Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 3rd 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Second in a passionate, fast-paced Scottish Highlander romance series from critically acclaimed author Amanda Forester
A conquering hero
Cormac Maclean would rather read than rampage, but his fearsome warlord father demands that he prove himself in war. Cormac chooses what he thinks is an easy target, only to encounter a fiery Highland lass leading a doomed rebellion and swearing revenge on him.
Meets an unconquerable heroine
Jyne Cambell is not about to give up her castle without a fight, even though her forces are far outnumbered. She's proud, hot-blooded and hot-tempered, and Cormac falls for her hard.
It's going to take all of Cormac's ingenuity to get Jyne to surrender gracefully-both to his sword and to his heart...
She had always wanted to have an adventure. That was her first mistake. Her second was to set off for a little privacy in the thick fog of the Highland morning.
Lady Jyne Campbell tramped along the cold ground of the Highland moor, trying to retrace her steps back to camp. She could not have gotten far. Could she? She considered calling out to her brothers for help, but rejected the idea. She wished to show her clan that she was capable of taking care of herself. Admitting she had gotten lost in the fog was not going to help her cause.
Being the youngest daughter, Jyne was accustomed to being bossed about by all of her fourteen siblings. And not just any siblings—Campbell siblings. Her eldest brother was David Campbell, laird of the powerful Campbell clan. The Campbell brothers were tall, broad-shouldered, hardworking, and a formidable foe to their enemies. The Campbell sisters were statuesque, brave, bold, and ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with any man to defend the Campbell clan, or against any clansman who got out of line. Jyne’s mother had borne fifteen children, and not one of them had the audacity to die in childhood. No, frailty was not allowed in the Campbell household.
All except Jyne. She had been born a little too soon and had always been small. In childhood, she was prone to illness and had a delicate constitution. Being of questionable health during her formative years, she was never chosen to travel or have any adventures. Though her dreams were as big as any of her siblings, she had to content herself with listening to the stories of others and making herself useful about the castle, while the other siblings returned with wild tales of their exploits.
Jyne paused a moment, straining to hear sounds from the camp. She would rather search for hours than admit to her overprotective brothers she had gotten lost in a bit of mist. She continued walking in the thick gray fog, which blanketed the rugged landscape. Straining to see ahead of her in the fog and stepped onto something she thought was firm ground, but suddenly wasn’t.
“Oh!” She fell forward into a bog, gasping as the cold, muddy water engulfed her to her thighs. “Oh, no!” She struggled, trying to find firm ground to drag herself out of the treacherous moor, but everywhere she touched was made of cold, wet mud. Her efforts were rewarded only by her sinking into the bog a few inches more.
The freezing sludge seeped through her clothes and held her fast, like an icy claw. The smell of rotting swamp gas made her gag. Her heart pounded in her throat, along with the remnants of her last meal. She had heard stories of people getting trapped in the bog and never returning.
She clenched her teeth to stop them from chattering. Should she call for help? The thought of the looks on her brothers’ faces to find her stuck in the bog shut her mouth. She made another try for solid ground, straining her reach for a crop of grass.
She could almost make it. Her fingertips brushed tantalizingly against the stems of the grass, but there was nothing to grasp. She could not reach solid ground. Her efforts had only caused her to sink another few inches as fear slithered down her spine. Nothing she could do was going to get herself out.
“Help! David? Help!” Her pride was gone. She only hoped her brothers would hear her before she was gone. “Can anyone hear me?”
She had expected her siblings to come running as soon as she called. She could not be that far from camp. Could she? She listened for footsteps, for any hint that help was on the way. She heard nothing.
Panic surged within her, tinged with frustration. The one time she actually wanted her brothers to hover over her, and they were nowhere in sight. She made another lunge for solid ground, but the more she moved, the farther the bog sucked her down, and soon she was up to her waist, panting with exertion and sheer terror.
She closed her eyes and screamed with all her might, “Help! Heeeeeelp!”
“Here, lassie, take my hand.” A man, a stranger to her, flung himself onto the solid ground and reached out his hand over the murky bog. She grasped it, and he began to back up slowly, pulling her from the quagmire. He pulled hard, but the swamp resisted, as if unwilling to release its prize from its cold clutches. Finally, he wrenched her from the deadly swamp, and she collapsed beside him on firm ground.
“Thank ye,” she gasped, not sure if she was trembling from the fear of coming near death or the frozen chill of the mire still permeating her bones.
“Are ye hurt?” asked the stranger. He was a tall man dressed in the plaid kilt of the Highlander, belted at the waist and thrown over one shoulder. He had a wild mop of unruly brown hair and glinting dark eyes. He was armed with a bow and quiver of arrows and had several scrolls stuck into his wide leather belt.
Her teeth chattered. “N-nay, just relieved to be out o’ the bog.”
The stranger stood up and took her with him, easily lifting her to her feet. “Ah, lass, ye’re chilled to the bone.” He pulled her close and wrapped the ends of his plaid around her, warming her with his own heat. She melted into the comforting warmth and safety of his arms.
Jyne sighed. She had a vague feeling she should not be enjoying an embrace with a total stranger. She must be simply thankful to be out of the bog. At least that is what she told herself to justify resting her cheek against his chest.
