Review – Tempted by the Highland Warrior

Cover image, Tempted by the Highland Warrior by Michelle Willingham

Things that tempt me: Reese’s peanut butter cups; my children (my eldest pulls this adorable innocent face whenever she’s begging for ice cream, and it’s very tempting to give in); my husband (my eldest totally got that face from him); cake; bacon; books.  Highland warriors don’t usually make the list, but I admit that this book held my tempted interest throughout.

Here’s what the publisher has to say about this one (in other words, I’m terrible at regurgitating plot and prefer to let the publisher do it for me):

HIS SILENT STRENGTH REACHED OUT TO HER

After years of brutal torture, Callum MacKinloch is finally free of his captors—but his voice is still held prisoner. He’d never let anyone hear him scream. Although Lady Marguerite de Montpierre’s chains may be invisible, they threaten to tie her to a loveless and cruel marriage.

When Marguerite discovers Callum waiting to die, her heart aches for the warrior beneath the suffering—but
they can have no future. Yet she is the one woman with the power to tame the rage locked inside him. Maybe he can find another reason to live…for her.

The MacKinloch Clan:  highland warriors prepared to fight fiercely for their country…and for love

Yes – this book features a silent hero, and it is wonderful in so many ways.  Think about the kind of skill and craft that one would have to wield in order to turn out dialogue scenes that are missing half their lines but aren’t missing any of the communication or emotional punch.  In case you’re wondering, that’s a hell of a lot of craft and skill, and Willingham brought them both to the party.  But the best part is that even though I had a pretty good idea of how difficult those scenes were to write and could guess how many times she had to go back and edit them in order to get them right, you really can’t tell when you’re reading them.  And that, I think, is the mark of a truly well written scene–that one can completely forget that it took craft and skill in order to produce it.

This book is just lovely.  Callum is dreamy with all his tortured hero angst.  He was absolutely my favorite part of the book, and I loved how his story, as it was told through the book, demonstrated his healing process.  I love it when writers show me changes in their characters rather than telling me.  It would have been so easy for Willingham to write, “Callum healed a little bit with every encounter with Marguerite.”  Thank God, she didn’t.  Instead, we get to watch Callum heal and grow, and it’s magical.

There were a couple of things that bothered me, but they have more to do with the setting (Scotland in the 1300s) than anything else.  Although Marguerite gains her strength (eventually), it takes her a frustratingly long time to get there.  I couldn’t quite understand the relationship between Marguerite and her father — he just seemed like a right asshole to me, and it didn’t make sense that she would hold him in such high regard.  But, to be fair, it really would be jarringly anachronistic if she behaved with greater independence, so I can’t really hold it against the book that Marguerite was a biddable character until she (finally) realized she had something to fight for.

All told, I recommend this book to anyone who loves a tortured hero as much as I do and is tolerant of a book that gently meanders rather than races to its finish.  I enjoyed the slightly slower pace as it gives one time to appreciate all of the emotional movement that occurs in this book – and there’s a lot of emotional movement, let me tell you – but if your tastes run more toward plot-driven romps, this is not the book for you.

There’s really no reason for this, but I can’t resist the temptation:

*FTC Disclosure: I received an e-galley of this book from Harlequin Historical through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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