(Cover picture courtesy of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.)
Anne de Cheyne has a choice. She can play the dutiful daughter and allow her mother to sell her to a greasy English sheriff, or she can take control of her own life and find her own match. After a frightening run-in with her promised husband reveals a dark secret, she makes a desperate choice. Flight.
Aedan Donne needs easy money and no-questions-asked. When Milene de Cheyne offers him enough to pay all debts, requests complete silence, and pays half up front, just for a simple recovery, he can’t believe his luck… until he meets his mark. Anne’s beauty and passion ignite something Aedan can’t ignore, even as she leaves him in the dust. Suddenly, he finds himself wanting to capture the runaway Highland lady for himself.
[Full disclosure: I received a free paper copy of this book in conjunction with the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]
This is actually the second book in the Highland Renegades series, but they can be read as stand-alone novels, luckily for me.
As I’ve said in the past, I know very little about Scottish history. Still, R. L. Syme managed to suck me into the period and really gave me the feeling that I was there along with the characters. The dark, unstable atmosphere of the time particularly rang true and you could feel this sense of doom throughout the whole novel. Scotland is highly unstable and in the middle of it, the main character Anne is being sold off to the highest bidder so her mother can prove her loyalty to the English overlords.
Anne is a decent enough character but I won’t say that she’s one of the most memorable heroines I’ve ever encountered. She’s feisty, determined and brave but at the same time I just had trouble connecting with her. It’s not that there wasn’t enough background information about her, but I had a hard time connecting with her emotions. I didn’t feel what she was feeling, whether she was sad, angry, happy or in love. But maybe that’s just me. Aedan I could connect with a little more but like Anne he’s not the most memorable character I’ve ever read about.
However, the plot was fast-paced and quite exciting. You can’t call The Runaway Highlander anything but a page-turner simply because of R. L. Syme’s talent with suspense. There are twists and turns everywhere and just when you think you know what’s going to happen everything changes. It definitely keeps the reader on the edge of their proverbial seat.
This was an essentially good novel. It will never be one of my favourites but it was good enough that I’d recommend it to romance lovers as well as Scottish history fans.
I give this book 3.5/5 stars.