Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Highland Rebel by Judith James

I thought this was going to be an epic highland love story. It was but it wasn't. My overall reaction to this book is conflicted; I liked it but it made me frustrated.

Catherine is a highland woman who's father was laird and she was supposed to take his place but due to some family "issues" her cousin is laird but she owns the land and fortunes. Her family wants to marry her off to strengthen political ties but she doesn't want to be married; she wants control of her own destiny.

Jamie is an Englishman who was abandoned as a child and is currently working to get into and stay in the good graces of the new King of England. He's always looked out for himself and won't allow himself to get close to anyone.

When the story opens, Catherine's just been taken captive by a group of Englishmen who'd mistaken her for a young man fighting in a skirmish near her home. When it's discovered she's a woman, they immediately change their plans for her. When Jamie sees what the soldiers he's traveling with plan to do to Catherine, he marries her to save her, planning to get an annullment as soon as possible so they can go on about their separate lives.

The problem with Jamie's plan is that Catherine ends up escaping later that night and goes back to her home and kinsmen. When she tells them she's married, they're upset that they can't marry her to the laird they'd arrainged for her. Once he realizes she's gone, Jamie follows her, ends up captured and beaten by her relatives, and Catherine secretly nurses him back to health then sends him back home to England. She doesn't want her family to know he's her husband or they'll kill him so they can marry her off again. Approximately a year passes when Catherine shows up on Jamie's doorstep proposing a deal. She needs to prove to her kinsmen that there really is a husband, and Jamie needs money. She'll pay him a third of her fortune if he'll give her an annullment, but upon learning of his current situation she agrees to act as husband and wife for a year to bolster his reputation with the King and his court.

The story was interesting, but frustrating. They would be civil with each other, then get a bit closer and do things together like take rides in the park and go to shows. Then their relationship would frost over again due to lack of communication, or sometimes for no apparent reason. Several times one would attempt to seduce the other, only the timing was wrong. I enjoyed their outings when Catherine was dressed as a man, but those scenes were few and far between. I felt like this book would almost bring them together, but they kept missing each other due to either other people or events or politics. There were a lot of misunderstandings between the two main characters.

It was a nice story, and I liked the characters and wished for a HEA for both of them all through the book. It was also a frustrating read - I spent alot of time mentally slapping one or the other and saying "don't be so stubborn!". I know this is a very mixed review, but as I said before, this book really brought out mixed reactions from me. Would I recommend it? Sure. Will I read it again? No.


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