“Thank ye. I dinna ken what would have happened to me if ye hadna come along,” said Jyne into the man’s solid chest. “Ye must have been sent by the angels to save me.”
The man laughed. “Angels? That would be the first time anyone said that about me.”
Jyne looked up at him. He had a decided jawline and sharp cheekbones. His face was almost angular, but attractive. His dark green eyes gleamed in the early morning light. He was a trim, muscular man who looked to be in his early twenties. Perhaps it was her brush with danger, but she decided he was the most handsome Highlander she had ever seen.
“Then I am glad to be the first to say it to ye. Ye truly are my hero.” Jyne’s voice trembled with sincerity.
“I’m nobody’s hero.” He tilted his head with a sardonic smile.
“Ye are to me. I am Jyne and much in yer debt.”
He shook his head. “Ye owe me naught.”
She touched her hand to his cheek, and he tilted his head toward her, leaning closer.
“Unhand my sister!”
Jyne jumped away from the stranger and turned to see her brother, Laird of the Campbells, emerging from the mist.
You can follow the Highland Trouble series on Goodreads.
~~Reviewed by Amy~~
Amanda Forester again whips up a fun, sexy, adventure and makes it look effortless. Danger, humor, and powerful chemistry are grounded in fascinating history in her newest book, My Highland Rebel. Comedy, love, and a gratifying happily-ever-after ending are classic elements of this light, fun, steamy romance.
Lady Jyne Campbell gets more than she bargained for when she wishes for an adventure. Considered the runt of the litter of her 14 siblings, because of her small and delicate nature, she’s never been given the same freedoms as her siblings. Never been chosen to travel or have adventures. So, she’s excited when given the chance to visit her dower lands of Kinnoch Abbey. Jyne fell in love with the abbey and the band of people she found living there. Tired of being the dutiful younger sister, she reveled in the fact that at Kinnoch Abbey she was more than just the little sister of the laird. She was needed at the abbey. This was the first time she had control to manage a household. The first-time people looked at her to make decisions. She felt like she’d come home and that thrilled her. But that thrill quickly changed to alarm when the abbey was besieged by a fearsome group of highlanders led by a man calling himself The Fire Lord.
Cormac MacLean had been raised in a monastery until it was discovered who his father was and he’d been cast out. Core was the only heir of Red Rex, a monster of a man feared by all who knew him. Red Rex was determined to turn Core into a warlord just like him or kill him in the process. Cormac adored books. They’d always been there for him, giving him adventures when he was young and alone, opening his mind to new ideas and perspectives, and providing him clues to unlock the mysteries of his most recent interest, alchemy. But Red Rex hated book learning and, angered by Core’s resistance to his future as warlord, threatened to burn down the monastery and all the books if Core didn’t prove himself worthy. Eager to save the monastery and books, Cormac uses his quick wit to create a story about an abandoned abbey with a hidden treasure. So, Red Rex sends Core to retrieve the treasure, and to ensure Core doesn’t decide to run off, he also sends twenty or more of his men.
Core is surprised to find the abbey inhabited but knows he must carry out his ruse of the hidden treasure to appease his father and his men. Surely there was something of worth there. So, donning his horned helmet, he takes over the abbey and is quickly taken with Jyne, a girl he’d met briefly just days before. Jyne knows nothing of his ties to the infamous warlord Red Rex. She only knows him as a kind, chivalrous man who rescued her from a sinking bog. And so, Cormac finds himself in another predicament. He not only has to come up with a treasure to keep his father happy, but now he must act the fierce leader to his men while protecting Jyne and the people of the abbey. So, Cormac assumes two roles, only appearing in his helmet when in his men’s presence, but appearing as the helpful Cormac when alone with Jyne. Jyne believes Cormac is there to help her rid the abbey of the fire lord and his men. He could never let Jyne know his real identity. In exchange for a kiss, Cormac is more than happy to help Jyne. But each kiss leaves the two hungry for more. When they kissed, “their bodies melted into each other and their kiss burned like sweet fire”. With Cormac, Jyne knew the thrill of desire of a man. He made her knees weak and her heart pound. And Cormac was affected by Jyne as well. No one had ever kissed him like that before. She treated him with more kindness than his father ever had. As the two worked together to rid the abbey of its intruders, their feelings for one another continued to grow. Jyne wanted the fire lord and his brigand gone, but she wasn’t ready for the adventure to end. As long as they fought against the fire lord, she and Cormac were together. Cormac was equally torn. He knew once Jyne’s brothers arrived to save her, he’d have to leave. Jyne had feelings for Cormac, not the fire lord. She was a lady. He was the son of a warlord. If she knew who he really was, she’d despise him. Can these two star crossed lovers defy the obstacles before them and find happiness?
There’s something about Amanda Forester’s books that bring a smile to my face and a lightness to my heart. They just make me feel good. The characters of Jyne and Cormac are so well rounded and loveable, and the plot is sure to bring a chuckle or two. The story moves at a lively pace, and is driven by witty characters, genuine emotion, and entertaining repartee. Though the second in her Highland Trouble series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone. Don’t start this story at night though, as it can be highly addictive!
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Readers Copy of this book.