Rogue of the Highlands by Cynthia Breeding
Historical Romance Samhain Publishing October 16, 2012
She must tame a Highland barbarian…before he steals her heart.
Rogue, Book 1
With the death of her elderly husband, the Marquess Newburn, Jillian Alton is relieved that she will never have to endure another forced marriage. Until his long-lost son reappears to claim his title and holdings.
Left penniless, Jillian reluctantly accepts a tidy sum from the Prince of Wales to “refine” a Scottish Highlander who has inherited an English title—a man who shakes her resolve to never again let a man close enough to snare her in unwanted wedlock.
Ian MacLeod never planned to set foot in England, but the breakup of the clan system has left him in need of claiming the profits of his inherited English lands to support his people. When he meets the very proper Lady Newburn, he is intrigued…and determined to melt her icy heart.
It shouldn’t be much of a challenge. After all, he’s never met a lass who didn’t quite willingly succumb to him. But he quickly learns that the beautiful, auburn-haired Jillian is no mooning maiden.
And there’s something about her stepson that raises the hair on the back of his neck—a clear signal of danger that has never proved him wrong…
Warning: This book contains a sexy Highlander who will make the most proper of ladies have very improper thoughts.
Sexy kind highlander complete with kilt and large sword: check
Upright, proud by scarred widowed noble woman needing someone to sweep her off her feet: check
Moving romance where you can truly hate the villain: check
It is always difficult for an author to start off a new series let alone a new series in a new genre. Rogue of the Highlands is Cynthia Breeding’s first foray into regency romance and she shows up with an emotional churning quick read in with enduring characters you won’t be able to get enough of.
Jullian Alton is the widow of the late Marquess of Newburn. With the heir returning from France, she is desperate for funds to support herself and her sister. Despite being young, Jillian is deeply aware of the depths of depravity men can bend to. Abused and left scarred by her husband, she has sworn to never, ever allow a man to have any control over her. Because of her past, she underestimates her worth, setting up the perfect opportunity for the right man to worm his way into her heart.
And Ian Macleod is the right man. Warm, caring and gentle, Ian is the romance novel’s stereotypical highlander. He has a high respect for those weaker than him, which includes animals and woman, but secure with his own self that he does not need to dominate or degrade. He seeks a partner in life instead of a typical English trophy wife. Upon meeting Jillian, he must convince her that despite all the difficulties, a life with him is possible.
While I enjoyed the gentle romance building between Ian and Jillian, what I truly enjoyed with this book was rooting against the Villain, the Newburn Heir. He is a despicable man, in a number of ways, and I took delight in Ian and Jillian thwarting him at every turn. Newburn is the counterbalance to Ian. Where Ian is honorable and kind, Newburn is an evil two faced liar. Where Ian is gentle and kind, he is abuse and demanding. As the book is written from a Scottish point of view, this parallel continues to mirror the differences between the Scottish and the English.
And like Jillian, how can you not swoon when a man, in that lovely burr that just warms you to your toes, knows exactly what to say to heal your heart. He does not judge her, but instead teaches her to trust and to believe in just a wee bit of highland magic so she can find her happy ending. There is really nothing to dislike in Jillian and Ian. The only thing I could complain about is the very end Jillian forgets some key information that could have changed the course of the book, but given the circumstances she is forgiven.
One final note, Ms. Breeding has a delightful cast of characters in this book and it bodes well for the other books in this series. While I down played the abusive themes in the review, they are fairly prominent in the book and may turn away some readers. There are several episodes of physical and sexual abuse as part of the story, but it is not gratuitous or inappropriate given the story.
A good choice for those liking Scottish heros and for those who may want a darker bit more mature themed romance.