The Highlander’s Viking Bride by Cathy MacRae-Review, Giveaway & Excerpt Tour

THE HIGHLANDER’S VIKING BRIDE (Hardy Heroines #2) by Cathy MacRae-Review, Giveaway and Excerpt Tour

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THE HIGHLANDER’S VIKING BRIDE
Hardy Heroines #2
by Cathy MacRae
Release Date: May 22, 2017
Genre: adult, historical, Highlander, slightly paranormal, romance

The Highlander's Viking Bride

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Add to Goodreads: https://goo.gl/k5LpBx

About the book: Release Date May 22, 2017

Calder MacGerry, laird of an impoverished clan, has resolved to end the bitter feud between the MacGerrys and Sinclairs. He jumps at Laird Sinclair’s offer of marriage to his only daughter, Katja, to seal the agreement between their clans—only to get more than he bargained for.

Katja’s chance to escape her father’s harsh treatment appears to be too good to be true. But becoming Lady of a clan that despises her because she’s a Sinclair, doesn’t make her life any easier. When the attacks turn deadly, she fights her way out, making a dangerous passage to the Shetland Isles for refuge with her Viking family.

Calder and Katja’s marriage, built on mistrust, rushes quickly into disaster. As Calder seeks to repair the damage, Katja discovers not another enemy, but a husband who pledges a new beginning.

•••••••••••

REVIEW: THE HIGHLANDER’S VIKING BRIDE is the second installment in Cathy MacRae historical, slightly paranormal HARDY HEROINES romance series. This is Laird Calder MacGerry, and Katja Sinclair’s story line. THE HIGHLANDER’S VIKING BRIDE can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Calder and Katja) THE HIGHLANDER’S VIKING BRIDE follows Laird Calder MacGerry as he must make peace and end the feud with Clan Sinclair upon the death of his father. Without food or supplies for the upcoming winter, the new Laird is desperate for find provisions for his suffering clan. When Earl Sinclair offers a truce, the truce comes with a caveat-a proviso of sorts-Calder MacGerry must marry the Earl’s only daughter, and in doing so would be granted the woman’s dowry and everything that comes with. Enter Katja Sinclair, the mysterious and only daughter of Earl Sinclair, and the woman with whom Calder will fall in love. What ensues is the tepid but growing relationship between Calder and Katja, and the struggle for Katja to trust the man who has all but destroyed her heart and her soul.

THE HIGHLANDER’S VIKING BRIDE is a story of romance, betrayal, revenge and mistrust. Calder never thought about taking a bride but with his clan in total disrepair, Earl Sinclair’s offer is something he could not refuse. Katja is an independent young woman who has struggled all of her life to find a place in her father’s heart only to be rejected time and again. Her marriage to Laird Calder MacGerry comes with a promise of love but a love that will be threatened by sins of the past. The $ex scenes are intimate and seductive without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.

THE HIGHLANDER’S VIKING BRIDE, like many of Cathy MacRae’s previous Highlander tales finds our couple apart for a good portion of the building story line. Katja believes she is better off, away from the Laird and his clan, and finds herself on the run, searching for family she hasn’t seen in years. Meanwhile Calder MacGerry must go in search of his wayward bride. More time together would have increased my enjoyment of the overall story. The premise is entertaining and passionate; the characters are colorful, strong willed, and charismatic; the romance struggles in the face of mistrust and threats against the heroine’s life. THE HIGHLANDER’S VIKING BRIDE is a dramatic and energetic story where a young woman finds happiness against the odds.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

Excerpt

(Katja meets Calder)
Katja reluctantly heeded her father’s summons to the great hall. She much preferred taking meals in her chamber, as constant criticism and scorn from her father made for poor company. Her only regret was not spending the time with her brothers. She remembered the days before her amma died when mealtimes were pleasant, even enjoyable. She did not remember the days when her ma was alive.
Everyone in the keep knew guests had arrived—rumored to be the hated MacGerrys. Her father would likely use the opportunity to dangle her as bait again for some sort of alliance, her hand in marriage as part of the bargain. She grimaced. The MacGerry laird was as old as her sire—as were all the men her da had presented as prospective husbands.
“I willnae marry a man thrice my age. Why does he keep bringing such old relics about, Freki? Has the man not made the acquaintance of anyone younger than two score?”
Her companion did not answer.
Katja hurried to the great hall with Freki at her side. If she allowed her sire to wait too long, he would add to her humiliation by displaying her like a freshly caught trout in front of his guests. Much as she disliked appeasing him, flaunting her disdain was far worse.
When they reached the door to the hall, she raised a hand, whispering a command for her companion to wait outside the door as she perused the people seated in the great hall. Pale auras of color surrounded each man, giving the room a festive look were it not for the unsettling tale each told her. The reds of anger and lust, the brown of dishonesty, gray and sulphur of dark thoughts and pain. From long practice, she ignored the pale green of pity she knew were aimed at her.
Skirting the red auras, Katja moved silently into the room, attracting no attention. Years of avoiding her father gave her the skill to move about the castle like a ghost, finding tremendous value in being invisible when the need called for it. It wasn’t until she stood near the foot of the lower tables that anyone noticed her. Laird Sinclair’s eyes gleamed.
“Ah, here is my daughter. Katja, meet the new MacGerry Laird.”
The sight of a young man instead of the old laird she expected startled Katja. Tall, lean of muscle with dark brown hair and fair skin, his deep blue eyes were the color of sapphires or perhaps the ocean on a calm day. A high forehead, strong jaw and full lips made for a very handsome face. Lips which curved into a kind smile at her.
His eager blue eyes stared at her, as if caught in a pleasant dream. Katja’s stomach twisted in a way she’d not experienced before. Heat scorched its way from her head to her shoulders, tingling along her breasts and descending lower. She didn’t recognize or understand the strange awareness. Her breathing picked up its pace as her heart beat tripled. How could one look from a man inspire such a reaction?
She averted her gaze in an effort to wrestle her body and emotions under control. Inhaling deeply, she raised her eyes again only to find the same sensations slamming into her anew. She needed a distraction.
Use the sight. It doesnae lie.
Looking past her normal ability to see, she glanced first at her father. The darkening gray aura surrounding him reflected his greed, his nature growing more corrupt with time. A band of deep brown layered on top of the gray was new today. She knew it as a sign of deceit and wondered what he was up to. Scanning the rest of the table, the light blue surrounding her brothers Bjorn, Christer and Patrik reflected

About The author

Cathy MacRaeFollow Cathy: Twitter / Goodreads / Website / Facebook

Cathy MacRae lives on the sunny side of the Arbuckle Mountains where she and her husband read, write, and tend the garden—with the help of the dogs, of course.

 

You can visit with her on facebook, or read her blogs and learn about her books at www.cathymacraeauthor.com. Drop her a line—she loves to hear from readers!

 

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Bedding the Highlander by Sabrina York-Review, Interview & Giveaway

Bedding the Highlander by Sabrina York (presented by James Patterson)-Review, Interview, and Giveaway

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BEDDING THE HIGHLANDER
by Sabrina York
BookShots Flames presented by James Patterson
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Genre: adult, historical, Highlander, romance

Bedding the Highlander

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / BAM /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date March 7, 2017

Only a Scot can steal her heart.
There’s nothing ladylike about Katherine Killin. She’s a spitfire who cannot be tamed. To rid himself of her, and to honor a truce set by the Duke of Glencoe, her father agrees to wed her to his clan’s mortal enemy, Ben Rannoch. But when Katherine meets the enticingly masculine Kirk Rannoch, brother of her betrothed, she suddenly craves domination.
BookShots Flames

Original romances presented by JAMES PATTERSON
Novels you can devour in a few hours
Impossible to stop reading

•••••••••••

REVIEW: Bedding the Highlander is a Book Shots Flames brand. This is a selection of stories that are well written with a sizzling romantic theme to their genre; today’s review is BEDDING THE HIGHLANDER by Sabrina York, presented by James Patterson. The books are priced at under $5.00 US and have approximately only 150 pages. Designed to be read in an evening or at work on lunch hours, etc. Interesting idea, but I, personally, love a good long well written story. But then, I’m retired and have lots of time to read.

Now to this captivating story.

The story is about rival clans in Glencoe, Scotland in 1603. The Duke of Glencoe, in order to try to make an alliance for peace, has ordered the marriage of Katherine Killin to the rival clan laird Ben Rannoch.

