A sympathetic hero can make all the difference in a book. For instance, my absolute least favorite trope in romance is The Big Secret. And that is the underlying thread in this book. However, I found I enjoyed the story anyway because it had a hero I could not help but to root for. So kudos to Amanda Forester for that.
Cormac is the son of the most fierce and vicious warlord in the Highlands. He wasn’t raised by his father. He was actually brought up by monks. He loves to read. He wants to be a scribe. But his father has other ideas. Red Rex wants to toughen him up, to remake him in his image. And it doesn’t matter that Cormac dreams of something different. It is conform or die.
Our heroine is Jyne. I have to say that the spelling of her name threw me and reading it constantly felt like I was seeing a typo, but I digress. Anyway, Jyne is the so-called runt of her family. Her brother is the laird of the Cambell clan. She grew up in a castle and because she was a sickly child, she has never had the opportunity to have an adventure. Until now.
Jyne is going to the keep that her brother has prepared as her dower land. On the way, she falls into a bog and needs rescuing. Cormac is the man on hand. She doesn’t know it, but he is on the run from a monk who is chasing him for stealing scrolls from a monastery. He has to read in secret because his father basically thinks reading is for sissies. Anyway the whole theft of the scrolls causes major trouble for Cormac with his dad. It gets even worse when the pursuing the monk stumbles into the camp after him and Cormac has to make up a giant lie to save the monk’s life and keep his father from burning down the monastery. He says the scrolls were not just for reading; they were actually treasure maps and he was trying to get the treasure for his father.
Of course, there is no treasure, but Cormac has to keep up with the lie in order to save everyone that he put in danger. The location of the imaginary treasure just happens to be Jyne’s new keep. So they meet again. Actually they meet a couple of times. First she sees him in a helmet that covers his face as the warlord who is taking over her land. Then she sees him as Cormac, the friendly helpful man who is going to protect her from said warlord. Obviously, it gets a little complicated because Cormac is playing two parts in the story. And the whole time you are waiting for her to figure out his whopper of a lie.
The thing is, I wanted poor Cormac to get away with it all. He didn’t have very many options and his heart was good, even if he made some ill advised choices. Jyne was a pretty standard virginal heroine. At least she wasn’t stupid. She, at worst, may have been a bit naïve, but I liked her OK.
This is a gentle romance. It is essentially a few kisses and a little bit of sensual touching. In fact, it took a while to get past kisses on the cheek here. But it’s sweet.
The book is not full of twists and turns necessarily, but I did find myself interested in seeing how Cormac was going to get out of the mess that he made. And he entertained me every time he took on the mantle of the fire lord.
There were some rather convenient developments, but overall I enjoyed the story fairly well. It moved quickly and it gave me an ending that satisfied.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
My Highland Rebel
by Amanda Forester
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca