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!


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.


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.

Book Review: Highland Heat by Jennifer Haymore

Scottish heroes in kilts are kind of hot, right? But for whatever reason, I had a hard time getting into this one. It wasn’t until I started playing the “change books every chapter” game that I finally found my pace with this, but once I did, the reading groove did not want to let me go.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
An English lady falls in love with a Scottish solder, despite the fact that they both know class differences will not allow them to be together. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
Grace finds Duncan on the battlefield where he’s been wounded and is instantly drawn to him. This is where the story starts, and it feels like a very fast onset of the romance. Right from the beginning though, it’s made clear that Grace is a proper English lady who plans on always being a proper lady, despite the fact that Duncan makes her lady parts tingle.


I feel like Grace could have been a really annoying character, but I liked her. She was sweet, and when she realized she had feelings for Duncan, her conflict between wanting to be with him and wanting to make her father happy was genuine. Her struggle was real.

Not only was there the family conflict, but there was also a bit of intrigue and danger at the end, but fair (trigger) warning, there is an almost rape in this book.

The Romance Factor
I have to say, even though I love the angst of conflict between heroes and heroines, it was somewhat refreshing to have the conflict come from elsewhere. Sure, there’s some anger when one holds to propriety while the other one is trying not to, but for the most part, Grace and Duncan completely understand their feelings for one another. There’s none of that “I don’t love her, I’m just hot for her body” stuff from the hero, nor does he feel that his feelings for her are a weakness. 4/5


The Steam Factor
While this wasn’t the most erotic book I’ve ever read, I thought it held its own pretty well, especially with Grace’s naivete about all things coital. It kind of cracked me up that she went from being a proper lady to suddenly saying “screw it” and sneaking into Duncan’s room frequently to get her freak on. 3/5

Final Thoughts
Even though it had a bit of a slow start, I’m glad this book found its footing for me. I liked the main story and the side story between Grace’s sister and her husband, Duncan’s major. Well written and well paced, this was a good novel, and the epilogue hooked me into wanting to read the next in the series.

Love Me Forever by Johanna Lindsey

I figured it was only a matter of time before I came across a book that I’d re-read in the past and loved, only to do another re-read and realize that huge chunks of it were fairly ridiculous. And yet, I was still fairly glued to the book and couldn’t put it down.


One-Sentence Synopsis
A Scotsman trying to steal the wife of a duke and a plain young woman forced by her father to find a husband start out as enemies but eventually become more. Full a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
In the past, this was one of my favorite books, and there’s still some good things about it. Many of the character interactions are funny, and I like Kimberly, even though she’s almost stupidly innocent about things of an adult nature.


For the most part, it’s fun romantic fluff that scratches the itch for something you know is going to turn out okay in the end.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
First, there is so much going on in this book. It’s like someone tried to cram 6 different plots into one story. Besides the main plot of Lachlan and Kimberly trying to figure their stuff out, there’s also a side plot of someone framing Lachlan for stealing horses, there’s drama with Kimberly’s father, there’s drama when Lachlan takes her home, there’s lighter drama with Kimberly’s other father…the book never stops throwing new plot bunnies in the way, and at times it feels a little cluttered.


I’m not sure how I’ve never seen Lachlan as a complete douche before. He spends the first part of the book convinced he can seduce a married woman, he’s not nice to Kimberly at all when he first meets her, and then he sneaks into her room and gets all up in her business while she’s sleeping, not even taking into account the fact that she’s trying to find a husband and he just ruined her. Then he tells her that the looks she gave him throughout the evening indicated she wanted him and was experienced in sex. So yes, essentially we have a rape and victim blaming if you want to break it down like that, and I sort of couldn’t help myself from seeing it that way.

Oh, and then to top it all off, Kimberly hears him the next morning still trying to seduce the married woman! Seriously, dude.

The Romance Factor
So I’ve read a lot of these books, and as far as the rape thing went, I’ve read blatant rape scenes by this author, ones that weren’t cloaked in “being awoken by feelings of passion” or whatever. This might be why I still got into the romance of the book later. Somehow, Lachlan goes from douche to complete sap and Kimberly thinking he doesn’t love her brings the feels. So while I’m conflicted, I also still enjoyed the love story that eventually develops. I just wish Lachlan wasn’t such a horrible person at the beginning. 3/5

The Steam Factor
The sexy times are fairly tame, though you definitely know what’s going on. No purple prose here, as we stick to vague terms like “length,” “warmth,” and “shuddering” to talk about the key points of coupling. 3/5

Final Thoughts
This book definitely reads different now that I am older, and the parts that drove me nuts really drove me nuts. But when the book finds its groove with regards to the romance, I still enjoyed the sappy cheesy relationship between the leads.

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare

Funny story about this one: I was on the library waiting list to get it, but sometimes the waiting lists take awhile. One afternoon I asked my husband to use his good luck (because he was seriously charmed by leprechauns at birth) to send good vibes on me getting the book as soon as possible. An hour later, I got the email saying it was in and waiting for me. Okay, so maybe not a funny story, but still kind of interesting. Sort of.


One-Sentence Synopsis
A girl with severe social anxiety makes up a sweetheart in order to avoid marriage-mart social events by writing letters to an imaginary soldier, never expecting that someone was receiving those letters…and would show up years later to make her give truth to her lies. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
The premise of this book seemed silly, but it worked so well. I was endeared to Maddie because of her social anxiety and I felt for her every time she experienced panic in a crowd of people. It was also sweet that she knew she was lonely, but she couldn’t get over her fear to find someone.

Logan is fairly cold at first, but his reasons for taking advantage of Maddie’s letters are noble. He had a rough childhood and has some abandonment issues, so when Maddie’s last letter told him she was killing him off, the guy turned somewhat bitter. The way he slowly thaws is paced well, and he becomes more likeable as the story progresses.


One of my favorite parts of the book is the hilarity surrounding Maddie’s pet lobsters. I think this stands as my first book in which lobsters were kind of a main character.

The Romance Factor
Maddie does everything she can not to consummate the marriage, and though Logan wants to ensure the marriage is legal and his men are taken care of on the land the marriage would give him, he doesn’t push her. The way he starts to want to take care of her is endearing, and I liked the subtle parallels drawn between them and the lobsters. 4/5

The Steam Factor
The foreplay and sexual tension just keep building, and though they don’t consummate the marriage until later, there’s still a good dose of eroticism in their “interactions.” 5/5

Blanche aroused

Final Thoughts
Even though I didn’t like it as much I did the second one in the series, it was still a great, fun read. I think I read somewhere there were eight castles. I hope I didn’t misread, because I really want more of this series.