By Heather McCollum
Book #1 in the Highland Hearts series
Fleeing with only her bow, horse, enormous pet wolf, and the cryptic clues hidden in her mother’s medicine journal, healer Meg Boswell gallops north towards freedom, running from the man who falsely accused her mother of witchcraft. Cursed with magical healing abilities, Meg knows that if she’s captured, she will die like her mother—atop a blazing witch’s pyre.
Winter winds rip across the Highlands, pressing Chief Caden Macbain forward in his desperate plan to save his clan. He’s not above using an innocent woman to bargain for peace if it keeps his clan from starving. But Meg isn’t who Caden thinks she is, and when she kills a man to save the clan, he must choose between duty and her life. For although he captured her to force a peace, Meg's strength and courage have captured Caden's heart.
I love a good Scottish Highlander story and this one didn’t disappoint. Meg Boswell is on the run because her father is on his way home to have her “examined” to see if she’s a witch. Meg’s a healer with some added magical abilities and she doesn’t want to meet the same fate as her mother. She’s headed for Scotland to find and stay with her aunt, her mother’s sister, but as she nears the border, Meg comes upon a skirmish between some Highlanders and English soldiers. She unwittingly saves the Macbain clan chief and enlists his help to get her to her final destination. What she doesn’t know is Chief Caden Macbain was on his way to kidnap her as ransom for a peace accord with her aunt’s clan.
Meg’s kept in the dark about the true motives of the Macbain clan and even though everyone is aware she’s clueless about the situation, there’s lots of animosity about her being a “guest” at the keep. Caden is attracted to the beautiful Meg and does his best to keep her at arm’s length but she shares the same feelings. Though they try to resist each other it was inevitable that they gave up fighting their feelings.
There’s so much conflict in this story that I couldn’t stand to be away from the story for very long. Caden’s subterfuge, Meg’s untrained magical powers, jealous lovers, feuding clans and others with their own agendas distinguished this book from being just another Highlander tale. The attention to period detail also helped transport me to that era and lose myself in the story. I was also charmed by Caden and Meg’s romance, really liking her honesty and courage and Caden’s strength and leadership.
As if the story in itself wasn’t interesting enough, there were a number of twists and surprises to keep me off balance. The climax was incredibly exciting, drawn out and tense, with lots of uncertainty about how some things would ultimately be resolved. I am excited that this is a series and I’ll be one of the first in line to read the next book. It is very well written and the story telling sets it apart. This one is special and if you like medieval period romances, you should have this on your shelf.
(I received an ARC from NetGalley)