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Highland Rebel: A tale of a rebellious lady and a traitorous lord    by Judith James order for
Highland Rebel
by Judith James
Order:  USA  Can
Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2009 (2009)

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Lady Catherine Drummond has been raised to rule and protect her clan, and under her leadership, their fortunes have grown. When battling rival clans, Cat holds her own, thwarting her enemies as well as any of the male warriors who ride beside her. But even her best fighting skills are no match for the mercenaries sent to invade her lands. Cat is captured and becomes their war prize. Were it not for the intervention of James Sinclair, Cat's survival would be questionable.

Sinclair has been given strict orders by his king to supervise the band of ragtag mercenaries commissioned to hunt down Covenanters, Scots Presbyterian rebels abhorred by the Monarch. With Jamie's future wealth and standing riding on this final commission, he needs no unnecessary complications. However, when he discovers that the mercenaries' captive is a woman, his only recourse is to marry her to save her from their carnal intentions. It's only later, after she's abandoned him, that Jamie realises that his new wife is heiress to a title and vast fortunes and that their continued union might benefit them both, particularly Catherine. Ultimately, her kinsman reject her as their leader and demand she marry a man she despises. Determined to live her life as she chooses, she travels to London and reunites with her husband with an offer that will leave him a wealthy man and give her the complete freedom she's always craved. But she soon finds herself drawn in by Jamie's dual personae: that of an insouciant libertine and that of a spy whose shifting allegiances might well condemn them both.

Judith James first showcased her remarkable storytelling ability in last year's Broken Wing. With Highland Rebel, she proves she is no flash in the pan. She presents another beautifully written, historically rich tale as well as two superlative leads in strong willed, independent Catherine and larger-than-life Jamie. Cat's struggle to be recognised for her intelligence, mettle and dedication to her kinsmen, and to show that she's not only a woman, is well done. Equally captivating is Jamie's internal struggle once he realizes that his easy relationship with his accidental wife and best friend has exploded into a passion he cannot understand, let alone control. Once he acknowledges his feelings, he realizes that she is worth more than all the prestige or riches he's risked life, limb and reputation to acquire.

Highland Rebel is a spellbinding historical that's large in scope, richly laced with adventure and the political intrigue of Cromwell's Britain, and with a cast of unforgettable characters - a combination that makes Highland Rebel one of the year's best historical romances.

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