Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tour Review/Giveaway!! Hard-Hearted Highlander, by Julia London

Hard-Hearted Highlander
(Highland Grooms, Book 3)
Julia London
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Harlequin Books
April 25, 2017
Historical Fiction, Romance

An indomitable governess...a brooding Highlander...a forbidden affair...

An ill-fated elopement cost English-born governess Bernadette Holly her reputation, her unsuitable lover,  and any chance of a future match. She has nothing left to fear—not even the bitter, dangerously handsome Scot due to marry her young charge. Naive wallflower Avaline Kent is terrified to wed Rabbie Mackenzie, but if he sends her home, she will be ruined. Bernadette's solution: convince Rabbie to get Avaline to cry off while ignoring her own traitorous attraction to him.

A forced engagement to an Englishwoman is a hard pill for any Scot to swallow. It's even worse when the 
fiancée in question is a delicate, foolish young miss unlike her spirited, quick-witted governess. Sparring with Bernadette brings passion and light back to Rabbie's life after the failed Jacobite uprising. His clan's future depends upon his match to another, but how can any Highlander forsake a love that stirs his heart and soul?

I received a complimentary paperback copy of this novel in return for my honest review. And I was honestly blown away by this novel!

 As an eclectic reader, there are times when I want to be immersed in the past, especially when romance is involved. I particularly love Scottish Highlanders, too! These romance novels are usually full of passion and great drama, as well as a touch of humor. Hard-Hearted Highlander was certainly no exception to this, and was beautifully-written, as well!

Julia London is not an unfamiliar name to me, but I had never read any of her novels. So, when I encountered this one, I was immediately drawn to it. Of course, the gorgeous cover had a lot to do with that!

Rabbie Mckenzie, this book's romantic hero, is my new book boyfriend! He's such a WONDERFUL guy.... As the story starts, as well as throughout the novel, the reader is made to feel his pain at the loss of his Scottish  fiancée during the rebellion against the English. I was really touched by Rabbie's deep feelings for Seona, the woman he loved so deeply that he was actually contemplating suicide because of his relentless memories of her, of their love....

Rabbie is less than enthusiastic when he meets Bernadette Holly, a Sassenach, which is what the Scottish call an English-speaking person, since they themselves speak Gaelic. He thinks she's arrogant, in total contrast to Seona. Little does he know what the future holds for him where Bernadette is concerned

Circumstances surrounding the rebellion have forced the Mckenzie clan to do something to protect their interests, and Rabbie is the unfortunate 'chosen one'. He must marry the very young, naive, and totally clueless Avaline Kent, another Sassenach, albeit one who does not hold any interest for him.... Rabbie much prefers the passionate Bernadette, Avaline's combination governess/maid, instead.  

This novel drew me in immediately, holding my interest throughout. Not only did I love the characters -- especially Rabbie and Bernadette -- but I also loved the world they lived in! The Mckenzie clan was so wonderfully united in their fierce love of the land, as well as each member of the clan. I also got a feel for the rivalry between them and the Buchanans, another clan mentioned in the book. The Highlanders are all about honor, family, and land, and this was very evident throughout the novel.

The romance between Rabbie and Bernadette was not only depicted in a very realistic manner, but was also poignant and moving, as well as passionately romantic. Both of these characters had past emotional baggage; Rabbie was mourning the loss of his planned life with the woman he loved, and Bernadette was mourning not only the loss of a husband, but also of the child conceived of that union. How these two move beyond their heavy losses to find a second chance at love is a beautifully-told story that is truly compelling and unforgettable. Their romance progressed at a very believable pace, as well. There was definitely no "insta-love" here! Instead, there was mutual dislike, which then gradually moved into a mutual romantic obsession.

The secondary characters were also memorable. I ADORED Aulay Mckenzie, the ship's captain. This novel got me wondering as to whether London has already written his story. If so, I DEFINITELY want to read it! He's such a sweet, honorable man! 

