Friday, August 28, 2009

Review: Highland Rebel: A Tale of a Rebellious Lady and a Traitorous Lord by Judith James

James Sinclair is that most common of English Lords, possessed of titles and land but completely devoid of cash. He desperately needs a rich heiress for a wife and thinks he will earn one in the mercenary service of the Stuarts, though they are making it hard for him. It took a cunning mind to serve both Protestant King Charles II and his successor, the Catholic King James II. But Jamie managed it, though he was required to fight yet another war in the process.

In the bloody aftermath of a battle against Scotland, the mercenary troop has taken a prisoner of war, a boy that they are planning to torture. When his helmet is removed and long hair tumbles out, they realize that they have captured a woman. And they plan to make the most of their prize. Jamie is sickened by their violent intentions and saves the woman from rape and worse the only way he can, by fetching his priest and marrying her on the spot. He is only able to learn her name - Catherine Drummond - before she escapes out the back of the tent and is gone.

Catherine finds her way back to her men and the party make their way to their home in the Highlands of Scotland. Since her father, the Earl of Moray, died, Catherine has been fighting for her place. If she had been male, she would have been his heir. And she is as able as any man, even in combat. But she is a woman and most of her father's people refuse to follow her. They want to marry her off, she is an irritating encumbrance that the current heir would be glad to be rid of. Her battlefield marriage turns out to be a godsend, they can hardly force her to marry when she is already wed.

While Jamie was relieved to have saved Catherine from her fate, she is a hindrance to him and his plans. He sets off to follow her, when he finds her he fully intends to have their marriage annulled so that he can marry his heiress. It proves to be much harder than he thought it would be, Catherine is unlike any woman he has ever met. For her part, Catherine is reluctant to release Jamie, the marriage is all that is protecting her from a distasteful, forced union. And there is the little matter of her family trying to kill him so that she will be a widow and free to marry again. Their journey will be fraught with excitement and danger, there are forces at work that are greater than their own desires.

I don't think the cover does this book justice. I suppose it is a historical romance, but I think it leans more to historical fiction. It even has a very informative "Historical Note" in the back. It is NOT a typical "bodice ripper" romance. (There are no ripping bodices here!) The author is an excellent writer who did extensive research and it shows in the depth of her characters and the liveliness of her settings. Jamie is hard on the outside but on the inside he is a little boy who never had the love or support of a family. He is strong and capable with a caustic sense of humor. Catherine is not a typical heroine and is far from a shrinking violet. She is a revelation to Jamie, independent and courageous, more than a match for him. Their verbal sparring, at turns funny and biting, were my favorite parts of this excellent novel. Add the sweeping vistas of the Highlands and the lush valleys of Ireland and you have a winning combination. If you like historical fiction, you will enjoy Highland Rebel. I know I did!

You can find more information on Judith James and her books at her website. My thanks to Danielle at Sourcebooks for sending me Highland Rebel for review!!

Highland Rebel is published by Sourcebooks. ISBN 978-1-4022-2433-1


Marg said...

I am really regretting not getting a review copy of this when it was offered to me. I decided not to because I had already bought her first book but not read it yet.

The Tome Traveller said...

I've been won over by her writing, now I'm a fan! I'll have to go find her first book. :)

ibeeeg said...

Fabulous review. Seriously, I want to read this book.
Alright, I already have an interest leaning towards Historical this book sounds like I would like the read.

Jennifer said...

I have not read her books and I was ignoring this one based on the cover, silly I know. I will be checking into getting a copy. Thanks for the review!

Zibilee said...

Another book to add to my wish list! This was a great review, and it looks like a really interesting read. I will have to come back and let you know what I think of it.

MoziEsmé said...

I'd love to read this.

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

MoziEsmé said...

And I'm a follower.

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

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About Me

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.