I don't give out five stars all that often, but this book deserves every one. There are two things you should know in advance of this review: 1) it is part of a series centering on the MacGregor family, but not the first in the series and 2) it can be read as a stand alone.
Trigger Warning: there is a rape scene (not graphic, more like implied with a little detail) in the prologue that does not involve the heroine, but she is affected deeply by it.
I am often at odds with many historical romances, for the historical accuracy often takes a back seat to the story. As a history major and all around history nerd, this little fact often takes me out of the story and sometimes gives me heartburn rage. This book was very well researched, but the historical accuracy (Battle of Culloden and the attempt to restore Bonnie Prince James to the English throne) does not read like a history textbook - this is a straight on romance. The historical details makes the book stronger and richer; it also supplies the reason for Big Conflict and the action scenes.
There are three love stories, but the main story is that of Serena MacGregor and Brigham Langston. Serena's world is changing fast as she reaches her adult years, and Brigham is a vehicle for which Serena comes out of this change a more confident woman; however, Brigham is no wall flower - he is all Alpha male with intergerity and common decency (no asshat actions going on here). You want to root for these two from the get-go, but there is a journey to be taken - this is not a love-at-first-sight wham-bam I love you story. There is also humor and wit from both partners. No TSTL characters.
The second and third love stories shape our main heroine as well. The second story involves her dear best friend Maggie and Serena's older brother (a love at first sight type of trope). The third story involves Serena's parents, whose steadfast love heals the scars from the many physical and emotional battles in fighting the English.
This book will always have a place on my physical keeper shelf and is my go to when in need of a comfort read. While I have read all the MacGregor stories, this one stays with the reader long after the epilogue is read.