Thursday, June 1, 2023

Shirl Henke’s A FIRE IN THE BLOOD – Enthralling Classic from Wyoming Cattle Baron Days

June is western month on the blog. The American West is one of my favorite settings. I hope you love these stories. First up is a good one.


Not many romance authors would start their story with a black moment but Henke does it here and does it well. This is an absorbing story, very well told, of a hero who thought he’d never belong and a heroine who had everything but him. Meticulously researched, Henke serves up a worthy love story from the days of the cattle barons, the powerful cattlemen of the Cheyenne Club who ruled over Wyoming Territory in the late 1800s.

Jess Robbins and his father, though Texans, fought with the Union in the Civil War. Jess also did a stint with the French Foreign Legion. By the spring of 1881, he had a fast gun and a talent for spying out cattle thieves. So it was no surprise Wyoming rancher Marcus Jacobson hired Jess as a stock detective to find out who was stealing hundreds of his cattle from the sprawling J Bar ranch.


The first time Jacobson’s only daughter and heir, Lissa, caught sight of Jess Robbins, she was drawn to the man. A mixture of white man, Mexican and Indian, Jess was exotically handsome, virile and very sure of himself. Lissa had many suitors, including an older man her father wanted her to marry, but she wanted Jess. Though each was forbidden to the other, they could not stay away.

Henke captures the nuances of a relationship that was forged in passion but held something deeper, a lasting bond that would not be denied. Lissa grows up and her strength comes to the foreground as Jess realizes he cannot live without this woman. How it all comes together is fascinating and held my attention right to the sweet ending.

You’ll like this one. It’s a keeper!

Monday, May 29, 2023

Best Scottish Historical Romances!


Geddes MacGregor once wrote, “No one in Scotland can escape from the past. It is everywhere, haunting like a ghost.” Scotland’s past is the subject of this list, romance novels set in Scotland, most in that magical part of Scotland called the Highlands. Some have a Scot as hero or heroine. The best are set deep in Scotland’s history. All are rated 4 or 5 stars. Enjoy!


·               A Dangerous Love, The Border Lord's Bride, The Captive Heart, The Border Lord And The Lady, The Border Vixen and Bond Of Passion (from The Border Chronicles) by Bertrice Small

·               A Gentle Feuding by Johanna Lindsey

·               A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught

·               A Year and a Day by Virginia Henley

·               Abducted Heiress by Amanda Scott

·               Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught

·               Beloved Rogue by Penelope Williamson

·               Blood Feud by Jayne Castel

·               Border Lord by Arnette Lamb

·               Bound to the Highlander by Kate Robbins

·               Bride of the MacHugh by Jan Cox Speas

·               Charming the Shrew and Daring the Highlander (MacLeod duology) by Laurin Wittig

·               Children of the Mist by Aleen Malcolm

·               Claimed by Tarah Scott

·               Clandara by Evelyn Anthony

·               Come The Morning, Conquer the Night, Seize the Dawn, Knight Triumphant, The Lion in Glory, When We Touch and The Queen’s Lady (the Graham series) by Heather Graham Pozzessere

·               Davy’s Last Ride by Brit Darby

·               Desiring the Highlander by Michele Sinclair

·               Devil of Kilmartin by Laurin Wittig

·               Devil’s Mistress by Heather Graham

·               Emerald Embrace by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)

·               Forever My Love by Rebecca Brandewyne

·               Gather the Stars by Kimberly Cates

·               by Elizabeth Stuart

·               Heather House: Witch of the Moors by Carmen Caine

·               Highland Deception by Meggan Connors

·               Highland Moon by Judith E. French

·               Highland Rebel by Judith James

·               Highland Warrior, Highland Outlaw and Highland Scoundrel (the Campbell trilogy) by Monica McCarty

·               Highlander’s Hope by Collette Cameron

·               If You Dare, If You Desire and If You Deceive (the MacCarrick Brothers trilogy) by Kresley Cole

·               In From the Cold by Nora Roberts

·               His Stolen Bride by Shelly Thacker

·               Kilgannon and The Wild Rose of Kilgannon by Kathleen Givens

·               King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett

·               Knight of Fire by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)

