Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: HIGHLAND CAPTIVE by Alyson McLayne

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HIGHLAND CAPTIVE (The Sons of Gregor MacLeod, Book 4) by Alyson McLayne

Publication Date: July 30, 2019

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

F8C75F1F-F054-480B-940D-1A0D627023C4She’d saved his son.
Could she save him as well?

Laird Gavin MacKinnon is a changed man—and not for the better. Ever since his young son, Ewan, disappeared two years ago, Gavin has grown callous and bitter. Scouring the countryside, his search leads him to a mysterious woman who maintains the boy is hers. He decides to take them both and ask questions later.

Deirdre MacIntyre will go with the brooding laird if it will keep her son safe. Gavin has to admit that the beautiful lass has a bond with Ewan, and things aren’t adding up. When Deirdre’s clan comes to claim her under threat of war, Gavin has a choice to make: fight for her or let her go.

The Sons of Gregor MacLeod:
Highland Promise (Book 1)
Highland Conquest (Book 2)
Highland Betrayal (Book 3)
Highland Captive (Book 4)

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Excerpt

She scanned the crowd, not seeing her target. He couldn’tjust blend in—he was possibly the biggest man she’d ever seen. It was an unusually warm day, and he’d rolled up his linen sleeves, the tie at his neck undone. The material had hung open, revealing muscles that rippled and bulged in his arms and chest.

Developed wielding the huge broad sword that hung down his spine, no doubt.

The muscles weren’t what frightened her the most—nor the sword. It was the grim intensity in his face and eyes that promised retribution…eyes that were the exact same color as her son’s.

That scared the life out of her.

“Where are you?” she whispered, hearing the desperation in her voice, the fear that howled like a wounded animal through her body.

“I’m right behind you, lass, and wondering why the wife of Lewis MacIntyre, son and heir of the ruthless Laird MacIntyre, almost ran me down in the middle of the market and has been unable to keep her gaze off me since. You’re a lovely lass, for sure, but you doona stare at me with lust in your eyes. ’Tis not a swiving you’re after.”

Deirdre’s stomach clenched, and she would have run—like a mouse, never the lion she wanted to be—but his hand landed on the swell of her hip. The pressure of his palm silently ordered her to turn around.

She did. And when she stumbled, his fingers tightened on her body and steadied her. He watched her with narrowed eyes, his gaze landing on the pulse that she could feel beating wildly in her neck and on her trembling lips. She knew that luminous stare—the bright, dazzling blue that verged on crystalline sea-green. But the eyes she’d been staring into for the past two years looked back at her lovingly, adoringly. Not with suspicion and barely hidden enmity.

For him, she stiffened her spine. For the sake of her son.

“Let go of me. I doona need your help.”

The man’s gaze flicked to hers, and she saw a growing interest. Speculation. He withdrew his hand and took a step back. She stared up at him, this time trying to look past those familiar eyes and see what other similarities she could find in his frightening countenance.

The same long, thick lashes fringed his piercing gaze; the same shallow dent marked his chin. His hair formed a downward peak in the middle of his forehead, the same as her son’s. Except Ewan’s hair was longer and lighter, almost a white-blond. This man had hacked his blond hair short, so it looked darker and stood up in ragged bristles.

Her eyes drifted down to his mouth. He had lips like her son’s too, but while Ewan’s were soft and childlike, his had firmed with age while still keeping their full shape.

That’s where the similarities ended. Her son’s welcoming smile was nowhere to be seen. Nay, this man looked grim and possibly cruel. It was there in the twist of his lips, the harshness of his countenance, the quickness with which he was ready to condemn her.

He expected betrayal, and she suspected he’d even welcome it, because then he could punish whoever had crossed him.

Aye. A cruel man, indeed.

“Is your husband here, Lady MacIntyre?”

“He’s here…somewhere.” Just where, she had no idea. Truth be told, she didn’t expect to see him for days yet, if not weeks. Which made his insistence that she accompany him to the festival even more surprising. “You know a great deal about me, but I am at a disadvantage. Who are you?” she blurted out.

“I’m Gavin MacKinnon, Laird of Clan MacKinnon. Did you come here looking for me, lass? Is there something you want to tell me? Some information you want to share?”

