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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Highlander’s Sword by Amanda Forester

The Highlander’s Sword by Amanda Forester
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (337 pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Fern

Swept up in the turmoil of 14th century Scotland, Lady Aila Graham is destined for the convent until her brother’s death leaves her an heiress. Soon she is caught in the conflict between the hastily arranged marriage with a Highland warrior, the Abbot’s insistence that she take her vows, the Scottish Laird who kidnaps her, and the traitor from within who betrays them all. Yet none realize this quiet, flame-haired beauty has secrets of her own.

Padyn MacLaren, a battled-hardened knight, returns home to the Highlands after years of fighting the English in France. MacLaren bears the physical scars of battle, but it is the deeper wounds of betrayal that have rocked his faith. Arriving with only a band of landless knights and war-weary soldiers, MacLaren finds not a hero’s welcome, but his land pillaged and his clan scattered. Determined to restore his clan, he sees Aila’s fortune as the answer to his problems. Yet this outwardly shy lass is nothing he expected and everything he needs.

To say I was delighted to review Amanda Forester’s debut novel, The Highlander’s Sword, would be an understatement. There is nothing I love more than a dashing Scot hero with a heady brogue, dusty kilt, and pride for kin and country. Of course, those things are made all the more irresistible when the heroine makes an impression of her own, thereby reaffirming the well-known truth that a man is only as strong as the woman who stands behind him.

The Highlander’s Sword starts with a sentence which sums up the journey, “If They Caught Him, He Would Hang”. The hero, Padyn MacLaren, quite literally jumps from the page and drives the story. His past is intriguing, while is future is uncertain. A hardened warrior through unexpected trials and tribulations, he’s become a man who masks the soft recesses of his heart. When he meets Lady Aila Graham, a woman full-grown and intended for the convent until he accepts her as a wife, you know things will be interesting. She’s gentle where he is brash. Understanding where he is wary. As if those differences aren’t obstacle enough, there is plenty of treachery surrounding the duo, the warring clans, and a bitter betrayal from the past to keep their flourishing relationship spinning on its proverbial axis.

Ms. Forester has a writing style that reminds me of the novels I fell in love with years ago, before sex became a necessary ingredient and the beauty of a great story was eclipsed. Her prose and attention to detail are spot-on. I loved the richness of her work, and felt that the lush and vividly created scenes added to the realism of the story. It’s as if you’re living the scene instead of observing via the page, and that makes all the difference in the world when you’re reading a period piece. It should also be mentioned that the narrative is fantastic, and unlike other books in which I can’t wait to hear from a preferred character, I enjoyed the secondary characters as much as the primary ones. Its obvious Ms. Forester spent a great deal of time on research and preparation (for both the characters and time period) and her hard work pays off – big time.

Fans of historical romance have to read The Highlander’s Sword. You get the romance, the tension, and a story you’ll enjoy from beginning to end. I can’t wait to read more from Ms. Forester, and will certainly keep my eye out for her work in the future.