·               Lady of the Glen by Jennifer Roberson

·               Laird of the Mist by Paula Quinn (and the MacGregor/Children of the Mist Series)

·               Lord of a Thousand Nights by Madeline Hunter

·               Lord of Fire by Emma Merritt

·               Moonstruck Madness by Laurie McBain

·               My Lord Monleigh by Jan Cox Speas

·               My Wicked Enchantress by Meagan McKinney

·               On a Highland Shore and Rivals for the Crown by Kathleen Givens

·               Oriana by Valerie Vayle

·               Rebellion by Nora Roberts

·               Rosamund by Bertrice Small

·               Silk and Steel by Cordia Byers

·               Sound of the Heart by Genevieve Graham

·               Snow Raven by Patricia McAllister

·               Tempest Heart by Paula Quinn

·               Tempted and The Border Hostage, duology by Virginia Henley

·               The Bedeviled Heart, The Daring Heart and The Bold Heart by Carmen Caine

·               The Border Bride by Elizabeth English

·               The Border Lord by Jan Westcott

·               The Captive by Parris Afton Bonds

·               The Chieftain’s Curse by Francis Housden

·               The Daughters of Cameron by Aleen Malcolm

·               The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (from the Lymond Chronicles series)

·               The Guardian by Genevieve Graham

·               The Highlander’s Reluctant Bride by Cathy MacRae

·               The Lady and the Laird by Nicola Cornick

·               The Lady’s Protector by Emma Prince

·               The Legend and The Destiny by Kathleen Givens

·               The Magnificent Rogue by Iris Johansen

·               The Passionate One, The Reckless One and The Ravishing One (the McClairen’s Isle trilogy) by Connie Brockway

·               The Pride of Lions, The Blood of Roses and Midnight Honor by Marsha Canham

·               The Renegade (first released as The Renegade and The Rose) by Christine Dorsey

·               The Queen’s Lady by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)

·               The Taming, Ride Out the Storm and The Daughters of Cameron by Aleen


·               The Scotsman by Juliana Garnett (aka Virginia Brown)

·               The Scottish Bride by Catherine Coulter

·               The Spider and the Stone by Glen Craney

·               The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

·               Threads of Destiny by Arnette Lamb

·               To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt (one of the Four Soldiers series)

·               To Conquer a Highlander, Highland Hellcat and Highland Heat by Mary Wine

·               To Lie with Lions by Dorothy Dunnett (from the House of Niccolo series)

·               White Knight by Jaclyn Reding

·               Without Honor by Elizabeth Stuart


I hope you will consider my own novels set in Scotland’s past:


·      Rebel Warrior, part of the award-winning Medieval Warriors series

·      The Refuge, an Inspirational Novel of Scotland, winner of the Illumination Awards’ Gold Medal

·      A Secret Scottish Christmas, book 5 in the Agents of the Crown Regency series

·      The Holly & The Thistle, a Regency novella

·      Summer Warrior and Bound by Honor from the award-winning Clan Donald Saga of historical fiction

Friday, May 26, 2023

Jennifer Roberson’s LADY OF THE GLEN – Superb Storytelling and a Keeper—a Highland Love that Survives the Massacre of Glencoe!


Roberson's Lady of the Glen has everything I love in a Scottish historical romance: an epic love story, a noble hero, a strong heroine, real history (the massacre of Glencoe), attention to detail and enough suspense and drama to keep me turning pages. And a wonderful hero and heroine. Even the music of the Highlands is included. I could hear the pipes and their mournful sound as Roberson described them. This is a classic and on my Top 10 list.


The story begins in 1682 when Catriona (“Cat”) Campbell first encounters Alasdair (“Dair”) Og MacDonald. She is an awkward, uncomely girl raised like one of her brothers by her drunken father, but Dair pays her a compliment when no one else does, telling her that she has “bonnie eyes…all bluey-green and bright. The sort of eyes a Highlander likes to come home to.” How could Cat ever forget him after that? Not even though he is one of the dreaded MacDonalds, the enemies of clan Campbell, could she fail to harbor a tenderness for him.


