Set against a background of the early 18th-century wars between Scotland and England, The Highland Duke, by Amy Jarecki, is the story of George, the Scottish Duke of Gordon, injured in battle, and Akira, the healer who stumbles upon him hiding from the English redcoats who want him dead. It seems the English support Anne Stuart for the throne, while the Scots support her half-brother, James III, who is exiled in France.
The book’s cover (another muscle-bound, shirtless man) may lead potential readers to believe the story is fluff — it is anything but. As Amy Jarecki weaves a tale of the special bond of sensuality and trust that grows between two lovers, she develops strong leading characters. Even the minor characters are life-like personalities, as they both pursue and assist George and Akira in their flight through the Highlands back to Gordon lands and safety.
Alas, George is divorced, and Queen Anne will not allow him to remarry unless he pledges loyalty to her. That will never happen, so George believes they are doomed to be man and mistress. That problem is solved beautifully — sorry, no spoiler here.
George and Akira stayed with me long after I had closed the book. I found myself wondering what happened next. Well, I can hope for a sequel, can’t I?