Hard-Hearted Highlander MOBI í Hardcover

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Hard-Hearted Highlander I ve given this a C at AAR, so 3.5 stars.I ve enjoyed the previous two books in Julia London s Highland Grooms series in spite of my general aversion to Scottish Highland set romances both books are strongly character driven with, in the case of the first book, Wild Wicked Scot, a dash of politics and intrigue thrown in to add an extra layer of interest So I ve been looking forward to this third book, in which the hero is Rabbie Mackenzie, younger son of Laird Arran and his English wife, I ve given this a C at AAR, so 3.5 stars.I ve enjoyed the previous two books in Julia London s Highland Grooms series in spite of my general aversion to Scottish Highland set romances both books are strongly character driven with, in the case of the first book, Wild Wicked Scot, a dash of politics and intrigue thrown in to add an extra layer of interest So I ve been looking forward to this third book, in which the hero is Rabbie Mackenzie, younger son of Laird Arran and his English wife, Margot But I m afraid I can t say that I enjoyed Hard Hearted Highlander as much as the other books, mostly because the eponymous hero is such a miserable bastard for well over half of the story, and it s difficult to find any vestige of sympathy or liking for a man who is so ill mannered and self centred.That s not to say that Rabbie doesn t have grounds for what is immediately apparent is a case of severe depression The book is set in 1750, five years after the Battle of Culloden, and takes place in a very different world to the previous novel Many families and clans were wiped out on the battlefield and after, and of those who weren t many have fled to the cities, or overseas and the landscape has been forever changed Even the powerful Mackenzie clan is struggling to look after its own their neutrality in the conflict did not protect them from the widely wrought devastation and times are hard.Like many of his countrymen, Rabbie is frustrated and bitter about the huge change the battle has wrought in the Highlander way of life, but he is also mired in grief for the woman he loved, Seona MacBee, who was killed, along with her family, either during or after the uprising It s been years since her death, but Rabbie mourns her every day, and continues to scowl and growl his way through life, much to the consternation of his family They love him dearly and hate to see him so melancholy, but don t know what to do to help and know that he would probably reject it if they tried.As the Mackenzies struggle to rebuild their fortunes after the rebellion, it becomes necessary for Laird Mackenzie to broker a match between Rabbie and the young daughter of Lord Kent, an English nobleman who has purchased the nearby estate of Kileaven and looks set to buy up other lands around Balhaire If that happens, there won t be enough land to sustain even the small number of Mackenzies who are left, and a this arrangement is the only way to protect Balhaire and its dependents Rabbie recognises the importance of this marriage to his family and agrees to marry the girl He doesn t care he s dead inside anyway.When the Kents arrive, it s immediately apparent that the two families are not a match made in heaven Lord Kent is an abrasive boor who isoften drunk than not and his wife and daughter live in fear of him Aveline Kent is only seventeen she s pretty and sweet, but her excessive timidity and utter lack of individuality and spirit irritate Rabbie intensely and he finds himself unable to say a civil word to her His complete lack of consideration for the young woman, and for the difficult situation she has been pushed into similarly irritate Aveline s maid and companion, Bernadette Holly, who makes very clear her disdain for Rabbie and dislike of the way he is treating her friend.Of course, this is a romance novel, so I don t think I m spoiling anything by saying that that disdain leads to some harsh words and eventually to verbal sparring that sends the sparks flying between Rabbie and Bernadette For the first time in years, he finds himself attracted to a woman, but things are moving quickly, and with the wedding just days away and the fate of his clan at stake, how can they have a future together Like Rabbie, Bernadette has a heart breaking tragedy in her past, but unlike him, she doesn t allow it to colour her every thought and move As a younger woman, she fell in love and eloped with a man her father thought beneath her He had her followed and brought home, the marriage was annulled and the young man sent away, never to be seen again Bernadette later learned he had died at sea but even worse, after the separation she discovered she was expecting his child only to lose the baby when she was several months along, and is now unable to have children of her own Ruined and with her reputation in shreds, Bernadette is now employed by the Kents as a maid cum companion, and it s to her that Lord Kent looks to prepare Aveline for her upcoming marriage It s an impossible task however the dour Highlander shows no inclination whatsoever to even try to get to know his bride, and doesn t care that Aveline has no alternative but to obey her brutish father.I liked Bernadette she s come through