Sunday, July 17

The Hellion and the Highlander by Lynsay Sands

Book 3 in the Devil of the Highlands series

Lady Averill Mortagne is a red-haired, apparently not-so-beautiful English woman (though it's a bit unclear throughout the book), who spends her life reading and nursing the sick back to health. Her father, desperate to get her married, has tried every trick in the book, parading her in front of many snotty English lords - however her red hair, birthmark, and stutter make her unmarriageable. After one attempt to marry her off goes very awry, Lady Averill’s patient offers to marry her - the fast healing Scot, Kade Stewart. Kade was a friend of her brother, Will, and they spent three years in a prison camp together (with a few other men) before making a bold escape that leaves them injured but free. The boat they're traveling on to get back to England, however, crashes into the rocks leaving Kade very badly hurt when they arrive at the Mortagne Manor. Averill, with her expansive knowledge of care-taking, has been helping Kade get well for weeks.

Kade, never one to pass up a good, kind woman offers to marry Averill himself. This was part of my problem with the book. I was hoping to see passion and affection building before the marriage, while Averill cared for him - which didn’t really happen. Kade got better much too quickly for my liking, and thus spent little time getting to know Averill. He practically avoids her before their marriage, and it's hard to see how he could even want to marry her with the little he knows of her. So I assumed I would see something developing after they married. But that also didn’t happen. So I was left floundering in this passionless relationship that seemed built on thin air. This was my first Lynsay Sands book, and I’ve heard she’s quite good, so I was a bit surprised by the lack of development to the relationship. Surprised and disappointed. Another thing I disliked was that Averill called Kade ‘husband’ and not his name throughout the story. To me that exemplified their lack of intimacy. One thing I will say I liked was that Averill acted like a virgin on her wedding night. Finally! A virgin who isn’t a natural sexual dynamo. A break in the cliche - well and humorously done, Sands!

I had a hard time identifying with Kade or Averill. Their internal struggles were hard to connect to and I never formed an emotional bond with their of them. Whiile I thought Averill brave at times and silly at others, I still never really grew to like or dislike her one way or another - and apathy is almost as bad as hatred in romance, when it’s all about feeling and emotion. I could, sometimes, identify with Kade but even then his struggles took on a rather listless and boring quality. Instead of worrying about the state of of the Stewart estate and his brothers with him, I was simply reading about his worries. It was like I was skimming the emotions instead of partaking in them. Sands was never able to get me into the story.

Laddie, a little boy, is adorable, but he was one of the only secondary characters I really connected with or found well-developed. Will was easy to connect with, but his character was lacking a depth necessary to make him a good character. The villain, at the end, didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t really feel the evilness in him, or the motive. It seemed unnatural to me, that he would be the villain after all he and Kade went through, and as a consequence I didn’t get a lot of closure out of the ending. I did enjoy the mini-story involving Kade’s father and brothers and Averill’s plot to get them to stop drinking. That was cute and light-hearted fun. But overall, the secondary characters weren’t an inspiration and the plot was dull and a tad unexciting. I just couldn’t seem to get into Sand’s story, and as such it was missing the suspense and action I was hoping to feel. Was it good? No. Was it funny? Yes. 

Favorite quotes:

What was wrong with these Englishmen that they would turn down a sweet woman like Averill? He wondered sleepily, then thought the answer might lie in the question. They were Englishmen.

“You cannot stand guard this time, my little friend. She needs to empty the dragon.” (Will)
Laddie’s eyes widened incredulously. “She has a dragon?”

“Sexy”ness rating: Hot – and funny.

Overall Rating: D

Bottom Line: While this book was humorous and entertaining, it wasn’t a great read. There were several unique things that set this book apart – an early marriage, an inexperienced heroine (finally, a virgin who isn’t a natural sex tiger) – but I couldn’t really connect with the characters or feel any tension building. It was good, better than average… but not great.

Pages: 373
Published: February 3, 2010
Genre: Historical

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