Though this book is about a different couple to that featured in the first in this series, Highland Crown, you’re going to miss a lot of the underlying context here if you haven’t read Highland Crown. At the end of that book we discovered Cinead’s royal lineage, and the fallout from that discovery. It’s obvious Cinead and Isabella’s marriage will have repercussions for everyone close to them, and in this book we see the effect it has on Maisie, Isabella’s younger sister.
Highland Jewel actually opens before Highland Crown takes place, setting the scene in Edinburgh as we discover Maisie wasn’t the quiet, biddable girl everyone thought. She was heavily involved in the Female Reform Society, a group considered seditious by England’s government, and with her friend Fiona, getting into all sorts of dangerous situations. Fiona’s brother Niall, a former army officer who retired when he couldn’t stomach the violence against his own people he was tasked with, is Maisie’s hero, and put in a terrible situation when his sister is held hostage to force Niall to commit an unspeakable act.
I still can’t quite see, given the historical context of the time, how Cinead and Isabella can get any sort of satisfyingly happy ending considering the impressive forces arrayed against them (and the fact that I know very well he didn’t get to be King of Scotland :P) but I can’t wait to read the third book in the series, Highland Sword, to find out how May McGoldrick manage to wrap this all up. I have every confidence they’ll manage it in some satisfying but unexpected way, though, because honestly this pair of authors are some of the best you’re going to find writing historical romance today. Weaving real historical events with fiction with such a deft touch the lines blur into insignificance, there are history lessons blended with a wonderful romance in every story.
Five stars for yet another fabulous read from May McGoldrick!
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.
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