The Highland Thistle by K.J. Fay

Book Blurb:

It was supposed to be the happiest day of her life.

The year is 1584. Scotland is on the brink of civil war as the Earl of Arran, King James VI’s despised Lord High Chancellor, is branding scores of Highlanders as rebels and traitors simply for opposing his unpopular policies. Finally pushed too far, several Highland lords rise up in actual rebellion, gathering an army to confront him – and the king. Amidst this tumult, Highlander Arabella Fraser and her fiancé, Duncan Campbell, set sail on the merchant ship The Thistle on a voyage to France for their wedding. Pirates attack and overwhelm them, dragging Duncan to another vessel but keeping Arabella on The Thistle. Their destination: the slave markets of the Barbary Coast! Now, Arabella must make a desperate attempt to not only free herself, but find and rescue her betrothed as well.

I received this book from the author for free. All comments and opinions are entirely my own and this review is voluntary. 

Rayleigh’s Review:

“A toast to all such bold and audacious women–including yourself.” -Bartholomew Roderick

What an adventure! The Highland Thistle is as entertaining as it is daring! Arabella is dealt a cruel hand of fate when she and her fiance board a ship destined for their wedding. Overrun by pirates, Duncan and Arabella are separated onto two ships. By a stroke of luck, or providence, Arabella frees herself and sets chase after her beloved. But she’s racing against time, tumultuous seas, pirates, and a sinister plot that involves King James VI. How many things must go wrong before they go right?

I really, really enjoyed this book! It’s a thick one, with a whopping 455 pages (according to Amazon), but it is stuffed full of adventures. Set in 1584, I loved that The Highland Thistle is a historical pirate fiction story, not fantasy pirates. This tale of adventure is kept to historical sea battles, historical places and trade routes, and accurate reflections of the republic codes that pirates–and privateers–adhered to. You won’t be fighting the Kraken in this book, but its high-stakes sea battles will not leave you wanting for danger!

“‘Why, that is an answer worthy of a pirate, sir,” Arabella said. ‘Heavens, no,’ he answered. ‘I prefer the term ‘gentleman adventurer’…” -Exchange between Arabella Fraser and Bartholomew Roderick

I adored the characters in this book. Arabella Fraser is the definition of a “woman’s hero” and Molly McBain is the best friend a girl could ask for (these two reminded me of the infamous pirate duo Anne Bonny and Mary Read). Liam McNamara stole my heart the moment his silhouette sailed into view. Bartholomew Roderick has sarcasm for days and a loyalty that could win any girl’s heart. Sir William Fraser–oh my goodness, what a DAD. Please give him “Father of the Year” award. Goodness, this cast of characters left me wanting more. More conversations, more adventures, even after 455 pages, I could still enjoy so much more.

“‘You look a right dangerous swordsman, and I would hate to face you in a fair fight,’ the Irishman told him, sliding his cutlass back into his sheath. ‘Which is why I brought these.’ He drew two pistols from his belt, cocked them and pointed both straight at the Frenchman’s chest.” -Liam McNamara

This book would be best enjoyed by lovers of intense details; think Tolkien-type storytelling with longwinded descriptions and little dialogue. But when the dialogue is there, it definitely counts. Overall, I enjoyed reading The Highland Thistle and will certainly be on the lookout for any future books from K.J. Fay!

Content Ratings According to Literature Approved’s rating system.

Romance content rating: 2; one kiss present and some mild sexual comments. Cursing content: 6; strong cursing. Gore content rating: 7; very strong action and gore.


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