“Since you doona have any family to love anymore, ye could love me…” Instead of meeting her gaze, he studied the way the pristine white of her petticoat bandage made his hand look that much grubbier. “That is, if ye wanted.”
Farah buried her face in his neck and sighed, her lashes brushing against his tender skin with every blink. “Of course I’ll love you, Dougan MacKenzie,” she said easily. “Who else is going to?”
When 8-year-old Farah Leigh stumbles upon a lonely and bleeding Dougan hiding on the orphanage grounds, she cleans his wounds and captures his heart. A deep and abiding friendship and love is born between two people who are all alone in the world. They even handfast in secret in order to protect Farah from a far off fate she’s desperately afraid of. Dougan will do anything for his fairy. He will protect her with his life, and he does. Attempting to escape one evening they are caught and the violent confrontation ends with them being separated and Dougan sent off to prison.
Seventeen years later Farah is still honoring her dead husband and living the life of an independent widow. Working for Scotland Yard as a clerk, living alone and associating with artists, writers, and Bohemians. In the process of doing her job, she happens to meet Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More. Blackwell is a murderer, fiend, and villain, rumored to have killed and blackmailed his way to the top of the London underworld. He’s also one of the wealthiest and most influential men in the empire. She’s shocked when he kidnaps her and secrets her away to his Scottish estate, claiming to only want to protect her. She’s even more shocked to learn that he spent time in prison with her dear Dougan and owes him a debt that he intends to repay. In order to do this, he insists that they must marry. Farah agrees, on one condition… he must provide her with the family she so desperately wants.
I was utterly enchanted by this romance. This is my first Kerrigan Byrne book, but after I finished reading I immediately went to her Goodreads page to look up her backlist. I’ve also already put the second installment in this series, The Hunter, on my TBR list. The innocent love of these two children connecting on a soul-deep level sucked me in right from the first word. By the time the damaged, vengeful Dorian walked onto the page and started to connect the missing dots of seventeen years and how five boys banded together in prison to protect each other and then get their revenge once they were released, I was unable to put this book down.
Dorian and Farah develop a desire for each other pretty quickly, you get the sense that they are drawn together beyond their control. Like their bodies and souls are reaching out to each other and they can’t help themselves.
Expressions she hadn’t thought his brutal features capable of producing played in rapid succession across his face, gone before she could even identify them all. Longing. Apprehension. Privation, Frenzy. Control. Despair. Lust.
Dorian is the quintessential brooding, broken romantic hero. His past has irrevocably scarred him in ways that will haunt him forever. He can’t stand to be touched and worries he will hurt Farah if he loses control. He keeps pushing her away, only to claim that she is his and no one else’s. Farah is a strong, resilient, brave heroine who lovingly and loyally stands by her man in all his forms. You just can’t help but love her. Together they are the stuff of a romance lover’s dream. They have an achingly lovely connection that reminds me of those old school romances I used to gobble up as a teenager.
Surrounding them are a lovable, interesting cast of characters that both support them and engage readers in their own heartbreaking and poignant side stories. One of my favorite scenes involved Gemma, a rescued prostitute and Frank, the mentally damaged, but gifted cook and friend of Dorian.
“I told you I ain’t no good at this,” Gemma protested churlishly. “I can roast the bloody hell out of a bird, but baking gives me a fever.”
Frank turned his head and kissed her jaw. “You’re good at this,” he said with absolute conviction. “You’re good at lots of things.”
I could go on and on, there are so many wonderful things about The Highwayman. So I’ll finish this review by saying I highly recommend this book and urge fans of historical romance to put it on their TBR lists. Final grade- A
May we be reborn,
May our souls meet and know.
And love again.