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)
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)
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)
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)
Holy mother of God. This first chapter is how you write an opening to a book. Seriously wow, I actually felt breathless. Detailed, detailed, detailed...moreHoly mother of God. This first chapter is how you write an opening to a book. Seriously wow, I actually felt breathless. Detailed, detailed, detailed writing, hot damn this is the amazing hard to find craft I have been missing in books lately! Oh wow, Elizabeth afraid of Johnnie's reputation as a ladies man says "I don't want to be forgotten" and he responds with "I never forget". What a wickedly charming S.O.B. Kudos to the author for making what would seem to be a very accurate account of two people who feel in love back in the day and were too passionate to say no. Wanted more action. Book completely turned out to be something totally different from I what expected, the first chapter I thought there would be battles galore but it was more relationship than action. I think readers who like to just read mainly about two characters and want to forgo action or more surrounding plot would love this book. There is great historical content in this book about the Act of Succession between Scotland and England, but it's a lot of talk which even caused my (I Love history) eyes to glaze over at times. More action less talky please. I really felt like the book started to drag for me but when Johnnie abducts Elizabeth from her wedding I was excited because it felt like the story was going to pick up again. I was wrong. After Johnnie and Elizabeth are married all they seem to do is spend their days in bed. Elizabeth also turns into a clinging mess, which was a tad disappointing since she was previously portrayed as strong woman; the author tries to play it off giving the excuse of Elizabeth's pregnancy but I was still annoyed. This book was really well written it just wasn't my cup of juice (I don't like tea). I need more story and my characters to be involved in other things other than in each other and the bedroom. The footnotes were strange for me. Some of them interested my historical self and others were plain silly to have, I can't imagine the average person liking them and in fact I bet most people ignored them. This story was at times boring for me but I can see how others might like it. If you just want to read about two characters who are highly sexual and almost never leave the bedroom then the writing is good enough for you to give this one a go. This book was also at times a "blusher" just saying some scenes might be a bit uncomfortable to read in company.
Wow, would definitely suggest reading "Outlaw" before this book. The beginning of this book pretty much starts off where Outlaw left off. The author s...moreWow, would definitely suggest reading "Outlaw" before this book. The beginning of this book pretty much starts off where Outlaw left off. The author seems to assume readers have read Outlaw as she doesn't explain who characters are or how they found themselves in the situations they are in. Eighteen? Really? I’m sorry, it's just incredibly hard for me to get into a story where the lead male character is only eighteen years old. I like my guys to be older and more mature. Yes, I know a lot of books have the female being super young also but I have double standards where it doesn't bother me, besides we all know woman mature super duper faster than men. So there is this road block of Robbie being only eighteen years old and then to boot his love interest Roxane is older, I'm thinking she is in her thirties. Another double standard of mine rearing it's ugly head, I don't like the women being older than the men. I have a feeling there are some Demi/Ashton fans out there cheering this book on but for me it severely affected my ability to get into this story. With that being said the author is an incredibly gifted writer. She was able to write Robbie well enough that sometimes I forgot he was only eighteen. The interaction between Robbie and Roxane is smoking hot and jumps off the pages at you. Top-notch stuff. Roxane was an interesting character. She openly acknowledges the fact she loves Robbie but doesn't see a logical way of being able to be with him. This story is completely different from a lot of typical romance books where the hero/heroine stay apart because they can't admit they love each other or there is the big misunderstanding. Here we have political drama, children, and sense of freedom. Kudos to the author for having Roxane be an intelligent woman who considers how good of a father Robbie would be to her children and if she would lose the freedom she has as a widow. I think here in these problems is where the age difference between these two really shows; Roxane thinks and struggles over logical issues and problems over her and Robbie being together while Robbie just thinks love is enough and all problems can be solved because of that. I was disappointed how the author made Roxane a little dumb towards the end of the book with Roxane not trusting Robbie. In fact the whole last part of the book was what I would consider crappy storylines. This book dragged for me, I could never get into the stories or characters because of the afore mentioned issues. I did a lot of read-skipping. I'm kind of frustrated with the author because I think she has incredible talent for writing but I can't seem to get into her stories; you would think good writing would create a good story. This story wasn't for me at all. The beginning was way better than the end, it just drug on for me. Readers who like the author, Johnson, might like it because as I said before Johnson has real talent as a writer but for some reason I just don't like her stories. Hmm I love her writing but hate her stories, does that make sense?
