The Devil of Dunakin Castle by Heather McCollum – a Review

The Devil of Dunakin Castle by Heather McCollum – a Review

 

The Devil of Dunakin CastleAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM

Description:
Englishwoman, Grace Ellington, has made a home in Scotland, but to escape from the meddling people around her who seem to think she needs to wed right away—because women need saving, right? —she volunteers to journey north to aid a friend in childbirth. 

Keir MacKinnon, the younger brother of the MacKinnon clan chief, has been raised to strike fear in people, on and off the battlefield. Trained to uphold MacKinnon law, he has hardened into a lethal warrior. Caught in a Highland blizzard with the feisty Grace, Keir realizes the beautiful woman who saved him can also save his nephew’s life. 

Sparks fly when he takes her against her will to his home, and Grace’s courage is put to the ultimate test. Is Keir MacKinnon the passionate, kind man she saved in the Highland blizzard, or is he truly the cruel executioner who seeks to solve all issues by the sword? 

Each book in the Highland Isles series is a STANDALONE story that can be enjoyed out of order. 
* The Beast of Aros Castle
* The Rogue of Islay Isle
* The Wolf of Kisimul Castle
* The Devil of Dunakin Castle

 

Review:

I’ve read and enjoyed the previous book “Wolf of Kisimul Castle.” So I was looking forward to reading The Devil of Dunakin Castle by Heather McCollum, and I wasn’t disappointed.  They are all standalone books, so don’t need to be read in order (but I may just have to go back and read the other two) 🙂

Grace is a feisty and independent woman (we meet her in book 1), she needs no man to complete her life (even though other people seem to want to marry her off). She goes to help her friend (Miari )to give birth. Along the way she meets “The Devil”,  Kier MacKinnon

People wear masks to hide their true selves and Kier is no exception, brought up from an early age, he was taught to be a warrior and then the sword hand of his brother, his job is to uphold the law (even if Keir doesn’t like it) he’s done things he hasn’t liked, and so it’s hardened this man into an unfeeling monster, but like beauty and the beast, the beast is tamed by beauty. 

Kier has been told he needs to bring back a great healer Miari (from book 3) to help his ill nephew, but gets caught in a storm and ends up rescuing a woman from wolves. 

The feelings that both Grace and Kier feel for each other are soon over shadowed when he realizes that he can’t take the pregnant Miari, but Grace could save his nephew, and with that, he takes her against her will to the castle. It doesn’t go down well with Grace

Once Grace helps the clan, other things start to happen and she wonders if the illness wasn’t an illness! 

As with the previous book, Heather McCollum brings the characters to life. The scenes were very well written and I could imagine myself easily in Scotland . 

Reviewed by Julie B.

Copy provided by Publisher

Share

The Wolf of Kisimul Castle by Heather McCollum – a Review

The Wolf of Kisimul Castle  by Heather McCollum – a Review

 

The Wolf of Kisimul CastleAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Description:

The Wolf of Kisimul Castle Mairi Maclean is kidnapped on her wedding day by the enemy of her dead husband. Taken north to the water-surrounded Kisimul Castle, she is held captive in the name of retribution. But The Wolf of Kisimul Castle soon learns Mairi is not a docile pawn in this game of war between neighboring Scots. Nor will she be frightened into walking down the aisle to wed the fierce Highland chief. Alec MacNeil is set on revenge. When he finds his enemy dead, he takes his wife to replace the one that was murdered. An eye for an eye. A bride for a bride. But Mairi is more tiger than kitten and refuses to bend to his will. Set stubbornly against one another, the passion that flares between them threatens to tear Alec’s strategy to shreds.

 

Review:.

The Wolf of Kisimul Castle is the first book I’ve read by Heather McCollum  and I enjoyed it from start to finish.  It is part of a series, but it is not necessary to read the others, as it’s a standalone book.

Mairi Maclean is about to get married for the second time. Her first marriage had been for the good of her clan. It has never been about love; it was all been about duty, and this time it’s the same thing.. what is good for her clan. Her brother tries to tell her it is OK to marry for love, but Mairi thinks this marriage will benefit the clan, so she will “learn” to love her new husband.

Mairi is a strong, and resourceful woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. When Alec takes her captive, she doesn’t cower in fear, but makes a comfy home in the dungeon ( I did have a chuckle at that scene). Alex kidnapped Mairi because he wanted revenge; Alec will take from the MacInnes what was taken from him. A bride for a bride seems fair in his eyes.  Alec’s wife was murdered by the McInnes clan,  but what he got was Mairi, a fiery and sassy heroine, whom he falls for.

