15 September 2008

Review: Veronica Wolff - Master of the Highlands

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley (February 5, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425218996
ISBN-13: 978-0425218990

A modern woman finds true love across the ocean-and across time.

Lily Hamlin is making a pilgrimage to Scotland with hopes for some direction in her life. There she discovers an overgrown maze and a strange stone map-and lands back in time, in the Lochaber of 1654. Ewen, Chief of the Clan Cameron, must save his people from the brutal redcoats. But then he meets a saucy lass with a peculiar accent, no regard for his title-and an arousing body. Drawn to each other despite their differences, they both realize that they don't want her to go back to her own time. But with battles brewing, staying is a gamble.

Present day

Lily is getting back in touch with herself and her art, after years of working her creativity at an art department for an internet magazine she hits rock bottom after the death of her grandmother. In honor of her grandmother she has taken a vacation to Scotland. There, with its brilliant lochs and dramatic mountains, it provides enough inspiration to invoke her talent for the traditional art. Upon walking across the countryside she discovers a labyrinth, curiosity gets the better of her and she entered it and gotten utterly lost in the maze of passages. Still Lily admired the garden statue with its intricate lines and following this with her finger she felt the earth tremble…

1654 Scotland:
Ewen Cameron, Laird of the Cameron clan, has some red coats to deal with. He and a few members of his clan meet with General Monk of the British army. There is trouble brewing but General Monk wants to deal with it in his own way which means bribing the highlanders in to submission. Perhaps this would work with some highlanders but a Cameron would not be put on an English leash! Their meeting was short, brisk and very clear on the subject if the Laird of the Cameron clan would stand down. On their way back a lass, lithe of body, an interesting face and with an abundance of curly hair captured Ewen’s attention, the closer he got to her the more he realized she was hurt.

Two time periods meet, two hearts respond and two bodies answer. However, a song in the back of Lily’s mind reminds her of the violence that is to come…

Master Of The Highlands is a debut novel for Veronica Wolff and she immediately gave me a sense of reading a richly set up historical Scottish romance. The feel of Scotland that Veronica Wolff invokes with her writing, both in present as in the past, managed to make me wander through the lush green hills and see the crystal lochs glisten in the sun. In a gradual but slow pace I was taken along the journey that Lily needed to take for her to find that which her heart so longed for.

From the moment Lily and Ewen meet there is an attraction which simmered but does not become a full blown passion until the story is well on its way. What made them so very likeable is the fact they both seem so very real, Lily is a confused woman of the 21st century trying to find herself again, Ewen is a Laird of his clan with all the responsibilities that comes along with such a title. He is serious, strong, with being so very aware of his duties as a Laird that with the appearance of Lily he does his utmost best to make her fit in to the clan and everyday life. Carefully Ewen and Lily tread on the path of mutual affection, taking their time to act upon it but there’s always an underlying simmer of unfulfilled passion. It was like watching a slow but intense dance between two hearts and persons, each baring a past to overcome in order to find each other.

Lily’s adaption to a new time does not go without some bumps in the road, her new job is to be the governess of Ewen’s son and with that another relationship unfurls itself with a heartwarming grace and a bit of devilish attitude. Kat as a maid and secondary character enhances the feelings coursing through Lily’s heart, with her own wisdom she guides Lily and I just enjoyed her roll in this tale very much. The romance has also a few challenges to deal with and Rowena is one of them, she enters the keep with a plan all of her own. This made me root for Lily and Ewen in their fragile but irrevocably blossoming feelings. The complete cast of secondary characters made life more vivid in the keep, whether they were good or bad, they each played their role.

The time period is envisioned with a thorough knowledge of Scottish history adding a quality to Master Of The Highlands that many will enjoy. It starts with an image of Ewen getting himself ready for war. The armory, the clothes, I could see the methodically preparations of a man accustomed to war and defending that which he believes in: his clan…his freedom and his pride as a highlander. The plot is easily to follow but still fundamental to the story and provides some emotionally gripping moments in the end.

The charm of this novel lies in the fact that Veronica Wolff creates a lifelike feel of the characters, romance and world which made me a part of this love story, and I left Ewen and Lily with a content feeling!

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