This book contains two stories featuring identical twin brothers Bothan and Calum MacNachton, members of a strange Scottish clan of people who have fangs, great strength and long life, drink blood, and can't go out in the sun. The history of their clan is one of violence and attacks on others, although they have recently changed; now the clan members try to marry Outsiders, and they are careful about using their gifts.
The first story,
"The Hunt" by Hannah Howell, follows Bothan MacNachton as he meets Kenna Brodie. He discovers fairly quickly that Kenna has been tasked to kill him by her uncle, as a means for her uncle to dispose of her
- he doesn't expect her to survive the encounter. Kenna is rightly the laird of their clan, but her uncle has usurped her position and wants to get rid of her.
He also has an obsession with destroying the MacNachton clan, so he tries to kill two birds with one stone.
Unfortunately, Bothan and Kenna confuse his plan by marrying and returning to Bantulach to take up their position as laird, banishing
the uncle, Kelvyn. However, he is still plotting against the MacNachtons and has helpers in the village, plus Kenna isn't really aware of who her husband is. When she discovers his different nature, will she be afraid of him? Can she and Bothan make their village safe?
This story is fairly simple in its plot and characterization. There aren't any real surprises along the way, and problems and obstacles seem to be overcome without too many difficulties. Kenna herself has some strange attributes - she is a seer and she hears her dead mother's voice - which enable her to accept that the differences in Bothan are not instant proof that he is a demon. Neither character really grows or changes through this story; it is more about a woman dispossessed of her inheritance regaining it with the help of a strong, handsome man, so it's light reading rather than a more in-depth story.
The language of this book is a mixture of American and Scottish - occasional modern American phrasing creeps in, along with strong Scottish words (hasnae, dinnae, mon, weel, etc). There's not a great deal of historical detail, but that doesn't matter too much to the story.
The strong Scottish way of speaking might put some people off; although Highland stories are popular in America, the Scottish accent isn't generally seen as appealing in England.
The second story, "The Rescue" by Lynsay Sands, worked rather better for me. Calum MacNaghton, brother of Bothan
from the first story, is traveling to London on a small task for his uncle when he finds himself rescuing a young lady from a group of men trying to kidnap her. Unfortunately, the kidnap is taking place in daylight, so while helping Sarra DeCourcey, the young woman, he becomes dangerously weak and eventually passes out. Sarra helps him back to her father's castle and lets him rest there with her father
as he regains his strength. The man behind the attempted kidnapping still wants to get Sarra
so he can marry her; Sarra's father is dying, and she is the heir to a reasonable estate. With a traitor somewhere in Sarra's castle, and with Calum needing to continue on his journey within England to reach London, can Sarra be made safe?
Like the previous story, this one is fairly simple and plain - in under 150 pages, it's difficult to
construct a complex plot and characterization. There were some amusing aspects to this story that males it more enjoyable to read than
"The Hunt." Calum's horse, Pretty Boy or Black, behaves in a rather un-horselike manner,
and Sarra herself struggles to rescue Calum and ends up tying him to the horse upside-down.
Their manner of dealing with some of the more difficult problems of being under siege are also quite funny
- not laugh-out-loud amusing, but it adds a little lightness to the story.
Calum is Scottish, of course, and speaks in a Scottish manner, but the rest of the characters in this story are English, so I found it rather easier to read. It's noticeable that Sands uses the word "vampire" for her hero, which wasn't used in the previous story.
While focusing on two brothers, these stories have a rather different feel. Again, some Americanisms slipp in to this story, but overall it
is an enjoyable read and more satisfying than "The Hunt." For those who like reading stories set in Scotland, these
are fun but do suffer from the limitations of the shorter story format.