I’d like to thank Tasty Book Tours for letting me host Heather on the blog today! If you’d like to see all of the blogs participating in this event, please click on the banner above, murr! =^.^=
Publisher: Entangled Publishing – Scandalous
Date Released: February 20, 2017
Series: Highland Isles #1
On the run from a dangerous man, Ava Sutton flees to the Isle of Mull off the coast of Scotland. Masquerading as a titled, English lady, Ava must convince the cynical and darkly handsome chief of the Macleans of Aros to wed her before the devil tracks her down.
Tor Maclean, the new chief of Aros Castle, has sworn off marriage after his first wife tricked him into it. Despite his efforts to scare away the Englishwoman, his father arranged for him to wed, Tor is drawn to her fire, courage, and beauty. But when truths are revealed, and hearts as well as lives are on the dagger’s edge, Tor doesn’t know if he can forgive or if he will truly become the solitary Beast of Aros Castle…
This was an enjoyable read, and as the first in an all new series, I can say that I’m looking forward to reading more. If you enjoy historical romance novels, you’ll want to add this one to your TBR pile.
Ava was a fun character. She’s mischievous, got a bit of sass in her, loyal to those whom she loves, and will do what she has to to protect those closest to her, even if it means deceiving others in the end. Tor is guarded, he’s had his trust broken before and so is not as open when we first meet him. It took me a while to warm up to him, but once I started to learn about his character and what motivates him, my appreciation increased. Yes, there were times when I grew frustrated with him and his treatment of Ava, especially toward the end when the truth comes out, but those moments were tempered by ones where I couldn’t help but swoon for him. Together I felt they were a wonderful couple, each balancing the other out and making them stronger for it. I also really enjoyed Ava’s friend Grace and hope that she gets her own story in this series. She has some of Ava’s spirit about her, but is a bit more cautious and meek deep down. I’d like to see her end up with one of Tor’s men or maybe be the one to tame Tor’s friend Cullen, who strikes me as being a bit of a rogue. As for the antagonist, Vincent, talk about a disgusting soul. He’s vile, smarmy, and honest made my fur crawl. I will admit that I cheered when he got what he deserved.
For the most part I felt the story flowed nicely, but I do think that the ending was drawn out just a bit too much. There is one point where it feels like the book ends naturally, but McCollum adds in an extra little conflict at the end which slows the story down in my opinion. I can see a reason for adding this moment in the story as it allows you to see how much Tor has changed since the start of the book, I just have to wonder if there could have been a different way to show this without the extra bit of drama. Regardless of this, the overall pacing was great, the writing was easy to read, and the suspenseful scenes left me holding my breath in anticipation. This is definitely one of those books that you could read in a day if you were so inclined.
So when all is said and done, I have to give McCollum purrs for a wonderful start in what feels like a promising series. Can’t wait to discover who the focus is for book two and when I can expect to return to the Island of Mull in Scotland. =^.^=
He ignored her pity. “If I am to choose a bride, she would have to be someone I deem worthy. Someone who wouldn’t perish during the first winter storm or hide under the bed if troops came to take the castle.”
“I am actually noted for my resistance to illness,” she said, intertwining her slender fingers together before her skirts. “As well as my reluctance to crawl under furniture.”
He moved closer, an idea forming. The woman was brazen, unpredictable, and she thought she had the upper hand with that bloody camp of English just across the way. But if she thought it best to break the betrothal, he would accommodate her. And the best way to scare off a virgin, even a brazen virgin, was to give her a taste of fire.
“How about passion, lass?” He leaned down to her ear. “Are ye reluctant to crawl under my sheets?” She inhaled quickly as he pulled her against his body, one hand guiding her head while the other pressed against her back. Her eyes widened as he descended for the kiss.
He met her mouth with every intention of being frightening and hard. How dare this Englishwoman come onto his island, demanding he drop his mountainous pile of obligations as chief and sacrifice his freedom to wed her? But the moment he felt the soft warmth of her lips, the ripe feel of her body in his arms, against his length, the kiss changed. She tasted of woman and innocence wrapped together with awakening heat. He threaded his fingers through her hair to cup her face without breaking contact. Her cheeks were smooth against his rough palms, and instead of yanking away, she remained rooted to the ground.
With a slight tilt of her face, their lips melded intimately as she met him with the same intensity, moving in rhythm with him like they’d been tupping for years. The thought made a low growl creep up his throat before he realized it, nearly escaping as a groan. But he wouldn’t give her that triumph.
Dainty but strong fingers curled into his shirt, holding her to him as he bent to surround her on three sides. Yet he gave her room to escape. If she’d just step back, surrender to the contest, but she didn’t. Were her heels dug into the floor?
His pulse thrummed as fire swept through his body, and thoughts of victory turned to smoke. Tor’s fingers loosened pins and curls as he slid his fingers through her bound hair.
A gasp. “Tor, unhand that lass this minute.” His mother’s voice doused his desire with ocean spray.
As if breaking through the surface of the sea, Tor released Ava’s lips, but he still held her body. Her eyes were closed, her lips damp, cheeks flushed, hair tumbling free around her shoulders. She blinked, waking to stare straight into his eyes. But instead of fear or better yet, barely controlled passion, he saw something that cooled his blood more thoroughly than his mother’s scolding.
Her words were a soft issue from kiss-swollen lips. “So then,” Ava whispered. “You are a beast.”
About the Author:
Heather McCollum is an award-winning, historical and YA contemporary paranormal romance writer. She earned her B.A. in Biology, much to her English professor’s dismay, and was a 2009 Golden Heart Finalist.
When she is not creating vibrant characters & magical adventures on the page, she is roaring her own battle cry in the war against ovarian cancer. Ms. McCollum recently slayed the cancer beast and resides with her very own hero & 3 kids in the wilds of suburbia on the mid-Atlantic coast.
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