Charming the Highlander

By: Janet Chapman

Series: Pine Creek Highlanders

Book Number: 1

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Spoiler Disclaimer


Grace Sutter is a scientist who is working on technology that she hopes will make space travel to Mars a common thing in the near future. While developing this groundbreaking project, she was visited by her sister, Mary, who was pregnant and running away from her boyfriend, Michael, but very secretive about why. A few months later, Mary decided to return to Michael, but was gravely injured in a car accident on the way home. After giving birth via C-section and just before succumbing to her injuries, she finally revealed that Michael had told her that he was a time traveler, and her dying wish is for Grace to take the baby back to his father. Grace wants to honor Mary's final request, but unsure whether she can trust Michael given his seeming delusion, she decides to take leave from her work and return to the small town of Pine Creek where she grew up. On the way there, the small plane she's traveling on crashes in the snowy mountains, stranding her with a handsome Scotsman who is the plane's only other passenger. He stirs her desires in ways she's never felt before, but more importantly he saves both her and the baby's lives. Once she's safely back at home, Grace still must decide the baby's future, while navigating her growing feelings for Grey. But then she discovers that her boss sold her technology to another company that wants to use it as a weapon and that as the only person who can unscrambled a garbled transmission from their space probe, they've sent unscrupulous men to get her. Unless Grey can rescue her again, she may not get the chance to tell him how she feels or be a part of her nephew's life.

Greylen MacKeage was born eight hundred years ago and was the laird of his highland clan. While engaged in a skirmish with his rival, Michael MacBain, both they and their men were catapulted centuries into the future. They aren't entirely sure how they got there, but a kindly priest befriended them and showed them the ways of twenty-first century life. Now Grey and his men, who've settled near the town of Pine Creek, Maine are about to open a ski lodge in the mountains. While returning from a travel convention, his plane crashes, leaving him stranded with a beautiful scientist and her baby. Grey's survival instincts kick in and he doesn't hesitate to save them both from the bitter cold. He almost instantly knows that Grace is the one for him and perhaps the reason he was brought to this time. Before he can convince her of this, she's kidnapped by bad guys who want her for the secrets she holds in her brain, leaving Grey in a race through the snowy mountains to save her. But even if he can best the bad guys and get her back, how will she feel when she finds out he's actually from a time hundreds of years in the past?


Charming the Highlander is the first book in Janet Chapman's Pine Creek Highlanders series. Laird Greylen MacKeage and three of his men, along with their chief rival and several of his men are catapulted forward in time eight hundred years, thanks to the magic of a wizard named Daar. For the past four years, they've been acclimating to their new surroundings with the help of Daar who is now masquerading as a priest. They've taken up residence in the small town of Pine Creek, Maine, where Grey is now the owner of a ski resort, which is nearing it's grand opening. Elsewhere, scientist Grace Sutter works for a space exploration company and hopes that the technology she's developing will allow people to travel into space and even to Mars on a regular basis in the near future. However, her work was put on the back burner when her sister came to stay after leaving the man who got her pregnant. She had just decided to return to her boyfriend when she was in a car accident. On her death bed, she made Grace promise to return her child, who was delivered via c-section, to his father. Grace returns to Pine Creek with the baby in tow, but the prop plane she's traveling on for the final leg of her journey crashes in the mountains. The only other survivor is their fellow passenger who happens to be Grey. He quickly takes charge of the situation and saves both Grace's and the baby's lives from the bitter cold and snowy weather conditions. Finally back at her sister's home, Grace has a big decision to make about the baby's future. She wants to honor her sister's wishes, but she isn't sure a man who claims to have time traveled can be trusted with an infant. Then Grace's boss makes an unexpected visit informing her that he sold her technology to a company that wants to use it to create weapons and that there are nefarious men on the way who will stop at nothing to get their hands on Grace who is the only one who can decipher the garbled transmission their space probe is sending back to Earth. Throughout all the turmoil, Grace has been falling for Grey, but will she be able to trust him when she discovers that he, too, is a time traveler who hasn't been honest about his origins? And will a twelfth century warrior be able to save Grace from the modern bad guys when they kidnap her?

Grey was born in the year 1171. He was Laird of his Scottish clan and a respected Highland warrior before being catapulted eight hundred years into the future by a lightning storm created by a wizard. Grey doesn't know for certain how they got there, but he's been keeping a close watch on the priest named Daar who helped him and his men acclimate to the twenty-first century. Daar was able to sell some of their possessions for enough money to build a castle in their new home along with a ski resort business that's about to open. Grey was returning from a travel convention in Chicago when the plane he was flying on went down. He manages to keep Grace and her baby safe during the crash and use his warrior's survival skills to get them safely off the mountain and back home. He knows almost immediately that he wants to claim Grace as his woman, but she takes a little convincing. In the meantime, he looks out for her and her baby's well-being. When Grey discovers that the child isn't hers after all, but is the son of his mortal enemy, he supports her choice to keep him from his father. But Grace won't stop until she's brokered peace between the stubborn, feuding Highlanders. Then kidnappers come for Grace, leaving Grey in a race against time and the elements to save her. Usually I'm a big fan of Highlander heroes, but initially I wasn't vibing with Grey. Part of the problem is that he's a rather underdeveloped character, but he was also being a little too possessive and cavemanish in the way he kept grabbing Grace, kissing her, and feeling her up. Then a chapter or two later, he's giving his men a lesson on women's rights, which was a complete 180 that practically gave me whiplash. Luckily he evened out more as the story progressed, so he wasn't as bad as some heroes I've read. I liked him better by the end, but I still didn't fall for him the way I wanted to.

