In The Highlander, a stunning, gorgeous Victorian romance from Kerrigan Byrne, can the fiercest master of battle conquer a woman’s heart?
They call him the Demon Highlander. The fearsome Lieutenant Colonel Liam MacKenzie is known for his superhuman strength, towering presence, and fiery passion in the heat of battle. As Laird to the MacKenzie clan, the undefeated Marquess has vanquished his foes with all rage and wrath of his barbaric Highland ancestors. But when an English governess arrives to care for his children, the master of war finds himself up against his greatest opponent. . . in the game of love.
Defying all expectations, Miss Philomena is no plain-faced spinster but a ravishing beauty with voluptuous curves and haughty full lips that rattle the Laird to his core. Unintimidated by her master’s raw masculinity and savage ways, the headstrong lass manages to tame not only his wild children but the beast in his soul. With each passing day, Liam grows fonder of Miss Menaand more suspicious. What secret is she hiding behind those emerald eyes? What darkness brought her to his keep? And how can he conquer this magnificent woman’s heart . . . without surrendering his own?
“Romantic, lush, and suspenseful.” Suzanne Enoch on The Highwayman
About the Author
Kerrigan Byrne has done many things to pay the bills, from law enforcement to belly dance instructor. Now she's finally able to have the career she'd decided upon at thirteen when she announced to her very skeptical family that she was going to "grow up to be a romance novelist." Whether she's writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in almost every story.
Her novels with St. Martin's Press include THE HIGHWAYMAN and THE HUNTER.
She lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, but dreams of settling on the Pacific Coast.
Read an Excerpt
By Kerrigan Byrne
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Kerrigan Byrne
All rights reserved.
London, September, 1878
Twenty Years Later
Take off your clothes. It wasn't the first time Lady Philomena St. Vincent, Viscountess Benchley, had heard the command. She was the wife of a violent libertine, after all. But as she stared in wide-eyed incomprehension at the jowly Dr. Percival Rosenblatt, she was at a momentary loss for words. Surely he couldn't mean that she was to disrobe in front of him. Only female nurses oversaw the ice bath therapy here at Belle Glen Asylum. To have a male doctor in attendance was all but unheard of.
"But, Doctor, I — I've been well behaved." She took an involuntary step back, trepidation flaring in her stomach when she saw the tub, jagged chunks of ice bobbing on the surface as horrifically as shards of broken glass. "Surely I've done nothing to warrant this — this treatment."
Treatment. A peculiar word. One with many meanings in a place like this.
"You've been at yourself again." Nurse Greta Schopf, her self-proclaimed nemesis here at Belle Glen, stepped forward and grasped her wrist, strong fingers sinking into her flesh, yanking the loose sleeves to her elbow. The large German woman, clad in a uniform, a high-necked, somber gown with a white apron and hat, held up the fresh scratches on Mena's forearm for the doctor's inspection. "She's also been at herself in ... other ways, Doctor. We've had to strap her to the bed at night to stop her from her amoral compulsions."
Mena gaped at the nurse in sheer disbelief.
"That simply isn't true," she gasped, then turned to entreat the doctor. "Please, she's mistaken, Dr. Rosenblatt; it was another patient, Charlotte Pendergast, who scored my arm with her nails. And I swear I've never —" She didn't want to say it, didn't want the heat to flare in his wrinkled, murky eyes at the thought of her touching herself. Though, at this point, she'd do most anything to avoid the ice bath. "I've never once done myself harm ... and I've likewise refrained from ... any ... amoral compulsions."
She'd informed the doctor of this before, of course, in their initial sessions together. She'd confessed that her bruises and scrapes were not, in fact, self-inflicted, but inflicted upon her by her sadistic husband, Lord Gordon St. Vincent, the Viscount Benchley. In her first days as an involuntary patient here, she'd done all she could to emphatically deny any madness or lunacy or sexual misconduct, because it was the absolute truth.
In fact, she'd frantically confessed everything about herself upon her arrival here at Belle Glen Asylum, as she'd been frightened and utterly alone.
