Scottish pride, persuasion, and passionthis is Highland romance at its breathtaking best. From USA Today bestselling author May McGoldrick comes Highland Crown, the first book in the Royal Highlander series.
Perched on the North Sea, this port townby turns legendary and mythologicalis a place where Highland rebels and English authorities clash in a mortal struggle for survival and dominance. Among the fray is a lovely young widow who possesses rare and special gifts.
WANTED: Isabella Drummond
A true beauty and trained physician, Isabella has inspired longing and mysteryand furyin a great many men. Hunted by both the British government and Scottish rebels, she came to the Highlands in search of survival. But a dying ship’s captain will steer her fate into even stormier waters. . .and her heart into flames.
FOUND: Cinaed Mackintosh
Cast from his home as a child, Cinaed is a fierce soul whose allegiance is only to himself. . . until Isabella saved his lifeand added more risk to her own. Now, the only way Cinaed can keep her safe is to seek refuge at Dalmigavie Castle, the Mackintosh family seat. But when the scandalous truth of his past comes out, any chance of Cinaed having a bright future with Isabella is thrown into complete darkness. What will these two ill-fated lovers have to sacrifice to be together…for eternity?
About the Author
USA Today Bestselling Authors Nikoo and Jim wrote their first May McGoldrick romance using historical figures that Jim researched while earning a PhD in sixteenth-century Scottish and English literature. Nikoo, a mechanical engineer, is a born storyteller. She is all about characters and feeling. Jim is about action and sense of place. Together, they have crafted over forty fast-paced, conflict-filled historical and contemporary novels and two works of nonfiction under the pseudonyms May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey.
Read an Excerpt
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking, Morn of toil, nor night of waking.
— Sir Walter Scott, "Lady of the Lake," Canto I, stanza 31
Duff Head, Northeast Highland Coast June 1820
"Hard times been choking folks around here for a long while, and most of them would sell their own kin if they thought there's a ha'penny to be made from it." Jean paused and fixed her eye on her guest. "And one look at ye, and they'll know yer good for more than that."
A loud pop from the driftwood fire in the old woman's hearth drew Isabella's gaze. Sparks rose from the blue and lavender flames, struggling to find their way up the chimney. Wind and rain from the storm hammered fiercely at the shutters and the cottage door.
From what she'd learned on the journey here from John Gordon, Jean's nephew, the village that huddled around the cove in the shadow of Duff Head consisted of no more than a few dozen families of fishing folk trying to scratch a meager living out of the sea. Desperate. Hungry. Poor. Though she'd always lived her life in the city — Wurzburg, Edinburgh — she'd known many people like them. They didn't frighten her.
The soldiers pursuing her posed the real danger.
A ha'penny, Isabella mused. She was worth a fortune. These Highlanders knew nothing about the thousand pounds sterling on her head — the bounty offered by the government to anyone who could bring her back to Edinburgh alive to face interrogation, trial, and a public execution. Certainly, Jean had no knowledge of this. Nor did she know of the lesser amount bandied about by the radicals for her corpse to guarantee her silence. Both sides wanted her dead.
"I've lived here my whole life. The sea makes ye hard, and these folks are hard as stone," the woman continued, perhaps reading a hint of skepticism in Isabella's face. "They give their loyalty to no one. In the Rising of '45, they wouldn't fight for any side. If ye weren't born here, yer an outsider. To them, even the Bonnie Prince was a stranger. And they don't trust strangers."
If only her husband, Archibald, had been a little more like them, Isabella thought. Perhaps he'd still be alive. But it was his nature to take a side. And now, she and her sister and his daughter were running for their lives from the same butchers who cut him down in his own surgery as he tried to care for injured men. Men who'd simply stood up as citizens against a line of British Hussars in the streets of Edinburgh.
"Yer a stranger and an unprotected woman traveling in the Highlands. An easy mark, to be sure," Jean warned. "They'll figure ye to be carrying at least a shilling or two, and they'll cut yer throat for it. And then yer carcass'll go into the sea. Them waters have swallowed up more than a few strangers."
The older woman's dire prediction was surely an exaggeration, but the fate that Isabella faced if she fell into the hands of the British was not. Her late husband's friends, newly released after being held by the authorities, had often been brought to the surgery bearing horrible wounds. Their bodies had been broken. Unspeakable tortures had been inflicted on them. And it mattered naught if they were man or woman.
"Ye keep to the cottage," Jean ordered, her tone as sharp as the needle she stabbed into the mending on her lap. "And if by chance anyone sees ye here, ye say nothing, ye hear? Ye look no one in the face, and ye answer no questions. If there's anything to be said, I'll do it."
Outside, the storm continued unabated, and the wind whistled and rattled loose shutters. The stone cottage, poor as it was, provided safety and a thatched roof to keep most of the weather out. The rustic meal they'd shared of stewed fish and bannock cakes warmed and filled her. She was grateful to have it. The journey north through the Highlands had been wet and rough.
"I appreciate you taking me in like this."
"I took ye in because my nephew asked me to ... and gave me enough for yer room and board. But I don't know what John is up to. Other than yer name, he didn't say much about who ye are or where ye came from or where yer headed. But he's a good lad, and he's all the kin I have left. I trust him." The hard glare softened with affection. "He says to me, all I need to know is that yer a good woman and some vile Lowlanders'll pay to get their hands on ye. Says I'm to keep ye hidden for maybe three days. He'll come back for ye."
Jean's nephew had gone back to Inverness to book passage for Isabella, her sister, and her stepdaughter on a ship that would carry them across the Atlantic to Halifax. But that meant three days of worrying and waiting before she was reunited with Maisie and Morrigan. Still, she hadn't let the lawyer tell her where he'd placed the young women in the port town. Isabella was afraid she'd be forced to divulge their whereabouts if she fell into the hands of her British pursuers. She had to keep faith that John would do right by the girls. He'd been charged by Sir Walter to look after them all until they left Scotland.
Isabella's gaze fixed on Jean's trembling right hand. She'd noticed it before while the woman was eating, though her hostess tried to hide the infirmity. Now Jean's needle could not find the target, and she sat back in her chair in frustration as the piece slipped off her lap to the stone floor. Isabella bent over and fetched it, along with the woman's darning mushroom.
"Let me finish this for you." Sitting across from her, she studied the threadbare stocking. There was hardly anything left of the heel to work with, but she put the needle to the task. From the corner of her eye, Isabella saw Jean using one hand to try and quiet the other.
The Shaking Palsy. Jean's shuffling gait, the forward stooping, the occasional wiping of drool from the corner of the lips, and the trembling hand that wouldn't be controlled confirmed it. A disease with no cure that would become increasingly difficult to manage for a woman of advancing years who lived alone. Especially living in a place as desolate as this lonely outpost. Duff Head was a rocky bluff pushing out into the cold green-grey swells of the sea to the east of Inverness. And Jean's cottage sat like a hunchbacked sow between two stone-studded hills below the coast road, away from the village. She had no neighbors close by. Isolated as it was, Isabella understood why John suggested this would be a safe hiding place for her.
Her own difficulties aside, it was troubling to think Jean lived alone, out of reach of immediate help if she needed it.
Isabella made another covert survey of the cottage. The iron cooking pot was too heavy, and earlier, when Jean had struggled to swing it out from over the fire, Isabella had jumped to help her. The threadbare rug on the stone floor certainly presented a hazard as the ailing woman dragged her foot. If she fell and broke an arm or a hip, she could lie there helpless forever. "Does anyone visit you?"
Jean bristled. "If someone comes to the door, I'll do the explaining. I'll say yer Mrs. Murray, a friend of a cousin, on yer way down from the Orkneys. Heading to the Borders, ye are. Resting here for a few days. That's all they need to know."
Murray was her family name, and she'd lived as Isabella Murray for twenty-eight years until she'd married Archibald Drummond six years ago and returned to Scotland, to a homeland she hardly knew.
"I only asked out of concern for you." Isabella looked at the gaps in the shutters where rain-drenched wind was coming through. And the thatched roof was hardly watertight. A stream was running down one wall and pooling in a dark corner. "I'm sure a cottage like this requires a great deal of upkeep and —"
"I manage. Always have and always will. And I'm not about to hearken to John's talk of forcing me to live with him." The cap sitting atop the grey hair bobbed in agreement. "Feet-first is how I'll go. That's how my sainted husband left our house, and they can take me out the same way."
Isabella had known very little about John Gordon's aunt before they got here. Their entire trip north, she'd been more worried about getting Maisie and Morrigan beyond the reach of the men who would surely be chasing them.
"The curate does his duty and looks in on me once a fortnight when he comes through. And the women in the village stop by with a basket now and again."
The door shook from the force of a gust of wind. Jean followed Isabella's gaze and frowned.
"If one of them comes calling, remember what I said. No talking. Even a whisper of that Lowland accent'll give ye away."
"I'm quite good at following directions. I'll cause you no trouble."
The roof of the cottage shook as if in disagreement and showered them with broken bits of thatch.
Trouble. Isabella plied the needle to the stocking. Trouble had been a constant companion to her from the moment Archibald brought them all back to Scotland, to their house on Infirmary Street near the surgical hospital. In Wurzburg — thanks to her father's tutelage and influence — she was living a quiet and productive life as an accomplished physician and surgeon, well-versed in the science of medicine, privileged among her sex for being allowed to practice in a profession dominated by men.
Archibald had promised all would be the same in Edinburgh. Neither of them pretended that theirs was a love match. It was a marriage based on respect. It would meet their mutual needs, for her sister and his daughter would be provided for. She could practice medicine in his clinic and lead the same kind of life in Scotland. But he'd only spoken half the truth; he said nothing of the other part of himself.
He was a political idealist, a reformer, and his nationalist consciousness had reawakened the moment he stepped foot on the soil of his homeland. From then on, her husband led two lives. One, as a respected and learned doctor who was sought after by Edinburgh's elite. And the other, as an activist whose evenings were constantly filled with secret meetings and radical efforts to change the repressive direction of the government in London. But that covert life of his, Isabella wanted no part in. She was Scottish by birth, but she'd lived nearly her entire life away from this land. Scottish nationalism and reform were lost on her, for she'd dedicated herself to one passion: medicine.
The collapse of embers in the fireplace tore away a barrier in her mind, and suddenly she was back in her house in Edinburgh. Back in the midst of the mayhem of that fateful day in April.
It had been a day of strikes. Weavers had ordered a shutdown of the city. Shopkeepers shuttered their windows and doors. Protests has been organized in Glasgow and in smaller towns as well.
The government's response was direct and brutal. Troops on foot and horse attacked without warning, riding down and beating protesters in the street. After the clashes, eighteen were carried back to the clinic in their house with severe injuries. They hadn't enough room for all the patients. Bleeding men lay moaning on the floor, in the hall, on the table in the kitchen. Some were not conscious.
Archibald saw to those wounded lying in the front rooms. Morrigan worked at her father's elbow. Isabella set the broken leg of a six-year-old boy, an innocent bystander knocked down by the mob trying to disperse and trampled on by the ironshod hoof of a cavalry steed.
She'd just put the boy upstairs on her own bed when the sound of shouts and pounding outside drew her to the window. Red-coated militia crowded the street in front of the house.
"Soldiers!" Maisie cried, rushing into the room. "Here. Demanding to be let in!"
Sharp, clawing fingers of fear took her throat in a viselike grip. Isabella was no fool. She knew what was happening on the streets of the city. She was well aware of the identity of some of the wounded they were tending to downstairs at this very moment. She knew the roles these men were playing in the unrest.
"Grab your cloak," Isabella ordered. "Go down the back steps and wait by the kitchen door while I fetch Morrigan. You two must leave the house."
As she raced toward the stairs, the sound of the front door splintering from being battered open was followed by shouts. Her feet barely touched the boards as she flew down the steps.
The front rooms — always a place of order and healing — were a battlefield. Tradesmen and women fought fiercely against the invading soldiers in blue and red jackets. She'd never seen such brawling. More shouting. A gunshot.
Pushing through the chaos, she found her husband sprawled against a wall, blood spreading across his white shirt and waistcoat. He'd been shot in the chest.
"Why?" she screamed at the men who continued to pour into the house. She crouched beside Archibald, pressing both hands to the wound, trying to staunch the flow of blood.
"You can't help me," he breathed, pushing her hand away. He looked behind Isabella. "Take her from here. Go. Please."
Fighting continued all around her, but she worked relentlessly to save her husband's life. Time stood still, and the air took on a nightmarish hue. Though Morrigan was right beside her, the young woman's keening cries had a distant, muffled sound. Still, Isabella struggled. But it was too late. Archibald knew. He shuddered, faded, and was gone.
How she was able to get to the back of the house, pulling Morrigan behind her through the bedlam, Isabella could not later recall. But Maisie was waiting for them in the kitchen, standing before the barred garden door. Before Isabella could pull it open, someone outside began knocking. There was no escape. They were surrounded.
"Don't forget what I told ye," Jean's barked order cut into the memories and jerked Isabella back into the present.
She took a deep breath. The knocking was real. The haunting chaos of Edinburgh dissolved in an instant. Isabella peered through dim firelight at the door.
Jean crooked a finger at her again before pushing to her feet and shuffling toward the entrance.
Isabella's stomach clenched. Had they found her? The farther they'd traveled away from Edinburgh, the more days that passed, her worry of getting caught only increased. The accusations of her involvement, the news of the bounty on her head, overtook the travelers and raced ahead of them. Eyes of strangers followed her. She feared being taken at every roadside stop. And the suspicion of her husband's friends that she'd be a liability to them if she were captured only magnified the fear. Long before they'd reached Inverness, word had spread that both sides wanted her.
The door creaked, and the old woman put her shoulder against it to stop the tempest from shoving it open wide. Jean nodded to whoever was outside and stepped out into the storm, pulling the door shut behind her.
Isabella left the sewing on the chair and moved away from the fire. Near the foot of the cot sat her bag. Her faithful and courageous Edinburgh housekeeper had hidden the three women in her son's dank, airless dwelling in Cooper's Close in Canongate and delivered her medical instruments a few days after the attack on their house.
