This review may contain spoilers, so fair warning, upon reading the review.
About The Book
Gladiator meets Fight Club in the Scottish Highlands in a new series from USA Today bestselling author Kathryn Le Veque
Ashamed of a choice that cost good men their lives during battle, Bane Morgan escapes to Edinburgh to forget his past. But the more time he spends away from his Highland home, the more he’s filled with regret and despair.
Lucia Symington knows something about despair. Forced to work off a family debt for a clan with little moral compass and a particular hatred for her, Lucia loses herself a little more each day. When a chance meeting with Bane gives them both a glimpse of what their future together could be, Bane turns to the Ludus Caledonia to find the warrior still within him. The Highland Defender has returned…but his quest to free his lady could cost him everything…
I need tae find my own way in life. I hadna done a very good job of it until I met ye. Ye give me hope, Lucia. Hope that life can be good again.
This is a story I was really excited about this one because one this author has become one of my favorites in recent years. There is something so unique about her style of writing and how she implements certain elements in her historical romance. But also after the first book, I was so intrigued by what was shown and how different it was from even what this author has written in the past. I will say though it’s traditionally published and I have seen a difference in these books over her self pub works (and yes I think her self pub works are better) but there was so much fun to be had in this story here. I didn’t seem to want it to end and once our pair got together, I was hooked into their story.
The gist of the story is our hero, Bane Morgan, left his home in shame and guilt as he has believed he caused the deaths of many and felt his father was better off without him around. He then escapes to Edinburgh and is living as a homeless scoundrel, not caring about life in general as he has lost hope until one night he meets a damsel in distress. When he goes to rescue her from thieves, she ends up accidentally causing him injury and brings him home to where she lives. Lucia Symington is having to work to pay off her father’s debts to a man her father respected, but her life as the Laird’s wife’s companion is far from easy, and never realized what she was missing until she meets Bane, who has gone to train at the Ludus Caledonia, and she knows that the road ahead of her and Bane isn’t going to be an easy one especially when her mistress has set her sights on having Bane no matter the cost.
“Someday, we willna have tae meet in secret,” he said softly. “Someday, we’ll be together for all tae see and I’ll be the proudest man in Scotland.”
What I Loved
There was so much to love in this story here, I couldn’t contain my excitement once the romance really got going in this book. I absolutely adored the sweet endearing relationship that builds from friends to lovers between Bane and Lucia. You could see that they had a connection to each other, and I just wanted them to build on that connection. We are brought back to the Ludus Caledonia and this was fun returning back to the gladiator training camp and seeing all the mishaps and fun times that can happen. I was blown away by the friendships that Bane builds with the other men fighting and training there and especially seeing old favorites. This is such a fascinating concept and i am interested to see how LeVeque really builds on this series here. I will say that it was quite interesting the level of intimacy that is formed between all of the characters that come into play. I especially loved the Laird and seeing him grow in strength and learning to stand up to his wife who abuses him so badly. I especially loved seeing Bane our hero, grow in his own emotional journey. He really has some demons in his past and loved how Lucia accepts him and only offers encouragement and support.
“Ye’re the woman I belong tae,” he murmured. “Ye’re the woman who has given me my life back. Ye’re everything tae me.
What I Struggled With
There were a couple of things that I struggled with. The beginning of the story does start a bit slow so you might want to be aware. I personally think this is a factor of working with a traditional publisher because her self-published works I have no issue getting immersed into her stories at all. Another fact and this is a bit of a spoiler so you can skip this but there is a scene where the heroine slaps the hero. I am never okay with this at all. It just rubs me the wrong way.
I found Highland Defender to be a magnificent story of redemption, healing, growth, and love. It’s a tale that will take you to the southern lands of Scotland, bringing gladiator delights and warm friendships and feels to keep you warm on these cold winter nights.
Glory didn’t lie in victory or power or even money; it lay in the heart. It lay in the two sleeping infants in his arms and in his willingness to understand what was important in life. Who was important in life.
Title: Highland Defender
Author: Kathryn LeVeque
Genre: Historical Romance–Stewart Scotland Era
Source: Library (Libby)
Length: 353 Pages
Storytelling Quality: 5
Story Itself: 4.5
Character Development: 4
Writing Style: 4.5
World Building 5
Feels + The Romantic Heart 4
Cover Art 4.25
Overall Rating of the Book
Simmering—soft warm touches and light intimacy
Warm- a medium level of sexual tension, a balance of sexual and emotional intimacy, lighter on the details in the sexual moments.
Steamin’ up the room -the sexual content is more explicit in the language and tone, heavier amount of sexual scenes.
Blazing fire to the building-The prime focus is the sex scenes, scorching hot, and could burn one. Less focus on the emotional intimacy to the relationship.
Scots and Swords
Highland Gladiator– Pub 2020 #1 in the Series
Highland Defender-Pub 2020 #2 in the Series
Highland Legend-Pub 2021 #3 in the Series
About The Author
Juggernaut Indie author Kathryn Le Veque is a ‘tour de force’ in publishing.
Kathryn is a critically acclaimed 21-time USA TODAY Bestselling author, a charter Amazon All-Star author, an Indie Reader top seller, and a #1 bestselling, award-winning, multi-published author in Medieval Historical Romance with over 100 published novels.
Among her many accomplishments, she is the CEO of Dragonblade Publishing, the #1 Historical Romance e-book publisher on Amazon. In 2020, Kathryn collaborated with Sourcebooks publishing for a Medieval Fight Club series set in Scotland.