her tragedy and emerged as a stronger person who isn t easily cowed by anyone She goes toe to toe with Rabbie and calls him on his crap, hinting to him that he s not the only person to ever have been hurt and telling him outright that he needs to stop acting like a spoiled child, man up and deal with it In the absence of treatments for depression, it s fortunate for Rabbie that his interest is piqued by Bernadette s spirit and he is not a little inspired by the way she has managed to pull herself out of the despair she experienced upon her own losses.The biggest problem with Hard Hearted Highlander is that about two thirds of it is Rabbie being a rude, unfeeling and discourteous dickhead to his poor fianc e who isn t to blame for anything other than being an empty headed seventeen year old and Rabbie and Bernadette pondering their losses during a number of lengthy inner monologues I liked the author s overall message about the need to let go and move on, but the romance is rushed, there s an odd subplot that made me a little uncomfortable, and the various flashbacks to Rabbie s life with Seona are out of place we already know he s heartbroken, and these reinforcements add nothing to the overall story.I understand that there are to bebooks in this series, and I certainly intend to read them, but I can t wholeheartedly recommend this one It s well written and Ms London has once again made good use of her research into the period to create a suitably subdued atmosphere that reflects the political situation of the time But ultimately, the romance falls flat the hero is too unappealing for most of the book, and his turn about, when it comes, is too fast and too late Hard Hearted Highlander is certainly not the place to start with theHighland Grooms b, and even if you re following the series, you might want to give it a miss This one was just okay Both the hero and heroine had dead first true loves, which I always find kind of disheartening I know it s perfectly realistic and can make for some good drama if handled correctly but I usually prefer if my hero and heroine have that I ve never felt this way about anyone kind of love, rather than constantly having to live with the specters of their dead lovers At least in this book they both had dead loves so it wasn t just one half of the couple constantly having to This one was just okay Both the hero and heroine had dead first true loves, which I always find kind of disheartening I know it s perfectly realistic and can make for some good drama if handled correctly but I usually prefer if my hero and heroine have that I ve never felt this way about anyone kind of love, rather than constantly having to live with the specters of their dead lovers At least in this book they both had dead loves so it wasn t just one half of the couple constantly having to deal with being compared to some paragon of the past But on the whole, this kind of tale just isn t my preferred sub genre.That part aside, however, this was a pretty long and slow moving book that dealt much, MUCHheavily with the subjects of loss and depression than with the romance between our unhappy couple In the end, I didn t see them as two people who were hopelessly in love and meant to be together so much as a couple of very damaged people who understood each other s issues and therefore felt comfortable spending the rest of their lives together view spoiler The heroine of the story is Bernadette She s the governess turned lady s maid of an 17 year old idiotic little mouse of a girl who has been betrothed to one Rabbie Mackenzie They ve just traveled to Scotland so the wedding can take place.Rabbie s clan has suffered great losses thanks to the English invasions and need the wedding in order to secure the clan s future So although Rabbie s parents feel terrible about putting him in the position of essentially having to sell himself into marriage, and although they repeatedly tell him he s got the option to refuse, the truth is that he really doesn t have a choice Refusing the marriage would mean condemning his family and clan to starvation.Timid Mouse Girl TMG likewise has no choice in the matter Her boorish, overbearing and alcoholic father wants the marriage in order to secure some land and financial interests in Scotland He s bullied and belittled his daughter and his eventimid wife all their lives and they creep around the house in fear of being noticed by him.The initial meetings between Rabbie s family and TMG s family do not go well TMG s father makes an ass of himself with his drunken disrespect and Rabbie s family feels acutely just how low they ve been brought that they have to align themselves with such people Rabbie detests everything about the situation.His backstory is that he was in love with his childhood sweetheart, Seonaid Unfortunately, Seonaid s father and brothers were among those who chose to rebel against the English rule and when the king sent in soldiers to quash the rebellion, all of Seonaid s family were killed Her father was hanged at a tree near their house, her brothers were hanged in a public square, and while no one knows for sure what happened to Seonaid and her mother, the fact that they disappeared on the same day and there are huge pools of blood in their house tells its own tale.Rabbie had been