Today I’m reviewing To Each His Own by Anna Ablergucci. I really wish I liked this book more. There are things I liked about it in the beginning, but the more I read, the less I liked it.
Douglass McGrail is a Scottish water horse—his clan the deadliest in the British Isle. When the shifter chooses to save—rather than eat—a young lassie, he never expects her innocent face to mark his memory so strongly.
Months later, he stumbles onto a perceived attack in progress and plays the hero once more. He’s shocked to find the victim is the same lass who haunts his dreams.
Jinny Fairchild is an English miss who’s come to the Highlands to live with her last remaining family. She is pursued by her handsome older cousin, Lachlan Brockhouse, but he has a dark side that lands her in the path of the mighty Douglass McGrail.
Douglass wants Jinny for himself, yet discovers she is connected to the attacker she denies knowing. He’s determined to find the truth.
Jinny loves Lachlan, even with his dark side. And she loves Douglass, even with his dark secret. Her heart is torn, but one thing is certain—no matter which of these men she chooses, she will be choosing a monster.
The first thing that grabbed by attention about this book is the gorgeous cover. It really sets the tone for the first two chapters of the book. I also enjoyed most of the first two chapters. It uses a lot of Gothic tropes, and I love Gothic literature (my MA thesis was on Gothic literature). There is a dark, foreboding sense, a mysterious setting, a heroine with an obscure background, a hint of the supernatural. The Gothic setting is set up really well and I was having fun reading it. The Scottish setting is also described well and the Scottish brogues are well-written.
However, the dramatic scene that is revisited throughout the book because it sets the initial meeting between Jinny and Douglas makes no sense. I cannot imagine it at all even though I read it several times. Somehow the carriage tips over and is dangling over a cliff, but the horse manages to lift the carriage up with his back, even though that would make him under the carriage and thus also over the cliff yet he is also looking into the carriage at the same time because their eyes meet.
In spite of this, though, I kept reading, determined not to let my confusion ruin the fun of the novel. But it only got worse. In the book’s description, it says Douglas “stumbles onto a perceived attack in progress and plays the hero once more” (emphasis mine). This is not a “perceived attack,” it is an attempted rape. Later in the book, the victim, Jinny, says herself that it was an attempted rape. For the author to describe this as “perceived attack” and not as an attempted rape is indicative of the author’s attitude toward rape throughout the book. The writer also uses sexual assault as titillation, and I simply cannot condone that. In one scene where Lachlan is forcing himself on Jinny, Jinny describes the pleasure she feels and the scene is written in a sexual way.
There are lots of other problems with this book, including the fact that Douglas wants to slaughter a whole clan of other Waterhorses and steal their women instead of trying to make some marriage alliances first, the lack of any discussion between Jinny and her uncle when Douglas starts courting Jinny even though her uncle warned her about his clan, the way Douglas’s entire clan just rolls over and says Douglas can marry Jinny in like 2 seconds (if they can marry humans and they are all cool with it why haven’t they been doing it all along?), the title has no connection to the book, and so forth.
As I said, I wished I liked this book more and it started off really well, but it fell apart quickly and I will not recommend a book that uses sexual assault as scintillation.