Some stories are hard to hear, that doesn't mean they shouldn't be told. All three books in the Captive series deal with abuse in all its forms and ef...moreSome stories are hard to hear, that doesn't mean they shouldn't be told. All three books in the Captive series deal with abuse in all its forms and effects. The Laird is about child physical and mental abuse, I mention this because of how this can be a trigger for some but know that it is never gratuitous and except for two scenes it is more about the emotional trauma such acts can cause in individuals.
Michael Brodie is finally coming home after 9 years away at war and with very minimal communication between him and his home. The years he spent in France as a traitorous non-traitor (The Captive and The Traitor) have taken their toll; he is world weary and ready for his homeland and clan to soothe his tired spirit. Michael especially hopes the young bride he left behind will lead this forefront. Brenna Brodie may have been surrounded by home and hearth but like Michael, she lived a life full of fear and lacking security. When Brenna was sent to Michael's home as his betrothed she was only eight years old, lonely and feeling out of place she was befriended by Michael's uncle Angus. Angus groomed her and then preyed upon Brenna's insecurity for years until she hit early teenage years and began to understand something wasn't right. When Brenna turns sixteen, her and Michael are wed and on that night Brenna begs Michael to take her with him when he journeys to war. Michael, only twenty, was reeling from a recent incident that shattered his world and unable to process it, essentially escapes to war distancing himself from everyone that knows him and leaving Brenna behind.
What follows is an extremely emotional read about not only two people trying to overcome and manage traumatic events but how friends, family, and communities cope with the dark realities of life. The heart of this story is Michael and Brenna trying to traverse the vast distance years and circumstances has created between them. This is a slow moving story but at the same time, I flew through it as I was completely absorbed and invested in Michael and Brenna together and separately. The awkwardness and yearning the two demonstrate made me pull for them right in the beginning. Michael even with his scars from the war remembers Brenna as his cherished childhood friend and with every interaction and observation grows to love Brenna as the woman she is now. As the events swirling about Brenna are mostly the catalyst for the heart of the story, she is what readers will focus on and what a heartbreaking and inspiring character she is. The shame, guilt, anxiety, strength, heart, and endurance Brenna displays make her a character you will not soon forget. The gentleness and understanding Michael gives to Brenna and Brenna's simple trying makes you want to simply clutch this book to your chest and weep for them. While the ending may leave some to bemoan Uncle Angus not getting his just rewards, the healing Brenna and others exhibit is satisfying enough for me.
I am very fond of the first two books in the series, but The Laird, it stole a piece of my heart. When someone mocks or claims romance genre books are trashy, simplistic, or otherwise unworthy, this is the book you point them to. There is a subtleness to Ms. Burrowes writing that has me hooked and will have me looking at her backlist and watching for new releases. Some stories are hard to hear, there is in where their beauty lies. (less)
Lucas is traveling to the castle to find out who killed his brother but when he gets there he finds himself fascinated with the Lady Christin...more2.5 stars
Lucas is traveling to the castle to find out who killed his brother but when he gets there he finds himself fascinated with the Lady Christina. They have some good banter at first, which I was enjoying and just starting to warm up to them as a couple, when suddenly they jump in the sack. The middle is basically them sleeping together. The ending is a bit rushed with Lucas, very suddenly, realizing who killed his brother and Christina being arrested for being a whisky distiller. The writing is good but I'm not sure anything really happened here. I've been kind of meh to this whole series, so if you liked the previous ones, you'll probably enjoy this one too.(less)
Claire is an English woman who sees issues in a very stubborn black or white. She grew up in a household that was plagued by an al...moreFULL REVIEW 3.5 stars
Claire is an English woman who sees issues in a very stubborn black or white. She grew up in a household that was plagued by an alcoholic father who mentally and physically abused her, hence her passionate temperance views. She is courageous, fervent, and yes, a bit self-righteous in her belief that alcohol should be completely banned. Cameron is a Scot whiskey distiller whose older twin died, effectively making him Laird and responsible for supporting their clan and town. Whiskey is his clan's lifeblood and he sees no reason to blame alcohol for the weakness of a few. When these two meet, ideals, thoughts, and emotions clash.
Your heart is going to ache for Claire. Every time she remembers a hurtful slur or beating from her father, you'll forgive her for her single-mindedness. She is blinded by the past and clings to the thought that if she could just get alcohol banned, no little girl or woman would have to suffer the way she did. Cameron, ooh Cameron, you're going to love him. From the moment he teases Claire for accusing him of being a white slaver to him teaching her how to drink whiskey; you're going to be cheering for him to succeed in opening Claire's heart and mind. Their interactions are deep and real, although, I did think there should have been more of them. Even though her passion is in direct disaccord with his livelihood, he respects, admires it, and is deeply attracted. They are a pleasing couple to read about.
