Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Title: Highland Blessings
Author: Jennifer Hudson Taylor
Highland Blessings is the story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise he made to his dying father. Bryce MacPhearson, a highland warrior, kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day to honor a promise he made to his dying father. While Akira’s strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce, she struggles to overcome her anger and resentment when he forces her to wed him, hoping to end a half-century-old feud between their clans. While Akira begins to forgive, and Bryce learns to trust, a series of murders leaves a trail of unanswered questions, confusion, and a legacy of hate that once again rises between their families. Clearly, a traitor is in their midst. Now the one man Akira loves no longer trusts her, and her own life is in danger. Can Bryce look beyond his pain and seek the truth? Will Akira discover the threat against her before it’s too late? How will God turn a simple promise into bountiful Highland blessings?
There is something that makes me go weak in the knees at the thought of a Scottish warrior. Jennifer has created one of my favorites in this book. Not only is Bryce strong, but he has their characteristic loyalty to family, he's sinfully handsome and wants to fulfill his dying father's wish. The only problem lies with carrying that out. His elder brother is now chief and has no intention of tying himself with a rival clan just to make peace. The lady in question, Akira, is just as strong willed as she is beautiful. He can't help but admire her and regret the actions that may have placed her in harm's way.
The rivalry between the two clans has been long standing and many would like to see Bryce fail. It's hard to overcome so many years of hate and prejudice. Trust is hard won and easily broken. Plus someone is working hard to inflame the tempers of both clans.
Bryce is a terrific character. He feels bound by his father's dying wish, and yet drawn to Akira himself. Her strength and courage are something he admires, and he enjoys their verbal battles and her beauty. He's first angry at Evan's refusal and rude comments about Akira, then becomes jealous once Evan shows some interest in her after all. He's a strong leader and has the respect of his men. He also has a tender side. He tries to see to her comfort and is upset by the accidental pain he causes her. He does have trouble with trusting her ~ and her family.
Akira is brave, intelligent and resourceful. She's also stubborn. She puts her own needs and desires below those of her people. She's no pushover physically either. She has skill with a blade and eventually manages to talk Bryce into giving her one of her own. She has a blind spot when it comes to her clan and doesn't believe any of them could possibly be behind any of the incidents. She also believed all the MacPhersons (Bryce's clan) were nothing more than brutal barbarians with no regard for human life. I love this quote from the beginning of the book ~ just after she's kidnapped and put up quite a fight:
"Akira wisely remained silent. The man seemed to contradict even his own character. He didn't want her to believe him a barbarian, yet he had ridden onto MacKenzie land with warriors and carted her off against her will, thrown across his lap like a sack of potatoes. Then he bound her wrists with a leather strap and tried to convince her that he was a caring gentleman with good manners. There could only be one explanation. The man was daft."
When one of the many plots against the peace ends up with the death of Evan, Bryce becomes chief and intends to marry Akira himself. The truce called for her to marry the chief of the clan ~ it didn't say it had to be his brother. He was the one who believed this was the path to peace, and he was attracted to her. But can he trust her? They both want an end to the fighting, but she is there against her will and bad things have happened to both sides. She hasn't been welcomed with open arms either.
I don't want to tell you too much more and ruin the story, but I have got to tell you ~ this is in contention for my favorites list as well. Such awesome characters and their relationship sent off enough sparks for an early 4th of July (in more ways than one ~ they fought hard too).
I just want to briefly mention another character that was unusual. Bryce and Evan were two of three sons. The third brother is named Sim. He is deaf (but can read lips) and doesn't speak. His brothers protect and provide for him. They are preparing to teach him to fight, but Akira wants to teach him academics so he can keep the books. She and Sim become good friends.
Jennifer Hudson Taylor has created a great book that not only captures a romance between two interesting people, but deals with an issue that is very timely. Both these characters had to deal with whether they were willing to trust each other and God for what was going to happen in their lives. In this economy, I think many of us can relate to needing that same kind of trust. Things look pretty scary to us, but God has it all in His hands.
I want to thank the author for sending me an advance reader copy (the first one I've ever gotten). It didn't influence my review but I am grateful for it and the chance to read the book. I hope you all will consider adding it to your list.
Posted by Margaret Metz at 10:41 PM