Book Review: Highland Conquest (Sons of Gregor McLeod) by Alyson McLayne

Highland Conquest is the second book in the Sons of Gregor McLeod series by Alyson McLayne. I did not read the first book in the series, but the important happenings of the first book are well explained, and newcomers can easily enjoy the read without feeling the loss- although they might want to go back and read it after some of the female characters that feature in that story are described. 

Laird Lachlan MacKay never planned on leading his clan, but when his older brother was murdered, he was left with no choice. His vow to avenge his brother has led him to the MacPherson clan—and their bewitching healer, Amber. Amber MacPherson is desperate. Dressed as a boy to escape her clan's treacherous leader, she runs right into Lachlan—who orders her detained. At first she causes him nothing but frustration, especially when she blackmails him into helping her clan. But when she's threatened by the same man who murdered his brother, Lachlan will do whatever it takes to keep her safe—and by his side. 

Highland Conquest captured my attention from the start, and kept it through the entire read. I loved the unconventional meeting between Lachlan and Amber, and the slow growth of the relationship between the pair. Neither are looking for love, or plans to marry.  I like how much they have in common, and the way they argue and spar their way through the book. Amber is strong and smart, and sometimes a little too perfect and beloved by her clan. I understand how that kind of adoration came to be, but it also felt a little at odds with the way some moments of the story played out. I like that Amber is independent and willing to do anything to protect or heal others. Lachlan is well written as well, and I enjoyed his patient and resilient pursuit of Amber. I also like that he was not perfect, he was impatient in his pursuit of his brother's killer, and did not always say or do the perfect thing. However, this just made him a more real and complex character. The secondary characters were interesting and just as well constructed as the main players. The complexity of the search for the bad guy, and the effort he puts into death, destruction, and depravity is quite stunning. So much more than I expected, and watching it all play out had me on the edge of my sit. I will admit that I spent most of the last moments of the book waiting for the last shoe to drop, and was still surprised with some of the turns the final showdown took. I enjoyed the ride as the pair found their happy ever after, and think that the small details that were left unanswered will be handled as the series continues.

Highland Conquest is a heart wrenching and warming romance with a slow burn. I think the complex, independent characters really made the read, and I just might need to further explore the series.
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