They call him the Demon Highlander. The fearsome Lieutenant Colonel Liam MacKenzie is known for his superhuman strength, towering presence, and fiery passion in the heat of battle. As Laird to the MacKenzie clan, the undefeated Marquess has vanquished his foes with all rage and wrath of his barbaric Highland ancestors. But when an English governess arrives to care for his children, the master of war finds himself up against his greatest opponent... in the game of love.
Defying all expectations, Miss Philomena is no plain-faced spinster but a ravishing beauty with voluptuous curves and haughty full lips that rattle the Laird to his core. Unintimidated by her master’s raw masculinity and savage ways, the headstrong lass manages to tame not only his wild children but the beast in his soul. With each passing day, Liam grows fonder of Miss Mena—and more suspicious. What secret is she hiding behind those emerald eyes? What darkness brought her to his keep? And how can he conquer this magnificent woman’s heart... without surrendering his own?
Right from the start we are plunged into a horrifying Victorian world were women are treated appallingly and as our heroine Philomena is introduced, we find her in the direst circumstances. Luckily she has made very good friends and they find a way to rescue her but their idea of where she will be safest isn't quite what Mena was expecting. Soon she finds herself in the wilds of Scotland and at the tender mercies of the man they call the Demon Highlander! Laird Liam MacKenzie struggles with his past and the situations he found himself in but wasn't quite prepared for the challenging Mena. So can Mena play the part of a governess convincingly or will her secrets come to light?
I really liked the way Ms Bryne chose to start this story as it lets the reader see that both these characters have gone through harrowing experiences. Liam fully acknowledges his quick temper and fierce ways but he wants to be a better man for his children. Mena on the other hand had an almost idyllic childhood (unlike Liam) and it's the last five years that has seen her life become unbearable.
There are interesting supporting characters and boy are these MacKenzie men coming thick and fast out of the woodwork because yes, you guessed it, there's a rather jovial one here with a broken heart introduced who I'd really like to see more of. It would be remiss not to mention the interactions between Mena and the two children as it was heartwarming and I loved seeing the relationships grow based on trust. Exciting chemistry between the couple initially but it seemed to settle down as subplots came to light, although admittedly when the couple finally gave in to passion it was very well written.
Do I have a gripe? Well yes, frankly I didn't care for the Mr. Rochester parallel. Don't misunderstand, Liam is a widower so there's no one in the attic so to speak but yes the similarities are there. It's a small thing but it did slightly niggle at me.
So a sweet heroine who is surprisingly well educated and not afraid to stand up for what she thinks. A violent hero who has survived an abusive childhood and yet is so protective. Yes, I liked this couple and if you enjoy historical romance, then I suggest Ms Byrne should be on your wish list too.
I was gifted a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.