At first, Dr. Rosenblatt had reminded Mena of her father, doling out the milk of human kindness from behind his stately office desk. Possessed of a pleasant round face complete with chops and an extra chin, jolly red cheeks, and a portly belly, Dr. Rosenblatt seemed to be a mild-mannered, middle-aged professional gentleman.
She should have known never to trust her instincts when it came to others, especially men. Somehow she was always wrong.
Dr. Rosenblatt snapped open her file, reading it as though he weren't the sole author of the lies contained within its depths. "You're getting agitated, Lady Benchley," he said in that soft voice, the one people usually saved for crying children and the insane.
"No!" she cried, louder than she'd meant to, as Nurse Schopf tugged her toward the bath. "No." She schooled her voice into something more pleasant, more ladylike, even though she dug her feet against the tile floor. "Doctor, I'm not at all agitated, but I would very much prefer not to take the ice bath. Please. I — isn't there something else? The electrodes, perhaps — or just put the mittens on me and send me to bed." She didn't want to consider the alternatives she'd just suggested. She dreaded the electrodes, abhorred the chafing little prisons locked about her wrists, rendering her hands useless for anything at all.
But she feared nothing so much as the ice baths.
"Please," she entreated again, frightened tears welling behind her eyes.
"You beg so prettily, Lady Benchley." His gaze never touched hers, but drifted lower, to her mouth and then to her breasts that tested the seams of her tight and uncomfortable black frock. "But, you see, I am your doctor and my first obligation is the treatment of your illness. Now, if you please, remove your clothing without further incident, or they will be removed for you."
Nurse Schopf's grip tightened on Mena's wrist with bruising strength unusual for a woman. She pulled Mena toward the tub, securing her other hand around Mena's upper arm. "Are you going to fight me today, Countess Fire Quim, or will you behave for once?"
Countess Fire Quim, it was a name one of the patients had given her that first awful day in Belle Glen. They'd been stripped bare in a room full of fifteen or so women, poked, prodded, deloused, and then doused with buckets of cold water. Someone had remarked on the uncommon shade of her red hair, and then on the darker shade of auburn between her legs. Mena had been called many cruel things in her life, most often by her family, the St. Vincents, and generally pertaining to her uncommon height or her wide hips and shoulders, but "Countess Fire Quim" was somehow the most humiliating. Especially when used by the nurses or the staff at Belle Glen.
"I've done nothing wrong." Mena sent one more panicked, entreating stare to Dr. Rosenblatt, who quietly shuffled the papers in her file without even glancing down at them. "Don't put me in there!"
"You're being hysterical," he said softly. "Which only proves to me the extent of your madness."
The nurses, one on either side of her now, dragged her by the arms. Once she was close enough, Mena kicked out at the tub with both feet, hoping to upset it. The sturdy tub didn't move, but as Mena was not a small woman, her struggles were enough to free her from the grasp of the nurses.
"Wot's this 'ere?" The cheerful voice of Mr. Leopold Burns could have brightened any room that he entered. But to the patients of Belle Glen Asylum, his arrival always brought darkness. The ogre-sized orderly was closer to his twenties than his forties, but an unfortunate potato-shaped nose and thinning blond hair belied his youth. "You're no' makin' any trouble, are you, Lady Benchley?" A fist of dread squeezed Mena's lungs as Nurse Schopf's grip was traded for Mr. Burns's. "Now let's take those clothes off."
Mena fought them this time. She'd tried being prim and obedient. All her life, she'd been timid, pliant, and gentle, and it only served to produce the same result. At least this once, she was not a willing participant in her own humiliating tragedy.
She struggled and jerked as the nurse's deft fingers undid the buttons of her coarse frock, yanking it down her waist and over her hips and legs. She cried and pleaded, kicked and stomped when they ripped her chemise away — no one in an asylum bothered with a corset — exposing her breasts to Mr. Burns's and Dr. Rosenblatt's greedy eyes.
Those eyes drank their fill, and Mena dimly wondered how the nurses, as women, could be a part of this obvious deviancy.
