Friday, May 22, 2015

Her Highness and the Highlander - Tracy Anne Warren (Signet - Nov 2012)

Series: Princess Brides (Book 2)

While journeying home from Scotland, Princess Mercedes of Alden’s coach is set upon and her personal guard killed. Barely escaping with her life, she seeks help at a nearby inn. But with no money and looking little better than a beggar, the townsfolk think her claims of being a princess to be nothing more than a far-fetched tale. Utterly forsaken, Mercedes wonders what is to become of her.

After years of soldiering, dispossessed Laird Daniel MacKinnon is finally coming home. At an inn he is confronted by a bedraggled young woman claiming to be of royal blood. Daniel doesn’t believe her wild tale, but when she asks for his protection, he agrees to serve as her bodyguard -- in turn she promises to reward him handsomely once they reach London. But Mercedes is still being pursued by ruthless hunters whose motives remain unclear.

As the danger increases, so does the desire she and Daniel feel for each other, until the two of them must face the greatest danger of all -- falling in love.

Fun book with romance, humor and a bit of action. Mercedes is on her way to London from Scotland when her coach is attacked. Barely making her escape, Mercedes hides out in the woods until it's safe, then makes her way to an inn. Wet and bedraggled she is stunned when no one believes that she is a princess in need of assistance, and wonders what she is going to do.

Daniel is a former soldier on his way home to Skye. While stopped at an inn to get out of the weather he is surprised by the appearance of a young woman claiming royal blood and an attempt on her life. He doesn't believe her claims, but he does see that she is truly frightened, and after some soul searching agrees to help her get to London. It's a two week journey that turns out to be more dangerous than Daniel expected, to both his body and his heart.

I really enjoyed the journey as both Mercedes and Daniel learn a lot about themselves and each other. As a princess, Mercedes has never had to be at all self-sufficient. But when her coach is attacked, she has only herself to depend on. Her fear as she ran was very real, but she also had the intelligence to know that she couldn't outrun her pursuers and was able to hide. She had never had the problem of no one believing what she said, so her trouble at the inn was something she didn't know how to deal with. Her gratitude for Daniel's intervention was real as was her frustration at not being able to convince him of who she is. As they head south to London, Mercedes realizes that as a princess she has been sheltered from real life. There are some terrific scenes as she experiences new things such as gathering wood, cleaning and feeding a baby. I loved watching her grow from a slightly spoiled girl to a thoughtful and confident woman. 

Daniel is dealing with his own issues of returning home after years at war. There's not much there for him as both of his parents have died, and there isn't much of a home to go to. His family's lands had been taken after Culloden and he has little in the way of resources. He steps in to help Mercedes because as a gentleman he can't just desert her. He doesn't believe her claims, but he will get her to her friends who can help her. He doesn't anticipate all the complications that result from his decision.

I loved the romance that developed between them. Daniel was attracted to her, but realized that she was an innocent and off limits to him. In spite of his disbelief over her claims, he was still very protective of her. I loved seeing him comfort her when she had nightmares about the attack, and how he tried so hard to keep his desire under control. As they made their journey he couldn't help but admire the way that she made the best of their situation. He starts to picture her as a permanent part of his life. He also knows that she has been thoroughly compromised, and uses that to convince himself that it's only right for him to marry her. As they get closer to London, there is another attack, and he realizes that she has been telling the truth all along. Now he is feeling the differences between them and fears that she will regret their marriage. Once they get to London, he thinks his fears will be realized, and tries to do what he believes is best for her. I liked seeing him stand up to her father, even though he gave in to the arguments. I also liked that he couldn't quite give up all hope and was there for her when she needed him.

I loved Mercedes and her development from sheltered girl to amazing woman. She is drawn to Daniel from the beginning, but at first believes it is just because he rescued her. She knows she is going to need help to get to London, and I loved watching her efforts to convince him. I loved the trust she had in him from the start, and really liked the scenes where he was helping her through her nightmares. She spends a lot of time getting to know him and that knowledge creates a change in her feelings from gratitude to love. It was also fun to see her awakening attraction to him and how it changed her. She did fall back into her old ways very briefly when they got to London, hurting Daniel in the process, but she realized her mistake quickly. I loved the ending and seeing her stand up for what she wants.

The question of who was after Mercedes and why was pretty well done. I liked seeing she and Daniel escape most of the danger thanks to Daniel's instincts and lessons learned in the war. I had no clue as to who was behind it until closer to the end, and felt that it was a realistic scenario. The final confrontation was really good, as once again Mercedes doesn't wait around for rescue but makes her own escape attempt. I also loved seeing Daniel earn the respect of Mercedes's father. There was also a nice twist at the end that made their future so much easier.

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