Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Highland Rebel by Judith James

I thought this was going to be an epic highland love story. It was but it wasn't. My overall reaction to this book is conflicted; I liked it but it made me frustrated.

Catherine is a highland woman who's father was laird and she was supposed to take his place but due to some family "issues" her cousin is laird but she owns the land and fortunes. Her family wants to marry her off to strengthen political ties but she doesn't want to be married; she wants control of her own destiny.

Jamie is an Englishman who was abandoned as a child and is currently working to get into and stay in the good graces of the new King of England. He's always looked out for himself and won't allow himself to get close to anyone.

When the story opens, Catherine's just been taken captive by a group of Englishmen who'd mistaken her for a young man fighting in a skirmish near her home. When it's discovered she's a woman, they immediately change their plans for her. When Jamie sees what the soldiers he's traveling with plan to do to Catherine, he marries her to save her, planning to get an annullment as soon as possible so they can go on about their separate lives.

The problem with Jamie's plan is that Catherine ends up escaping later that night and goes back to her home and kinsmen. When she tells them she's married, they're upset that they can't marry her to the laird they'd arrainged for her. Once he realizes she's gone, Jamie follows her, ends up captured and beaten by her relatives, and Catherine secretly nurses him back to health then sends him back home to England. She doesn't want her family to know he's her husband or they'll kill him so they can marry her off again. Approximately a year passes when Catherine shows up on Jamie's doorstep proposing a deal. She needs to prove to her kinsmen that there really is a husband, and Jamie needs money. She'll pay him a third of her fortune if he'll give her an annullment, but upon learning of his current situation she agrees to act as husband and wife for a year to bolster his reputation with the King and his court.

The story was interesting, but frustrating. They would be civil with each other, then get a bit closer and do things together like take rides in the park and go to shows. Then their relationship would frost over again due to lack of communication, or sometimes for no apparent reason. Several times one would attempt to seduce the other, only the timing was wrong. I enjoyed their outings when Catherine was dressed as a man, but those scenes were few and far between. I felt like this book would almost bring them together, but they kept missing each other due to either other people or events or politics. There were a lot of misunderstandings between the two main characters.

It was a nice story, and I liked the characters and wished for a HEA for both of them all through the book. It was also a frustrating read - I spent alot of time mentally slapping one or the other and saying "don't be so stubborn!". I know this is a very mixed review, but as I said before, this book really brought out mixed reactions from me. Would I recommend it? Sure. Will I read it again? No.


  1. Hi Patti - I get your reaction/thoughts as I had it too reading this novel. I loved her writing, her historical setting but for some reason the romance and characters weren't completely grabbing me. Broken Wings is one I really want to give a go though...Gabriel really appeals to me ;)

  2. Aha one of those. Sometimes I just wanna hit main characters over the head. They can be so stupid!

    But I am glad that it still was good

  3. I had one of those love-hate book relationships the other day. I think most of us don't want to read about back and forth fighting unless it is written really well AND adds to the story. I call this the Danielle Steele formula. Characters fight, characters love, something bad happens like one 'em loses an arm, they get together.

    Great post! I'm looking for a good highlander/Scottish historical sans fighting. I'm pretty much worn out my Julie Garwood books so I need another go to author :)

  4. Great review Patti!

    I've been reading similar thoughts regarding HIGHLAND REBEL from other Bloggers and I think this one just isn't for me. First, I don't read much historical romance and second, the ones I do read are highly recommended or a beloved author of mine so I think I'll be skipping this one. But I do have James' debut novel in my TBR. Now that one is supposed to be really good.

    Love the new layout!

    Hugs, VFG

  5. Thanks for the review, Patti. I appreciate your honesty in that this was a "mixed" feeling review. I think we all have books like that sometimes. The story sounds really interesting, though, and I do like when an author explores a relationship over a long period of time, so I might still check this one out. In the end, did you at least feel the HEA was credible? Also, who's the "Highland Rebel"-- Catherine or Jamie? It sounds like it could apply to both, if not her more so.