Kirk Rannoch, brother of Ben, and his friend Brodie have been assigned to bring Katherine from the Killin stronghold to the Rannoch keep to be wed to Ben. They are, understandably, reluctant to enter the Killin keep, as many don’t return. Unfortunately, when they do, they find the wrong Catherine…no misspelling, it seems many of the Killian Laird’s daughters, mostly illegitimate, are named a form of Catherine. However, they notice the one presented does not have the signature red hair of the real Katherine Killin. They are told the real Katherine has run off rather than be wed to their enemy and they don’t know where she is. Reluctantly, they leave.
During the trip back, while camping at night, two thieves try to take the men’s horses. They capture them only to find that they are females and both have a form of red hair. A romance between “Ann” (aka Katherine) and Kirk is immediate and sizzling.

Okay, that’s the set up and the rest must be read to be enjoyed. It’s only 150 pages and doesn’t take long. I found it to be incredibly entertaining and very well written. I loved her solution for not having to marry the laird…possibly brave, possibly foolish but very interesting! Sabrina York is a fine author and writes a very inventive period novel.

Give it a shot!

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Georgianna

Interview

TRC: Hi Sabrina. Welcome to The Reading Cafe.

Sabrina YorkSabrina: Thank you so much for having me! I am excited to be here!

TRC: We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?

Sabrina: Absolutely! My name is Sabrina York and I LOVE writing steamy, snarky romances…but I have ADD and enjoy writing in all sub genres (historical, contemporary, SEALs, Dukes, Highlanders and so on!).

Though I am predominantly published in romance, I also love writing in other genres like women’s fiction, fantasy, sci fi and more.

I think trying new things is important for working the writing muscles and keeps my writing fresh and fun.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Sabrina: My greatest influence was my mother, who refused to let me use my dyslexia as an excuse for not being an overachiever. She convinced me at an early age that this difficulty was actually a gift, because it allowed me to see things in ways other people might miss.

Indeed, it has been a gift, and so was having a mother so determined to help me succeed.

Although, I must say, I am also thankful for spellcheck and editors!

TRC: What challenges or difficulties have you encountered writing and publishing your stories?

Sabrina: Dyslexia aside, I worked for years writing and polishing my work. I submitted to hundreds of editors and agents and received an encyclopedia full of rejections. Though my work won many awards, I just couldn’t seem to sell.

And then, just when I was about to give up (for a career of sitting on the sofa, eating bon bons and watching Toddlers in Tiaras) I miraculously sold my first book.

My advice to writers who are struggling is: Don’t give up. Keep trying.

Now that I am published (in traditional and indie worlds) my challenges are balancing projects with the business side of things. There are so many things I have to do that I never imagined.

It would be wonderful if being an author meant sitting back and writing books, but there is so much more to it, including accounting (ick), marketing, social media, events, conferences and more (especially for Indie writers!)

Bedding the HighlanderTRC: Would you please tell us something about BEDDING THE HIGHLANDER?

Sabrina: I am so excited about this story! It has been a glorious experience working with James Patterson, Laura Fazio and the team at Hachette!

The core story is that with the death of the queen and the ascension of James VI—and the union of the crowns between Scotland and England—the world has turned on its ear. The new king is determined to make the transition a peaceful one. He is adamant that Scotland not be seen as a land of savages, but loyal, peaceful subjects of the crown. He has commanded his dukes to maintain peace and squash unrest at all costs.

In light of the rising turmoil and increased hostilities amongst his highland clans, Nicholas Lennox, the Duke of Glencoe—acting on explicit orders from the newly ascended King James VI—has issued an ultimatum to his unmarried lairds, demanding they unite with their rival clans…through marriage.

As logical as this plan is, nothing seems to go right.

His first declaration is that Ben Rannoch, Laird of Rannoch should marry Katherine Killin, daughter of Cuithbeart Killin (The Rannoch’s mortal enemy).

In Bedding the Highlander, Kirk Rannoch is sent to collect his brother’s intended. He has no idea that Katherine is far from a biddable wench. The plucky redhead has decided to seduce Kirk in hopes of scuttling a wedding to his brother, the Beast of Rannoch.

Imagine Kirk’s chagrin when he realizes the woman he had bedded is not the maid he thought her to be, but his brother’s bride!

I came up with this idea when my husband and I were visiting Scotland last September. I’d never been there before and it was a wonderful time. One of the villages we visited was Kinloch Rannoch, the town my mother’s people came from. I decided that my next Highland romp had to take place there!

TRC: How do you keep the plot(s) unpredictable without sacrificing content and believability?

Sabrina: I live by a maxim that an author can do whatever she wants, as long as she does it well. So no matter the twists and turns I fold into the plot, they have to be masterfully executed.

You get a feeling in your gut, a little niggle, when things aren’t right. I’ve learned you cannot ignore that, no matter how much work it is to rewrite. I’ve also learned I am always so much happier when I get it right!

One of my favorite things to do is lead the reader down the garden path, make her expect that something typical will happen, and then flip the script! The secret here is having fully-formed characters who behave in genuine and authentic ways. Needless to say, I lean toward strong, determined and sometimes stubborn heroines.

TRC: Have you ever had the opportunity to visit the Highlands of Scotland, and if so, how much of an influence or impact did the visit have on your stories?

Sabrina: I most certainly did, but sadly, only one time. I would love to go back.

Laird of her HeartIt was fascinating visiting historical sites like Urquhart Castle (which featured in my Highland Time Travel, Laird of her Heart) and the battlefield at Culloden, thinking of all the lives that had been lived and lost in these places. We took a tour of the north coast where my Untamed Highlander Series took place.

Standing on the cliffs at Duncansby Head Lighthouse and staring out over the cold grey waters of the North Sea gave me a new appreciation for the strength and stamina of the Scottish people.

I took hundreds of pictures so I would remember the feelings, the sights and the faces. Some things change with the times, but others don’t. I often felt I had stepped back in time.

Mostly, I was suffused with this amazing feeling of coming home, which makes sense, because my mother’s people are Stewarts.

TRC: You write several different genres. Which do you prefer? Which do you find the most difficult?

Sabrina: I love writing them all, because when I switch, it’s almost like taking a break. It makes work feel less like work. J

The genre I find most difficult is the one I am working on at any given time.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. But it ain’t easy!

TRC: Do you believe the cover image plays a deciding factor for many readers in the process of selecting a book or new series to read?

Sabrina: I believe the cover is the most important element these days because a good 90% of readers are buying books online. The cover is the first thing they notice, there in a sea of covers.

It has to be stellar, and it has to reflect the story accurately.

In polls I’ve done with my lovely street team, the cover is always the top ranking decision factor, with “An Author I Know and Love” as number two. That’s why it is also critical to write consistently excellent books and give the reader what they want.

From a personal perspective, I also believe that relationships are super important in this business, whether it is with publishers, other authors, industry professionals and, of course, readers. I offer lots of ways to connect with my readers from my VIP Facebook room, to my Street Team and a newsletter that offers exclusive contests and content.

Yes, it takes time away from writing to foster and maintain these relationships, but it think it is important to know for whom I am writing. Plus, they are damn wonderful people!

TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?

Sabrina: I have a trick. I start out with a fairly well developed outline, but then, when I get going, yes, the characters start talking to me. I have to listen. It is their story after all!

TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen?  Where do you believe writer’s fail in this endeavor?

Sabrina: Absolutely. My job is to let the reader FEEL the story. To evoke and exploit emotion. My tactic is to write in what is called deep POV (Point of View). I only write one character per scene and everything from the language to the tone to the simmering emotions MUST be genuine and true to that character.

Another trick I learned is to keep the story moving. Focusing on the action and evolution of the story, I fold tidbits of information into dialog, reactions and internalizations rather than providing it in huge choking chunks. This is essential to KEEP THE READER IN THE STORY. I do not want you to put the book down! Long dull chunks of exposition are the perfect excuse to close the book and go have a root canal or something.

No! This cannot be allowed!!!!

As for writers who fail in invoking emotion, I’d like to say (and to be honest) we all have failed at one point or another. If we are lucky and/or smart, we have learned from it.

In my opinion, this failure (for wont of a better word) occurs when writers try to rush through scenes and assume the words they are putting on paper are having the effect they desire. I call this lazy writing and I am an expert at it. But the trick is in the editing. It is in the second, third or fourth pass when we flesh out the scene, maximize opportunities to stir emotions and cut out anything that gums up the works.

This last bit is where many writers struggle, because they are not inclined to murder their darlings. You know, that perfectly wicked turn of phrase, or the description of the train station we are in love with but goes on waaaaay too long for the reader to tolerate… That stuff needs to go, but writers in love with their own words don’t want to cut it.

Ask yourself is the story truly better or worse with this and then become a slasher.

