Release Date: April 24, 2018
This was a really fun anthology – four novellas centered around the legend of the Heart of Scotland, a mythical stone that holds the soul of Scotland and the ladies chosen to protect it. The basic gist of the stories is that the Heart of Scotland must be protected, if it falls into the wrong hands, Scotland will suffer. Each time a protector dies, the stone returns to the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye and is guarded by the priestess, until the new protector arrives. Every protector has a mark, a small dagger on their hip, they also have a special power, that usually intensifies after they take possession of the stone. For each protector there is a nemesis, who also has a mark on their hip and a power – each protector will have to fight to keep the stone safe – classic good vs evil.
The Highlander’s Quest by Eliza Knight – 4 stars – The daughter of Julianna and Ronan Sutherland, Julia Sutherland, is called to be the new protector of King David II, the boy king of Scotland. She doesn’t want to leave her mother, who is recovering from poisoning, but duty comes first. She goes to Dunfermline Palace to report to the Earl of Moray, the young king’s regent. When she arrives she is stopped by Alistair Campbell, Moray’s personal guard. It is definitely not a case of love at first sight! When the young king is kidnapped, Julia will be drawn to the pools and will have to choose between duty to her king or let the stone fall into the hands of a villain. Julia and Alistair will have to work together to save both the king and the stone. Nice story, lots of action, steamy love scenes and a HEA.
Cassandra by Madeline Martin – 5 stars – Cassandra Thomas is the most recent youngest daughter born to the line of Beaumont women – the youngest daughter of this line is always born with a gift/power, at her birth her grandmother predicts that not only will Cassandra have a powerful connection to the earth, but she will also be called upon as a protector of the stone. Cassandra feels the burden of expectation her entire life and feels like a disappointment to her family, when at the ripe old age of 20 she has shown no real evidence of her gift. But all that changes when the mark of the protector appears on her hip and she is drawn to the pools on Skye. Fergus needs the stone, his king is holding his son captive, a son Fergus has never seen and will not release him until Fergus delivers the Heart of Scotland AND the protector. Cassandra and Fergus meet when they both arrive at the pool – Fergus bests her and takes the stone. Cassandra follows him – which suits his purposes. Along the way to the king, Cassandra will come into her powers and Fergus will help her learn to harness her gift. They will fall in love, but will he be willing to save her at the cost of his son? This was the most “magical” of the novellas, it had some anguish, steamy love scenes, action and a seemingly impossible HEA.
The Protector’s Promise by Cecelia Mecca – 4 stars – William “Court” Thornhurst, an Englishman and seneschal of Camburg Castle is drawn to the pools on Skye and the stone as is Lady Marion of Ormonde. Court get the stone and is pursued by Marion. Marion is the protector, she has anticipated and trained for this her entire life – there is no way she is going to let Court keep the stone. When she confronts him, he takes her captive, he will not give her the stone, he doesn’t know why, but he knows the stone will help him win his heart’s desire. Marion isn’t giving up – she will get the stone. As they travel, they are attracted to one another, but they are enemies and resist the pull. Marion wears down Court and he promises to give her the stone after he completes his mission. Marion must convince him that his mission will destroy the truce between their countries and that he doesn’t need the lands and title he craves to be worthy. This was a sweet story, with steamy love scenes, a bit of angst and very interesting ending.
The Highland Guard and His Lady by Lori Ann Bailey – 4.5 stars – Leslee MacKinnon is the current protector of the stone, she has an unusual gift, she can “read” objects, she can see visions of the past and can feel the objects owners feelings. She is at Holyrood Place to translate an ancient text for the Queen. She meets Duncan Douglas, captain of the guard, when she tries to enter the queen’s apartments. Duncan is immediately drawn to her and feels oddly protective of her. Duncan is the distant cousin to Lord Darnley, the Queen’s consort, the father of the prince and Duncan’s only living family. They both feel the attraction, but she knows nothing will come from it – she will return to Skye and he is needed at the castle. They grow closer and Leslee trusts him with her secrets, which he seems to accept without question. But when Leslee’s nemesis tries to claim the stone, will Duncan choose Leslee or will he choose to stand by the only family he has left? This was a great story, lots of emotion, steamish love scenes and the most original and entertaining fictional interpretation of Lord Darnley’s death that I have ever read.
Overall, this was a wonderful collection, all the novellas follow the same theme, but they are all stand alone stories, they all incorporate true historical figures and events, they are all well written, entertaining, steamish and each have a touch of magic. I am happy to recommend this anthology and would be interested in reading more from all of these authors.