Monday, February 22, 2010

THE HIGHLANDER'S SWORD--Review

The Highlander’s Sword


By: Amanda Forester

Sourcebooks
Price: $6.99
Publication Date: March 2010






A quiet, flame-haired beauty with secrets of her own…



Lady Aila Graham is destined for the convent, until her brother’s death leaves her an heiress. Soon she is caught between hastily arranged marriage with a Highland warrior, the Abbot’s insistence that she take her vows, the Scottish Laird who kidnaps her, and the traitor from within who betrays them all.



She's nothing he expected and everything he really needs...



Padyn MacLaren, a battled-hardened knight, returns home to the Highlands after years of fighting the English in France. MacLaren bears the physical scars of battle, but it is the deeper wounds of betrayal that have rocked his faith. Arriving with only a band of war-weary knights, MacLaren finds his land pillaged and his clan scattered. Determined to restore his clan, he sees Aila’s fortune as the answer to his problems…but maybe it’s the woman herself.



My thoughts:

I have always loved Medievals, particularly by authors such as Roberta Gellis, Catherine Coulter, and Jude Deveraux. In today’s world, big fat Medievals are a thing of the past. Now everything has to be fast paced, spare in narrative, must happen in a short period (like a few weeks or even a few days) of time. In my opinion, the current style comes up short in showing the rich splendor of the times. I always have the feeling half the story is missing because I only get a condensed section of life and time.

I’ve sampled several Medievals, Scottish in particular, and have been left with a feeling of hmm, Scottish you say? Medieval? Or characters with contemporary attitudes dressed in medieval clothes spouting their lines in a Scot Brogue. Sorry, not good enough. Not one, have I read of late, is on my keepers’ shelf—my personal library. Until now.

So, it was with some skepticism I picked up Highlander’s Sword. Amanda Forester must have had some of the same ideas I had when reading the current fare of Medievals because her story is a good tale. Granted, it doesn’t span several months as did some of the medieval family sagas of old but I wasn’t left with a feeling of a half told story.

One of the things I liked (and one of my bug-a-boos) was it was historically accurate, both facts and mores of the time. Nowhere did I get the feeling of contemporary characters dressed in costumes.

Ms. Forester was able to pack a lot of story in her book. It kept my interest from beginning to the end and I was sorry it was over. Nicely paced, good dialog, an intriguing suspense, lots of conflict to resolve both between the two main characters and within the secondary characters as well.

Lady Aila’s parents have a nice side story, as does one of my favorite characters, Chaumont. I like Chaumont, he’s a warrior, he’s funny, Mr. Fashion plate, after all he is French, and he’s a ladies man. I love the close relationship between him and Padyn MacLaren. Ms. Forester skillfully shows that relationship by way of dialog—lots of razzing, but there is no mistaking the deep love, trust, and friendship between these men. MacLaren is more understated than his friend, but he’s a savvy man, excellent warrior, he could care less about how he looks and is all the more attractive for it. He makes the heart go pity-pat. Especially Lady Aila’s.

Aila is well a well-crafted character, true to her time. She’s strong, capable, well educated as she was destined to be a director or mother superior, of a Priory. She’s also a hoot. She has a way of quoting scriptures, and in more than one language, both to calm herself and to find answers. Sometimes she uses them to confound others. I laughed more than once over the way she handles things and lordy can she ride like the wind. She’s full of surprises. And totally unaware of her beauty, which is also fun.

There is a hidden villain in the story, who has an agenda of his own. That bit is deftly weaved into the story, and steps up the tension through out until the denouement. A few surprises there too.

Overall this was a very good read. I was very impressed with this debut. If you like Medievals, I suggest you hop a fast destrier and get thee to the nearest book store and snatch it up.




Excerpt:



Aila entered her father’s solar with some difficulty, her feet growing heavier with every step. Confirming her fears, MacLaren stood next to her father. The two imposing men stared at her, saying nothing. This could not be good. Her father folded his large arms across his massive chest and turned to MacLaren.


Aila was struck at the change in MacLaren. She had known him years ago when he had been a friend to her brother. The warrior now before her hardly resembled the braw, cocksure young man who had left Scotland to fight the English in France. He looked older, his slate eyes cold. A red scar carved a wicked path from the corner of his left
eye down to his chin.