In my humble opinion, writers only truly fail when they let their ego get in the way.

TRC: Do you listen to music while writing? If so, does the style of music influence the storyline direction? Characters?

Sabrina: I love listening to music, but words distract me (muddles up the flow in my head) so the only music I listen to is classical. Fortunately, I love classical. It is supremely evocative.

Beethoven is a personal favorite (Appassionata and other such concertos), as well as Mozart and anything with the cello and oboe.

When I am in the “flow” the music does indeed influence me.

TRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information with other authors or friends and family.  With whom do you bounce ideas?

Sabrina: Believe it or not, no one in my family reads. Most of my friends are authors, but when we chat it is usually about other things (because we are all involved in our local chapter and conference). So no one, I suppose! Though I do occasionally talk to my agent about story ideas she would like to see.

TRC: What do you believe is the biggest misconception people have about authors?

Sabrina: I think they believe we live glamorous lives, which makes me giggle because I work from home, rarely leave the house and might have a conversation with one person other than my husband (or the dog). On a good day, I might actually get out of my PJs!

TRC: What is something that few, if any people, know about you?

Sabrina: I’m an Army Brat, so I grew up traveling the world (though I don’t travel much anymore unless it is for work because I am so busy). Because we lived overseas when I was in college, I took a course in Ancient Egyptian History…in Egypt. I’ve actually been inside the Great Pyramid. Which was awesome…until I remembered I’m claustrophobic.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Sabrina: I am thrilled that St. Martin’s asked me to continue my Untamed Highlander Series. I am now plotting out Hamish’s story!

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Sabrina: I love to connect with readers. Here are my links! I also have a tiara fetish, so be sure to enter my giveaways!

Giveaways: http://sabrinayork.com/current-giveaways/

Get two free books when you sign up for my Newsletter: http://sabrinayork.com/gift/

Join my Street Team: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/12s46UGgNUze1c3o3L8jIlXiLuhR5cFZjR83SCMElfw8/viewform?c=0&w=1&usp=mail_form_link

Facebook VIP chat room: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SabrinaYorkChatAndContests/

CONNECT

Follow my Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/sabrinayork

Friend my Facebook Profile Page https://www.facebook.com/sabrina.york.14

Like my Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/SabrinaYorkBooks

Follow me on Twitter @sabrina_york https://twitter.com/sabrina_york

Follow me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5817917.Sabrina_York

Check out my Pinterest boards: http://www.pinterest.com/sabrinayork/boards/

Sign up for Amazon alerts: http://www.amazon.com/author/sabrinayork

Sign up for alerts on new releases with other vendors: https://books2read.com/author/sabrina-york/subscribe/1/28367/

LIGHTNING ROUND

Favorite Food: Bacon

Favorite Dessert: Cheesecake

Favorite TV Show: Below Deck

Last Movie You Saw: Shawshank Redemption

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Dark

Secret Celebrity Crush: George Clooney (and it’s not so secret)

Last Vacation Destination: Los Angeles

Do you have any pets? A rottie mix named Lola

Last book you read: Tina Fey’s Bossypants

TRC: Thank you Sabrina for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of Bedding the Highlander

Sabrina: Thanks for letting me play!

 

Giveaway

Sabrina’s publisher is graciously offering an ebook copy of
BEDDING THE HIGHLANDER to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

1. If you have not previously registered at The Reading Cafe, please register by using the log-in at the top of the page (side bar) or by using one of the social log-ins.

NOTE: If you are having difficulty commenting after logging onto the site, please refresh the page (at the top of your computer).

2. If you are using a social log-in, please post your email address with your comment.

3. Please like and follow Sabrina York’s Author Page on Facebook.

4. LIKE The Reading Cafe on FACEBOOK and then click GET NOTIFICATION under ‘liked’ for an additional entry.

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8. Giveaway is open internationally

9. Giveaway runs from March 17-21, 2017

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Waiting for the Laird by Willa Blair-a review

Waiting for the Laird by Willa Blair-a review

Waiting for the Laird

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 19, 2016

Will a ghost be the key to his past and their future?

Widow Lara MacLaren hungers for the hunky architect she hires to restore her derelict Scottish manor, but is she ready for a relationship…and is Ian ready for her twins?

Ian Paterson is eager to awaken Lara’s passionate side. Yet, if he reveals his ancestral claim to her estate, he risks losing her and his job. His clan’s history, lost over the years, may be hidden in the walls—along with a ghost waiting for the laird’s return.

When they uncover a room full of Jacobite treasure, proof of his ancestry, Ian realizes he’s out of time. If the ghost is real, it could expose his secret and destroy his romance with Lara. Ian must convince her she and her twins are the future he truly wants.

•••••••••••

REVIEW: Just in time for Halloween! Waiting for the Laird is a delightful romance/ghost story by author Willa Blair. I began reading last night, late. Thinking I would just read a little and then head to bed. Oops! About 3:00 am I finally had to force myself to stop and get some sleep…yes, it was that good.

While it is a romance/ghost story, it’s not a completely chilling scary one. I found it delightful, the romance is a widow with twins, continuing to finish her husband’s dream of renovating the old Scottish keep, Cairn Dubh. She’s been grieving for a year and is beginning to be ready to heal and move on. Lara MacLaren finds everything she needs in Ian Paterson, an excellent renovation specialist and general contractor, or so she thinks.

Ian Paterson is an honorable and delicious man. With dark auburn hair that has those wonderful copper highlights, a toned body from construction, and a marvelous highland accent. He also has a few secrets. Ones that he’s afraid to let Lara know because he wants to keep this renovation job and, if possible, her and her children.

The romance builds slowly, with respect to her decease husband, very believable and well done. You get to know a bit about the characters, their joys and sorrows. The children are a boy and girl twin pair, 9 years old with all that the enthusiasm and willfulness you’d expect. The mysteries abound in this delightful tale. Secret rooms, treasure, and danger. It’s great to have a ghost story that won’t make you afraid to go to bed at night. In fact, you’ll probably wish for a ghost of your own.

Give yourself a treat and grab this book, you’ll have marvelous time, I certainly did.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Georgianna S

About the author

Willa BlairGoodreads/ Website / Twitter Facebook

Willa Blair is an Award-winning Amazon and Barnes & Noble #1 Bestselling author of Scottish Historical, light Paranormal, and Contemporary romance. She has been featured on and contributes to USAToday’s Happy Ever After romance blog, Savvy Authors, Romance University, and more.

Her books have won numerous honors, including the Marlene, the Merritt, National Readers’ Choice Award Finalist, The Reader’s Crown finalist, Historical Romance finalist and Honorable Mention in InD’Tale Magazine’s prestigious RONE Award, NightOwl Reviews Top Pick, and InD’tale Review’s Crowned Heart.

A life-long student and reader, she has been a stained glass artist and instructor, a foreign language teacher, a computer scientist, an analyst, a manager and an executive. She has visited five continents and can get by in several languages. She loves scouting new settings for books, and thinks being an author is the best job she’s ever had.

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Susana and the Scot by Sabrina York-Review and Interview

Susana and the Scot by Sabrina York-Review and Interview

Susana and the Scot

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / The Book Depository / BAM

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date December 29, 2015

A SCANDALOUS TEMPTATION

Andrew Lochlannach is famous for his conquests, on and off the battlefield. When a fellow warrior challenges him to a kissing contest, he wastes no time in planting his lips on ninety-nine lovely lasses—an impressive feat of seduction that gets him banished to the farmlands. Still, Andrew has no regrets about his exploits—especially his embrace with the most beguiling woman he’s ever met…

AN UNDENIABLE PASSION

With flaming red hair and a temper to match, Susana is not the kind of innocent farmgirl who gives herself over easily to a man, even one as ruggedly handsome as Andrew. The wicked Scot may have won a kiss from the headstrong beauty in a moment of mutual desire, but Susana refuses to be just another one of his conquests. Andrew must convince the fiery lass that even though he is not playing a game, losing her is not an option…

REVIEW:

5 out of 5 for this reader folks!

Susana and the Scot by Sabrina York is the second book in her “Untamed Highlander” series. I have to say, I love my highlanders untamed, so she absolutely delivered all I love in my historical highland romances.

Andrew Lochlannach loves the lasses, and the lasses love him. It is when he loves them a little too much that his brother Alexander (we met him in the first book of this series) has had enough and sends him away in “exile” to teach him a lesson. Exile comes in the form of a mission. Andrew must provide protection for the family of his brother’s new bride at Dounreay castle. This includes the protection of the fiery “have to have her because she lights me up” Susana.