sent away to Norway by his father, to protect him from being lumped in with Seonaid s family when the punishments were handed out So Rabbie returned to find his fiancee gone, presumed dead, and ever since he s been racked with devastation and guilt that he wasn t there when she needed him He s been mourning her for years, a shell of a man wrapped up in his depression, and he frequently contemplates suicide He s also developed a strong hatred for all things English Thus, not only does he detest the idea of marrying some chit he s never met when all he wants is his dead Seonaid, but the idea of marrying an English girl makes him burn with rage.Subsequently, when he s forced to meet TMG, he s straight up rude to her and doesn t feel the least bit ashamed of himself He doesn t care at ALL that she s just as much a victim of the situation as he is and refuses to do anything to make her feel at ease In fact, he scarcely even speaks to her and deliberately scowls and snubs her to discourage her from trying to talk to him This irritates Bernadette, who doesn t shy away from telling him right to his face that he s a terrible person.I had trouble reconciling Bernadette s position with how she s treated in the book She s not only constantly invited to have dinner with the families, but she s also spoken to and treated like a guest by all these title aristocrats I ve never seen that in any other period romance novels so it seemed really out of place here Rabbie makes a couple of inner monologue comments about how Bernadette has no right to challenge him when she s just a servant and he s her superior in every way but no one else ever really treats her like the servant she is.Bernadette s back story is that she was raised by a tyrannical father He s not a member of the aristocracy but amassed his significant wealth through hard work and possibly some unscrupulous business practices He wantedthan anything to use his two daughters to secure entrance into society by contracting socially favorable matches for them Unfortunately, Bernadette fell in love with the local shopkeeper s son A kind, gentle man who loved her sweetly and showed her that not all men were tyrants like her father The two of them eloped and consummated the marriage But a few days later her father s men caught up with them at an inn.Her husband was forced onto a ship bound for who knows where and it later sank, killing him Bernadette was dragged back to her father s house where he bribed officials to annul the marriage even though it had been consummated Then Bernadette turned up pregnant and her father was so thoroughly disgusted by her and how she d ruined all his plans that he eventually knocked her down the stairs in her 7th month She lost the baby and almost died herself Obviously she survived, but is unable to have children as a result She s unmarriageable because the scandal and most aristocratic families wouldn t even accept her as a servant because if it, so she was very lucky to land the position as TMG s governess.Bernadette is terrified for TMG s future as the wife of the heartless Rabbie and spends most of the book trying to figure out a way for TMG to get out of the match without ruining herself or incurring the wrath of her father in the process She and Rabbie have verbal sparring matches throughout the first half of the book and in her inner monologue she s pretty dismissive of whatever tragedy in his past has caused him to act like a jerk all the time In her words, she d lost her husband and her baby, but she didn t go around insulting people and glowering all the time Whatever his problem, surely he could pull himself together like she had.Rabbie and Bernadette keep bumping into each other throughout the book, sometimes at group functions where he seems to always seek her out rather than TMG, and sometimes out in the highlands where they both go to escape for a while Eventually Bernadette learns about Seonaid and she apologizes for judging Rabbie harshly He s not especially receptive to her apology and they continue to bicker whenever they re together until finally Rabbie just kisses her during one of their fights He s not even sure how it happened but Bernadette responds voraciously and their hormones are off and running Neither of them expected to feel this kind of passion for anyone, ever, and definitely not for each other, but it s there all the same.Once that happens, Rabbie starts to heal and come out of his shell He s starting to wake up to the fact that he didn t die all those years ago with Seonaid and her family and he needs to stop acting like he did His passion for Bernadette is very much mixed up in his desire to rejoin the living, which is one of the reason why I don t really believe in their love It wasn t really that he loved Bernadette for herself, it wasthat for some reason kissing her made his libido wake up, and with it his desire to live, and he was desperate not to lose that feeling.Over on Bernadette s side, she s pretty miserable because she considers TMG a friendthan an employer and knows she s betraying that friendship by cavorting with the girl s fiance She also knows that nothing good can come of their relationship because Rabbie and TMG will marry in just a couple of days But she, too, is blindsided by the re awakening of her libido and