Monday, October 05, 2009

Highland Warrior by Hannah Howell

Title: Highland Warrior
Author: Hannah Howell

Type: Scottish Historical Romance
Published: 2006

Blurb: Fleeing an obsessed suitor, Fiona MacEnroy rides recklessly into Scotland's wildest hills and is captured by a horde of well-armed men. Instead of battling for her life, she finds herself swept away by a powerful stranger and carried off to a remote, forbidding keep. Oddly, here at Scarglas, a place shrouded in mystery and the black reputation of the rogue clan MacFingal, Fiona feels a strange, comforting sense of safety...and a consuming passion for its rugged laird.

Spellbound by Fiona's beauty yet determined to fight the longing she ignites, Ewan MacFingal plots to ransom Fiona back to her kin. Sworn to protect his eccentric clan against the dangers invading Scarglas, he refuses to be weakened by the power of a woman whose every glance and touch tell him that she is everything his heart desires. Now, as pride and passion war within, dark peril and forbidding secrets will force them to trust what has yet to be spoken - the unshakable power of a timeless love.

Why: In the mood I guess. Plucked it from my TBR stack--a paperback I either picked up at my UBS or the library's sharing shelf.

Thoughts: As with most Highlander romances I've read (since Garwood), I found nothing new here. I did enjoy the romp however. Howell is a solid go-to for this sub-genre, heavy on the brogue and dead-on with the humor. Her Scots are the perfect, prescribed mix of brooding, lusting and laughing--a medieval version of the adolescent alphas I adore in Brockmann's SEAL teams and Ward's brotherhood of vamps.

Ewan is laird to a bizarre clan of misfits, comprised largely of his father's bastard sons (dozens of them) and an odd assortment of nuts cast out by other clans or villages. Still in residence, his father is responsible for the clan's goofball name, family rift and more enemies than is natural--even for this region and time period. With virtually no allies, the constant threat of attack and an overgrown 2-year-old for a father, Ewan is tailor-made for the role of darkly serious, brooding laird. He's got a lot on his mind.

And like most darkly serious, brooding lairds, he is loathe to repeat his father's mistakes. Afraid a similar madness lies within himself. So he has sex once per year, on his birthday. Instead of every chance he can get, like his father. So darkly serious, brooding AND a man with very little experience in the bedroom. Oh, and he is physically scarred as well--the result of torture at the hands of an enemy clan and a beautiful but wicked woman who seduced him into their trap. All of which is to say that Ewan also fits the mold of reluctant hero. He's got a lot of baggage.

His heroine, Fiona, is more emotionally mature than him in many ways. Or maybe she just appears moreso next to his raised-with-crazies, nine-and-twenty year-old self. She is certainly more self-assured than he is, despite her own physical scars, the deviant stalker responsible for those scars and the fact that Ewan has essentially abducted her. Raised by the men in her family, Fiona easily holds her own among Ewan's clansmen. Influenced by the heroine in her brother's story, she is also compassionate (witnessed in her treatment of the clan's nuts) and perceptive (the first to challenge the foolish exterior of Ewan's father). She also decides fairly early on that she wants him.

All in all, not what I was going for when I picked up this book. I was looking for a powerful and possessive alpha assured of winning his fiesty but vulnerable heroine. Instead, I found a less-than-sure-of-himself laird too emotionally stubborn to accept his beautiful and totally self-sufficient bride. A bit of role reversal that won me over anyway.

Don't get me wrong. There are some pivotal alpha moments, albeit laced with humor. There was sigh-worthy possessiveness when Ewan rescues her from the deviant stalker, followed by gut-busting laughter when his father warns her against getting anymore scars. Then there was Ewan's promise to beat her for the risks she took to free him from the beautiful but wicked woman returned to exact her revenge. All good stuff, but underscored by that unexpected role reversal. Still, Howell easily charmed me, despite my preconceived notions.

Especially given the humor Howell inserts as the backdrop. It's there in every scene I swear. And Ewan's father--both source and butt of nearly every joke--almost steals the show. There is that one scene in particular where he is yet again remarking on her physical scars. That scene sealed the deal for me; ensured that I would read the book through to the end. He filled the role of hilarious but sly old Scot perfectly.

By the last page--shortly after Ewan's estranged family shows up and Fiona's brother finally arrives--it became clear to me that Howell has penned many, many Highland books. I know I've read at least one other--hence this one's appearance in my TBR stack--and feel confident in choosing again from her backlist.'s an enormous backlist, so I'm not committing myself to all of it. At this point, Howell's backlist may contain as many titles as I'm reading in one year.

Should I ever be laid up for weeks however...I'd consider it. :-)


  1. When I first discovered Howell I gobbled up most of her backlist, but lately I find each release to be more of the same. Always readable, yet nothing new.

    She's a go-to when I want a fluffy-fun story that's predictable but full of humor, but

    (of course I say that, but I still buy each new release. It's a sickness)

  2. Funny Holly, I'll probably be more likely to purchase her new releases now too. I've resisted the urge before now only because I won't read out of order. But with soooo many, and knowing I won't read them all, and believing my TBR stack should have a go-to in there...who knows if I'll be able to stop myself. :-)


Have you read it? What do you think?

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