Monday, May 18, 2015

Review: Deception of a Highlander by Madeline Martin

Deception of a Highlander 
by Madeline Martin
Pub Date:  April 28, 2015
Publisher:  Diversion Books
Pages:  284
Format:  eARC
Source:  Netgalley

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

Scottish Romance doesn’t get much steamier—or more dangerous—than a spy hunting her quarry, and losing her heart to him instead. 

To pay a seemingly impossible debt, Mariel Brandon has become a spy for Aaron, one of England’s deadliest minds. Aaron’s latest mission for the sharp-witted and daring Mariel is to find two people in a heavily fortified castle on the Isle of Skye, a castle headed by the clan MacDonald and the powerful Kieran. Mariel is to seduce Kieran and get him to take her to Skye. If she succeeds, Aaron promises to let Mariel’s young brother go, and to free both of them from their debt. If she fails, her brother will die. 

What she doesn’t count on is craving Kieran MacDonald almost immediately upon meeting him. Now Mariel must keep a secret from Kieran—one that could get them both killed—as she tries to form a plan that will save her brother, get her out from under Aaron’s thumb once and for all, and keep her in Kieran’s strong arms forever.

This is a 17th Century Scottish/Highland romance taking place mainly on the Isle of Skye at what is now known as Knock Castle. Our love interests are Muriel (an English spy) and Kieran (laird to the MacDonald clan).

Muriel and her brother, Jack, lost both of their parents to the plague. We were not told what class her family was. I am assuming they were not nobility or patrician since they were cast out into the street, but I don't know if they were laborers, shop keepers, artisans, etc. I guess this wasn't necessary for the story - but it is information I would have liked to know. I like to know the back story of the characters, it helps me develop a fuller picture of them in my mind. As for Muriel's lot in life, I sympathized with her but I didn't have a great connection with her character. I wish we could have seen more of Muriel's spy abilities. She could kick butt, but we didn't see much of it. So my favorite parts involving her were toward the end when she got to show off a little bit. My favorite quote of the book came from Muriel though:
A scar carries secrets, memories, and lessons. Asking you for an explanation would be like asking you to bare your soul to me.
Kieran was an honorable and caring man, and he didn't demonstrate the alpha male tendencies that are typical of most highland characters. It becomes apparent in the story that something bad happened to Kieran's brother, but the story of what happened was never really put out there. I think it should have been developed a little more so we could see why he was having such a hard time with his lairdship and guilt. Kieran struggled with himself a lot in this story, both in fighting his desire for Muriel, and in putting the needs of his clan and family first. I liked Kieran a lot, so much that I hated the deception aspect of this book. Muriel really started to get on my nerves with her lack of faith in Kieran, so the book started dragging a little for me.

I loved the way that Muriel described Knock Castle and the Isle of Skye as magical, and I believe I will be adding this location to my Scotland itinerary for next year. Reading these books and looking up the locations is really bringing the setting to life in my mind, and the pictures I saw of Skye are breathtaking.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I recommend it to readers looking for a historical romance in a beautiful setting, who are fans of stories involving betrayal and redemption.

Additions to the Scotland 2016 Itinerary

Knock Castle ruins on Isle of Skye. Captured by the MacDonald Clan in the 15th Century.
Said to be haunted by a green lady.
Trampolin Fairy Pool, Isle of Skye
Dunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye
Seat of Clan Macleod, long-standing feud with Clan MacDonald

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