Tag Archive | Scottish Highlands

The Highland Duke (Lords of the Highlands #1) by Amy Jarecki

the highland duke

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She’ll put her life on the line for him . . .

When Akira Ayres finds the brawny Scot with a musket ball in his thigh, the healer has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to save his life. Even if it means fleeing with him across the Highlands to tend to his wounds while English redcoats are closing in. Though Akira is as fierce and brave as any of her clansmen, even she’s intimidated by the fearsome, brutally handsome Highlander who refuses to reveal his name.

Yet she can never learn his true identity.

Geordie knows if Akira ever discovers he’s the Duke of Gordon, both her life and his will be forfeit in a heartbeat. The only way to keep the lass safe is to ensure she’s by his side day and night. But the longer he’s with her, the harder it becomes to think of letting her go. Despite all their differences, despite the danger-he will face death itself to make her his . . .

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Publisher and Release Date: Forever, March 2017
Time and Setting: Scottish Highlands, 1703
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Review Rating: 5 stars

Review by Sara

I was drawn to The Highland Duke for its promise of a hidden identity story. Once I began reading I discovered it was so much more and was quickly caught up in the adventure, danger and romance all set against the Jacobite uprisings of the early 1700’s.

The battle had been fierce but Akira Ayres had no concern over the political war being fought near her home in Dunkeld. All she knew was that there would be many wounded still left on the field who needed her help as a healer. Searching the grounds of Hoord Moor for survivors, Akira is drawn to a nearby clump of trees by the sound of someone in distress. Following the moaning she finds a man dressed much better than any of the dead or wounded men she’s seen on the field. Before she can question who he is, Akira sees that he’s been shot in the leg and realizes that her skills may not be enough to treat that kind of injury. Her patient seems more concerned about leaving the field of battle than his injury and he commands her to do what she can to remove the musket ball and get him mobile.

George, Duke of Gordon, came to Hoord Moor to support his cousin and the Jacobites who were rising up against the royalist Marquis of Atholl. His wounded leg is nothing compared to the death sentence he will likely face if the Marquis’ guardsmen find him on the field with the other surviving clansmen. His only chance is to retreat from Dunkeld and travel back into his own territory or at least to lands controlled by a clan allied with his own. The beautiful healer might be his only chance at escape but without knowing where her loyalties lie there is no way he can tell her who he really is. Calling himself Geordie, he sends her off to purchase a horse while he continues to hide. Upon her return, Geordie fully intends to leave her behind and make his way alone to a neighboring clan; however the Captain of the guard gets there before he can leave and his wounded leg makes riding almost impossible. Understanding in an instant that he still needs the woman’s healing touch, Geordie pulls her onto the horse and together they ride farther into the Highlands and away from danger.

Akira has never been more than a few miles away from her home but her dedication to her patient keeps her with Geordie during his flight. Their slow progress through the dense forests of the Highlands keeps the pair in close company even while Akira forces herself to remain detached from the handsome man she knows is keeping secrets from her. With Geordie’s health getting worse the longer they ride away from danger, the more important it is for Akira to remain by his side despite the jeopardy he’s put her in. Their journey reveals Geordie to be verydifferent from the overbearing man she first cared for on the battlefield. He is considerate of her comfort, he protects her even at a great cost to himself, and he seems to find her attractive despite her Gypsy heritage.

Taking a risk that his feelings for her are sincere, Akira succumbs to her own attraction to Geordie in an incredible moment of sexual release. Unfortunately, however, once she discovers the truth of his identity any future she might have hoped to have with her Highlander are dashed. His position as a duke and her own background as an uneducated “tinker” puts them leagues apart in social class and in expectations. Added to that problem is the fear that the soldiers are still chasing after Geordie to prove he was supporting the Jacobites and her presence on Gordon land is all the evidence they’d need. It is only Geordie’s constant reassurances that his feelings are true that keeps Akira by his side; however the more she tries to be comfortable in the lavish world of the Duke of Gordon the less sure Akira is that her Geordie – the man underneath it all – will remain faithful to her.

The Highland Duke is a rich, romantic story from start to finish. Both Geordie and Akira are fully developed characters who each take a very personal journey of discovery. The labels each of them carry in society mean nothing while they are on the run. Akira is used to fighting against the inherent mistrust people have for her because she is a Gypsy. While traveling with Geordie she is treated as a true Scotswoman and appreciated for her skills and kindness rather than suspected due to her heritage. For Geordie, hiding his title from Akira is initially a way to keep himself safe but an unintentional side effect is that Akira treats him as she would any other man. Her concern for him never comes from what she hopes the exalted Duke of Gordon can do for her but is a heartfelt sentiment he has never felt from a woman before. That sense that he could be himself is freeing and gives Geordie the chance to strip himself of behaviors that were more associated with his title than who he really is.