Susana is the epitome of a strong, proud highland lass. She can be a polite and proper lady and she can also defend herself, her loved ones and her home as harshly as any man … she is someone you do not want to cross. Poor Andrew .. he hasn’t even realized that he has crossed her … long before he believes he has met her.

Through the years, Andrew has pined for one woman that took his heart captive. He hasn’t found one woman who can make him feel an ounce of what he felt for his lost Mairi .. that is until he meets Susana. Now, a mystery filled with danger is lingering, and Susana’s life is in real peril. Despite all of this, Susana still goes out of her way to makes Andrew’s life a living hell while smiling during the process. Sounds like a whole lot of nasty, but you see … Susana knows the truth .. all Andrew knows is that she reminds him of woman who a long time ago, got under his skin and into his heart.

This is an amazing, beautiful, humour filled, second chance romance that I couldn’t put down. There are twists and turns in this story, but also moments where you wonder how someone can be so blind and effective all at once. There was a back and forth between Andrew and Susana that made me giggle and think that they certainly would have a very interesting, exciting life ahead of them.

I am not going to give away anymore of this story, but I will tell you, Sabrina York is now one of my fave authors of this genre’s. The story just had a natural flow and there were times that some things were predictable, but there is comfort in that as well. These two deserve their happily ever after .. truely. Secondary characters .. LOVE THEM! So much in fact I am really looking forward to the next book in this series.

HAPPY READING!

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Rachel T.

 

Excerpt beige

 

Susana was annoyed. There was no doubt about it. The swish of her hips as she led him across the bustling bailey was a dead giveaway, that and the dark glowers she shot over her shoulder. But Andrew couldn’t help but be amused. For one thing, she was damn alluring with she was annoyed.
Hell, she was damn alluring altogether. The curve of her waist alone could drive a man insane, much less that silky tumble of hair. He wanted to wrap it is his fist, wind it around his body. A certain part of his body.
At the thought, his cock rose.
It was difficult to remind himself that he’d vowed to eschew seduction, but try as he might, he couldn’t banish the fantasy of stripping those breeks from her lovely body and laying her down in the heather. Visions of that twitching backside—bare before him—danced in his head.
But he’d made a vow. A sacred vow. And as tempting as she was, he would control his baser urges. He could. Probably.
These thoughts whirled in his head as she led him into the stables, past his men—who were unpacking and seeing to their horses—and through the kennels. Though he was perplexed, Andrew followed. He would probably follow anywhere she led. It was a fact that should have scared him to death or at the very least, concerned him. But it didn’t. However, when she started up a staircase at the very end of the long hall, he had to stop her.
She glared at the hand he set on her arm. He tried to ignore the sizzle that raged through him at their first touch. It was ridiculous how much that touch affected him. And how much he enjoyed her glare.
He edged closer. “Where are we going?” he asked in a purr.
Judging from her frown, his tone irritated her. He rather enjoyed irritating her, he found.
She ripped her arm away and continued up the stairs. He followed and found himself in a narrow loft that ran the length of the kennels. It was dim and a little dusty. Motes danced on the air. The roof was so low he had to duck his head to miss the rafters.
“Your men will stay here,” she said.
Andrew gaped at her. The room was swept clean and empty. A thin shaft of light from the far window illuminated it with a murky light. But the yipping from the kennel and the stench of excrement wafted up from below. For some reason, all thoughts of alluring backsides dissipated. Disbelief gushed through him. “Here?”
She crossed her arms and offered what could only be described as a smirk. “Here.”
He tipped his head to the side. “This is a kennel.”
“I am aware of that.”
“I have twenty-five men.”
“The room is quite large.”
“There are no beds.”
She blew out a breath. “We’ll bring in pallets.”
Andrew blinked. He set his teeth and tried to remain calm. His men were warriors. They did not sleep on pallets. In a kennel. “This will not do.” Surely she saw that. Surely she understood… He caught a glimpse of her smug expression and it dawned on him.
She did. She did understand. She knew damn well what she was doing. Her response only verified his suspicions.
“I’m sorry, but you have descended upon us with no warning whatsoever with a large group of men. I’m afraid this is all we can offer you at this time.” Her smile was deferential, but hardly sincere. The light dancing in her eyes lit a flame in his belly. “Of course, if our accommodations are unacceptable, you can always return to Dunnet…”
Oh, she’d like that, wouldn’t she?
The minx.
Rather than the exasperation her self-satisfied look should have sparked, Andrew found himself filled with another emotion entirely. Anticipation. Exhilaration. The thrill of a challenge.
For that was what she was, Susana Dounreay. A challenge.
And it appeared she reveled in provoking him.
A pity she didn’t understand he was a dangerous man to provoke.
The tumult her presence sparked within him flared again, burning the edges of his resolution; his inconvenient lust blossomed, and with it, an unruly resolve.
He wanted, very badly, to kiss her. He wanted to wrench her into his arms and cover her sweet mouth with his. He wanted to taste her, consume her, possess her.
And he would.
Clearly he wasn’t the kind of man who could swear off women. Clearly he wasn’t the kind of man who could keep a vow.
So be it.
Damn to hell his ridiculous vow.
Damn to hell the fact that she was his sister-in-law.
He was going to seduce this vixen, and he would start right now.
Desire, like a snarling, snapping beast, rose within him, and he stepped closer.
Susana’s eyes flared as Andrew advanced on her, like a skulking fox that had spotted a plump rabbit. She didn’t mean to retreat, but she had to. She’d seen that expression in his eyes before and she knew what it meant. Something within her howled: Run.
Perhaps it was the expression in his eyes, or the knowledge that she was playing with fire, or the sudden realization that she’d foolishly come here, to this deserted loft with the most dangerous man she’d ever met, but she couldn’t still the urge to whirl and pace to the far end of the room to peer out of the smudged window. She was aware he followed. She felt his presence like a fire in a forge.
Desperation prompted her to continue their conversation, to put some space between them, to raise a shield. “The room is perfectly habitable,” she proclaimed. “And once we have pallets brought in, it will serve you well.”
“Will it?”
His voice was low in her ear, a whisper almost. And far too close. She wanted to turn, to confront him, but she knew, if she did, they would be face to face, perhaps lip to lip and she could not allow that. She could never allow that.
The last time he’d kissed her, it had been her undoing.
A pity he didn’t remember.
“My men willna like being housed with the dogs.” Holy God. Was that his hand on her hip? His thumb tracing her waist? “Nae doubt they will all want to find…other beds to welcome them.”
Susana stilled as his words sank in. The threat was clear. And it was rather horrifying. A horde of randy warriors set loose on the innocent maidens of Dounreay? That his hand had slid over to toy with the small of her back, to tangle in the skeins of her hair, didn’t help.
Her pulse thudded and her knees went weak. She couldn’t have it. She couldn’t have this man touching her. She sucked in a breath and slipped to the side, out of his grasp. When she was far enough away for some measure of safety, she turned to face him, a reproachful look fixed on her face. “Are your men so lacking in discipline?” She hoped her frown, her reproving tone, would bring him to heel. She should have known better.
He grinned and stepped closer. His eyes glinted, as though needling her was an amusing sport. “They are verra disciplined…when their needs are met.”
She crossed her arms, as though that could protect her, and pretended to study the room. Pretended she wasn’t aware of his thrumming presence, his heat, his intent. “Well, I shall hold you responsible for any…improprieties.” She took a step toward the staircase, only a tiny one—surely not an attempt to escape.
He chuckled—chuckled, the bastard—making it clear he recognized her cowardice for what it was. And he paced her.
“They’re all good men. They all volunteered to come with me. Each and every one of them is dedicated to the cause of protecting Reay from the villains who have been plaguing you. However…”
The way he trailed off derailed her retreat. She stilled. Glared at him. “However, what?”
“However, they do have…needs. Surely you can find better lodgings.”
She blew out a breath. “In time.” In time.
In time, he would be gone, God willing.
He stepped toward her again, although nonchalantly, as though he were not chasing her across the room. It occurred to her they were engaged in something of a macabre dance. It set her nerves on edge. She hadn’t realized what a long room this was, or how far it was to the stairs.
“Doona leave it too long.” His smile was heinous. It made all kinds of shivers dance over her skin. “My men are…restless.” She had the chilling sense he was talking about himself.
“I shall…do my best.” Like hell. “And now, if you will excuse me, I have things to do.”
His brow quirked. She tried not to notice what a perfect brow it was. “Ah, but I thought you and I could…talk.”
“Talk?” She didn’t intend to squawk, but she could tell from his predatory stance, a conversation was not the primary urge on his mind. At least, not one with words.
He nodded. Though his features were patently earnest, the sincerity was patently affected. “About the defenses you have in place…so I can decide what needs improvement.”
Aggravation rippled. It displaced her concerns about being here, with him, all alone. Fury did that, she’d often found. Overrode common sense and led one into dangerous waters. Her hands curled into fists. She strode toward him until they were nearly nose to nose. “Nothing needs improvement,” she snapped. They didn’t need him. Or his men. Or his stupid ideas.
“Nonsense. Now that we’re here, we intend to make a statement to Stafford, or whatever miscreants are lurking out there thinking Dounreay is an easy target. But before I set my plans in motion—”
“Your plans?” He already had plans? Och! He was so exasperating.
She barely noticed that he stepped closer…until their chests brushed. He was hard and hot; the touch made her tingle. His voice, low and luring made her tingle as well. His gaze skated over her face, then stalled on her lips. “Let’s meet and discuss—”
Her pulse skittered. “I doona have time to meet with you. Not today.” She took a step back. He followed.
“Nae?” A whisper. And his caress over her shoulder, that was a whisper as well. Like a panicked fawn, Susana eased back again. And again. He matched her, step for step.
She swallowed heavily. “I… You have descended upon us with no warning—”
“My brother sent a letter.”
He was too close. Far too close. She swallowed heavily. “Twenty-five men that now need to be housed and fed. On top of that, I have many other duties that need attending.”
He cocked his head to the side. “Which duties?”
“Many duties.” She frowned and glanced toward the staircase. Ah, lord. It was so far… He was too warm. Too broad. Too alluring. Though she didn’t intend to, she took another step back and—
Oh hell. He’d backed her against the wall. That he couldn’t stand straight in the low-ceilinged room was a small consolation.
“Susana,” he said as he leaned closer. His breath was a tantalizing trail over her face.
An unholy thrill snaked through her. Surely that wasn’t anticipation? Hunger? Need?
She could not allow him to kiss her. She could not—
Her knees nearly melted at the touch of his lips. His warmth, his taste, his scent made her mind whirl. Thank God he had his hands on her waist and was holding her steady, or she might well have collapsed.
It occurred to her that she should push him away, fight him, but she couldn’t. Something, something deep within her resisted. Something deep within her needed him. Needed this.
And ah, it was glorious. As glorious as she remembered.
His lips were soft, gentle, questing as they tested hers and then, with a groan, he pulled her closer, melding their bodies together. He deepened the kiss, sealing his mouth over hers and dancing his tongue over the seam.
She opened to him. She couldn’t resist. He filled her senses with his presence, his heat. With tiny nibbles, sucks and laps, he consumed her, enflamed her. All sanity fled. All logic and resolution and anger flitted away as Andrew tasted her, tempted her.
His hands were not still. They roved over her body from her shoulders, down her arms to her waist. They tangled in her hair and stroked her cheek and chin.
Heat blossomed, skittered through her veins. Her body softened, melted, prepared for him.
She should not have responded the way she did. She should not have pressed against him, rubbed against the hard bulge on his belly. She should not have explored the hard flesh of his back, cupped his nape, raked his silken scalp. She should not have moaned.
Surely all these things would only encourage him.
He lifted his head and stared at her, an odd mixture of befuddlement and awe in his eyes. His tongue peeped out and dabbed at his lips, snagging her attention. Surely she didn’t lean toward him in a mute plea for more.
Was she truly so weak?
Aye. She was.


