A HIGHLAND ROGUE
Edmund MacGregor will do anything to save Scotland from English rule-even kidnap Lady Amelia Bell for ransom. As the daughter of a duke and the chancellor’s betrothed, she’s the perfect pawn in this game. But from the moment he first lays eyes on his spirited captive, he can’t resist stealing a kiss . . .
AN ADVENTUROUS LADY
Lady Amelia’s duty is to marry well, but that hasn’t stopped her from fantasizing about true love. So when a sexy Scot appears in her home, she’s beguiled. When he kidnaps her, she’s furious. Yet as Edmund introduces her to a world of passion beyond her wildest dreams, can she leave her family behind for this handsome Highlander? And will Edmund risk the only true home he’s ever known to capture the heart of this lovely lass?
Publisher and Release Date: Forever, March 2014
Time and Setting: Early 18th century Scottish Lowlands
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars
Review by Maria Almaguer
An exciting opening sets the stage for danger and intrigue in Paula Quinn’s action-packed first book in her MacGregors: Highland Heirs series. A rogue band of Highlanders – Edmund, the hero, along with his cousins Darach, Malcolm, and Lucan – plan to confront influential Scottish peers in a brothel and expose their debauchery in hopes of coercing them into relinquishing the names of the men who will sign the Union with England Act, a document that will unite Scotland and England.
Lady Amelia Bell is the niece of the influential and powerful Duke of Queensbury, a strong supporter of the Treaty of Union. He has arranged a marriage for her with Walter, Lord Chancellor Seafield, to unite the families for great political gain; it is not a love match, merely a strategic alliance.
Amelia tends to be a little accident-prone and bad luck seems to follow wherever she goes, something her waspish and power-hungry mother, Millicent, never lets her forget. For example, Amelia dropped her cousin when he was a babe and he later became mad and her father once almost choked to death on his food while in her presence. As a result, it has been difficult to find her a husband and this may well be her last chance to make a good match. Amelia is very young and immature, and wants to experience love and romance, especially after hearing her best friend Sarah’s sexy adventures with handsome young men, but she has resigned herself to her fate.
Edmund MacGregor is half English but was later raised in his Scottish mother’s clan, so he feels a strong loyalty to Scotland. With his three gorgeous cousins, they crash Amelia’s betrothal party posing as aristocratic guests. Edmund is disguised as the handsome Viscount Essex and he immediately catches Amelia’s eye as the dreamy young man she spied in her uncle’s statuary gardens at dawn. When they meet, it’s love at first sight. Edmund falls for her beauty and innocence. They flirt and share an unforgettable kiss…and then he kidnaps her.
Amelia is not what Edmund expected her to be; instead of a spoiled and proud supporter of the Treaty, he finds a guileless and beautiful innocent. Amelia is also kind and loyal to Sarah, a servant as well as her best friend, something which also endears her to Edmund.
Unbeknownst to his cousins, Malcolm kidnaps Sarah, too, hoping for some action while they’re working toward justice, much to Lucan’s and Edmund’s disgust. These are honorable men, and they do not hold with using women though they are obviously not above kidnapping for a cause, but Malcolm likes to push the boundaries.
Lucan is a very memorable and likeable character (and my favorite of all the sexy cousins), very much the gentleman, and he falls hard for Sarah. Sarah is a huge flirt – her overtures to Malcolm and Darach made me cringe– but, when she catches a man’s interest for more than just sex, she is scared to death and tries to avoid him. This secondary love story is endearing, funny, and charmingly depicted. Lucan is a knight in shining armor with his quiet and reserved manner and his irrepressible honor toward all ladies. He reminds me of the serious but sexy Thorne from Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove series. And there is a hint of a future happy ending for Darach in the unlikeliest of heroines.
You might think that the serious and frightening kidnapping situation would have quickly doused any flames of love or lust, but it does not, as both ladies swoon over the men. I found this part of the story a little distasteful but shook it off, thinking these were very young girls who didn’t know any better. Life at Ravenglade, where the Highlanders camp out with their quarry, becomes rather like a holiday adventure, with lovely sunsets, flirtations, and fleeting happiness; they even dress for dinner, something I found odd considering the circumstances. But it is also very charming as, even amid chaos, there is some semblance of civility.
Amelia fears that the feelings she has for Edmund will be her one and only chance at real passion in life and so she grabs it. They become close while tending to a comrade’s injuries and Edmund realizes that Amelia is as much his passion as is his beloved Scotland. Their love story is both passionate and sweet.
Amelia’s mother, Millicent, is a dissatisfied shrew who belittles her husband while she tries to sell off her youngest daughter for money and power. But Amelia’s father, John, loves her dearly and only wants her true happiness. The eventual disposal of Walter, Amelia’s fiance, is a little too convenient.
This sweeping story is rich in history, with detailed descriptions of the long-fought (and fraught) troubles with England, brutal fighting between clans, the breathtaking landscape of the Scottish Highlands, castle interiors and just simple everyday life in early eighteenth-century Scotland. I especially enjoyed reading about Ravenglade, Malcolm’s estate and the setting for a large part of the story. Constant clan fights – with the rival Buchanans – come to take second place to the greater threat of England on the Scottish way of life. I don’t know anything about Scottish clan life and history but I found this realization significant and interesting.
This is my first Paula Quinn novel and I am very impressed with her storytelling and her ability to create likeable characters against a rich backdrop of history. I liked the writing style and story enough to want to read other works by this author. There is perhaps a wee bit too much narrative of “she’s so beautiful” and “he’s so hot” but overall, this is an enjoyable, adventurous, and entertaining story.