Monday, April 24, 2017

Tour Review - - Hard-Hearted Highlander

Hard-Hearted Highlander
By Julia London
Publisher: HQN 
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Reviewed by PJ

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 fiancée 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?

Julia London returns to the Highlands of Scotland and the Mackenzie clan for this third book in her The Highland Grooms series. This book is set during a dark period in Scotland's history when highlanders are grieving their losses from Culloden, Englishmen are grabbing up land and making their presence felt, and clans are struggling to survive. Hard-Hearted Highlander reflects all that with a whole lot of angst.  

Rabbie and Bernadette have some pretty significant emotional baggage that plays out over the course of the book. I understood Bernadette's bitterness over her father's actions, her loyalty to Aveline and her internal conflict over her attraction to Rabbie. I also understood Rabbie's grief and how that impacted his attitude and actions towards others - even if those actions kept me from liking him as much as I wanted to.

London's writing is strong in this book, with a solid plot, good pacing, and characters brought to life through her words. Secondary characters - both likeable and unlikeable - are vividly drawn and keep the story moving along. I especially enjoyed getting to know the hero's sister and brother better and am hoping both Cat and Aulay will have books of their own eventually.

I liked Hard-Hearted Highlander and wanted to love it as much as I loved Sinful Scottish Laird but I didn't, primarily because of one issue. I don't want to give away spoilers so I'll just say there are flashbacks throughout the book that tempered my buy-in of Rabbie and Bernadette's relationship and had me, halfway through the book, hoping the storyline would take a different direction. This may not be an issue for other readers but, for me, this was a case where "tell, don't show" would have worked much better and improved my overall enjoyment of the book.  


Click below for a list of other stops on the Hard-Hearted Highlander tour:

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  1. I've always enjoyed her stories - sounds good!

  2. I love stories about Highlanders!

  3. I would love to read this. Julia's books are wonderful.

  4. I enjoyed her book WILD,WICKED SCOT. This sounds interesting too. I love Highlander heroes.