 

Interview beige

TRC:  Hi Sabrina and welcome to The Reading Café.

We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?

FROM THE WEBSITE: Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. With over 25 titles her books range from sweet & snarky to scorching romance.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Sabrina: I am a rebel and when someone tells me I can’t do something, I have a tendency to do it anyway. So when I was in preschool and they told my mother I would never learn to read (much less write), my fate was set. Add to that, the fact that my Mother’s response was something along the lines of “Oh, hell no!” and the fact that, rather than believing them, rather than treating me like I had no chance, she simply insisted I was a different thinker who marched to the sound of my own drum. We faced my dyslexia together and she helped me figure out ways to cope with and, in fact, exploit, my…unique brain.
Incidentally, I’ve met lots of awesome, successful people who are dyslexic. We tend to be super creative, because we spent our lives solving puzzles. Although I do admit, my spelling isn’t stellar.

TRC: What challenges or difficulties have you encountered writing and publishing your stories?

Sabrina: I think every author struggles in their early years. I “wrote” my whole life but once I decided to finally get serious and seek publication, I was surprised that editors and agents didn’t fall all over themselves to publish me. In fact, I spent years writing and submitting and filing rejections.

While it was frustrating and discouraging, now, looking back, I see that that time was a gift. It allowed me to hone my “voice” and get myself ready to face the challenges that emerge once you are published. It’s not an easy business, even when you have lots of books in publication. There are difficult things to deal with including bad reviews, books that simply don’t sell despite your love of them, and convoluted contract issues. I needed to be ready, emotionally and spiritually. Also, I think it is important to WANT something. To strive for something. When you work for it, you value it.
And I truly value each and every reader.

Susana and the ScotTRC: Would you please tell us something about Susana and the Scot?

Sabrina: Oh my goodness! I had so much fun writing this book! I think it is my favorite of all time! In the story, which picks up where Hannah and the Highlander left off, Andrew Lochlannach has come to Reay to guard his brother’s new lands against hidden enemies. He comes face to face with a woman who reminds him of his lost love…but he is disgruntled when she, Susana Dounreay MacBean, seems determined to drive him back to Dunnet.

As for Susana, she is furious that he is here, that he’s come to invade her perfectly ordered life. Worse, he doesn’t even seem to remember that he once held her, kissed her…and more. She is determined to make him pay!

They come together and the sparks fly!

**READ THE EXCERPT ABOVE THE INTERVIEW**

TRC: How many books do you have planned for the series?

Sabrina: There are three books in this series!

Hannah and the Highlander is out now.

Susana and the Scot comes out December 29th

Lana and the Laird is available for preorder now and comes out in May 2016

Untamed Highlanders series

TRC: Have you ever had the opportunity to visit Scotland or any of the places you have written about in your series?

Sabrina Hates HaggisSabrina: Funny you should ask! I just got back from Scotland. It was amazing! The only thing I didn’t like was the haggis! On the same trip, we stopped in London and I researched Mayfair, Hyde Park and Coven Garden for my Regency Romps!

TRC: How do you keep the plot(s) unpredictable without sacrificing content and believability?

Sabrina: I’ve read thousands of romances and am familiar with all the tropes and typical plots. One of the things I LOVE to do is lead the reader down the garden path…and then throw in a twist. I love to write strong heroines who turn tropes on their ear. Oh, and snark. Did I mention snark?

TRC: There is a fine line between romance, erotic, and erotica in many of today’s popular contemporary fiction. What do you believe accounts for the differences between the sub-genres in today’s romantic stories?

Sabrina: I think Fifty Shades of Grey had a lot to do with shifting the line. Scenes that would never have appeared in a mainstream romance are now commonplace. In my mind, erotica is predominantly about the sexual relationship and does not need that happy ending romance demands and an erotic romance is a story where the plot is driven by the sexual relationship (and turning points are connected to the sexual story development). I tend to write books that are driven by the emotional relationship and therefore consider them non-erotic, but there are always steamy scenes.

TRC: Which genre do you find most difficult to write and why?

Sabrina: Romantic suspense, I think. I don’t write it because I don’t enjoy reading it.

TRC: Do you believe the cover image plays a deciding factor for many readers in the process of selecting a book or new series to read?

Sabrina: Yes. 100%. Absolutely.

TRC: When writing a story line, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?

Sabrina: It really depends on the story, and how far along I am in the world. Early on, I am totally in charge but as we progress, they become more vocal. I will admit, I have had characters wake me up in the middle of the night and tell me I got it wrong. LOL. Usually when I am stalled, it’s because I am not listening to them!

TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the story line so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writer’s fail in this endeavor?

Sabrina: Story is emotion. My job is to evoke emotion in readers. The key is to make the CARE about the characters. That means having people who are three dimensional and REAL on the page. Writers who don’t take the time to set the stage will never touch that reader the way the want to.

TRC: Do you listen to music while writing? If so, does the style of music influence the story line direction? Characters?

Sabrina: I tend to prefer silence, because I am easily distracted, but if I listen to music, it is always classical, because there are no words, but can evoke a lush mood.

TRC: What three things would you like to accomplish in the next five years?

