Highland Jewel by May McGoldrick

Highland Jewel (Royal Highlander, #2)Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Royal Highlander #2
Publication Date: 9/24/19
Number of Pages: 336

With the epic series beginning in Highland Crown, I thought that the following books couldn’t possibly live up to the bar that was set. Au contraire. This was every bit as good as the first book – just a bit less intense. Not less exciting and interesting, just less intense because this story happens at the same time as the first one – but from another perspective. Therefore, I already knew some of the events that would take place and I could read with that in mind.

There was a lot of social unrest in Scotland, England, and Ireland after the Napoleonic wars. Rather than try to make fair laws to help all of its citizenry, the Regent/King and parliament passed laws that basically stripped citizens of their basic rights. Those laws lead to more unrest and the populace began to rebel. Ever fearful of its citizens taking the same path as those in France had taken, the government clamped down, sent in spies to infiltrate the groups, and sent in troops who beat, massacred and the participants. The Peterloo massacre was one of those events. The author has masterfully woven fact and fiction together that keeps you riveted to the page. I particularly liked the reimagining of Princess Caroline’s life.

Maisie Murray has always lived in the shadow of her older sister who was always their father’s favorite. Her sister was brilliant, compassionate, beautiful and shared their father’s interest in medicine. Maisie just never measured up in her father’s eyes, so she quit trying. She didn’t give up on life – she just went her own way and did her own thing while presenting a meek, mild, and frivolous face to her family. After their father died and her sister married a man in order to give Maisie security and stability, Maisie continued to present the same face to her new family.

Maisie became appalled at the oppression of those around her especially after the new laws were passed. Things were getting worse and worse for ordinary citizens and Maisie had to get involved. She and her best friend, Fiona, founded the Edinburg chapter of the Female Reform Society with the goal of suffrage for all citizens. Once the new seditions laws were passed even their non-violent meetings were illegal and would be treated as treason by the crown. Maisie really came into her own and began to blossom as a real leader. Her main talent was writing and she wrote all of the pamphlets and flyers for the society. However, later, she was forced upon the speaking platform and found that she also had a real talent for engaging the crowds. She never had any thoughts about love, marriage or even whether she was attractive or not – her entire focus was in her suffrage movement. Then, the troops started cutting a swath through one of the rallies and she was on the stage – and couldn’t get down – until a very large and handsome man saved her.

Niall Campbell, highly decorated war hero, had had enough of being required to draw his sword against his own countrymen – so he retired from the military. Not only was he highly decorated, he was revered by his men, and greatly respected by those to whom he reported. They tried their best to convince him not to retire, but he’d just had enough. Niall knew of his sister’s political activities and was on the outskirts of a rally when he saw the militiamen start cutting through the crowd. As he started toward the platform to save his sister Fiona, he caught sight of another woman who was saving her. His sister begged him to go and save her friend Maisie. After that first meeting – he and Maisie became closer and closer and finally agreed to marry.

When Fiona is arrested and charged with treason, Niall is beside himself. He’ll do anything to free her – even if that means giving up Maisie. The government has a task for him to do – and if he completes it, his sister will go free.

I loved this book – but I don’t suggest reading it as a standalone. Be sure to read the first book as it sets up the entire premise of the series and the additional books work off that one. I loved that all of the ends were wrapped up and we got to know Morrigan better – setting up for the next adventure.

One thing I didn’t understand was – why was Niall still only a Lieutenant? He was in the military for ten years, he was highly decorated, his men loved him and his superiors greatly respected him. I’d think he’d have been a major or more likely a colonel at that point.

I highly recommend this book – and I can hardly wait for the next one.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

3 thoughts on “Highland Jewel by May McGoldrick

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