The door was the only entrance into the cottage, and Isabella was trapped. Two windows cut through the thick walls. A stiff leather hide hung low on the wall near the fire, and she wondered if it might provide access to a woodshed or an animal pen. She picked up her cloak and bag but stopped.
It was foolish to think about running. Even if she were able to get out that way, where would she go? She didn't know the country around her. Her sister and stepdaughter were somewhere in Inverness. Their next meeting was to be aboard a sailing ship bound for Halifax. But even that part of their plan was vague. The only thing Isabella had any confidence in was that John was coming back for her.
All of their futures lay in the hands of John's colleague Walter Scott. Sir Walter Scott now. A generous man, he claimed he needed to repay a debt to Isabella, using his own funds and risking his own liberty.
The door pushed open again and Isabella stood still, holding her breath and letting it out only when she saw Jean come back inside alone. The old woman latched the door behind her.
"Someone knows I'm here?"
"They don't," Jean said, going back to her place by the fire. "And that's all the better for ye."
"What did they want?"
"Nothing that concerns ye."
The answer didn't make her feel less anxious. She was caught in a blind alley and recalling what she'd gone through only reinforced the helplessness of her position.
"Is there anything I need to know? Or be worried about?"
"Aye. Plenty." Jean looked sharply at her. "But no matter what happens, ye gave me yer word ye won't be leaving this cottage."
"I shan't. I have nowhere to go. But what do you mean 'no matter what happens'? Do you expect trouble?"
"Ye ask too many questions," she snapped.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Highland Crown"
Copyright © 2019 May McGoldrick.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The start of a new series set in the Highlands and follows the struggles as a female English physician is hiding from the soldiers who seek her. Isabella isn’t one to hold her tongue before sharing her thoughts, and while she isn’t strictly wrong in her proclamations, it also has brought her no friends and many searching for her, on both sides of the conflict. Inverness in the early 19th century is a hotbed of conspiracies, suspicions and survivors, and she is just one more evading both the crown and the home-grown rebels. Intelligent, fierce and wholly determined to be her own woman, she’s not going to go easily or temper her tongue. Cinead is a MacIntosh, although never actually living in the family home lands. Fierce, determined and wholly self-serving, he’s learned the hard way that he can rely on no one, and to that end, he’s unwilling to try. But, quickly he’s finding that there are some things he can’t do by himself, and Isabella may hold the key to his life, if only for the moment. She’s saved it, and her care is all that stands between him and no more, but he’ knows that neither of them is safe in the city. Heading to his clan at Dalmigavie castle, he can rest easier knowing that a measure of safety is there. Of course, the clan and castle also know his deepest secrets; secrets that could scuttle the budding relationship he and Isabella are building. McGoldrick cleverly mixes the historical fact and fiction here, adding bits of intrigue and danger surrounding the reasons Isabela is wanted by BOTH the Crown and the Rebels, as well as the overriding struggles between the Highlanders and the English becomes an intriguing and easily readable story. Detailed descriptions of the highlands raw beauty, a clever relationship developing between Isabella and Cinead with plenty of moments to enjoy. An interesting and intriguing start to a series. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
This is an epic start to a new series. May McGoldrick is a master at seamlessly weaving fact and fiction together to present an awesome story. After England had defeated Napoleon there were many unfair laws and social injustice in England and Scotland. The social unrest of those times caused the English lawmakers to pass many more restrictive and unfair laws and take a very heavy-handed approach to deal with the situation. They outlawed public gatherings and made speaking out against the government a crime. England was terrified that there would be a revolution similar to the one in France, so they got more and more repressive to the common people. This, of course, just fomented the very rebellion they were trying to prevent. Some of the acts the English soldiers committed against the people of Scotland are so atrocious you’ll cringe. From moment to moment, I was desperate to find out what would happen next. Every page is filled with excitement and adventure and the romance is fearsome! Both main characters are smart, brave, intelligent and committed to Scotland, though neither realizes it at first. Our heroine, Isabella Murray Drummond, is a university-trained physician who works alongside her husband in Edinburgh and Cinaed Mackintosh is a fearless sea captain (known as the son of Scotland) who risks life and limb to deliver supplies (of an illegal nature) to the various Scottish ports. NOTE: We first met Dr. Isabella Drummond in Dearest Millie, which was the final book in the Pennington series. Isabella, her step-daughter, and her sister fled Edinburgh after the English soldiers broke into her home/surgery and killed her husband. The surgery was filled with patients who had been wounded by the soldiers during a demonstration that had turned bloody. Sir Walter Scott sent John Gordon to rescue them and get them to safety. Now, Isabella has a huge price on her head, she’s separated from her family, and she’s hiding in a small, dilapidated cottage in the forgotten village of Duff Head. The cottage owner, Jean, is a salty, surly old lady and the aunt of John Gordon. Isabella has to stay hidden, if she is seen and recognized, the villagers will turn her in for the reward. The village of Duff Head is quite a piece of work. It seems that there isn’t a good person in the entire village, but there are plenty of really bad ones – as Cinaed will learn very quickly. There is a fierce storm raging at sea and it has driven Cinead’s ship, the Highland Crown, into the rocks. The ship is rapidly sinking and he’s sent his men off in the longboats to try to reach the shore. When Cinead has done what he needs to do with the cargo, he dives into the water, swims to the longboat – and is shot – from the shore. Thus, the heart-pounding, action-packed adventure begins – and it doesn’t even end with this book. You’ll learn some really interesting secrets about Cinead and his history that will affect future books. There are two more books in the series and I can hardly wait for the next one. If you should happen to think that there can’t possibly be much romance in a book with so much action and adventure – just listen to this – “Isabella knew he was the light of her life, the air in her lungs, the blood in her veins. She could not do without him.” He is surely a sigh-worthy hero. I can definitely recommend this read! I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
2.5 Stars My biggest issue with this book is that I didn’t like the romance and since it’s primarily a romance, this was an issue. Isabella and Cinaed come together so quickly and don’t really have time to get to know each other that it was hard to but the connection they supposedly had. Politics played a major role in the plot which was an rare addition to a historical romance, I thought. I received an advanced copy through Netgalley in return for an honest review.