Sabrina: I’ve worked hard to create a diverse platform, but one can always do better, right? I’d really love to continue writing well-received books. I try to have a release a month, so shall we say 50 more books?

There are over 2,000 subscribers on my newsletter list. My goal is 10,000! I would love every romance reader to sign up for my alerts! I share updates, releases and giveaway announcements and have members-only giveaways!

I’ve hit the NYT and USA Today list with several collections… I’d really like to hit it on my own!

TRC: Have you collaborated with any other authors/writers? If not, have you considered such an enterprise?

Sabrina: I am a proponent of author collaboration! I’ve done tons of projects with other authors including collections that have hit the best seller lists, a Kindle Worlds release with Cat Johnson and promotions with other authors! Check out this FREE Sampler I coordinated with 20 of my author friends! Teasers and Tasters: 2015 Romance Author Sampler

I think the key to success in this business (and any business) is relationships! I am honored to have so many amazing author friends!

TRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information with other authors or friends and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?

Sabrina: I have an amazing street team! I will often bounce ideas off them. You can join the conversation on Facebook: HERE. I also have a great critique group who supports me and helps me stay sane!

TRC: What do you believe is the biggest misconception people have about authors?

Sabrina: HAHAHA! That we are all rolling in dough. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some excellent months, but I’ve had dismal paydays too. It all depends on what’s happening in the market, on the season, day of the week etc. We control some elements, but not all of them.

Next time you buy a 99¢ collection with 12 stories, think about this…

We upload the book to Amazon. With each sale, we make 30% of the sale price (70% if the price is over $2.99, but for the purposes of this example, let’s say it is a 99¢ book!) That means we receive about 30¢ per sale. Not bad…but the 30¢ needs to be split amongst the 12 authors…and that is AFTER the costs of covers, formatting etc. We’re lucky to make 3¢ per sale.

So why do we do it? Simply to expand our platforms. We all hope readers will buy the collection for their favorite author, read our books and discover how awesome we are. We hope they will all go back and buy our backlist.

Some do. Some don’t.

I love the ones that do! 😀

TRC: What is something that few, if any people, know about you?

Sabrina: I have a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. The day job (I left 2 years ago to write full time) was in government! How boring. See why I LOVE my life now???

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Sabrina: I have about 5 books in progress.

I am writing a sequel to Guard Dog (my Hot SEALs Kindle World book: Hot Seals Guard Dog: Stone Hard Seals 3 )

It is set in Hong Kong (and based on a trip I took there several years ago to meet my adopted sister’s biological family).

I’m working on the sequel to The Real McCoy and Come Hell or High Water (from the Cowboy 12 Pack and 12 Alarm Cowboys, respectively—both NYT Bestsellers). The new collection is called Cowboy Justice League, and I’m writing a cowboy sheriff! You can get updates HERE

On that note, I just signed a 3 book deal with Berkley InterMix for stories set on the Stud Ranch featured in all those books! Titles in the Stripped Bare series are:

STUD FOR HIRE
COWBOY TO COMMAND
SPURRED ON

I’m writing a Regency Romp for the Seven Sinful Nights Anthology

I am editing Trickery for release

I’m working on others I cannot talk about yet. 😀

So yeah. I am busy!

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Sabrina: I absolutely love to interact with readers and encourage you all to follow me, chat and sign up for my newsletter! Here are the links!

Bookshelf! http://sabrinayork.com/books/

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bj8tKb

Website: http://sabrinayork.com/

Follow my Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/sabrinayork

Tsu: https://www.tsu.co/SabrinaYork

Like my Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/SabrinaYorkBooks

Follow me on Twitter @sabrina_york https://twitter.com/sabrina_york

Follow me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5817917.Sabrina_York

Check out my Pinterest boards: http://www.pinterest.com/sabrinayork/boards/

Join the conversation on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SabrinaYorkChatAndContests/

LIGHTNING ROUND

Favorite Food: Bacon (Duh!)

Favorite Dessert: Cheesecake (preferably without bacon, thank you)

Favorite TV Show: Ellen

Last Movie You Saw: MI5 with my honey, Jon Snow.

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Seriously? Is there anything other than DARK????

Secret Celebrity Crush: Charlie Hunnam, but it’s not so secret.

Last Vacation Destination: Scotland, London and Paris! My first VACATION in 10 years!

Do you have any pets? YES! We just adopted a Rottie mix named Lola (she’s named for a character in Guard Dog!) and she likes to chew on things.

I have a dog

Last book you read: The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne (Awesome)

Pet Peeve: Being added to Facebook groups without my OK…I get 100s of emails a day and NEED Facebook notifications so I can keep up. THESE clog my feed.

TRC: Thank you Sabrina for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of Susana and the Scot

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The Striker (Highland Guard #10) by Monica McCarty-Review and Giveaway

The Striker (Highland Guard #10) by Monica McCarty-Review and Giveaway

The Striker Banner

THE STRIKER
Highland Guard #10
by Monica McCarty
Genre: adult, Highlander, historical, romance
Release Date:November 24, 2015

The Striker

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / The Book Depository / BAM

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date November 24, 2015

Six years ago, Eoin “Striker” MacLean endured the greatest betrayal of his life, a disaster that led Robert the Bruce to a crushing defeat and left Eoin without the spirited woman who ruled his heart. Eoin knew that falling in love with his sworn enemy’s daughter was risky, dividing him between a possessive desire for beautiful Margaret MacDowell and an undying loyalty to his king. He promised Bruce that he would keep his fiery bride in the dark about the elite Highland Guard, but he could not predict the dire consequences his secret would have on his young marriage. Nor could he foresee how surrendering to temptation could cripple Bruce’s cause, forcing Eoin to blame his wife—and himself for trusting her.

Now, as Bruce prepares to challenge the resistance’s remaining strongholds, Eoin finally has his chance for revenge against the woman he once loved so fiercely and her entire clan. But when ferociously independent Margaret reveals a surprise that unites her with Eoin, neither of them will let their love go down without a fight.

REVIEW

5 out of 5 for this reader folks!

OH YEAH .. Monica McCarty nails another one out of the park. WOW .. TOTALLY LOVED! 🙂

You know when you read a series and you expect by book 10 it will start to fade a little … UUMMM not so much with Monica McCarty’s Highland Guard series. The Striker is book 10 and it is right up there as one of my faves. Always full of action, history, yummy alpha highlanders, deception, and love, I was so sad when I flipped the last screen page because that meant it was over. SNIFF!

Eoin “Striker” MacLean has had one goal in his life. To become one of Robert the Bruce’s elite Highland Guard members. Despite being The Bruce’s kin, Striker had to prove himself over and over again. Known for his cunning pirate like strategy, Bruce agrees that Striker would bring a unique gift to share with his warriors .. only one small problem. Striker fell in love with the wrong woman at the wrong time, and married her.

Margaret MacDowell is a wild one, especially in her youth. As the youngest of many brother’s and the only girl, she has had to learn to live in a man’s world and to hold her own to be respected. In the fine courts however, and despite her innocence, she is cast as a whore and something despicable. Both Eoin and Margaret feel this strong pull to each other and decide on the spur of a moment that they are meant to be. A hurried marriage and consummation seals the deal, but neither of them truely know what it means for them to be together. Maggie is a member of a family that is the sworn enemy of The Bruce. How can a man who is to become a Highland Guard suppose to have a trusted marriage with such a woman. Sworn to keep his identity secret by The Bruce, Striker must walk a fine line with his Maggie. When they return to his home as a married couple, her reception is less than kind. With Striker constantly leaving her for missions and not telling her what is going on, it’s only a matter of time that she feel cast aside and runs away .. but not before accidentally betraying her husband.

Many years have past and Maggie believes Eoin to be dead. Now living with her family, she is raising her son (yup that’d be Striker’s son), and about to remarry. When Striker makes his appearance, Maggie is shocked .. relieved and fearful, she must ensure that Striker knows that she never intended to betray him. With so much hurt, a son, and another chance at love, can these two finally get their own heads out of their you know what’s and lay it all out .. or will their families and secrets once again tear then apart? Can forgiveness truely happen and can love conquer all?

OH ME OH MY .. LOVE LOVE LOVE! Monica really writes a great story. I am not usually a fan of books that start in the present and then fire back to the past, but for this book to be this good, it needed to be this way. Maggie stole my heart right from the beginning, and I love how strong and capable she was. Eoin (Striker) was most assuredly Highland Guard worthy. Their fast romance was captivating, hot, and so endearing. When they separate you wonder how they will find their way back to the other. Well Monica didn’t disappoint there either .. LOL Characters you love to hate, but also honestly feel sorry for were present and this entire story was wrapped around a landscape and history that was so rich and believable. My fave part of all the Highland Guard books is the end where Monica writes a little blurb on the true history that inspired her story. It amazing how much research goes into her novels.

