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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Highlander's Prize by Mary Wine

Highlander's Prize by Mary Wine
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (339 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia


Sent to Scotland to be the king's mistress and produce an heir, Clarrisa of York has never needed a miracle more. But the brusque Highland laird who kidnaps her is a bit too rough to be considered divine intervention.


With rival lairds determined to steal Clarrisa from him and royal henchmen searching for her allover the Highlands, Laird Broen MacNicols has a mess on his hands. Worse yet, there's a magnetic attraction berween them, although he's betrothed to another. But even an independent–minded lady like Clarrisa knows that a Highlander always claims his prize...

Clarissa of York may be a pawn in the forever struggle for power between the English and the Scottish Highlanders, but she has faith in her wits and inner strengths. This faith gives her a unique power among those who force their will on her by brute strength.

The acknowledged bastard-born daughter of Edward IV, Clarissa’s station in life is a dubious one. She's of royal blood but not being born in wedlock keeps her out of the main stream of nobility society. She's the “looked-down-on” relative often used for the family’s betterment. Clarissa has no say in the matter. She’s reminded daily of “her place”, “her duty”, “her fate”.

When she’s sent to Scotland in hopes she will bear an English-royal-blood son for James, the puppet ruler of Scotland, she sees life closing in. Then, as silent as the night shadows, Highlanders come. She’s whisked away. Once more she has no say about what they do to or with her.

Laird Broen MacNichols wants justice for his family. He wants to keep the Highlander clans from feuding among themselves so they can stand together against the Royalists. He's a blue-eyed giant of a man, smart, brave, a man of honor—not a barbarian like Clarissa had been told. He causes her to have “wicked, carnal thoughts”. He's temptation. Yet, she cannot give her trust even though she respects him for giving her a choice. Her virginity is all she owns and he lets her choose to whom and when she will give it.

The many strong secondary characters make the Highlander's Prize rich with sub-plots. It seems everyone has his or her own agenda. Edme, who runs Broen’s household at Deigh Tower holds a unique place and gives wise council to Clarissa. Edme tells the young Englishwoman that there is a huge difference between being considered property of a man and sharing delights of being loved by a man. Another unusual character is Daphne. Her story brings out amazing truths about what lengths some will go to for true love and friendship. Oh, my, how tangled and secretive some of the lives are in this multi-layered story.

The antagonists, some less evil than others, but all threatening, create scary, heart-stopping happenings that make one wonder how in the world the hero and heroine will get out alive much less find their way to a happy-ever-after.

Mary Wine does a fantastic job of weaving together a very troubled time in history, amazing descriptions of Scottish castles, the unyielding environment of the Highlands, and horror of battlefields. She engages all the reader’s senses and pulls the readers into the time, place and action of the incredible characters. She weaves in the Scottish humor, sense of honor, Highland culture, beliefs, and fealty to clan. Best of all, she makes the reader feel the primal, sexual attraction of the hero and heroine. She delights with their posturing and their challenging each other as they find their way to awesome love that sparks and sparkles. Societal rules create trials and troubles for them, but their love transcends all and even reaches out to help others have and hold their own true loves.

Highlander's Prize is another Mary Wine historical for the book shelf—a keeper to be enjoyed more than once.