Title: Beauty and the Barbarian
Author: Amy Jarecki
Series: Highland Force, book 3
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Rapture Books
Source: Review copy from publisher
“Born with the mark of the devil, Merrin has been hidden on the islet of Eilean Fladda for near twenty years. When the body of a Highlander washes ashore, the innocent lass presumes him dead. Brushing the hair from the rugged warrior’s face, her fingers connect with warm flesh. Warm.
Ian MacLeod wakes to a woman so radiant, he believes her an angel. But when the lass recoils from him, he fears she knows of his evil deeds. While he heals, Ian is stunned when he exposes her witch’s mark, yet he’s spellbound by Merrin’s allure. He’d do anything to erase his haunting past and earn her love.
But there’s a henchman after Ian’s head, and when that man learns the Highlander is still alive, the couple is forced to flee Merrin’s sheltered world. Fighting for survival, destiny demands they each face their demons, but doing so may forever ruin them both.”
Beauty and the Barbarian is Ian MacLeod’s book. Ian is Calum and Anne’s second son (Captured by the Pirate Laird, first book in the series).
I liked this book, but sadly from the very beginning I had some problems with it. Why? Because Calum is dead!! Actually, according to the story he has been dead for quite a while. I know people don’t live forever, but after such a beautiful story I really hoped Calum and Anne would age together. Knowing he died young, leaving Anne with two small boys was a big disappointment.
Then, we have Merrin. Merrin’s mother died at childbirth and because Merrin was born with a mark on her neck she was considered a witch. People wanted to kill her, but her father protected her, and moved them to small cottage in an islet far from the Keep and from the people who wanted to hurt her.
Merrin has lived isolated her whole life, the only persons she has had contact with are her father and Friar Pat, who visits them frequently.
Merrin is supposed to be pure and innocent, but since the moment she rescues Ian she is lusting about him. Really? The feeling is mutual. Since the moment Ian opens his eyes he’s also attracted to Merrin and lusting about her, the only problem is that he was supposed to be in love with another woman.
I know this review is sounding more like a rant than a review, but please don’t take it wrong. There were things I didn’t like and things I liked about this book. The problem is that I enjoyed previous books very much and was expecting more from this one. I’m not saying Beauty and the Barbarian was a bad book, because it wasn’t, there were just things that didn’t work for me. If I overlook those things, I can see that Merrin was a nice heroine, she was strong, smart and kind. Ian was also a good hero; he was sweet, caring and a protector at heart.
I like them together and believe in their HEA, I just hope Amy Jarecki won’t decide to kill them young.
Another thing I really liked about this book was seeing Brad and Enya (The Highland Henchman, second book). I loved them together in their book and loved them in this book, especially Brad; he was great in this installment.
I also loved to see Anne, but would have loved it more if Calun were still with her.
In this installment we are also introduced to Ian’s older brother, Alexander. I wasn’t sure what to think of him on the beginning of the book, but he got better by the end.
Next book, Return of the Highland Laird, will be his book and I’m looking forward to read it.
My Verdict: 4 Paws
This is the first time I do a correction to one of my reviews, but in this case I think it’s necessary.
One of my biggest problems with Beauty and the Barbarian, as I mentioned on my review was learning that Calun was dead. In my head when I read a romance I want the characters to have long lasting HEAs. I felt robbed when I learned of Calum’s young demise. That event was going against everything I look in a romance book, whether it’ll be contemporary, historical, fantasy or any other genre.
One thing that never crossed my mind was that Mrs. Jarecki had a valid reason to do it, I only thought she was heartless author (sorry Mrs. Jarecki); but oh boy! I was wrong, very wrong. She had a very valid reason to do it and I have to thank her for writing to me and explaining why she did it. I really appreciate that she not only took the time to read my review, but also took the time to write me and explain me why she “offed” Callum.
Why she did it? Here are her own words:
“I wanted to apologize for "offing" Calum. He, too, is one of my favorite heroes. As 1st Chieftain of Raasay, he was actually a real person, and a notorious pirate. When I was plotting Beauty, my research revealed that he had died early as so many did in the sixteenth century. But his death opened the door for a meatier plot--as well as for Alexander's story. Though I did struggle with it as well.”
What can I say after that? Three things:
First: OMFG! Calum was real! *swoon*
Second: Thank you Mrs. Jarecki for keeping things real, even though it was a hard decision.
Third: I’m changing the rate from 3 Paws to 4 Paws. Why? Because now, knowing Calum was based on a real person who died young, has made me accept his death with a better disposition.
Other books in the series
Captured by the Pirate Laird
Beauty and the Barbarian
Return of the Highland Laird (August 2014)
Other reviews Goodreads