As with all of your books, I find myself lost in yet another great group of people! I lose myself in your stories and am really glad I started this one and have a flight to Georgia tomorrow and look forward to finishing it on the plane. Great place to get lost in another date and time! Now I just have to have patience for the next book: The Highland Jewel Keep your minds eager to share and your fingers nimble to write! Peace, Love and Be Kind, Carmen L
Isabela Drummond a lovely young widow is hunted by both the British government and Scottish rebels, she’s traveling to the Highlands in search of survival. British think she can name the rebels and the rebels who fear she will do just that. She hides until it’s safe to travel when one night she pulls from the sea the ship’s captain Cinaed Mackintosh, a smuggler who just blew up his ship and barely escaped with his life. Isabela is an excellent doctor who save his life, these two chemistry neither can deny and Cinaed is not a man without secrets of his own. The two of them are soon forced to flee into the night in a bid to outrun their pursuers. A captivating look into the world of the Scottish rebellion as Isabela and Cinaed fates are intertwined in this action packed grand adventure with sizzling passions where one must earn trust, loyalty and have the courage to love to find their HEA!!! I voluntarily read and reviewed this book.
This is a fantastic story and so well written. This is the first in this new trilogy and I can't wait for the next one. All the issues were not resolved in the book. Really I don't mind that because this author takes you along for the whole book. The world around them and staying in the time period is remarkable. The characters are well written and you root for them right from the start.
Do you love Diana Galbadon's Outlander Series? Or, like me, did you love books one through four but you just couldn't take it anymore? I mean, Jamie is great but can Claire just stay out of trouble for two minutes?!? Sheesh. If, like me, you love a lot of things about Outlander but not the infinite never-ending drama, look no further then Highland Crown by May McGoldrick. Highland Crown is going to be compared to Outlander. I don't enjoy making comparisons like this but let's just look at the facts. Both set in historic Scotland? Check Hot male character that is instantly admired? Check Gorgeous medical female lead? Check Instant love connection in the midst of turmoil? Check Time travel? Nope, that is just Outlander. So, I felt a duty to get this out into the open. Yes. I see the similarities. But, I want to focus on the differences and why it all worked so beautifully. Written by Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick under the pen name Mary McGoldrick, Highland Crown is a fast paced romance told in shifting narratives with loads of historic facts that brought the action to life. Alternating between the beautiful doctor and fugitive, Isabella Drummond, and the strikingly handsome ship captain, Cinead Mackintosh, the reader is literally tossed into the action from chapter one. And, since half of this writing duo has a PhD in sixteenth century Scottish and English literature, the historical aspect felt so true and alive it was hard to step back into the present. I am an absolute sucker for romances where the male character falls deeply in love and has to either reassure the female character of his love or somehow earn her trust. This book gave me that romantic aspect in spades and I cannot wait for the next two books in the series! I appreciate NetGalley providing me a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.
highland crown kicks off a new trilogy from may mcgoldrick, and it is the perfect blend of intrigue, scandal, and forbidden love in the scottish highlands. isabella is bound by her profession to save the injured ship captain she's encountered as she's trying to escape her own past. little does she know that he is in as much, or possibly more, trouble than she is. as they are caught up in the danger that nips at their heels, the unexpected feelings that bloom between them only ups the ante more. a blend of historical fact and creative storytelling, highland crown hits all the right notes. this is a true trilogy, so we when reach the end of this novel, there is still more story for these two to endure. and it's clear that the road ahead won't be easy. but perhaps the reward is worth it? **highland crown will publish on april 30, 2019. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press in exchange for my honest review.
