Friday, September 29, 2017

Highland Flame by Mary Wine


Laird Diocail Gordon has just inherited his uncle's run down castle and rag-tag clan. He knows the sorry sight of the castle would send any woman running, but is determined to find a wife to help return his home to its former glory.

Widowed lady Jane Stanley is determined to return to England, even if she has to tromp through the Scottish Highlands on foot to get there. Her travels lead her straight into the midst of a troop of dangerous Highland warriors. The mysterious, brawny laird forbids his men to harm her, and the spark between them is immediate. The only way Diocail can keep her safe is to take her home with him, but will the miserable state of his clan douse her newly ignited Highland flame?

Add to Goodreads –

Book 4
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I began reading the Highland Weddings series starting with book #3, having no issue jumping right into the story. New readers shouldn't have any confusion reading Highland Flame as a standalone. With that being said, I did promptly go purchase books one and two and will read them in my free-time.

Mary Wine created a mixture of fast-paced storytelling with a guilty pleasure vibe, with a healthy dose of angst.

Jane is newly widowed at the start of the novel, as within hours, upon meeting the new laird. Jane is an English woman left to the wilds of the highlands with only a shift upon her back. Barefoot and penniless, she refuses to pay her late husband's debts, payment exacted while on her back. The devoted woman would rather face the elements, travelling on foot back to her father's home in England.

The previous book set up the events happening in this one, with Diocail becoming the Gordon laird of an ailing keep. Diocail is in need of two things – his clan's trust and a wife to take the household in hand. Diocail is an honorable man, wishing to do his best to treat his people with dignity and respect after his uncle bled them dry and left them starving. While out to collect rent and have his tenants swear fealty, Diocail stumbles upon something he very much needs and wants.

After an abusive, neglectful marriage, Jane has no plans of ever taking a husband. Jane needs to feel useful, pay her own way, yet refuses to be seen as someone's property without a voice.

Diocail and Jane clash in an addictive push-pull romance, filled with equal parts sexual tension and misunderstandings. The addition of a 7-year-old boy and meddlesome, well-meaning clansmen, adds a humorous, lighthearted, heartwarming feel.

Generally, no matter how many pages are in a historical romance, the pacing and influx of information always has the book feeling longer. That isn't the case with Highland Flame. It's a quick, easy, addictive read, words jumping off the pages at a rapid clip.

Why aren't I handing out five stars for a book I devoured in a few hours this afternoon? An element of the plot infuriated me, frustrated me to the point I couldn't enjoy the story. While this added much-needed conflict, it was out of character for Diocail to ignore, not ask for details, actually refuse to hear the details, and straight out deny Jane's voice. To not listen, even if he didn't believe Jane, is not the mark of a man whose main job is to take care of his people. The refusal and denial was childish, not that of a leader. A leader collects information, even if he believes it may be false. I also felt Jane didn't do enough to get her voice heard – even if he didn't wish to hear it, it's hard to ignore a woman screaming the truth in your face, with all your men standing by.

During this thread, both had a character-trait transplant, acting/reacting out of the norm of the traits set from the start of the novel.

Even after his clansmen believed Jane, Diocail – the man who is sworn to protect his wife – still kept saying he forgives her. It was maddening, watching a strong man act so WEAK in the face of his irrational denial. A man who became laird because of two men being underhanded. It was out-of-character, and removed any believability to the story. Frankly, it erased any emotional connection I had during the between-the-sheets action as they coupled with Diocail not believing Jane. Ethics and loyalty are hard limits for me. I would not allow anyone to touch me if they thought me a liar, and that is how Jane was written... until she acted out of character.

Besides that major hiccup, I enjoyed the story immensely until the epilogue. While I was thrilled by the information in the epilogue, I was frustrated by the head-hopping, after reading an entire novel without it. With the exception of the epilogue, there were very defined lines on who was narrating. In the quest to set up the next book, while also showing where this novel's couple is now, the author head-hopped four characters, with no transitions for the reader to realize who was narrating until the confusion set in. As the reader, I'd get through an entire paragraph/passage before I realized it was voicing another character, only to be thrust out of that person's head and dropped into another. That's not an epilogue – it's maddening.

Frustration aside, I highly recommend this author and series to fans of historical romance, especially those looking for a new take on the tried and true tropes.

Also Available in the Highland Weddings Series

Book 3
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our Highland Hellion post.

Acclaimed author Mary Wine has written nearly 20 works of erotic fantasy, romantic suspense, and historical romance. An avid history-buff and historical costumer, she and her family enjoy participating in historical reenactments. Mary lives with her husband and two sons in Yorba Linda, California.

Connect with Mary

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Highland Flame (Highland Weddings #4) by Mary Wine to read and review.

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