I knew "Miss Addison" from the first book in this series "Highlander Unbound" would appear in this book, great set-up by the author. The beginning sce...moreI knew "Miss Addison" from the first book in this series "Highlander Unbound" would appear in this book, great set-up by the author. The beginning scene in this book with "Mared" ,Liam and Grif's sister, and Payton Douglas makes me very excited for the third book in this series which I am assuming is going to have them starring in it. I love how Payton describes Mared "She was as pretty as she was insufferable". Anyway back to Grif and Anna, I love how Grif calls Anna trouble and describes her saucy during their second introduction. I just felt like I was about to experience some really hot smoldering chemistry. I also like how the author has Grif taking a second look at Anna and then really seeing her, some great real life advice for everyone! I didn't know what to think about Anna's scheme to attract a man, "Drake Lockhart" who obviously likes her sister, Anna is suppose to be a strong, smart woman but when Grif calls her a fool I found myself heartily agreeing. Grif training Anna to be a seductress makes for some really great scenes. My heart softened for this couple after a make-out scene between them. They are both repairing each others appearances; for some reason Anna tying his necktie and him finger combing her hair w/out them really realizing what they are doing really tugged on my heart strings, great scene. The sensual level of the book I would describe as overall steamy. In the scene where Grif has Anna in a chair and "teaches her a lesson" nothing could have pulled me away from finishing that scene, whoo-hoo hottt! It was kind of a nice change to see the male lead being forlorn for the female. I don't know, this book wasn't a keeper for me but was a good sequel for the first in the series.
The beginning of this book was really good it had a lot of funny parts that started to give me high hopes for it. There is a part where the lead guy "...moreThe beginning of this book was really good it had a lot of funny parts that started to give me high hopes for it. There is a part where the lead guy "Liam" thinks a little girl "Natalie" is the French invading his room to try and kill him, good stuff. Liam was to shy and awkward for me, but he was endearing; I just like my men to be a little darker. I know, I know it is meant to be more of a light hearted book. I don't know if anyone else has read this book, but for me the "punish me" sex scene came out of nowhere! I think I even said outloud "wtf". (Well not wtf I actually said the words, but for my fourth blog entry it seems a bit crass to type f***. I have the mouth of a sailor so I am trying to go as long as possible w/out cussing on here.) Did anyone else feel this scene was out of place? The main female lead "Ellie" oh I hardly knew ye! I just didn't feel connected to her until the last hundred pgs or so of the book. I kind of lost interest a little more than halfway through the book. Like I said there were some funny scenes: Liam shooting the goose in Hyde Park, and his general thoughts about how the English acted. I started to really get back into the book w/ the truth and consequences scene, I liked Ellie's thoughts as everyone stared at her. She asks Liam "Have you ever been in love?" He answers "Never" I gasped outloud but then Liam answers "Until recently." Whew! I also liked the notes Liam writes to his mom, one of the last ones he writes about how women "steal your heart and your kilt" people who read the book will appreciate the kilt part! By and by it had its funny moments but alas not a keeper; but I did get a good quote from it.
First, I feel the need to remark on this series book covers; very nice, some might say yummy. Anyway, I think I am really going to like Payton Douglas...moreFirst, I feel the need to remark on this series book covers; very nice, some might say yummy. Anyway, I think I am really going to like Payton Douglas. Already in the first and second chapters I find myself sighing (in a good way) and smiling at his thoughts. I love how Ms. London shows how Payton and Mared both have crosses to bear (the estate responsibilities for Payton and the curse for Mared) and are very lonely. Payton realizes how much Mared and him are alike, and I can't wait to see Mared discover it! I truly felt horrible for Mared for how people treat her because of "the curse" . Especially how obvious it is that she feels something for Payton but won't allow herself to give into her feelings as she fears for Payton's life. The author makes the whole situation into an agonizing tug of war between Mared, Payton, their feelings, the townspeople, and the curse. I liked the interaction between Mared and Payton, but about half-way through the book I felt myself losing some interest. Payton falls ill and this is when Mared finally acknowledges to herself how she might truly feel for him, a very common scene from romance books; nothing new here folks. When Mared finally tells Payton "my heart has tilted" I didn't feel the usual heart tugs I get from great books in similar scenes. I did enjoy how open and honest Payton was about his feelings for Mared, when he tells her that he loves her, has always loved her, and will always love her. What gal doesn't want to hear this? My emotions went back and forth when Mared decided to go to Edinburgh and stays there to "live life" . When Payton tosses away his pride and tries one more time to get her to marry him and she refuses I found myself really upset with her. How can she give up Payton for Edinburgh? I love that the author put this drama in the story, because I feel like so many woman battle with this choice; to be young and gallivant around the world or stay home and get married. I felt it was important for Mared to have the chance to discover who she really was, but at the same time I felt she wanted the wrong things, especially with Payton as her other choice. Of course if she never went to Edinburgh the old "what if" would have been hanging over her. Side thought: Has anyone ever seen the movie "A View from the Top"? This movie does a great job of portraying this same dilemma. I don't know if it was because I was looking so forward to this book because of the interaction between Mared and Payton in the previous books, that I might have expected more. A nice part to the story is the ongoing letters Payton and Mared write to each other, they have a certain poignancy to them I enjoyed. However after reading "Highlander in Love" I simply felt disappointed. The series is a light, easy read but alas it doesn't stir any strong emotions in me that everyone wants in a book.