Grace comes from a rather large family, but her parents died some time ago. She's a top scientist who's been working on technology that will hopefully make space travel more common and accessible to the average person. In the midst of her project, her sister, Mary, came to visit, but she was being secretive about her reasons for leaving the boyfriend who got her pregnant. About a month before her due date, she decided to return home and reconcile with Michael, but she was in a car accident along the way. Her baby was delivered by c-section, and before she died, she extracted a promise from Grace to take the baby to his father. However, she also finally revealed that she'd left him because he'd claimed to be a time traveler. A month later and still grieving the loss of her sister, Grace returns home to Pine Creek with Baby, but she hasn't decided yet whether she's going to tell Michael the truth. It all depends on how she feels after meeting him and whether he's still making his outrageous claims. Then her plane crashes on the mountain and she and Baby are saved by their ruggedly handsome fellow passenger. Grace is very attracted to Grey, and despite having a lot on her plate to deal with, she comes to the realization that she wants to be with him pretty quickly. When the shady business that her boss sold her technology to kidnaps her, Grey must ride to the rescue once again, but if he can save her, will she be able to trust him and handle the truth of his origins when it's staring her in the face?

I enjoy smart heroines, so overall, I liked Grace pretty well, except maybe for her eating up Grey's possessiveness so easily. The other small thing that bothered me a bit is that Grace is a thirty-year-old virgin, which in and of itself is fine with me. But she simply says that she's saving herself for marriage. In this modern age most women who've made this choice do so because of religious beliefs or some other specific reason. However, we don't learn until late in the story what that reason was and I didn't care for the fact that it was merely rooted in male chauvinism. Otherwise, she was a pretty good character who took on the role of temporary motherhood very admirably and despite having become attached to Baby, she did the right thing in the end by giving him back to Michael.

The Pine Creek Highlanders series is eight books long, so we meet some characters in Charming the Highlander who go on to get their own books in the series. Grey's brother, Morgan, seems like he might be a little more lighthearted than Grey, and his story is the next one in the series, Loving the Highlander. Poor Michael is a tragic character who has now lost two women he loved and become a single father. Luckily he'll finally get his HEA in book #3, Wedding the Highlander. From there, it moves on to the next generation. Book #4 is Michael's son, Robbie's story. Then Grey and Grace's daughters, Winter, Megan, and Camry respectively become the heroines of the next three books, Only With the Highlander, Secrets of the Highlander, and A Highlander Christmas.

Overall, Charming the Highlander was a pretty good read. It held my attention well and was fairly entertaining, though not perfect. I couldn't help feeling a little tweaked by the chauvinism in the story from both Grey and his men and later from Grace's brothers. I understood on some level that Grey and his men might have different attitudes, having come from an era far in the past, and they do lighten up as the story progresses, but I've read other time travel and historical romances where the men didn't act like this at all. And when it came to Grace's brothers, IMHO, they had no excuse, because they're supposed to be modern men. I also felt like Grey and Grace's romance was rushed. Insta-love has never been a favorite trope for me, and they fall in love and commit to marriage in less than a week, which stretched the bounds of credibility a bit. I didn't really feel much of an emotional connection between them early in the story either, but it did get better as it went along. Another small complaint I have is that I usually have pretty high expectations for the first love scene, especially if one of the characters is a virgin. Grey and Grace's first sexual encounter left a lot to be desired with him not even attempting to pleasure her, which I thought was rather selfish of him and a major let-down. At least they had a nice, romantic, and somewhat steamy one toward the end that helped to make up for it some. Otherwise, I enjoyed the story. The town of Pine Creek has a certain charm to it, although I don't know that we got to see a lot of it given that there's ongoing inclement weather throughout the book. I also thought it was cute that Grey had built an actual castle--though with some modern amenities--in the middle of the Maine wilderness. I like that Grey and his men eventually bury the proverbial hatchet with Michael so that they can all live in harmony from now on. So the story had upsides too. It ultimately has left me open to checking out the other books in the series, which will work out well since I already have the second book on my TBR pile.


Janet Chapman


Babies & Children
Geniuses, Scholars & Scientists aka Geeks - Heroines