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

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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

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Fair Helen by Andrew Greig – a Review

Fair Helen by Andrew Greig – a Review

 

Fair HelenAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / BAM / The Book Depository

Description:
Elderly narrator Harry Langton looks back on the adventures and friends of his youth, transporting the reader to the Scottish Borderlands at the end of the 16th century…

The much younger Langton returns to his birthplace to aid an old friend, the brash Adam Fleming, who has fallen for legendary beauty Helen of Annandale. He has also, it seems, fallen foul of a rival for her hand, Robert Bell, a man as violent as he is influential. Fleming confesses to Langton that he fears for his life.

In a land where minor lairds vie for power and blood feuds are settled by the sword, Fleming faces a battle to win Helen’s hand. By virtue of being the lovers’ confidant, Langton is thrust into the middle of this dangerous triangle, and discovers Helen is not so chaste as she is fair. But Langton has his own secrets to keep–and other powers to serve. Someone has noticed Langton’s connections to the major players in the Border disputes, and has recruited him in their bid to control the hierarchy of the Border families–someone who would use the lovers as pawns in a game of war.

Packed with swordplay, intricate politics, and star-crossed lovers whose actions could change the course of history, Fair Helen is a sumptuous, rousing adventure novel that brings to life one of English poetry’s most intriguing heroines.


Review:

Fair Helen  by Andrew Greig is a fictional and historical romance or perhaps best labeled fable. Written as a first-hand account of Harry Langston, friend of Adam Fleming, this wonderful story gives the “true” story of the old Scottish song or legend of Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lea.

This is the story of star-crossed lovers, of political intrigue, the plight of women who had to marry for family and wealth versus love. Told in the lilting tongue of an old Scottish scriber, I found it easy to understand the gist of the telling without the glossary (included for convenience in the back of the book). It takes you to another place and another time with its telling. Descriptions of the place, the people and the times are full and sometimes even enchanting.

Following Harry’s account of people and their part in this story is detailed and you can’t help hoping for an outcome brighter than the old song. His version of how and why all this came about, and especially the political motives behind it are brilliantly devised.

If you love historical accounts and romance, this is a wonderful story. I loved reading it and although I love a HEA, it’s so worth reading this remarkable tale of love, trysting, and heart wrenching betrayal. I highly recommend it for a cold evening or evenings…with a good glass of wine and a warm fire or blanket. Enjoy, I truly found it a good read.

Reviewed by Georgianna

Copy provided by Publisher

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First Time With a Highlander by Gwyn Cready – Review, Spotlight & Giveaway

First Time With a Highlander by Gwyn Cready – Review, Spotlight & Giveaway

 

First Time with a HighlanderAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / BAM / The Book Depository

Description:
Serabeth’s no-good fiancé is dead, and she needs a husband fast, or she’ll be ruined. Her indignant and handsome captive will do just fine, if she can keep her mind focused on the business at hand…

Gerard is a love-’em-and-leave-’em ad exec who opens the door to a wild party in 21st century New York and wakes up in 18th century Edinburgh with a hangover and a beautiful, disinterested new “wife” who says he has “served his purpose.”

What the kilt?

 

 

Review:

First Time With a Highlander by Gwyn Cready is the 2nd book in her Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands series. This is a time travel Historical Romance, which takes place mostly in the 18th century (1706 Edinburg). Though the two main characters in the 1st book are part of this story, the book reads well as a standalone.

At the start, we meet Serafina Fallon, our heroine, who is in a bind financially. Her fiancée stole her cargo, leaving her with nothing. Both Abby and Undine (a witch?), whom we met in the first book, scheme to help her steal back her cargo. How? Undine will make a potion that worked to help Abby (in the first book) and bring a dead ringer for Serfina’s fiancée from the 21st century to help her claim back her cargo. Piece of cake……

Gerard Innes is a wealthy executive, who is a known womanizer. He wakes up after a night of wild partying in current day New York, and finds himself in a bed with a beautiful naked woman in 18th century Scotland.

Gerard adapts to his situation quickly, and immediately is attracted to the fiery redhead Serafina. Though Gerard is used to winning over most woman, Serafina is different. She is independent, strong, smart and determined to use Gerard to help her get back what she lost.

What follows is an adventure that will find them both putting themselves in danger to attempt to steal back the cargo. What is thought to be simple, turns into a major behind the scenes political scheme.

