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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My review of To Conquer a Highlander by Mary Wine

To Conquer a Highlander
About the book:

Mary Wine captures all the raw, rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands, where tumultuous times bred a race of warrior men and women who fought for country, keep, and kin, and loved as passionately as they lived. In To Conquer a Highlander, Torin McLeren discovers his neighbor is plotting against the rightful heir to the throne of Scotland—a move that is likely to incite an English invasion. Seeking to foil the plot, he takes his neighbor's daughter hostage. Fiery Shannon Boyd plans to seduce her captor and then destroy him as retribution. But her plan goes awry when she lures Torin into her bed. In Torin, Shannon finds a passionate lover, a man who values and understands her. A man worth risking her life for— for her father will surely kill them both when he discovers what they've done…

My review:

This was a story with a fast moving plot and a lot of action. The battle scenes were gruesome, as was the description of the dungeon. That was enough reality for me to feel firmly planted in the time period. There was a lot of great tension as Torin and Shannon got to know each other better, too. I liked how the author showed the culture of the time and how men treated women in general, which made her captor's decent treatment of her all the more heroic. And unlike many books where the couples went to bed before marriage, you could tell these folks really did have feelings for each other.

I liked the realism of how Shannon kept insisting that she was worth nothing (after he had lain with her) because she was not his wife and she felt shame despite the fact that she enjoyed what they did. She continually said Torin should marry someone of blue blood, but the fact that his parents' had a marriage based on love and mutual affection made him want to settle for nothing less than the real thing. Torin was a pretty hot hero, and very easy to like. Same with Shannon. She gained the respect of his clan, and for good reason. At first she was more bull-headed, but she wasn't a wimp prone to manipulating men or people, which made everyone fond of her. It was sad how her own family disregarded her.

At any rate, the story was captivating and very sensual, but the steamy content didn't occur until almost halfway through the book. It was a little hotter than I prefer to read, as the majority of the second half of the book was loaded with all kinds of enticing scenes that were very erotic. The story would have been just as good without so much explicit detail and erotic wording, especially when it came to the oral sex. In fact, it would have been better. The author definitely has skill in writing sex scenes, though some of the terminology was crass and a bit offensive at times.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy the book, though I hesitate to recommend it to people not used to reading fiery historical fiction. I don't typically read it myself because I don't want to get all worked up reading a book. If they came out with a Christian version of this book I would highly recommend it for the storyline and the developing love between the characters, which in a Christian version would not be consummated before their wedding. As it stands now I'd recommend it with caution due to so much graphic content the second half of the book. But, I concede that it was a well-written and expertly plotted love story.

To Conquer a Highlander was published by Sourcebooks Casablanca and releases July 6, 2010. A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review.

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