Highlander's Heart

Amanda Forester
Highlander's Heart
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Publisher
Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date
November 2011
ISBN
9781402253041
Series
Book 2 of Highlanders Series
Genre
Historical Romance

SUMMARY
Fleeing into the wilderness to escape an abusive marriage, Lady Isabelle Tynsdale would sooner face down a wild boar than spend another night with her wretched husband. Battered by the elements, desperate to elude a band of attackers, and defending herself against, as fate would have it, a wild boar she is rescued by the handsome Laird David Campbell.

Campbell knows holding Isabelle captive for ransom is his best chance to temper the storm threatening to destroy his clan. The ransom of an English countess should be more than enough to pay off his debts to England and save him from an unwanted marriage. But Isabelle didn't escape her husband just to become another man's captive and Laird Campbell is seriously misguided if he thinks she's going to go quietly.

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Dec 24, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
190 people found the following review helpful
There are very few books that make me want to say "stop reading this review and go get your hands on this book", but this is definitely one of them. With a wonderfully compassionate hero and heroine, a lushly detailed setting and a secondary love story as charming and romantic as the primary, this is absolutely a book not to be missed.

Lady Isabelle Tynsdale will do nearly anything to avoid being returned to her heartless brute of a husband, but after fleeing into the woods in order to escape his guards, she realizes she may have taken on a bit more than she anticipated. Lost in the Scottish wilderness, Isabelle is saved from marauders by a Scottish laird who demands only a kiss in return for his heroics—but what a kiss…

Thinking that the woman who seems to be in constant need of rescuing is the cast-off mistress of an Englishman, David Campbell agrees reluctantly, to take her to the nearest town in order to help her secure passage back to her home. He has far too many pressing problems of his own to be able to afford to take a new travelling companion, no matter how lovely she is, or how desperately he might want to keep her by his side.

But when her true identity is revealed, David realizes that Isabelle—or, more specifically, the ransom she might fetch—could very well be his key to financial freedom and a way out of his unwanted engagements. But the longer he and Isabelle are forced into close company, the more difficult it is to remember that she belongs to another man, and more impossible to imagine that he could ever let her go.

David is not your typical hero, and certainly not your typical Highlander. Because of his parent's divided loyalties, he is actually engaged to two women, and a marriage to either could very well sway the fate of Scotland's freedom. It was really interesting to see a man being courted rather than a woman, and one who is comparatively powerless when it comes to his future. For a man with such a strong moral compass, it was genuinely painful to know that, no matter what choice he might make, David will be breaking a promise by marrying either woman. And since the one he desperately wants is the only one who, for many reasons, he can never have, his decision regarding him marriage weighs heavily on David, and is as tangible a barrier between his happiness with Isabelle as the memory of her husband back in England.

Despite this, David is no doormat. He is strong and imminently capable, whether the situation involves rescuing wandering damsels from wild boars, or negotiating the intricacies of diplomacy with his fellow clansmen and their English enemies. What really won my heart, though, was his sense of humor. David definitely has a quirky side that comes out in his banter with Isabelle that actually had me laughing out loud while I was reading. He is disarmingly honest and charming, and I was in love with him before I even had a chance to consider the matter.

Though she is cast in the role of the Damsel in Distress, Isabelle refuses time and again to remain helpless, or at the mercy of any other person. Though her schemes are often more reckless than practical, I was consistently impressed with her resiliency despite all the hardships fate threw in her way. Determined to save her people from her husband's tyranny, she is willing to sacrifice herself if it will make the difference she seeks, and she is as much of a selfless hero as David. Though she might need him to help her get home, for physical protection or assistance, Isabelle never ceases to keep David on his toes and thinking, and always gives as good as she gets. I liked how well suited this pair was, not only in terms of their physicality, but also in terms of their temperament. As the book drew to a close, it was clear that they respected each other as well as loved each other, and that their mutual confidence and friendship was as much a basis for their desire as their physical chemistry, which was electric.

The secondary love story regarding David's sister was charming, and added a lovely counterpoint to David's own marital entanglements. The forbidden love between David's fiery sister and her would-be kidnapper also gave Isabelle the chance to take some initiative, and fight for the happiness of others, even if that happiness is to be denied to her. This is one of the rare occasions where I enjoyed the sub-plot of a book as much as the main story, and was equally as enthralled with both couples and their journeys together.

I will admit that the end of the story felt a bit like an Oscar Wilde comedy, with all the characters suddenly colliding in a single place to reveal their secrets and hash out their differences. That having been said, it felt perfectly right in the world of the story and lent an air of humor to a scene that might otherwise have been painfully heavy. And how bad can it be to say that my only real criticism of the book was that the finale was almost too much fun?

This book benefits enormously from its beautiful location and its wonderful historic detail. Set during a truly fascinating period of history when the throne of Scotland remained up for grabs and war with the England is a careless word away, I was fascinated from beginning to end. I laughed, I sighed, I nearly tore the pages from turning them so quickly, and I loved every minute of it.
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