Archive for May, 2021

  • Title: The Highlander’s Secret Son
  • Author: Jeanine Englert
  • Publisher: Mills and Boon
  • Publication Date: 27 May 2021

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.


His first love

Now his sworn enemy…

What is Fiona MacDonald doing on the run across his lands? With a wee baby as well! Brandon once loved this woman with all his heart―until her family killed many of his clan. Now, as the new Campbell Laird, he must make sure she pays the price for her betrayal. But how can he claim his vengeance if what she says is true…? That her child is his son and heir!

My Thoughts:

I have been absolutely loving the human side to the tales of books from Mills and Boon recently, and so when I read the description of Jeanine Englert’s latest book I just knew it was going to hit the mark perfectly.

In both Fiona MacDonald and Brandon Campbell readers are given two characters that come alive from the pages. The way they have been crafted, Jeanine Englert draws the reader in, slowly giving glimpses that all is not as it might first appear. There are hints of heartbreak, betrayal and longing surrounding MacDonald and Campbell, and as readers get to know more about their personalities, their stories and shared histories, it soon becomes apparent that this is more than a simple romance tale.
When I first encountered Fiona MacDonald it was hard not to feel a need to understand her more, try to work out what happened between her and Brandon Campbell, and most importantly lead to the hatred she faces from the Campbell clan.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the exploration of Brandon’s mindset, his turmoil and struggle with being Laird and holding the remains of his family and clan together. Watching him work through his feelings, face the things that haunt his thoughts … it all adds up to a powerful story of seeking forgiveness, trust and love.

As if readers weren’t already spoiled enough with such wonderful characters, there is also the fantastically detailed writing that vividly paints a picture of each scene as it happens in the book. I felt like I could actually see the locations mentioned, even the small details were written in such a way to craft a full, colourful picture.

I’d highly recommend this, and if you’re a fan of the Outlander series, then I think you’d probably enjoy this!

Purchase a copy:

Amazon US/Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Highlanders-Secret-Son-Jeanine-Englert/dp/1335506284

Amazon/US Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08NPTH2J3

Amazon/UK Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Highlanders-Secret-Son-Jeanine-Englert/dp/0263284034

Amazon/UK Kindle: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Highlanders-Secret-Mills-Boon-Historical-ebook/dp/B08ND9NYW6

Author Bio –

Jeanine Englert’s love affair with mysteries and romance began with Nancy Drew, Murder She Wrote, and her Grandmother’s bookshelves full of romance novels. She is a Golden Heart ® Finalist, Silver Falchion, Maggie, and Daphne du Maurier Award Winner in historical romance and mystery. Her Scottish Highland historical and historical romantic suspense novels revolve around characters seeking self-acceptance and redemption. When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved rescue pups, as well as mysteries and romance with other readers. Visit her website at www.jeaninewrites.com.

Social Media Links –

FB: http://www.facebook.com/JeanineWrites

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeanineWrites

Website: https://www.jeaninewrites.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55922667-the-highlander-s-secret-son

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jeanine-englert?list=about

Instagram: jeaninewrites

Giveaway to Win  A bundle of Highland Treats (Open INT)

Prize contains:

1) One signed paperback copy of The Highlander’s Secret Son.

2) Bookmark and magnet book swag.

3) Scottish Blessing Bracelet.

4) Sterling Silver “Spread Your Wings and Fly” Necklace.

5) Red Journal.

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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  • Title: The Chessmen Thief
  • Author: Barbara Henderson
  • Publisher: Cranachan Publishing
  • Publication Date: 29 April 2021

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.


Win. Lose. Survive.

I was the boy with a plan. Now I am the boy with nothing.

From the moment 12-year-old Kylan hatches a plan to escape from his Norse captors, and return to Scotland to find his mother, his life becomes a dangerous game.

The precious Lewis Chessmen―which he helped carve―hold the key to his freedom, but he will need all his courage and wit to triumph against Sven Asleifsson, the cruellest Viking in the realm.

One false move could cost him his life.

Barbara Henderson has woven a thrilling origin story around the enduring mystery of the Lewis Chessmen, their creation in Norway, and how they ended up buried in the Hebrides before being discovered on Lewis in 1831

My Thoughts:

I have been a huge fan of Barbara Henderson’s writing from the moment I discovered the wonderful and magical worlds she creates in her books. There is something truly special about the way that Barbara writes and brings her characters to life, inviting the reader to see the story through the eyes her young protagonists and experience the often convoluted, confusing world they are surrounded by. Combine this with intricately detailed settings and expert plotting and you’ve got a book that appeals to readers of all ages.

12-year-old Kylan is a character that readers cannot help but like, he’s brave and strong, he finds courage and takes chances. But he’s also a young lad who’s been taken from his home, his family and held captive by raiding Norsemen. Life has changed drastically for Kylan, he no longer enjoys the life of freedom, instead his place in the world is as thrall in a Norse workshop with craftsmen. It isn’t an easy life, he works hard and has earned a level of respect, albeit grudgingly from some of the craftsmen. The narrative has readers experiencing life in the workshop with Kylan, seeing the big, powerful men around him and contrasting this with the intricate carvings and crafts produced by the hands of these masters. It’s hard not to become lost in this world, watching ideas taking shape and becoming carved items, being awed at the skill poured into chessmen that are created and falling down a rabbit hole on the internet looking up images of the carved chessmen.

