Claiming the Highlander’s Heart by Lily Maxton

Claiming The Highlander's Heart (The Townsends, #4)Claiming The Highlander’s Heart by Lily Maxton
Tracy’a rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Townsends, #4

Release Date; July 9, 2018

I have read a lot of historical romances and I think it is safe to say that I have never read this particular storyline before.

Georgina Townsend, the youngest and last unattached Townsend has just returned from a trip to Glasgow, while in town, she got some very troubling and unsettling news from her doctor, she is still processing that information when she learns that her house was robbed and her mother’s music box was stolen.

Unwilling to just accept the box is gone, Georgina tracks down the thieves and joins their band of outlaws to learn the whereabouts of the last link she has to her mother. She is a little surprised by the group and is undeniably attracted to their leader, Malcolm “Mal” Stewart.

Mal returned from the war to learn his family had been forced out of their home and left for Nova Scotia, but died aboard ship during a typhus outbreak. Alone in the world and extremely angry, Mal decides to make the “Lords” responsible for the clearances pay by stealing sheep. He is sort of a Robin Hood type and has a band of strays that have joined him. When Georgina approaches, he is instantly smitten, but the others are leery and decide she needs to be tested. Georgina gives them a false name – Catriona MacPhearson and is willing to do whatever is necessary to stay with the group until she gets what she came for.

She passes their test with flying colors, she also learns that she and Mal share a love of music and they play exceptionally well together. Her feelings are getting muddled and when their raid goes wrong and Mal is shot – she chooses to stay with him. They take Mal to a remote cottage to heal and while there, he gives her the music box as a gift. But instead of leaving right away, she stays until she is sure he will recover and then leaves without a word.

Weeks pass, Malcolm is still hurt and upset that she left, but tells himself to forget her. She is not faring much better. So when he takes a chance and tracks her down – he is shocked to find out who and what she really is. Georgina is shocked (and elated) to see Malcolm, but is also worried – will he tell her brother? The desire between them is even stronger than they remembered – but neither is willing to give an inch. Plus Georgina has a secret that may change everything between them.

This is a well written, well paced story with an unusual storyline as well as a heroine with a unique problem. There is a lot of desire, some steamy love scenes, dangerous situations, an exceptional hero, very likable secondary characters, some heartache, some joy and a sigh worthy HEA.

This is the fourth book in the Townsends series, but it can absolutely be read as a stand alone title.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review of an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher.*

Tempting the Laird by Julia London

Tempting the Laird (Highland Grooms, #5)Tempting the Laird by Julia London
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Highland Grooms, #5

Release Date: June 26, 2018

Catriona “Cat” MacKenzie is mourning the loss of her beloved Aunt Zelda when a representative of the crown arrives and informs her father that the abbey Zelda used to house homeless women and children is being seized by the crown. Zelda was accused of treason for sheltering rebels after the battle of Culloden and therefore the abbey is being forfeited to England. Cat is furious, she had planned on continuing her aunt’s work and will not accept the loss of the abbey. Her mother suggests going to visit her uncle Knox, the Earl of Norwood, he knows everyone and might be able to help her.

Hamlin Graham, the Duke of Montrose is a murderer, if gossip is to be believed. Cat is fascinated by the tale of his marriage and the disappearance of his wife and decides to learn the truth. She doesn’t really believe he killed his wife, but the woman is missing, so something happened! She meets Hamlin and his delightful ward Eula when they pay a call to invite him to dine. Hamlin is taken aback by this vivacious woman, she is lovely and very bold, a combination that he is unwillingly drawn to.

Hamlin is basically an outcast, everyone believes he killed his wife Glenna, who was universally adored, but only a couple of people know the truth about her and her disappearance. Hamlin desperately wants to gain a seat in the House of Lords, a feat that seems almost impossible with the rumors of murder floating around. So when he is invited to dinner, his secretary insists that he attend, he needs to convince the voting members of the house, that he should be voted in. He reluctantly goes and is mesmerized by Cat – she is incredible!

They end up spending more and more time together and finally become lovers. Both know that theirs is not a happily ever after love story. He can’t marry someone with her tainted background if he wants to get a seat in the Lords and she has the abbey to manage. But neither can seem to walk away. They are so happy together and they begin to contemplate how they can stay together and what they are willing to give up for their love, when the truth of Hamlin’s first marriage comes roaring into his life.