I found Avaline, Rabbie's 'intended', to be rather exasperating at times, but then, being saddled with such an obnoxious tyrant for a father would surely be NO fun for any young girl! Although she was rather vapid and vacuous, I did feel sorry for her on many occasions, and I certainly understood her fear of Rabbie, since he was quite a bit older than her. Besides, they were just too incompatible

Lord Kent, Avaline's father, was horribly unpleasant, and London depicted him in a very detailed manner, so as to fully bring out all of his despicable personality traits. He had no love or compassion for his daughter, but only saw her as a means to expand his riches, and secure land in Scotland through her arranged marriage to Rabbie Mckenzie.  

This character was the perfect exemplar of the calculating, totally ruthless misogynist who sees women as nothing more than property, to be bartered, traded, or sold, whether through marriage, or forced servitude. He was TOTALLY oblivious to his daughter's needs. I totally ENJOYED hating him!! 

Lady Mckenzie was another great secondary character. She was always supportive and loving toward Rabbie. Not that his father wasn't, but Lady Mckenzie had a special relationship with her son, and really understood his pain, more than anyone else.

The children, Ualan and Fiona, were also very memorable. Their relationship with Rabbie, as well as Bernadette, toward the last third of the book, was yet another factor that really endeared this novel to me.  

Although she was present in the novel only through Rabbie's memories of her, Seona was also a memorable secondary character. She and Rabbie had a beautiful relationship, and I was sorry they didn't get to stay together, even though I loved Rabbie and Bernadette's relationship just as much. The flashbacks that included this character gave added poignancy to the developing story, as well as fascinating background on the Scottish rebellion that forms the backdrop for the novel. 

The whole setting of the story made this into such a grand drama! The sea, the land itself, played an important part in making the events so very real and vivid. I loved the descriptions of these elements, and fervently wish I could visit Scotland at some point in the future. 

I loved the way London tied everything up in the end. There were neither loose ends, nor any cliffhangers. Instead, I felt a very satisfactory sense of completion. In fact, the way some of the problems finally worked out was even a bit funny.

Julia London has certainly penned a wonderful, touching, beautiful story of love lost and found again, of poignant family relationships, and of the strength and brave heart of a people irrevocably tied to their culture, their land.

This is a novel to be enjoyed on many levels. It's not just a 'regular' romance novel, but a story to feel and live through -- a story that will stay in the mind and the heart. 


Praise for 
Hard-Hearted Highlander

“An absorbing read from a novelist at the top of her game.” –Kirkus STARRED review on Wild Wicked Scot (Highland Grooms #1)

“Expert storytelling and believable characters make the romance between Arran and Margot come alive in this compelling novel packed with characters whom readers will be sad to leave behind.” –Publishers Weekly STARRED review on Wild Wicked Scot (Highland Grooms #1)

“With well-developed characters who experience genuine growth, London is at the top of her game in this thrilling tale of political intrigue and second chances. This absorbing and passionate romance bodes well for future Highland Grooms titles.” –Booklist STARRED review on Wild Wicked Scot (Highland Grooms #1)

Purchase Links

Julia London is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including the popular Secrets of Hadley Green historical romance series, the Cabot Sisters historical romance series, and the Homecoming Ranch contemporary romance series. She is a six time finalist for the prestigious RITA Award for excellence in romantic fiction, and RT Bookclub award recipient for Best Historical Romance for Dangerous Gentleman. She lives in Austin, Texas.


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  1. Dear Visitors:

    Julia London was very happy with my review! You can view her Twitter comment about it at the link below!

    Thanks for visiting! If you enjoyed my review, I'd sure appreciate a comment!! Thanks!! <3 :)

  2. I'm glad to see you are such a big fan of Julia's after reading this book!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

    1. Hi, Heather!

      Oh, I DEFINITELY am!! I'm looking forward to reading more of her books!

      You're very welcome for my participation! Thanks for dropping by and commenting!! <3 :)


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