Danger, and intrigue haunt the castle. People say its cursed. Is it? Or is it the fact the laird is a lonely and unhappy man, with many duties and responsibilities. Alec and Mairi had amazing chemistry throughout. I absolutely loved the characters. They were all amazing and complemented each other really well. The secondary characters had some great one liners. There were many times the book had me chuckling at their antics or the words they would throw at each other. The Wolf of Kisimul Castle was entertaining and had plenty of twists to keep you reading.

Reviewed by Julie B

Copy provided by Publsiher

Share

Crimson Heart by Heather McCollum – Interview & Review

Crimson Heart by Heather McCollum – Interview &  Review

 

Crimson HeartAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / The Book Depository

Description:
Elena has spent her entire life hiding her family name while walking the thin line between lady and servant in a Protestant household. Keeping the secret of her lineage has been a success for years, but now, with a new, fiercely Catholic queen on the throne, Elena’s Protestant caretaker is being targeted. And when Bloody Mary discovers Elena’s true identity, she must not only flee to Scotland for her freedom, but also for her life.

Highland warrior, Searc Munro, has secrets of his own. In a family of healers, his own dark, killing magic must never be known. But when his father’s life is threatened, Searc unleashes his lethal power to save him. With his clan’s suspicious glances and whispers plaguing him, he sets off alone, only to find another use for his magic in saving a beautiful lass being attacked in the forest.

Teaming up as exiles, Elena and Searc head toward Edinburg to find refuge. Yet, with a series of ritual killings haunting the city and a traitor attempting to assassinate Scotland’s regent, suspicion turns to Searc. As word of another British heir reaches the country, the two must find a way to trust each other, despite their secrets, before it’s too late.

 

Review:

Crimson Heart is book three in Heather McCollum’s Highland Hearts Series. Now for anyone who knows me, they know I don’t like reading series out of order, but I made an exception for this one and I wasn’t disappointed. I really enjoyed Crimson Heart and Heather’s story telling ability. It was fun, fast paced, filled with danger, suspense, intrigue, magic, and of course a lovely romance. I do believe I’ve now found a new author and I plan to go back and read her previous books in this series when I have the time. In the meantime, I went back and read the book synopsis on the previous books and they sound just as good as Crimson Heart.

Heather does a wonderful job of spinning her tale of a lady in hiding and on the run due to her lineage, and a hero who has a dark form of magic that he fears he will be labeled a monster should anyone find out. The pretense to this story had me hooked from the get go and it just carried me away on a fun and adventurous story that had plenty of twists, turns, danger and comical situations that kept me entertained from beginning to end. From the moment I met both Elena and Searc it was an instant like of both characters. When an author can get me to like characters from my first meeting of them, I know I’m in for an enjoyable read and that the author will spin an exciting and fun story.

Elena is quite the enjoyable female lead. She’s feisty, brave, intelligent and can hold her own with a bow and arrow in a fight. She’s not your typical lady of that time who would swoon at the sight of bloodshed, instead, she jumps right in there and helps out all the while protecting our dashing hero in a kilt. Oh yes, Searc is every bit the sexy powerful Highlander and Elena is the perfect woman for this poor crushed soul. Elena doesn’t see Searc’s magic as dark, demon cursed or however Searc would label himself. Elena was able to see past his magic to the brave and powerful protector that Searc is. Thanks to Elena Searc finally sees that his magic isn’t a curse, but instead a source of magic that allows him to protect those he loves and see no harm brought to them.

Searc, what can I say, he’s your dream come true sexy Highlander, and he’s got a very powerful form of magic. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do to protect those he loves and cares for, including Elena now, who’s somehow managed to get under his skin and worm her way into Searc’s heart. He’s so sweet with Elena, and had me melting as I read the scenes with Elena and Searc. Yes, she caused our poor highlander plenty of headaches as she’s quite the headstrong lass and very rarely stayed put when Searc told her too. Those scenes had me laughing out loud, but at the same time falling more and more in love with Searc over his growing feelings for Elena. Just as Elena helps Searc too see his magic isn’t a death sentence, he helps Elena come to terms with who she is, and that she doesn’t need to be afraid of her lineage anymore because he will always be there to love and protect her.

The romance between Elena is slow to build and nicely weaved around all the danger, intrigue and suspense that Ms. McCollum creates in her story. Elena and Searc both fear their lives are doomed due to who and what they are, but in finding one another they come to realize that they can have the one thing they never thought they would, love, and someone to love them unconditionally. Watching them slowly come to this realization, and learning to trust each other is sweet, and romantic and will have you shedding a tear by the end of the book with Elena’s unselfish actions to help Searc. That scene was expertly written and had me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what the outcome would be.

