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Monday, January 2, 2012

Sins of the Highlander by Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe

Sins of the Highlander by Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (324 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia


Never had Elspeth Stewart imagined her wedding would be interrupted by a dark-haired stranger charging in on a black stallion, scooping her into his arms, and carrying her off across the wild Scottish highlands. Pressed against his hard chest and nestled between his strong thighs, she ought to have feared for her life. But her captor silenced all protests with a soul-searing kiss, giving Elspeth a glimpse of the pain behind his passion—a pain only she could ease.


"Mad Rob" MacLaren thought stealing his rival's bride-to-be was the perfect revenge. But Rob never reckoned that this beautiful, innocent lass would awaken the part of him he thought dead and buried with his wife. Against all reason, he longed to introduce the luscious Elspeth to the pleasures of the flesh, to make her his, and only his, forever.

With two clans against them burning for battle, they must find a way to join together—body, breath, and soul. Or both will be made to pay for the…

A familiar plot with breath-holding twists and turns sets Lady Elspeth Stewart and Laird “Mad Rob” MacLaren on a path of danger in the harsh Scottish terrain with pursuers hot on their heels. Hidden caves, hungry wolves, tricky waterways, and jealousy in Dark Castle along with superstitions heighten the likelihood of death as the story unfolds.

It's quite an adventure for Elspeth who had resigned herself to be wedded to and bedded by a man she meet for the first time at the altar of the church where the priest is to perform the ceremony. She becomes an innocent pawn in a revenge plan when “Mad Rob” on an ill-tempered black stallion rides into the church and snatches her away before vows are finished.

The blatant taking of Laird Lachlan Drummond’s bride is meant to be an insult for all to see. Rob MacLaren is a man on a mission. Drummond had stolen Rob’s wife of two weeks and she died at the Drummond castle. Rob doesn’t even know where his beloved Fiona is buried. Although Rob is laird of the impregnable Caisteal Dubh (Dark Castle), his life is empty and his grief does not abate. He wants revenge. He considers “an eye for an eye”, but cannot bring himself to harm an innocent. He has no idea what a wreck the innocent Elspeth will make of his plan and how near they will come to death before their adventure ends.

Elspeth’s loyalty and sense of duty to her family cause her to mark the trail Rob takes her on. She knows her arranged marriage is to help form a strong alliance that is supposed to benefit her father whom she loves very much. She feels she has a duty to him if not to the man to whom she was to be wed. However, Rob’s gentle, exquisitely tender touch stirs to life a new feeling that makes Elspeth know, he values her just for herself not for material gain. She begins to reevaluate her priorities.

The secondary characters play significant roles in pivotal happenings as the hero and heroine journey through a maze of dangers, growing pains, and, at times, seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Mrs. Beaton, Rob’s housekeeper, is a mighty force that is malicious, while Normina, a lowly servant in the Drummond castle, knows much and says little, but she is not to be discounted. Many others captivate and make the story exciting to read as they aid or impede the hero and heroine along the way.

SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER is fast-paced and full of strong emotions. Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe weave in snippets about Elspeth’s gift of “Sight”, the superstitions about witches, the control fathers and husbands have over females, along with the culture and “pecking order” in a Scottish castle. These create an undercurrent of impending peril and a sense of urgency that keeps one turning pages.

Their graphic descriptions make the story throb with life. An example is the crossbow wound that Elspeth gets as she tries to protect Fingal, the deer hound, from her fiancĂ© and the subsequent efforts made to save her. The wolves’ attack and so many more terrifying happenings keep the pulse pounding. More especially, the love scenes are spine tingling as Elspeth is awakened to what true love is and Rob finds that his heart did not die when Fiona did.

SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER is a vicarious experience that sizzles and pulses with life — completely enthralling.