Set in a dangerous time of religious and political upheaval and civil war, HIGHLAND REBEL tells the story of Catherine Drummond and Jamie Sinclair, two proud and lonely outcasts whose struggle for acceptance and survival draws them together in a partnership based on mutual interest that will transform them both. In so doing it transports the reader to Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, the court of King James II, and the coffee houses, backstreets and taverns of seventeenth century London, while chronicling the brief reign of England’s last Stuart king.
Born in the waning days of Cromwell’s England, despised as a bastard by his Puritan father, and abandoned by his mother, James Sinclair has learned from an early age to fend for himself. Charming, dangerous, and decidedly amoral, his quick wit, good looks and military prowess have served him well in the courts of two Stuart Kings, the grudgingly Protestant Charles II and the openly Catholic King James. Adventurer, courtier, mercenary and spy, he’s a master of disguise who can transform from aristocrat to beggar and disappear in any crowd. Sent to mind a troop of foreign mercenaries, he looks forward to completing his mission and collecting his reward, and when an inconvenient spark of gallantry and his own perverse humor cause him to marry a maid captured on the battlefield he intends the marriage to be in name only.
Raised in the Scottish Highlands, heiress to a title, a fortune founded on the whiskey trade, and properties in Scotland and in France, Cat Drummond is far from the camp follower Jamie mistakes her for. Fiercely loyal to family, clan and king, she’s born to rule, trained on the field of battle and at the court of Versailles, and equally comfortable in men’s breeches or a gown. Disguised as beggars on the streets of London, or glittering amongst the courtiers of Whitehall Palace, Catherine and Jamie will join forces in an age where treachery and adultery are the fashion, and cynicism, cruelty and barbed wit are the qualities most admired. But in a world where family, creed, and princes can’t be trusted, and faith fuels intolerance, hatred, and war, they’ll soon find themselves on opposite sides of a growing conflict that will force them to question everything they know, and test the bounds of friendship, loyalty and love.
Review: I'm doing this in a different style this time 'cause I want it to stand up and be noticed.
First off, anyone expecting this to be the kind of romance one is used to may be disappointed. Highland Rebel is different. Way back when I started reading, they didn't have the same kind of romance they do now. I grew up reading Daphne Du Maurier's King's General and Frenchman's Creek, Raphael Sabatini's Captain Blood and The Black Sway, Anya Seton's Katherine and Green Darkness as well as most of Mary Stewart and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
I loved these books; their sense of adventure, their all encompasing stories and wiled away many an hour reading and rereading over and over again. But as much as I loved them, there was something missing. Although they are all very romantic, there just wasn't enough romance, even though they were romance. They have stayed with me for years
And then the romance genre in it's present form came into being and I love it. But I really miss those sweeping sagas I used to read; the 'swashbucklingness' of many of the romances of yesteryear; the real sense of the times that is often missing in historical romances of today. There are very few historicals I read anymore that make me want to look further into the history of the times they were written in. I used to do that all the time in my beginning romance days.
And then I read Highland Rebel and it is an incredible hybrid of both. Ms. James has created a story and time that is vivid in it's richness. Very seldom anymore am I pulled so deep into a different time. Highland Rebel is a sweeping epic that takes the readers from the Highlands of Scotland to the court of James II to the island of Ireland. The research is amazing and the author incorporates into the story of Catherine Drummond and Jamie Sinclair is a seemless and amazing way.
Along with the wonderful setting, the characters of Cat and Jamie are so richly and lovingly created. We meet them both after a battle. Cat has been captured and Jamie decides on a lark to save her life by claiming her with marriage but she escapes shortly after that. Jamie follows and is captured by her clansmen. You see Cat just isn't any ordinary woman of the highlands. She has been raised to be the new clan leader. Intelligent, shrewd, beautiful, strong, she is a wonderful heroine; the kind you don't often seen in historicals - a person in her own right and not just the daughter of her father or the love interest of the hero. When I noticed that Wendy was also reading Highland Rebel, I emailed her, knowing that she's all about the strong heroine, but she wasn't far enough into it to offer an opinion. Athough, she did keep it with her when the late summer fires of California struck. She did the same thing with Broken Wing last year.
And Jamie - what a truly fascinating character he is. Although he grew up abused by his father and deserted by his mother, he has retained a joie de vivre that makes him totally irresistable.
After Catherine escapes, Jamie takes off after her as he really doesn't want to remain married. He's lived a life of genteel poverty and King James has a bride that will help him out of his 'situation'. But things don't go as he planned.
The book follows the story of Jamie and Cat as they bicker and plan to divorce each other - at their own convenience. Wem the readers, see early on that these two are perfect for each other, but it takes them, especially Jamie, much longer to see the thing that is the very best for him is right in front of him. We see them develop a deep and enduring friendship. Catherine is frustrated once she gets to England with the restrictions put on her because of her sex, but Jamie makes her his boon companion and shows her a side of life she never would have know. He recognizes and respects her for the person she truly is and in return, Cat becomes his best friend, someone who has his back, even literaly in one scene. She stands by him when all others abandon him. She rescues him and rather than being resentful, he appreciates all that she is.
I've been holding off a bit on writing this review as I don't want anyone to be turned away from the lack of romance between them for a good part of the book. Don't get me wrong; there is definitely attraction and feeling, on both sides, but they don't really act on them until later. But when they do, because the attraction and the friendship has been building all along, because of the level of trust, the love scenes are truly wonderful and a superb payoff.
I don't know if this book will be for everyone. If you like romance on the lighter side, this one may be a bit intense. It took me a bit longer than it usually does to read a book because it's so rich and lucsious it's best enjoyed in smaller bites so that you can savour it slowly rather than rush and miss the taste of it.
Both Jamie and Cat are completely different characters from Gabriel and Sarah of Broken Wing and I'm amazed that Ms, James has managed to write such a completely different story the second time around.
While Highland Rebel didn't have the same kind of visceral affect on me that Broken Wing did, I enjoyed it; I enjoyed it very, very much. It was like the best of the books I used to read all those years ago with all the romance that was missing.
This one gets a 5 out of 5 from me. Even though I'm finished, I still find myself thinking of it, remembering parts and it's one I know I will read again.
And because I believe so much in this book; and for those who want a taste of the kind of books they haven't read, or those readers who did read them and want that feeling again, I have a copy to giveaway. if you leave a comment letting me know why you want to read this one - you are entered!!
And unlike the other two I have to give away, this give away is open to anyone - anywhere!! The winner for this one will be announced on Sunday evening - to celebrate that I have Monday off