Serafina is fighting for her future, but despite her misgivings, she is also falling for Gerard. She knows he will leave soon, since he was meant to help for a day or two. Now she must protect her own life, as well as her heart. Gerard is between a rock and a hard place; he has fallen in love, and wants to bring Serafina back to the future with him, and the wealth that he has. But Serafina has her own pride, and will not leave her time. Will Gerard convince Serafina to go back with him? If not, would he stay in the 18th Century and try to amass his fortune again, with all his knowledge?

This was a good storyline, a nice romance, with some humor, and very likeable characters. However, I thought some of it was a bit slow, especially early on. I also felt it was a bit confusing and jumbled at some points. I would have liked it to be more cohesive. Overall, it was a good story, with a great theme. Who doesn’t like stories with men in kilts and that take place in Scotland, during the highlander days.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

 

sPOTLIGHT

This October the second in Gwyn Cready’s Sirens of the Scottish series, First Time with a Highlander, comes out! To celebrate, Gwyn’s here to tell us a little bit more about the inspiration behind her time-travel romances AND play a quick game of “Would You Rather.”

“People often ask me why I like to write time travel romance, and it’s a two-part answer, because there are really two questions in there—why do I like to write romance, and why do I like to write time travel.

I began to write with the intention of getting published in June, 1997 to honor my younger sister, who was a poet and photographer and who had died suddenly the month before. The sort of book I wanted to write was a book like the one a friend had given me a few months earlier—Outlander. At that time, I’d never read a romance before, and I COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN. Jamie is the best sort of hero—devoted, funny, brave, smart, and supportive of the heroine. I was so hopped up on the first three Outlander novels, it was pretty much all I could talk about in the spring of 1997—and it was one of the things I talked to my sister about since her college boyfriend had been named Jamie and like the heroine in Outlander, my sister’s name was Claire. It was the last conversations I ever had with her.

So there I am, in 1997, wanting to honor my sister with a book, and certain the book I want to write is a romance like Outlander. Time travel fit in nicely for me. Outlander is a time travel novel, of course, but I’d been a time travel fan before that. The Back to the Future movies are my holy grail of time travel. I loved Somewhere in Time, of course, as well as the Terminator movies, Time After Time, and Groundhog Day. Time travel lets you quickly throw your character into adversity and see if he/she sinks or swims. The question you want readers asking in romance novels is “How, with all these challenges, will the hero and heroine still end up together?” Time travel adds another layer to that tension, specifically, “How will they end up together when each is destined to be in his/her own time?” In my mind, one of the most heroic things a character can do is give up his own time in order to be with the person he/she loves, and that’s always a tender and gripping moment to write in my books.

Which brings us to First Time with a Highlander. Serafina and Gerard were such fun characters to chase through a novel. As with Just in Time for a Highlander, the first book in the Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands series, I wanted to shake things up a bit by having the hero be the person who travels to the past. Gerard is an ad man—and since I spent twenty years working in brand management at a big pharma company, I know what ad men are like. The women in this series hold positions of unusual power for women in the eighteenth century, and Serafina is no exception. She inherited a shipping concern from her father, but her blackguard of an ex-fiancé has run the business into the ground. He’s ruined her socially and financially, but Serafina is not one to take things lying down. She uses herbs she’s, ahem, “borrowed” from a famed spell-caster to summon a man to help her claim the cargo from the ship’s final voyage before her fiancé can get his hands on it. She only needs a man for one night and…well, you can imagine what that leads to in the hands of an inexperienced spell user. But Serafina is willing to pay the price—in fact, she’s quite willing once the smart, dashing Gerard appears.

Would You Rather Question: Would you rather have a time machine that only goes back in time or a time machine that only goes forward in time?

Tough one. Going back, I have a chance to see my mother, father, and sister again. Going forward, I’d have a chance to see my kids in their careers, with their children and grandchildren. Let’s say back since I could also insert myself into Colin Firth’s life before he met that pesky wife of his.

 

About the author

Gwyn CreadyGwyn Cready is a writer of contemporary, Scottish, and time travel romance. She’s been called “the master of time travel romance” and is the winner of the RITA Award, the most prestigious award given in romance writing. She has been profiled in Real Simple and USA Today, among others. Before becoming a novelist, she spent 25 years in brand management. She has two grown children and lives with her husband on a hill overlooking the magical kingdom of Pittsburgh.
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

 

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