Paula Quinn is one of those authors that moves me before I even read their novels. Just the idea of a Quinn release is enough to give me the warm and fuzzies along with the excited and squeelies. I anticipate and auto-buy her books so much because she delivers. Each and every time. The hero will be just what I need. Her heroines will be exactly who I want to champion and the story will be unique with the sweet hints of familiarity that make Quinn’s world of Highlander romance so damn inviting.
Her newest series is Hearts of the Highlands, book one, Heart of Ashes and though I was prepared, I simply was not ready for this lusty, deeply moving and exciting tale.
Cainnech (Cain) MacPherson’s hatred for the English was born when he was a lad of seven, the day they raided his village and killed his family. They took everything from him without mercy and tossed him onto the battlefield, where the memory of love faded to dust and left nothing in its wake but violence.
Now, as Robert the Bruce’s most formidable, most lethal warrior, he wreaks havoc on his enemy, taking land by force and without mercy. But when he raids a small castle in Northumberland, he faces his greatest opponent yet—a bold, beautiful Norman lass who will see him dead at any cost rather than give up her home…even if it means tearing open his armored heart and stirring the ashes that remain.
Aleysia d’Argentan will do anything to keep the hated Scots out of her castle and away from her villagers. She has prepared for this day for the last four years, building traps in the forest, poisoning the grain, and hiding daggers wherever she could use them to kill her enemy. But she isn’t prepared for the brawny, brooding Highland warlord who invades her life—and her heart. He is an infuriating, irresistible opponent with a curious touch, a smoldering kiss, and a reluctant smile that begins to shine on her alone.
“I do not hate him anymore.”
His smile softened. “I know.”
“In fact, I am coming to care for him.”
“Are ye?” He didn’t look surprised. A thought occurred to her and she offered him a frantic look.
“You do not think he knows, do you?”
He shook his head and patted her hand. “I can assure ye, my dear, he is completely unaware.”
“How do you know? What has he said?”
“Nothin’. But that is not unusual,” he muttered and then waved his hand in front of him as if he were trying to scatter those thoughts and get back on topic. “I know because he knows so little of love.”
“Has he… never loved a woman before?” she asked hesitantly.
“Nae. Nor has he been loved by one.” She thought it remarkable, but then remembered that he spent most of his time fighting for Robert the Bruce—which he would likely be getting back to soon. “I confess, Father, I do not know if I have time to help him battle his hatred.”
He stopped and set his lambent eyes on her. “My dear, the battle he fights is not hatred, ’tis love… Twas hatred that took his kin from his life. But ’twas love that drove them from his memory, and the pain of love that came closest to making him lose his mind. He made himself ferget his family so that he could survive the life he had withoot them. He hasna loved, or even attempted to love anyone in the years I have known him. In fact, my dear, ’tis the only thing that frightens him.”
“Truthfully, Cainnech,” she said over her shoulder as she came to the small stairway, “just when I think you are not so irritating, you go and shout at a man of God.” She felt his eyes on her like a wolf that had just spotted its mate. And then he was there, behind her, bending his nose to the hair at the nape of her neck. “Ye look ravishin’.” His voice was a deep-throated growl that made her knees nearly give out. “What about your clear head?” “I have already lost it.” He stepped around her like liquid smoke. His eyes danced over her features in facets of blue and gray. “Ye are goin’ to gain much attention when ye go in there….”
“May I touch it?” She ran her fingertips along his length, stretching his control to its limit. He groaned and grew even harder. When she closed her fingers around him, he grazed his teeth over her erect nipples and moved over her. They explored and enjoyed each other’s bodies with their fingers, lips, and tongues. Taking his time at such pleasures was a new experience for Cain. Each kiss, every moan he pulled from her would be forever emblazoned on his memory. He would never forget this night with her. He loved her. He loved, and it didn’t hurt. He told her while he kissed her body, tasting the sweet fruit of her breasts, the tight nub between her milky white thighs. His brave, beautiful woman didn’t flinch at his scandalous exploration and delight. No. She writhed in his mouth and drove him mad with the need to have her. When he lifted himself above her, she smiled, ready to take him. I will be tender. I will be tender. He chanted the litany over and over in his mind.
“Thank ye fer takin’ me as yer husband…”
Heart of Ashes is a romantically lush and sweetly satisfying historical romance novel. I can’t recommend it more highly! And it is available now via Kindle Unlimited.