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Highland Master
by Hannah Howell
(Kensington, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-1-4201-1881-0
*****
Highland Master is the newest installment in Hannah Howellís sweeping Murrays series, and fans wonít be disappointed.

Lady Triona McKee is the laird of Banuilt, and the beautiful land and her lovely daughter Ella are the only good things her late husband has left her. While the weight of duty settles around her shoulders, Banuiltís been plagued by desperation ever since her husbandís passing. There was a terrible fever that swept through, killing many of her clan, and then the healthy, strong men were tempted into passage to France to earn the coin to rebuild Banuilt.

The clansmen have been gone for almost two years and no oneís heard from them or seen any money. While Banuilt languishes and Triona works her hands to the bone to hang onto what little she can, the neighboring laird Sir John Grant has made no secret that he plans to marry Triona to take over the land.

Proud, independent Triona has been standing strong against Sir Johnís siege which includes burning her fields, stealing her harvest and livestock, anything to force her into a marriage that would give him control over Banuilt. Trionaís sole focus has been trying to rebuild the clan, and just the simple chore of feeding and clothing them has worn her down. The added worry of living in constant danger has nearly made her crack.

Unexpectedly, Trionaís cousin Arianna comes to visit. After ascertaining that Arianna isnít one of Sir Johnís tricks, she welcomes the distraction of a visit from her cousin, and the strong knights that accompany her lend an air of protection to the badly weakened Banuilt. Shortly, Ariannaís husband and additional knights arrive to seek out Arianna, including the very handsome Sir Brett Murray. Triona admonishes herself not to have her head turned by a handsome face, but itís increasingly difficult when Brett figures out whatís amiss at Banuilt and pledges to help Triona get to the bottom of solving her troubles. After all, a weary, troubled widow deserves a knight in a shining kilt to come and sweep her off her tired feet.

Highland Master is a refreshing Cinderella story and it was a perfect escape.

Brett Murray is handsome, hot and noble too. Heís got a bit of a past, which stops his path to perfection, but who wants a perfect man? Heís charming, well spoken, passionate and a true knight.

Triona is a study of mature womanhood, sheís all wrapped up in caretaking and working hard, and the reader just wants her to get a break, which she does in the form of Sir Brett. Her dialogues with her good friend Joan help to soften her and lets the reader get to know her better.

Lots of fun background characters and little Ella adds humor to every instance. Highland Master is a fun, sweet read and highly recommended.

--Amy Wroblewsky


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