Thursday, March 12, 2009

My Immortal Protector by Jen Holling

Title: My Immortal Protector
Author: Jen Holling

Type: Scottish Historical / Paranormal (half and half)
Published: 2008

Blurb: A fiery witch able to communicate with animals, Deidra MacKay longs to relinquish her powers -- they bring her nothing but misfortune and danger. So when she learns that years ago, her ancestors signed a blood pact with a vampire, cursing the MacKay clan with witchcraft, she presumes that a member of the undead can also take her magic away. So she embarks on a quest to find the one who can hopefully ease her misery.

An embittered and crippled Scotsman, Stephen Ross lives as a recluse -- hiding from the world in a dreary castle. But when the intriguing and adorable Deidra arrives at his door hoping he is a vampire, he is intoxicated and aroused by her company. He joins her on her journey, hoping a vampire's magic might also heal his wounds -- and soon finds himself enraptured in the heat of passion with Deidra, an affair that could put both their lives at stake.

Why: Couple months back, I read My Wicked Highlander by Holling. Liked it enough to consider reading the rest of the series (the MacDonell Brides). JenB commented that she had just finished and liked My Immortal Protector--a spinoff in the same series and much more recent. She graciously sent it on to me (thanks again JenB!) and I finished it this week.

Thoughts: Really, really torn. I adored the first half of the book. And was terribly disappointed in the last half.

First Half:

Holling's characterization was fabulous and, as a result, the romance was engaging and delightful. Both hero and heroine are flawed and both are self-determined, part-time outcasts. He has squirreled himself away in the mountains, but maintains a staff and dutifully corresponds with family and friends. She--gifted with the ability to talk with animals--has purposefully shut them out and lives every day in complete denial of who she is--a witch, ruthlessly hunted by a lunatic.

He is not at all what you expect and she is far stronger than you can imagine. Together, through trial and error, they arrive at a dialogue or banter that is frank and unapologetic. Holling is so clever on this point. She doesn't give us just confident wise-acres. Nor does she give us just sensitive, damaged souls. She gives us layers, depth--characters who are unafraid to speak their mind but emotionally vulnerable to any rebuttal. I could feel the character and relationship growth here. It was palpable and I was enthralled.

I remained enthralled despite the book's scarier moments--where the heroine falls into the hands of the lunatic. Torture or suggested torture is always a look-away moment for me. Can't stomach it. Here, I cared too much about the characters to look away. Skim a tiny, tiny bit, yes; but not totally abandon her. Really, these made for some of the most powerful scenes.

Second half:

This is where the story's premise kicked in. Hero and heroine are brought together to seek out a blood witch believed capable of removing her gift (a curse as she sees it) and his physical disability and pain. A blood witch is esentially a vampire. In the last half (or maybe third) of the book, the hero connects with the blood witch. I didn't like the outcome. At all. It essentially un-did the characterization and relationship established up and to that point. It was such a disconnect that I nearly put the book down, unfinished.

I continued pretty much in hope that Holling would surprise me. With no HEA in sight, she had plenty of room to get inventive. I had to wait until the book's very last pages. Only to learn that Holling was not going to surprise me. She took the expected, most traveled, beaten down path to a workable HEA.

In Holling's defense, I wasn't at all surprised by the book's end. I did read the blurb afterall. My only surprise here was in how much I enjoyed Holling's characters and their romance. Great, great stuff. I enjoyed them so much that somehow my expectation for their future changed. I wanted more for them.

And I think they wanted more for themselves. Because this felt as if Holling's beautiful story of two people was hijacked by her pre-sold plot. I often hear writers speak of characters that tell their own story, characters that demand an arc that doesn't match their creator's. In this book, it's as though the characters' demands went unheeded. Consequently, their voices dimmed and their connection to each other thinned.

One final--and yet another--contradicting thought. The next book in this series--clearly, clearly, clearly on the paranormal side--more than intrigues me. I have definite plans to read it. recommend or not to recommend? As this was a 50/50 read for me--half fab and half fail--I guess I could go either way.


  1. I must admit I was disappointed in the ending too. :(

    But it was the book that got me back into historicals and it had such a different feel from the other paranormals I'd completely re-energized my bland reading I just ended up overlooking the bad stuff and gave it a good grade anyway.

    Which is one reason for yesterday's post clarifying my review and rating system. LOL

    I'm glad it wasn't a total fail for you though. The first half of the book truly is gorgeous. :) I hear her earlier books are even better than these recent ones.

  2. Hmmmmm, this sounds like something I would like, well, the first half anyway, but after reading your thoughts on the end, well I don't know if I have time to mess with it... but it does sound like something I'd like!

  3. Jen - Like you, I cannot grade or call this book a complete failure for me. I love, love, love Holling's characterization and prose. I loved it in My Wicked Highlander as well. That alone will keep me trying more Holling titles.

    Jen - Can you point me to your blog post on grading? It should have been in my reader, but I don't recall it.

    ChariDee - Sorry to have complicated your decision, LOL! Like Jen mentions though, Holling's prose is energizing, something to get excited about.

  4. Jennifer - Oops, just saw this. Here's my post on grading:


Have you read it? What do you think?

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