Release Date: Jul 28, 2020
Series: Highland Fling
Heat Level: Sensual
Imprint: Avon Books
My Highland Rogue is the last release from author Karen Ranney before her passing in June 2020. This book was originally intended as the first in a series called Highland Fling. The story is about Jennifer Adaire, the daughter of an Earl and her first love, Gordon McDonnell, the gardener’s son. After Gordon is thrust out of Adaire Hall the couple remains in love but out of touch. When Gordon’s father falls ill he returns to the Hall, but after five years has anything really changed? Can these two be together despite their social differences or will their love be their undoing?
This book reminded me of the family saga style romances from the 70’s and 80’s with all the drama and family intrigue. The couple are a pair of star crossed lovers separated by the heroine’s wealthy family because “he’s not good enough”. Gordon leaves his home to make his fortune all with the intention of returning to his lady love to claim her as his own. While he’s gone Jennifer has taken on the responsibility of overseeing the estate due to her inept brother and his carousing ways. While she struggles to make ends meet she still pines for her first love and remains true to him.
Upon Gordon’s return he finds that the time apart has only increased his feelings for Jennifer. Now that he is a success in his own right, he wants to prove that he is worthy of her. Jennifer loves him as well but is concerned their differences will still be too much to overcome. Despite some misgivings the couple make plans to marry, when an enormous secret is revealed forcing them apart once more. It’s only after a late plot stiwst that a path forward is revealed to our lovers.
I tried to connect with these two, but found that the love story really took a back seat to all of the background information on the family and other characters. This is why I was reminded of those old family sagas a la Bertrice Small. Ranney is a competent writer that has an excellent way with words, but the structure and plotting of the book felt outdated to me. I wanted to spend time with Jennifer and Gordon as they came back together and worked towards a happy ending. However, we spend a ton of time on the deceased Countess and her secrets as well as some drama that rips the couple apart once more.
I wanted to like this book more because it had the potential to be something very interesting, but it just never fully formed. I love a trope as much as the next romance reader, but this felt like Ranney couldn’t stop herself from stacking them one on top of the other until I felt overwhelmed by them as a reader. This also was in diservcie to her main romantic couple since the work to flesh out all of the tropes and drama meant less time was spent on the fun bits. This was a slog for me that took several days to get through, and that’s very unusual for me. The only thing keeping me going was my general love for a Scottish setting and me completionist nature.
Overall, if you’re a lover of old school storylines that read like family sagas and have a slower burn to the romance you may enjoy this novel. It didn’t work for me on several levels, but the technical abilities of the author saved it in several places.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that in the days leading up to her death, Ranney posted several things on her blog that were insensitive, racist, and inflammatory. I originally asked to not review this title because I wholeheartedly do not agree with her views and opinions. However, in the interest of posterity I decided to review this work after her passing to try and remember that she did write some novels I have enjoyed in the past. My heartfelt condolences go out to the author’s family, friends, and fans as they grieve for her loss.