Title: Highland Defender
Author: Kathryn LeVeque
Series: Scots & Swords – Book 2
Page Length: 384
Publication Date: Jan. 26, 2021
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Synopsis: Ashamed of a choice that cost good men their lives during battle, Bane Morgan escapes to Edinburgh to forget his past. But the more time he spends away from his Highland home, the more he’s filled with regret and despair.
Lucia Symington knows something about despair. Forced to work off a family debt for a clan with little moral compass and a particular hatred for her, Lucia loses herself a little more each day. When a chance meeting with Bane gives them both a glimpse of what their future together could be, Bane turns to the Ludus Caledonia to find the warrior still within him. The Highland Defender has returned…but his quest to free his lady could cost him everything…
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Highland Defender is an interesting story about a resilient woman who falls in love with a broken defender of the Highlands. Lucia is paying off the debts her father accumulated when he was ill, and the woman she works for is horrible. Though the victim of abuse and maltreatment, Lucia remains to work off her father’s debt. She is an honorable and brave young woman who does not tolerate mistreatment and always holds on to hope. I like that Lucia stands up for herself and others. Lucia also has a warm and compassionate heart, which she has in common with Bane.
At the start of the story, Bane is defeated. He admits that he gave up, unable to reconcile the guilt that tore him apart. However, though he is at his lowest point, he still acts quickly to help a harassed woman. There is goodness in him, but Bane doesn’t see it. He must face his mistakes from the past before he can fully embrace his future. Motivated by love, Bane finds himself again.
The romance between Bane and Lucia is instantaneous and strong. They form a deep connection, and it is fascinating to see what they do to be together. I also love the found family trope. As the story begins, Bane and Lucia don’t feel like they belong. They are both trapped in unhappy situations, and they are missing the bonds of family. I love that Bane and Lucia find help in the most unexpected of places with a group of like-minded people who support and encourage them. Bane and Lucia both have a chance to start a new life together if certain individuals don’t stand in their way.
The antagonists are dastardly in their selfishness and abuse. Others are weak and passive, which also exacerbates the obstacles that stand in Lucia and Bane’s way. Their bad qualities and actions completely contrast with Bane and Lucia’s positive characteristics.
Murder, intrigue, gladiator-like complexes and fights, as wells as a lovely romance, make for an entertaining read. I think the book will appeal to readers who like unique historical romances with great characters and an epic love story. Thanks so much to NetGalley, the publisher, and Kathryn LeVeque for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
- The romance!! Bane and Lucia have a chemistry-filled romance!
- The gladiator setting. Such an interesting and unique aspect of the story!
- Some of the secondary characters who influenced and supported Lucia and Bane.
“Beauty,” he muttered. “Strength. Honor. It smells like everything a man needs in life.”
There’s something between us that was forged strong from nearly the moment we met.