What a great book! A fabulous mix of fiction and history wrapped up in an engaging romance. I finished it in less than a day. Highland Crown follows Isabella Drummond, a strong willed physician, and Cinead Mackintosh through Scotland. Isabella is running for her life after a bounty is put upon her head. Both the English and the Scotts are after her for the reward and her family is hidden keep them safe. She saves Cinead after he washes up on shore after his ship is run aground and he was shot. He saves her from being caught from an English Lieutenant and their adventure starts. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series! I was gifted this arc in exchange for my honest review.
I loved Cinaed and Isabella's story! But be warned (view spoiler). Both have their own reasons for being leery of one another, but running for their lives forces them to have to trust the other. When attraction flairs, their escape takes on a new meaning. Can these two find their HEA while escaping for their lives? I loved watching these two come together and fall in love. Their adventure to safely added another layer to their romance and I quite enjoyed it. I'm so excited to see what happens in the next book in the series!!
This was my first book by May McGoldrick. I must have more! Oh, this was such a romantic, exciting story. Heartbreaking, too. I was not that familiar with Scottish history until I became a huge Outlander fan. The battle of Culloden was beyond brutal. However, I didn't realize how horrendously the Scots were treated in the years after that tragedy. I loved the blend of history, romance and adventure that was all rolled together in this one book. And I musn't forget the inclusion of some of the beautiful works by Sir Walter Scott that were quoted herein. Isabella was a trained physician who helped her husband in his practice. After he was murdered in a clash between the British army and the Scots, she had to go into hiding because both sides put a bounty on her head. She was staying with an old woman named Jean, whose nephew was going to reunite her with her family. One night there was a shipwreck, and the locals went to the beach to recover whatever bounty they could. When the ship's captain destroyed the cargo, they were furious. The captain, Cinaed Mackintosh, was shot and seriously wounded. Isabella found him on the beach and dragged him to safety and saved his life. Thus begins an exciting journey for Isabella, Cinaed and Jean. I just adored both of our brave leads. Isabella was a very strong woman and a talented physician in a time when very few women could practice medicine. Then there's Cinaed.....sigh. The man was totally swoon worthy. He didn't know Isabella, but his heart knew he must help her reach safety and meet up with her family. I loved that he didn't fight his feelings for Isabella, as happens in so many romance stories. He followed the call of his heart. A number of supporting characters really stood out, such as Jean, Cinaed's kinsman Searc and British officer Hudson. Though the story doesn't end here for Isabella and Cinaed, the book stood alone and didn't end in a cliffhanger. This was simply a stunning story. I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley. I received no compensation for my review, and all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
This is the first book in the new Royal Highland series. Isabella is escaping through Scotland to a new life in Canada. Her husband was killed regarded as a radical by the British. Isabella is chased through the Highlands by British Officer Hudson who wants information on all the other radicals. She saves the life of Cinaed Mackintosh and you follow the start of there journey of love and finding the real heritage of Cinaed. Isabella is a strong character been one of the first women surgeons of this time period. She is well matched by Cinaed who has been using his ship to bring weapons and explosives for the Highlands cause. The story of Cinaed’s parentage will continue in Highland Jewel and will be worth the wait. I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I know that I have said this in the past, but I am a huge fan of anything to do with Scotland. When I read the blurb for Highland Crown, I knew that I needed to read this book. It was set entirely in Scotland. Plus, I was intrigued by Isabella. A female physician in Regency England was unheard of. I needed to read this book. I am glad I did because it was fantastic!!! Like I mentioned above, Isabella was an anomaly in Regency England. In that era, women were expected to be seen and not heard. An educated woman was rare. Even rarer was a woman physician. The prologue was poignant. I wasn’t familiar with how Scotland was treated in Regency England. So, I wasn’t expecting it to be as bad as Sir Walter Scott said it was. Regret and sadness were tangible. It also gave a great introduction to Isabella’s character. I liked Isabella. She had to be strong to become a physician in an era where a woman was considered property. When her husband was killed and a bounty placed on her head, she did what she had to. She wanted to make her that Maisie and Morrigan survived. Separating from them was her way to ensure that they wouldn’t be killed or hurt. Of course, that put her on a crash course with Cinaed. I fell a little in love with Cinaed every time he appeared in the book. He was brave. What he did when he was injured showed that. The guy had two gunshot wounds, and he still killed two people. Impressive. He had a vulnerable side also. He was hurt over being cast out of his clan when he was 9. He didn’t know what he did to deserve that, but 21 years later, it still weighed on his mind. I liked that Isabella was older than Cinaed. In the grand scheme of things in the book, it was a small blip. But for me, it was refreshing. She wasn’t easily disturbed by things that would send a younger girl into a faint. She also wasn’t a virgin. So the sex scenes weren’t all about her being eased into sex. Instead, they went at it. The secondary characters brought depth to the book. Auld Jean, Searc Mackintosh, Sir Walter Scott, John Gordon, and Lieutenant Hudson were terrific. Lieutenant Hudson scared the crap out of me. He had one train of thought, and that was to get Isabella. The romance between Cinaed and Isabella took a while to kindle. Which was OK with me. I wasn’t expecting them to fall in love while Cinaed was injured. I did get a small sense of Instalove after he was on the mend. It didn’t bother me. I actually expected it because of the era that the book took place in. I thought the sex scenes were great. They were not graphic, and just enough was written to get my attention. Then I had to use my imagination for the rest. The end of the book was great. I loved how Isabella’s storyline ended. It was what I expected. But, it was Cinaed’s storyline that threw me for a loop. There was a twist in the plotline that I didn’t see coming. It shocked me as much as it shocked Cinaed. With that plot twist, came the cliff hanger. I have said in the past that I do not like cliffhangers. But in this case, I do. It did what it was supposed to. It is making me want to read book 2. I need to see what Maisie and Morrigan’s stories will be!!