The tears streaming down her cheeks were not only caused by humiliation and fear, but by the acrid, unbearable stench of Mr. Burns's breath. He pulled her back against his body, and secured her in a bearlike grip under the guise of immobilizing her so the nurses could relieve her of her drawers. His hands groped and grasped painfully at her breasts, and he lowered his offensive mouth to press against her ear. "The more ya struggle, Countess Fire Quim, the harder it is to keep me 'ands proper."
"Your hands have never been proper," she accused. The frigid air against her flesh told her she was fully naked now. She became less worried about that than the press of Mr. Burns's growing arousal against her back.
He squeezed her with his meaty arms, cutting off her breath. Sharp pain stabbed at her breasts, and a more worrisome twinge lanced her as she felt something like a rib shift in her side, stealing her ability to draw the breath to cry out.
"Wot senseless things these loonies say," Mr. Burns tsked as he lifted her momentarily paralyzed form over the rim of the tub while each of her legs were secured by a nurse.
Mena watched in horror as the ice water came at her slowly. At this juncture, she could do nothing but brace for the impact.
The shards of ice hit her with the puncturing and sudden affliction of a cat's sharp claw, evoking the reflex to snatch back the offended limb. Except her entire body suffered the sensation and when she breached from the original submersion, she was shocked to see that none of her skin had been perforated.
Out of desperation, she flailed for the edge of the tub, her lungs emitting little spasms of shock that escaped her with desperate mewls. Dragging her naked body up, she managed to gain her feet and nearly hop back out of the tub before three sets of strong hands forced her back down.
Her head went under along with the rest of her.
She thrashed and flailed at her captors, but their hands were everywhere, subduing her limbs. After a time, the initial panic subsided and she stilled. Was this to be how it ended, then? Imprisoned along with the empire's forgotten naturals and unfortunates, a Cockney pervert sneaking a squeeze of her breasts, and a sadistic nurse holding her down while a coldhearted doctor looked on?
She wondered if Lady Farah Blackwell, Countess Northwalk, had ever received her letter. Had the countess done anything on her behalf, or merely ignored her pleas for help. Judging by the burning in her lungs, Mena doubted she'd ever find out.
Perhaps it was for the best. She'd leave this world surrounded by cold and merciless shards of suffocating ice. The literal manifestation of what her life had been these past five years.
Could hell really be worse than this? Was there a chance she'd already served some penance for her sins here on this cruel plane? Perhaps the Lord was not such a vengeful God, merely an indifferent one. Be that the case, maybe she could persuade him to let her have a tiny, insignificant corner of heaven. Even the part no one else wanted. An isolated place at the end of a long lane where she could exist in quietude and seclusion. Away from the malevolence of expectation and the judgment of her many failures. Somewhere the clouds hovered low like a canopy and the sun filtered through them on a late summer's day like the pillars thrown down on the southern moors, as majestic and warm as divine forgiveness.
Closing her eyes, Mena found the bravery to draw in a breath of icy water just as the hands holding her under tightened to pull her up. She surfaced and heaved what little of the liquid had made it into her lungs in a series of soul-racking coughs.
Once the spasms had passed, she focused on filling her lungs with air. The moment was gone, that glimpse of peace she'd found beneath the ice. She knew she was too much of a coward to take her own life.
So she sat and shivered, surrendering to her misery, drawing her knees up to her chest in the bath before the cold stole mobility from her limbs.
"See that she's cleaned and then we'll begin," Rosenblatt directed.
The nurses scrubbed her skin with harsh soap and efficient brutality, remarking as they did so that this would account for her weekly bath.
Five minutes had passed once they'd finished, and Mena's skin felt as though a thousand needles pricked it with simultaneous persecution. But she set her jaw, deciding to do what she must to escape the cold now seeping into her bones.
"I'm going to interview you now, Lady Benchley." Dr. Rosenblatt stepped to the foot of the tub. "I want you to tell me how the following information affects you. If I feel you've answered honestly, we'll get you out of the tub. Do you understand?"
"Good." He shuffled some of his paperwork, and finding the one he searched for, he placed it on the top of her open file and read. "First we'll dispense with the generals. Do you hear voices in your rooms at night, Lady Benchley?
Ones that keep you awake or torment you?"
