I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
After her husband was killed in service to Clan Chief Iain Campbell, Cait couldn't bear to be around him. Living in a cottage on the edge of Campbell land, Cait is a healer who serves the Scottish and English.
Iain's guilt over his best friend's death has kept him away from Cait but as the tensions between the English and Scottish start to heat up very close to home, he feels responsible for her safety. He's been called a traitor to Scotland but as his feelings for Cait grow, he might have to come out of the shadows and declare his true loyalties.
"The Highland of old is gone," she whispered.
Third in the Highland Pride series, Campbell's Redemption is set in Scotland a little bit after the Battle of Culloden and a little bit before The Act of Proscription (Scots had to turn over weapons and banned kilts and tartans). This little slice of time is heartbreaking to read as we are shown the English crushing the Scottish people. Through Iain we are shown how his unique position, he holds a Scottish and English title, allows him to gain information for the Scots, who his sympathies lie with. We the reader, know what is still left in store for the Scots, but Iain has a hard time trying to convince the other clan chiefs that they have truly lost and it could get worse. Iain's strength, loneliness, and will made him a stirring character to read about. We get to see him drop his protective wall with Cait but I would have liked to see more interactions with his commander and friend Adair for more of a connection to his personality, he was a very stoic man.
What he wished was that she would forgive him for John's death. What he wished was that he could forgive himself for John's death.
As Cait's feelings regarding Iain are tied into her husband John's death, her grief is front and center. The first 40% of this story was incredibly moving with Iain blaming himself and Cait using Iain as a target for her grief. Cait's hardships, losing her husband, daughter, and lover were deeply sad to read about but there was also release in how the author wrote her grief; brutal, angry, painful, and overwhelming. You will feel when you read about Cait. The beginning might be a bit slow moving for some, Cait and Iain's pain and past keep any romantic feelings to the sides for most of the first half but I enjoyed the burning down and building.
"I want to make love to you," he said.
When Cait and Iain do start to get together, I thought it almost felt too fast. Knowing the emotional turmoil each had individually and together, I was looking for more of a slow physical burn. The physicality between the two jumps ahead of their emotional joining (still had unresolved pain regarding John's death). The whole story takes place within a month and because of the realness I felt from their pain, it seemed too unrealistic for me. I also thought at times that their dialogue was a bit stilted, kind of a bare back and forth; the author was great at emotionally expressing but missed the mark a bit with the characters’ verbal.
Cait and Iain are up front and center for most of the story and the vast majority of scenes take place at Cait's cottage. Even though we have some secondary characters popping in and out and Iain working to warn about the English thinking about cracking down even harder, I didn't get a great sense of the outside world; the core of the story felt very isolated. Cait and Iain were two very self-imposed isolated characters but more scenes with Iain and Adair could have helped this. I also felt like this could have almost ended a little over half way, the last 40-30% felt like it had nowhere to go. Our main conflict was resolved with Cait and Iain together and the added evil British soldier drama felt unnecessarily tagged on. The ending life and death drama was rushed and some plot points weren't exactly explained. I also missed Adair, as Iain's commander and best friend; I thought he definitely should have been making stronger appearances at the end. If you have read the previous two books in the series, you will enjoy the heroes and heroines from those stories making appearances.
The beginning of the story and the character of Cait was a moving look at grief and Iain's undercover fight for Scotland and its people was an emotional and poignant fictional glimpse into a truly painful time period.