Isabella Drummond is an unusual combination of strength and intelligence, caught up in the machinations of politics. Circumstances and luck, along with people who want justice for those caught, have given Isabella safehaven with Jean, an old wizened brusque woman. I enjoyed the character building the author did for this secondary character. At first, she’s concerned for her own skin, regrets helping her nephew by providing a hiding place for Isabella. But soon her priorities change as the story flies off the page. The old woman is part of a community which lives off what the sea cough up. One night a ship carrying weapons for the rebels in Scotland crashes against the rocks. Villagers are eager to grab what they can, killing the survivors of the shipwreck. Cinaed, captain of the ship is almost killed by a bullet, but miraculously, he makes it to shore. As the villagers scan the shore for wreckage and survivors, Isabella takes it upon herself to try to save them man. Just one more body for the old woman to hide in her wee cottage. She hauls him to the cottage under cover of darkness with the help of the old woman Her actions of compassionate as a doctor to heal puts both herself and the old woman at peril. Even when Cinaed is close to death he's concerned for the women. He's a man of fine qualities. His actions go beyond his physical capacities, yet, his will makes him a survivor. The journey these three take together is one filled with honor, justice and determination to save each other and do what is right. To live they must escape the cottage... You won’t be disappointed in this adventurous, fast-paced, character-driven story. From the first chapter you are hooked through the events and kind of people who make this story zip along. The best and worst of man is portrayed. Cinaed truly finds himself in the Highlands among family which surprise him.
In the afterword, the authors state that this story is the “opening chapter of Cinaed & Isabella’s life together. They are hardly finished with their search to solve the mystery of his birth…”. The story was well written (enough) that I did not feel shortchanged or frustrated that it ended where it did. It was satisfactory where it ended and had me looking forward to the next books. Apparently, there will be more in the series. Isabella is a doctor who studied in University, where her father was a professor, and is a practicing doctor and physician. When her father passes away, a fellow physician offers marriage, a comfortable solution for the widower with a young daughter & Isabella who has to care for her younger sister. But her husband’s involvement in Scotland’s rebellion against the English crown ends in his death and Isabella being pursued by both factions due to her connections, even though she is innocent. With the help of a friend, who whisks the 2 young girls away while secreting Isabella in a secluded fishing village, a storm and a shipwreck has Isabella saving Cinaed’s life when he is washed ashore gravely injured. Isabella and Cinaed are both wonderfully strong characters. Isabella has a compulsion to heal and use her skills regardless of gender, social status or political inclination. She refuses to abandon Cinaed, a total stranger and in turn, Cinaed even when weak from his injuries, comes to her defense as they find themselves pursued and hunted (totally swoon worthy may I add!). The bond that grows between the character, not only Isabella and Cinaed but Jean, an elderly woman that shelters Isabella and becomes a fellow fugitive on the run, was beautiful to read. Well written, with a steady sometimes rather suspenseful! pace, the best part for me was definitely the (development of the) 2 lead characters.
I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book. I loved the interweaving of Scottish history with the fictional characters. The events show the determination and courage of the hero and heroine. The hero and heroine, Isabella and Cinaed were likeable characters and they seemed well-matched for each other. When Isabella took risks, she took them for a greater purpose. Cinaed is a leader who is strategic and cares about what happens to the Scottish. I felt the historical events feature more strongly in this story than the romance. Overall, this was an enjoyable story with a strong historical thread.
This is the first book in the new series Royal Highlanders and it started the series off wonderfully. The prologue itself draws you into the story and you never want to put the book down! The story is full of political suspense, history, romance, and adventure. It was well written and fast paced. The authors research and knowledge of history in that time period shows in the writing of the story. The descriptions were so wonderful and full of detail. I loved all the suspense and was drawn in by the characters. Isabella and Cinaed were so courageous and brave. I can’t wait to read more about them in the next book of the series. I received a digital ARC of this novel courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.
