lunedì 11 marzo 2013

Tour: Highland Surrender by Tracy Brogan [Review*GuestPost]

Highland Surrender
Author: Tracy Brogan
Published: 4th December 2012
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Received from publisher.
Purchase: Amazon, TBD, B&N

From GoodReads
To seal a fragile truce, Fiona Sinclair’s brothers trade her in marriage to their sworn enemy. Though devastated by their betrayal, she has little choice in the matter, for if she refuses, her innocent young sister must take her place. Although the spirited Fiona is willing to sacrifice her freedom to protect her kin, she vows to never surrender her heart.

As eldest son of a clan chief, Myles Campbell is accustomed to having his own way. But when the Scottish King commands he wed a defiant Highland lass instead of the French mademoiselle who holds his heart, Myles must obey his royal duty. Meeting his bride for the first time on their wedding day, he is pleased to discover the lass is a beauty, but dismayed to learn she’d just as soon kill him as kiss him. 
And thus begins an uneasy alliance.
When two such warrior spirits collide, sparks fly, igniting a fiery passion that strains against the bonds of family honor, clan loyalty—and the ultimate surrender – love.

My review
Highland Surrender was quite a good historical romance, for which, though, I had mixed feelings in the end. When I started it I was really caught up by the story and I think that the beginning was certainly the best part of the book; probably, the romantic tension that was born between the two protagonists was what intrigued me the most and the author's writing style is quite enticing, which is why you will find yourself reading almost 100 pages in an hour without realizing it!But, being sincere, I think that the story in general then didn't caught me up as much as I had expected, maybe because then eventually, Fiona surrenders and the romantic tension disappears? Probably, but I also think that, even if there were some twists and surprises in the book, they were not well-developed. Even at the end, when Fiona finds out who had killed her mother, is that possible that the information was welcomed so superficially?
On the other hand, even if there were some aspects of the book I didn't share, I have to say that the love story between the two characters is well-developed and written and the author created a great atmosphere of suspense that I particulary loved.The love scenes were detailed and appealing, yet not vulgar, and the relationship between the characters was built progressively. I loved how they couldn't be in the same room together and not fighting, but at the same time how palpable their desire was! 
I really liked how the author focused on the description of the places where the characters traveled and lived because it gave me an idea of how great Scotland must be; but above all, I loved the description of the dresses and jewels and accessories women weared, something fundamental, in my opinion, in historical romances!

Fiona is a strong and stubborn woman, who is forced to marry someone she has learned to hate since she was born, yet, she is ready (not really) to sacrifice herself for the welfare of her people. I really liked her personality and how loyal she was to her family, even if sometimes they don't deserve it, and I also admired how strong she had been in fighting her desire and her passion for her loyalty. I found her absolutely sweet and a character you can easily grow found of, thanks to her great personality.
Myles, also was great, charming and caring and SO patient. I really loved how he tried to seduce Fiona in every way, because she represented a challenge to him, the only girl he had ever known who was able to cope to him. This is why their love has always been the best part of the book, because it was eventful, not quite a simple love story, always tormented by a thousand obstacles.

Secondary Characters
One secondary character I would like to spend a few words about is Vivienne, Myles' aunt, one of my favourite! She is the kind of woman I would esteem, somehow, strong, determined, gifted with a tremendous self-confidence that she uses to control everyone at her desire. Yet, she also proved herself as a loyal and supportive friend to Fiona, and if she wasn't for her, maybe marriage between the two protagonists would have never worked that well.

Highland Surrender is a good historical romance, with a hot love story and well-developed characters, that will drag you through the secrets and conspiracies of the clans of the whole Scotland.

Rated 3.35

Guest Post
By Tracy Brogan

One of my critique partners loves to say, “ Focus on the steak, and not the peas.”
Now, keep in mind, she is very health conscious, and in her daily life I’m sure she’s all about choosing the vegetables and whole grains over the artery-clogging red meat. But what she’s referring to when she says this is story arc. It’s a great piece of advice, and one I often remind myself of when stuck in the middle of a cluttered, wayward scene, or even more so when I’m wallowing in the quagmire of revision swamp.
We all know that once you have the foundation of your story, it’s essential to add layers. Maybe you want to pile on more emotion, or twine secondary characters around each scene. You want to include twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. You want sensory details, and fresh metaphors. Those are all equally important elements. They give your work depth, complexity, and help engage the readers’ interest.
But remember, the secondary stuff is just that – secondary. Before you start agonizing over why the little brother set off a firecracker that the heroine thought was a gunshot so she ran into the street and got run over by two mimes riding a tandem bike, or before you spend two days polishing the dialogue of the dinner party scene where fifteen different characters are talking about what their various super powers are, figure out the MAIN story.
The foundation of your book is the journey of your hero and heroine. That’s the steak. The rest is just the peas.
I am notorious at over-plotting before I ever commit words to the page. I know every backstory detail about my pistachio-loving heroine and why she refuses to sing in the shower. I know my hero wears a size twelve shoe, and that the reason he quit being a boy scout is because he’s secretly afraid of
snakes. I also know his father wears a bathrobe all day and virtually never sleeps past 5 o’clock in the morning because watching the sunrise reminds him of his first love. Sure, that’s interesting… But his father might not even be in this book! I haven’t gotten that far yet. I might include him, if the plot calls for it. Then again, I might not. So I have to remember that those kind of details are the peas. A nice side dish to the main entrée. They add flavor and variety. But they are not what fills the reader up!
So the next time you find your mind wandering down a path with a supporting character, feel free to walk with her for a few minutes. She may have some fascinating things to tell you. But don’t veer off the path for long! Your obligation is to the steak. Your attention must start and end with the hero and the heroine and their adventure. Once their story is firmly set, you can add the other characters, the other charming quirks and random idiosyncrasies that enrich your prose. You can season and tenderize and garnish.
Just remember to focus on the steak first, and worry about the peas later.

About the author

Tracy Brogan is a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist who writes funny contemporary stories about ordinary people finding extraordinary love, and also stirring historical romance full of political intrigue, damsels causing distress, and the occasional man in a kilt. Her first two books, CRAZY LITTLE THING, and HIGHLAND SURRENDER both earned a 4-Star review from RT magazine and have hit the Amazon Best Selling Books list. 

Tracy lives in Michigan with her bemused husband, her perpetually exasperated children, and two dogs, who would probably behave better if they could understand sarcasm.

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