I am not one to reread many books, but I would reread this series in a heartbeat. Please do yourself a favour and start with the first book The Chief .. I promise you, if you love a great highland historical romance, you will be very happy with this entire series!

Cannot wait for the next one!

HAPPY READING! 🙂

Copy supplied by Netgalley

Reviewed by Rachel T

giveaway

The Reading Cafe and Monica’s publisher are offering a paper copy of THE STRIKER to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe

1. If you have not previously registered at The Reading Cafe, please register by using the log-in at the top of the page (side bar) or by using one of the social log-ins.

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The Highlander’s Reluctant Bride by Cathy MacRae-Review, Interview and Giveaway

The Highlander’s Reluctant Bride by Cathy MacRae-Review, Interview and Giveaway

The Highlander's Reluctant Bride banner

The Highlander’s Reluctant Bride
by Cathy MacRae
Release Date:
Genre: Highlander, historical, romance

The Highlander's Reluctant Bride

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon.uk/

THE HIGHLANDER’S RELUCTANT BRIDE (Highlander’s Bride #2) by Cathy MacRae

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date March 15, 2014

Determined to keep the Macrory clan holdings out of the clutches of the Lord of the Isles and marauding pirates, King Robert II sends his man, Lord Ranald Scott, to hold Scaurness Castle. There, Laird Macrory lies dying, awaiting word from his son who is missing on the battlefields of France. If the son is not found before the old laird dies, Ranald will take over as laird–and marry Laird Macrory’s headstrong daughter.

Lady Caitriona sees no reason she cannot rule the clan in her brother’s stead, and is bitterly disappointed with the king’s decision to send a man to oversee the castle and its people. Not only is Ranald Scott only distantly related to the Macrory clan, but he was her childhood nemesis. She has little trust or like for him.

Her disappointment turns to panic when the king’s plan is completely revealed and she realizes she must wed Ranald. Pirates, treachery, and a 4-year-old girl stand between her and Ranald’s chance at happiness. What will it take for them to learn to trust each other and find the love they both deserve?

••••••••••••••••

REVIEW: THE HIGHLANDER’S RELUCTANT BRIDE is the second instalment in Cathy MacRae’s Highlander historical romance series. This is Lord Ranald Scott and Lady Riona Macrory’s story. Following the death of Laird Macrory, King Robert sends Ranald to Scaurness Castle to secure and assume the position of Laird. To establish ownership, Ranald is ordered to marry Lady Macrory and is not surprised when she denies any claim of marriage. The two have a prior history that goes back a number of years.

The premise focuses on the building relationship between Ranald and Riona as well as defending the castle from would be claimants-a one time friend of the former Laird: and the head of the Laird’s guards. When treachery and treason is suspected Ranald must ensure his position of authority or lose control of the castle and the men.

The relationship between Ranald and Riona began as children but neither had seen one another in years. Their attraction to one another is immediate although both deny feelings or their emotions. But Riona hides a secret that she believes will push Ranald away and in doing so will discover that her past has come back to claim what he believes belongs to him. When Riona chooses her past over her present Ranald knows that the future he promised was never going to happen.

The world building continues with the inclusion of Laird Eaden Scott (Ranald’s brother) from the first storyline. With the backdrop of Scottish castles and the salt water ocean you can feel the moisture and dew on the misty shores. The secondary characters include family, friends and enemies all carefully placed who reveal bits and pieces about the history of the family and the guards.

Cathy MacRae pulls the reader into a romantic storyline of struggle, betrayal, heartbreak and love. The Highlander storylines are always a favorite genre for many romance readers and THE HIGHLANDER’S RELUCTANT BRIDE is the perfect romance read for love in the afternoon.

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy

Interview orange:black

TRC: Hi Cathy and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the recent release of THE HIGHLANDER’S RELUCTANT BRIDE.

Cathy: Thank you so much! It’s great to be here today. The Highlander’s Reluctant Bride is just shy of its two month birthday.

Cathy MacRaeTRC: We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?

Follow Cathy: Twitter / Goodreads Website / Facebook

Cathy: Well, like other writers, I love to read and cannot remember a time when I didn’t have a book in my hand- two or three in my desk at school as a kid, books in my car (before ereaders) for downtime while kids were at one practice or another. When I decided to start writing Scottish historical romance, a fellow writer challenged me to enter a writing competition, and the genre has stuck with me. I love it! And, really, it’s not hard to appreciate men in kilts. **J I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Scotland two years ago and will definitely go again!

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Cathy: My local writing group was my first support group. **J My current critique group is awesome and of course, there are numerous authors in my genre whose stories I love.

TRC: THE HIGHLANDER’S RELUCTANT BRIDE is the March 2014 and second release in your historical Highlander Brides series. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

Cathy: It is a stand alone book, but if you read the first one, you would recognize the hero in this book, Ranald, as the brother of the hero in The Highlander’s Accidental Bride.The Highlander's Reluctant Bride

In The Highlander’s Reluctant Bride, King Robert II has received an urgent request from Laird Macrory to send someone to help hold Scaurness Castle, a strategic site overlooking the Firth of Clyde. Both the Lord of the Isles and marauding pirates would love to claim it for their own.*

The king sends Ranald and sets three mandates. First, secure the castle in the name of the king. Second, take over as laird if the old laird dies before his son can be found and returned from France’s battlefields. The third mandate hinges on the second. To strengthen his claim on the Macrory clan (he is distantly related), he must marry the old laird’s headstrong daughter. Unfortunately, Ranald remembers her as an annoying child he didn’t like very much. Their story revolves around their early dislike of each other as well as a few unexpected obstacles they must overcome in order for them to learn to trust and then love one another.

TRC: How many books do you have planned for the series? Can each of the books be read as a stand alone?

Cathy: I currently have two more in queue for the series, with a couple more possible. Each will be a stand alone, but of course it is fun to recognize characters as they weave in and out of each other’s stories.

TRC: What challenges or difficulties (research, historical, logistics,background) did you encounter writing this particular story and series?

Cathy: The logistics of the time period are always challenging. There is the basic clan feuding to build around, but I want to include some of the issues of the time. Who was king? What were his policies? Did he support the highland clans or intrigue to keep them fighting each other? What were other notable wars/treaties/upheavals going on at this time?

TRC: Do you believe that fictional historical storylines should adhere to the ‘real history’ of the time period in the book(s)?

Cathy: To a degree, yes. I’d be happy reading something that was not historically accurate as long as the author was clear about it from the beginning.

TRC: What are your thoughts on writing a series and ending an installment with a major cliff hanger?

Cathy: I like my cliff hangers inside the book. **J There is a lot to be said about enticing readers to eagerly anticipate the next installment, but I don’t know if I’d write that way or not. I’m happier with an emotionally satisfying ending.

TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?

Cathy: One of my favorite things about writing is I’m never quite sure how the story will progress. The characters definitely direct the story for me.

TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writer’s fail in this endeavor?

Cathy: I think a good writer must engage the reader’s empathy for the hero and heroine and keep them true to their character. If a writer changes the heroor heroine’s reaction to a situation (except for an expected character change as the story progresses), the story will lose its believability. Characters with real, understandable flaws are wonderful. I think books are better with a hero and heroine who are just as fallible in the book as people would be in real life. I want to believe, no matter what happens in a person’s life, there can be a HEA.

TRC: Writer’s Block is a very real phenomenon. How do you handle the pressures and anxiety of writer’s block?

Cathy: Usually, when writer’s block is staring me in the face, I have written a character into an unbelievable situation. It might take some rereading of the story up to that point to see where it went wrong. Occasionally I just jump to another chapter and keep writing. I can usually backtrack and fix the ‘dead spot’ later.

TRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information with other authors or friends and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?

Cathy: My DH loves to hear my plots and is great at helping me find information. He usually does the first edits on my chapters. I often bounce ideas with my critique group, too. They are a HUGE help!

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Cathy: In The Highlander’s Reluctant Bride, a 4-year-old named Gilda is introduced. My next book is her story- twelve years later, of course. It is called The Highlander’s Tempestuous Bride.

TRC: What three things would you like to accomplish in the next five years?

Cathy: I am entering the arena of self-publication and career as a full-time author. I’m not sure I have time for anything else, lol! But if I do, I would love to take another trip to Scotland.

TRC: What is something that few, if any people, know about you?

