Review: Highland Avenger by Hannah Howell

18 May

Highland Avenger by Hannah Howell
Kennsington (April 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $6.99
ISBN: 9781420118797

Favorite Lines: “Explanations were needed but Arianna heartily wished she did not have to give them. It meant revealing her humiliation, her shame. Unfortunately, the man not only deserved the answers he wanted, he might need them to better protect her and the children. She had learned enough from her family, and from ruling over her husband’s lands as he spent much of his time dallying with another woman, to know that even the smallest piece of information could make a difference between life and death.” (p. 29, ARC)

Once, Arianna Murray Lucette believed she’d met the man she could always rely on. She was wrong. Now she is fleeing for her life, and when her enemies attack a ship bound for her only refuge, she believes all hope is lost. Until she awakens on Scotland’s shore to a pair of the most entrancing blue eyes she has ever seen.

When Sir Brian MacFingal first spots the sun-streaked beauty on the beach, he mistakes her for dead. Soon, however, he discovers a woman more full of life and vitality than he ever dreamed possible. But though he knows he is fit to defend her life–even at risk of losing his own–can such a raw warrior as he ever be worthy of her love?

I am a Hannah Howell fan. Granted I enjoy her early books best, but I always seem to pick up Howell’s newest releases. That said, I appreciate her attempt to take the Murray series in different directions while maintaining the premise of two people falling in love in Scotland. However, I didn’t love Highland Avenger the way I thought I would. I liked it, but I won’t re-read it.

The heroine (Arianna) has been verbally and emotionally beaten down by her “false” husband for five years. He is now dead, but his family wants his bastard children killed and she refuses to let that happen. When each boy was born, her husband gave the child to Arianna for her to raise. Arianna’s desire to save the children carries her away from France and back to her Scottish home.

In Scotland she lucks out and is found by allies of her clan. One of those allies makes her feel warm, gooey…and safe. He helps her rebuild her confidence in herself and a bond slowly forms. But she is a Lady and he is a poor man. Can Arianna help Brian realize that love can be found in many places and is worth fighting for?

The cover art is magnificent; it’s striking and I love looking at it. Too bad the 18th book in Howell’s Murray series was so-so. Highland Avenger gave me a couple and created a happily ever after for them. It never managed to excite me or make me feel any connection with the characters. As a matter of fact what I remember most is getting  irritated at the number of times I was told about the verbal abuse the heroine suffered. The hero keeps reminding her that it’s not her fault that she feels different ways or put up with X Y and Z, because her husband used words to keep her down. I get that it’s an important aspect of the story, but I feel like I was beat over the head with the information.

Hero and Heroine: Brian is a likeable hero who comes across as the “boy next door.” Despite his handsome face and built body, he is very average. He has a calm disposition and is knowledgeable about women–pleasing them and understanding their moods. I kind of think of him as the man who a girl overlooks for the bad boy or the alpha male. It’s not to say that the alpha is better, but he’s more exciting. In this case, Brian is just the type of man Arianna needs. Arianna did nothing for me. I felt absolutely zero for her. I didn’t wish her ill. She was more of a place holder for me.


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