Mena remained staring straight ahead and answered honestly. "Only the screams of the patients. And the nurses who mock them."
Greta Schopf pinched her shoulder painfully, but Mena didn't so much as wince.
"Quite so." The doctor never looked up from his notes. "Do you ever see things, strange things, apparitions, ghosts, or hallucinations?"
Mena answered this very carefully, as she knew that hallucinations were the mark of true madness. "Never." She shook her head.
"A few questions for statistical purposes, due to your diagnosis," Rosenblatt continued.
The cold had begun to muddle Mena's thoughts. The blood in her veins slowed to a drip and she'd begun to shiver so violently, she had to force her words through teeth clacking together. But she knew which questions were forthcoming. The diagnosis her husband and his mother had paid their family doctor to make was psychosexual hysteria and amoral insanity, and the good Dr. Rosenblatt simply delighted in inquiring about it.
"Tell me, again, how often you and Lord Benchley engaged in marital relations."
Mena refused to answer the question in front of an audience. "I've t-told you already."
"Yes, you've told me he used to come to you five times a week at first, and then hardly ever toward the end. That once he realized you could not bear him children, he sought the company of other women." Dr. Rosenblatt leaned forward, capturing her gaze that was beginning to blur due to the cold. "Except when you would ask him to force you. He told me you disgusted him, especially when you would request that he fulfill your violent sexual fantasies, isn't that right, Lady Benchley?"
Mena learned that even in the ice bath she could burn with shame. "He ... lied. I. Never. W-wanted ..." The cold leached into her chest, robbing her of her voice.
"I've warned you, only the truth will liberate you from your current state," Rosenblatt reminded her.
The truth. The truth was that her husband was as much a sadist as Dr. Rosenblatt. Gordon St. Vincent enthusiastically tried to figure out what made people cringe. What they truly feared. What they hated about themselves. And he exploited this information to his advantage.
It had started gradually, her hell within the St. Vincent household. And before long, when Gordon had thought her broken, when his jibes and torments no longer seemed to affect her, her husband became violent. Acts that would land a man in prison should he enact them out on the streets were all perfectly legal if he perpetrated them on his wife.
In the span of time and space, a quarter hour is nothing. A grain of sand on an endless beach. But in that tub, it became an eternity, stretching away from the warm rays of the sun. Until there was nothing but cold. Nothing but this white, white room and suffering.
After that, Mena lost the ability to see the arms on the clock. Her joints seized and her muscles contracted with such violent pain, she let out an involuntary wail.
Lord, but she truly did sound mad.
Her hands contorted into strange and painful angles against her chest, and odd convulsions seemed to rack her spine, even as she felt her heart slow to a plodding amble, nearly losing its rhythm.
She was tired. So tired.
It was then they dragged her from the bath, lifting her by the elbows drawn stiff enough to hold her weight. She'd become like the ice, truly frozen. She couldn't even summon the strength to care anymore as Dr. Rosenblatt and Mr. Burns watched while she was toweled dry and a rough cotton shift yanked over her head.
An alarming numbness had begun to spread from Mena's muscles and limbs inward to her organs. She'd never spent more than ten minutes in the ice baths before. She hardly noticed as a comb was jerked through her long hair. She tried to stumble away, but her knees refused to hold her as the cold had leached all strength from her muscles. Mr. Burns caught her in time to prevent injury, but she'd rather have fallen to the floor.
"She's too heavy for us to carry. You'll have to get her back to her rooms, Mr. Burns," Nurse Schopf ordered.
"'Appy to, madam," Mr. Burns said cheerfully.
Excerpted from The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne. Copyright © 2016 Kerrigan Byrne. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'll admit that the first 2 novels in Byrnes series were more climatic. Although some would read these novels as stand-alones, I would recommend reading them in order because each character is introduced in the previous novel, except The Highway Man where we are introduced to Dorian Blackwell. I like how the author, Byrne, let previous characters have a small camo appearance in each novel. The hero's support each other in their struggles in each novel. Overall, I am enjoying the entire series.
Loved Liam and Mena's story!! Liam is a hard man and it takes the kind heart of Mena to break through the walls that he has put up. I love that we get to see one of the Victorian Rebels with his children. He doesn't exactly know what to do with them, but Mena helps him develop a relationship with them. I will have to say that this is one of the best series that I have ever read and I can't wait for the next book to come out!
I got pulled into the story from the get go! With the previous books in this series, it is a gritty and dark read all leading up to an HEA. The pain of both Mena and Liam had me crying and cheering for them. As this was an audiobook, I found it hard to turn off my car. I needed to know what was happening next. I loved this story. I look forward to more from Kerrigan Byrne. I received this audiobook as a gift, and this is my unsolicited review. This is also s Book Obsessed Chicks Review Team selection.
The characters really come to life. The story was engaging from the start and I didn't want it to end. Wonderful writing.
Why have I not read this author before? I kept asking myself this through out the book. Historical romance is my favorite genre and Highlanders are at the top of my favorite characters. Add in a dark dangerous alpha Laird known as the "Demom Highlander" and a heroine with a tortured past with a secret that could be the end of her and you have the makings of a fabulous book. Liam Mackenzie has known nothing but violence since he was a child and then in war he becomes the Demon Highlander with the uncanny ability to servive any war zone. Finally tired of the grief and death of war he's home. Needing another governess for his two children he asked his sister in law for help. Lady Philomena St Vincent needs an escape from her violent husband and reached out to her new friend for help. With help she becomes Philomena "Mena" Lockhart governess to the only man who can protect her, The Demon Highlander. Neither Liam nor Mena think they deserve love and tenderness but friendship and trust turns to much more. This is the third book in he series but can be read as a stand alone book. Now I need to go and read the others. *Book Obsessed Chicks Review team
Again Ms. Byrne reaches in grabbing your heart as she takes you through the day and life of these characters. I would have dearly loved to have had a one on one with Philomena husband I doubt he would have been a happy camper when the chat was over that is if he lived through it. There are many ways for a person to abuse another and I think her husband takes the cake. This was a very emotional read for me as you watch two people go through life just trying to get by with the demons they have haunting them. These characters are complex as they take your heart for a spin as they tell the story of their life getting you so hook you can’t put the book down. The author starts out with a bang as she shocks you with a tale of one women and her stay in the Asylum where her husband put her after 5 years of marriage just because she didn’t produce a child. He moved on leaving her to rot there. He and his family took so much more than money from her they took her life. That is until the day her friends came to save her taking her away from London to Liam who thinks she is there for a job of governess to his older children. He doesn’t have a clue about her past but he has a past of his own. Both of them are hiding things from the other as each day their demons haunt them as they calm the other giving meaning back to life. This was really an emotional rollercoaster that is filled with darkness from the first page but by the end you see lots of light as they come together giving each other what they need to make a HEA. My heart so broke for Philomena I really cheered her on wanting her to be happy and find a true man. She has ever reason to let life take her down yet she is strong not willing to give in as her past keeps torturing her she pulls from an inter strength and holds her chin up standing up taking the world on. Liam is a charmer that I doubt many women could walk away from. There is no doubt he is surrounded by darkness but that just makes him more of a man we would love to get our hands on. The supporting characters are wonderful. I doubt you could not fall in love with Liam’s children they are just so dear I wanted to make them my own. This is the second book I have read of this authors she is fast becoming one of my favorite. She knows how to write a story that keeps the readers not only invested but highly entertained as she weaves a plot that you have no trouble picturing in your mind. At times she shocks you with her tales and at others she just breaks your heart but always leaves you smiling at the end. I really doubt you could not read this and not feel some powerful emotions. I can’t wait for her next book in this series.
