Surrender to the Highlander is another Lynsay Sands book, though I didn’t realize that when I picked it up. I saw it on the shelf at Chapters and thought, “Ooooh, a bare-chested Scot in a kilt. Mmmm-mmmm.” And into the pile it went without attention to the author’s name.
When I climbed in the bath to start reading it, and finally noted the author’s name, I was delighted. I enjoyed the first Lynsay Sands book I read, The Countess, and expected nothing different from this one. Or rather, I should say, I expected the same. And was disappointed.
The Countess was a playful, quick story. Surrender to the Highlander plodded along. At least it did for me.
I found it heavy, weighted with words, description, and characters. I started skimming and skipping pages. And when I finally set it down, I felt relieved. By the time I got to bed, I was fuming.
Surrender to the Highlander starts out with promise. The hero and heroine are likable characters. As are the majority of other characters. They can be a little hard to keep track of; it is a Scottish keep, after all, and there are a lot of people living under one roof (it’s how they lived back then). It’s a friendly, ribald, and loving group who all seem on the same page–interested in seeing the hero and heroine together. And keeping the heroine alive.
The thrust of the story isn’t whether the hero and heroine will overcome obstacles to their inevitable Happy Ever After–they each like the other early in the story and are pushed together by circumstance and other characters–but whether they’ll live to enjoy their wedded bliss. A murder mystery is at the heart of this tale.
In typical Romance fashion, hero and heroine grow closer as they, and other trustworthy family members and residents of the keep, work to discover the identity of the person or persons that killed the heroine’s immediate family. And then some. The lack of romantic frisson was mildly problematic–the story lacked the usual emotional fireworks I enjoy between strong characters–but it was the final confrontation between heroine and murderer that really got under my skin.
The author did a good job of keeping the killer’s identity confused, until almost the end. And the killer’s motivation floored me. And it may upset other readers who pick up the story expecting a HEA and instead find themselves as I did, tossing and turning, unable to sleep for the simmering fury invoked by the images and thoughts induced by the killer’s revelations. It’s troubling stuff. Troubling, because it’s real. Because I know it happens. It happened in the 18th century. It’s happening somewhere, to someone, right now as I type this. And it makes me furious. Sick. And if it makes me furious and sick, I’m not sure how reading it might trigger someone who’s actually suffered in the way described. For that reason, I give the story 3 Stars, and offer this caution: if you, or someone close to you has experienced sexual violence, especially as a child, consider reading Lynsay Sands’s The Countess, rather than Surrender to the Highlander.
There is a proper balance between not asking enough of oneself and asking or expecting too much. ~May Sarton