Locations are a key part of any Barbara Henderson book, and The Chessmen Thief brings locations to life as if they were almost characters in their own right. I felt that I travelled with the characters, I could see Trondheim through Kylan’s eyes and experience life in the trading post, marvel at the cathedral and imagine the workshop high on the hill. I could feel my stomach rolling and lurching as the longship ploughed through the seas on the way to the Hebridies … to say I was glad when they reached land was an understatement! But what a journey it was, fraught with danger, drama, and a wonderful glimpse into character that had been cloaked in mystery. I don’t want to say too much about the locations as I have a magnificent guest post from Barbara to share about the setting of The Chessmen Thief and her travels around them.

I would highly recommend this book to readers of all ages, it’s a superb story that carries the reader off into a world of adventure and danger, it allows you to explore new worlds and makes you want to learn more about the places and the chess sets that were carved and travelled so far.

Landscape: The setting of the Chessmen Thief

As if the mystery of the Lewis Chessmen were not enough, the landscapes of the Western Isles and Orkney have a magnetic draw all of their own. I will never forget the first time I arrived on Lewis with my family. We traced our way south to the Isle of Harris, and I maintain that the landscape there, barren though it may be, is the native territory for stories.

It is in these wild, remote stretches that touching the past is tantalisingly possible. I am willing to bet that much of the shoreline has changed very little since the Lewis Chessmen came to rest on the island. I have returned several times since.

In the writing of The Chessmen Thief, I was also lucky enough to be able to hark back to a summer trip to Norway, long ago when our oldest was a baby. Unfortunately, we never got as far north as Trondheim, but I had a feel for how the land lay, how the light has such a clarity, how the mist lingered on the fjords.

The book begins in Trondheim. The city is the most populous in Norway now, but it was established in 997 as a trading post. That is still at the heart of how I portray the place in the Chessmen Thief. It served as the capital of Norway, but I don’t explicitly say this in the book as the characters would all know, and therefore have no need to mention it. At the time of the book’s events in the 1150s, a new Archdiocese had been established and this serves as a catalyst for the events in the book. In my story is situated

Trondheim, its trading posts and its iconic cathedral are located by the sea fjord, but the workshop in my story is situated on an elevation above it (I did research this) where the light lingers longest, affording the craftsmen a longer working day. Kylan, the slave and hero of The Chessmen Thief, looks out daily over the sea and is reminded of his home: The Western Isles where he was abducted in a raid. He often runs errands to the trading station, purchases raw materials and watches out for new ships coming into the Fjord.

When he finally contrives a way of travelling back to the Hebrides, he spends time out at sea under the wheel of stars. I did have to use my imagination here – what would it feel like to be tossed by the waves in a longship? How terrifying to lose sight of land? How much more terrifying to be attacked by another ship?

I reached Orkney. I had visited before, again, when our children were young. It was flatter than I had imagined. Luckily, there was an opportunity to visit again with friends, blissfully unaware that lockdown was only a month away. The seas were suitably stormy. We didn’t see a whale (as Kylan does), but we arrived in one piece and I set about exploring. The Earl’s Palace ruins were still standing in Kirkwall, as was the massive St Magnus Cathedral. Should I accommodate my characters here? I decided against it. Ophir and the Earl’s Bu were the more likely place for a bunch of ailing, fevered sailors to recover, out of the view of the rich and powerful who could present a threat to their safety. Apart from that, there were records of a drinking hall at Orphir in Orneyinga Saga. Orphir it was. I visited the ruins, looked out over the Scapa Flow and imagined ambushes.

Onwards to the Isle of Lewis. I defy anyone to find a more beautiful, rugged and dramatic stretch of coastline than the west coast of Lewis. I would have loved to have sailed along it, but I had to make do with the road instead, taking me past an ancient broch, the Standing Stones of Callanish and the towards the Uig peninsula. Inland, the island resembles a barren moonscape with lochans and rocks covered in lichen, but the combination of light and sea against a rocky and grassy backdrop of shelving hillside provided the perfect setting for a chase. Lewis is a threatening, forbidding place in the book, but glorious too. The Isle of Harris to the south represents shelter and finally, safety. Of all the writing in The Chessmen Thief, I am proudest of the concluding epilogue, set on Harris.

The book needs the Chessmen, and their historical context. It needs characters to root for and dangers to threaten what they hold dear. But I think this book would be nothing without the north wind of the Atlantic blowing in your hair, without the rocks and crevices of the Lewis coast, without lochs and fjords, endless beaches, and trickling springs.

Let the book take you there. And then explore the stunning backdrop to this adventure as soon as it can be safely done. You won’t regret it.

by Barbara Henderson
Barbara and the Chessmen

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