Ms. Jarecki does an incredible job of weighing everything Geordie does with the politics of the time. The danger constantly nipping at his and Akira’s heels keeps the story from ever slowing down, even when the two have to take a moment to think about their relationship. His position as Duke of Gordon is only by the grace of Her Majesty, Queen Anne, and if it’s learned he is a Jacobite sympathizer it will cost his family everything. Still, when Akira is put at risk because of her association with him, Geordie is willing to sacrifice himself to prove that his loyalty to her is stronger than towards any sitting or deposed monarch.

I loved reading The Highland Duke. The book’s pace moves quickly but I never felt the characters or their emotions were left behind just to keep the plot going. I am eager to read the next book in the Lord of the Highlands series but may find myself revisiting Geordie and Akira’s story a second time just to revel in their perfect romance.

Wild, Wicked Scot (Highland Grooms #1) by Julia London

wild-wicked-scot

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Wicked intrigue unfolds as an unlikely marriage leads to a path of risky desire in the lush, green Scottish Highlands…

Born into riches and groomed in English luxury, Margot Armstrong didn’t belong in a Scottish chieftain’s devil-may-care world. Three years ago she fled their marriage of convenience and hasn’t looked back—except to relive the moments spent in wild, rugged Arran McKenzie’s passionate embrace. But as their respective countries’ fragile unity threatens to unravel, Margot must return to her husband to uncover his role in the treachery before her family can be accused of it.

Red-haired, green-eyed Margot was Arran’s beautiful bride. Her loss has haunted him, but her return threatens everything he has gained. As the Highland mists carry whispers of an English plot to seize McKenzie territory, he must outmanoeuvre her in games of espionage…and seduction. But even as their secrets tangle together, there’s nothing to prevent love from capturing them both and leading them straight into danger.

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Publisher and Release Date: HQN Books, December 2016

Time and Setting: England and Scotland, 1706-10
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Wendy

A marriage of convenience is a favourite trope of mine and in Wild Wicked Scot Margot Armstrong certainly hits it lucky in her father’s choice of husband, the deliciously rugged Scottish chieftain Arran McKenzie, Baron of Balhaire. However, these are dangerous times between England and Scotland and this marriage of convenience is built upon very shaky ground with Margot a pawn in the games of powerful men and the politics of the two countries.

The story opens with a prologue and a series of flashbacks. In the prologue Margot is an immature seventeen year old with very entrenched ideas as to what makes the perfect man; and unfortunately for her, Arran McKenzie doesn’t tick any of those boxes. But she has no choice in the matter, and in the interests of her powerful father and her Wild Wicked Scot, she is the sacrificial lamb in their machinations to help broker an uneasy alliance between Scotland and England – not to mention the added bonus of money and lands which such a union will bring. As the story gets underway Margot has already left her husband and is now returning to him after an absence of three years. Their marriage had floundered after only four months when she ran back to England.

Arran McKenzie is a lovely character, well developed and extremely likeable and my sympathy was with him all the way through. To begin with, Margot is quite irritating – although to be fair, she was very young, and she did her limited, childish best to fit into Arran’s world. But her attempt to transport her much loved tonnish lifestyle into the depths of the Scottish Highlands was, quite obviously, doomed to failure, especially as she only half-heartedly attempted to become the Laird’s lady in truth. Margot considered herself to be neglected outside of the bedchamber, but she failed to understand what a busy man Arran was with his many responsibilities – to his clan, his prosperous, time-consuming continental sea trading business and the personal training of his first rate soldiers. And so Margot runs away and returns to her frivolous lifestyle in England. Then, after three years during which she has no contact whatsoever with her husband, her autocratic father again pulls her strings and she is sent back to Balhaire, this time with the hidden agenda of spying on her husband. Quite understandably, she is subjected to a host of suspicious Scots; not least of whom is her husband who cannot believe that she has suffered a complete about-turn.

There are a number of inconsistencies about the relationship between Arran and Margot that niggled at me. They obviously enjoyed a very satisfactory love-life after their marriage, which I would have thought would have counted in Arran’s favour. But no, this isn’t enough for Margot to try to build a life with her gorgeous husband so she just ups and leaves without a word. That said, the problems don’t all fall on her side, because Arran just lets her go without even asking her why. Then, he meekly sends her enough money to live comfortably even though her desertion has humiliated him in front of his entire clan. None of this rings true. Nor does the fact that Arran is repeatedly described as being ‘wild and wicked’, when he’s nothing of the sort; he’s just a man with lusty appetites for all things, and is a loyal, honourable man with oodles of integrity right from the beginning – and he’s certainly no push-over. I also couldn’t believe that Margot’s father would have accepted her return to his house after only four months, especially given the trouble he went to to arrange the match. Margot is somewhat redeemed once she begins to see Arran as he really is and sets out determinedly to win his love and trust, but her character is definitely the least engaging of the two.

