What a Highlander’s Got to Do by Sabrina York
Untamed Highlanders #5
Released: March 6, 2018
Reviewed by Sheena
Favorite Quote: Against her will, her frown tipped into a smile. And when he smiled back, she nearly swooned. Which was annoying. She was hardly a swooning sort.
What a Highlander’s Got to Do is the latest superb entry in the addictive Untamed Highlander’s series. This is a very “new reader” friendly series and while knowledge of the earlier books is a boon, you can jump right in at book 5 and not feel out of sorts. What I love, love, love about Sabrina York’s writing is how accessible it is, and how relatable these characters from centuries gone by are. I always feel as if I’d fit right in and often imagine I do!
In this latest novel, we have a free-spirited heroine, Isobel, who isn’t keen on being anyone’s property or beholden to any man- certainly not some stuffy over plucked English Lord. She thumbs her nose at the prospect and has no qualms about living her life on her terms. It is very easy for authors to write such strong female characters with a shrew-like or abrasive edge, as if steely spines and headstrong woman can only be illustrated as the complete anti-feminine, “I-can-do-bad-all-by-myself” archetype. Oh no! Not my Isobel! Isobel’s strength was that she was unapologetically feminine and brave and strong with a thirst for passion. She welcomed rapture with both arms flung wide open, determined to not be held hostage by the societal pressure to marry well and settle down. Imagine her intrigue when she meets a handsome stable hand who ignites her on all levels. He is safe and she’s attracted to him, so why not have a little taste of the lad. Only things go awry when her mysterious stable hand turns out to be none other than the Viscount and future Duke. Despite their connection and attraction, Isobel has vowed to never marry, only her stable lad nee’ Viscount has permeated her skin, he’s stormed her defenses and she’s come to care for him deeply.
This will not do. Oh dear… This will not do at all.
Nick is no stranger to hard work despite his title. He is 1/2 Scottish and 1/2 English and straddles both worlds as best he can. Though the ton is very discriminatory and bigoted toward Scots, his Lordship cannot be disputed and he remains one of the most eligible bachelors of the season. Ever under the threat of some young woman on the hunt for a husband with a conniving mother in tow, he has had to be especially clever to make sure he isn’t caught in any compromising situations where he would be duty bound to marry against his will. Like Isobel, he’s made his own anti-marriage bachelor for life (or at least the remotely foreseeable future). In a short sequence of truth omissions (I adore Isobel and Nick! They do not lie! They simply…have truth lapses, where false information can be logically insinuated and a truth omission leads to a misunderstanding. *defiant stare*).
“You never asked me who I was.”
“So you let me believe you were a servant.”
He had. Heat rose on his cheeks. “It was . . . flattering.” He raked his fingers through his hair. “Isobel, I’m the son of a duke. I’ve never had a moment of true privacy in my life. I’ve been surrounded by people who always knew precisely who I was, every detail of my lineage, every farthing I stood to inherit. I’ve never had a friend who didn’t know my position in society. I must admit, it was tantalizing to have a beautiful woman—who had no idea who I was—find me attractive.” He glanced at her from beneath his lashes. “You did find me attractive, didn’t you?”
She sighed. “I did.”
His gut clenched. “You did?”
Her softness melted away and the scowl returned. “I do. For Christ’s sake, Nicholas. You know what a handsome man you are. Doona pretend otherwise.”
She won’t! She didn’t! The beauty of Isobel and Nick is once their true stations in life were revealed to one another (she a treasured daughter of a Laird, he, the Duke of course) they did not hide from one another and held a transparency that was refreshing- until it was heartbreaking. Their “courtship” teetered on the brink of destruction and for a better part of the novel danced dangerously close to unrequited-land. Isobel wanted nothing more than to remain herself and could not understand how to reconcile falling in love with Nick and remaining true to herself. She could not be wooed with titles and fancy ton parties or expensive baubles. Nick had to win her heart the old-fashioned way.
Charm, quality time, humor, sex appeal, and a full frontal (hehe literally) assault on her defenses which included slipping a little Scottish brogue into his vocabulary and donning a kilt to show her he respected and appreciated their shared Scottish heritage. I was giddy. I swooned. I enjoyed every moment of his pursuit of Isobel’s heart since settling for her hand in marriage just wasn’t good enough. He wanted all of her and gave her the space and time she needed to finally let go and grab onto their HEA with both hands. Swooooonnnnnnnnn!
There is no “mystery” subplot that tends to creep into historical novels these days. The nuts and bolts of the novel is Isobel and Nick’s romance and their obstacles. They meet, they have a torrid affair and sizzling tryst, lost touch, run into one another during the London season and sabotage one another’s prospects while coming to terms with their fated love affair. Thought their time together was initially brief, they felt like friends and basing their eventual romance on their camaraderie made their bond all the more genuine. Neither perfect, but perfect for one another. Oh, how they made me squeee and laugh with their banter!
The overall theme that shines through is the importance of two people coming together as whole partners and becoming greater together, neither having to diminish their individual lights.
“Two people should share interests.”
“I agree completely.”
“There should be mutual respect.”
“And, of course, he must be pliant.”
Nick choked on his whisky. “Pliant?” He wasn’t pliant in the least. Never had been.
“Aye. You know. Easily trained.”
“Aye.” She blinked at him. “Did your mother no’ train your father?”
“I . . .” He had no clue…“Is that an important thing?”
“I should think so. No woman wants to live with an untutored man.”
This conversation had taken an alarming turn. But it was illuminating . . . if he didn’t allow himself to become horrified.
What a Highlander’s Got To Do was a pleasure to read, I fancied myself a part of their shenanigans and completely lost myself in this lively story. As a woman, Isobel’s emotional musings resonated with me, and as a reader of smex, Isobel and Nick resonated with me.
I emphatically recommend this series and this novel in particular. Loved!
Geeky Bloggers Book Blog