Saturday, November 10, 2018

Between a Highlander and a Hard Place by Mary Wine

A fierce Englishwoman on the run
A Highland Laird who needs a proper wife
And a desire neither can resist

Athena Trappes thinks she's in love... until she discovers the scoundrel only wanted her as his bit on the side. Enraged, she does what any spirited Englishwoman would do: set fire to his belongings, incur his dangerous wrath, and flee—immediately. With nowhere else to turn, she seeks freedom in the wilds of Scotland.

Highland Laird Symon Grant lost his wife years ago, and it's his duty to find another. Athena is not exactly what the clan has in mind for him, but Symon's heart burns with unexpected passion for the woman who would risk everything to be free.

Add to Goodreads –

Book 5
Buy Links

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B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3 Frustrating Stars

Between a Highlander and a Hard Place is the fifth installment of the Highland Weddings and can easily be read as a standalone without any confusion had by a new reader.

I'm mixed on the rating and how I feel about the novel overall. The entertainment value. The overall emotion I felt while reading was frustration. The mystery suspense angle overshadowed any and all romance, then all the sudden politics of the era came out of nowhere, with zero buildup, and stole the show. I feel as this novel didn't have a firm hold on its identity, to the point it detracted from the entertainment value. Chaotic. Paced oddly.

Athena is on the run when the man who was to be her husband decides to make her his mistress instead, thinking he didn't need permission from her guardian or her consent. Escaping England, Athena dresses as a male, catching the notice of a Laird in Scotland.

Symon was a solid historical romance hero – the perfect highlander. He was gruff and rough yet tenderhearted when it came to Athena. This lent well to the insta-lust, slow-burn, bantering between the pair. The early part of the novel was truly romance.

Symon is the last of his line, outside of his cousin, Brenda. Both widowed, both must marry to ensure the stability of their lands and their bloodline. Neither is too keen on the prospect, but Symon is instantly taken with the English beauty, and woos Athena to be his wife.

Thankfully, Athena isn't contrary. She's not too stupid to live. She's not a damsel in distress. However, the story is contrary, irrational, convoluted, chaotic, and frustrating, burying the romance entirely by forcing the characters to deal with outlandish events.

After waiting through countless interrupted lust scenes, where I am the biggest slow-burn fan. When it came to the payoff, which I'd been highly anticipating, I was disappointed beyond belief. The between-the-sheets action was ill-timed, time and time again. Brenda had just been kidnapped, one of their people killed, yet the author decided that was the time to finally reward the reader?!?

As a reader, am I to be invested in Brenda as a character, for their perilous situation, or am I to get hot and bothered by a love scene? Tell me, because it felt like an unwanted, interrupting sex-sells commercial shown as an intermission during my favorite TV show, where I want to know what happens next, where I'd undoubtedly fast-forward to get past the sexy commercials. I was looking forward to the romance and their connection in bed, but I was too worried about Brenda, or the other situations they were in, to find enjoyment in the scenes. What should have been a reward became ill-timed, frustrating, and annoying, to where I 'fast-forwarded' the last two to find out what happened next.

This happened not once, but three times. All smexy scenes took place during times of great peril. Written as an unwanted intermission, as if I enjoyed it, I obviously am heartless for not caring that a character has been kidnapped to be sold into sexual slavery (a threat used repeatedly, until I was desensitized). Whiplash. To go from someone being kidnapped, which is heart-racing suspense, where you don't know what happens next, to the scene you've been waiting forever to read, only to have it be lessened because clearly I care more about their longevity and Brenda than they do.

This rubbed me wrong, approximately at the 75% mark, and went downhill from there. The first third of the book had one identity (romance), the second third had the identity of mystery suspense, and the last third was filled with political maneuverings and the characters being held hostage without autonomy. This meant any connection I felt for the characters in the first third was gone by the time politics came into it. I would be fine with any three of these things, if they were consistent from start to finish, not fighting against one another and overshadowing each other.

Was I entertained? At first. Frustration won out, but I wanted to know what happened next. How many times does Athena get kidnapped by the same villain? Four? More? Such a bumbling idiot manages to keep kidnapping the cousin and wife to a Laird. As I said earlier – the characters aren't the issue, the events and situations the author wrote for them is. Yet there is no justice by the ending, so more kidnappings can be had at a later date.

Would I reread? No.

Do I recommend? To fans of the author and the series, as well as those who do plan on reading the next in the series, as it's the lead-up.

Do I plan on reading the next? Yes, because the politics of the last third was the heavy-handed setup for the next book featuring Brenda, at the expense of Athena and Symon's journey.

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.

Book 4
Buy Links

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

For reviews & more info, check out our Highland Flame 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 Between a Highlander and a Hard Place (Highland Weddings #5) by Mary Wine to read and review.

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