Review: The Highland Commander

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Highland CommanderThe Highland Commander (Lords of the Highlands #2) by Amy Jarecki
Series: Lords of the Highlands #2
Published by Forever on June 27th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  High adventure and yet thoughtful and long term relationship between two characters caught in real historical events.  I loved the intense historical reality of this book and the relationship between these two which is sweet.

THE STORY:  This book takes place in early 1700s with the rise of the intrigue between England and Scotland.  First Lieutenant Aiden Murray is glad to finally be off his navy ship after two years.  When he attends a masquerade, he is enchanted by the kiss of Lady Magdalen Keith. He cannot forget her, but when he discovers that she is illegitimate daughter of a treasonous Scottish earl (he is a Jacobite), he is torn between his duty and the woman he wants.  Magdalen is a quiet woman who would rather spend time helping abused women or playing her harp, but when her father is transported to the Tower of London, Magdalen arrives to save him.  There she meets Aiden again and much action ensues. The story is set between actual historical events with fictional main characters.

OPINION:  Readers who like historical romances which co-exist in real historical events (ala Outlander) will be pleased with this book.  The book focuses on the romance but the entire context of these characters is centered on real plots and people from history.  In the story, there is an intensity surrounding these characters that kept me reading.

The beginning of the story has a lot of set up and these characters take some time (over a year!) before the real action to bring them together starts.  I especially liked it as a contrast to the stories that seem to take place over a couple of days.

Aiden is a hero on the younger side (early 20s). A second son of a duke, he is making his own way in the world and trying to do it on his own merit — even if people think that every accolade he gets is because of his father.  When he meets Magdalen, he is looking for sex not love and marriage, but he cannot seem to forget her.  Over the next year, they run into one another and their relationship progresses.  I especially liked Aiden who is honorable and ultimately willing to do everything for Magdalen and that makes him a pretty great hero in my book.

Magdalen is a woman who comes to rescue her father even though she has been forced aside by his marriage to her step-mother.  Illegitimate, she nonetheless honors her father and faces London and the Queen in order to save him.  She recognizes the reality of her situation and as she falls for Aiden, she is willing to risk a lot for him.

My favorite part of this book is how these younger people develop their relationship. They are curious and experimental in a way that you don’t often get where the characters are clearly adults.  These are more “new adult” if this were a contemporary novel and thus they start their relationship less fully formed.  I really liked that aspect of this book.  Their relationship is different as they discover who they are — with one another and also alone.

The slower pace of this book gives way to tremendous action in the last third of the book.  There is almost non-stop action, drama and quite a bit of angst.  There are a lot of twists and turns even until the very end of the book.  If I have any complaint it is that things are wrapped up so quickly that some of the resolution feels rushed.  Even on the last pages there is a new revelation that felt to me like it needed more time (or an epilogue) to settle.

I really liked this couple and this was a book that I could have read more chapters of and been even happier.  I want to know more about them and how their life develops.  I hope there is a glimpse of them in the third book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Double virgins.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE HIGHLAND COMMANDER is the second book in the Lords of the Highlands series.  While this book can be read as a standalone, it is connected to both the first book in the series and leaves something ready for the third.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: The Highland Duke

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Highland DukeThe Highland Duke (Lords of the Highlands #1) by Amy Jarecki
Series: Lords of the Highlands #1
Published by Forever on March 28th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  An action packed adventure combined with a romance where the hero is a jerk for most of the story, but redeems himself by the end. I especially loved the heroine who is strong but sweet and genuine.

THE STORY:  Akira Ayes, a healer from a Gypsy family finds an injured Scot after a battle with English troops during the Jacobite Rebellion.  Akira can’t bear to leave the Highlander to fend for himself and ends up embroiled in his danger.  Geordie aka George Gordon aka Duke of Gordon keeps his identity a secret from Akira.  He needs to make his way home to hide his participation in the battle because otherwise his life and lands would be forfeit.  As the two travel together fleeing the English, Geordie finds he likes how Akira treats him as a man — not as a duke.

OPINION:  I found this book to be a rousing adventure story as Akira and Geordie race across Scotland evading the English.  That portion of the book was excellent. Geordie and Akira argue, work together, find commonality and care for one another as they race through the countryside.  The book had an exciting beginning and didn’t leave off until the two reached Georgie’s home.

For me, the book slowed down a bit when that happened and I think the book lost a bit of focus.  As the two fall in love but have to confront the impossibility of them marrying, I thought the book meandered a bit and I was not as interested in the ending of the book as I was in the beginning.  Ultimately, however, I thought that the story overall was a success.

Akira is a wonderful character.  She has been treated poorly by many people because of her Gypsy heritage.  (In the book Gypsies are called Tinkers and are thought of as mere thieves and beggars, reflecting the prejudices of the time).  Despite the discrimination and intense poverty she has faced, Akira is a healer.  A kind and generous woman. A woman willing to risk herself to save a stranger’s life.  She has a progression in this book.  Akira begins with fixed ideas of sexual morality, but finds herself having to think about what is important in her life as she and Geordie fall in love but are unable to marry.  She is also a woman who can make a duke appreciate being a man.

Geordie is a man who has two sides…the distant duke and the man he finds himself being with Akira.  Akira challenges Geordie’s assumptions about his world and about his obligations in it.  Akira demands that Geordie consider the common folk and he realizes that she is right and he is ashamed of his prior self-absorption.  In order to be with Akira, Geordie must change himself and prove himself worthy of her.  I like that he is willing to acknowledge his mistakes.

This is a good start to the new series and I look forward to the next book.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Some parts of this book had vague echoes to OUTLANDER but perhaps that is only because I have been reading those book recently.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE HIGHLAND DUKE is the first book in the Lords of the Highlands series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review.  I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars