A Library Journal Best Book of 2015
A Library Journal Summer Spotlight Title
They're rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards-dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster, in the stunning debut historical romance The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne.
Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, is a ruthless villain. Scarred and hard-hearted, Dorian is one of Victorian London's wealthiest, most influential men who will stop at nothing to wreak vengeance on those who've wronged him...and will fight to the death to seize what he wants. The lovely, still innocent widow Farah Leigh Mackenzie is no exception-and soon Dorian whisks the beautiful lass away to his sanctuary in the wild Highlands...
But Farah is no one's puppet. She possesses a powerful secret-one that threatens her very life. When being held captive by Dorian proves to be the only way to keep Farah safe from those who would see her dead, Dorian makes Farah a scandalous proposition: marry him for protection in exchange for using her secret to help him exact revenge on his enemies. But what the Blackheart of Ben More never could have imagined is that Farah has terms of her own, igniting a tempestuous desire that consumes them both. Could it be that the woman he captured is the only one who can touch the black heart he'd long thought dead?
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By Kerrigan Byrne
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Kerrigan Byrne
All rights reserved.
Scottish Highlands, County Argyle, 1855
Blood ran down Dougan Mackenzie's forearms as he crouched against the ancient stone wall separating the grounds of Applecross Orphanage from the wild mountains beyond. None of the other children ventured here. The wall protected the stooped and faded headstones that rose from thick carpets of moss and heather fed by the bones of the dead.
Chest heaving, Dougan took a moment to catch his breath before sliding down to sit with his knobby legs drawn against his chest. Carefully, he opened his palms as far as the broken skin would allow. They hurt worse now than when the sharp switch had bitten into them.
Black emotion had kept him from crying out as Sister Margaret tried her level best to break him. It kept the tears from falling until now. He'd met her cold, bright eyes with his own, unable to stop his blink as the strap had come down again and again until the welts on his palms had split and bled.
"Tell me why you're crying."
The slight voice seemed to calm the intemperate wind into an invisible ribbon that carried the gentle words to him.
The craggy black and green highland peaks jutting from behind the gray stone of Applecross formed the perfect backdrop for the girl who stood not three spans away. Instead of lashing at her, the stormy wind tossed and teased at ringlets so astonishingly blond, they appeared a silvery-white. Round, pale cheeks, slashed with red by the cold, dimpled over a shy smile.
"Go away," he snarled, tucking his smarting hands beneath his arms and kicking a clod of dirt at her clean black dress.
"Did you lose your family, too?" she queried, her face a study in curiosity and innocence.
Dougan still couldn't manage to form words. He flinched as she lifted the hem of her white apron to his cheek, but he let her ever so carefully wipe at the tears and grime she found there. Her touch was light as butterfly wings, and entranced him so thoroughly, he stopped trembling. What should he say? Dougan had never spoken to a girl before. He could answer her question, he supposed. He had lost his mother, but he wasn't an orphan. In fact, most of Applecross's orphans weren't children but terrible secrets, hidden away and forgotten like the shameful mistakes they all were.
Whose secret was she?
"I saw what Sister Margaret did to you," the girl said gently, her eyes gleaming with pity.
Her pity lit a fire born of humiliation and helplessness in Dougan's chest and he jerked his head to the side, avoiding her touch. "I thought I told ye to leave."
She blinked. "But your hands —"
With a savage snarl, Dougan surged to his feet and lifted his hand, ready to strike the pity from her angelic features.
She cried out as she fell backward on her rump, cowering on the ground beneath him.
Dougan paused, his face tight and burning, his teeth bared and his body coiled to strike.
The girl just looked up at him, horrified, her eyes locked on the bleeding wound on his open palm.
"Get out of here," he growled. She scrambled away from him, gaining unsteady feet, and scampered a wide berth around the fenced graveyard, disappearing into the orphanage.
Dougan slumped back against the rocks, his trembling knuckles brushed the back of his cheek. The lass had been the first person to ever touch him in a way that wasn't meant to hurt. He didn't know why he'd been so nasty to her.
Dougan ducked his head against his knees and closed his eyes, settling in for a right proper wallow. The chilly moisture on the back of his burning neck felt good, and he tried to focus on that instead of the stinging pain of his hands.
Not five wretched minutes passed before a bowl of clean water appeared in the space between his feet. A cup, this one full of a liquid the color of caramel, joined it.
Astonished, Dougan looked up to find that the girl had returned, except now she brandished a long and dangerous-looking pair of scissors and a determined wrinkle between her brows.
"Let me see your hands."
Hadn't he sufficiently frightened her away? Dougan eyed the scissors with suspicion. They looked both gigantic and sharp in her tiny hand. "What are those for? Protection? Revenge?"
His question produced that gap-toothed smile of hers, and his heart did a little leap and landed in his stomach.
"Don't be silly," she chided gently as she set them aside and reached for his hands.
Dougan jerked them both away from her reach, and scowled as he hid them behind his back.
"Here now," she coaxed. "Give them over."
Her brow puckered further. "How am I supposed to doctor your wounds if you insist on hiding them from me?"
"Ye're not a doctor," Dougan spat. "Leave me be."
"My father was a captain in the Crimea," she patiently explained. "He learned a little about doctoring cuts so they didn't fester on the battlefield."
That arrested his attention. "Did he kill people?" Dougan asked, unable to help himself.
She thought about this a moment. "He had good many medals pinned to the coat of his uniform, so I think he must have, though he never said so."
"I'll bet he used a rifle," Dougan said, diverted by thoughts he deemed manly and grown-up. Thoughts of war and glory.
"And a bayonet," the girl supplied helpfully. "I got to touch it once when he was cleaning his weapon by the fire."
"Tell me what it was like," he demanded.
"Let me tend your hands, and I will." Her sea-storm eyes sparkled at him.
"Very well." Cautiously, he pulled his wounded hands from behind him. "But ye have to start from the beginning."
"I will," she promised with a solemn nod.
"And doona leave anything out."
"I won't." She picked up the cup of water.
Dougan leaned forward and extended his palm toward her.
She winced at the broken flesh, but cradled his wounded hand in both of hers like one would a baby bird, before reaching for the bowl of water to trickle it over the cut. When he snarled in pain, she began to describe her father's rifle to him. The way the little coils fit together. The clicking noises of the levers. The silt and stench and sparkle of the black powder.
She poured the alcohol over his wounds, and Dougan hissed breath through his teeth, trembling with the effort it took not to snatch his hands away from her. To distract himself from the pain, he focused his blurring vision on the droplets of moisture collecting like diamonds in her abundant curls. Instead of making her hair heavy and straight, the rain seemed to coil the ringlets tighter and anoint the silvery strands with a darker gloss of spun gold. His finger itched to test the curls, to twirl and pull them, and see if they bounced back into place. But he kept absolutely still while she wrapped the strips of her petticoat around his palm with painstaking care.
"Tell me yer name," he demanded in a hoarse whisper.
"My name is Farah." He could tell the question pleased her because a tiny dimple appeared in her cheek. "Farah Leigh —" She cut off abruptly, frowning at the tidy knot she'd just produced.
"Aye?" he said alertly. "Farah Leigh — what?"
Her eyes were more gray than green when they met his. "I've been forbidden to utter my family name," she said. "Or I'll get me and the person I told into trouble, and I don't think you need any more trouble."
Dougan nodded. That wasn't so uncommon here at Applecross. "I'm Dougan of the Clan Mackenzie," he announced proudly. "And I have eleven years."
She looked properly impressed, which ingratiated her to him even more.
"I have eight years," she told him. "What did you do that was so wicked?"
"I — swiped a loaf from the kitchens."
She looked appalled.
"I'm so bloody hungry all the time," he muttered, not missing her flinch at his profanity. "Hungry enough to eat the moss off those rocks."
Farah tied off the last bandage and leaned back on her knees to inspect her work. "This is a lot of punishment for one loaf of bread," she observed sadly. "Those welts will probably scar."
"It's not the first time," Dougan admitted with a shrug more cavalier than he actually felt. "It's usually my arse that gets blistered, and I'd rather that. Sister Margaret said I'm a demon."
"Dougan the Demon." She smiled, thoroughly amused.
"Better than Fairy-lee." He chuckled, playing with her name.
"Fairy?" Her eyes twinkled at him. "You can call me that if you want to."
"I will." Dougan's lips cracked, and he realized that for the first time in as long as he could remember, he was smiling. "And what will ye call me?" he asked.
"Friend," she said instantly, pushing up from the damp ground and brushing loose earth from her skirts before she picked up her bowl and cup.
Peculiar warmth stole into Dougan's chest. He didn't quite know what to say to her.
"I'd better go inside." She lifted her wee face to the rain. "They'll be looking for me." Meeting his eyes again, she said. "Don't stay out in the rain, you'll catch your death."
Dougan watched her go, suffused with interest and amusement, he savored the feeling of having something he'd never had before.
* * *
"Pssst! Dougan!" The loud whisper nearly startled Dougan out of his skin. He whirled around, ready to deflect a blow from one of the other boys, when he spied a pair of owlish eyes sparkling at him from ringlets spun of moonbeams. The rest of her was cleverly shadowed behind a hallway tapestry.
"What are ye doing out here?" he demanded. "If they catch us, they'll whip us both."
"You're out here," she challenged.
"Aye ... well." Dougan had tried to fill the emptiness of his stomach with water. Two hours later, while tossing in bed, the plan had somewhat backfired and he'd been chagrined to find that someone had hidden the chamber pot, forcing him to go in search of the water closet.
"I have something for you." Merrily, she hopped from behind the tapestry and linked her elbow with his, careful not to touch the bandages on his hands. "Follow me." A door at the end of the hall sat slightly ajar, and Farah shoved him through, closing it softly behind them.
A lone candle flickered on one of several small tables, the light dancing off walls comprised entirely of bookcases. Dougan wrinkled his nose. The library? What would induce her to bring him here? He'd always avoided this room. It was dusty and smelled of mold and old people.
Pulling him toward the table with the candle, she pointed to a chair tucked in front of an open book. "Sit here!" By now she was nigh on quivering with excitement.
"Nay." Dougan scowled down at the book, his curiosity dying. "I'm going to bed."
"And ye should, too, before they catch ye and flay yer skin from yer hide."
Reaching into her apron pocket, Farah produced something the size of a tin of potted meat wrapped with linen. Setting it on the table, she uncovered a half-eaten slab of cheese, some dried roast, and most of a bread crust.
Dougan's mouth watered violently, and it was all he could do not to snatch it from her.
"I couldn't finish my supper," she said.
Dougan fell upon the offering like a savage, seizing the bread first, as he knew it would produce the most filling effect. He could hear the rooting, growling noises his throat produced around gaping mouthfuls, and he didn't care.
When she spoke again, her voice was full of tears. "Dear friend ..." Her little hand pressed against his hunched back and patted it consolingly. "I shan't let you starve again, I promise."
Dougan watched her reach for the book as he shoved as much of the roast in his mouth as would fit. "Waff's tha?" he asked around the food.
She spread her tiny, pale hands to carefully smooth across the open pages, and nudged the tome toward him. "I felt bad for not knowing enough about the rifles this afternoon, so I spent all evening searching, and look what I found!" She mashed her wee finger next to a picture of a long Enfield rifle. Beneath it were smaller pictures of different parts of the disassembled weapon.
"This is a Pattern 1851 rifle," she offered. "And look! Here are the bayonets. The next chapter is about how they're made and how one affixes them to the top of — What?" She'd finally glanced over at him and something in his expression caused her to blush.
Dougan had almost completely forgotten about the food, for his entire body was suffused with the most intense and exquisite sensation he'd ever known. It was something like hunger, and something like fulfillment. It was wonder and awe and yearning and fear encapsulated in a tender bliss. His chest expanded with it until it pressed against his lungs, emptying them of breath.
He found himself wishing there was a word for it. And maybe there was, lost in all these countless books for which he'd never before had use.
She turned back to the pages, clearing her throat. "They noted all the names of all the different components right below the pictures, see?"
"How do ye know?" He peered down at where she pointed and noted the markings below the pictures, but, to him, they were meaningless.
"It says right here. Can't you read it?"
Dougan filled the silence by tearing off a chunk of cheese and popping it into his mouth, chewing furiously.
"Did no one teach you?" she asked astutely.
He ignored her, finishing off the crust of bread whilst staring down at the pictures, wanting very much to know what they were about. "Will ye — read them to me, Fairy?"
"Of course I will." She leaned forward on her knees, the table too tall for her to sit on the rickety chair and see over the top. "But tomorrow when we meet here, I'll teach you how to read them for yourself."
Feeling full and satisfied for the first time in as long as he could remember, Dougan began to point to pictures, and she would tell him the caption beneath while he savored the cheese in little crumbles.
By the time they got to the chapter on bayonets, Farah's head had sunk to his shoulder as they huddled around their book and candle. He used one finger to point tirelessly at picture after picture, and the other found its way into one of her ringlets, idly pulling it straight and letting it bounce back into place.
"I was thinking," he said some time later as she paused for a drowsy yawn. "Since ye doona have any family to love anymore, ye could love me ..." Instead of meeting her gaze, he studied the way the pristine white of her petticoat bandage made his hand look that much grubbier. "That is, if ye wanted."
Farah buried her face in his neck and sighed, her lashes brushing against his tender skin with every blink. "Of course I'll love you, Dougan Mackenzie," she said easily. "Who else is going to?"
"Nobody," he said earnestly.
"Will you try to love me, too?" she asked in a small voice.
He considered it. "I'll try, Fairy, but I havena done it before."
"I'll teach you that, as well," she promised. "Right after I teach you to read. Love is quite like reading, I expect. Once you know how, you can't ever imagine not doing it."
Dougan only nodded because his throat was burning. He put his arm around his very own fairy, reveling in the fact that he finally had something good that no one could take away from him.
* * *
Dougan learned much about himself in those two blissful years with his fairy. Namely that when he loved, he did it nothing short of absolutely. Obsessively, even.
She told him how her father had been exposed to cholera while visiting a friend at a soldier's hospital and had brought it home. Farah Leigh's older sister, Faye Marie, had been the first to die, and her parents had followed in short succession.
He told her that his mother had been a maid in a Mackenzie laird's household. She'd borne one of the laird's many bastards and he'd lived with her for about four years until she'd died violently by the hand of another lover.
One of the things Dougan had realized from an early age, which set him apart from other people, was that he remembered almost everything. He even recalled conversations he and his Fairy had a year later, and would shock and delight her by reminding her of them.
"I'd forgotten that!" she'd say.
"I never forget," he'd boast.
The ability made him a quick study, and he'd surpassed her reading skills quickly. Though he always sat attentively while she taught him, even when he didn't want to. Besides, she picked books that he would be interested in, ones about ships, cannons, and a barrage of historical wars from the Romans all the way through Napoleon. His particular favorite was one on the maritime history of pirates.
Excerpted from The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne. Copyright © 2015 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 loved this book. Not your typical story line...angst, loss, very emotionsl.... even when you know they will have a hea. The characters appear later in the series as well. I like that I know what happens with them later too. It really appears that the series is well thought out .
I had a great time reading this and thought it was a heck of a way to kick off a series. I loved the storyline, the main characters and everyone introduced. I’m excited for more! I couldn't wait for Dorian and Farah to come together. I loved learning their details and connections. Dorian’s history was harsh, brutal, and emotional. I felt for him and totally understood why he was the way he was. I was excited learning the hints of Dorian's past and how that played out. I really liked Farah as well, she was so sweet yet so incredibly strong. I loved her perseverance. She could also be challenging making for some playful, lighter moments. Those moments were needed because it could be intense. There was a good amount of drama and tension throughout. The writing was wonderful, it was very detailed pulling me in right away. The wording flowed nicely but could be a bit flowery however it fit the overall feel of the time period and the story. The pace was decent though I felt it did get a bit drawn out in places. This was told from third person multiple POV and overall I really liked it but there were a few times I got confused who exactly was talking and had to reread a sentence or two to get back on track. Overall, I thought this was awesome. I loved the characters and their struggle. Dorian was such an great character. Broken but loyal, trying to do right even though he was struggling with some serious issues. It was a wonderful story filled with love and hope, redemption and forgiveness. I will definitely continue on with the series. I'm excited where it all will go. I thought this was a captivating and intriguing read that kept me on my toes and wanting more.
Read this series! Her books are fantastic. Great story lines, character development and very entertaining.
This is book 1 in the Victorian Rebels series. Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, is not a man to be trifled with. Used to getting exactly what her wants, Dorian has decided that he wants Farah Leigh Mackenzie. Kidnapping and taking Farah to his castle, Dorian tells Farah that they are to be wed. Farah agrees to the marriage, but only when Dorian lets her know that he will protect her from people that are trying to kill her and to restore her inheritance to her. But she soon finds herself having to fight the attraction she feels for her new husband. Dorian is hiding things about his past that would affect Farah, what will she do when she learns the truth? I absolutely adored this story!! The chemistry between Farah and Dorian was red hot which is always a plus. We also have Dorian and his friends trying to get Farah's inheritance back. There is so much more to say, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone!! If you haven't pick up this book, go out and do it today! You will not be disappointed! This is my first story by Byrne and I can guarantee that it won't be my last!! I can not wait for the next story in the series, The Hunter, which comes out in February!! Thanks go out to St. Martin's Press via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
5 out of 5 for this reader folks! WOW .. that was one fantastic book! Everything I love in a historical romance was present and in truth totally exceeded my expectations. I love it when that happens! The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne is the first book in her Victorian Rebels series. The story opens with two young orphans who form a strong bond, look out for the other and end up handfasting as young kids to prove their commitment to the other. When something happens that inevitably tears then apart, we are left wondering why fate has been so cruel … fast forward seventeen years and we begin to get answers to questions we had no idea to ask. Farah Mackenzie is the young orphan girl that made that commitment so many years ago. She is living with the status of widow and working for Scotland Yard. When she is invited into an interrogation room, she has yet to realize that her entire life is about to be tipped upside down. Dorian Blackwell is a scarred (literally) man with unbelievable black demons in his closet. He is known as Dorian the blackheart and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Coming from nothing, he is now wealthy and certainly not someone to cross. Dorian decides to kidnap Farah away from her life and spill a few secrets along the way. Farah now is faced with big decisions. Dorian knows her past and has revealed his plans for both of them to get revenge. All Farah has to do is marry him. Farah, strangely attracted to this professed monster lays her terms on the table … she wants a child. Off we go on an incredible dark journey that holds secrets, suspense, angst, freedom, capture, past/present failures, enemies/friends and scars so deep, one can never heal completely. It also leaves us questioning the possibility of rebirth and survival on love alone. Is it enough?? OH ME OH MY .. where do I start? Careful not to give away any spoilers (there are many things to spoil in this story) let me start with what I cherish the most in my reads … emotions. YUP, CHECK .. lots there. I felt anger, happiness, hope, swoon, annoyed, mystified, relieved … and a whole lot more …! Now add a story that can back up these emotions and keep me so riveted that I consumed this novel in one sitting (hey it was rainy and this is a really good book ..lol) .. YUP I’m sold. These characters are amazing. So incredibly complex and the storyline had me from the first page. Dorian is not by any means a gentlemen and thank goodness for that .. he has just enough dirty to shock those that are not use to it in the historical romance and to feed those of us that like a bit of smut. His mouth had me blushing … LOL Farah is just enough woman to take it and give it right back naturally. I really want to give you so much more because the story alone is beautiful. If you love historical romance, please check this amazing book out. I cannot wait for the next one and have to admit that I am adding more of Kerrigan’s books on my TBR pile! HAPPY READING! :) Reviewed by Rachel T Copy supplied by Netgalley
Regency with unique story line. Nice change of pace story Veryfew writing errors Enjoyable
You know that feeling when you pick up a book and it grabs you from the very first chapter? That's what The Highwayman did to me. It didn't waste any time getting into the story and I loved that. What started off with sweet and innocent childhood love between Farah and Dougan turned dark, quickly. I was shocked and my heart broke a bit for these kids. Flash forward several years and the story just gets more interesting when Dorian Blackwell comes into Farah's life. He's a notorious villain who has quite a dark past. He was a hard man who wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty to right the wrongs done to him. Yet, for some reason, he wanted to protect Farah from another darkness who was out there threatening to harm her. The characters drove this novel. Farah was easy to connect with. She was a great, strong heroine. Dorian was darker and more complicated, but I still liked him. Despite his warnings of him posing a danger to Farah, it was clear he'd sooner hurt himself than hurt her in any way. I enjoyed watching both of these characters grow and connect. The chemistry was great and the emotions ran high (for me, too) as secrets began to come out. The Highwayman was part romance, part mystery and entirely glorious. I even read it slowly to savor every word... which is rare for me. It was darker than the other historical romances I've read but it was gripping, sexy and emotional. This is the first time I've read one of Kerrigan Byrne's books, but it certainly won't be the last. I'm already looking forward to the next book in this standalone series. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
This is the kind of classic historical romance that you can really sink your teeth into, with riveting characters and lush prose that sweep you off into Victorian England. Dougan and Farah were orphans who found in each other a steadfast companion and childhood love, only to have it ripped away and lost forever. When Farah is kidnapped by Dorian Blackwell and forced into marriage, she never imagines the boy she loved and this man could be one and the same. She knows only that she is attracted to him and he to her, though his time in Newgate prison has made him into a blackhearted devil who can't bear the touch of another person. Yet Farah is able to slowly work her way into his heart, one step at a time, and make him see that he is a man worth loving. There is plenty of sexual tension between this couple that leads to some deliciously sensual scenes. The tragedy of Dorian's past makes him an empathetic character and it was lovely to see how the author made him redeemable by the end of the story. The plot moves swiftly with action and suspense rounding out the tale. Thoroughly enjoyable, and I'm delighted that there will be more in the series! 5 stars.
As children, Farah and Dougan were soon inseparable, Farah’s open and loving heart that brought Dougan into her life set them on a path to love, albeit childish. They had even declared themselves married, and life for them always included one another. But when Farah is nearly abused, and Dougan steps in to defend her, he is sent to prison and she is left to manoeuver life alone. Fast forward several years, and Farah is posing as a widow, using Dougan’s surname, and working for Scotland Yard. She’s never forgotten Dougan, and while she wants a family of her own, her options are limited, and loveless. Soon, however, she is taken by Dorian, a man at the center of a manhunt, believed to run all things nefarious in London, best exemplified by his cold and calculating presence. But, all is not as it seems, and Dorian, enchanted by his former prison-mate Dougan’s tale of the wondrous “Fairy” had sought her out. She’s apparently the target of danger, and Dorian wouldn’t want anything happen to the woman he’d come to know through tales in prison. The dark and brooding hero is back! Dorian is nothing but solicitous and kind to Farah, even as his remove is buried beneath layers of abuse and issues, from childhood and even in prison. Again, Farah’s heart and strength of character shine through. Still holding on to her memories of Dougan, she can’t help but see the same characteristics in Dorian: the protectiveness, the wary watchfulness, the care with which he approaches new situations, and the underlying doubts he has. Wonderfully gripping, wholly emotional and beautifully described, these characters come alive on the page, set in a rather unforgiving landscape. Byrne has written a wonderful story here that promises many good things for the future. I certainly have the next in the series on my watch list and have several other titles from her in my library to read. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
I was hooked from the beginning and didn't want the novel to end. This was an adult Beauty and the Beast complete with the supporting characters. I love a tortured hero and the strong heroine that save him. Farah and Dorian are wonderful characters and the supporting characters added to the dynamic of the novel. This is one of the books that you put on your "to read again" shelf and re-read when you need a novel with intrigue and an awesome HEA. I received this ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank You! This review was originally posted on my blog: http://letague.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-highwayman-by-kerrigan-byrne.html
An excellent historical romance. A damaged alpha hero seeking his revenge on those who wronged him in the past and the heroine who wants to save him. The story takes you on a wonderful adventure with plenty of suspense and drama and plenty of steam. A well rounded great historical read!
Kerrigan Byrne's The Highwayman is one for the keeper shelf! This book held me enraptured from the start and wrapped itself around my heart with its staggering emotions that ran the full spectrum of soul torturing agony to absolute bliss. The bond between the hero and the heroine was so well depicted by the author that you could not help but ache for them and all that they endured. I think it is safe to say that this is a romance that will stand out and remain with readers long after they finish it. *I received this ARC via Netgalley.*
They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster… STEALING BEAUTY Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, is a ruthless villain. Scarred and hard-hearted, Dorian is one of London’s wealthiest, most influential men who will stop at nothing to wreak vengeance on those who’ve wronged him…and will fight to the death to seize what he wants. The lovely, still innocent widow Farah Leigh Mackenzie is no exception—and soon Dorian whisks the beautiful lass away to his sanctuary in the wild Highlands… COURTING DESIRE But Farah is no one’s puppet. She possesses a powerful secret—one that threatens her very life. When being held captive by Dorian proves to be the only way to keep Farah safe from those who would see her dead, Dorian makes Farah a scandalous proposition: marry him for protection in exchange for using her secret to help him exact revenge on his enemies. But what the Blackheart of Ben More never could have imagined is that Farah has terms of her own, igniting a tempestuous desire that consumes them both. Could it be that the woman he captured is the only one who can touch the black heart he’d long thought dead? Review: This book is not at all what I expected and in such a good way! I was first attracted to the cover and read the blurb and thought I would give it a try. I thought it would be a typical "Bodice Ripper", WOW was I completely wrong. Now, there is some bodice ripping going on, but really this story had sooo much heart. I don't know if I can do justice to the story. These two young orphans find each other and take care of each other until they are ripped apart. Seventeen years later they find each other again, though they are both keeping secrets from the other, Dorian's being the biggest of all. These two have such a tumultuous road to not only each other, but to heal all the scars of the past. I don't want to give away a ton. There are not a lot of surprises, plot wise, but I could sit and retell the whole story and still not do it justice. The story is wonderful combination of action, intrigue, drama, heart and passion. I have never read this Author before and now I want to read more of her. When is the next book? I cannot wait to read it. Absolutely wonderful and engaging story about Star-Crossed Lovers. Loved It! 5Stars *Received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a unbiased and honest review."
Its been forever since I have been so captured by a historical. I have become bored with them as they were all about the same thing. This book is different. Its dark and gritty and doesn't shy away from issues. I love that Farah has a job in Scotland Yard! She's independent and feisty. and while her knees tremble, she still stands up to the most dangerous man in all of England. In fact, she brings him to his knees! This love story will stay with me a long, long time and I will read this book over and over. I loved these characters that were so complex and real that I didn't know how they could possibly make a HEA. But they did and I can't wait to read more in the series. Fanfreakingtastic read. Wish I could give it more stars.
Dougan MacKenzie and Farah Townsend became friends who forged a lifelong bond while they both suffered at Applecross Orphanage in the Scottish Highlands in 1855. He was eleven and she eight when she came upon him, lonely and hurting from abuse by the nuns. She was his only friend, his “fairy,” but tragedy separated them…for seventeen long years. Farah now works as a competent clerk for Scotland Yard in London when she meets the notorious and enigmatic outlaw, Dorian Blackwell, known as the “Blackheart of Ben More,” for his ruthless ways. Dorian is wealthy, handsome (if scarred and damaged both inside and out), and rich as Croesus. Farah is used to seeing the worst of the human psyche, but she is drawn to Dorian in a way she doesn’t understand. But she is not foolish. When he kidnaps her and spirits her away to his estate, Ben More, in the Highlands, and describes his grand plans for both of them, she bravely agrees on one condition. And it’s a condition that will test all of his willpower as well as his bruised heart. Farah is an admirable and strong woman in a time when women were expected to be docile and subservient. But she has been on her own almost her entire life and is used to it. She is kind to everyone but she is not a fool. People can’t help but love and adore her. Especially Dorian. Loretta Chase’s wonderful love story Lord of Scoundrels came to mind many times while I savored this book. Dorian is as damaged and filled with self-loathing as Dain while Farah inspires light and kindness and pluck reminiscent of the feisty and smart Jess. The writing is rich and descriptive, and filled with plenty of angst, tender emotion, and sexual tension, just like Chase’s memorable story. My heart broke for Dorian and all he had endured and for Farah, too, in their lost and reclaimed love. The secondary characters, especially Dorian’s right hand, Murdoch, add humor, heart, and interest to an already rich and lovely romance. History is vividly described in the beautiful and rough landscape of Scotland and the dank interiors of Scotland Yard, and Byrne also describes the decadent and delicious foods in Dorian’s kitchens and the elegance and magnificence of his palatial estate. The love scenes in this angsty read are filled with a combination of darkness, longing, restraint, lust, and tenderness. Dorian believes he is completely unworthy of Farah’s pure love–think Rochester from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre–and it’s sometimes painful to read his intense self-hatred even as he desperately wants Farah’s love. And Farah sees through to the real man beneath all the pain; she just doesn’t know how to get him to see it. I have never read this author before but I will most definitely be reading more.
