Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review - - In Bed with a Highlander

In Bed with a Highlander
Highlander Series - Book 1
By Maya Banks
Publisher:  Ballantine
Release Date:  August 30, 2011

I'm a huge fan of medieval romance and of Julie Garwood in particular.  Her book, Saving Grace has been my all-time favorite comfort read for many years and until now, I hadn't found a book to rival it in my reading affection.  Saving Grace now has a new neighbor on my keeper shelf:  In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks.  I've already read this book three times and have found new things to love about it with each reading.  If you read medieval romance, buy this book now.  If you don't read medieval romance, now's a great time to start and I highly recommend you begin with In Bed with a Highlander.


Mairin Stuart knelt on the stone floor beside her pallet and bowed her head in her evening prayer. Her hand slipped to the small wooden cross hanging from a bit of leather around her neck, and her thumb rubbed a familiar path over the now smooth surface.

For several long minutes, she whispered the words she’d recited since she was a child, and then she ended it as she always did. Please, God. Don’t let them find me.

The bastard daughter of a king, Mairin Stuart has spent most of her life hidden in an abbey.  Endowed with a rich dowry that will bring her future husband wealth and power, Mairin is well aware that she must be very careful whom she chooses to marry for many unscrupulous men would do anything to hold that power, even kidnap her from the abbey and beat her to within an inch of her life to force her to marry.  But the villain of our story, Duncan Cameron, has met his match in Mairin Stuart.  She refuses to marry Cameron and manages to escape him with the help of young Crispen McCabe, a lost 8-year-old boy Mairin encounters during the  journey from the abbey to Cameron's home.  Mairin saves the boy's life and he, in turn, promises her the protection of his father, Laird McCabe if they can escape and make their way to McCabe land.

Ewan McCabe lives for the day he can make Cameron pay for the near destruction of the McCabe clan and the deaths of Ewan's wife and father.  He has neither the time nor the desire to take another wife but when his lost son is found and returned to him in the company of a young woman who could bring his clan the money they desperately need, he knows marriage is the only answer for both the McCabe clan's survival and Mairin Stuart's protection.  He makes the logical decision for the sake of his clan and the lass, never expecting his heart to become part of the equation. 

Mairin is a wonderful heroine!  She has an innate kindness, a stubbornness to rival any Highland laird and a core of strength that serves her well during her perilous journey to love. Pair that with the innocence and  vulnerability of someone who was raised by nuns and she's hard to resist. She also has the unfortunate habit of saying whatever she's thinking which leads to a number of humorous situations with Ewan, his brothers and other members of the McCabe clan such as this encounter with Ewan before their marriage.

His gaze narrowed and she could see his hands twitching again like he'd love nothing more than to throttle her.  She was beginning to think it was an affliction of his.  Did he go around wanting to choke the life out of everyone or was she special in that regard?

"I'm afraid 'tis an urge that is entirely original to you," the laird barked.

She clamped her mouth shut and closed her eyes.  Mother Serenity had vowed one day Mairin would regret her propensity to blurt out her least little thought.  Today just might be that day.

Ewan is my favorite kind of hero.  Of necessity, he's a hard man.  Responsibility for his family and his clan rides on his shoulders and duty is all-important.  As laird, he demands complete loyalty and trust from his clan and is thrown for a loop when Mairin doesn't meekly fall in with his plans.

"You are under my protection.  You will obey me without question."  

"Not bloody likely," she muttered.  

I just love it when a strong, alpha male is thrown off kilter by a slip of a girl who turns out to be so much more than anyone expects.  As Ewan fell in love with Mairin, I fell in love with Ewan.  To watch this battle-hardened warrior slowly discover, and ultimately accept, his feelings for her melted my heart.  There were a few scenes that brought me to tears but the one with the most impact occurs when they are torn apart and don't know if they will ever see one another again.

Mairin was being pulled away, her eyes filled with tears, her arms outstretched to Ewan.

"Mairin!" Ewan called hoarsely.  "Listen to me.  Survive.  You survive!  Endure.  No matter what.  Endure what you must but survive for me."

I get chills every time I read that scene.

Surrounding the hero and heroine is a wonderful cast of secondary characters.  Crispen, especially, is so endearing and we learn much about Ewan and Mairin through their interactions with him. 

This is my first book by Maya Banks and I can hardly wait to read the next.  She has a way of writing that pulled me right into the story and into the thoughts and emotions of the characters.  The words flowed with nary a hiccup, touching all of my emotions, and the story held me captive until I finally turned the last page with a deep, heartfelt sigh.  I can't wait to return to Scotland for the stories of Ewan's brothers, Alaric and Caelen. Luckily, I won't have to wait long and neither will you!  Seduction of a Highland Lass will be released September 27th followed by Never Love a Highlander on October 25th. 



