I must admit I was a little nervous going into this book since I hadn’t read any of the books that came before it. Finding myself in the middle of the series, I was relieved to find that I could start at book at book 6, and not feel lost! While I didn’t necessarily feel this was a stand alone (I generally like encountering characters in a book and seeing how their stories intertwine), the author does an incredible job summarizing events from previous books at the very beginning of this one to both remind readers of who everyone was and how they met, and helping new readers like me feel like I’m not left out. The summaries were relatively quick and didn’t go into much detail of the plot so it successfully sparked my curiosity about previous books, which is no easy feat! I truly appreciated it!
But, now on to this book. Celeste has an excellent grasp of Scottish language and terminology, the way the characters speak to each other really immerses readers in the story. When our hero showed up, I wasn’t entirely sure was the hero since there were no immediate sparks but rather, the playful familiarity of old friends and I appreciated the realism in that. Hardi has been thrown into the deep end and has a much more modern approach to handling the situations he was forced into and as a true friend, I loved the pacing of how their feelings developed, despite them knowing each other from a young age. My favorite thing about Hardi was his vulnerability. It was real. He needed people to trust and didn’t know who, so when he found someone he could confide in, he wasn’t about to risk it simply because she was a woman. Blair supports him and helps him. That simple act solidified their bond. I also loved how strong no nonsense Blair was. I love a heroine who knows her stuff and isn’t about to hide the fact that she does. Hardi compliments that part of her, although I wish she would have stepped back every once in a while since sometimes her assertiveness would overpower Hardi as a leader. Still, Hardi needed Blair, much more than Blair needed Hardi, and my hope is together they will build into a team once Hardi gets his bearings. I never forgot that he was new to things, dealing with grief and struggling to keep his head above water so it almost felt like the two characters complimented each other perfectly. (I also need to mention that since this is my first Celeste Barclay book and had never met any of these characters before, I was super intrigued by Lachlan! There is something about the kind and protective big brother that just sparked my curiosity!)
The story is crafted to keep you wondering who and why throughout. There was so much historical deceit and intrigue! It felt a little like a whodunit wrapped in a warm tartan blanket. The final scenes were well designed and a very good idea. I could see a highland clan taking the same tactic.
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.