I have one major thing to say. I absolutely loves Scottish men. They are big and burly, sweet and savory, and extremely possessive. I have been to Scotland before and I have to say that Ms. Bryne perfectly captured the essence that makes up the highlands, as well as those who are lucky enough to cal it their home. A man who goes by numerous names. The Demon Highlander, Lieutenant Colonel, Laird to the Mackenzie clan, and to the one women who is going to drive him to the brink of the abyss that houses his demon, Liam Mackenzie. Lair Mackenzie is full of brawn and power, he is feared by many all of the continent and beyond and yet he gave up all of his infamy in order to be a parent to his children after he realized how devastating it can be to lose someone you love and yet do not really know. But even though he has changed the lives, and fortunes, of those of his clan he is still feared by many, and no one would even think to stand up to him. And yet his new governess has done that more then once. That is a recipe for a great, challenging, exasperating romance if any highlander ever had his way. A women who changed her whole being in order to leave a situation that would have gotten her killed or worse. Now she is known as Philomena Lockhart, but before she was known as Lady Philomena St. Vincent wife to Lord Gordon St. Vincent. Thanks to her friends Farah Leigh Blackwell. Countess of Northwalk and Millicent LeCour who got her out of a disastrous situation and gave her a chance to save her self/sanity. Thus they give her a new identity as a governess for a highlander that everyone fears. And yet no one really knows. This huge favor ends up spiraling into so much more. Such as give Mena a chance at the life she was deprived of for so long. I absolutely loved this book, as well as the writing style of Ms. Byrne. This was a great read about a highlander getting a second chance as well as absolution from past sins. And the chance for a women to get away from the husband/society that was set on destroying her. This book showed the not so pleasant side of what being married in that time period could be life. As well as the results of horrendous parenting. I would definitely recommend this book to all romance readers. ~A Book Obsessed Chicks Review Team Selection.
Can the fiercest master of battle conquer a woman’s heart? They call him the Demon Highlander. The fearsome Lieutenant Colonel Liam MacKenzie is known for his superhuman strength, towering presence, and fiery passion in the heat of battle. As Laird to the MacKenzie clan, the undefeated Marquess has vanquished his foes with all rage and wrath of his barbaric Highland ancestors. But when an English governess arrives to care for his children, the master of war finds himself up against his greatest opponent... in the game of love. Defying all expectations, Miss Philomena is no plain-faced spinster but a ravishing beauty with voluptuous curves and haughty full lips that rattle the Laird to his core. Unintimidated by her master’s raw masculinity and savage ways, the headstrong lass manages to tame not only his wild children but the beast in his soul. With each passing day, Liam grows fonder of Miss Mena—and more suspicious. What secret is she hiding behind those emerald eyes? What darkness brought her to his keep? And how can he conquer this magnificent woman’s heart... without surrendering his own? Review: Loved this story from the start! This like the other stories in the series is dark and light, gritty and soft. All those juxtapositions make an interesting and exciting story. The book definitely starts out on the dark and gritty side as Mena is committed to an insane asylum and terrible acts are done to her. But she is rescued and sent to Liam under the guise of a governess. Then as the story builds it almost has a Gothic Romance feel as things are not what they seem in Liam's castle. Is there really a demon on the loose or someone with an ulterior motive??? All the while the romance builds between Liam and Mena, their passion is incredible and a joy to read. Without giving away important story points. The ending is full of drama, excitement and action. I am so loving this series. The writing is first rate and this Author is on my auto-buy list. I was fun to read the Demon Highlander brought down by a good woman! 4.5Stars *I received a copy of this from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.*
The dramatic opening takes this historical romance straight to 5 STARS. Honestly this opening was done with such flair that I was spellbound from the beginning. Well written this story takes two very broken people and throws them together to create a story that is filled with danger, hate, broken dreams, abuse, forgiveness, hope and love. Both Philomenia and Liam are strong characters and the friction between them takes on a very heated intensity causing the reader to sit on the edge of their chair praying that they will get together and satisfy their needs. This is a little darker than some historical romances but it is appropriate for the storyline and not intense. It is more like an explanation of how these two became who they are as adults. I do know that I wanted to cry regarding Liam's childhood as well as the dramatic Prologue. I had compassion and understanding for Liam's children and how they felt so lost. Author Kerrigan Byrne puts all of this together in a believable manner. I give this 5 STARS for the dramatic Prologue and how the author kept the tension going till the last page. A copy was gifted via Netgalley
Philomena has escaped the asylum her husband placed her in when she didn’t give him children. She goes to the home of Lord Liam MacKenzie to become the governess for his children. Mena is not intimated by the Demon Highlander which surprises him, however he grows suspicious as to why she is hiding there in the first place. Great historical read. Lots of drama and suspense. I was hooked from beginning to end.
