ARC Review: Highland Conquest by Heather McCollum

Posted April 28, 2020 by Kate

ARC Review: Highland Conquest by Heather McCollumCheck out on Goodreads | Buy on Amazon
Genres: Adult, Regency Romance
Series: Sons of Sinclair #1
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Source: Entangled Publishing

Cain Sinclair has a plan. In order to finally bring peace to his clan, he will wed the young female chief of their greatest enemy. Only problem: capturing her and forcing her back to Sinclair castle doesn’t exactly make her want to say yes. Ella Sutherland may be clever, passionate, and shockingly beautiful, but what she isn’t is willing.
Every attempt Cain makes to woo her seems to backfire on him. A gift? The kitten practically claws his eyes out. A competitive game of chess? Even when he wins, he loses. It seems the only time the two ever see eye to eye is when they’re heating up Cain’s bed. Still, the only thing Ella truly wants is the one thing he cannot offer her: freedom.
But when Cain discovers she’s been harboring a secret—one that could threaten both clans’ very existence—he’ll have to decide between peace for the Sinclairs or the woman who’s captured his heart.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, but it does not influence my opinion of the book nor the contents of this review in any way. 

Gosh, I seem to be in the minority for this one, which is a usual occurrence for me but… kdslfj I just couldn’t get into this one. The first 16 percent, I was frustrated and would have certainly put the book down, if it wasn’t an ARC. Gradually… things got better and I was curious enough to finish it, but if I had not received this book for request, I’m not sure I would’ve gotten to that part. 

Highland Conquest follows Cain Sinclair and begins on the battlefield, where his father is killed by another clan. He captures Arabella Sutherland, the enemy clan’s chief, and tells her that they are going to marry, thus “peacefully” bringing the two clans together under his leadership. Ella, kidnapped and not wanting to relinquish her clan to a monster, does not agree. As one would. But they spend time together … yada yada yada … and eventually come to care for each other. But still, the question of her clan comes between them. 

See it’s not even that simple. Cain is the first-born son of four brothers… the four horsemen of the apocalypse, so his dad claimed and so his dad raised them. He was delusional, but the brothers followed anyway. They each had an army of horses in the appropriate color (the youngest son literally dyes his horse green before the battle, because Death was said to have a green horse). The youngest son got the most of the delusion, named for death, and wears a skull mask, scythe and cape. It’s all quite fancy and crazy. 

I just… ugh. I couldn’t get into it, no matter how much I wanted to. The language slipped in and out of old English, Gaelic, and a few others, which kept bringing me out of the story as I went back to my first bookmark to see what it meant. I laughed myself hoarse when Cain saw his father slain in battle and said “Nay!” with a hand stretched out his way. Just imagining the scene makes me giggle. “Nay”?? Really?? There was no other reaction outside of that, which was rather odd. Not to mention, all the simile’s and metaphors, in the beginning, made my head spin ?

“Surely, pledging your heart to one of God’s warrior would be better than the cold, dark grave.”
“The Chief of God’s Warriors,” Cain restated. 

I really, really wanted to like Ella. And I did, she could be pretty cool. But as a supposedly dynamic character, I was unimpressed. She was said to be cunning and brave and all that fierce women stuff… but to be honest, I didn’t see it. When she gave the order to have Cain’s father killed, Cain started riding right towards her. She sat on her horse and said things like “Oh he’s getting closer,” “Oh my he’s moving quite fast,” “I should move?” before someone told her to go! and she ran away into the woods.

Honey, if you have an army, I beg of you to utilize it and not run away from its protection. No wonder she was captured!! You marveled at how fast his horse was, and then led him in a merry game of chase? *scoff* It’s like the author had this outline of the events that were going to happen, and no possibilities were given consideration. She had to be captured, so she was captured, except her whole (assumed) personality was set aside to do it.

I couldn’t help but feel that there were multiple opportunities for her to escape that weren’t taken. And though Cain and she kept marveling after her cunning and how she would definitely escape… she never did. She never even came close. She wasn’t scared of Cain and that’s about the old brave thing she could do. Oh, and she stands on her horse when she rides. That was pretty cool, but it was highlighted so much that I think it was the only thing she could do. Towards the end, she started to act more like a warrior – or others thought that she was and allowed her some freedom to be in charge – but I didn’t look at her and think Warrior. I still don’t.

The enemies-to-lovers connection had some substance but… I stick with my statement of “some.” The connection was made fairly obvious, they just both had to make a *choice* and it was pretty obvious which one they were going to individually make. Plus, although they were definitely “enemies,” I couldn’t help but feel some insta-love on his side. Which… gross. Overall, I wasn’t too impressed but it wasn’t awful. If I had to give it a word-rating, I’d say “fine.” But I do also seem to be in the minority for this one, so definitely check it out if you’re interested! 

Thank you to Entangled Publishing for the review copy and for all that you do! ✨

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Do you enjoy reading historical romance? Are there any good regency romances you could recommend? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you! 

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