Review: To Conquer a Highlander by Mary Wine

Thursday, July 22

Title:  To Conquer a Highlander*
Author:  Mary Wine
Series: Book #1 in a new highland series
Genre:  Historical Romance
Publisher: Casablanca Sourcebooks
Format:  mass market paperback
Date/Year: July 2010

*This book was provided to me by the publisher for review

Summary from the publisher:

A fierce Highland laird ready to kill for king and country…

When Torin McLeren discovers his neighbor’s plot against his king, he takes their daughter as his prisoner, thereby stopping her father’s plot from going forward. But that leaves him with a woman under his roof whom he can’t ignore, and not just because she’s his enemy’s daughter…

A woman who’s as much trouble as she is temptation…

Shannon McBoyd decides to use her captor to experience passion for the first time, and then to destroy him. But her plan goes awry because once she has lured Torin into her bed, she no longer wants to hurt the one man who seems to value and understand her…

Even if her father will kill him—and her—when he discovers what they’ve done...

My Musings:

Shannon McBoyd was born a daughter to a man who thought her worthless, who took every opportunity to verbalize her uselessness through words and fists.  Yet despite constant belittlement she matures into a woman with silent strength, a will to survive, and try to see good and purpose where most would only despair; even when her father sends her to marry into a family embroiled in the murder of the king of Scotland.

Torin McLeren was born to a mother and father who married for love, and grew up a child that was deeply loved and cherished.  When his uncle remained childless he was sent to train to eventually take his place.  Though he was never meant to be laird of the clan McLeren he found himself with the responsibilities of leading and protecting his people.  And while he is at an age that demands he marry and produce an heir he holds out hope to find love in a union beneficial to his clan.

While it took me a little while to get into To Conquer a Highlander, and I thought it ended a little abruptly, there were several things that I loved about this story.  One of the things that I loved was the fact that there was not a lot of outside conflict once the story really got going. (ie once Torin stole Shannon).  Once Torin and Shannon arrived at his holding, the story blossomed and really let the characters shine and become the most important aspect of the book.  The reader gets plenty of page time with both Torin and Shannon to get to know them, understand what makes them do the things they do, and watch them as they fall in love.  Shannon’s strength and honor is given the chance to be appreciated as well as Torin’s need for love.

Torin has all the best traits of a highland hero.  Yes, he’s alpha, but he’s not overbearing.  He’s protective without being overprotective.   He’s patient, understanding, with a noble sense of honor, and desperately wants the kind of love his parents shared…and finds he wants that with Shannon, not out of revenge or justice but because he’s drawn to her.  Torin was one of my favorite things about To Conquer a Highlander…that and his friend Connor (which will happily receive his own story soon).

The story doesn’t get bogged down in the history and conflict that the characters were entangled in even though it plays a part in the plot.  It was a backdrop and catalyst to Torin and Shannon love’s story, but didn’t monopolize or try to become as important as the hero and heroine.  This story was all about Torin and Shannon…and that is my favorite part of this book.  While the love scenes were sensual the moments in between were the most intimate and revealing….that made this story more memorable than your average highland romance.

Mary Wine’s characters in To Conquer a Highlander definitely conquered my heart….both the hero and the heroine as well as their love story. And much like how their story was revealed it was a gradual surrender.  The more I read of To Conquer a Highlander the more I loved it.  It conquered me little by little, page by page until the very end.  I can’t wait for the next book in this series (Torin’s friend Connor in Highland Hellcat).  

Favorite passage:

This is a scene that takes place soon after Torin and Shannon become lovers.  Prior to this Torin tries to tease her and be try and act the part of a lover and Shannon has a hard time understanding what all this means to her, and is contemplating all of this over a quiet and private dinner in his rooms.
“She was focused on her company, watching him in a manner that she seemed to want to only do with Torin.  She finished eating before he did, and sat back in her chair with her hands wrapped around a goblet of rich wine.  Shannon sipped at it slowly but felt heat moving through her veins anyway.  It wasn’t the wine that sent fire flickering across her skin; it was the certain knowledge that Torin wanted her near.  He’d had her and still longed for her company.  Teasing, he’d said.  Now that sent the sweetest rush of delight through her.  It soaked into more than her flesh; it filled her heart, because it was more than lust.  This went beyond the passionate needs of his body.  Maybe there were no words, but in a way that was what made her notice her feelings that much more.”  P. 250 To Conquer a Highlander by Mary Wine


Overall: 4.0 stars
Sensuality level: 3.25 (I would say it is maybe a tad bit more sensuous than your typical historical romance, but maybe not quite as hot as her books written for Brava)

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Caffey July 22, 2010 at 5:39 AM  

When I read the blurb, its a favorite theme of mine to read, when two are put together, when they are supposed to hate one another but fall so in love! I can imagine the tension of this book!

Sometimes it can be harder to get into a medieval because I think they aren't written as much as the other time periods. I know if I go into a time period I rarely read, I sometimes have to do a bit of research to recall the time period to get a feel first of it then! I love how they get plenty of time in the pages so we can feel them fall for each other. Shannon is a heroine that I don't see as much in a Medieval, Strong yes, Silent, no! Most I read of heroines in Medieval Romances is that they are very outspoken. Maybe just what of those I read recently! I too was talking somewhere about what kind of hero I liked and so many were saying Alpha, but I had added that I didn't want him so over alpha, makes him sound more human, and that so sounds like Torin. I so got to get this one but its still on my wishlist!

You mentioned it kind of ended abruptly. Do you mean you wished you had more time with the characters and the story or were things not tied up? Maybe they being left for the next book. Goodie that its more sensuous! Great review Booklover!

Booklover1335 July 22, 2010 at 7:06 AM  

Hey Cathie!

It might have been me trying to get into this book, but I was somewhat surprised that it took me as long as what it did (maybe past 100 pages) to be in the mood to read it to find out what happens next instead of just picking it up and trying to finish it. I don't really know why that was probably just me.

As far as ending abruptly, the end of the story just felt kind of rushed and unfinished, at least not as neatly tied up as I would have liked. I do think that this may have been because this book is part of a series, but the next book focuses on a different I don't know how much Torin and Shannon will be featured in Highland Hellcat....I guess we shall see :)

Thanks for you comment so that I could clarify a few things.

librarypat,  July 22, 2010 at 1:46 PM  

Thanks for the review. I have read several of this book and each seems to focus on a different aspect of the story or relationship. You have given me a good view which actually explains some things that were said in other reviews. One of the reasons why I read as many reviews of a book as I can before deciding whether or not I am going to read it.

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