I know I’ve found a new author in Heather McCullom, and I think anyone who loves sexy powerful Highlanders, magic, a damsel on the run, danger, and intrigue with a good healthy dose of romance on the side, then I feel you too will have found a new author to put on your TBR list.

Until next time, happy reading everyone.

Reviewed by Marcie

Copy provided by Publisher

Interview beige 2

Heather-Sophie

 

Hi Heather. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions today.We are always looking forward to reading about the author behind the book.

 

Heather:  Thanks so much for having me on The Reading Café!

TRC:  Would you please tell us something about yourself? 

Heather:  Let’s see – I’m a mom of three loud and spirited kids, ages 15, 13 and 7. I’m a dog mom of a crazy, rescued golden retriever and wife to my very own Highland hero, Braden. I’m also an author of historical, paranormal romance, an ovarian cancer ass-kicker, and a lover of baked goods fresh from the oven.

TRC:  Have you always been interested in writing? 

Heather:  I’ve written stories and poems since I was little. By high school I was writing romance for all of my creative writing assignments. Everyone thought I’d be an English major. I surprised them all by majoring in Cellular Immunology, a branch of Biology. I said that I didn’t like people telling me how to write. Ha! And now I have editors doing just that and it’s not so bad. It’s funny how I’ve come back around full circle to my first love, writing.

TRC: Is there anything (in general) you find particularly challenging about writing? 

Heather:  Oh gosh! There are so many things, but challenges keep us on our toes, right? Characters who refuse to follow my plot (Highlanders are stubborn) and just finding time to write while balancing a family are the two hardest parts of writing for me.  

TRC: Crimson Heart is the third book in your Highland Hearts series. For those who may not have read the first two books, can Crimson Heart be read as a standalone? 

Heather:  Yes, each book in the Highland Hearts series can be read alone, but past characters come into play in later books. Knowing something about those characters can make the reading more fun. So I recommend reading them in the following order:

HIGHLAND HEART – short prequel to Bk 1
CAPTURED HEART – Book 1
TANGLED HEARTS – Book 2
UNTAMED HEARTS – long novella, I call it Book 2.5
CRIMSON HEART – Book 3

TRC: Can you tell us the premise of Highland Hearts, and how many books do you have planned?

Heather:   Highland Hearts takes place in 16th century Britain and follows the Macbain and Munro clans. The characters journey from the rugged Highlands to King Henry VIII’s court in London and then back up to Edinburgh Castle, which was the seat of Scottish rule.  The series is a cross between The Tudors, Braveheart, and The Pirates of the Caribbean. And what makes it even more fun is the spark of magic within the series. All the women, descended from a magical healer from the 10th century, inherit the ability to move small particles such as blood and tissue to heal a body or air and water to affect the weather. Only women possess the magic, that is until Searc Munro reveals his secret in Crimson Heart.  I only had three books in mind but ended up publishing the prequel and then writing a long novella (Untamed Hearts) to give the reader more fun after Tangled Hearts. So Crimson Heart is supposed to be the last book in the series, although one of the characters at the end of Crimson Heart is begging me to write her story. So I’ll have to see : ) 

TRC: Would you please give us a brief description of Crimson Heart?  

Heather:  Sure! Here is the blurb.

Elena has spent her entire life hiding her family name while walking the thin line between lady and servant in a Protestant household. Keeping the secret of her lineage has been a success for years, but now, with a new, fiercely Catholic queen on the throne, Elena’s Protestant caretaker is being targeted. And when Bloody Mary discovers Elena’s true identity, she must not only flee to Scotland for her freedom, but also for her life.

Highland warrior, Searc Munro, has secrets of his own. In a family of healers, his own dark, killing magic must never be known. But when his father’s life is threatened, Searc unleashes his lethal power to save him. With his clan’s suspicious glances and whispers plaguing him, he sets off alone, only to find another use for his magic in saving a beautiful lass being attacked in the forest.

Teaming up as exiles, Elena and Searc head toward Edinburg to find refuge. Yet, with a series of ritual killings haunting the city and a traitor attempting to assassinate Scotland’s regent, suspicion turns to Searc. As word of another British heir reaches the country, the two must find a way to trust each other, despite their secrets, before it’s too late 

TRC:  You write both Historical Romance and YA Paranormal Romance. Do you have a preference? Have you ever thought about writing in another genre?

