Cross dressing heroines. Chicks in pants. Whatever you want to call it, it’s an old familiar plot trope but one that I love because it makes for such an adventurous story. And what an adventure it is in Mary Wine’s Highland Hellion. There’s just something about a strong highland man with the right woman. Together, they’re unstoppable.
Katherine Carew was the illegitimate daughter of an English earl. Abducted to Scotland at age 14 by the Earl of Morton, regent to the Scottish King, the earl had plans to marry her off. Marcus MacPherson, a war chief, rescued her. She’d been disguised and trained as a boy under Marcus to protect her from her English heritage being discovered. Marcus had been more of a brother to her than anyone she’d ever known. He’d made certain she grew strong and skilled in fighting. Katherine had gladly discarded the often tedious ceremonies of England as she’d settled into the highlands. Now that she was 20, life in England was just a memory. She was free and, as a boy, allowed to run wild. To enjoy the freedoms that women weren’t allowed to enjoy. She took pride in her riding, fighting and archery skills.
When her true gender was discovered, Katherine’s whole world changed. Now she felt like a stranger in her own clan. The men she’d thought of as her friends, now turned traitor, calling her English. She didn’t know the women. She lacked the skills of other women her age. Where she’d been able to hold her own with the men, she knew little about being a woman. She longed for the times when she could escape the drudgery of woman’s work and ride her horse through the countryside. Those moments were her only time to restore her spirit.
On one such escape, she ran into Rolfe McTavish and his men who were on MacPherson land to do some innocent cattle stealing. They were surprised when the woman they captured took a flying leap onto her horse and rode off like a man. Rolfe was intrigued by this unique woman and knew he had to have her. Later, on another escape from woman’s work, Katherine came across another clan on her land. The violent, vengeful clan of the Gordons. Realizing that the men were about to attack Rolfe and his men, Katherine made herself a target to distract them. Unfortunately, this time her escape attempt failed and though she fought bravely, she was captured and taken to Gordon Castle. When it was discovered that the captive boy was a woman, the laird declared her a witch and ordered that she be burned at the stake. When Rolfe discovered that Katherine had been captured, he had no choice but to save her. He owed her. She had protected him and his men from attack by the Gordons. So Rolfe and his men entered the castle grounds and managed to rescue Katherine in the nick of time. But rather than return Katherine to her clan, Rolfe decided to take her home and ransom her to the MacPhersons. She needed to be taught a lesson about running wild through the countryside with no thought for the consequences. Unfortunately, Rolfe’s father, Laird McTavish had other plans. He intended to give her back to the king’s regent in exchange for the regent ennobling his line.
As Katherine traveled to court with Rolfe and his men, she learned much about him. Not only was he very attractive, he had honor. She knew he didn’t want to follow his father’s orders but he would obey the laird. Rolfe, though aggravated with Katherine, was mesmerized too. They couldn’t fight the attraction, and once they kissed, they didn’t want to fight it. Katherine had never realized her body could feel so much delight. She enjoyed Rolfe’s kisses, craved his touch, and wanted more. She felt practically wanton with him. Rolfe tried to hold back but the more he was near Katherine, the harder that became. Their feelings for each other strengthened with every moment they were together. Could Rolfe give Katherine up and deliver her to an uncertain future?
What a fabulous story by new-to-me-author Mary Wine. I was captivated from the start by Ms. Wine’s writing style. With just the stroke of her pen, she manages to masterfully portray both the beauty and the ugliness of the time period. Her multi- faceted characters are hard, tough, proud, fearless, and loyal. I loved Katherine. Living in a world where her blood was hated, her courage was her soul possession. Her evolution from boy to woman was a delight to read, and I loved that the outcome was the best of both genders. She could be a woman but still embrace those “manly” things that made her unique. I also loved that Rolfe realized her hellion ways were what he loved most about her. The secondary characters of neighboring clans were every bit as captivating as the main characters. I enjoyed seeing the opposing clans working together for a common goal. I’m anxious to see what’s in store for them as well. Though #3 in her Highland Weddings series, I had no trouble reading this story as a stand- alone. It won’t be a stand-alone for long though as I intend to read the others in the series as soon as possible. Let’s face it, who can resist the adventure and romance of these Highland hunks?
A Book Obsessed Chicks Review Team Selection.