Plot/Storyline: 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Feels: 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Sensuality: 4 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This book was amazing. It was complex and emotional and exciting and all wrapped up in true historical detail. I don’t want to go too much into the plot. If you read the book summary and google “MacGregor Clan proscription” you’ll discover a lot of interesting stuff.
For this review, suffice it to say that this is a true enemies to lovers story. And part of what I loved so much about is that these two had real reasons to be enemies. It was not some silly feud or even one with unknown origins where they didn’t know why they were fighting anymore. They had good reasons. I do believe the actual characters were fictional, as were the particulars of their story, but this was done so well within the bounds of the historical background.
This book is for those of you who like a kidnap/captive plot that turns into a romance without any shred of Stockholm syndrome or rapey-ness. Paula Quinn handles this type of storyline beautifully. Callum never expected to take a hostage and his main reason for doing so is because Kate is wounded while he’s trying to protect her. He and his clan are never cruel to her. They do not treat her like a hostage. And a connection between them forms almost immediately.
Both Callum and Kate have beliefs about each other that are wrong going into the book. Particularly Kate, who has been completely in the dark about the atrocities her own clan has committed. But they come to understand each other and learn the truths of their pasts as they spend more time together. Misunderstandings evolve into understanding in a normal way, instead of them lingering for the entire book because they don’t speak to each other.
I love when an author gives me a truly tortured hero. So often they’re tortured by something that is tragic, but that most people experience in their lives and manage to get through it. A betrayal. The death of a loved one. A singular traumatic experience. All terrible. All survivable. But Callum, what he went through, most would not survive. His torment is appropriate. And what the experience turned him into is, in some ways, even more tragic than the experience itself. His past is so devastating and how he deals with it, how he feels about himself because of it, is so heartbreaking.
He overcomes that through his relationship with Kate. Her clan is responsible for every bad thing that has happened to Callum. She was in the dark about it and once she learns the truth she bears the weight of it on her shoulders. She becomes determined to give Callum back the life that was taken from him. And it was the very fact that she began as his enemy that enabled him to get there. Because she saw something in him he never saw in him self. A hero.
Somehow through all the anguish in his life, Callum manages to be an entirely reasonable person. He is not entirely ruled by his emotions or his desire to avenge his name. He thinks and reasons about everything. He’s not afraid of love. He’s not even afraid of these unbidden and unavoidable feelings he has for Kate. But he knows that being with her is impossible. Literally impossible. And I love that his resistance is not because of the history with her clan, but because he wants to protect her.
That Callum can love her despite the horrendous things her clan had done to his clan, his family, his person, is a testament to how tender his heart truly is. From the beginning he has a soft spot for her. He treats her fairly and does not punish her for the sins of others.
I admit it. I love when the hero gives the heroine longing looks and caresses her with his eyes. When everything about him seems hard and unyielding but his eyes give away the tender emotions hidden inside. When he literally cannot take his eyes off her and casts her ages of yearning and burning looks. When he cannot hide because his eyes give him away. This book is full of that. Callum wants Kate so bad you can feel it in every page. This book is exploding with emotion. It was the best part.
The tension was so hot and so satisfying. There were plenty of those longing glances, soft touches and caresses, tons and tons of kisses, and the sex was decent too. I do think the actual love scenes were pretty good, but not at the top of my list of best love scenes. And the steam fizzled a bit it at the very end. However the feels in this book made up for that, even through a ridiculous sex on a horse scene.
I read some reviews that claim this book is unoriginal and uninspired. That there are a thousand other highlander books just like it. I haven’t read many highlander books so perhaps that’s why it felt more fresh to me. But either way, if this is what highlander books are like, I need to read a lot more of them.