Highland Soldiers 1: The Enemy – J.L. Jarvis

I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. This isn’t to say I went into it with the intention of dissecting it like I seem to do so often to romances; I went into it like I always do, hoping for a light, fun read that I could simply … enjoy. I mostly got it.

It wasn’t perfect. I made snarky notes on a few things:
“‘In battle, if someone sank a dirk into your heart, could you choose how it would feel?’ ‘No, but I’d let the wound heal.'”
– I doubt a wound to the heart would be healing too fast.

“The rebels were unwilling or unable amongst themselves to agree, so the royalists began firing their field artillery.”
– Dullest battle ever.

“‘He then used the guard’s body as a sort of human stile to climb over the wall.'”
– It wasn’t much of a prison wall, then…

“The two hundred and fifty-seven prisoners marched in two lines, chained together in pairs.”
– How could an odd number be chained in pairs?

But I also highlighted things that I really enjoyed:

“‘Bloody hell, MacDonell. You’ve made a pish of it now.'”

“High ideals? The only thing high in this lout was in the front of his trews—that is, when he managed to keep it inside them.”

“The whole human condition seemed housed in this camp, and Mari felt smaller with each step she took.”

“‘Whisky willnae cure your leg, but it fails more agreeably than most.'”

The story follows Mari from her origin among Covenanters illegally clinging to their religion, through the terrible things that happen to separate her from her family, and into protection by Callum, the big Highland soldier who saved her life and who fell in love with her at sight.

There is some repetitiveness (yes, now I know women did not go to funerals), and some frustration as a character is given a lot more slack than he ever deserved. But what had the potential for a really galling love triangle was handled really nicely; dialect was used discriminatingly; there was nothing in the book that hit me in the face as an anachronism (my pet peeve). It was sweet and competently written and nicely told. Well done.

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