Heather:   I always love the book I am currently writing and the genre follows. I wrote the YA so my teen could read my books as my others are rated “R”. And I fell in love with the fun, snarky voices of my teen characters. But after a few months of slang, I start to yearn for my Highlanders again and usually find myself dreaming of Scottish brogues and brawny heroes in kilts.  I have all sorts of books in my head, waiting to be born. I have a contemporary romance ghost story series, a sci-fi dystopian trilogy, and a memoire based on my Russian grandmother’s life surviving a concentration camp in WWII. Although there is also another Scottish paranormal romance series whispering at me too.  

TRC:  You recently released Siren’s Song, a YA Paranormal romance. Is this a standalone or a series? Can you please give us a brief description of Siren’s Song? 

Heather:  Siren’s Song is definitely a standalone, but I am currently writing a sequel which follows one of the other characters in the book.  Jule Welsh can sing. She enthralls people with her bel canto voice. But it takes more than practice to reach her level of exquisite song; it takes siren’s blood running through her veins. Jule is starting her senior year at Cougar Creek High when her relatively normal world begins to resemble a roller coaster flying through a carnival scare house. Her mother is diagnosed as insane and committed, a psycho-stalker is snapping pictures of her to put into his homemade Jule-shrine, her voice is suddenly putting people into comatose trances, oh and the gorgeous new guy in town, Luke Whitmore, is interested in her . . . but also wants to kill her.  If you’d like to see the book trailer, it can be found here: SS Book Trailer (Psst, the house in the first shot was mine in high school and it was haunted). 

TRC:  You also have a series, Dragonfly Chronicles, which you note on your website that you are thinking about book #5. What is the status on this, and can you please give us a brief description of this series? 

Heather:  Yes, there is a 5th and final book coming in The Dragonfly Chronicles. I have just started writing Sacrifice and hope to release it early next year.  The Dragonfly ChroniclesA powerful Wiccan mother is hunted by a pack of thirteen bound demons. To save her four daughters before she’s killed, she hides each of them in a different time period with one of her magical powers. So each book takes place in a different era with the heroine possessing a different magical ability. In the fifth book, they will come together with their soul mates and the overall story protagonist, Drakkina (a spirit woman), to save the world from the demons.  

TRC:  What are you currently working on?

Heather:   Right now I’m writing the first draft of Sacrifice: Book Five in The Dragonfly Chronicles and also working on edits to the sequel to Siren’s Song, my YA.

TRC:  What is your writing process? Do you like to write at specific times, in a special place? 

Heather:  I’m a very visual writer. I like to see my characters (basic features & strong emotions) and settings (authentic historical details). So I create collages for my books. I take a day toward the beginning of each new project to cut out pictures of landscapes, people and objects that mean something to my story. I paste them on an open folder, poster board or even in a blank book to give me something to glance at while writing.

I’ve also started using a process that Blake Snyder describes in his screenwriting book, Save the Cat. It helps with plotting and pacing. I use a big white board, divided into four acts, and lots of index cards.

I have a lovely little writing desk with curvaceous, slender legs which I’ve named Eleri. I light my stained glass lamp (named Jule) and lose myself in my stories. But on cool days (I live in the south so below 90 degrees is a must) I sit with my lap top on my screened back porch to write. Out there I can listen to the birds and breezes and smell my herb garden. I write best before 3PM, partly because my energy level drops then but also my children are about to come home from school.  Last but not least, I must have a hot chai latte to sip to wake up my muse. She seems to require the taste of cinnamon to produce beautiful narrative and snappy, authentic dialogue.  

TRC:  Many authors have friends or family, that they bounce ideas and information back and forth. Do you have anyone you like to discuss your stories with? 

Heather:  I brainstorm with my 15yo daughter about my YA books. She helps me (while rolling her eyes) with teen slang and attitude.  I bounce ideas off my mom, husband, and girlfriends for my adult books. One of my friends, who is a technical editor in her day job, has become my beta reader and offers fantastic insight and catches my inconsistencies (especially eye color, don’t know why I can’t remember that!).

TRC:  What books, authors or people in your life have influenced your writing? 

Heather:  Every book I read influences my writing, from my first romance The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss to the screenwriting book I read a few weeks ago called Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. Karen Marie Moning opened up the world of paranormal Scottish romance with her time traveling Highlander series. Even Twilight has influenced my YA stories with its dangerous hero.  Gosh – everything has influenced my writing. I lived in a haunted house for five years. That certainly opened up my eyes and my mind to the unusual in the world. And I’ve recently fought and hopefully won the war against ovarian cancer with fifteen months of chemo and a year of recovery. Meeting cancer warriors, watching them quietly battle to save their lives and the worlds of their families, has influenced the themes of my books and ideas of what love looks like. In my upcoming YA sequel, the heroine must learn to handle her fear of dying, something I struggle with myself (not that I plan to die anytime soon : ).  

