on May 1st 2017
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An indomitable governess...a brooding Highlander...a forbidden affair...
An ill-fated elopement cost English-born governess Bernadette Holly her reputation, her unsuitable lover and any chance of a future match. She has nothing left to fear--not even the bitter, dangerously handsome Scot due to marry her young charge. Naive wallflower Avaline is terrified to wed Rabbie Mackenzie, but if he sends her home, she will be ruined. Bernadette's solution: convince Rabbie to get Avaline to cry off...while ignoring her own traitorous attraction to him.
A forced engagement to an Englishwoman is a hard pill for any Scot to swallow. It's even worse when the fiancee in question is a delicate, foolish young miss--unlike her spirited, quick-witted governess. Sparring with Bernadette brings passion and light back to Rabbie's life after the failed Jacobite uprising. His clan's future depends upon his match to another, but how can any Highlander forsake a love that stirs his heart and soul?
The Scottish Highlands, 1750
He stood on the very edge of the cliff, the tips of his boots just over the crusty rim, nothing below them but air. It was quite a long way down—one strong gust of wind would do it.
He wondered how it would feel to fall. Would his body soar like the seabirds that leaped from the edge of the cliffs to glide above the surface of the water? Or would he fall like a rock come loose from the edge? Would he be alive when he crashed into the water? Or would his heart desert him well before that final moment?
No matter how he fell, Rabbie Mackenzie knew he’d be dead the moment he hit the water and was impaled on the rocks that lurked just beneath the froth. Likely, he’d feel nothing. The water would recede and carry his body out to sea like so much detritus.
He watched the waves crashing against the wall of the cliff as the tide rose, spellbound by the violence of them. It was true that he wished himself dead, but it was also true that he’d not found the courage to die. It was the height of irony—what he wished, what he longed for, was the Highlands of his youth, when Highland men were not afraid to die.
And yet, here he stood, afraid to die.
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
Hard-Hearted Highlander is the third book in the Highland Grooms series by Julia London. It can easily be read as a stand alone novel.
It’s called Hard-Hearted Highlander, but dear Rabbie Mackenzie only comes across like that, and when you realise why, then you’ll fall in love with him just like I did. Not only does he have a very sad past to contend with, he also is betrothed to a young English miss. Aveline is a young 17 year old, a pretty naïve young thing who isn’t happy about the betrothal either. But neither she nor Rabbie have a choice, as the marriage joins two families who need what the other has to offer. Rabbie hasn’t got the patience to even be pleasant to his future bride and she and his family just see him as a mean Hard-Hearted Highlander, one beneath them.
Bernadette Holly comes from a noble family, but falling in love with the wrong man, an elopement, and it’s subsequent breaking by Bernadette’s father has seen her now despised by him. In an attempt to get away from all gossip and of course from her wicked father, she becomes a lady’s maid to Aveline. They are friends as well, and Aveline can only bear being in Scotland and having to marry because Bernadette will be with her.
Rabbie’s first meeting with Bernadette doesn’t go very well, in fact he is most astounded at how she speaks to him as if she is in a higher position than a maid, a servant who should be subservient to him. As they interact more, and argue more, the more Rabbie finds himself attracted to her. She brings his soul back to life, the soul that seemed to have died many years ago. Bernadette will admit to herself that she too finds herself seeing behind Rabbie’s mean facade, and finds him a very attractive man. She knows she can never be anything to him because of her circumstances. Rabbie knows he can’t be anything to her either because of his betrothal, but that doesn’t stop them finding themselves in passionate embraces. And what passion! I swear that the first time Rabbie grabs Bernadette for a kiss I held my breath, and then felt like swooning. What a fabulous scene!
So, what are our couple to do? Even before falling for Rabbie herself, Bernadette knows that he can’t marry Aveline, she’d fall to pieces as his wife. He can’t cry off the engagement because it would mean her ruination. I mean if a Highlander won’t take her as a wife, then what proper English man would?? The only way to stop the wedding would be for Aveline to call it off herself, but everything that Bernadette tells her about Rabbie makes no difference to her. She is determined not to call off the wedding. But why? We know she doesn’t want to marry him, so what does she want?
Does the wedding go ahead, and even if it doesn’t, what of Bernadette and Rabbie, can they get past the obstacles that should keep them apart??
This book is amazing, the story so moving, the characters so believable. I loved the relationships between them all, even the horrid ones like the ones between Aveline and her mother and father. Mr Kent (the dad) is the villain of the story and believe me, if I could have reached into the book and smacked him in the face I think I would have. Perfect writing of a bad character is when you have violent feelings towards them!! As well as the romance or possible romances in this book, you also have the story of life after the failed Jacobite uprising, which is all part of why Rabbie is having to marry Aveline in the first place. Such an interesting story that kept me captivated from beginning to end. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it 100%.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book.