Published by Forever on September 27th 2016
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
A STRANGER'S SMILE
Christmas may be coming to Linavar, but Temperance Menzie is far from joyful. Grief-stricken over the death of her father at the hands of the Black Riders, she almost didn't see the wounded stranger in the woods. And now she's determined to give this braw, brooding Highlander the help she couldn't give her father. But there's a secret lurking in the depths of his blue-gray eyes. And Temperance won't rest until she uncovers it . . .
A LOVER'S KISS
A killer for hire. It's the last thing Cailean Grant ever thought he'd become, but being part of the Black Riders was his only way to survive. Now, his guilt grows day by day, along with his desire for the beautiful, brave lass nursing him back to health. As Christmas, the season of miracles, draws near and the truth of his identity threatens to come out, Cailean must risk the only thing he has left to lose-his heart.
She stopped walking and pulled on his hand to stop him as well. “Who am I to you?”
What? What had he said? He realized quickly enough, scowled, and then smiled, giving in to what his heart was telling him. “Ye are—” He paused, not truly sure what to say. He hadn’t wanted to care for her, but he did. He’d let her in, but how could he have denied her entrance? She’d been through much, thanks to him, and yet she still smiled, she still sang, she still had compassion to help him heal.
He began again, reaching for her. He pulled her closer and wrapped his arms around her plaid- encased body, shielding her from the wind. “Ye are my candle in the dark.” He stopped again to take her in. He smiled. “I’m better at puttin’ a quill to m’ words than I am at speakin’ them.”
Her wide, beautiful eyes glittered like the snow dusting the braes. He wanted to lose himself there in the expectant hope that lit her gaze.
“You’re doing just fine,” she assured him softly. “Continue, please.”
He shoved aside everything on his mind but her. What was left scared the hell out him. “I canna—”
She waited in silence while he fought his demon for her. Her hope began to fade to disappointment.
It made him smile to think her hope was to be with him and she was waiting to hear him tell her.
“I canna take my gaze from ye, lass. No matter what I’m doin’, m’ eyes find their way back to yer rich dark hair fallin’ over yer flawless jaw, the relaxed curl of your bottom lip that tempts my legs to bring me to wherever ye are. I lay awake at night imaginin’ yer soft inhalations of breath. They fill my heart with something other than mortar and fury. I want to bring ye to me but I’m unworthy of yer dreams. Still, I want to be in them, as ye are in mine.”
“You see?” she said breathlessly. “Just fine.” She closed her eyes and parted her lips when he dipped his head to hers.
He moved his mouth over hers, basking in the intimacy of kissing her, capturing her short, eager breaths. His senses came alive and he used each one of them to fill himself with her. She tasted like passion and innocence. When he slipped his tongue over hers, she opened her arms and coiled them around his neck, covering them both in his plaid. He listened to her heart beating like ancient drums. Or was it his own heart he was hearing? He withdrew a hairbreadth so he could look at her again. The sight of her dreamy-eyed and wanting more nearly drove him mad. He brushed his nose across her temple to her hair, drinking in the scent of her, like the familiar fragrance of peat and pine. “Ye’re bringin’ me back to life, lass.”
He kissed her again, barely holding back the passion raging inside him to be released.
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
Cailean Grant is on his way to Lyon’s Ridge Castle and Lord Edward Murdoch’s band of mercenaries, the Black Riders is Cailean’s way of dealing with his pain. He has become a hard man after some losses left him empty, the sun had gone out of his life until he sees a lovely lass at a market. The next time he sees the pretty woman, Temperance Menzie, the circumstances are far from pleasant and Cailean is stunned into re-evaluating his outlook on life. The third time they meet, she saves his life, and things will never be the same again.
A HIGHLANDER’S CHRISTMAS KISS is an exceedingly complicated story, not because it’s hard to follow, but because of the chain of events that snowballs into glorious splendour as well as the darkest depths of hell. After re-reading the blurb, I had to change some things to my review, as I gather they would be seen as spoilers, it also required some additional thinking on my part regarding my perception of certain events. Once in a while, a book requires that the reader either chooses to accept a character’s decision for what it is, or reject it because the decision does not appeal to me, as a person. And it is regarding the latter that I had to work harder, and try to be more objective with regards to the characters’ actions, and evaluate if their actions were consistent with their characters.
Lord Murdoch has a son, Duncan, who is bent on taking Temperance as a wife. It doesn’t help is that Lord Murdoch prefers Cailean to his own son, which understandably doesn’t sit well with Duncan, who is a truly despicable character, and realistically so. Things go from bad to worse when Temperance makes it very clear that she will have nothing to do with Duncan. Temperance is a marvellous character: she will not back down once she has made up her mind, not by sheer stubbornness, but by conviction, and she will do what it takes, even if it puts her own life in danger. While nursing Cailean back to health, he and Temperance slowly fall in love, however she knows there is something he is not telling her, and indeed Cailean’s secret is huge. I usually don’t like when a character keeps a secret of this magnitude from another, especially a potential love interest, but I have to admit that Cailean didn’t have much choice. And I had no idea how Ms. Quinn would make Cailean and Temperance find their happy-ever-after. Not that it necessarily seemed impossible, but that it would require extreme finesse. Even though both Cailean and Temperance survive the ending, A HIGHLANDER’S CHRISTMAS KISS has all the trappings of a classic Greek tragedy, of which I am not overly fond, and I also struggled with a decision Temperance made, and this is why I had to reflect and understand her point of view, where I had to accept the decision as hers, and not how I wanted things to be were I making the decision.
Paula Quinn’s writing is superb, fluid and eloquent, yet understated and elegant. Ms. Quinn quietly weaves an abundance of historical details, which do not detract from the story but contribute to the authenticity of the atmosphere. A HIGHLANDER’S CHRISTMAS WISH is a majestic tale, rife with political clashes between clans in the Scotland of 1711, where love cannot be denied from happening. Ms. Quinn’s sense of pacing is faultless, and plot twists abound, and a few caught me completely unawares. The characters whether lovely, loathsome, or anywhere in between behave as people do, while sometimes in ways that defy reason, it is how real people are. There are so many wonderful characters, each and every one of them very complex. And some are utterly irresistible, such as Patrick MacGregor, who will be the subject of the next book in this series, and I cannot wait to see what this charming rogue will be up to.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.