Both Cat and Hamlin are heartbroken, but there is no way they can be together without hurting someone. They part and in a surprising moment of compassion, Cat makes an offer that will ensure they are never together, but will guarantee him a seat in the Lords. Hamlin is overwhelmed by Cat’s generosity and vows that she will never regret him – he will spend the rest of his life making sure she doesn’t.

I really enjoyed this book, but it will rip your heart out and stomp on it – it is entertaining, steamy, witty and heartbreaking. The love between Hamlin and Cat is a beautiful soulmate type love and your heart will break right along with theirs, the secondary characters are delightful, especially Hamlin’s ward Eula, the ending is completely breathtaking and sigh worthy! And if that was not enough, there is a wonderful epilogue as well as very informative Author notes and a glossary! While this is the fifth book in the series, but it can absolutely be read as a stand-alone title and I am happy to recommend it.


The Highlander’s Promise by Lynsay Sands

The Highlander's Promise (Highlanders #6)The Highlander’s Promise by Lynsay Sands
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Highlanders, #6

Release Date: June 26, 2018

Laird Aulay Buchanan’s day is not going as expected. He felt a black mood coming and set out to his hunting lodge for some time alone, but his younger brother Alick has tagged along. Aulay reiterates that he is going fishing – nothing more. Alick is disappointed (he was hoping fishing meant drinking and wenching), but decides to stay for a couple of days anyway. They take a boat out on the ocean and Alick spots something – it looks like a ship mast. They get closer and discover a woman tied to the mast. They cut her free and are shocked that she is alive. She wakes and looks at Aulay, he prepares himself for the inevitable scream of horror when she sees his scarred visage. But she surprises him by asking if he is an angel. He asks if she has family they should notify and she gets upset and babbles about a cat, a white lady and betrotheds who are not her betrothed killing their first wife and now will kill her. Aulay promises to keep her safe and will not alert anyone until she is well. He asks her name, but she has passed out. That is when he sees the blood. They rush back to the lodge and he sends Alick to get Rory and a few of his other brothers.

She is wounded and Rory doesn’t expect her to live, he shaved part of her head to treat the wounds and leaves her in Aulay’s care. He spends the next few weeks nursing her back to health. He has been calling her Jetta, because of her beautiful black hair, but he longs to know who she is, because she is the first woman to look upon him without horror since he got the injury in the same battle that took his twin brother Ewan. She wakes and believes that Aulay is her husband, she has no memory of her past and when she tries to remember, it causes her extreme pain and she passes out. Rory tells Aulay to play along, he doesn’t want her to get upset or be frightened. Aulay agrees, but his attraction to her makes it hard to keep his distance. Especially when Jetta doesn’t understand why her “husband” won’t bed her.

Slowly, Jetta heals, but has not remembered much more than a few trifling bits of her previous life. She and Aulay spend a lot of time together and she tells him how lucky she is to have him for a husband. When he is called back to the castle to investigate the shooting of a maid, Jetta learns more about his past. Aulay longs to return to Jetta, but he owes Katie, the maid justice. His attempts to discover who Jetta really is have turned up nothing and he wonders what will happen if she learns they are not really married. Will she leave him? His uncle points out that his family has descended on the lodge and she will soon be brought to the keep – if she calls him husband and he calls her wife, they will be in fact married. But Aulay doesn’t want to trick her, he will have to tell her the truth.

Jetta and Mavis are at the lodge and are upset over the death of Robbie’s dog when Saidh, Edith, Murine and Jo all converge on the lodge. The ladies wanted to meet Jetta and they all love her – they want her to be married to “her sweet Aulay” and if Saidh has anything to do with it – she will. They take her back to the keep and Aulay is worried that she will inadvertently announce they are married and takes her right up to their room. He leaves her to rest and goes back to his family. They all think he should keep her and the ladies go up to get her dressed. When she finally comes down, she is pushed and tumbles down the stairs. They are unable to find the person who pushed her, so Aulay orders a guard on her. Later over dinner, she remembers more and Aulay’s secret is out. She is upset, but when he very sweetly proposes, she accepts.

They marry and when they slip away to consummate their vows, another attempt is made on her life. Worried for her, he confines her to their chamber. But later sees her sneaking into his brother Niels’ room and propositioning him – Aulay is devastated, he believed her words of love and feels like a fool. But soon he realizes, not all is as it seems but can he save her before the viper in their midst gets to her!

