The Earl of Camdonn is consumed by his passion for beautiful Highland lass Sorcha Stewart. Cam draws her into a secret world of erotic bliss—until Sorcha’s fierce loyalty to her clan leads to an arranged betrothal of her father’s choice. Cam watches in despair as the object of his desire is torn from his arms only to marry his childhood friend, Alan MacDonald.
Having read and really enjoyed Jennifer Haymore's "A Touch of Wicked", I was rather anxious to read a story by her alter ego, Dawn Halliday, and I was lucky enough to get an ARC. Knowing it was about some sexy Highlanders was just icing on the cake.
Cam is regretting ever having let the beautiful and passionate Sorcha out of his bed. Now she's married to his good friend Alan, and maddening jealousy is eating away at his gut. How can he stand the idea of another man touching what was meant to be his, having another man discovering the irresistible pleasure only this woman could provide? He can't, so he decides the only thing he can do is get her back, and does so he in the most extreme way possible: he kidnaps her on her wedding night.
Alan is enchanted with his new bride. So lovely, and a bit shy, he believes that he has found a woman he can love, one who will bear his children, give him pleasure, and be a partner in creating a life with him. He hopes to make her as happy as she's made him, and knowing that she is his, and only his, is a matter of pride. But then things change when Sorcha is kidnapped on their wedding night, and he discovers that the innocent girl he thought he'd married is actually the former lover of his best friend.
Sorcha is quite taken with her new husband, finding Alan to be very honorable and gentle, yet also extremely masculine. She feels guilt about lying to him about her innocence, but still lets him think he's just taken her virginity rather than let him know that she was Cam's lover. But then Cam comes to take her from Alan and bring her back to his castle, and she has no chance to make things right with her new husband. It's up to her to get herself out of this situation, and salvage a marriage that is less than a day old...
This one has similar elements to "A Touch of Wicked", but it's a bit darker, the heroes a bit less heroic. Alan has always felt there was unspoken competition between him and his friend, he Earl of Camdonn, so when he marries Sorcha, he's relieved that she is a virgin. Only she isn't. And maybe that wouldn't be so bad if the man she'd been with had been anyone else but Cam. But it is Cam, and this eats away at his pride. And he's not sure he can trust his new wife after she's lied to him about something so significant. Not only has his wife betrayed him, albeit before they were even married, but his friend has ruined their close friendship by stealing Alan's wife. Some things are unforgivable.
Cam knew the minute he took Sorcha that Alan would never forgive him, but he just had to have her. He believed once she was back in his home, that she would surrender to him, body and soul, like she had so long ago. But he doesn't count on Sorcha's honor, nor her newfound feelings for her husband. Cam knows that he cannot force her to accept him, so he is in a miserable state, pining for a woman he let slip through his fingers, and hating himself for it. He's destroyed his friendship with a good man, and threatened the woman he loved. I didn't find him very likable at this point, more like a spoiled child whose toy was taken from him, and I was glad that Sorcha, though still attracted to Cam, refused to cooperate with his plans.
I liked Alan quite a bit, but he was no Tristan (from A Hint of Wicked). I recognized his feelings of betrayal, yet at the same time I think he let things go on too long without dealing with the situation at hand. Instead of trying to trust his wife again by spending time with her and working together to make their marriage work, he spent a lot of time stewing, wanting her to suffer. For awhile, I could accept that he felt this way, but I think he took it too far. He was also obsessed with the idea of Cam having been with her, and couldn't seem to get past that fact. But it was because of Cam that something happened that finally broke through the wall he'd built between him and Sorcha.
I wavered between being irritated with Cam and genuinely liking him. Despite being an Earl, he didn't take full advantage of his position of power and force anyone to do his bidding. Yet at the same time when it came to Sorcha, he acted irrationally, not knowing how to process these feelings he had for her and instead of honoring the wedding vows between two people he claimed to care about, he acted like a caveman by taking Sorcha from her husband. But as I mentioned, there were moments that I actually did like him too. He wasn't all bad, just needed to grow up emotionally.
Sorcha was probably the one who generated the least interest for me. Not that I didn't care about her situation, but she just didn't really test my feelings very much throughout the story. Other than her initial lie to her husband, I thought she stayed pretty true to herself. She was brutally honest, even if it was something that would hurt Alan, or Cam, or even herself. But she has her fierce pride, and there comes a moment where she is unable to stand back and let Alan continue to punish her for her lie. I have to admit I was relieved that she finally took action and no longer allowed herself to meekly accept their situation, believing she deserved it as she once had.
I did enjoy the story, but there were a few things that kept me from loving it. It was eerily similar to A Touch of Wicked in many ways, but that wasn't what really bothered me. Mostly what I think bothered me was Alan's behavior through the majority of the book. He couldn't get beyond Sorcha's and Cam's past, even when he puts all of them into a situation of his own making, and Sorcha accepts it mostly to please Alan, he still can't let it go.
Then, there's the whole collection of scenes when Sorcha and Cam go to the battlefield to find Alan. It just didn't feel right. Everything seemed rushed and a bit out of place, like pushing fastforward through the commercials or something. And of course someone has to die, which yeah, that's to be expected in battle, but dammit, I didn't feel that this part of the story had to be included. I felt jarred out of the rhythm. While I was reading it, I kept thinking it felt out of place, and added an extra layer of complicated that really didn't need to be there.
So those are my thoughts. I liked "Highland Obsession", but I didn't love it. Still, I want to find out what happens in "Highland Surrender" (coming out April 2010). And others may really enjoy this story. It's a little steamier than "A Touch of Wicked", but not overly so. It's got sexy Highlanders with that to-die-for brogue. It's got a fiery heroine torn between two men. It's got emotion and hawt sexin'. So there's a lot to appreciate in this book.
Rating: ***3/4 out of *****