Reading a Kerrigan Bryne book borders on experiencing a divine breakthrough in understanding the nature of mankind at its most downtrodden and at its very best. Between her portrayals transformations brought on by the goodness and kindness of others and ultimately love The Highlander, book three in the Victorian Rebels series, was a moving story. There is no doubt of this author's writing talent and the wide spectrum of feelings that readers will experience from her words will leave them thoughtful in their aftermath. The Highlander takes two crippled souls and reawakens their humanity. Between the abuses suffered and dealt there was a lifetime of agony that the hero and heroine took on, yet instead of breaking them they shared empathy and tapped into their inner good to become better people. Ms. Bryne tempers her abundance of raw brutality with well placed moments of tenderness beautifully. The draw between Liam and Mena was the kind that shook the pages with its intensity and kept you turning them in anticipation. The Highlander with its dark appeal is a striking example of harsh reality being transfigured by love. *I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.* *While part of a series this book can be read as a stand alone.*
The Highlander is a well crafted, compelling romance that takes place in Scotland, during the 19th century. Lieutenant Colonel Liam Mackenzie, aka, the Demon Highlander, was famous for his violent temper and fierce fighting skills. He was feared by his enemies, his soldiers, and even his own clan. Lady Philomela had never been the recipient of violence until she married the despicable, Lord Gordon St.Vincent. And, although, Lady Philomela knew that her sadistic husband had no qualms about hurting her, she never thought that he would lock her away in an insane asylum. Lady Philomela suffered horrific atrocities while in the hospital and was tearfully relieved when she was rescued. Once out of the insane asylum, Philomela needed a new identity. It was decided that she would pose as a governess and be sent to the one place where no one would even dare to look for her, in the castle of the Demon Highlander. Lady Philomela was petrified. What would happen if the most feared warrior in all of Scotland were to find out that the person teaching his children was not a governess at all, but a woman living a lie? The Highlander is a highly entertaining historical fiction romance. I finished the book in one day. The characters are unique, fully developed and likable, and their dialogue, realistic and witty. If you enjoy reading historical fiction romance, you’ll love The Highlander.
Dark, deep and deadly describe this book and its hero. “He was William Grant Ruaridh Mackenzie, lieutenant colonel of Her Majesty’s Royal Secret Highland Watch, Marquess Ravencroft, and ninth laird and thane of clan Mackenzie of Wester Ross. A high agent of the crown and a leader of men was he.” Liam, was back home as Laird of the Mackenzie clan after 20 years of military service and needed a governess for his teenage son and daughter. The heroine and love interest of Liam in this book was Lady Philomena St. Vincent, Viscountess Benchley who preferred to be known as Mena. She had survived over half a decade of abuse by her husband, been shunted off to a mental asylum by that husband and then was saved from a future worse than death by the husbands of her friends. Those friends and their husbands decided that the best place for her to go to remain safe would be to the highlands as a governess. Both Liam and Mena were survivors who brought the best out in one another over time. Liam had been through the wars – literally. He had experienced a horrific childhood that scarred him mentally and physically then chose the military as his future where more mental and physical scarring took place. He was a hero of the realm and feared by enemies. He was a force to reckon with and not many if any raised their voice or hand to him – or if they did – lived to tell about it. And yet he was a loving father, cared about his lands and people and was gentle, tender and loving, too. Mena was a calming force that provided words of wisdom while also being a force to reckon with. Something caused her to snap and become the strong woman she was capable of being while still having fears that would rear their ugly heads from time to time. She was a wonderful and insightful governess, a warm and caring person, lighter in spirit every day and had the ability to justify the means to an end. I enjoyed both this and book two of the series. If/when I find a copy of the first book I will buy and read it because I find Blackheart of Ben More to sound intriguing. I look forward to book four and hope it will tell the story of Gavin, Earl of Thorne. I wonder who else might show up beyond Gavin. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Different story line and a nice change.
Definitely will buy more from this author...