The little problems I did have, involved how the story felt rushed. I mentioned earlier how Claire and Cameron needed more scenes together. Without this extra time, it left their relationship progression feeling hasty. I constantly complain how this needed to be edited or that, but here, I felt the exact opposite, more should have been added or the story shouldn't have been edited so heavily. There are other story arcs that involve Claire's friend and possible romance with Cameron's friend, a jealous woman from Cameron's past, and sabotage involving the distillery afoot. These plot points actually did add to the story, they needed just a little extra meat to them to feel more whole. If you're going to edit them to the point that they feel like dangling strings with no tied end, then they should be eliminated completely. The writing here was good enough to support more but I suppose wishing for more story isn't completely a bad thing.
All in all, this was a fresh, new, and intriguing historical romance. If you favor Scottish stories at all the lush landscape descriptions and kilt wearing Laird will make this book for you. Claire will break your heart, while Cameron will steal it. You definitely won't want to miss how this whisky distiller opens the heart and mind of his teetotaler. I will be on the lookout for future books in this series.
Received a copy via Netgalley for an honest review.(less)
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my re...more****Full Review****
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This is book nine in the Highland Guard series and it's a foregone conclusion I'm going to do everything in my power to get my greedy little hands on the previous books. I would also like to say, as someone who hasn't read the other books, the list of characters, who they were, and the foreword relaying the back story was very much welcomed.
Gregor "Arrow" MacGregor has fought alongside Robert the Bruce for seven years in the war against England for Scotland's independence. He is part of the Highland Guard, also known as Phantoms, an elite group of warriors; his special skill is marksmanship with the bow. (His mother's name is Lady Marion so I imagine there is a sly wink to a certain mythical hero) He is also "The Most Handsome Man in Scotland". This moniker, along with certain events from his past, has led Gregor to become very jaded, cynical, and guarded. He doesn't think anyone truly knows him or cares to know him beyond his pretty face.
On a mission to try and save a village from being ransacked from the English, Gregor meets Cate. Cate, fifteen at the time, attacked an English soldier trying to save her mother from rape, who in turn kills her mother, and throws Cate into a well leaving her to starve to death. Gregor rescues her, thus giving Cate a serious case of hero worship. He brings Cate to his home and gives her to his mother to raise. He visits a handful of times and Cate's worship begins to mature into love.
The story really begins when Cate is twenty and Gregor thirty-one and he comes home for a little rest and relaxation from the war. Gregor wasn't around her much while she was growing up, I never found it icky or weird when he starts to develop and acknowledge his feelings for Cate, even when he calls himself her ward. Even though the title of this book is "Arrow" I would almost argue this is more of Cate's story. She is the open, honest, and fearless woman we all want to be. It may seem like her love for Gregor was born from childish feelings, they in fact may have been, but she proves over and over that she really sees the true man behind the pretty face. It may make you feel frustrated as Gregor refuses and pushes Cate away again and again and Cate comes up with reasons to justify his actions. I found it refreshing to have a character think why is he reacting this way instead of flying off the handle and creating melodrama after melodrama. However, I'm not saying you won't want to slap Gregor a time or two and yell at Cate to just give up. These characters have sizzling chemistry together and you're going to love and hate them at times. One thing I promise you is that you won't ever be bored.
The pace is steady and will keep you reading and while the overall tone is a little lighter than what I usually favor, I was still captivated. I also thought when Gregor capitulates to Cate, it felt slightly rushed. He finally allows himself to give in to his feelings for her and then they're sleeping together and marriage is being discussed. There is also a Big Misunderstanding and even though it is contrived, I thought it worked well in adding something to the story. Furthermore, there are times when the large cast of characters are mentioned along with their nicknames, I started to feel overwhelmed but if you have read the previous books you'll probably just enjoy the reunion.
Overall, this was a heartfelt, at times maddening couple, historical romance story. Your emotions will run the gamut throughout this book. In the end, however, you will feel a sense of fulfillment and a strong desire to go and read the other books in the series. (less)
Leaps and bounds better than the first one. However, I still felt like it suffered from pacing issues. Very slow moving and it felt like nothing was g...moreLeaps and bounds better than the first one. However, I still felt like it suffered from pacing issues. Very slow moving and it felt like nothing was going on even though there is a swirling mess of "who dunnit?" afoot.
Aiden, the lead Laird and Isabail, the lead Lady, were good (not great) characters. Aiden had definite potential in the beginning and there were flashes of strong, caring, and dark/complexity, but his character suffered from a lack of actions. He growled a lot but even that couldn't save him as in the end he felt very thin. Isabail tried to go from a very naive, having no idea what is really going on, to a woman ready to take on the world for her man. She didn't quite make it and ended up never shedding her naiveness and seemingly still a bit confused.
The mystery storyline started in the first book, who is the murderous necklace stealing man in black, is not resolved in this book. Will this keep me up at night wondering? No. Will I buy the next book in the series to find out who it was? Maybe. I am a sucker for historical Scottish books (there is a sad lack of new ones to come out lately) and like I said, I found this book to be better than the first, so eh, maybe the third time will be the charm. (less)