Charmed by the Highlanders: My Favorite Scottish Romances
If you know me, you know I love a good romp through the heathers. Give me a book filled with castles, thick brogues and burly men who bathe in the cold mountain stream and I’m a happy girl. It’s a well known fact that I started my blog over two years ago because of my love of Highlanders. (I was sick, on the couch with nothing else to do so I sat and read whatever I could get my hands on. My friends came to visit me while I was couch-ridden and of course the topic turned to books. More than one friend suggested I start a blog and well, Bored and On the Couch wasn’t a catchy blog name so Scandalicious was born.)
The series that started it all for me was Janet Chapman’s Pine Creek Highlanders. I must’ve found the first book, Charming the Highlander as a Kindle freebie or sale and honestly, one chapter in and I was hooked, I’d found my kind of people! I devoured that series and everything written by Janet Chapman in a week. This series has it all. Imagine two warring 12th century Scottish clans, battling it out, swords slashing, bones crunching when all of a sudden a huge storm appears, lightning strikes and BOOM! Both clans are transported in time to modern day USA, Maine no less. Imagine those warriors landing in a time with cell phones and women who freely spoke their minds. Culture shock city, no? Some of these men survive and thrive while others, sadly, do not but fear not, there is a plan afoot. Father Daar, a wily old coot, is actually an ancient Druidh who orchestrated this whole fiasco in an attempt to get laird Greyson McKeage to the present day so he could meet, fall in love with his true partner, Grace Sutter and produce Father Daar’s replacement wizard, their seventh daughter – to be aptly named, Winter. (aptly named because all seven girls will be born on the Winter Solstice) Thus the story of Janet Chapman’s Highlanders takes root and let me tell you, 8 books in Pine Creek, 5 books in the Spellbound Falls spin off, 3 books in the second spin off, Midnight Bay and I still get giddy when I see Ms. Chapman announcing a new book on her website! In fact, The Highlander Next Door (Spellbound Falls #6) releases August 26th.
Of course we can’t discuss Highlanders without dedicating a whole section to the queen, Julie Garwood. No one skips through the heathers like Julie Garwood. Ransom, The Bride, The Secret, The Wedding are just a few Garwood books that will fast become your favorite go to books when you find yourself in a book slump. While it could be argued that these books are not always historically accurate, I challenge you to find books that make you feel as good as you will when you finish a Julie Garwood Highlander book. The heroines are sweet, strong and daringly sassy for their time and the heroes…oh the heroes; they will sweep you off your feet, literally, and marry you before you know what’s hit you! Garwood’s men are Alpha in every delicious sense of the word and they are constantly confounded and turned on by the feisty women they encounter. Decidedly serious, these heroes turn on that special Highlander charm, filled with playful banter, intrigue and plenty of love play.
When I started researching books for this article, I discovered quite a few time travel-ish themed Highlander books. One of my all time favorites is The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. The Winter Sea tells the story of best selling author, Carrie McClelland. She travels to Slains Castle to research her next novel. Once there, she discovers she has the gift of sight. She can sense ancestral memories when she enters Slains and the story waiting for her is spectacular. What she sees occurred during the spring of 1708 when Jacobite soldiers attempted to help exiled King James Stewart regain his Scottish crown. The twisted tale of love, betrayal, loyalty and conflict manifests itself before McClelland’s eyes. Of course present day McClelland has to have a love story herself. In The Winter Sea you get not one but two captivating stories that are so beautifully written you’ll feel transported to what I consider a main character, Slains Castle – both past and present. Kearsley’s absolutely stunning descriptions and magical story weaving will leave you breathless. The Winter Sea is one of, if not my absolute favorite Highlander books.
Since there is something for everyone in Scottish tales of lore, let’s touch on paranormal Highlanders now. Karen Marie Moning’s Highlanders is a precursor that gets intimately woven into her Fever series in a flawless manner. Beyond the Highland Mist kicks off this 8 book series. There is a huge element of time travel in all of these books as present day and history collide. The result is a sexy, stormy love affair, filled with danger, intrigue and passion. It’s hard work finding your soul mate but once these brawny, gruff men do, nothing is going to stand in their way.
My all time favorite paranormal series is Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark. Shout out to Nucking Futs Nix! In the realm of paranormal romance I am a werewolf girl, not a fang banger. (not that I don’t appreciate a good fang banging by the way) With Immortals After Dark we get my own personal trifecta of awesome, werewolf highlanders with thick Scottish brogues. Stick a fork in me because I am done! I love, love, love the MacRieve clan. LOVE THEM! These sexy male specimens of perfection get paired up with the most badass of badass women and it is never an easy ride. With IAD, it’s never love at first sight, usually not even like or tolerate at first sight, at least not for the women. Sure, because they are werewolves, their soul mate claiming instinct kicks in alerting the men that they’ve found the one but convincing The One that she’s The One is never easy. These women are warriors as much as the men and they are never easily swayed by their hormonal urges. The things these men do to secure their lady loves is nothing short of epic. They mess up, they inadvertently put their mates in harms way and they do the Alpha Grovel better than most mystical creatures I’ve read. I love the entire Immortals After Dark series, it has hands down, the best world building, even 14 books in, but within the confines of this series, the Scottish werewolf MacRieve clan win, paws down. While I’m talking about Kresley Cole, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention her MacCarrick Brothers series. More Highlander goodness as only Kresley Cole can write.
Now for my honorable mentions: Maya Banks’ McCabe Trilogy. Jennifer Ashley’s Highland Pleasures series, specifically The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie and anything by Hannah Howell, Monica McCarty, Margaret Mallory and Michelle Willingham are just a few. This sub-genre of romance is one of my favorites. It never fails to give me the dose of history, the feeling of being transported in time and the overwhelming sense of loyalty and true love that seriously takes my breath away. When you read romance books, never, ever forget the Highlanders.
Scandal reads all things romantic, erotic and paranormal…and Highlanders, never forget the Highlanders! Check out her thoughts on books and her weekly podcast on www.scandaliciousbookreviews.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ScandaliciousBookReviews), Twitter (@ScandaliciousBR) and Tumblr (http://scandaliciousbooks.tumblr.com).