Highland Crown: Royal Highlander #1 by May McGoldrick

Highland Crown: Royal Highlander #1 by May McGoldrick

May McGoldrick comes to the blog today with the first in a new series, Royal Highlander. In addition to the introduction to the series, there is an excerpt and a blog-exclusive giveaway, where one lucky US winner will get a paperback copy of the title.

Highland Crown

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.

Highland Crown: Royal Highlander #1 by May McGoldrick

Title: Highland Crown
Author: May McGoldrick
Series: Royal Highlander #1
Genre: Historic Elements, Historical Romance, Regency, Romantic Elements, Scottish Clans, Second Chance, Setting: Roman Republic, Setting: Scotland
Published by: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 1250314976
Published on: 30 April, 2019
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 320
Rated: four-stars
Heat: One FlameOne FlameOne Flame

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See this Title on Goodreads

Inverness, 1820Perched on the North Sea, this port town―by turns legendary and mythological―is 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 DrummondA true beauty and trained physician, Isabella has inspired longing and mystery―and fury―in 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 MackintoshCast from his home as a child, Cinaed is a fierce soul whose allegiance is only to himself. . .until Isabella saved his life―and added more risk to her own. Now, the only way Cinaed can keep her safe 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?

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

 

 

Cinaed looked up into a woman’s face. Fine black eye- brows arched over brown eyes that were focused on his chest. Thick dark hair was pulled back in a braid and pinned up at the back of her head. Intent on what she was doing, she was unaware that he was awake.

Her brow was furrowed, and lines of concentration framed the corners of her mouth. The grey travel dress she wore was plain and practical. She was not old, but not young either. Not fat, not thin. From where he lay, he guessed she was neither tall nor short. She was beautiful, but not in the flashy way of the women who generally greeted sailors in the port towns. Nor was she like the eyelash-fluttering lasses in Halifax who never stopped trying to get his attention after a Sunday service. He didn’t bother to assess the pleasant symmetry of her face, however. The “brook no nonsense” expression warned that she wasn’t one to care what others thought of her looks, anyway.

But who was she?

The last clear memory he had was seeing a flash from the shore. The next moment his chest had been punched with what felt like a fiery poker. Everything after that floated in a jumbled haze. He recalled being in the water, trying to swim toward some distant shore. Or was he struggling to reach the longboat again?

Cinaed didn’t know what part of his body hurt more, the fearsome pounding in his head or the burning piece of that poker still lodged in his chest.

“Where am I?” he demanded. “Who the deuce are you?”

Startled, she sat up straight, pulling away and scowl- ing down at him. In one blood-covered hand, she held a needle and thread. In the other, a surgeon’s knife that she now pointed directly at his throat.

“Try to choke me again and I’ll kill you.” “Choke you? For the love of God, woman!”

His ship. The reef. The explosion.  He  closed  his eyes for a moment and tried to clear away the fog. Everything he’d been through struck him like a broad- side.

The Highland Crown was gone. He’d detonated the powder himself. Where were his men? He’d climbed into the last longboat. They’d been fired at from the beach. He’d been shot.

Cinaed grabbed the knife-wielding wrist before she could pull it away. “Where are my men?”

An ancient woman in Highland garb slid into his line of sight behind the younger one. She was making sure he saw the cudgel she had over one shoulder.

“This one is worth less than auld fish bait, mistress,” she taunted. The crone was ready and obviously eager to use that club. “And thankless, too, I’m bound. I was right when I said ye should never have saved him.”

Should never have saved him. He released the wrist, and the hand retreated. But the dark-haired woman didn’t move away. As if nothing had happened, she dropped the knife on the cot, out of his reach. The brown eyes again focused on his chest, and she put her needle back to work.

He winced but kept his hands off the woman.

By all rights, he should be dead. A musket ball had cut him down and knocked him into the water. He should in- deed be finished. Someone on shore had tried to kill him.

But he was alive, and apparently he owed his life to this one. Gratitude flowed through him.

“Want me to give him another knock in the head?” the old witch asked.

“Last stitch. Let me finish,” she said in a voice lacking the heavier burr of the northern accent. “You can kill him when I’m done.”

A sense of humor, Cinaed thought. At least, he hoped she was joking. She tied off the knot, cut the thread, and straightened her back, inspecting her handiwork. He lifted his head to see what kind of quilt pattern she’d made of him. A puckered line of flesh, topped by a row of neat stitches, now adorned the area just below his collarbone. He’d been sewn up by surgeons before, and they’d never done such a fine job of it. He started to sit up to thank her. That was a grave mistake. For an instant, he thought the old woman had used her cudgel, after all. When he pushed himself up, his brain exploded, and he had no doubt it was now oozing out of his ears and eye sockets. The taste of bilge water bubbled up in his throat.

“A bucket,” he groaned desperately.

The woman was surprisingly strong. She rolled him and held a bucket as his stomach emptied. She’d been ex- pecting this, it appeared. However horrible he was feeling before, it was worse now as the room twisted and rocked and spun. Long stretches of dry heaves wracked his body. “Blood I can deal with,” the old woman grouched from somewhere in the grey haze filling the room. He heaved again. “By all the saints!”

“I’ll clean up later. Don’t worry about any of this. Go sit by the fire, Jean. You’ve had a long night.”

Cinaed felt a wet cloth swab the back of his neck and his face.

Jean mumbled something unintelligible about “weak- bellied” and “not to be trusted” and “a misery.” When he hazarded a glance at her, she was glaring at him like some demon guarding the gates of hell.

“Does my nephew know that yer a doctor?” she asked, not taking her eyes off of him as she snatched up the knife and handed it to the younger woman.

A doctor! He lifted his head to look at her again. She was definitely a woman. And a fine-looking one, at that. He was still breathing, and she’d done an excellent job on whatever damage had been done to his chest by the bullet. But the possibility of any trained physician, or even a surgeon, being here in this remote corner of the High- lands was so implausible. Male or female.

“John knows.”

“But ye say yer not a midwife,” Jean persisted, a note of disbelief evident in her tone. “And not just a surgeon, in spite of all them fine, shiny instruments in that bag of yers.”

“I trained as a physician at a university. But I’m find- ing that my abilities as a surgeon have more practical uses wherever I go.”

University trained. Cinaed stole another look at her. She had an air of confidence in the way she spoke and acted that convinced him that she was telling the truth. And for the first time since the Highland Crown struck that reef, he wondered if his good fortune was still hold- ing, if only by thread. Lady Luck, apparently, had sent him Airmid, his own goddess of healing.

Long-forgotten words, chanted over some injury, came back to him from childhood. Bone to bone. Vein to vein. Skin to skin. Blood to blood. Sinew to sinew. Marrow to marrow. Flesh to flesh . . .

From the floor, she retrieved a bowl containing bloody cloths. A musket ball lay nestled like a robin’s egg on the soaked rags. By the devil, he thought, his admiration nearly overflowing. She’d not only stitched him together, she’d dug the bullet out of him.

The deuce! He’d never seen anyone like her. Frankly, he didn’t care if she came from the moon to practice medicine here. He owed his life to her.

 

 

About May McGoldrick

Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick wrote their first May McGoldrick historical romance using real life characters that Jim researched while earning a Ph.D. 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 sense of place and action. Together, they have crafted over thirty fast-paced, conflict-filled historical and contemporary novels and two works of nonfiction under the pseudonyms May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey.

 

 

 

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