Book Review: A Highland Knight’s Desire

cover-review-a highland knight's desireTitle: A Highland Knight’s Desire [Highland Dynast 2]

Author: Amy Jarecki

Genre: Historical->15th Century, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

In 15th century Scotland, Sir Duncan finds himself rescuing Lady Meg from the clutches of the Earl of Northumberland, and he is knocked off guard by the sassy, redheaded lass. And aye, the tall, dark, and rugged Highlander challenges Meg’s piety with his every stare.

Sir Duncan focuses on returning Lady Meg to her family and collecting his bounty before the lass can further sink her wiles into his heart. Lady Meg’s kidnapper, Northumberland, is plotting his revenge and is out to ruin them both. If Northumberland’s ruse is not exposed, Meg may end up becoming a nun, and Duncan a pawn in a deadly game. Join us on this passionate adventure as Lady Meg discovers herself – and her desires.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I was so happy to pick up a copy of A Highland Knight’s Desire by Amy Jarecki. I am a tried and true romance reader at heart, and historical romances, in particular, are one of my guilty pleasures. There’s something to be said for a good, solid formulaic romance at the end of the day. Though a lot of readers disdain this type of book—the kind with swooning lasses, arrogant men, and an epilogue entirely devoted to either a marriage, children or both, I’m not one to turn up my nose at a sure-read. It’s a bit like coming home to a nice warm cup of hot cocoa and a chick flick.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. The world building was well-researched and painted with bits and pieces of culture and language from the time period. The narrative was easy-to-follow and flowed well. I didn’t spot any noticeable typos or grammatical errors—overall, really well done.

The characters were vibrant and well fleshed out, and I enjoyed the steamy romance between Duncan and Meg. Though Meg was sometimes a little too forward at times, their romance was believable and endearing.

Some aspects of the plot, as I said earlier, were formulaic. Read any number of historical romances and you’re going to run into a very similar set of attributes throughout the genre—the fiery young girl intent on putting her mark on any situation despite her gender, station, or propriety… the tough sword fighter with gleaming muscles who’s fallen head over heels for a girl he shouldn’t be near… it’s all very familiar. For some readers this will be a problem—it’s predictable—but personally I don’t mind. I enjoy the story despite the familiar circumstance and tone. Is it going to break the genre? No… but it’s still a good read.

There were a couple of reasons this book got 4 stars instead of 5 for me: 1) Because it was formulaic and predictable. I wasn’t gushing over new content as much as I loved the story. and 2) There was a very questionable moment partway into the book. Spoilers will ensue below because I think it needs to be discussed—this is your fair warning:

Here’s the thing: had the genders of Meg and Duncan been reversed, women everywhere would have cried foul at the first sex scene in the book. Meg basically crawls into bed with Duncan while he’s terribly ill and feverish and mostly unconscious and begins to kiss and fondle and prompt him into sex. Did he enjoy it? Sure… though he was convinced it was all a dream until the next morning… but switch their genders and have Duncan crawling into bed with the unwitting Meg while she’s half-unconscious and ill… and people would throw a fit. So here I am, throwing one for the men out there. It wasn’t okay.

That being said, in the time period the book was written, we kind of have to accept that rape, and coerced sex were a thing that was not only prevalent but often expected—and because it’s historically accurate in that sense, I can’t cry foul to loudly. Do I think this is how the scene needed to be written? No, and I wish it hadn’t, but I’m willing to accept that as much as I dislike it, in the context of the world building, it was to be expected. I just couldn’t in good conscience let the scene pass by without pointing out the double standard.

Overall, and it’s few issues aside, I enjoyed the book immensely. I got sucked into the story and it’s ancient landscapes from the very first page, and I continued to remain engaged right up until the epilogue. (I’ll admit it, epilogues filled with children and marriages are frustratingly cliché and I prefer to skip them). If you like formulaic historical romance as I do, you’ll probably enjoy this book. If you’re looking for something a little more genre-breaking, you might want to pass, but I encourage you to give it a try.

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