Much happens in this intricately woven tale that spans a decade. It’s the time when King James was exiled to France and William and Mary ruled England. The Scots battle each other as much as the English. Grey John Campbell, Earl of Breadalbane seeks to be the power behind the throne and he thinks it is William who will sit on that throne. He exerts his influence to unite the clans, pretending to support King Jamie, while planning on serving the Highland clans on a silver platter to William. The clans don’t trust him but the lairds have little choice, seeing the English Ft. William erected as a symbol of the English dominance.


Famous battles like Killiecrankie are vividly described as Dair fights with the MacDonalds of Glencoe and the Stewarts of Appin. Both the MacDonalds and the Campbells kill each other’s young men caught reeving cattle. Dair saves Cat from harm, and she saves his life. All this while another woman shares Dair’s bed. Then Cat’s father agrees to wed her to the Earl of Breadalbane’s son, Duncan Campbell in exchange for money to pay his many debts.


Perhaps the most intense moment is the Massacre of Glencoe when the treachery of the Campbells joins with English, including the king, to murder nearly the entire clan of the Glencoe MacDonalds without provocation. Still remembered to this day, the massacre of Glencoe was a great perfidy on the part of the Campbells and England. A very sad chapter in Scotland’s history. As Roberson says of Glencoe, “’Tis a glen of sorrows, an empty place of blood and broken stone, of charred timber and burial cairns.”


I did not want to put this one down. Based on considerable research, the author truly captured the heart of the Highlands. The characters she vividly portrays bring to life one of the most incredible periods of Scotland’s history.


Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Dorothy Dunnett’s KING HEREAFTER – A Wonderful Portrayal of MacBeth, King of Scots, His Times and the Woman He Loved

 After having read Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles (which I highly recommend), I couldn’t wait to read this book before moving on to her House of Niccolo series. She is such a good storyteller, and there are many twists and turns and insightful dips into history. (You have to love history, however, and tolerate some vague references, as there are many names and many historical figures.)


Thanks to Shakespeare, the historical MacBeth, King of Scots has been much maligned as a bad actor. From my research for my novel The Refuge, set in 11th century Scotland, I knew Shakespeare got it wrong. In King Hereafter, Dorothy Dunnett brings us into the wild, half-pagan country of Scotland in those early days.


MacBeth begins as an ungainly young Earl Thorfinn with a lowering brow and a taste for intrigue. He calls himself Thorfinn but his Christian name is MacBeth. (Dunnett equates the historical MacBeth with Thorfinn Sigurdsson, Earl of Orkney, whose sons, Paul and Erlend ruled jointly for many years after their father’s death.)


Dunnett shows us MacBeth’s transformation from an angry, fatherless boy who refuses to accept his meager share of Orkney to an accomplished warrior and diplomat who wisely joins with King Canute and Queen Emma to become a respected leader of men.


His wife, Groa (who is made the same woman as the historical Ingibiorg Finnsdottir, wife of Earl Thorfin of Orkney), is a wonderful character who you will come to love. With the people of Alba and Groa behind him, Thorfinn becomes King of Scots. His heart is still in Orkney but he has a new concern for Alba, even going to Rome to see the Pope about clerics for Alba.


This is very much a love story, a romance even though rich in history. The ending is bittersweet and very well done. I felt rather melancholy after reading the last page.


If you would like to experience the court of King Malcolm III, the King of Scots who followed MacBeth, consider my novel, The Refuge, winner of the Illumination Gold Medal Award.




Monday, May 22, 2023

Nora Roberts’ IN FROM THE COLD - Brilliant Story of a Scot and an Irish Lass on the eve of the American Revolution… A Keeper!

 Set at the outset of the American Revolution, beginning in December 1773, this is the story of Ian MacGregor, who was wounded by a British soldier after participating in the Boston Tea Party. Ian fled to the wilderness of Massachusetts where he ended up in the barn of the Murphys and in the care of the young Irish widow, Alanna Murphy Flynn.

Alana is immediately attracted to the red-haired rebel but she fears his talk of revolution, not just for herself but for her brothers. Ian has fallen in love with Alana and means to have her as his wife. But he’ll need his aunt in Virginia to help him.