The last words sounded almost hopeful, eager, and that disturbed her as much as the color of his eyes. Hope implied faith and dreams. Cruel men did not dream—and she wanted him to be cruel. Aye, if he was a blackheart, she could turn away and never look back.

“Nay,” she said abruptly, her panic rising again. What information was he looking for? “And you’re mistaken. I wasn’tlooking at you. I was just…looking.”

The eagerness faded from his eyes, replaced by disappointment and frustration, even bitterness. It caused an unexpected pang in her heart. She didn’t like that she’d somehow hurt him and put that bleakness back into his gaze.

“Aye, you stared at me for a long while. Did you like what you saw? I’m a big man. Some women mistake that to mean the same as rough. Is that what you were hoping for, lass? A hard tupping? Did I misunderstand your interest?”

His tone was harsh, the words callous.

Shock flooded her senses. Especially as she could see he didn’t mean what he said. He was deliberately trying to hurt her. To diminish her. And it worked. As much as she tried to fight it, shame and fear invaded her body. As quick as that, she was back to being five or ten or thirteen and at the mercy of her mother and siblings.

No one but her family had ever tried to wound her deliberately. Marrying Lewis and coming to the MacIntyres, despite her young age, had turned into a blessing. Her husband was distant but not unkind, and his clan was respectful. They’deven become friendly since she’d been given Ewan. Her son’s laughter and love had opened everyone’s hearts.

“I doona wish that from you, sir. I doona wish anything from you other than to be left alone.”

“Everyone wants something, Lady MacIntyre. And eventually I’ll discover what you want too.”

He nodded once—a curt dip of his head—then moved past her into the gathering. She held her breath and closed her eyes, making herself stay still, no matter how much she wanted to turn around and watch him leave. Her throat tightened, and she felt the pressure of tears building behind her eyelids.

She would not let them fall. She’d promised herself she’d never cry again over the hurtful words of cruel men—and women too. Aye, her mother and siblings had been experts at saying hurtful things.

But this was different. This was about Ewan.

God almighty, Lewis. What have you done?

Excerpted from Highland Captive by Alyson McLayne. © 2019 by Alyson McLayne. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Kindle | Amazon Paperback

Amazon Series Link

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5 Copies of HIGHLAND BETRAYAL

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Alyson McLayne is a mom of twins and an award-winning writer of contemporary, historical and paranormal romance. She has been nominated for several Romance Writers of America contests, including The Golden Heart, The Golden Pen, The Orange Rose, Great Expectations, The Molly’s and The Winter Rose.  She lives in Vancouver, Canada. Visit her at www.alysonmclayne.com, www.facebook.com/AlysonMcLayne on Facebook or @AlysonMcLayne on Twitter.

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Review, Guest Post & Giveaway: HIGHLAND CONQUEST by Alyson McLayne

D32F608B-5CFA-412E-9BD8-51DFC9A9A15A HIGHLAND CONQUEST (The Sons of Gregor MacLeod Series, Book 2) by Alyson McLayne

Publication Date: February 6, 2018 

Genre: Historical Romance  

Synopsis

DDE2B59F-1183-4685-B89B-4A5831186572HE WAS LOOKING FOR VENGEANCE
INSTEAD HE FOUND HER

Laird Lachlan MacKay never planned on leading his clan, but when his older brother was murdered, he was left with no choice. His vow to avenge his brother has led him to the MacPherson clan—and their bewitching healer, Amber.

Amber MacPherson is desperate. Dressed as a boy to escape her clan’s treacherous leader, she runs right into Lachlan—who orders her detained. At first she causes him nothing but frustration, especially when she blackmails him into helping her clan. But when she’s threatened by the same man who murdered his brother, Lachlan will do whatever it takes to keep her safe—and by his side.

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Cori 4.5 Stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this highlander romance. HIGHLAND CONQUEST is the second book in Alyson McLayne’s The Sons of Gregor MacLeod Series, but it can be read as a standalone. I’m a huge fan of highlander heroes and this book definitely satisfied my obsession. HIGHLAND CONQUEST captured and held my attention. It was a good mix of danger, passion, humor and romance. This is the first book I have read by Alyson McLayne and I’ll definitely be reading more. I have the first book on my kindle and I added the next release to my TBR. I recommend this series for historical romance lovers looking for their next highlander fix.

