Highland Vixen by Mary Wine
Book Two of the Highland Weddings series
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***
Summary (from Goodreads):
Fierce Highland war chief seeks comely lass for fun, frolic, and marriage
Marcus MacPherson is every inch the fearsome Highlander. He's used to men averting their eyes and women cowering before him. He thinks he'll eventually settle down with a nice, obedient bride. Instead, he gets Helen Grant... Stubborn as the day is long, fearless and dedicated to raising as much hell as possible, Helen is definitely going to challenge Marcus. And challenge him some more. And then some.
It's anyone's guess who'll win this battle of the heart...
What I Liked:
Highland Spitfire was one of my favorite adult romance novels of 2016. I read it around this time last year, and I loved it. At the time, there was no clear indication as to if there would be a book (or books) to follow, but one thing was clear: I really wanted Marcus and Helen's story. With those two always spoiling for a fight, I knew their romance would be great. I'm so thankful for the author and publisher for allowing Marcus and Helen's story to be told, because I was not disappointed!
In Highland Spitfire, we meet Marcus, the War Chief of the MacPherson clan, bastard son of the MacPherson chief, and brother of Bhaic MacPherson (hero of Highland Spitfire). A year ago, Marcus took Helen Grant from her home. She has been living at MacPherson castle, against her will, ever since. She hasn't been mistreated, and she doesn't even know the real reason Marcus took her. But one thing is for sure - she is no longer going to sit around and wait for the MacPherson chief to declare her marriage to a MacPherson man. She and Brenda Grant escape, and head to court... only to be followed by Marcus. A tricky situation leaves Helen no choice but to marry Marcus with haste, in order to save his life. Now wed, Helen is Marcus's bride. He has been smitten by her for many months, but he won't force her in any way. But the marriage must be consummated, or the Earl of Morton will exact his revenge on the MacPherson clan by marrying away Helen. But Helen has always proven to be a willful vixen, and she'll challenge Marcus at every turn.
Marcus and Helen are so perfect for each other. In Highland Spitfire, we get small snippets of scenes of them circling each other with tempers rising, but nothing more. Helen is a captive in the MacPherson castle, and while her life isn't terrible by any means, she definitely would like to leave. But Marcus won't have that. Not only is she is prize of war (though believe me, his reasons for taking her are really noble), he becomes smitten by her. The opening scene of this book is her leaving the MacPherson holdings - imagine Marcus's surprise!
I love their back-and-forth dynamic. Marcus is a hardened War Chief with a wicked and teasing side. No one every gets to see his softer, more personal side. Helen is spirited and fiery, and is not the biddable miss that the Scottish expect of their women. Together, between them, there are a lot of clashes and tug-of-war. There is so much banter in this book.
And a lot of sexual frustration too. Talk about tension! The pair are quite attracted to each other (though Helen does want to admit that). The physical chemistry practically rolls off these two. It's really too bad that the author only has two sex scenes in the book, and they are crammed in towards the end. There are plenty of interruptions and beginnings of something happening. But Marcus, being the good man that he is, would never force Helen, and that leads to basically only a few steamy scenes and those scenes only being at the end. Still, the author did a great job of cooking up the tension.
This book wasn't just about Marcus trying to win over Helen, and Helen trying to sort out her feelings for the man she once thought a cruel captor. The devious and awful Earl of Morton is furious over Marcus (and Helen) outwitting him, and he has disgusting and horrible plans for Brenda Grant. My heart broke for her... out of all of the characters in the Scottish story's world, she has it the worst.
We also get lots of snippets of Bhaic and Ailis! Ailis is very close to giving birth to their child, and there are a lot of cute moments between the two of them. I also loved seeing Bhaic's relationship with his brother - the two of them are such boys sometimes.
There are quite a few new characters, including a fourteen-year-old English girl, Katherine, who is very important in this story. There is Robbie, who becomes her friend, and Robert Gunn, who is one of the "villains" of the story. We also get a peek into the lives of two other clans, so I'm curious to see if those clans will be important in future books.
I like the author's portrayal of the Highlands! There is plenty of conflict between clans, as was evident in the previous book. This series seems to focus on the MacPhersons, but we become familiar with the Robertsons, the Grants, the McTavishes, and another clan that plays a small but significant role at the end of this book.
Anyway! I enjoyed this book overall. I have one complaint which I've already mentioned but will mention again, and it's the same complaint I had in Highland Spitfire. I imagine it'll be the same complaint I'll have in Highland Hellion.
What I Did Not Like:
Gah! More steamy scenes, please! And sooner in the book, please! I can't believe I had to read, like, 75% of this novel to reach the first one! And don't get me wrong, there is a lot of sexual tension throughout the book. And also, I totally get what the author is doing - making the consummation of the marriage a huge part of the plot of the book. But jeez! This was my complaint in Highland Spitfire, and it's my only complaint in this book.
Would I Recommend It:
Despite that (small?) complaint, I'd highly recommend this book (and its predecessor). I absolutely love Scottish Highlander romances, but this series is probably my favorite. It's not just a romance story - though the romance is very important and so well-written. I love how the Highlands and clan conflicts are an integral part of the story. I love how Wine fleshes out her characters - and in this book, especially Marcus.
Additionally... how about these covers?! Gorgeous. I would love to have these books on my shelf. I love the cover models, the outfits, and the bordering especially!
4 stars. I might have liked Highland Spitfire just a smidgen more? I think I liked both books a great deal. I hope Highland Hellion is about Katherine (and maybe Robbie!). It hasn't been announced yet, but she's eighteen in the epilogue of this book, so I hope she is the next "MacPherson" (they're claiming she is Marcus's sister, for her safety) to be featured. I'm excited!
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