“Well?” demanded her father.

MacLaren looked her up and down in a manner that brought heat to her face.

“Aye, I’ll have her.”


Aila’s mouth dropped open, and she stared at one then the other. MacLaren frowned and turned to Laird Graham.


“Ye’ve no’ told her then?”


“I’ve told no one,” replied her father. “Watch yer back, laddie. I warrant there will be some what will take offense to yer marriage.”


Marriage?

Amanda has two videos on this book, She calls them the Dueling Duo as she's trying to decide which one to use. One's humorous, from Chaumont's viewpoint and the other plays it straight. You can cast a vote for which of the two you like.

Also we have two books available for two commenters today.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~



Amanda Forester holds a PhD in clinical psychology and a Masters degree in theology. As a psychologist, she has worked as a clinical researcher and a university instructor (what they call you when they don’t want to give you tenure). None of which has anything to do with writing romance novels. After trying for many years to stop the internal storylines floating around her head, she finally gave up and wrote one down. Now when she is caught daydreaming and talking to herself she can just say, “I’m plotting a scene for my next novel,” which sounds so much better than, “I’m hallucinating and responding to internal stimuli.”


Amanda lives in the Pacific Northwest with her officer and a gentleman husband and their two remarkably active, naturally brilliant children. They share their home with two fiendishly destructive cats and one lazy dog.


The Highlander’s Sword is Amanda’s first novel, so she would greatly enjoy hearing from readers.



13 comments:

~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome to Over Coffee, Amanda. I have plenty of coffee and goodies on the coffee bar.

Can we have Chaumont stand there so we can drool over him? Btw I saw the humorous video you did featuring him. It made me laugh and I'm thinking, since it's warm enough here, we could maybe have him flex his muscles here too, lol!

Tonya Kappes said...

Amanda congratulations on your debut.

Mason Canyon said...

This sounds like a wonderful book. It is hard to find a good Medieval book that doesn't leave you wondering where the rest of the book is. I love the cover as well. This one is going on my wish list.

Kat Sheridan said...

Amanda, this sounds like a wonderful book, and Sia, what a great review! Sounds quite yummy. And there's a video? You really must post a link! Wishing you much success!

Kat Sheridan said...

And the castle on your website and cover--is it by chance Eileen Donan (one of the my favorites)?

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kat, thanks for the reminder. I included the link.

Amanda Forester said...

Hi everyone! I tried posting earlier but had some technical difficulties (darn Monday!). Thanks Sia for such a wonderful review - I'm so glad you liked it! Yes, I have a special love for Chaumont too. He was fun to write - had a mind of his own!


Yes, I believe the castle in the picture is Eileen Donan. My dream is to visit there sometime and see for myself! Of course I just love a man with a Scottish accent so the thought of a whole country of brouge-speaking men... oh, I could get myself in trouble that way!

Amanda

~Sia McKye~ said...

I love Blogger, Amanda, but there are times it wants to be persnickety. Glad you were able to get through.

Yah, I so understand the whole Scot accent. As you can imagine, I was in 7th heaven when my brother and I were doing competition pipe bands with some from Scotland. You fly into Edinburgh, and close your eyes and listen to all the musical voices. My brother actually had the nerve to get out a kleenex and blot my mouth. "You're drooling darlin'. Lolol!

So what next from the pen of Amanda Forester?

Tomi I. said...

I am excited to read this book! I've only read one other Scots-Medieval Romance and it was too dark for me. This sounds light and fun, with just enough edge to keep me intrigued.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Tomi, This one isn't dark. It's a fun read, but really you'd be surprised at the layering of events Amanda skillfully weaves in to keep you glued to the pages.

thanks for stopping by, Tomi

Amanda Forester said...

Hi Tomi!

Sia I am so jealous you got to visit Scotland! I'm afraid if I went I might never return (what do brothers know!).

As for writing, I hope to continue with another Scottish medieval (or two) - we'll see!

Kat Sheridan said...

Amanda, seeing Eileen Donan is also on my dream list! And yeah, I think I'd just have to sit in a pub and listen to that accent all day!

VA said...

I have a secret passion for Scottish-based novels; they are the cowboys of the old world after all. Love 'em. I like the sound of this one Sia and I know you don't gush indiscriminantly.