong hatred of beautiful men, that made sense to me as well. She's an orphan who has reinvented herself, all on her own. She wants to belong; she wants a family, as we see later. She falls for a slick, handsome guy and when that goes to hell, she hates herself for allowing it to happen, even though she did have misgivings initially. Obviously, she finds Grimm, Adam, and Hawk attractive, but she refuses to succumb to the same weakness that screwed her up before. With Hawk, it's the whole "Methinks the lady doth protest too much."
There are a couple of things about Adrienne I'll comment on next time.
Carmen Pinzon
5. bungluna
I'm sorry to say I'm bowing out of this one. I tried, really, but I just couldn't get into it. Maybe next book.
6. wsl0612
First off, I am VERY worried about the cat! I hate it when an author introduces a pet in the story then the H leaves it to fend for itself!! This is a BAD plot device authors, a VERY BAD thing to do! I am going on the assumption that somehow she ends up back in the future with no time loss and the cat gets taken care of, but I don't like having to assume such things.
Time Travel - meh, I can take it or leave it. It's usually difficult for me to appreciate it as a plot device because I have a hard time believing most 21st century people could stand the lack of amenities we're used to. And the language barrier! I usually try to play along with the concept for the sake of the story.
I don't really feel that I know either Adrienne or Hawk well enough to say that I like them. I can understand Hawk's irritation at being forced to wed and why that caused him to ignore "Janet" at first, but it's still very petty and not in keeping with what I think I'm supposed to appreciate about him. It's amusing that his vanity is piqued by Adrienne's spurning him, but as Button says, his superficiality is disturbing. And I'm not quite buying into him feeling so deeply for her in such a rapid fashion.
I like the faeries, at least it makes for a good explanation as to how she went back in time.
Still trying to figure out what part Comyn will play. How he accepted Adrienne so quickly as the answer to his "prayers" is not quite believable to me.
I do find Adrienne's suspicion of beautiful men to be a little forced. There's not enough background (yet?) to make it seem plausible. I think it would've worked better if she had a bias against womanizers, but it's not apparent to me that Everhard was one.
Kay Ghram
7. kghram
This is my 2nd (maybe 3rd) time reading this book/series. Hawk seems to be a pretty face with an ego bigger than his . . . well, anyway. I like the time-travel and the Fae although I do appreciate a pronunciation guide on occasion. Adrienne got burnt, but I think she's just a tad bit overboard with the 'hating beautiful men' bit. Comyn is just flat creepy & mean, so whatever his reasons for using her as his 'daughter', I'm not sure I want to know.
Marian DeVol
8. ladyengineer
I actually like both Adrienne and Hawk. I can understand Hawk feeling so resentful of being forced to marry "Mad Janet Comyn" that he got rip-roaring drunk and had such a hangover that he had to send a proxy to wed his betrothed. His telling his people not to welcome his bride may have been a bit petty.

The glimpses one sees of Eberhard Darrow Garrett through Adrienne's memories of her fiancé are chilling. From this I very much understand her hatred and distrust of beautiful, wealthy, politically powerful men. Eberhard appears to have been all of the above plus controlling to the point of being abusive. And at this point, I don't even know if he is still alive or if he was killed during the struggle for the gun he pointed at Adrienne. She may not even know. In some ways, it almost doesn't matter except as to how it affects her emotionally.

The detailed descriptions of the various locations are helping give me a sense of place. I am very much enjoying them and don't think they detract from the action and dialogue.

The inclusion of the Fae struck me as very "A Midsummer's Night Dream" with echoes of Oberon, Titania, and Puck, although Adam is much more beautiful than I usually envision Puck. I think this echo works especially when Adrienne retreats to Shakespeare for material for her retorts to Adam and Hawk at their first encounter. If you are going to have time travel, faery magick is as reasonable a mechanism as any even if it IS a bit deus ex machina. ;->
Marian DeVol
9. ladyengineer
@kghram, my impression is that Adam encouraged Comyn to kill his daughter and made sure he had a key to her tower to accomplish it. And THEN his king decided that simple destruction of the Comyn and Douglas clans by King James for the lack of a wedding was insufficient revenge for Hawk having the audacity to please Finnbheara's wife and queen more than himself. Snatching Adrienne from the 20th century appears to me to be the backup plan.

@wslo612, I'm strongly hoping she gets "Moonie" back. It's the LEAST the Fae can do in recompense for turning her life on its ear. ;->
I think there were an awful lot of conveniences in this story, over and above the falling into the right place at the right time in history deal. Adrienne suddenly explains her language fascination? She knew certain technical terms of the time from researching medieval things on the internet? All helpful if you're expecting to one day, maybe, be swept back in time...

I'm so worried about the cat too! How long can she be gone before the poor thing starves to death?! Here's hoping in this wacky world, Moonie is the only cat that has opposable thumbs and can open the kitty food cupboard as needed.

I agree with Button about using Adam's name. I'm at the point where I'm screaming "Noooo!" right as she's about to do it again.

What I'm enjoying is the mysteries yet to be solved: What did Eberhard (Ever-Hard? *snorts*) really do? Is he dead? What happened in Hawk's past to make him like this? Does the nursery have any connection with that past? There are so many layers going on that it's keeping my attention, for sure.