Cathy: A few people know I worked as a tour guide at George Dickel Distillery for about a year recently. I absolutely loved the job! I met people from all over the world and learned a lot of amazing things, both about whisky and life in general.I suppose if I hadn’t moved, I’d still be there.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Cathy: Writing is such fun for me. I love interacting with readers, too. Readers can find me at my Website on Facebook or my author page at Cathy MacRae Author.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Favorite Food- shrimp

Favorite Dessert- anything chocolate or ice cream (preferably Ben & Jerry’s
cookie dough)

Favorite TV Show- NCIS

Last Movie You Saw– Robin Hood with Russell Crowe

Favorite Musical Group- The John Scofield Trio (funky jazz)

Dark or Milk Chocolate- Milk chocolate

Secret Celebrity Crush- George Clooney

Last Vacation Destination- Eureka Springs, AK

Pet Peeve- poor grammar

TRC: Thank you Cathy for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of THE HIGHLANDER’S RELUCTANT BRIDE. We
wish you all the best.

Cathy: Thank you for having me here today! I’m so glad to get a chance to chat with you!

Giveaway Black and Orange

Cathy is offering the following prize package at The Reading Cafe.

-one commenter will receive the coconut soap and bookmark
-one commenter will receive a signed copy of THE HIGHLANDER’S ACCIDENTAL BRIDE
Cathy MacRae prize

1. Please register using the log-in at the top of the page.

2. If you are using a social log-in such as Twitter or Facebook, please post your email address with your comment.

3. LIKE us on FACEBOOK and then click GET NOTIFICATION under ‘liked’ for an additional entry.

 4. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

5. LIKE Cathy MacRae on Facebook for an additional entry.

6. Giveaway open to USA only

7. Giveaway runs from May 16 to May 21, 2014

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Once Upon a Highland Christmas by Sue Ellen Welfonder-a review

Once Upon a Highland Christmas by Sue-Ellen Welfonder-a review

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Once Upon A Highland Christmas
Scandalous Scots .5
by Sue-Ellen Welfonder
Genre: historical, romance, Highlanders
Release Date: December 3, 2013

Once Upon a Highland Christmas

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date December 3, 2013

.99cents special: Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Barnes and Noble / KOBO /

“Few writers can bring history to life like Sue-Ellen Welfonder! For anyone who loves historical fiction, the books in the Highland Warriors trilogy are a true treasure.” — Heather Graham, New York Times andUSA Today bestselling author

ONCE UPON A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS

Warrior Grim Mackintosh understands why his friend Archibald MacNab has decreed there be no trace of Christmas in his castle. After a devastating attack destroyed everything-and everyone-in Archie’s life, he prefers to stew in his own misery until the holiday passes. But Duncreag has seen enough tragedy. Grim decides to throw a grand Yuletide feast, one that the bards will sing about for years to come, one that will remind his laird how beloved he is. He can’t do it alone, though. Grim needs an accomplice . . .

There’s nothing Breena O’Doherty won’t do for Archie, so she’s thrilled to help Grim with his plan. Yet she has a Christmas wish all her own-to win Grim’s heart-and this might be her only chance to make it come true. As Breena and Grim work together to bring the joy of the season to the cold, gloomy castle and to the heart of the cantankerous chieftain, an undeniable passion ignites between them. But when a shocking secret about Breena’s past comes to light, threatening everything she holds dear, will it ruin Christmas in Duncreag forevermore?

REVIEW

4 out of 5 for this reader folks!

WOW .. that was a whole lot of story in a novella.

Once Upon a Highland Christmas by Sue-Ellen Welfonder is the prequel to her Scandalous Scots series. Really … she had me at Scandalous Scots. LOL A joyous read that made my heart warm and sprinkled a great dose of Christmas Cheer! 🙂

Breena O’Doherty is our Irish heroine who lives in Duncreag Castle under circumstances that she had accepted a long time ago. Her laird Archie, has lost his wife a few years ago and with that loss went the loss of anything full of joy and happiness. Once the Christmas place to be, Duncreag no longer hangs holly, mistletoe, candies fruit, sings and gets a little silly due to over indulgence of honey mead. Duncreag is a sad place now, especially during the holiday season.

Grim Mackintosh a loyal warrior of Duncreag has had enough of a sad castle. Especially is this castle has Brenna living in it. Both Brenna and Grim have been in love with each other for a long time, but feared the other would reject them. After a chance passionate embrace, Grim decides it’s time to claim the woman he loves. He decides to visit surrounding castles with Brenna in tow to convince fellows Scots to bring the joy to Duncreag and cheer Archie up once and for all.

As the joy is being spread, a secret surfaces that threatens Brenna and Grims new love. Will the Christmas magic protect them??

A short story, full of love and smexy scenes, it is so easy to love Brenna and Grim. I appreciated the old bahhumbug Archie who was totally channelling Scrooge, but we all know that even Scrooge gets his HEA! 😉

MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY READING!

Review by Rachel T.

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Forged in Dreams and Magick by Kat Bastion – a Review

 Forged in Dreams and Magick by Kat Bastion – a Review

Forged in Dreams and MagickLinks to order Forged in Dreams and Magick:
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

Description:
Isobel MacInnes wakes up in present-day California, lunches in medieval Scotland, and by ten days’ end, falls in love with a man and his country, only to lose them in a heart-wrenching twist of fate . . .

Found in the arms of her second soul mate . . .

Forced to balance the delicate strands of time between two millennia . . .

Shocked by revelations rewriting the very foundations of history . . . of everything.

Isobel, a rising-star archaeology student, is dropped into two ancient worlds without warning . . . or her permission. Her fiery spirit resists the dependency thrust upon her. Amid frustration at her lack of control, she helplessly falls in love. Twice.

She struggles to adjust to the unimaginable demands of two leaders of men—a laird in the thirteenth-century Highlands and a Pict chieftain in a more ancient Scotland. Isobel transforms from an academic, hell-bent on obtaining archaeological recognition, to a woman striving to care for those she loves, and ultimately . . . into a fearless warrior risking everything to protect them.

Review:

Isobel MacInnes is an archaeology student that finds an amazingly ornate box after she veers off the road to avoid a flock of sheep.  She was excited because she thought she had found something that would propel her archaeology career to new heights.  Little did she know that she would be propelled into another time and place.  Twice. 

While Isobel was at the archaeology department, waiting to show her professor the box, she met her Highlander friend there, Iain Brodie.  Ohhhh what a man.  Isobel was so attracted to him she could hardly stand it.  She had invited him to the department so she could show him the box she found.  She thought he might know information about it because the box had the same symbols that she had seen Iain wear on his Scottish plaid. One minute they are discussing the box, the next he is kissing her.  Their hands accidentally touch the box and they both get transported to thirteenth century Scotland. 

WOW. I need to find a magical box like that……..just sayin’. 

Considering that Isobel just got poofed into another time and place, she actually handles the news really well.  Iain knows a lot about the magical, time traveling box but he doesn’t reveal what he knows right away.  He tells her the box has the power to help the lairds of his clan (Iain is a laird of his clan, by the way) find their soul mate.  Time travel. Thirteenth Century Scotland.  Soul mated with a sexy Scottish Highlander.  Hmmm.  Interesting. 

Isobel spends the next days absorbing all about Iain, his clan and his castle. She falls for Iain and loves being with his family in Scotland.  They marry and Isobel feels like she has found her home.  So you know what that means???  Time to mess things up!  Isobel touches the box again and gets zapped through time and wakes up still in Scotland but during the ancient reign of the Picts.  A loooong time ago.  No Iain. 

She meets Velloc and in the beginning she resisted him but eventually she fell in love with him.  Apparently the box poofed her to Velloc’s time to be HIS soul mate.  Isobel is in love with two men.  She doesn’t want to choose between the two but she doesn’t even know if she can get back to Iain, but she has to try.  Ok, that’s all I’m saying about the story, I don’t want to give too much away.  Now here’s my review of the book.

I love Highlander stories.  Hunky men, soul mates, forever love……every young girl’s dream.  The time traveling made the story really interesting. I’ve read other Highlander books where the Highlander time travels or has lived for centuries, but never where the heroine gets to time travel. The most unusual part was Isobel having two soul mates.  It’s such an unexpected element and it made me realize that I had no idea what to expect as I turned each page.  Isobel is a strong character and handled traveling through time like a champ.  She’s tough and she fights for her men. The writing is so descriptive, Kat made it very easy to picture the scenes as I was reading.  This was a great story that I enjoyed very much.  Who does Isobel end up with?  You’ll have to read and find out!

Reviewed by Tricia

Copy provided by Author

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