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Friday, July 29, 2011

Highland Arms by Cathie Dunn

Highland Arms by Cathie Dunn
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (200 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Betrayed by her brother’s lies, Catriona MacKenzie is banished from her Edinburgh home to her godmother’s remote manor in the Highlands. While her father ponders her fate, Catriona’s insatiable curiosity leads her straight into trouble--and into the arms of a notorious Highlander.

Five years after an ill-fated Jacobite rebellion, Rory Cameron works as a smuggler to raise money for the cause--until Catriona uncovers a plot against him and exposes his activities. Now Rory is faced with a decision that could save their lives or destroy them both.

Taken away from her privileged life in Edinburgh because of her brother Angus setting her up then lying to her parents, Catriona MacKenzie finds herself in the harsh Scottish Highlands and soon tangled up with life-threatening intrigues that she knows nothing about. Her curiosity puts her and others in danger that escalates into suffering for all of them.

The compelling, big, handsome Highlander Rory Cameron, who is a distant relative of Aunt Meg, Catriona’s godmother whom she has been sent to live with, is attracted to the tall, black-haired, amber-eyed Catriona. But when he learns her identity, he is hostile toward her even though his body roars to life with desire every time he sees or even thinks about her. However, Rory’s clandestine “business” takes precedents over his personal needs. His efforts to scare her away nearly get her killed. His rejection of her erodes Catriona’s sense of self-worth even more making her feel that “nobody wants her”.

The despicable brother Angus and his cohort John Henderson are master manipulators and make life miserable for her and the Highlanders that have weapons hidden that Angus and John want. These two along with spies and Redcoats that are determined to squelch a Scottish rebellion create some heartbreaking events that show just how cruel some will be to get what they want regardless of how much it hurts others.

Since I always long for a strong, capable heroine, I kept hoping Catriona would do more constructive planning and ecome more capable of getting out of tight situations without having to be rescued again and again. However, her character does gain some depth as the plot unfolds. Her true concern for Aunt Meg and her desperate love for Rory shines through. Also her comparison of life in Edinburgh to life in the Highlands reveals a change in her values and her ability to judge what is worthwhile and what is frivolous in life.

Cathie Dunn’s descriptions of the magnificent, unpredictable Scottish Highlands and Catriona’s sense of belonging there is remarkable.. Ms. Dunn’s description of the squalid part of Edinburgh in the early eighteen century assails the senses—one can almost smell the fetid filth and feel the dankness that enshrouds the narrow dark alleys that are so different from the section of Edinburgh where Catriona’s family lived.

With the help of friends, Rory and Catriona find their happy-ever-after as their beloved Highlands moves into a new era with new challenges.