You just can’t go wrong with a Lynsay Sands Highlander novel, they are a perfect blend of humor, action and steamy love scenes. I loved this book and cannot wait for the next installment in the series. Even though this is the sixth book in the series, but it can absolutely be read as a stand alone title with no problems and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an UNCORRECTED eARC that was provided to me by Edelweiss and the publisher*

Highland Temptation by Lori Ann Bailey

Highland Temptation (Highland Pride #3)Highland Temptation by Lori Ann Bailey

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Highland Pride #3
Publication Date: 6/25/18

I was looking forward to a really good read when I started this book – well – it was MORE! It was a wonderful read. The characters were compelling, the story was interesting and action-packed – and – well – there were Highlanders. I believe this is only the third book by this author, but you’d never know it. I’ve read some seasoned authors with many, many books under their belt whose stories don’t flow as seamlessly as these do. You feel as if you are right there in the midst of the turmoil between the Royalists and the Covenanters. The suspense is thick in the air and danger is everywhere. You can feel it, smell it and taste it.

Kirstie Cameron has lived away from her beloved home, Kentillie, for three years now. Not because she wanted to, but because she couldn’t live with the pain of staying. Three years ago, at age seventeen, she finally found the courage to tell the man she loved with all of her heart that she loved him. She hoped he returned her love because she wanted a future with him. She loved him – she’d always loved him and she always would. Then, he ripped out her heart and stepped on it. He told her that they could never be because he saw her as a sister. A SISTER! So, Kirstie has spent the last three years living with her best friend, Blair MacNab at the MacNab stronghold.

Alan MacKenzie has never considered himself a MacKenzie because that clan shunned his family, became Covenanters, and abandoned his mother to be murdered by his father. No, he was a Cameron in heart and soul. The Cameron’s had taken him in when his mother was murdered and his father fled when Alan was only eleven. The Cameron’s loved him, nurtured him and treated him as one of their own. He’d never shame or betray them. So, what was he to do when the love of his life, the woman he wasn’t good enough for, declared her love for him? He couldn’t tell her that he loved her in return because he might have his father’s madness. So, he told her that she was like a sister to him and that was all it would ever be. Then, she went away to live somewhere else and he never knew why. [*smiles* Well, maybe he wasn’t the sharpest tack in the pack]

This is the third book in the series, so we know all about the plots of the Covenanters against the Royalists. This plot is a diabolical one – get rid of all of the existing Royalist lairds and convert their clans by force, marriage or whatever other means they had. The Camerons are aware of the plot to kill them and the other Lairds at an upcoming meeting of the clans, so they have come up with a plan to foil the plot and get rid of the Covenanters – or as many of them as they can. They’ll have Alan reclaim his MacKenzie name and pretend to have broken with the Camerons by converting to Presbyterian. He’ll infiltrate the Covenanters and relay all of the plans to the Camerons.

Kirstie has also gotten wind of the plot to murder her brothers and she plans to uncover the plot and stop it. So, she attends the Clan meeting with the MacNabs and begins her flirtation with all of the Covenanters, hoping to learn their secrets.

Imagine the shock when Alan and Kirstie see each other – and Alan is a Covenanter. Kirstie can’t believe that – there is something off about that but she doesn’t have time to worry about that. She’s busy trying to uncover the plot, search bedrooms at the castle and fight off the amorous advances of all of the Covenanter men.

It is exciting to see Kirstie and Alan dancing around each other – trying to fight their attraction and still work, separately, of course, to foil the plot. Alan finds it hard to concentrate on what he has to do because he’s always protecting Kirstie from some mishap or another.

One thing I did question though – at one point, Kirstie is in a bit of a bother. She needs to escape the bonds on her arms – tied above her elbows I think. She has to wriggle around and do some contortions in order to get to her dagger strapped to her thigh. A resourceful girl, right? Well – there was a very long, sharp sword laying on the floor near where she stood. She could have used that much easier than trying to get to the dagger and then get it positioned to cut the twine. Just a thought.

The only bad thing about the book is that it ended and now I have to wait for the next one! I wonder who will be next. Maybe Finlay and Blair will get their own book – maybe it will be Kirstie’s brother Malcolm. I can hardly wait to find out! I hope you’ll read and enjoy this wonderful book as much as I did!

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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

Seductive Surrender by Collette Cameron

Seductive Surrender (Highland Heather Romancing a Scot, #6)Seductive Surrender by Collette Cameron
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Highland Heather Romancing a Scot, #6

Release Date: May 23, 2018

Gwendolyn McClintock meets Dugall Ferguson when her carriage runs him down. Injured by highwaymen, Dugall had stumbled out of the woods into the carriage’s path. Gwen insists on caring for him.

