Sweet Saint Andrew, this was a trial.
Typically, going into a fourth book, the reader has a feel for one of the mains - either we've seen him or her enough to have already fallen in love with them, or have enough of their backstory to be interested in their problem. I think that the biggest issue with this book is that we didn't really have anything to go on with the 4th MacLawry brother - other than that he was large wall of highlander muscle.
It's hard to build a story around that alone.
But Enoch tried.
Munro, known as Bear for nearly his entire life due to his large size and brusque nature, becomes restless after seeing his entire family settle down around him and quite angry when they try to encourage him to do the same. Then, one day in the magical land of Romancelandia, he falls instantly in love with a strange girl wearing trousers living in some ruins on his family's land.
While a woman in trousers would certainly be out of the ordinary and even eccentric during this time period - it was strange to me that the book was plotted in a way that made this the BIG obstacle in the resolution of the love story - how to make Catriona feel like a woman and be viewed as a woman, after being raised like a boy.
There is, of course, more to it than that, but this felt so completely flat to me. The lack of drama, and I think, lack of conviction, made her inner struggle of self-worth, and Munro's determination to help her, boring. Cat spent way too much time keeping her secrets and Munro spent way too much time being patient. This is a man who is supposedly short tempered, and Cat was the woman who supposedly pushed his buttons, however this is only shallowly explored. Their attraction was a mystery to me and the heat, non-existent.
With all the time spent on the obstacle of Cat's eccentricities (i.e. tom-boy ways), the other 'problem' loomed limply in the background. I could see the solution to this other issue half-way through the book, yet Munro's entire family turns themselves into giant hypocritical asses (except Rowena), blind to the enormous FLASHING SIGN living in their castle. This was supremely frustrating and the wrap-up and resolution was so quickly done, it did nothing to redeem any of them.
I disliked this one a great deal, for the problems I've noted and because it really, really dragged. About once a year I read a book that I wish had a do-over button, something that has all the trappings of a good thing, but ends up getting in the way of itself. I enjoy a good survival story, and I thought it was headed down that road...until it didn't. I like a good heated argument or two...which I thought surely could come of two characters who we're told butt heads...but they don't. I wanted a funny, memorable scene to endear myself to Cat...like how she out shoots Bear with a musket in a target competition of his creation (which was set up, and then dismissed entirely - why not play the scene out, why skip over it and sum up the result in a sentence?), or when she dresses up as a guy to go to the pub (what was even the point of that?). Or how about a ghost encounter, after all, the ruins that was the main backdrop of the story was rumored to be haunted, a fact that was mentioned many times over? But nada, nothing.
I've rambled too long.
I hope that Enoch is done with the Scandalous Highlander series and can move onto something else, as they've all been a wee bit disappointing, this one most of all.