Sunday, June 23, 2019

Early Review of The Highland Earl (Lords of the Highlands #6) by Amy Jarecki

Title: The Highland Earl
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Lords of the Highlands (Book 6)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Forever (June 25, 2019)
ISBN-10: 153871602X
ISBN-13: 978-1538716021
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an ARC from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my review.

Lady Evelyn Pierrepont doesn't see eye to eye with her father or most nobles. She fancies herself a Jacobite spy and passes information, mostly from her father who corresponds regularly with the Queen, to two gentleman acquaintances. When John Erskine, the Earl of Mar, who happens to be the Secretary of State for Scotland as well as part of the Queen's cabinet makes his interest in her known, she decides marrying him would be another way for her to access information for her cause. What she doesn't figure into the equation is that John is a very good looking man, and her attraction for him is undeniable. She, however, is convinced she'll never fall for the man...

The Earl of Mar is a widower and vows never to fall in love again, but needs a mother figure to look after his two young sons. His family estate is in sizable debt so he needs to marry someone with a substantial dowry who can not only pay off those debts, but provide enough to bring about improvements. When he meets Evelyn he thinks he's found the perfect wife. Not only can she fulfill his two requirements, but she's so different from his first wife, whom he loved. that he thinks falling in love with her will never happen...

Rule of the day: Never say never.
This is the fifth book of the Lords of the Highlands series and you can read it as a standalone and not feel lost. This was the first book I've read of the series, and I'm curious as to how the books are connected. I may need to do some investigating on my part by reading a book or two more of the series because I truly loved the hero of this story, and it piqued my interest in the others.

I confess, I didn't really become engaged in this story until over halfway into the book. Things seemed kind of dicey between John and Evelyn at the beginning. I mean lets face it, neither was confessing love here, and marrying for what the other can bring to the table isn't exactly romantic. Sparks were flying from the get-go, but whether they'd fan out or ignite into something more seemed rather questionable.

Evelyn starts off seeming to be a smart, strong woman who is attempting to have a hand in her own destiny. To me it immediately became clear she was playing with fire. She's a spy who is very opinionated, rather naive, and quick to judge others. Around halfway through the book an incident proves the 'fire' she's been playing with is a bit too hot for her to handle, and brings into question, at least for me, just how intelligent she actually is. John comes to her rescue, but the potential cost to him and his family to do so is quite steep, and it took quite a bit for Evelyn to win John and me, for that matter, over after that.

John is a father of two young boys and is trying to walk the line between duty, country, and what he believes is right. Politics, at the moment, are a muddled mess and loyalty to the Queen can come into question at the drop of a hat. The Queen's hold on the country is debatable as James is the rightful heir, but Parliament has declared his claim void because according to them he abandoned the throne when he went into exile. Some believe the Queen's reign is not legitimate, while others believe it is. Being on the wrong side of that argument could get you and your family killed, and John is doing his best to keep his feelings on the subject to himself and his family out of harm's way.

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. It was chocked full of drama, history, and suspense which I absolutely adored. While I loved John from nearly the start, Evelyn had to work at winning me over. Her character disappointed me a bit, and I wished she'd been a bit more cautious in her choices at the beginning. I also wish she hadn't needed a man to save her, but she totally did. Perhaps if I'd read the previous books in the series I'd have been more attached to her from the start, but I had nothing to reference in that respect. I admit the chemistry between these two was phenomenal, and I enjoyed watching them learn to trust and eventually love one another, but that, in my humble opinion, took a little too long in coming. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Order of the Lords of the Highlands series:

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