Highlander Most Wanted by Maya Banks
Author: Maya Banks
Genre: Fiction (Historical / Era Unknown / Scotland / Scottish Clans / Kidnapping / Romance)
Publisher/Publication Date: Ballantine Books (3/19/2013)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Did I finish?: I did, in a matter of hours.
One-sentence summary: A kidnapped and abused woman struggles with her feelings for her liberator.
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction
Do I like the cover?: Eh -- it's probably good marketing but not my speed.
First line: "Do you ever wish but for a moment to go back in time?"
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy or borrow, especially if you're a fan of Scottish men.
Why did I get this book?: Sometimes I'm just in the mood for a sexy historical!
Review: I've been having a rough few weeks, and most of last week and this past week, I've just wanted to veg with movies rather than read. This book was just what I needed, and I inhaled it in a matter of hours.
While this cover made me think 'bodice ripper' -- lots of heaving bosoms, sex in every chapter, silly scenarios that could have been solved with a two-minute covo -- what I got instead was a fun historical romance with a complicated heroine, a bohunky hero, and only two (albeit graphic) sex scenes. (The first sex scene didn't arrive until more than 200 pages into the story!)
[Note: The following plot summary may be triggering for some.] Set in some ambigu-historical era in Scotland, the novel follows Genevieve McInnis, a young woman kidnapped on the way to her wedding and held hostage for more than a year, repeatedly raped and abused by her captor, Ian McHugh. Marred by a scar across one side of her face -- another gift from her captor, to make no other men want her -- Genevieve is loathed by the residents of the keep where she's trapped, seen as a collaborator with their evil laird.
Friendless and alone, Genevieve is briefly relieved when members of the Montgomery and Armstrong clans capture the McHugh keep. (We learn that McHugh kidnapped another woman, Eveline Armstrong Montgomery, the story of which is detailed in Banks' previous novel, Never Seduce a Scot.)
Sure that her 'sullied' status will make her unwelcome to anyone as a bride, Genevieve begs Bowen Montgomery to send her to a convent, a demand Bowen agrees to. Moved by her story, he finds himself falling into lust -- and perhaps love -- with her just as Genevieve struggles with her own surprising interest in him. There's an obstacle or two, some revelations, and a satisfyingly happy ending.
While the plot itself isn't that unusual -- kidnapped heroine, handsome liberator -- I was pleasantly surprised by the handling of Genevieve's experiences. Even now, victims of sexual violence are blamed for what happened to them, and historically, Genevieve could have been abandoned or exiled for something out of her control. Worse, victims blame themselves, and I had zero interest in wallowing through a novel with that element. Happily, Banks instead gives Genevieve the space to heal, men who weren't total pigs, and opportunities for Genevieve to exert her own agency.
There's two sex scenes, romance novel-y graphic, but no more so than any Phillipa Gregory novel (I'm thinking Wildacre in particular -- which is like the V.C. Andrews of hist fic.).
I'm definitely now a Banks fangirl for when I need a historical romance -- this was quick, romantic, emotional escapist fun.
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I'm thrilled to offer a copy of Highlander Most Wanted to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/Canadian readers, ends 4/26.