I am a fan of this book genre. The mix of historical data, location and unexpected (to them) romance is always a winner to me. This book kept me wanting to read more and not want to set it down....wanting to see exactly how things would work out. The dashing captain, Cinaed and the strong-willed Isabella, were meant to both clash and love. The villainous British officer and his soldiers during the turbulent uprising times of the Scottish people bring the drama to the story. Well-worth reading. Was surprised to find that this is the first in a series....but totally look forward to the next two books to see how the story of Cinaed and Isabella, family and friends plays out. Thanks to author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in return for an honest interview, which this has been. #HighlandCrown, #StMartinsPress, #NetGalley
I received an ARC of this book to read through NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. Highland Crown is the first book in what looks to be an epic new series Royal Highlander by May McGoldrick (the pseudonym used by Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick). The story takes place in Scotland in 1820 a time of great unrest. Doctor Isabella Drummond is fleeing for her life, not only has the Crown put a bounty on her head but the political group her husband belonged to before his death has too afraid that she will betray them to the Crown. While on the run she saves Cinaed Mackintosh when his ship is run aground during a storm and the nearby villagers shoot him. With a villain reminiscent of a cross between Inspector Javert and Black Jack Randall on their trail they struggle to find safe harbour and retrieve Isabella’s younger sister and stepdaughter. Their story will continue in the books that follow. I found this one to be so engrossing that I devoured it in less than 24 hours. The authors paint a very vivid picture of the time which somewhat parallels what is happening in today’s world. Medium Steam. Publishing Date April 30, 2019. #NetGalley #HighlandCrown #MayMcGoldrick #StMartinsPress #StMartinsPaperbacks
Highland Crown by May McGoldrick is filled with intrigue, adventure, and romance. When I read the synopsis for Highland Crown, I was fascinated by the heroine, Isabella. I wanted to know more about who she was and the reason why she was hiding. McGoldrick knows how to build a world that is filled with historical elements paired with adventure. I can’t help but appreciate the world building and research to make this setting as realistic as possible. I adored Isabella! She is a strong woman who isn’t afraid of what’s to come. It is evident that she has experienced so much, and it added to my sympathy towards her misfortune. It took a while for Cinaed and I to connect. But, I was also caught up in understanding this world that it could have caused me to focus primarily on the world and less about the characters. Near the end of the book, I became invested in their outcome. My emotions were all over the place, and I was anticipating every word on the page. Overall, I enjoyed this story and these characters! *Thank you to the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.*
This was a riveting, fast-paced romantic adventure story! The main characters were engaging, and their story and romance were captivating.
Highland Crown is the first in a new series by the husband/wife team - May McGoldrick. And friends, I Loved it! I couldn't put it down and read straight through the night. This book has everything I treasure in romance. A complicated yet intelligent heroine, a misunderstood yet caring hero, mystery, and intrigue with our hero's past, drama to overcome within the book, yet setting up enough open-ended issues to entice me to read more. And friends, I want more. I want this series done. Because I cannot wait to read how Isabella and Cinead's relationship deepens, and how others love stories might follow. Everything about this book made me want to keep reading. The writing is crisp, creating lovely allusions and described in such a way so I felt I was there with them, along for the ride. The dialogue felt natural and not contrived. Finally, the sparks flew with our leads. I kept getting zingers through my body with each glance. Simple moments where clothes were still on and body parts hadn't even touched. The chemistry is fantastic. I cannot wait for the next installment.
Highland Crown by May McGoldrick is a fantastic historical romance. Ms. McGoldrick has provided readers with a well-written book and a stellar cast of characters. I got such a kick out of Jean, probably because I'm turning into her. Isabella was in hiding with a double bounty on her head. Cinaed's ship sank and he was shot as his longboat was headed to shore. Isabella and Cinaed's story is packed cover to cover with drama, action, humor, steamy sexy bits and suspense. I enjoyed reading Highland Crown and look forward to my next book by May McGoldrick. Highland Crown is book 1 of the Royal Highlander Series but can be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Received an advance copy from NetGalley. This was a very good story, not your typical Highland romance...a female surgeon and a pirate. But the story line works very well and is very well written. The characters draw you in and have you wishing they find their HEA.
History class was never this engaging! Opening with a prologue from Sir Walter Scott's POV, this is a unique historical romance crafted from real-life people and events. Cinead and Isabella's love story is amazing, captivating, and exciting throughout. The attention to historical detail is commendable as the author sets the stage for an expansive look at Scotland during a pivotal point in history. It's a wonderful story, beautifully told, with memorable characters who take the reader along on a captivating journey. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.