What do you get when you intermix a Beauty and the Beast, Count of Monte Cristo, and Phantom of the Opera theme in a historical romance setting? Answer: The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne. Honestly, this was one of the most unusual, dark and gritty, engaging historical reads that I have ever come across. Dougan MacKenzie met the love of his life, Farah Leigh, whom he affectionately called My Fairy, when he was all of ten years old, and she was eight. Having bonded and become kindred spirits at the same orphanage, an incident occurs that rips them apart and changes their lives forever. He is sent to prison, and she eventually becomes a clerk at Scotland Yard. Before they part, Dougan handfasts with Farah where they pledge to love one another forever. Don’t worry. They are just children, so only vows and a chaste kiss are exchanged…“Ye are blood of my blood, and bone of my bone. I give ye my body, that we two might be one, I give ye my spirit, ‘til our life shall be done. I make ye my heart at the rising of the moon. To love and honor, through all our lives, may we be reborn, may our souls meet and know. And love again…and remember.“ (long sigh)...Is it just me or do today’s wedding vows pale in comparison?…(longer sigh). By the way, all that happens in just Chapter 1. In Chapter Two, the author fast forwards 17 years later where Farah is now considered a widow. She slowly gives you tidbits of what happened to Dougan via Dorian Blackwell, a wealthy, black-hearted, notorious, tough-as-nails, many consider villainous, handsome yet disfigured, one-eyed mobster-like rogue. I am not just being verbose here, people. He really is all that…and more. You just got to read it to believe it. You will get to know him well, because he kidnaps Farah and whisks her away to his castle in Scotland. By the way, that is not a spoiler, its in the author’s synopsis. So, honestly, folks, I have not given away the story. Using a large cast of believable, supporting characters, there are several twists and turns, some predictability, but the biggest surprise will be finding out what really happened between Dougan and Dorian. I think my heart literally stopped beating for a moment. For me, the most intriguing part of the story centered around these two men and their past. Sorry, my lips are definitely sealed now. So if you are looking for a romantic read with a dark, tortured hero in need of saving, you might want to consider The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne. This reviewer thoroughly enjoyed it. (Thank you to St. Martin’s Press who generously provided me a NetGalley ARC in exchange for this verra honest, unbiased opinion.) Title: The Highwayman, Series: Victorian Rebel, Book #1, Pages: 384, Author: Kerrigan Byrne, Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Pub. Date: 9/1/15, stand-alone, HEA, graphic/steamy scenes, some violence, past disturbing child/prison abuse Book 2 – The Hunter (Christopher & Millie), 2/16/16, Pages: 400
I was drawn in to this dark tale of revenge, redemption and love. The Highwayman is a twisted story of greed, kidnapping, mistaken identities and the power of friendship and the strength of love. Kerrigan Byrne has crafted a saga that is full of surprises, captivating coincidences all centered around an emotional relationship between two childhood friends. Farrah was the key to solving the mystery within this story. At times the story got a little confusing but sticking it out proved to be a wonderful reward . The Highwayman is a story that has to be read to be believed. I received an ARC of this story in exchange for an honest review.
The story always kept me guessing and wanting more. It was a refreshing read.