finds herself powerless to stay away from Rabbie.At one point Rabbie takes her to Seonaid s old family home so she can understand how awful his loss was and in a rather squicky turn of events, they end up almost having sex under the tree Seonaid s dad was hanged from Ick When I say almost, I mean that Rabbie used his fingers to take care of Bernadette but they stopped short of him finding any pleasure Bernadette also opens up to Rabbie about her own tragedy, though for some reason she doesn t tell him that she can t have children any.Meanwhile, TMG has developed a crush on Rabbie s brother, Aulay, and built up this fantasy in her mind that he s in love with her too So whenever Bernadette tries to get her to go along with some plan to break the engagement to Rabbie, TMG refuses She s too terrified of her father to ever go against him for one thing, but she s also determined to stay in Scotland so she can be close to Aulay She s even created a fantasy about Rabbie, that through her amazing kindness as a wife, he ll eventually be healed of his melancholy and his family will be so grateful to her Rabbie tries to give her good reason to break the engagement, like telling her straight up that he plans to keep a mistress and even confessing to being a smuggler, but TMG never takes the bait because her fantasies are strong.Eventually Rabbie and Bernadette sleep together and it s an amazing, transcendent experience for both of them Afterward Bernadette feels terrible and goes and confesses to TMG, though she claims that she kissed Rabbie, rather than telling the whole story TMG not only doesn t care but she s privately happy because, in her fantasy filled mind, this is the perfect solution to everything Now she can give Rabbie to Bernadette and TMG can marry Aulay without feeling like she s abandoning poor, depressed Rabbie She of course doesn t tell Bernadette that this is her thinking, however.Things all come to a head when they go to a party and TMG throws herself at Aulay, who firmly rejects her The whole scandalous scene is witnessed by tons of people and thus the wedding is off TMG is ruined and her father washes his hands of her He promptly leaves Scotland without bothering to take his wife and daughter with him, which leaves them unprotected andor less stranded Rabbie arranges for a visiting relative to take them back to England That family has a 17 year old son who has been very obviously smitten with TMG all along, though she s been snubbing him in favor of Aulay.Once they ve all left, Bernadette and a few servants are left behind to oversee the movement of the family s things back to England Rabbie proposes to Bernadette and she refuses for reasons that don t really make sense Allegedly it s because she can t have children and knows Rabbie wants kids but she won t just TELL him that, she just insists that she s all wrong for him and she has to leave.Then a couple of unkempt men from a neighboring clan ride up and say threatening things about how they re going to come take the house and even make lewd comments about what they ll do to Bernadette if they catch her there So Bernadette goes to Rabbie s house to ask for protection While there he manages to pry the truth out of her about why she refused his proposal Rabbie is actually stunned to hear it and it DOES give him second thoughts about marrying her because he d always pictured a house full of children.While all this long drama has been taking place over the course of the book there have been two orphaned kids hanging out in Rabbie s family s house They re Seonaid s niece and nephew Their parents were also killed in the same raid that killed Seonaid but the very young children had been spirited away to a family friend s house and survived However with all their family dead, no one knows what to do with them Naturally once Rabbie decides he still wants Bernadette even if she can t have children, he hits upon the idea of conveniently adopting these two kids.Then he takes them straight over to Bernadette, drops them off and rides away, essentially abandoning them to her care Bernadette is pissed and terrified because she not only doesn t know how to deal with kids, she s scarcely even met these two particular kids before in her life I feel like this was a poorly handled part of the book There were plenty of ways the author could have given Bernadette an opportunity to get to know and form a bond with these kids prior to this Instead we ve got this stark, I m just going to dump them on you and hopefully you ll miraculously form an instant attachment to them stuff It was awkward and lame I also thought it was terrible of Rabbie to drop the kids off when he KNOWS that bad men have been threatening to ride in and cause trouble WTF man Is this your idea of being a good father Anyway through a starkly portrayed very long day, Bernadette struggles to make any kind of connection with the kids, who get along mucheasily with the kitchen girl The three of them sit around speaking Gaelic to each other while Bernadette packs up the china, not knowing what they re saying and feeling like a failure She also cries a lot over the loss of her baby and how she simply MUST leave Rabbie because of reasons The kids are a bit too grown up in their understanding of loss and they sort of have a moment