Having already read and enjoyed Christina Courtenay’s previous two novels, Trade Winds and The Scarlet Kimono, you’d think that I would have learned my lesson and left Highland Storms for a weekend when I had some uninterrupted reading time. But no, despite knowing that I find it incredibly hard to put one of her books down, I picked it up on a Tuesday evening and started to read. Although I did manage to put it down long enough to get some sleep on Wednesday night, my dreams were vivid, heather-coloured ones, full of dashing heroes running about brandishing dirks! And when I woke up on Wednesday morning and really should have been working, I reached for Christina’s book instead and spent the rest of the day in the Scottish Highlands. This might help you see why that might have happened:
Betrayed by his brother and his childhood love, Brice Kinross needs a fresh start. So he welcomes the opportunity to leave Sweden for the Scottish Highlands to take over the family estate.
But there’s trouble afoot at Rosyth in 1754 and Brice finds himself unwelcome. The estate’s in ruin and money is disappearing. He discovers an ally in Marsaili Buchanan, the beautiful redheaded housekeeper, but can he trust her?
Marsaili is determined to build a good life. She works hard at being housekeeper and harder still at avoiding men who want to take advantage of her. But she’s irresistibly drawn to the new clan chief, even though he’s made it plain he doesn’t want to be shackled to anyone.
And the young laird has more than romance on his mind. His investigations are stirring up an enemy. Someone who will stop at nothing to get what he wants – including Marsaili – even if that means destroying Brice’s life forever …
One of the things I love about Christina’s writing is how quickly she draws you into the world of her books and Highland Storms is no exception. Rather than reading Brice Kinross’ story, I felt more as if I were taking the journey alongside him, as he leaves behind his family in Sweden for a new and uncertain future running the family estate in Scotland. I moved about the family home with him and felt as if I really knew it and could feel its stone beneath my hands. Christina’s descriptions are so good and work on all your senses. She’ll have you smelling the peat fires, the sweat of the horses and the hay in their stables; feeling the wind and water on your skin; and tasting the whisky warming your body after a night out on the hills. Your heart will positively pound as dirks are drawn, you’re taken captive and then later go on the run.
Highland Storms tells the story of Brice Kinross, the son of Killian and Jess from Trade Winds, and, coming from such impressive hero stock, Brice had a lot to live up to in order to convince in his own right. Happily, he’s different to his father but no less appealing, and I especially liked that Christina didn’t create a mini-me version of Killian but let Brice grow into his role on his own terms. I loved Marsaili’s character and how she is strong and capable while under attack, rather than simply being a damsel in need of a rescuer. Special mention also has to go to her wise and faithful protector, Liath, who was another of my favourite characters in the book.
I don’t want to give any more away about the storyline or the other characters involved but I can wholeheartedly recommend this as an engrossing read from an author who has become a firm favourite of mine.
Highland Storms (ISBN: 978-1906931711) is Christina’s third novel. You can read the first two chapters here and it is available from Amazon UK, Amazon.com and The Book Depository. Christina’s previous novels Trade Winds and The Scarlet Kimono are also available from Choc Lit and all good booksellers. Trade Winds was short listed for the Romantic Novelist’s Association’s Pure Passion Award for Best Historical Fiction 2011. To find out more about Christina, you can read her Author Page, visit her Author Website or Follow Christina on Twitter.
And if you’re near Abergavenny this Saturday between 1pm and 3pm, why not pop into Waterstone’s and meet Christina? She’ll be there, together with fellow ChocLit author, Margaret James, to chat about their books and to sign any copies purchased. Naturally, their books would make excellent Christmas presents.