There is a reasonably well developed plot which deals with the question of Arran’s loyalties, but because of the inconsistencies in the romance, I was taken out of the story and found this fairly important point overshadowed. The author’s attempts to use the highland vernacular – in particular her overly frequent use of the word “aye” – were also very distracting.

Overall, Wild, Wicked Scot is an uneven read, and is raised to the slightly above average bracket by the character of Arran, who is simply gorgeous. The story is nicely written so I would be interested to see how the rest of the series plays out.

Unraveled by the Rebel (Secrets in Silk #2) by Michelle Willingham

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A spinster with a secret…

After being seduced and ruined by her worst enemy, Juliette Andrews has vowed to marry no man—especially not Dr. Paul Fraser, her childhood sweetheart. Content to bury herself in accounts and numbers, she refuses to let the devastatingly handsome Highlander back into her life.

A rebel with a cause…

Paul Fraser’s heart burns with the need for vengeance against the earl who executed his father and drove the Scots from their homes. But when he learns that his enemy hurt the woman he loves, Paul has sworn to destroy him.

Can Juliette overcome the darkness of her past in the arms of the man she once loved? Or will her secrets tear them apart?

Publisher and Release date: Montlake Romance, 3 September 2013

RHL Classifications

Time and Setting: 18th Century Scotland/Highlands
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review By: Lizzie English

Juliette Andrews is from London but lives in the Scottish Highlands, who, as a girl, met Paul Fraser and fell in love with him. After an incident that sees Paul’s father hung for Paul’s crime he is sent away but Juliette doesn’t stop loving him. That is, until she is ruined by someone who she hates, when decides to cut off all feelings of Paul and vows never to marry. Juliette’s story is heartbreaking, the reader feels bad for her that she had her life all worked out and for something that isn’t her fault she blames herself and decides to lock herself away from love. Juliette also keeps a dark secret, one that only her Aunt knows. It’s revealed early on in the novel and doesn’t have much effect on the love of Paul and Juliette.

Paul Fraser is a doctor with a family secret. Paul was in love with Juliette before he was sent away to Edinburgh to save his life, and has remained in love with her ever since. Once he returns to his childhood home he wants to start the life he always wanted with Juliette, but she keeps him at arms’ length (as much as she can) telling him she can’t marry him anymore. He can’t understand why the woman he loves, and who was so full of life has changed in the year since they stopped writing to each other. It’s when Paul is told her secret that he resolves to find out who did it to her and win back her trust.

Paul and Juliette’s story is a rough one. Most of the time Juliette is contradictory in her actions, the classic saying no but the body is saying yes. She tries everything to get away from Paul, but he’s persistent, in the sweet “you know I would do anything for you” kind of way. That’s also how the reader finds out that Paul’s got a family secret.  With this, however, he is able to protect Juliette from her attacker because he has never stopped wanting her.  This is where the book starts to take a suspenseful turn, which you don’t see that often in historical romance novels but it’s lovely and enjoyable.

Overall, this book has everything. A heartbreaking childhood love, heartrending confessions of every kind. The heroine can be very annoying at times, especially when she’s trying to stay away from Paul. In fact, my only problem with the book was her constant sea-sawing about him. Paul’s actions could also be misconstrued as something awful, but in the end you have to remember that half of what happened to her he didn’t know.

At time of writing, this title is available for $3.99

Virtual Tour and Review: Highlander’s Hope by Collette Cameron

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To those who comment, Collette will be awarding a gift basket that include a gift card, blue rose tea cup, blue rose soap, vintage looking cameo pendant, shortbread, tea, and other goodies to a randomly drawn commenter during the Virtual tours.

HIGHLANDER’S HOPE by Collette Cameron

Not a day has gone by that Ewan McTavish, the Viscount Sethwick, hasn’t dreamed of the beauty he danced with two years ago. He’s determined to win her heart and make her his own. Heiress, Yvette Stapleton, is certain of one thing; marriage is risky and, therefore, to be avoided. At first, she doesn’t recognize the dangerously handsome man who rescues her from assailants on London’s docks, but Lord Sethwick’s passionate kisses soon have her reconsidering her cynical views on matrimony. On a mission to stop a War Office traitor, Ewan draws Yvette into deadly international intrigue. To protect her, he exploits Scottish law, declaring her his lawful wife—without benefit of a ceremony. Yvette is furious upon discovering the irregular marriage is legally binding, though she never said, “I do.” Will Ewan’s manipulation cost him her newfound love?

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EXCERPT:Highlander’s Hope Excerpt – Carriage Scene 

Peeking at him from beneath her lashes, she reached up to straighten her bonnet. It hung askew off the side of her head, like a giant drooping peony. She shoved it back into place but the moment she removed her hand, it flopped over once more.

The stranger’s unrestrained laughter filled the carriage.

