I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Highland Commander (Lords of the Highlands #2) by Amy Jarecki
Series: Lords of the Highlands #2
Published by Forever on June 27th 2017
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.