Highland Enchantment

Highland Flame

Highland Scoundrel

Highland Wolf

The Lady & the Knight

Highland Hawk by Lois Greiman
(Avon, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-380-80367-4
Highland Hawk is a new addition in Lois Greiman's "Highland Brides" series. The story has an exciting start, a villain who stays elusive for most of the book, and a couple of characters to care about, but a few too many vague references to people and activities from the previous books interfered with my enjoyment of the story.

Catriona, a Rom entertainer travels with her former betrothed, Rory, and Grandmother, Marta, to Blackburn Castle to entertain the young King James of Scotland. Haydan MacGowan, known as the Hawk, is the guard in charge of protecting the eleven-year-old king. Cat is exotic in looks and men seem to fall under a spell when she is around. As they approache the castle, a few of the castle guards stop them and try to have their way with Cat. They make a run for it and are helped by the Hawk. He easily defends the Rom and particularly Cat because she had helped his niece in one of the previous books.

The young King is very happy to see Catriona again. But the Hawk senses that Cat is not telling the truth about something. When he asks about her younger brother, Lachlan, she gives him conflicting answers. In truth, her brother has been kidnapped and a man with an evil laugh has promised that Lachlan will die if she does not bring the King to him. Cat is also told that she will be watched at the castle, so that she say nothing to anyone there or he will know. She had not been allowed to see the man's face. Her only clues are his voice and laugh and the imprint from a medallion that the man had constantly fingered during her interview with him.

Cat loves her brother, but also loves King James. She decides to search the belongings of the castle guests to find the medallion. If she is successful, she can save her brother and the King. Hawk knows that she is up to something, but can't believe that it could be anything to endanger James. She tries to convince him that she is only seeking companionship when he catches her out of her room late at night. He continues to watch her and their attraction for each other begins to grow. He holds back because he is more that twice her age of twenty-two and a battle-scarred warrior. She wants to rely on him as he continues to offer her his aid, but she is too afraid to confide in him.

Both main characters are likable people. Cat is desperately trying to find a way to save both her brother and the King, but knows that her brother will have to come first if she cannot uncover the truth. She is a strong woman and skillfully uses her charms to try and find out the information she needs. I do wish that she had trusted Haydan sooner in the book. She lets small distractions keep her from asking his help.

Haydan is a wonderful hero. He loves the King like a son and teaches him as well as guards him. He fights his attraction for Cat for a long time because he feels she deserves someone younger and less battle-weary. He doesn't let her deception keep him from helping her even when it angers him.

Several of the secondary characters are well drawn including the King and Grandmother Marta. The villain stays hidden until the very end with just enough clues for me to think, "Oh, yeah, there he was." My main concern with the story is that there were too many situations and people from previous books who were not explained well enough to understand exactly how the pieces fit into Cat and Haydan's story. Readers who have read the previous novels will have an advantage with this book.

--B. Kathy Leitle

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