Monday, July 14, 2008

"To Catch a Highlander" Will Capture Your Attention from the Very First Page!

SYNOPIS From B&N.com:

In this sizzling romantic adventure, a daring Highland lass plays a high-stakes game to keep the home she loves...but ends up losing her heart instead.


When her father gambles away the family estate to darkly dangerous Lord Dougal MacLean, Sophia MacFarlane is determined to use her wiles to regain it. Forced to stake the one thing she has left -- her virtue -- she desperately hopes her skill can limit her losses to a few kisses...no matter how hotly tempting Dougal turns out to be.


Dougal MacLean knows that Sophia has some trick up her sleeve, but he can't resist the challenge -- or her ravishing beauty. So when she proposes a card game with most unusual stakes, Dougal is delighted to accept. But as the game ends, Dougal and Sophia discover they've wagered something even more precious -- their hearts.


Even though I had read a fair amount of Karen Hawkins previous novels and enjoyed them, when I picked this up a few days ago, I found myself a little hesitant after the first few pages--it seemed to move along slower than what I was used to. Luckily, I stuck with it, and I found my reward to be a great historical romance that I shall revisit again, along with the rest of the MacLean Curse Series.


I found the heroine, Sophia, to be a fairly enjoyable character, not whimpy and annoying like some others I have read. She knew what she wanted and she was not giving it up, no matter what. When her father gambled away her mother's precious house, she sets up a plan to ruin all the hard work they had been putting into it over the years, in order to (hopefully) make Lord MacLean find it disgusting and not worth the money needed to 'fix it up' again. But, of course, this is a romance book, and this is going on in the beginning of the story, so nothing goes quite as planned....


When Dougal rides up to the MacFarlane House, almost a full month after he had won it from Red, he is surprised to find it looks like it's rundown and falling apart-- or so it seems. While trying to find out if anyone is home, he follows the sounds of low voices and stands outside an open window, listening. He finds out that the two inside, Angus, and a woman he thinks must be a servant but is instead Sophia herself, are blocking up the fireplace in order to make it smoke terribly. Of course, he stays there long enough to hear them talking about her plan to make his new house unwanted by him.


As the days go by, he sticks to his lie, pretending that he has no idea what she is up to. Along the way, the story has quite a few laughs, helping to move it along. But, of course, the main thing that carries the whole story along is their budding and passionate romance. She bets him to play a game of cards with her, planning on winning the deeds and her mothers jewels back. But she soon begins to wonder if she might be in over her head-- and her heart.


After winning it, and losing her heart-- and innocence-- to Dougal, he leaves, thinking that she cheated during the game, not believing her when she tries to make him believe she only tried to cheat after she won the deed, when they were playing ' for a kiss, or something more'. She follows him to his sister's place, where he is sulking and brooding *even if he would never admit it*, causing horrible weather, since his family is cursed. While there, she plans on giving him back the deed, severing what few ties she thought they had, and then moving on. Ha--She soon figures out it's not that easy.


After starting to realize that he might very well be in love with Sophia, Dougal leads her to believe that the deed has gone missing-- and then her mother's jewels are stolen as well. While searching for both of the missing items, they get stuck in a fellow guest's room, when suddenly he returns from the party's morning ride-- and he's not alone. Stuck under the bed, Sophia tries not to giggle while the two lovers are above her, ripping each other's clothes off and tearing up the sheets. Dougal, also stuck in the room, dives under the bed to be with her during a time when they were 'turned in the opposite direction'. Not wanting to forgo an erotic opportunity, he proceeds to kindle her already warm passion, though they are limited by both the place/space and, of course, the fact that any of those noises would surely give them away. I loved this scene, finding it both charmingly funny and slightly heated, the perfect combination, in my opinion.


They find her jewels-- and her grandfather, whom her father told her was dead. After years of guilt from the way he had treated his daughter, Beatrice (Sophia's mother), the earl finally comes to meet his granddaughter and appologize for his pride and bad behavior so long ago. This is a total 'ahhhh' moment, since it not only brings together a tattered family, but also leads Dougal to admit his feelings and propose (Okay, more like a simply 'You will marry me' but since she wanted it just as much, I'm fine with the way he did it.) to Sophia after hearing how both the Earl and Red felt about their late wives. Finally, the last of the MacLean's, the rakehell rascal, is tamed, married, and deeply in love, a passionate one, at that.


4.5/5 STARS! Karen Hawkins has done it again, providing a fresh take on a classic story, of how the rake is deceived, played, tamed and loved, while giving a reader everything they could ever want: a touch of magic *the family curse*, a beautiful setting, lush details, warm moments and passionate ones. Don't miss this delectable series!


Until next time... Read plenty, laugh often, love unconditionally, and live each day to the fullest!


~TBQ~

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