Kiss of the highlander (K. M. Moning) – A different sleeping beauty story

A totally different sleeping beauty story, in which Gwen awakens the highlander of her dreams from a 500-year long sleep.

circle of standing stones

“If aught must be lost, ‘twill be my honour for yours. If one must be forsaken, ‘twill be my soul for yours. Should death come anon, ‘twill be my life for yours. I am Given.” “

Not enough that she is a 24-year-old virgin travelling through Scotland with a group of senior citizens, when Gwen strays from her travel companions one day to explore the countryside close to Loch Ness, she falls into Alice’s rabbit hole. Fortunately, the fall is cushioned by the body of Laird Drustan MacKeltar, who has been cursed with a sleeping beauty like slumber by gipsies. He awakens to find the luscious Gwen sitting astride him in an outrageous costume by 16th century’s standards, and to discover the extinction of his clan centuries ago. Since he is a druid charged with the task to keep up the walls between the human and the fairy realms, Drustan is adapt in the ways of magic. Thus, he takes himself and his new-found love Gwen back into the past by way of the standing stones to find out what happened to him and to restore his clan. As soon as they arrive in 16th century Scotland, however, Drustan’s memories of Gwen are erased, which leaves her stuck with the task to remind him of their short time together in the most imaginative ways.

To awaken the sleeping beauty

What I liked about this couple compared with the previous audiobooks, is that they truly have something in common. While Gwen has an aborted PhD in physics, Drustan hails from a clan of druids, who are the keepers of ancient knowledge and responsible for the treaty between fay and humans. They are both highly intelligent, yet avoid to show their gifts to anyone else. They both suppress an essential part of themselves in order to be liked and find true love. Up until their travel through time, their love story is pretty much straight forward. They meet, they struggle for a short while, and they get together. As soon as they arrive in 16th century Scotland, though, Gwen is left with the responsibility to convince Drustan of their love and the danger for his clan since he cannot remember anything. But there’s another problem. Drustan is already engaged. So, Gwen tries everything to seduce him leading to partly sexy and partly hilarious scenes (e.g. when she kisses Drustan’s twin brother, Dageus). AS a matter of fact, the seduction of Drustan becomes the focus of the novel instead of saving his clan, which is weird because this is the reason they travelled to time in the first place. Still, this is the first couple in this series that I truly think belong together, which is also the reason why I categorised this story as soulmates/fate despite of its time travelling aspect.

The dreamy Scottish accent

I think, I have said enough about the sexy burr of the narrator’s performance in previous reviews. It is gorgeous! This time, secondary characters like Drustan’s father Silvan and their housekeeper Nell play more of a role. There’s a parallel love story going on between those two. I especially like Silvan’s character, who is described as an eccentric 16th century version of Einstein. The narrator’s performance makes the older couple sound determined, sweet, intelligent, and not too old to enjoy a second spring.

A sponky heroine awakens her sleeping beauty

I was delighted to see a highly educated, resourceful, and feisty heroine as protagonist. Gwen doesn’t give up in her quest to persuade Drustan of her sincerity, in the end even locking him in the garderobe to make him listen to her. On the other hand, I would have liked her to embrace her intelligence instead of suppressing it. Moreover, her knowledge of physics doesn’t play a big role in the plot apart from comparing Gwen’s attraction to Drustan with the laws of physics. I would have wished for her intellectual skills to have a greater impact on saving Drustan’s clan.

Parallels to the fever-series

If you’ve read Moning’s fever series, you will find this audiobook to offer insights on some of the characters that reappear there. Drustan and Dageus, for example. This is the first time, a treaty between druids and fay is mentioned. In the fever series, the treaty is broken, and the walls between the realms come crushing down. Among others, the MacKeltar are fighting for the survival of the human race.

All in all, Kiss of the highlander is the best audiobook in the series so far. Although there are a little bit too few obstacles considering that she’s from the 21st and he’s from the 16th century, I was intrigued to receive more insight on the relationship between fay and druids. It shows that Scotland is the perfect place for legends and fairy tales. If you think that the Outlander series has been a little bit exhaustive with regards to the historical details, this is a good alternative. Kiss of the highlander is much more light-hearted accentuating the romance between Gwen and Drustan rather than being historically accurate.

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