about how tough it is to have lost all your family.Then we fade to black on the night and it s suddenly the next morning Rabbie rides back over not knowing whether his batsh t insane plan has worked Bernadette plays it up like she hates Rabbie for doing what he did and he s sad until she finally puts him out of his misery and says that she will be a family with him and the two kids Then we skip to an epilogue of them a year and a half later They re happy in their own cozy little house with 3 dogs and 3 kids There s a throwaway line about them having picked up the third kid when she was left on the church steps as a foundling.They get a letter from TMG who is happily engaged to the now 18 year old boy who was smitten with her And that s pretty much it No one ever mentions the fact that those bad men never showed up to make good on their threats to take the house, which makes them feel like a nothingthan a very bad plot device It s disappointing because it removes what could have been an exciting scene I expected the bad men to come back and for Bernadette to feel a driving need to save the two kids and through that intense experience they formed the bond she needed But no, they never bothered them again Lame.I also thought we were being set up for Seonaid to turn up at some point The author went to such lengths to tell us over and over that Seonaid had disappeared and was only presumed dead that I expected her to show up at the end Thereby forcing Rabbie to confront his feelings for each woman and decide whether he really loved Bernadette or if she d just been his good enough girl because he had thought his real true love was dead But that didn t happen either Disappointing hide spoiler So all in all it was an okay story I guess it depends on what you re looking for In some ways it was good, if you like that sort of thing The author took a pretty serious and realistic look at grief and how it can follow you for years How sometimes there is no magic solution that makes the bad memories just go away for example, view spoiler Bernadette didn t miraculously turn out to be able to have children at the end hide spoiler It takes long years of mourning But she also focused on the message that you do, eventually, have to carry on You can t just let yourself be swallowed up forever by your sadness So I guess that was well done if you re into that.But for me, all of that realism made me not really feel the love between our hero and heroine So much of the focus was on their grief and the need to find a way to carry on that it just didn t seem like Bernadette and Rabbie were each other s one true love It felt a lot like a love the one you re with situation Like they both really had truly loved their previous lovers and always would and Rabbie and Bernadette s relationship was built upon the mutual understanding that they d never truly love each other, but would be good friends and lovers for life And that s just not the kind of relationship I read romance novels to see So this one was a dud for me To be totally honest, I read this book a month ago I had absolutely no recollection of the plot The only reason I remembered it is because I checked NetGalley, saw I needed to submit feedback, and was like, huh, did I not read that Friends, I did read it That s how forgettable it is I had to skim a few chapters to remind myself Immediately, I thought, Oh crap, now I remember Rabbie MacKenzie is the hero of this story Bernadette, a lady in waiting governess to a girl named Avaline if To be totally honest, I read this book a month ago I had absolutely no recollection of the plot The only reason I remembered it is because I checked NetGalley, saw I needed to submit feedback, and was like, huh, did I not read that Friends, I did read it That s how forgettable it is I had to skim a few chapters to remind myself Immediately, I thought, Oh crap, now I remember Rabbie MacKenzie is the hero of this story Bernadette, a lady in waiting governess to a girl named Avaline if I remember correctly, which, who knows , is the heroine Like many of the heroes in Julia London novels, Rabbie has a dark past a fiance who disappeared during a raid she s.dead causing him to be suicidal Like many of the heroines, Bernadette also has a dark past she married a boy without her father s consent, got pregnant, and then got dragged home by said father Trust me when I say, both characters let you know how so super duper sad they are in multiple page long monologues What is WITH the monologues in romance novels I hate it I hate them Show, don t tell Have none of these writers taken a beginning level creative writing class Spoon feeding us your characters emotions is bad Try again Rabbie s family decides their tired of his dumbass moping not kidding and decide to draw up a tidy little marriage contract to a teenager named Avaline She s English Her father is pretty cool And by pretty cool, I mean, he s the most obvious bad character I ve ever read in my life This isn t characterization it s hardly even trying Her father drinks too much, bullies her and her mother, treats his daughter like littlethan chattel Like, he is not dynamic at all Julia London try harder oh my god It s so easy to write bad for the sake of bad because you need a plot device characters, but stop It s insulting Avaline