Book Review: Highland Awakening by Jennifer Haymore

I read and reviewed the first book in this series last November and really enjoyed it, so I was excited when NetGalley told me this one was available. Though the first one started a little slow for me, this one was up and going right away. I mean, a meet cute in a brothel? I’ll take it!

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A socially awkward and anxious lady is attracted to a Scottish man who, to her annoyance, seems to know what’s best for her and makes it known as he pursues her. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Romance Writers…So Scandalous
Right from the start I liked Esme. Not only is she super awkward, but she has a touch of social anxiety as well, something she fights against so as not to bring scandal and shame to her family who have already had their share of attention from the rumor mill.  She also has a secret…she’s a romance writer who’s been published under a pseudonym to hide her identity. This secret career leads her to shady places for research, including the brothel she happens to be in when she meets Camden for the first time.

Good Intentions, Bad Execution
I liked Camden too, but honestly? He doesn’t do a lot of things that are likable. He breaks into Esme’s house and sneaks into her room, which is just felt creepy. He breaks her trust. He sets her up for humiliation because he thinks it’s what’s best for her (and it gets him what he wants). And he disregards her feelings and wishes a few times. Sure, it turns out for the best, but dude! At least Esme calls him out on his bad behavior. His saving grace is that he grew up with a real butthole of a father and doesn’t really know how to “relationship” like normal people. He’s not a bad guy, and you find out later the lengths he went to to protect and take care of his sister. He’s just misguided and in need of some discipline.

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Villain on the Loose
Besides the drama of Esme’s initial engagement to another guy and all of Cam’s shenanigans, there’s a mystery plot happening at the same time. Members of the group Cam is part of, the Highland Knights, are being murdered, and Cam has no leads as to who it is, nor does he know who’s going to be targeted next.

The Romance Factor
I think I was as conflicted as Esme was about Cam doing things that were totally douchie in the name of love. I understood where he was coming from and found some of the things to be sweet and romantic. But my independent woman side wanted to add side notes on why a man shouldn’t ever do those things to try to get a woman. Still, there’s some great feels and aww-inducing moments in this one, and I definitely got the romance. 4/5

The Steam Factor
When Camden gets up in Esme’s business, he really gets up there. I got a kick out of the fact that he’s cautious with her the first time they get down, but then he reads her books and is like, “I think you’re kind of a freak. And I like that.” And then they continue the freakiness. The freakiness isn’t super detailed, but it’s hotly implied. 5/5

Charlie Sheen - Hot Collar

Final Thoughts
I had all the warm fuzzies with this one, and then I had anticipatory fuzzies when the epilogue gave us a hint at what the next story in the series is about. I like this world and these characters a lot, and if this one was any indication, they seem to just be getting better.

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