*I received a free copy of Highland Awakening from Loveswept via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *
Warning: This book includes mature content such as: sexual content, and/or drug and/or alcohol use, and/or violence.
Series: Highland Knights #2
Published by Loveswept on 29 March 2016
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Mystery
Reading Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge, 2016 Winter COYER
As the secret author of racy romances, Lady Esme Hawkins goes to great lengths to protect her family’s honor. Which is why she carefully disguises herself before entering a notorious bordello to do research. But when Esme comes face-to-face with a brooding Highland bodyguard, she can’t easily refuse a harmless kiss . . . a kiss that inflames desires ripped from the pages of her novels. Acting on them, however, would risk revealing Esme’s identity—and the fact that she’s engaged to another man.
As a Highland Knight sworn to protect the crown, Camden McLeod never expected to follow his client into a bordello—nor could he anticipate meeting a bright, innocent lass with lush lips and eyes the color of the sea. Instantly, Cam knows he must possess her. But to do so, he’ll need to give up his rakish ways, embrace his role as heir to his despised father, and snuff out a deadly threat to his brothers in arms. By comparison, winning Esme away from her insipid fiancé will be pure pleasure.
I loved the beginning of Highland Awakening, but after a while, it became almost too steamy for a historical romance, and that’s really something I never thought I’d say!
Esme and Cam both intrigued me from the start of Highland Awakening, their first meeting happened in a whorehouse, where Cam was guarding a lord, and Esme was suddenly left alone with him in an antechamber… At first, I had no idea what Esme was doing there, and neither did Cam, but their chemistry flared from that first meeting, and hot kisses ensued. Their next meeting was at a dinner party at Esme’s brother’s – the Duke of Trent – house, and that was when Cam was well and truly hooked. Even the fact that Esme was engaged to another man could cool his attraction to her. Added to this intrigue was the fact that Esme writes erotic stories, even if she’s an innocent herself! And I was well and truly hooked.
There is also a well done mystery in Highland Awakening, because the Highland Knights are under attack! One of them was killed, and another was ambushed and almost killed, all the while they were trying to guard their charge, and Cam was trying to woo Esme. However, the middle part fell a bit flat to me anyway, because Cam was extremely high-handed. He admired Esme and her unconventional pass time of writing erotic stories, but at the same time, he wanted to keep her to himself, and he was ready to deceive and let her think he betrayed her confidence to get what he wanted.
I usually love hot, steamy historical romances, but there was almost a bit much in Highland Awakening. This is not something I say often, but it actually took something away from the story rather than adding to it. I loved how Esme was so open in her sexuality, but at the same time, both she and Cam were also pretty reckless. Overall, I still enjoyed the story, though, and I will definitely read more about these highland knights, and also possibly get glimpses of the characters I met when reading the House of Trent series.
Written in third person point of view, past tense and mostly from Esme’s perspective, the pace is nice, speeding up when the action requires it, and slowing in other places. There is quite a bit of verbal sparring between Esme and Cam as well, and of course, a female heroine in a historical who actually writes naughty stories just had to be a character I enjoyed.
Without releasing the woman, Cam looked down at her for the first time. From beneath her hood, she peeked up at him with wide brown eyes that sparkled with amber flecks. Golden candlelight splashed over smooth olive skin colored faintly across the cheekbones with a blush.
He curved his lips, knowing his smile was a feral, hungry one. But he didn’t care. “Do you think I’ll be kissing you now, Esme?” She didn’t break her gaze away from his. “I… I don’t know.”
Her stories! Gasping, she jerked back, wrenching herself from the lock of his arm. His hands fell form her breast. His lips parted form hers. Oh God.