brings along her governess, Bernadette, who is only there because her dad basically, like, sold her It s her only option besides the church, I guess Avaline is super sensitive, insecure, and generally a doormat Rabbie is capital n Not Interested However, he can t stop giving Bernadette the look Honestly, the middle of the novel becomes a blur Despite his engagement to Avaline, which Rabbie can t break off because HONOR despite the fact that Avaline is totally helpless, Bernadette and Rabbie get into some risky business That s all I remember Avaline begins to think that Rabbie s brother loves her he doesn t and so she hatches a plan to kiss him and have him marry her instead Sure, ok Basically, the engagement ends Avaline is kinda shamed Bernadette stays behind and Rabbie s like, let s do this So Bernadette has to tell him that she can t have children Because of the baby she had with her not really husband It destroyed her uterus, I guess Rabbie is a little shook SO instead of giving her time to think about that, he goes and picks up TWO ORPHANED CHILDREN that live with his parents and is like, take care of these You can love them Dude Anyway, Bernadette is mad about that, but does OK with the kids They agree to get married and adopt kids and it s very perfect In the end, Avaline gets engaged to some other kid which is great Everyone s happy Are you yawning I m yawning The second book in the Highland Grooms Series is a powerful heart wrenching story of lost love, tragedy and how two people make the journey back to life and love.First let me say that there are parts of this book that took fortitude on my part to read, but it was worth reading through some really sad parts to a HAE This book is about Rabbie MacKenzie the brother of the hero from Sinful Scottish Laird Rabbie has lost his will to live He has watched his precious Highlands be decimated by the The second book in the Highland Grooms Series is a powerful heart wrenching story of lost love, tragedy and how two people make the journey back to life and love.First let me say that there are parts of this book that took fortitude on my part to read, but it was worth reading through some really sad parts to a HAE This book is about Rabbie MacKenzie the brother of the hero from Sinful Scottish Laird Rabbie has lost his will to live He has watched his precious Highlands be decimated by the English after the battle at Culloden , the love of his life died a terrible death and his clan is barely scraping by He is just going through the motions for one reason, because no matter how much he doesn t want to go on he knows that if he died his family would be devastated Now Rabbie has agreed to marry a young English woman who will bring much needed money He doesn t want anything to do with her when she arrives at his home He is not even trying to endear himself and is being rude and dismissive an all around ass.Accompanying the bride to be from England is Bernadette Holly A ladies maid with a terribly tragic past She and her love ran away from home to marry, defying her wealthy Father, who wanted her to marry a nobleman to help him gain access to into the Ton Her father s men catch up with them days after they were married and drag her husband away She is taken home and her marriage is annulled She later finds out that her husband was conscripted into the Royal Navy and died at sea She then finds out she is pregnant but loses the baby when her father strikes her and she falls down a flight of stairs She has hidden deep in her mind and heart the crippling pain that has shaped who she is and what she has become.How can Rabbie and Bernadette help each other when it is clear that the only thing they have in common is pain and heartbreak I have read everything that Julia has written in Historical Romance, this story is darker in that Julia delves deeper into what makes these characters so special They are both strong, intelligent characters who come out even stronger in the end There is conflict, redemption, and best of all a happy ending for them I am a fan of Julia s writing and think this book is a must read This is my favorite of Julia London s The Highland Grooms series Rabbie Mackenzie is a lost and broken soul after the battle at Culloden Moor that devastated the Highlands He had not joined the rebels, but was sympathetic to their cause While his family stayed out of it, much of their land and village was still destroyed by the English He contemplates suicide and wonders what happened to his childhood love, but won t cause his parentspain They have arranged a marriage for him to a you This is my favorite of Julia London s The Highland Grooms series Rabbie Mackenzie is a lost and broken soul after the battle at Culloden Moor that devastated the Highlands He had not joined the rebels, but was sympathetic to their cause While his family stayed out of it, much of their land and village was still destroyed by the English He contemplates suicide and wonders what happened to his childhood love, but won t cause his parentspain They have arranged a marriage for him to a young English girl.Miss Avaline Kent has no desire to wed a boorish Scot but is too afraid of her father to disagree with him and his plans Her companion, Bernadette Holly, encourages her to give Rabbie a chance Bernadette has a sad