Apr 22 2017 12:00pm

First Look: Julia London’s Hard-Hearted Highlander (April 25, 2017)

Hard-Hearted Highlander by Julia London

Julia London
Hard-Hearted Highlander (The Highland Grooms #3)
HQN Books / April 25, 2017 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital

Rabbie Mackenzie has elevated Scottish brooding to an art form. In all fairness, he has his reasons - his beloved country was crushed and his woman perished in the Jacobite uprising. Just as the Scottish highlands are bleak and barren, Rabbie is a damaged and complicated man.

No matter what he did, no matter how he prayed or swore that this day would be different, he could not move that boulder of melancholy. It grew bigger and heavier every day. And today was no different.

Perhaps there are appropriate modern labels for this. Depression. Anxiety. PTSD. Unfortunately, Rabbie is mostly keeping his suffering to himself. Worse, as a Scottish laird, he is obliged to do his duty and marry naive Avaline, an English teenager who is terrified of him.

Rabbie is prepared for matrimony for the sake of his family and clan, but he finds himself more interested in Avaline’s governess Bernadette. Like him, she is a wounded individual and he finds himself wanting to know her more.

That woman was like a book—as if he’d opened one with the certainty it would be dull, but then finding something compelling enough to make him want to turn the page.

For her part, Bernadette is concerned about the upcoming marriage between Avaline and Rabbie. She’s convinced that Rabbie is a brute and that Avaline will be unhappy.

“There was something very dark about him that Bernadette was certain there was not a bit of kindness in him.”

From the outset, there are palpable sparks between Rabbie and Bernadette. Through the haze of darkness and depression, Rabbie is immediately drawn to Bernadette, although they do not immediately get along.

“You object to everything about me,” she snapped.“You’ve made it quite obvious.”

Rabbie was taken aback by her accusation. Surprised, really, and he’d not been truly surprised in a very long time. It felt odd in his had and chest, tingling as if an ague was setting in. “Because I donna allow you to challenge me doesna mean I object to you, lass.”

“Oh?” she said, shifting her weight onto her hip. “Well, I object to you.”

It’s not all snarky banter and meaningful glances though.There are profound obstacles between the couple. A proud Scot in the aftermath of the failed uprising has to make peace for his feelings for an English woman of a different class who is marred by scandal. Not to mention, Rabbie has obligations to his family to marry Avaline. 

While it seems insurmountable, you can’t help rooting for them. Rabbie and Bernadette have both endured considerable pain and loss. When Bernadette spies Rabbie at a heart wrenching low, the HEA stakes seem higher than ever.

It’s a Scottish story of love, but it’s also about hope and resilience. As Rabbie slowly shrugs off the melancholy (now, that’s what I call a character arc!), you similarly see Bernadette overcome the tragedies of her past. It’s rich and rewarding to see Bernadette get to the point when she can imagine a future with Rabbie. 

Emotional and beautifully written, Julia London’s Hard Hearted Highlander will definitely warm your heart!


Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Hard-Hearted Highlander by Julia London, available April 25, 2017:

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H&H Editor Picks:

First Look: Julia London’s Sinful Scottish Laird

First Look: Julia London’s Wild Wicked Scot

April 2017 Romance New Releases






Jane Kriel, lover of chocolate and all things Sweet Valley High.

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