Tuesday, February 14, 2017

ARC Review: Highland Vixen by Mary Wine

Series:     Highland Weddings #2
Pub. Date:Feb. 7, 2017
Publisher:Sourcebooks Casa.
Length:320 pages

The rich colors in the covers of this series continually draw my eye and make it impossible for me to resist. I read the initial installment of this series, Highland Spitfire, last year and I remembered really liking Helen Grant as a secondary character. Unfortunately as soon as the book started, I found myself wishing for a prologue recapping what happened in that first book (at least with regards to Helen). It felt like the story was starting in the middle and I couldn't remember the back story for the life of me. So here's a little recap of how Helen came to be at the MacPherson keep. She was stolen! In recompense for her brothers thieving cattle from the clan, Helen was taken away and deposited at the keep as a hostage, where she was not made to feel welcome by the suspicious and sometimes haughty clan members.

Now that Ailis and Bhaic have married, Helen has decided it's time for her to move on, and she decides to escape the keep with Brenda Gordon. So the story starts off with the pair making their way to Court, which put them within the purview of the James Douglas, the Earl of Morton and Regent for the young King James IV. Helen is a stubborn and headstrong lass who wanted to leave MacPherson land not only to escape her perceived captivity, but also to distance herself from the clan's War Chief, Marcus MacPherson. Unfortunately, more often than not, Helen's foolhardy behavior leads to more trouble for everyone involved. I did not have a connection to Helen's character. She came across as reckless, sometimes cold, and oftentimes prickly. 

Marcus MacPherson is the war chief for the clan, a huge and hard man that most women fear on site. As the war chief, Marcus is not accustomed to wooing women or using sweet words - he is more like a battering ram, pushing and pushing until he gets his way. Marcus is obviously drawn to Helen, but he continually goes about things all wrong... and I found his gaffes humorous and endearing. Though when he follows Helen to court and runs afoul of the Earl of Morton himself - the dire circumstances force Helen and Marcus to join together to prevent an atrocity from occurring. I liked Marcus - but the big braw monosyllabic Highlanders are a favorite of mine. Marcus' loyalty to his clan meant everything to him, but he also feels guilty for plunking Helen down in the keep then studiously ignoring her much of the time. I enjoyed the banter between Marcus and Bhaic, and there were a few chuckle-worthy moments when Marcus was being teased by his father.

The relationship between these two was tumultuous. It wasn't an enemies to lovers story - but the bickering and Helen's prickly nature gave that impression at times. I think Helen treated Marcus unfairly. He was making an obvious effort once he followed her to court and she found fault with him no matter what. I didn't have a great connection to either of their characters, but I was exceedingly intrigued by Brenda Gordon and Kathryn, a captive of the Earl of Morton.

What I enjoyed most about this story was the political intrigue. I feel like the Earl of Morton has been crafted well as a villain, which matches the historical account of his character. While he was attempting to stop the feuding between the clans, that was calculated to further his own agenda and he resorted to barbarous acts to see his will enforced. I suspect that we will see the machinations of the Regent through the rest of the series, and I am particularly interested to see if there will be any further battles between he and Brenda.

I recommend this book to fans of Highland romance, and those who enjoy political intrigue in their historical romance. I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca. 

Highland Weddings