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Aug 24, 2009

Book Review: "Highland Rebel" by Judith James

"Highland Rebel: A Tale of a Rebellious lady and a Traitorous lord" by Judith James
Historical Romance
Mass Market Paperback, 480 pages
Sourcebooks, Incorporated September 01, 2009
Review Copy Provided by Sourcebooks
The Burton Review Rating: 3 Stars

"Amidst the upheaval of Cromwell's Britain, Jamie Sinclair's wit and military prowess have served him well. While leading a troop in Scotland, he impetuously marries a captured maiden, saving her from a grim fate. A Highlands heiress to title and fortune, however, Catherine Drummond is not the woman Jamie believes her to be."

This is an adventurous novel about Jamie Sinclair, a never-do-well but gorgeous guy who impulsively saves a woman from a horrible fate by claiming her as his wife. The woman he saves is one who he believes to be a poor camp follower, and little does he know that she could be the answer to his prayers. Jamie Sinclair has all we need to empathize with him; he is mistreated by the noble ladies, and his own parents didn't want him around when he was growing up so he has been doing the best he can by switching allegiances as needed during the rough political times between Charles and James II. Once James II was king, his subjects and parliament disapproved of him, and our Jamie was doing all he could to stay under the radar.. until he found himself with a wife who happened to be of noble peerage in Scotland.

She is Catherine Drummond, who her father had chosen to rule his clan after his death, but her family would not allow this to happen. They chose for her a husband, and she disobeyed their wishes when she explained to them she was married to an Englishman. She then has to run to find him in England and see what she can do to get an annulment, or go against her nature and follow her dreams instead. The events that follow is a rather slow rendering of a cat and mouse game between Catherine and Jamie, although the novel got off to a promising start. The romance angle was over done with the same thing happening over and over (they get close, and then they scare each other off).

Amidst the back and forth romance the author does a thorough job of defining the aura of the turbulent times without feeling like a history lesson. In fact, the most interesting parts of the novel were when James was reacting to the political events. I enjoyed the book for the plot and the clever story angles, such as Cat dressing as a man to disguise herself, but I think it could have been a four star read for me if it had cut out about 100 pages in the middle of it. The historical nature of the book which encompasses Scotland, England and some France were the highlights of the novel and were well told with attention to detail. The author seemed to want to add all of her research and ideas into this one book, and sometimes the back and forth romance got in the way. The fact that the title Highland Rebel could refer to either Cat or Jamie adds to the drama, as the heroine Cat is a force to be reckoned with. This would be a wonderful read for those who like a little history mixed in with their romance reads.

Read an Excerpt here and you'll see that the story starts with some wild fun.
There are some high ratings for this book on Goodreads, check out the reviews here. The author Judith James has also written Broken Wing, which is set in the Napoleonic era and I plan to read that as well.