Gwen is aunt and guardian to Jeremiah, the new Laird McClintock, she has traveled from their home in South Carolina to Scotland. She has no idea what to expect in Scotland, but she is intent on seeing Jeremiah claim his birthright. She sold their plantation, packed up her niece, nephew, aunt and nanny and is anxious to see what the future holds for them.

When Dugall wakes, he is surprised to find himself bound and the fiery angel who found him on the road riding his horse! He convinces Gwen he is not a threat and offers to help her oversee the estate – until he hears back from the diplomatic corps – his lifelong dream is to be an agent for the corps and nothing, not even a gorgeous red head with a charming accent and hysterical sayings will stop him from leaving.

They arrive at the estate and Gwen immediately takes charge, she tends Dugall’s wounds and shares a kiss with him, letting it slip that she had been betrothed before – four times to be exact. As she is coming to terms with the kiss, she meets some of the other residents of the house. From Aunt Dolina, she learns that her grandparents eloped. Her grandfather was the younger brother of the previous Laird and caused quite a stir when he eloped with his brother’s intended bride.

Dugall takes her and the family to meet his brother, Laird Ewan, on the way there, someone takes a shot at Gwen. Terrified for her, Dugall insists on guards and when she learns the shooter escaped, she agrees and begins to think coming to Scotland was a mistake.

Weeks pass with no further incidents until the solicitor, Mr. Christie shows up with the will – Gwen is stunned by not only the revelations, but by the conditions. Dugall promises to look into it – but has received his acceptance to the corps and needs to leave. Gwen is a more than a little heartbroken, but she will not stand in his way. She cannot stay at Suttford House and accepts a position at Craiglocky Keep. Dugall leaves for his meeting with the corps and Gwen and the children settle in at the keep. Gwen misses Dugall and when he returns a week later, she is overjoyed to see him, until she is shot! Dugall is beside himself – his Gwenny has been shot and it makes him realize how he feels about her.

When news arrives from their investigation, it changes everything and Dugall will have to decide if he will give up his dream or keep the woman he loves.

This was a sweet, quick read with likable leads and cameos from previous characters, there is a decent mystery, entertain banter, some kisses, some shocking twists/turns and a sweet epilogue.

This is the sixth book in the series, but it could easily be read as a stand alone title with no problems.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me*

The Earl’s Forsaken Bride by Tammy Andresen

The Earl's Forsaken Bride (A Laird to Love, #5)The Earl’s Forsaken Bride by Tammy Andresen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: A Laird to Love #5
Publication Date: 5/15/18

What a perfectly delicious pairing of two perfectly lovely, perfectly delectable, perfectly flawed and perfectly perfect for each other people. This is a very short, but very sweet novella.

He has returned from the wars in India. He is scarred both inside and outside and doesn’t think he can ever give anyone love. He wants an amiable wife who is mature enough to understand his dark moods without swooning. He can’t abide the idea of the empty-headed swooning debutants he’s seen. He needs a wife who understands pain and suffering.

She is a ruined woman. Her father, an earl, took his own life rather than going to debtors prison. That left his daughter at the mercy of the world. She ended up living up with a very poor spinster aunt and taking in laundry in order for them to survive. Now, her aunt is ill and she doesn’t have the funds to see to her care. What will she do?

When Lady Elizabeth Chase returned to their small cottage after picking up laundry to wash, there was a very large, fine carriage at the door. Elizabeth has learned to be very wary in the last two years and there is absolutely no reason at all that there should be a carriage at her door. She hangs back where they can’t see her, but her aunt is ill within the cottage and she has to go in. Then, as she approaches, there is a man in her flower bed looking in through the windows. As he turns, she steps back and then another man walks around from behind the cottage. She’s alarmed, wary and feels trapped. The second man identifies himself as Laird Ewan McDougal a cousin from her mother’s side of the family. The first man, Lord Callum Tate, Earl of Blackwood has come to ask her to marry him.

This is a sweet and passionate story with lovely, and flawed characters. Their journey to an HEA is lovely and uplifting. If you want to read a book where you’ll be smiling and feeling very happy at the end, then this one is for you.

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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

Ladies of the Stone: A Scottish Romance Anthology by Eliza Knight, Madeline Martin, Cecelia Mecca & Lori Ann Bailey

Ladies of the Stone: A Scottish Romance AnthologyLadies of the Stone: A Scottish Romance Anthology by Eliza Knight
Tracy’s rating: 4.5/5 of 5 stars

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.

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