“Oh, bother it all.” Yvette’s patience with both her rescuer and the silly bonnet were at an end. She had no choice but to remove the dratted thing to reaffix it. Several strands of hair tumbled to her shoulders when she removed the cap from her head. Suppressing a shriek of annoyance, she placed the hat beside her. She then set about securing the wayward curls. Pinning the last strand in place, her eyes met those of her companion.

Momentarily forgetting her unanswered questions, she stilled, as did the world around her. The air hung suspended in her lungs. Her eyes widened in disbelief, her stunned gaze riveted on his face. “You exist?” Her voice was husky with awe.

Raising an ebony eyebrow, a flicker of humor softened the nobleman’s features. “So it would appear.”

A voice, deep and dark, caressed Yvette’s heightened senses. She stared. Her gaze roved across his handsome features returning, as if compelled by some unseen force, to his eyes.

Those eyesFringed by thick lashes, the mesmerizing turquoise pools gazing back at her sent her senses reeling in recognition. Her mouth dropped open. No, it couldn’t be. “Am I dreaming?” Giving a quick shake of her head, she lowered her eyelids for a moment. Lud, but she was befuddled. “Who are you?  

Review by: Lee Anne

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: England and Scotland, 1815
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 5 Stars

Fleeing for her life in the middle of the night, Yvette Stapleton left Massachusetts for England. Once she arrived, she felt her life was endangered yet again so she took off, running through the streets of London. As her pursuers gained on her, a handsome stranger in a beautiful carriage saved her.

Due entirely to events out of her control, she ends up sharing a room with the noisy, bossy, Mrs. Pettigrove. Yvette breaks into the room next to hers in order to find a little peace and quiet. Only when she wakes the next morning, she finds herself in bed with a naked, handsome stranger. From there, things only go downhill.

She’s running for her life and she keeps getting caught in a calamity of errors. Errors that will ruin her reputation. Her handsome stranger, Ewan McTavish comes to her rescue again, claiming they are betrothed. In time, Yvette learns they met at her cousin Vangie’s wedding two years ago. He’s the man of her dreams. Literally. She’s been dreaming of him ever since their one dance at the wedding.

As time goes on, things only gets worse as the lies get deeper. As they flee England for McTavish’s land in Scotland, they find themselves truly married, only Yvette doesn’t know it! Ewan has to keep her safe, tell her they’re married, solve the mystery of why Yvette’s being pursued, AND find the traitor in England’s war office. A walk in the park, right?

Collette Cameron’s writing weaved a fantastic story set in post Napoleonic England. Spies, traitors and espionage were the order of the day. The story of Yvette and Ewan is steeped in deception, espionage, and treason. Through it all Ewan has vowed to keep Yvette safe, while wooing his way into her heart. The passion between flares white hot, but they must resist. It’s difficult for them both, but Yvette’s reputation demands it.

Yvette was an interesting character to me. She was extremely knowledgeable, well educated, feisty and yet still a lady through it all. She was a delightful mixture of being fiercely independent without being a harridan. She knew when she needed help and wasn’t afraid to take it.

Ewan was almost perfect. He’s a typical alpha male in that he gave orders to Yvette when he felt she was in danger. He did it out of love, a need to protect her. He was also man enough to realize that Yvette needed more from him and he was willing to give it to her.

I’m so excited about this new to me author. Her writing is superb and I can’t wait to read more. We had a very nice set up to another story from this family and I’m hoping that Ms. Cameron is busy writing it, I’ll definitely be reading it!

**At the time of the review, this book was available from Amazon for $2.99**

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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A life-long Oregonian, Collette Cameron was born and raised in a small town along the northern Oregon coast. Today she makes her home in a rural community, 30 minutes west of Portland. Her Victorian farmhouse sits on a one-acre certified wildlife habit, interspersed with a plethora of gardens: English, rose, butterfly, rock, water, and of course, vegetable.

A voracious reader of romance since her teens, she even named her daughter after a heroine in her favorite romance novel. An enthusiast of times gone by, and anything related to romance, she writes Historical Romance, with a dash of inspiration, a pinch of humor, and a liberal portion of suspense.

Having dabbled in interior decorating in her youth, Collette returned to school, graduating summa cum laude from Oregon State University, and going on to obtain her Master’s Degree in Teaching. She is member of Romance Writers of America, Rose City Romance Writers, The Beau Monde, and Love Faith and Hope, Inc.

Some of Collette’s favorite things include unique blends of coffees and teas, trivia, Cadbury Milk Chocolate, inspirational quotes, and scented candles. Her Christian faith, husband, three adult children, and five miniature dachshunds round out her life quite nicely! When she’s not teaching or writing, she enjoys amateur photography, bird watching, gardening, interior decorating, rock-hunting, boating or fishing on the Columbia River, and reading.

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