Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks The Highwayman (Victorian Rebels #1) on September 1st 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Format: e-ARC, ebook
Source: NetGalley, Purchased
They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster…
STEALING BEAUTYDorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, is a ruthless villain. Scarred and hard-hearted, Dorian is one of London’s wealthiest, most influential men who will stop at nothing to wreak vengeance on those who’ve wronged him…and will fight to the death to seize what he wants. The lovely, still innocent widow Farah Leigh Mackenzie is no exception—and soon Dorian whisks the beautiful lass away to his sanctuary in the wild Highlands…
COURTING DESIREBut Farah is no one’s puppet. She possesses a powerful secret—one that threatens her very life. When being held captive by Dorian proves to be the only way to keep Farah safe from those who would see her dead, Dorian makes Farah a scandalous proposition: marry him for protection in exchange for using her secret to help him exact revenge on his enemies. But what the Blackheart of Ben More never could have imagined is that Farah has terms of her own, igniting a tempestuous desire that consumes them both. Could it be that the woman he captured is the only one who can touch the black heart he’d long thought dead?
Lou: I have Has to thank for recommending this title to me. I was going to pass on this book as it’s not often I read historicals these days. But Has kept bookpushing and I finally caved and purchased the book. I’m glad I did because The Highwayman was darn good with such an engaging and readable story. While I thought the execution and some of the dialogue felt a little rough around the edges, I was glued to the pages by a love story that kept me guessing until the last pages. I can’t say because of a big spoiler but I’m guessing other readers will come to the same conclusion I did surrounding Dorian’s mystery past. Farah was a heroine that reminded me of Julie Garwood heroines and I think those that love Julie Garwood will love The Highwayman.
Has: I am so glad you enjoyed the book and you finally succumbed to my bookpushing wiles. I wanted to get into more historicals because, like you, with a few exceptions I have lost interest in the genre. However, I have previously read Kerrigan Byrne’s books and I would highly recommend her Highlander series and her contemporary suspense. But I have to say The Highwayman was one of the best books I read and it was also the last book that closed the year, which ended on a high note for me.
I definitely agree with you that it was similar to Julie Garwood’s historicals with the dark gruff hero and lively heroine who is his match. I loved that tone and feel of the book, and the characters, and I was totally sucked into the story and romance. I enjoyed that the hero was a self-made man even though he had underworld and criminal links. But he had a moral code, especially with those who crossed or betrayed him. I also agree with you that mystery was another factor that added a fantastic layer to the tension in the romance and story.
Lou: There was a dichotomy; the light and innocent virgin heroine factor matched with a dark and very ice-cold hero who killed without mercy. The beginning of the book was very sweet and romantic. But the pacing was off because I didn’t really get why Farah remained so caught up in her memories of Dougan that she denied herself love and a family. Then Dorian enters the picture and she starts to feel things she hadn’t felt before. Farah was swept away by Dorian’s possessive control but she saw through him. Farah wasn’t unaware of what was happening to her and she was able to reach a part inside of Dorian that had tormented him for years and years. Farah was an older widow heroine and she knew full well what she wanted. I loved that she worked in Scotland Yard and had been doing so for many years. This book managed to be fresh and old-school at the same time.
At times I thought the character archetype came across a little too hard in Dorian. Instead of showing, it seemed I was told constantly that Dorian was this dark and dangerous character and that came across in the dialogue at times, especially in the first half of the book. It wasn’t until the second half that I believed in Dorian’s underground criminal character when revelations are revealed. Oh boy did it take a very dark turn with what Dorian endured in the prison as a boy. His aversion to anyone touching him was heartbreaking.
Has: I agree that the pacing in the beginning was a bit off, but I adored the prologue with Dougan and Farah, and a certain scene in the beginning gave me chills as well as helping set the tone of the book. But I thought the slowly unveiling of Dorian’s actions and his links to the criminal underworld worked for me. I especially loved his thirst for vengeance and his need to protect and be close to Farah was great. It also paralleled the way he slowly opened up to Farah. I also agree with you about how heartbreaking on why Dorian felt so closed off with his aversion to being touched, although Farah didn’t care and was fascinated by him which mirrors her interactions with Dougan in the beginning of the book. In a lot of ways this feels like a Beauty and Beast retelling with the misfit servants, the gothic type castle in Scotland and her deal with Dorian. I freaking loved the atmosphere of this book and I adored the romance as it developed!
Lou: The certain scene was incredibly sweet and uplifting, especially when they were suffering at the hands of people who were supposed to be protecting them. Doran’s motivations were centered on Farah and on the past, which resulted in a death that changed the course of Doran’s life forever.
I wanted more details of Doran’s criminal underworld and dealing, and it wasn’t until the second half where Dorian’s dark nature was revealed. There’s a paragraph where Dorian explained that he visited the sins upon those that abused and harmed him in prison. And while he had no guilt or guilty conscience in killing, I couldn’t figure out also if View Spoiler »he arranged for those that raped him to be raped also in an eye for an eye? « Hide Spoiler I did think that Farah came across as patronising to the misfit servants, especially Walters, who she renamed Frank because of Frankenstein.
Like I said above, there were rough patches throughout the book that stopped this from being an amazing read for me. The storytelling and the sweeping romance was so engaging and without going in spoilers, the Fairy does get her HEA with the man she loves. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, The Hunter, which has an assassin hero and an actress heroine.
I give The Highwayman a B.
Has: The Highwayman for me was a delightful read. It not only had all the elements that I love and enjoy in a romance but there was something really special and memorable with Dorian and Farah’s relationship. I think because the tone of the book reflected some old skool historical elements but at the same kept them fresh and engaging is the reason why I really got sucked into the story. This was also a book that gave me the giddies in my stomach because the romance was so heartwarming and wonderful and I think it will become a firm reread favourite for me.
I give The Highwayman an A-