Hero in the Highlands, by Suzanne Enoch

I rarely pick up Scottish romance novels. I have no beef with Scotland, but I have never understood what makes it such a rich source for romance novel fetishization. (I mean, why not Ireland? Or Wales? Is it the kilts?) But my inability to appreciate the appeal of itchy, smelly, difficult-to-clean wool skirts is offset by my faith in Suzanne Enoch, one of the few romance novelists I find consistently entertaining, so I decided to give her recent novel Hero in the Highlands a shot.

When English war hero Major Gabriel Forrester discovers that he has inherited a Scottish title and estate from a distant relative, he is anything but pleased. Gabriel has no intention of giving up his military career for life as an aristocrat, but when he is told that something strange is afoot at his Highlands castle, he dutifully sets out to resolve the problem. The problem in question turns out to be his steward: Fiona Blackstock. Fiona is determined to oust the unknown Englishman from Lattimer Castle as soon as possible, but the intense attraction that flares up between her and Gabriel is an inconvenient distraction.

Sadly, Enoch's book relies upon one of my least-favorite romance novel tropes: the heroine who is constantly insisting that the hero is not the boss of her. I find this unrealistic in many historical settings, and it's particularly grating here, because Gabriel is literally Fiona's boss. Fiona becomes increasingly sympathetic over the course of the novel, but I still found her annoying for at least half the book. Gabriel fares much better, and the story is blessed with all of Enoch's typical strengths: a healthy (if implausible) attitude towards sex and relationships, intriguing background characters, and an unusually honest approach to wealth and social status. There are more ambitious and daring romance novelists out there, but Hero in the Highlands is yet another satisfying offering from an author who very rarely disappoints.
Posted by: Julianka


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