Title: The Fearless Highlander
Series: Highland Defender, Book 1
Author: Amy Jarecki
Narrator: Joel Froomkin
Format: Unabridged Audiobook, 10 hours and 18 minutes
Published: 9 May 2016 (Amy Jarecki)
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Audible
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Wine Glasses
Heir to the most notorious clan in the Highlands, Hugh MacIain hides his identity while imprisoned in the bowels of Fort William’s hell. Aye, this braw warrior has endured horrors that should have seen him dead, though now it appears it’s the bloody flux that will send him to Satan’s fire.
Optimistic, competent, and captivating, Charlotte Hill takes pity on a fevered prisoner sprawled atop a cot in the fort’s surgery. When finally the Highlander opens his eyes, he seizes her heart with a pained stare. Truly, this is no commoner—but in 1692, a warrior loyal to the Jacobite cause and the daughter of a government colonel may as well be worlds apart.
After his escape, Hugh snatches a chance to woo the lass, until disaster strikes. While war and lust for vengeance force Charlotte further from Hugh’s arms, the couple’s romance seems aimlessly adrift on the open sea. Before they sail too far apart, can the tender love of an English lady coax a determined Highlander from his path of revenge?
Steeling her resolve, she stepped further into the study. “Regardless if I have your blessing, I have made up my mind. I love Hugh MacIain. It is he whom I will wed.”
Papa guzzled the remaining dregs. Slamming the bottle to the table with a belch, his gaze wandered to the hearth rather than to Charlotte. “No.” He drew the word out and it hung in the air and chilled like death. “You cannot marry a corpse.”
The Fearless Highlander by Amy Jarecki is the first installment in the author’s Highland Defender series set in 1690s Scotland. The story embodies a time of much Scottish turmoil. Amy’s extensive researching is brilliantly evident as the fictional historical romance is interwoven into the thick of true events during the reign of William of Orange when the English occupied Fort William leading up to the Glencoe massacre in 1692. The romance features two unlikely leading characters: a warrior fiercely loyal to the Jacobite cause, Hugh MacIain, and the daughter of an English colonel, Charlotte Hill.
Hugh MacLeod has been imprisoned in Fort William’s dungeon for nearly two years after having been captured at the Battle of Dunkeld. He is in severe ill health after being grossly mistreated by the English while in captivity. Hugh MacLeod is actually not his real name as if Hugh had given his captors his authentic name, he would have been murdered long ago. His real identity is Hugh Maclain MacDonald, the heir to Glencoe lands and one of the most feared rebellious Jacobite clans in Scotland.
As the story opens, we meet Charlotte who assists the Doctor at the Fort. Charlotte discovers Hugh fevered and near death in the Doctor’s surgery room. She has pity on Hugh and nurses him to health. When he is well enough, she then helps Hugh escape.
It will be nine months before the couple meets again. In that time, neither has been able to forget the other. Regardless, there is no tolerance among either the Scots or the English for the star-crossed lovers to have a future together.
Both Hugh and Charlotte were likable, genuine characters. Their attraction was almost instantaneous. The scene where she feeds him because he was unable to do so himself was touching and funny. At the time, Hugh had no idea that she was the daughter of the man who was cruelly keeping him in chains. Their romance is sweet and hot and knitted into the Scottish struggle for freedom from English control.
Following please find a few of my favorite quotes from The Fearless Highlander:
God save him, she smelled of a field of roses and tasted sweeter than port wine.
Drawing her hands over her mouth Charlotte gasped. “Hugh. How did we end up on the bed?”
“I think we must have floated,” he whispered.
He pulled her into his arms. Closing his eyes, he savored every inch of her small frame. God, why did she have to be the daughter of the Governor of Fort William? Why could she not be a simple lass from his clan. “Och, mo leannan, what am I to do with you?”
She took in a stilted gasp. “Love me.”
She held her finger to his lips. “We have a lifetime to reveal our secrets.”
In a bold move, she took his hand and led him to the bed.
Ever so eager to follow, Hugh’s mouth suddenly went dry. Hell, he couldn’t even manage a swallow. “Are you ready, my love?” he croaked.
Licking those delectable lips, she nodded. “I want you more than the air I breathe.”
I listened to The Fearless Highlander. It was the first time I've ever listened to Joel Froomkin narrate. Joel has a very beautiful brogue, but, unfortunately, it was so thick I had a hard time understanding him. I actually replayed multiple parts over and over trying to decipher what he was saying. Oftentimes, I ended up giving up and proceeding with the story. I have glanced at other reviews and there are many others who had no difficulty at all with his performance and loved his narration – so I would encourage you to check out one of his performances for yourself. Truly, you may not have the same problem that I did.
Amy is one of my favorite go-to authors. I know when I pick up one of her books, I’m in for a treat. The Fearless Highlander is a well-paced, action-packed tale packed with history and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys well-written Scottish romances. I look forward to reading the next book in this series, The Valiant Highlander, soon! It will be the story of Sir Donald MacDonald, the Baronet of Sleat, and trews-wearing, musket-wielding, redheaded Mary of Castleton!
Suggested Reading Order:
The Fearless Highlander (Book #1)
The Valiant Highlander (Book #2)