cover image Highland Treasure

Highland Treasure

Lynsay Sands. Avon, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-305884-2

Sands’s regressive ninth Highlands Brides romance (after Hunting for a Highlander) hinges on unconvincing sexual chemistry and graphic depictions of abuse. Lady Elysande de Valance is beaten bloody by Baron de Bucci in the prologue, and the balance of the story deals erratically but explicitly with the physical consequences of this trauma. Painted as stronger than the other women around her (including a village woman who dies “with relief” after a similar beating), Elysande escapes de Bucci—a family friend turned traitor to the crown—and takes flight with two loyal minions and an escorting squadron of Highlanders, called in as an implausible favor. Among the Scots is Rory Buchanan, a skilled healer and warrior with a propensity for lurking to watch Elysande get naked. The ensuing plot is standard stuff: pull off innumerable hairsbreadth escapes on a cross-country odyssey to warn Edward III of de Bucci’s treachery—and fall in love along the way. The portrayal of Elysande as exceptional among women continues throughout and will turn off many readers (“Elysande De Valance was one of those rare women a man could like, admire, respect, and still want in his bed”). The resulting romance strikes sour notes with enough frequency to keep the reader wincing right alongside Elysande. Agent: Annalise Robey, Jane Rotrosen Agency.(Jan.)