Thursday, August 25, 2011

In Bed with a Highlander

There’s no reason to do anything but just say it… Maya Banks’ In Bed with a Highlander is one of the best historical romance novels I’ve read.  Banks uses her usual humor and flirtatious dialogue to create a charming love story - a story that while simple has just enough complexity to keep readers interested, unencumbered by too much historical background that so many of these novels find themselves bogged down by. 

In Bed with a HighlanderMairin Stuart, the late King's illegitimate daughter and heir to a large dowry, has lived in a secluded abbey for much of her life hiding from men who wish to claim her only for her status. While this could make her weak, every decision she makes speaks of her strength. Her bravery and naiveté fuse together to create a sympathetic heroine the readers will adore. Continually doing the very things she believes are right, Mairin is true to herself. First, she steps forward when found by Cameron Duncan’s men in order to save the nuns who have cared for her. Next, after being abducted and learning of Duncan’s plan to marry her and sire an heir so he can claim her dowry, she denounces him in front of the clergy. Though she finds herself beaten and locked away in his castle, her inner strength is poignant.

The young boy Crispen, whom Mairin earlier saves from Duncan’s soldiers, pays her back by now saving her. Crispen helps her escape Duncan’s castle, planning to bring her back to his father, the handsome and widowed Laird Ewan McCabe. Crispen is written so characteristically perfect as a young boy eager for parental approval that the way he interacts with, and even how he protects Mairin from his father, will endear readers to him. Crispen will not provide any details as to Mairin’s identity simply because she has sworn him to secrecy, worried her name will cause her more trouble. And though concerned because Mairin wears Duncan's colors, Ewan still commits himself to help her for his son’s sake. It is precious that Crispen ultimately gives Mairin the gift of family.

When finally Ewan learns of Mairin’s royal connection, he determines a marriage would suit both of their needs. Ewan’s clan has been suffering to rebuild for eight years since a battle that took Ewan’s father’s life. Mairin can provide land and money for his clan while Ewan can provide the protection Mairin needs most. While they may not love each other at first, both recognize the wisdom of their union. Then as their relationship develops, Mairin and Ewan are both sweet and spicy together. It’s the humor that most sets this book apart with fun and laugh aloud dialogue. And though some of this humor plays out in the bedroom, Mairin’s sexual naiveté and Ewan’s prowess are a delicious combination. Yet most of the humor in the book lies in Mairin’s constant need to say everything on her mind, her struggles to fit in with the clan, and her continuous attempts to thwart her bodyguards. Though I adored Ewan, Mairin made this book for me.

In Bed with a Highlander makes it mark among the very best in historical romance. Using the right amount of historical elements to create the setting and mixing it with an action-packed journey and a beautiful flowing love story is the perfect combination. Without any doubt, Banks’ first Highlander book is worthy of 5 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. It is absolutely delicious.

Thanks to Maya Banks for donating this book in exchange for an honest review.
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