past, and works as a companion as her father disowned her I won t spoil that good part of the story Bernadette agrees that he is not a good choice for Avaline However, as she gets to know him she falls in love with him.There is so much going on in this wonderful book and I do not like to spoil anything for those who have yet to read this book I highly recommend it, especially if you like Scottish stories.This is the third book of the series but can be read without reading the earlier ones Thanks to Julia London for giving me this ARC Release date is April 4th Another wonderful HR by London.I enjoyed the character buildingThe storyline was amazing, except for the last bit It ended up being a tad melodramaticNonetheless, I enjoyed reading Hard hearted Highlander very much. An indomitable governessa brooding Highlandera forbidden affair An ill fated elopement cost English born governess Bernadette Holly her reputation, her unsuitable lover and any chance of a future match She has nothing left to fear not even the bitter, dangerously handsome Scot due to marry her young charge Naive wallflower Avaline is terrified to wed Rabbie Mackenzie, but if he sends her home, she will be ruined Bernadette s solution convince Rabbie to get Avaline to cry offwhile ignoring her own traitorous attraction to him A forced engagement to an Englishwoman is a hard pill for any Scot to swallow It s even worse when the fiancee in question is a delicate, foolish young miss unlike her spirited, quick witted governess Sparring with Bernadette brings passion and light back to Rabbie s life after the failed Jacobite uprising His clan s future depends upon his match to another, but how can any Highlander forsake a love that stirs his heart and soul Set in the years following the terrible Scots defeat at Culloden and the subsequent ravaging of the Highlands by the English, there is a dark and moody undertone to this book, embodied in the hero, Rabbie MacKenzie Rabbie s fiancee was lost in the ravaging and he is hurt and embittered, frankly suicidal at points during the book Convinced by his family to accept a betrothal to a young Englishwoman in order to reverse the family s failing fortunes, he runs headlong into the serious problem that Set in the years following the terrible Scots defeat at Culloden and the subsequent ravaging of the Highlands by the English, there is a dark and moody undertone to this book, embodied in the hero, Rabbie MacKenzie Rabbie s fiancee was lost in the ravaging and he is hurt and embittered, frankly suicidal at points during the book Convinced by his family to accept a betrothal to a young Englishwoman in order to reverse the family s failing fortunes, he runs headlong into the serious problem that he can t stand her This was where the book absolutely fell apart, for me Yes, Aveline was a whining little ninny, but she was also seventeen and being forced into a marriage she wanted nothan Rabbie did A genteel Englishwoman of that age is probably equivalent to an eleven year old girl today in how little she understood the world, how sheltered she was Aveline was treated with nothing short of cruelty by the entire narrative, most particularly by Rabbie She was a child doing her best in an untenable situation, and the book went out of its way to basically slap her in the face for it I did hope that she d get her happy ending with the man of her dreams but instead there was a horrible reversal that quite unnecessarily devastated her.Bernadette, the supposed heroine of the book and Aveline s friend behaved absolutely reprehensibly, and so did Rabbie Rabbie was engaged to another woman and the pair of them cheated Rabbie made little real effort to end the engagement, dumping all the burden on Bernadette s shoulders when she had no power to do anything about it, and was an utter heel throughout the book Having a tragic backstory doesn t absolve you of the responsibility to at least attempt to treat other people decently Or do I have to channel my inner Jake Peralta here Cool motive Still murder Or in this case Tragic backstory Still cheating Not one person in this entire book treated Aveline with any real decency except for Rabbie s sister Cat, the only person in the book I actually liked Frankly, for the rest of them I had little emotion left but contempt by the end, and the eventual news of Aveline s marriage was clearly supposed to leave us saying yay, at least she didn t end up an old maid I did not say yay Trading one fianc you don t like for another fianc you don t like Not a step upwards The book is well written and the language beautifully descriptive If you like broody asshole Scottish heroes and heroines who are willing to sleep with a man engaged to another woman, you might enjoy it I m afraid I really did not Two stars.Disclaimer I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley I love highlander books, so I was pretty excited to get ahold of this one It sounded totally up my alley, but an unlikable hero and odd subplot made this feel disjointed and somewhat unsatisfying for me The Story Rabbie has to marry an English girl to save his family land etc His ex true love died at the hands of the English following Culloden, so suffice to say, he isn t happy about the arrangement His bride to be is an unlikable little ninny who