Book Review: Highland Chieftain (Murray Family: Book 21) by Hannah Howell

Before I start my review, I would like to thank Kensington Books and NetGalley for allowing me to review Highland Chieftain by Hannah Howell.

**All opinions stated in this review are mine and mine alone. I received Highland Chieftain from Kensington Books through NetGalley as an ARC for my honest review**

Now onto my review:

Highland Chieftain (Murray Family, #21)

Title: Highland Chieftain

Author: Hannah Howell

Publisher: Kensington Books

Date of publication: September 27th 2016

Number of pages: 352

Part of a series: Yes

What series: The Murray Family, Book 21

Highland Destiny – Book 1

Highland Honor – Book 2

Highland Promise – Book 3

Highland Vow – Book 4

Highland Knight – Book 5

Highland Bride – Book 6 (Also Book 1 of the Macenroy series)

Highland Angel – Book 7

Highland Groom – Book 8 (Also Book 2 of the Macenroy series)

Highland Warrior – Book 9 (Also Book 3 of the Macenroy series)

Highland Conqueror – Book 10

Highland Champion – Book 11 (Also Book 2 of the Cameron series)

Highland Lover – Book 12 (Also Book 3 of the Cameron series)

Highland Barbarian – Book 13

Highland Savage – Book 14

Highland Wolf – Book 15

Highland Sinner – Book 16

Highland Protector – Book 17

Highland Avenger – Book 18

Highland Master – Book 19

Highland Guard – Book 20

Highland Chieftain – Book 21

Standalone: Yes

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

The Murrays are back in this thrilling new tale from New York Times bestselling author Hannah Howell . . .
Responsible for protecting her younger siblings from their abusive father, Bethoc Matheson is in no position to rescue another soul in Scotland. Yet when she sees a bleeding man on the verge of drowning, that’s exactly what she does, securing him safely in a cave where she can return day after day to tend to his wounds.
Sir Callum MacMillan can scarcely believe such a slight lass as Bethoc could save him from the grasp of death. But he knows the telltale marks of an angry fist on her skin, and he knows she has the soul of a fighter within her feminine frame. Raised to be a protector of the weak by his Murray clansman, Callum would prefer to be the one saving her—and save her, he will. If he can first survive the treacherous attack that led him into her irresistible arms . . .
Praise for Hannah Howell and her Highland novels…

“Few authors portray the Scottish highlands as lovingly or colorfully as Hannah Howell.” —Publishers Weekly

“Expert storyteller Howell pens another Highland winner.” —RT Book Reviews

My review:

Bethoc is a young woman (I believe that it was mentioned that she was 21 ish) who is a virtual slave and punching bag to her father. Her mother died in childbirth and unfortunately, Bethoc took her place. She was afraid that it was going to turn sexual because he was starting to look at her like a woman and not a daughter. On top of it all, she protected her 6 younger siblings from him, including Margaret, a precocious 2-year-old. Bethoc’s mother died giving birth to her and made her promise to take care of her and never let her out of her sight and Bethoc has followed her orders closely.

One day, she is walking the shores of the loch by her land and she finds a man on the shore, half drowned and with a broken leg. After she makes sure he was safe, she helps him to a local cave and sets his leg. She leaves him, goes home and finds out that her father acquired another child.  See, her father would bring home boys that were orphaned or living on the street and have them work in his fields in exchange for a roof over their heads and food. In total, there were 6 boys, with ages ranging from 6 to 16. The newest boy was very young, around 4.

In between stepping between her father and the boys, keeping herself from being beaten, taking care of Margaret, Bethoc has no time for herself. She stretches herself even thinner when she decides that she is going to nurse the man she found back to health. While she is doing that, she finds out that he is looking for a little boy who had been kidnapped and that his name is Callum MacMillan of the Murray Clan. He also seduces Bethoc on the one rare occasion that she left Margaret with the oldest of the boys and takes her innocence.

Once Callum’s men find him, they are planning on taking him and the boy back to Murray land. Callum decides that he is going to take Bethoc, her sister and the boys back with him after finding out that Bethoc’s father beats her. But when Bethoc went back to the house to gather up the boys, she witnesses the murder of her father and when she returns to bury him, she is arrested by the sheriff of the village for his murder.

I am not going to go into what happens after that but let’s just say that things get a bit hairy for Bethoc.

I honestly felt really bad for her. She had so many things go wrong in such a short period of time that I thought while reading the book, why can’t things go right for her….jeeze. But things did end up changing for her about halfway through the book and that’s when I felt like cheering.

I do think that her “witchy powers” (ie her sixth sense) should have been mentioned in the first half of the book. Because introducing it halfway through really confused me. But in a way, it worked.

I liked Callum a lot. The more I learned about him, in the book, the more I liked him. He went through a lot when he was a boy and made immense strides to get over it. He was very honest with Bethoc about what happened to him (if you want to know, read the book). That scene in the book made me cry.

Bethoc and Callum’s relationship was pretty much sex from the get-go. No Instalove on either side. But the feelings were there and they grew to the point where Bethoc was in love with Callum and well, he didn’t know what he was with her. For being back in the day, their relationship was pretty modern. He refused to call her his mistress (because she wasn’t) but he also refused to put a name on their relationship until he was called out on it.

The sex scenes in the book were perfect. Just enough detail is given to keep your imagination going but not so it crossed that boundary into erotica. The only complaint I had was when Callum deflowered Bethoc. There was no build up accept a couple of kisses and then, bam, he was on top of her telling her what he was going to do.

The ending was perfect and I loved the epilogue!!!

*I do want to note also that this is 100% a standalone book, even if it is #21 in a series!!!

How many stars will I give Highland Chieftain? 3.5-4

Why? A wonderfully written Scottish romance. I did have a small issue with the dialogue (it was written how Scottish people actually talked back then). Other than that, an engrossing read.

Will I reread? Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends? Yes

Age range: Adult

Why: Sex (not graphic), Violence, attempted drowning and attempted rape