  1. this book sounds so sweet with Crispen in it:)
    Of course the romance and connection between Mairin and Ewan sound good too lol

  2. Wow, it sounds like the story lived up to the awesome cover (Paul Marron and Ewa da Cruz).

  3. Oh wow, I have to have this book! Loved the review, I got a little chill just with that one line.

  4. Oh boy, PJ, what a fantastic review! I love medievals, so I will be running out to get this book immediately. :-)

    And that scene that gave you chills?? It did the same for me. :-)

  5. Bella, Crispen was a wonderful character and his bond with Mairin made my heart smile. I hope we see more of him in his uncles' stories.

  6. Sheree, I'd say the story definitely lived up to the cover and I do love that cover! :)

  7. Dianna said, Loved the review, I got a little chill just with that one line.

    Wait until you read the entire scene, Dianna. Chills aplenty!

  8. Gannon, this book is right up your alley. I have a feeling you'll love it just as much as I did!

    That scene evoked the same emotions in me as the waterfall scene in Last of the Mohicans and you know how much I LOVE that scene!

  9. PJ,

    Maya is a new author for me. You make me want to run out and buy her books!

  10. Laurie G, she's a new author for me too. This is her first historical romance (she's well known in other sub-genres)and I'm hoping she'll continue to write more following this trilogy. I love her historical voice!

  11. I used to have only one Medieval on my keeper shelves (Teresa Medeiros's Charming the Prince). Then I read Kris Kennedy and made room for more keepers. Your wonderful review makes me think I should give Maya Banks a try, PJ.

  12. I hope you enjoy it, Janga. The fact that I've read it three times in the past six weeks (not because I had to but because I wanted to) should tell you how very much I loved it! :)

  13. You had me at "In Bed," "..with a Highlander," sealed the deal! Terrific review, PJ. I do enjoy a good Medieval Romance: it's a historical, but in a truly different scenario than we usually think of. Add in a hunk of a Highlander in a kilt and a strong, intelligent woman; it's got
    win win all over it!

  14. That scene evoked the same emotions in me as the waterfall scene in Last of the Mohicans and you know how much I LOVE that scene!

    That's EXACTLY what I thought of when I read the excerpt. *sigh*

  15. LOL @ Flora! Believe me, this one has plenty of win win all over it! :)

  16. Hope you like it, Karyn! I saw enough of Ewan's brothers in this book to be eagerly anticipating their stories too. :)

  17. I love Julie Garwood's medievals and this book sounds very promising. Thank you for the lovely review, PJ! I can't wait to give this one a try.

  18. Loooove Maya's books! I've been waiting and WAITING for this book! I've got it downloaded to my Kindle to read this weekend! GREAT REVEIW, PJ!

  19. Fabulous review, PJ! You know how much I love medievals. I have read a couple of Maya's books and have really enjoyed them (I love the heat level!!). This one is going on the top of my buy list!!

  20. Antonia, if you love Garwood's Medievals I think you'll really enjoy In Bed with a Highlander!

  21. Monica, make sure you set aside enough time this weekend to read the entire book. It's not an easy one to put down!

  22. Buffie, the entire time I was reading In Bed with a Highlander I kept thinking, "Oh man, Buffie is going to love this book! *grin*

  23. Terrific review, PJ! This one sounds absolutely delicious. And the cover is gorgeous!

  24. Wow! What a great review. I've been wondering about this book, and after reading your review I definitely want to read it. Plus I have never read a Highlander book.

    I actually got a little teary eyed just reading the scene you provided with them being torn apart.

  25. Julie Garwood was the very first romance author I read. Her Highland medieval books were my favorite. It is hard to choose a favorite, but SAVING GRACE is high up there. I had it on tape and would pop it in to listen while driving to get my Garwood/Highland fix. Unfortunately I loaned it to someone and never got it back.
    IN BED WITH A HIGHLANDER just jumped to the top of my Wish List. I am so glad she has timed the release of her books so closely together. I don't read the series until all books are out so I can get the most from them.

    Thanks for the review. I may not be able to wait until October to read this one. Maybe I'll start just a bit early.

  26. Love the review. 'In Bed with a Highlander' sounds like a must read.

  27. I've been soooo curious about this one - actually, the only thing that's been holding me back so far is that the excerpt on her website sounded SO MUCH like Julie Garwood that I worried it might be a little too derivative? But I *LOVE* those old Garwood medievals so much that the style really appeals to me - I really enjoyed that excerpt, even as I felt like it could have been written by Garwood! - and I'm so glad to be reassured by this review. I'll definitely read it now!