Title: Highlander Betrayed (Guardians of the Targe #1)
Author: Laurin Wittig
Length: 270 Pages
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Book Summary: Hidden deep in the rugged Scottish Highlands lies the Highland Targe, an ancient relic guarded for centuries by clan MacAlpin. It is said the Targe can shield the heart of the Highlands from invaders and now, as part of his plan to crush the Scottish rebellion, the English king wants the Targe for himself…
Rowan MacGregor, orphaned niece to the chief of the MacAlpins and the rock her family depends upon, is worried. With the dwindling health of her aunt, the Guardian of the Targe, the protections that have kept the clan safe and prosperous are fading, and the new Guardian, one of her cousins, has yet to be chosen. Rowan wants nothing more than to see the clan protected again, but when it seems that will never happen, she despairs—even when a handsome and charming stranger comes to her aid.
Nicholas fitz Hugh is not what he seems. Half-English, half-Scottish, he turned his back on his Scottish heritage early in his life, giving his loyalty to England instead. Now he is a talented and cunning spy charged with finding and stealing the Highland Targe for his king.
But when Nicholas finds himself falling for the bonny Rowan and wanting to protect the family she holds so dear, he is forced to choose between his king’s will and his own: Will he betray his king and his mission? Or will he turn his back on the woman he has come to love?
Review: I’m a sucker for a man in a kilt—I can’t explain it. I hardly have any Scottish blood in my Heinz-57 blend. Spy novels are a love of mine as well. So when I received an uncorrected proof of Highlander Betrayed to read, I was kind of excited.
The story line and writing are good, and I enjoyed the characters and setting. There’s enough of the supernatural here to feed the superstitions and folk-lore of the day.
Nicholas fitz Hugh is swoon-worthy enough for a romance, but he lacks the necessary character growth. We are constantly told of his heartless nature, but we never see how ruthless he is as a spy for the King of England. We know his intent for every thing he does, so the reader is never left wondering about his motives, which never seem to be that nefarious. His “transformation” or change of heart is non-existent. I kept hoping for something a little less transparent.
Rowen MacGregor is her own woman, beautiful and competent. It is refreshing to read a book like this without the drooling men watching her every move that she is, of course, oblivious too. Kudos to the author on that front. A few things did bother me though. Rowen’s forgiveness and acceptance of Nicholas makes her look like a dupe, and the clan’s willingness to accept Nicholas simply because Rowen does is odd.
The obligatory close-minded opinions of the English toward the Scottish and the Scottish toward the English are ever-present. Longshanks is the King of England in this book. To date, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where Longshanks is painted in a positive light, even in a pro-English book. Highland Betrayer is no different here, but it was interesting get a closer glimpse of what he might be like from one of his spies. I get a kick reading the propaganda England and Scotland used against each other. Maybe I’ll read a book set on the English side of this fight for the contrasting point of view.
The supporting cast of characters is large enough without making it difficult to keep track of them all. And I enjoyed getting to know them. Highlander Betrayed is a nice light read and provided this reader with an enjoyable afternoon in the Scottish Highlands.
(I received a free uncorrected proof from the publisher is exchange for my honest review.)
Highlander Betrayed is available on Amazon.
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