Friday, June 16, 2017

The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki


The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki

Second in the Lords of the Highlands series

4 stars

Lady Magdalen Keith is the illegitimate daughter of a Scottish earl. She doesn’t partake in balls and isn’t a fan of the fancier side of society. She prefers playing her harp or attending to patients at her hospital for battered women, but at the Hogmanay ceremony thrown by her father all of that changes. Navy lieutenant, Aiden Murray, isn’t expecting to be enticed by the girl at the Hogmanay ball or to spend months thinking about her while he sailing at sea. When Maddie goes to London to save her father’s head from Queen Anne’s noose, she isn’t expecting to see Aiden again. Neither of them is expecting the whirlwind Highland romance that flares between them, but goes against the propriety of London society. This story is fun… a LOT of fun, in my personal opinion. I prefer Highland historical romances and so this kind of story is right up my alley. It takes a lot of real history (Queen Anne, the supposed assignation attempt on her life, the rise of the Jacobite rebellion, and the real-life Marque of Tullibardine). I personally enjoyed the aspect of the plot relying on a lot of historical events, but also being fiction. It makes the story enjoyable, but also stays true to the atmosphere and political tensions of the time.

I can tell that Amy Jarecki has done a lot of research of this time period and it really shows. She has one of the strongest Scottish Highland romances when it comes to being accurate to the time period. I personally loved the opening Hogmanay chapters that set up how Maddie and Aiden meet. It was incredibly adorable. Jareki is good at writing steamy scenes, but there are a few laughable lines that are just weird. This novel is just a lot of fun and in comparison, to some HRs that I have read this one isn’t scared to show battle scenes or talk about blood, battles, and court politics. The romance in this story is definitely there and there is some great romantic tension. However, I do have a huge problem with the pacing of this story. Towards the ending, everything felt so rushed. This novel needed to be longer and to explain things with more depth when wrapping up some a huge plot. That’s my biggest problem with this novel and while it’s my only real complaint, it’s a big problem.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.25

“Maddie never cared to think about morbid endings. She preferred to look to the future.”

The main female character is Maddie, or Lady Magdalen. I really enjoyed her character. She had passions and hobbies. I loved that she had opened up a hospital for women who had been abused (primarily because of the rise of English soldiers raping women), but I wish that we had seen more of her in her element. We were told about the hospital and her love for it, but we never got to see her interact with attendants and it would’ve added another layer of depth to see that. I really enjoyed her passion for the harp. It’s always refreshing to see a character’s passion instead of just being told about it. Maddie’s harp plays a huge part in the story and her love for music is a huge part of her life. The last quarter of the book really challenges Maddie as a person and it was interesting to see the character’s personality being tested.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 4.25

The main male character is Aiden. I love Aiden’s character because is a flirt, but he is very unaware of his flirtations with Maddie. He’s very inexperienced and goes against the trope of a rake that is experienced in the bedroom. Aiden is a virgin and Maddie is a virgin; they both have no clue what they are doing and are just kind of exploring each other and using some very explicit photos as a guide. It makes their romance fun and it’s refreshing to see two virgins falling in love instead of a virgin being paired up with a more experienced partner. Aiden is also a sweet talker. This book is full of one-liners that are so damn cute. We also get to see Aiden fight in a pirate battle. It was a great scene and it really added a layer to the story. Upped the ante and really catered to capturing what it was like to be on the sea during the early 1700s.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 4.5

The Villain- Well, this is rather tricky. There’s Lady Saxonhurst, who seems like a villain, but we never know if she really is. There’s Queen Anne, who is only a villain because the Scots do not love her and she is forcing Maddie’s father to be a prisoner, and eventually Maddie. Then there’s the whole plot at the end where Queen Anne is definitely not Maddie or Aiden’s favorite person. I don’t think there are any “villains”, just people on opposing sides of a political battle.

Villain Scale: 3

The characters are a lot of fun. There’s Agnes, the lady maid who has watched over Maddie her whole life, MacPherson, a naval officer who pretends to be a big player, Seaforth, an allay with a good heart, and the Earl Marischal, Maddie’s father who is thrown into the Tower for treason. The side characters are a lot fun, but the only one who really stood out to me and really made me like them was Agnes. Also, that big reveal on the last page about one of these characters was thrown completely out of left field and we had no closure on the issue. It kind of bugged me.

Character Scale: 3.5

Overall, this story is a lot of fun and I think that HR readers will enjoy this, particularly those who love Highlanders. My biggest problem lies with the rushed ending, but the last 25% was really intense and went places that most HRs shy away from. This is a great novel for fans of history, but also don’t mind some fiction in it.

Plotastic Scale: 4

Cover Thoughts: The guy is sexy, but if you look at him for too long his head looks photoshopped onto his body. I’m not complaining though. Give me all the sexy Highland men in kilts on covers.

Thank you, Forever- Grand Central Publishing, for sending me a physical ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Are you looking forward to The Highland Commander? What are some of your favorite historical novels? Let me known down below in the comments!

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