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Friday, September 21, 2012

The Trouble with Highlanders by Mary Wine

The Trouble with Highlanders by Mary Wine
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (296 pages)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

She Has Hardly Any Choices Left...

With her clan on the wrong side of the struggle for the Scottish throne, heiress Daphne Macleod, once the toad of the court, is out of options...

And They're All Dangerous...

Norris Sutherland once helped Daphne, but she walked away from him without a backward glance. Now she's in deep trouble and needs him more than ever. But he may be lost forever...unless she can somehow convince him to forgive her.

Daphne MacLeod’s and Norris Sutherland’s reactions to each other may not be “sane” or “normal”, but they almost scorch the pages. Nothing is done in halfway measures. The heir to the Earldom of Sutherland and the orphaned, impoverished and disgraced daughter of a laird are not a likely match, but their “seeing-if-they-fit” makes spellbinding reading.

Her coping after her fall from privilege into poverty, her determination to do her “duty” to a clan that does not respect her, and her “I will endure” attitude puts her on a rocky road. Of course, she had already made a choice that kept a feud from erupting but had disgraced her. Norris Sutherland, that Daphne calls a marauder in civilized clothing, had been very happy to help her with that and then gone on his merry way—only now he can’t seem to forget the beautiful, intrepid woman whose passion flamed along with his.

During the fifteenth century, the harsh, unforgiving Highlands produced harsh, unforgiving feuding clans that seemed to believe the end justified the means. Their unwritten code of ethics or the lack thereof is blood-chilling. To find gentleness and love amid all the killing, cruelty and misery is like finding a bit of heaven on earth.

The way Morrell Comyn treats Daphne sends the temper raging. No human being should treat another the way he treats her. She does endure. But this reader zipped along the pages wanting to be sure this despicable character got his comeuppance. Even with the mores of the time less than charitable to women, his barbaric, savage actions horrify.

With a marriage for power and profit prized far above a marriage for love, true love had little hope of prevailing. While Daphne is settled at Dunrobin the Sutherland’s opulent castle, under the protection of Norris Sutherland and in his bed, she knows real fear when Sandra Fraser arrives with her brother Bari along with a big dowry. Sandra plans to marry Norris and even offers Daphne a deal. The conflict and vicious methods that ensue whip the story into frenzy. Sandra’s Machiavellian ways make one shudder.

The Trouble with Highlanders teems with intriguing secondary characters. Lytge Sutherland, Norris’s father is of the old school about marriage, but he has another agenda that adds a special bit of spice. MacNichols, Daphne’s jilted betrothed, and his wife, who is also his true love, play significant roles as the climax nears. Gahan, Norris’s half brother, is a powerful force in the workings of the Sutherlands. He and Saer, Daphne’s half brother, would be interesting characters to get to know more about. Their controlled savage nature seems ready to erupt at any time.

Mary Wine keeps the adrenaline pumping with sizzling love scenes, savage Highlanders who are quick to judge, a demanding, threatening priest, antagonists both male and female that all but breath fire as they pursue their own agendas uncaring of all else. The fast pace keeps the focus on the goal while the woven in history keeps one grounded in the time and place of events. Ms. Wine takes one’s emotions on a rollercoaster ride from the horrific to the heavenly. Her hero and heroine’s happy-ever-after is hard won and precious. It is magical as it should be for she is his fire fairy strong and true. He is her marauder lover—a magnificent Highlander, savage with a thin veneer of civilized but gentle and unabashedly in love with her.