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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

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Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

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"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

The Laird by Grace Burrowes

The Laird - Grace Burrowes

Some stories are hard to hear, that doesn't mean they shouldn't be told. All three books in the Captive series deal with abuse in all its forms and effects. The Laird is about child physical and mental abuse, I mention this because of how this can be a trigger for some but know that it is never gratuitous and except for two scenes it is more about the emotional trauma such acts can cause in individuals.

Michael Brodie is finally coming home after 9 years away at war and with very minimal communication between him and his home. The years he spent in France as a traitorous non-traitor (The Captive and The Traitor) have taken their toll; he is world weary and ready for his homeland and clan to soothe his tired spirit. Michael especially hopes the young bride he left behind will lead this forefront. Brenna Brodie may have been surrounded by home and hearth but like Michael, she lived a life full of fear and lacking security. When Brenna was sent to Michael's home as his betrothed she was only eight years old, lonely and feeling out of place she was befriended by Michael's uncle Angus. Angus groomed her and then preyed upon Brenna's insecurity for years until she hit early teenage years and began to understand something wasn't right. When Brenna turns sixteen, her and Michael are wed and on that night Brenna begs Michael to take her with him when he journeys to war. Michael, only twenty, was reeling from a recent incident that shattered his world and unable to process it, essentially escapes to war distancing himself from everyone that knows him and leaving Brenna behind.

What follows is an extremely emotional read about not only two people trying to overcome and manage traumatic events but how friends, family, and communities cope with the dark realities of life. The heart of this story is Michael and Brenna trying to traverse the vast distance years and circumstances has created between them. This is a slow moving story but at the same time, I flew through it as I was completely absorbed and invested in Michael and Brenna together and separately. The awkwardness and yearning the two demonstrate made me pull for them right in the beginning. Michael even with his scars from the war remembers Brenna as his cherished childhood friend and with every interaction and observation grows to love Brenna as the woman she is now. As the events swirling about Brenna are mostly the catalyst for the heart of the story, she is what readers will focus on and what a heartbreaking and inspiring character she is. The shame, guilt, anxiety, strength, heart, and endurance Brenna displays make her a character you will not soon forget. The gentleness and understanding Michael gives to Brenna and Brenna's simple trying makes you want to simply clutch this book to your chest and weep for them. While the ending may leave some to bemoan Uncle Angus not getting his just rewards, the healing Brenna and others exhibit is satisfying enough for me.

I am very fond of the first two books in the series, but The Laird, it stole a piece of my heart. When someone mocks or claims romance genre books are trashy, simplistic, or otherwise unworthy, this is the book you point them to. There is a subtleness to Ms. Burrowes writing that has me hooked and will have me looking at her backlist and watching for new releases. Some stories are hard to hear, there is in where their beauty lies.