Brilliant descriptions and beautifully developed characters bring this story and the MacGregors to life. Revolution is coming to America and while Alanna would resist, Ian knows America must fight for her freedom. Roberts adroitly weaves the conflicting emotions of the time into a love story between two strong-willed people.

It’s a well told, fast-paced novella and so good one could only hope for more. The first story in the MacGregor series is Rebellion and I highly recommend it. However, all of the others that follow In From the Cold are, sadly, contemporaries. Would that Roberts would have continued writing historicals as it would have been fascinating to see her tell the history of America along with the MacGregor love stories. She did historicals so well.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Elizabeth Stuart’s HEARTSTORM – A Keeper of a Love Story set in Scotland!

Set in late 17th century Scotland during the reign of King James II, it tells the story of Anne Randall, the beautiful daughter of Robert Randall, the evil earl of Glenkennon and representative of King James’ government in Scotland. Randall has come to the Highlands to subdue the clans, and particularly Sir Francis MacLean, laird of the MacLeans. When Randall uses treachery to imprison friends of the MacLean, the Scottish laird captures Randall's daughter to hold her for exchange of the prisoners.


Anne was on her way from England to join her father upon the death of her mother, who was a MacDonnell, allies of the MacLeans. But Francis sweeps Anne away to his home, Camereigh Castle, on the coast of Western Scotland, where they find themselves drawn to each other and Anne experiences the joy of a warm family.

This is superb historical romance and storytelling at its best. Stuart captivates from the first page as she weaves an intriguing tale of love and treachery in the Highlands. The rich historic details show considerable research. The dialog draws you in and the characters are well drawn. The hero is drool-worthy.


I promise, it will keep you turning pages.

As far as I can tell, Stuart only wrote five books before setting aside her writing career to raise a family. But those she has given us are worth holding dear.


Here they are:

Reckless Angel (1988, under the pen name Elizabeth Awbrey)
Heartstorm (1989)
Where Love Dwells (1990)
Without Honor (1994)
Bride of the Lion (1995)


Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Christine Dorsey’s THE RENEGADE –Post Culloden Love Story Between a Scottish Warrior and an English Lady

This first book in the trilogy was originally published as The Renegade and the Rose.


It tells of Keegan MacLeod whose father summoned him home to stand with his three brothers at Culloden in the hopes of restoring a Stuart to the throne. But the battle of Culloden was lost from the beginning and Keegan’s brothers are killed. Sheltering his wounded father, Keegan hands over his sword when British officer Foxworth Morgan assures him that his father will be spared. But, instead, his father is tortured and killed and Keegan is jailed and sentenced to hang. Keegan uses his time in goal to nurture his hatred of the Englishman who denied him and his father a warrior’s death.

With the help of his French valet, Keegan escapes from prison, and decides to take hostage Lady Zoe Morgan, the sister of Foxworth Morgan. Zoe has lived the life of an invalid since a childhood illness, convinced by her nurse she is weak and frail. She is shocked when the Scot takes her hostage and leaves word for her brother to come for her in Scotland.

As they begin their arduous journey north, it appears to Keegan that despite her constant haranguing about her ill health (and, yes, that was annoying), the girl he has taken hostage is quite braw. So much so, she is able to escape Keegan, but then falls into the hands of a notorious smuggler who takes Keegan captive as well, hoping for a large ransom for both the girl and the Scot when he delivers them to the English in Scotland.


Well written and cleverly done, Dorsey was able to make me believe Keegan could fall in love with an Englishwoman even after he lost his family to the cruel English at Culloden. And she also made me feel Keegan’s pain at losing the castle that had been the seat of the MacLeods for centuries. Zoe is a woman who changes much once she is free from those who would coddle her, thriving on the adventures she and Keegan have. She encourages the Scot to look to the future and not to the past.


I found the story of Keegan and his clan moving and thought Dorsey did an excellent job of portraying it. I would read the rest in the series (especially the Irish one that comes next!). I recommend this one.

The trilogy:


The Renegade (First published as The Renegade And The Rose)

The Rebel (First published as The Rebel and the Lily)

The Rogue (First published as The Rogue and the Heather)