Sunday, June 12, 2016

#ARC Review: Beauty and the Highland Beast by Lecia Cornwall

Beauty and the Highland Beast by Lecia Cornwall
Amazon || Goodreads
Published June 21, 2016 || Swerve Press
eARC via Publisher

Powerful and dangerous highlander Dair Sinclair was once the favored son of his clan, The Sinclairs of Carraig Brigh. With Dair at the helm, Sinclair ships circled the globe bringing home incredible fortune. Until one deadly mission when Daire is captured, tortured and is unable to save his young cousin. He returns home breaking under the weight of his guilt and becomes known as the Madman of Carraig Brigh.

When a pagan healer predicts th
at only a virgin bride can heal his son’s body and mind, Daire’s father sets off to find the perfect wife for his son. At the castle of the fearsome McLeods, he meets lovely and kind Fia MacLeod.

Although Daire does his best to frighten Fia, she sees the man underneath the damage and uses her charm and special gifts to heal his mind and heart. Will Daire let Fia love him or is he cursed with madness forever?

I made a wonderfully, horrible decision a week or so ago. I started this book right before bed, promising myself a couple of chapters just to get a feel for the book (I’ve said this promise and broken it so many times—I should really know better by now) and ended up staying up into the AM finishing BEAUTY AND THE HIGHLAND BEAST. When the email with this book popped into my inbox so soon after finishing testing, I really, really couldn’t resist. I’m super glad I didn’t. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite tales, and Lecia Cornwall used the tale not only as a device to create the plot, but also as a character builder. While I wasn’t head over heels for the romance, I like the coming-to-terms-with-oneself story line. I can’t resist a good self-discovery story. This was just that. (well just that along with a super swoony Scot…)

That super swoony Scot happens to go by the name of Dair Sinclair. When his cousin Jean decided to pledge her life to God he is the one tasked with getting her across the sea and safely to her destination. Unfortunately, this plan goes awry and Dair comes back with emotional and physical scars. A local healer predicts that a virgin (I rolled my eyes too, y’all) can heal him. This is where the strong-willed, fantastically brave and kind Fia MacLeod comes in. She travels from her home to Dair’s, along with one of her sisters and her cat, with the intention to heal the supposed madman.

All of the characters, with the exception of Fia, had to grow on me. Especially Meggie. What made me, in the end, want to be friends with most of them? Answer: the way they interacted was something to be seen. From people being accused of witchery, nightmares, cats who put warriors in their place, and a family dynamic that is just as heartbreaking as it is endearing, this book nails human interaction. Because of the simple humanness of all the characters, the plot twist wasn’t unforeseeable (at least not all of it) but still left me eagerly (eagerly should be read compulsively in a sleepy-can’t-stop kind of way) flipping pages on my phone until the story was all said and done. An unexpected mystery does this to a girl. Or at least it does to this nosey one.

I don’t read a bunch of historical novels simply because the past is romanticized is a way that frequently annoys me. It was romanticized a bit here too, but I liked it instead of being fed up with it. Reading this after putting off historicals for so long makes me want to go out and buy a bunch of them. Maybe I was too quick to judge. Either way, I want more.

For those who are just getting into the historical romance game, BEAUTY AND THE HIGHLAND BEAST is a dashing place to begin. It’s a love story, a self-discovery story, a mystery, and it’s set in Scotland. Which is hella gorgeous (rolling hills and has warrior chiefs in kilts (or I’m going to assume kilts since the actual clothing of the men was never talked about and I like that picture). Talk about a picture perfect setting. Talk about a good book.

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