still has a governess of sorts Bernadette I love highlander books, so I was pretty excited to get ahold of this one It sounded totally up my alley, but an unlikable hero and odd subplot made this feel disjointed and somewhat unsatisfying for me The Story Rabbie has to marry an English girl to save his family land etc His ex true love died at the hands of the English following Culloden, so suffice to say, he isn t happy about the arrangement His bride to be is an unlikable little ninny who still has a governess of sorts Bernadette Bernadette is, of course, sassy and worldly, which isinteresting to Rabbie than the ninny Both have tragic backstories and lots of built up sexual tension My Thoughts Rabbie broods and sulks through most of the novel even though the heroine, Bernadette, went through something way worse and seems well adjusted considering He never really turns a corner and does anything particularly likable they just start having sex At one point, I thought that the ninny was going to have a HEA and maybe be alright because the author did some scenes from her perspective, but no She s just an idiot that gets embarrassed by a creep Then, there is all this weird backstory written in italics that actually made me wish Rabbie s first love hadn t kicked it I know Bernadette would have been better off if her jerk father hadn t screwed up her live and love Oh, and don t get me started on the whole here s a couple of kids thing I won t go into detail, but he pulls a very man move out of the blue that left me like huh.The Bottom Line So, why the 3 stars if there were so many things that annoyed me The plot clicked along pretty well, and although I am not super happy how she ended up with Rabbie, Bernadette is a pretty kicking heroine I enjoyed their banter and was truly intrigued to see how they would get together because it really wasn t seeming likely The writing is solid, and I have a feeling that I would enjoy something else by this author She writes in my fave subgenre, and clearly has talent this just went in too many directions and didn t redeem the hero enough for my taste 3 stars Marriage andin the wild Highlands Bernadette Holly has taken up the life as a governess after her scandalous elopement became salacious gossip for polite society Her charge is Avaline is the daughter of an English Baron, Baron Kent Kent is determined to marry his daughter off to Rabbie Mackenzie The Baron wants access to the sea for trading from the dispossessed lands of Killeaven he s bought from the crown that surround the Mackenzie stronghold of Belhaire Marriage with the Mackenzie Marriage andin the wild Highlands Bernadette Holly has taken up the life as a governess after her scandalous elopement became salacious gossip for polite society Her charge is Avaline is the daughter of an English Baron, Baron Kent Kent is determined to marry his daughter off to Rabbie Mackenzie The Baron wants access to the sea for trading from the dispossessed lands of Killeaven he s bought from the crown that surround the Mackenzie stronghold of Belhaire Marriage with the Mackenzie will give him that In a world post Culloden and the Jacobite uprising, 1750 Scotland leaves little choice for anyone Scotland was drowning under the weight of taxes and excises Rabbie will marry the Sassenach for his family and their survival Rabbie s heart has been broken from the day he found out his one true love Seona, was missing after the English had taken their revenge Seona had never returned Avaline is a flighty, set upon young girl with a head full of dreams and an unwillingness to face reality But given her situation why should she She is being married off to bring about her father s plans Perhaps her fantasy world, her drifting through things kept her sane.You can t help but be dismayed at treatment of women as property Both Bernadette and Avaline are badly treated by their fathers What happened to Bernadette when she was dragged away from her husband and her marriage annulled was truly wicked.Of course Rabbie and Bernadette rub each other up the wrong way from the very beginning Bernadette is trying to protect Avaline, to show her she can make choices Avaline has other ideas Her fear of her father doesn t help.There were real moments of tenderness in this story between Bernadette and her nemesis Rabbie Mackenzie Indeed, I surprised myself by my near tearful response when Rabbie comes to understand Bernadette and her story.I did enjoy this look at two haunted people who find each other.A NetGalley ARC

  • Hardcover
  • 304 pages
  • Hard-Hearted Highlander
  • Julia London
  • English
  • 16 February 2017
  • 037380394X

About the Author: Julia London

Julia London is the New York Times and USA Today best selling author ofthan two dozen romantic fiction novels She is the author of the popular historical romance series, the Cabot Sisters, including The Trouble with Honor, The Devil Takes a Bride, and The Scoundrel and the Debutante She is also the author of several contemporary romances, including Homecoming Ranch,Return to Homecoming Ranch, and The Perfect Homecoming Julia is the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a six time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction To keep up with all the Julia London news, please visit Follow her on Facebook at