Beyond the Highland Mist (K. M. Moning) – highland love triangle

A highland love triangle placed on the rugged shores of 16th century Scotland featuring a devilishly handsome highlander, a vengeful fairy prince, and a 20th century lassie who has sworn off beautiful men.

Misty landscape in Scotland

“Are you a man, who has more than one heart?” (Adrienne)
“Nay, only this one […].” (Hawk)

He was known as the Hawk, an dazzlingly beautiful 16th century Highland warrior, Laird of the Douglas clan, who has broken the heart of many a poor lass. Adrienne was chosen for being an independent 20th century woman, who is averse to the attention of beautiful men. Offended by the Hawk’s success with women, the fay Adam Black seeks to take down the womanizer by marrying him to the irresistible, seemingly indifferent Adrienne from the future. A tug of war begins between Adrienne trying to resist her hunky husband, Hawk doing his best to persuade her of his appeal, and it seems everybody else undermining the couple’s progress.

Love triangle and highland games

Nothing spices up a love story more than a little suspense. Moning got that right. There’s definitely an abundance of sexual frustration in the plot. The Hawk’s imminent attraction towards Adrienne and vice versa is somewhat challenged by the fact that Adrienne, having been played for a fool by a gorgeous man before, does everything to avoid the persuasive highlander. Additionally, the Hawk’s best friend, a gipsy girl, and a former lover are trying all their best to keep the two apart. And then there is the fay Adam Black, of course, who completes the love triangle. While I personally enjoyed the back and forth to a certain extent, I could have done without all the disruptions to the couple’s coming together. Especially, the former lover coming to protect her territory seemed like an unnecessarily stereotypical addition. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but cheer every time the Hawk suspected Adrienne to commit to him, while she wasn’t inclined to do so. The reward for waiting were some hot scenes, in which the Hawk tries his best to tame his lass from the future, while being as unattached as possible. Of course, she has the appearance of a goddess and he has the member of a stallion, but all in all, I loved the way the two lovers finally lower their guards.

A highland burr to die for

What makes this audiobook special, is definitely the voice of the narrator. Deep and husky, his performance of the Highland burr has been one of the best, I have ever heard. He manages to give Hawk the self-assured alpha male vibe the character deserves. I also enjoyed his interpretation of Adam Black. His amused and slightly uninterested tone fit the picture of the fairies’ fool perfectly. However, the same cannot be said of the women’s voices, especially, Adrienne’s. His high-pitched, soft interpretation makes her repeated denials of Hawk’s charms and her supposed independence sound rather unconvincing. I was hoping for a more self-assured voice.

I was disappointed at times by the weak portrayal of the female protagonist, not just by the narrator’s performance, but also because I doubted the independence a 20th century woman should display. When Hawk put a hood over Adrienne’s head because he thought her to have cheated on him with Adam, she doesn’t offer much resistance. Moreover, I would have thought her to be a little bit more disturbed by being switched between 20th and 16th century, even though, she had been chosen for her presumed acceptance of such things. This is a weakness of many time travel stories, but to my mind, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander-series stresses the horror of being cast through time in a more convincing way.

A love triangle with fairy dust

I know that some people criticised the book for being far from historically accurate and badly researched. However, I think that the mystical Highlands as a place of legends with its deep woods, purple heather, rugged mountains, clear lochs, and overall wild landscape allows for a lot of fantasy. Moning takes advantage of this fact by surrounding the story by fairy dust and gipsy mystique that is apparent throughout the rest of the series.

Apart from its weaknesses, this is the series that introduced me to highland romance and eventually made me a highland listener. For that reason, I will always have a fondness for this audiobook. I admit, it’s not the best in the series due to The prolonged plot and the weak female protagonist. On the other hand, Gigante’s highland burr performance, the sexual tension caused by the love triangle, the mouthwatering character of Hawk, the typical family bonds of a highland clan, the fantastical elements such as the fairies, the long-awaited love scene between Hawk and Adrienne, and the inevitable happy ending make up for that. I also recommend some of the later audiobooks of the highlander series. Most of the female protagonist in the latter books are not quite as melodramatic as this one, and the mythological background of the fairies becomes more and more pronounced as the series continues (especially from the fourth book on – “The Kiss of the Highlander”). This series is also the groundwork for Moning’s fever-series, a fantastic dystopia placed in Ireland. Although the fever-series is more focused on fantasy than romance, There’s a steamy love triangle to be found here, as well, and a few characters from Moning’s Highland-series put up an appearance. The infamous Adam Black, for example.

If you liked this review, or if you have anything to add, please drop me a comment below.

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