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Barbara Longley – Heart Of The Druid Laird

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Where love doesn’t just get your average definition of a second chance.

Publisher: Carina Press (Harlequin)
Pages: 235
Type: Fiction
Age: Adult
ISBN: 978-1-4268-9227-1
First Published: 19th September 2011
Date Reviewed: 16th October 2011
Rating: 3.5/5

Sidney and her friend Zoe work and live together, but neither of them would ever have guessed that they had done similarly before. That’s until Dermot MacKay and his men turn up at their shop. Dermot is immortal, born in the fifth century, and trying to break out of his eternal existence. He knows that the key to doing this is finding the reincarnated soul of his wife. But even if Sidney’s shop holds fantastical items, it’s going to be difficult to get her to believe him and even more difficult to leave the long life he had previously wanted to get away from.

Heart Of The Druid Laird is a book that encompasses many genres, some better than others, to deliver a well-written romantic novel. However, it does start rather quickly, and the reader looking primarily for historical content should know that it’s the fantasy element that is the focus.

It can be a little weird how quickly Sidney’s friend, Zoe, accepts everything, indeed it takes less than a couple of days for her to be spouting information as though she has known it forever, and while that is in part true for the nature of her soul’s journey, a quick reminder of the contents of the women’s shop, largely presented as New Age, shows that she would be quite open to it, even invite it. Of course this leads into the whole idea of reincarnation – the reader who believes only in what can be explained may have to suspend belief in order to enjoy it.

The first half of the book is very enjoyable. The genres weave in together well, the imagery is good, the dialogues too. Sidney isn’t easily swayed by Dermot, even when she finally accepts his story. She doesn’t miraculously fall suddenly in love with him: when she has sex with him it is from pure lust, which the reader can easily recognise. For love to work the reader needs her to transition slowly, but for lust nothing needs work except chemistry, which the characters have in bounds. And even when Sidney starts to acknowledge her feelings, she doesn’t suddenly lose the plot – she remains strong, stubborn, and independent throughout. But this last clause is where the book rapidly begins to fall apart as the chapters continue on – although it is understandable that Sidney would become afraid at what might lie ahead she becomes incredibly soppy. Maybe the reader can accept some of that due to the repetition of the idea that she’s been looking for The One, but because the change happens so swiftly, and she was so strong before, it does affect the satisfaction you find in the novel. And as much as the first episodes with the fae can be acknowledged, when the entire story becomes wrapped up in fantasy and everything comes down to something so easily upturned, no matter whether or not you always knew that it came down to the fae, it becomes lacking.

However the characters are in the main very good and the story well plotted. Longley seems to have had a solid idea of where she was headed from the start, everything is tied up nicely and all the questions that you could ask that are directly related to the text are answered. Longley makes a stellar effort with the accents, even if at times some words don’t fit in, and she clearly knows her stuff.

The world-building is excellent, and even though this reviewer is more attuned to the Tudor period, what she knows of the early AD years ran alongside Longley’s creations. And Longley isn’t happy with just her two chosen time periods, she includes in her interior design Elizabethan furniture too. Longley is certainly a fan of history and this positively exudes from her work.

The sex scenes are brilliant – they are not crass, the word choice is regular, and because of this they are hotter than your standard fare. It’s easy to believe in both the couples in this book. However when Sidney worries about contraception and then lets Dermot off, and he, after they’ve had sex, says he couldn’t have kids anyway, there may be eyebrows raised. Sidney didn’t know he couldn’t have children until after the act, so she shouldn’t have let him get on with it after an almost frivolous suggestion for protection on her part. And if this man came from the fifth century… well even people with no knowledge of the period know that those who lived before, often especially those in power, tended to favour fornication and had no idea about sexual health. Maybe a disease would die a swift death in an immortal body, but the idea would surely have crossed Sidney’s mind. Or at least it should have.

While Heart Of The Druid Laird may not quite meet expectations is isn’t far from the mark and is certainly worth the time it takes. People after a bit of mystery will find it here, there’s a drop of angst for those who wish it, and those wanting some history will be pleased that Longley goes back to the past to provide the full story. If Dermot has been waiting over sixteen hundred years for his life to get somewhere he ought to be proud of his narrator’s presentation.

I received this book for review from Carina Press.

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