TRC:  When you are not writing, what other interests or hobbies do you have?

Heather:  Well I’m a full-time mom of three, so my kids keep my interest with boyfriends, learner’s driving permit, hockey practice, soccer practice, horseback riding, gymnastics, parties, school projects, etc. I’m also a dog mom to a crazy rescued golden retriever who requires daily runs to keep her from exploding with energy.  Since I’ve been sick and recovered, my amazing Highland husband and I have started the SHOUT Against the Whisper campaign to educate women about the sneaky, nearly-silent symptoms of ovarian cancer. I knit hats for chemo patients and the two of us run a booth at a popular women’s event in the area each year. We hand out symptom cards everywhere.  What are the symptoms? I’m so glad you asked because knowing them may save your life or the life of a woman you love. I list them in the backs of my books too in hopes that the information will reach more and more women.  

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms every day for more than three weeks, please go see your doctor. My tumor grew to grapefruit size in 5 short months and was spreading.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer:
B
loating that is persistent

Eating less and feeling fuller
Abdominal pain
Trouble with your bladder
Ovarian Cancer cannot be detected by a PAP Smear. Additional symptoms may include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation, and/or menstrual irregularities.

Other hobbies? I also like watching birds, mild gardening, and baking things I shouldn’t eat on my diet. Let’s see, I also like decoupage, knitting, and all things related to drinking a proper tea.  

TRC:  Would you like to add anything else? 

Heather:  Thank you so much for having me here today! Your questions were so much fun! For more information about me, my books and ovarian cancer, please check out my web site at www.HeatherMcCollum.com. I can also be found here:
Twitter https://twitter.com/HMcCollumAuthor
FB https://www.facebook.com/HeatherMcCollumAuthor
Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/hmccollumauthor/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4185696.Heather_McCollum

LIGHTNING ROUND

Heather:  Yay! This is like being a contestant on Family Feud except all my answers are right : ) 

Favorite Food: Haddock burger with cheese and tartar from the pier on Beals Island, Maine. After that, nearly any breakfast food that exists.  

Favorite Dessert: Pie, blueberry, pumpkin, shoo fly, chocolate chess, coconut custard, and so on. 

Favorite Movie: Pitch Perfect 

Favorite TV Show: Big Bang Theory 

Favorite Movie or TV Celebrity: Ellen DeGeneres  

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Dark, especially with cranberries and nuts in it 

Favorite literary character (not your own): Charley Davidson in Darynda Jones’ Grim Reaper series. She’s hilarious! 

Dog or Cat: Dog, I’ve grown up with them and love them despite their shedding. And unfortunately I’m allergic to cats.   

TRC: Thank you Heather, for answering our questions. The Reading Café wishes you the best of luck with Crimson Heart.  

Share

Highland Heart by Heather McCollum-a review

HIGHLAND HEART by Heather McCollum-a review

ABOUT THE BOOK: Alec Munro, chieftain of the Munros, has captured the Englishman who swindled his father. Set on retribution, he’s caught off-guard by the thief’s beautiful daughter, a lass whose beauty and spirit leave him questioning the value of revenge.

Rachel Brindle has a secret: she can heal people with her magic. While journeying with her father and sister into the Highlands, she becomes a prize sought between two warring clans. She must use her cunning and her healing magic to prevent the same slaughter that started the blood feud a century ago. But when her secret is exposed, will it condemn her in the eyes of the barbarian who has capture not only her family, but also her heart?

******************

REVIEW: HIGHLAND HEART is a 57 page novella that was originally published in The Mammoth Book of Scottish Romance (January 2011) and was re-released in December 2012, that follows 24 hours in the life of Rachel Brindle as she and her sister accompany their father who has business with the Munro Chieftain. Rachel is oddly attracted to Alec Munro-the rough looking Highland warrior who is now the leader of his clan and, there is something very familiar about the man who claims to have taken her prisoner-but Alec will soon capture her heart.

Heather McCollum tells an entire story in less than sixty pages. From the cross-country adventure of the Brindle family to an attack by a neighboring clan, Heather encapsulates betrayal and pain, love and heartache all combined with a little bit of magic and fantasy. And like every fantasy hero, Alec knows what he wants-and Rachel is the prize. Highland Heart is a cute, fast paced and too short story-I wanted more-but it was a novella, so what did I expect!!

ORDER LINKS: Amazon Barnes and Noble

Click HERE for author’s website

Copy supplied by the publisher.

Reviewed by Sandy

Share