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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review: Highland Awakening by Jennifer Haymore

Any Jennifer Haymore fans here? I swear she gets better and better with every book!

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: March 29, 2016

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 fiancĂ© will be pure pleasure.

Lady Esme Hawkins secretly writes racy romance novels and is working on a new book so she heads to a brothel to do research where she meets Highland guard Camden McLeod while he’s on duty. A kiss later and he’s fascinated with her only to find out she’s engaged to another man. Cam and Esme’s interest in one another is tested by his reputation, her family’s and a threat to Cam’s fellow knights. Not to mention that little hobby Esme has…

All I can say is FINALLY! Lady Esme Hawkins story is here! I couldn’t wait to learn more about Esme because she’s a secret author who wrote racy romances! Esme went to great lengths to go to a notorious brothel and chat with the women who work there in order for her novels to be realistically steamy. She put her reputation and her safety on the line in order to follow her passion and I couldn’t help but love her for that. My favorite thing about Esme aside from her being a writer was that she was socially awkward and as someone who is also socially awkward, I felt this was a great way to make Esme more relatable.

Cam on the other hand was secretive in the beginning, middle and ending. Even at the end of Highland Awakening I felt like I didn’t know much about this character. However, author Jennifer Haymore showed more than told the few bits about Cam that were the most important. He loved his brother knights and his sister more than anything. When his sister’s past was revealed it showed a kindness in Cam and displayed his unwavering loyalty to those he loved. He was genuinely flawed but even his flaws made him appealing to be honest. I liked that he was proud, a bit arrogant and of course Scottish but I also liked that he had an insecure side that was fed by his guilt over some of his mistakes.

As a couple I could see where Cam and Esme’s relationship may seem like a case of insta-love but because I was paying close attention to the development of said relationship I feel like it was more a case of insta-LUST (Which I don’t mind at all) with a heavy dose of infatuation on Esme’s part and fascination on Cam’s. These two learned each other’s deepest, darkest secrets first, accepted them and then decided that they could learn the little things about each other later on in life. They really didn’t know each other all that well but it honestly worked for me that these two would learn and accept each other’s biggest secrets and then learn all the little, insignificant things later. I’m glad that Haymore didn’t keep Esme and Cam’s secrets until the very end where they would serve as silly obstacles to their happiness. Instead she saved something far more interesting as an obstacle.

I’ve read the House of Trent series, where Esme’s family comes in AND the Highland Knights series where Cam’s fellow Knights are introduced and I can say that Highland Awakening is a delightful combination of two very different series’. At the same time I think this book had a higher heat level just because Cam was a bit of a dirty talker. I don’t recall any of the Hawkins brothers or the Highland Knights being er, earthy. So yeah, bonus points for Cam.

While I had the antagonist’s identity figured out about halfway through Highland Awakening, the reason was a bit surprising and the breaking point/confrontation was pretty suspenseful for me. I also enjoyed meeting some secondary characters that I’m hoping will get a chance to find happy endings too. Most notably Cam’s sister Anna and Lady Emilia Buchanan.

Final Verdict: I love Haymore’s historical romances, they’re tender, tempting and touching but at the same time each book is different. I feel like Highland Awakening is the best of the Highland Knights series but that could be because it had Lady Esme Hawkins as the heroine and the Hawkins are among my top 10 favorite fictional families ever. Oh and did I mention Lady Esme's romance stories are available as novellas? Yup, you can read exactly what she was working on in One Night with the Earl and The Devil's Pearl

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