There are a lot of references to smells and sensations, it sometimes feels overdone. But I'm getting a kick out of the smattering of fun sentences filled with alliteration throughout.
Elizabeth Halliday
11. Ibbitts
This is the first (non-science fiction) series involving time travel that I can remember reading, but I’ve read many books with a medieval setting. This is not out of my comfort zone at all – fantasy is cool!
My initial impression of Hawk is probably the same as that of any modern woman: shock at the sense of entitlement that he displays, then soon realizing that he is so much better a person than most of his contemporaries. Adrienne handles the time travel and resulting environment a heckova lot more calmly than I possibly could. The major difference: I would have found an extremely sharp instrument and fought for the coffee...
The idea of seeing countryside without technology and especially without pollution is very appealing to me. I like lush... and, there hasn’t been much romance to be distracted from – as yet.
The Fae do have a way of sticking their noses into everyone else’s business, don’t they? Makes things interesting ...
Eberhard must have been a real piece of work to provoke such a strong reaction from Adrienne – there has to have been some kind of trauma involved ...
I don’t have a problem with oddities as some other readers might. People from this time period really believed whole-heartedly in angels, demons, ghosts, fairies, fate, strength, servitude and how one’s own wishes have very little bearing on their real lives.
The romance aspect of this story will come ... we all know how these books turn out. The fun part is the journey getting to the happily ever after, and I am liking this one so far.
Vanessa Ouadi
12. Lafka
I usually don't read time travel books, mostly because I think time-travel raises too many issues (mainly scientific, but also moral issues) to be compatible with romance _ given that I prefer to stay focused on romance when reading a romance book, time-travel introduces distracting thoughts which generally prevent me from really enjoying the romantic plot. For instance, Jude Devereaux' KISA was ruined for me because I kept pondering all the time-traveling implications.

I hadn't read a medieval setting book for a long time either _ not that I don't like it, but no medieval romance have raised my curiosity for a while. As to Scotland-set romance, I'm quite a newbie here :-)

To put it, Beyond the Highland Mist is not the kind of books I usually read, and I really didn't know what to expect. I'll probably have the occasion to detail more when we'll discuss the second and third 1/3 of the book, but many elements should have brought me to dislike the book. Still, through and through, I really enjoyed the reading, and I'm considering reading book #2 !

But, let's stick to the first 1/3 of the book. I did like Hawk and Adrienne _ but I was kinda perplexed by some behaviours.
Adrienne's hatred for beautiful men seemed a little bit of an overreaction, I didn't really go for it _ especially when she, nearly literally, drool over 2 beautiful men in 30 seconds.
Which is understandable because when KMM introduces the hero, the hero's bestfriend and the blacksmith, well I basically had the feeling that middle-age Scotland was peopled with demigod hunks. Not that I mind, mind you. But still.
I didn't go with Hawk falling head over heels for his wife the first time he sees her either. OK, I'm generally not into love-at-first-sight stuff, so that might explain my reluctance to buy it, but I found kind of weird that a womanizer like Hawk, who didn't want to have anything to do with Mad Janet, will fall so hard and so fast for Adrienne. I mean, come on, the guy is universally known for being an awesome lover, he does women after women without blinking, and one glimpse at his wife has him throw away all his previous ways with female sex? Please.
And yet, I liked both characters. Because they're so funny together, they really have interesting dynamics. The coffee bargain was a brilliant idea indeed ^^ And, let's face it, the "spark" is definitely here between those two, you can almost feel it through the book. I wasn't bothered at all by Hawk rude or bossy attitude, the man is a middle-age scottish laird after all! That kind of make him hotter actually, he's such a teddy-bear : all grouchy outside, but so soft inside ;-)

The faes stuff, mh, that perplexed me too. I went for it, given that fairies are such playful and impredictible folks, but it seemed used more as an excuse for the romantic suspense that a real plot for itself. Moreover, all those Shakespearian references in a medieval-set romance disturbed me. No spoilers here, let's just say that I eventually understood all these allusions to good old William, but while reading the first 1/3 of the book, it distracted me.

As to what happened with Eberhard (ridiculous name by the way, especially when misspelled Ever-hard, ROTFL), I've read the entire book so I don't want to spoil any information here, but it happened exactly what I suspected had happened when he was mentionned in the beginning of the book. Again, I had the feeling that it was more a pretext than anything.
Katie Buresh
13. kahneks
I am really enjoying it. I have read a few time travel books and this one is well done. Frankly, I tried to read the Time Travelers Wife and it was WAY confusing - I couldn't keep their ages straight...too many jumps. But, this one is easy to follow. I love faeries! I like all of their special rules; I think it adds intrigue and suspense. I just like that Hawk and Ari are having a slow building relationship. I like for the couple to have a reason to be together - other than insta-love. I like to read about courtship... Also, very much pulling for Moonie! What happened to Hawk's REAL intended? Did her father really off her?
14. rochelle t
I love these books, I'll admit it. I'd definitely travel back in time if it meant finding one of these guys! I'll comment later in the book... I have reread these books a couple of times and don't want to give anything away!
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