*Review copy provided by Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review.

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Buy Links

Kindle | Amazon Paperback

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Amazon Series Link

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Author Guest Post

February is fast approaching, and with it come several big events in my life. Not only do my kids turn 6 at the end of the month, but on the actual 6th, my historical romance, HIGHLAND CONQUEST—book 2 in my series THE SONS OF GREGOR MACLEOD—releases to the world! This is a book I can’t wait to hit the stands. The love story between Amber and Lachlan is one of my favorites. Amber is the MacPherson healer who’s had to pretend to be a witch in order to stay safe from her depraved laird while she heals her people. Lachlan’s the laird of his own clan who attacks the MacPhersons in order to bring their laird to justice for killing Lachlan’s brother. When the MacPherson laird escapes, Amber blackmails Lachlan into sticking around and helping her people. She’s outspoken and strong-willed and doesn’t hold anything back in her dealings with her new laird. Lachlan doesn’t hold back, either, and the two of them begin a tumultuous relationship that dances around their physical and mental attraction and drives both of them just a wee bit batty.

February also brings us Valentine’s Day, a favorite holiday of many romance readers! So I decided to celebrate the release of HIGHLAND CONQUEST on February 6th, and Valentine’s Day eight days later, by revealing my top 6 favorite romance couples of all time!

1. Anne & Gilbert

When I was ten-years-old, my mom gave me the first three Anne of Green Gables books by Lucy Maude Montgomery. I got hooked on Anne’s adventures and all the different characters in Avonlea, including her nemesis, Gilbert Blythe. When they first meet, Gilbert pulls Anne’s braid and teases her about her red hair, calling her “carrots”. She responds by smashing her slate over his head. Thus the relationship between Anne and Gilbert is born, and a rivalry and enmity develops between them that takes years for them to overcome. Along the way Anne refuses Gilbert’s declaration of love and almost becomes engaged to another man. But finally she realizes she loves Gilbert too, and wishes with all her heart that he’ll say the words again. Which he does, bringing me my first ever Happily Ever After—warm fuzzies and a heartfelt sigh included.

2. Arwen & Aragorn

Just saying those names leaves me sighing and feeling a little teary and mushy inside (in a good way!). Theirs is a romance for the ages, portrayed beautifully by Liv Tyler and Viggo Mortensen in Peter Jackson’s filmed adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings. Arwen, daughter of Lord Elrond of Rivendell, is an immortal elf who falls in love with the mortal Aragorn, heir of Isildur and rightful claimant to the thrones of Arnor and Gondor. In order to be together, Arwen has to give up her immortality and know that she will only die after Aragorn has died. Aragorn tries to dissuade her from being with him, but Arwen will not be swayed, saying: “I would rather share one lifetime with you, than face all the ages of this world alone.” Sigh…

3. Mac & Barrons

If I had to pick a book boyfriend it would be Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. He. Makes. Me. Shiver—in a good way. He is the epitome of Alpha—strong, dominant, smart, whose only saving grace is that Mac is his everything…even if she doesn’t yet know it. There is no greater bad boy in my opinion. You just know that his reserve and icy control shields a raging inferno beneath. When Mac & Barrons finally get together at the end of book four (and yes, I do know they were together when she was Priya, but that doesn’t count), it’s like he unleashes himself on her. He devours her and she devours him right back. And what makes their love story even twistier, adding more layers to their relationship through the first four books, is discovering in a later book (Burned, I think) that Jericho Barrons and MacKayla Lane have done the wild deed once before—all night long—and Barrons used magic to erase Mac’s memory of it. Bad. Boy. And here’s the other thing I love… they still call each other Barrons and Miss Lane, same as they always did, unless they’re having sex or in near-death situations. Then it’s Jericho and Mac.

4. Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy

How can I write a list about my favorite couples and not include Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy? Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of the first classic novels that I read and I kept the book in my backpack for many months reading it over and over, when I was at university. Mr. Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth about halfway through the story is a shock because he’s been nothing but aloof and haughty toward her and her family—in fact, the proposal is filled with condescension about Elizabeth’s lack of social position and wealth compared to his, and he claims it’s an obstacle his love has had to overcome. The scene where Elizabeth rejects him is a favorite of mine—especially the rain-soaked version between Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. What I love about this scene, is that Mr. Darcy is undone by her. He takes her opinion of him to heart, even though some of her accusations against him are unfounded. She opens his eyes to his lack of kindness and grace and it changes him for the better—makes him into a man that Elizabeth could love.

5. Han & Leia

I contemplated putting Han Solo and Princess Leia at the top of the list. My brother took me to see Star Wars when it first came out, so technically they were the first couple I met—but at seven, I was too young to truly appreciate the sigh-worthiness of Han and Leia. This is a romance that builds…and builds…and builds amidst verbal sparring and sarcastic jabs until finally near the end of The Empire Strikes Back they kiss—just before Han is yanked away from Leia and frozen alive in carbonite.  Irrepressible bad boy that he is, when Leia says a heartfelt, “I love you,” as they’re securing Han for freezing, Han looks back at her and simply says, “I know.” Gets me every time.

6. Claire and Jamie

Seeing as I write Highlander romance (and love Highlander romance—big shout out to some of my favorites: Julie Garwood, Monica McCarty, and Karen Marie Moning!) it would be impossible for me NOT to include Claire and Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. She’s created this unforgettable, iconic romance between Jamie and Claire all wrapped up in some of the most interesting and tumultuous times in Scottish history. I’m going to choose to focus on book three, Voyager, for one big reason: the REUNION. Le sigh. You begin the book, knowing that Claire and Jamie will reunite after so many years apart, and then you have to wait…and wait. Or was I the only one who didn’t jump ahead? Finally, Claire walks into Jamie’s shop, and they kiss, but we still have to wait as Jamie grabs the drunken Mr. Willoughby from the pub, gets chased, and takes Claire back to a whore house, before…the moment. It starts with an awkward kiss and nose bump before Jamie takes control and says to Claire, “Give me your mouth, Sassenach.” Excuse me while I melt.

Do you like my list? Did I miss any of your favorites? Please let me know if you agree or disagree with my top 6 favorite romance couples!

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Giveaway

2 Copies of HIGHLAND CONQUEST

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

CFC9B66B-E33F-4D45-B4B6-EE2D9786BD25A stay-at-home mom of twins and award-winning writer, Alyson McLayne is a dog lover and cat servant with a serious stash of dark chocolate. After getting her degree in theater at the University of Alberta, she promptly moved to the west coast where she worked in film for several years and met her Prop Master husband.

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Spotlight, Guest Post & Giveaway: HIGHLAND PROMISE by Alyson McLayne

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HIGHLAND PROMISE (The Sons of Gregor MacLeod Book 1) by Alyson McLayne

Publication Date: October 3, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

9210840E-B4E2-4221-90E3-3E024B36C7B5Five boys destined to become Highland lairds are fostered together as brothers. Darach, Lachlan, Callum, Gavin and Kerr fight for their clans, for each other, and for their own true loves.

When forced to choose between duty and honor…
Darach MacKenzie vowed never again to let a woman near his heart after his betrothed betrayed him. It sparked an intense feud between his clan and the Frasers. With all-out war on the wind, Darach can’t be distracted—not even by a sweet and charming lass who desperately needs his help.

This Highland Laird will find a way to have both
When Darach rescued Caitlin MacInnes from the clutches of vile Laird Fraser, she vowed to never let men or misery rule her life again. With Darach and the MacKenzie clan, Caitlin finally feels safe. But when Laird Fraser shows up to claim what’s rightfully his, or go to war, Darach will have to use all his brawn and brains to protect Caitlin—even if it means losing his heart.

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Buy Links

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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Author Guest Post

Letter to the Reader

Hello Lovely Readers!!

My name is Alyson McLayne, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to introduce you to my book, HIGHLAND PROMISE, a Scottish Highlander Romantic Adventure!

It’s the first book in my historical romance series, THE SONS OF GREGOR MACLEOD, starring five Highland Lairds, who were fostered together as lads to become brothers. Darach, Lachlan, Callum, Gavin, and Kerr fight for their clans, for each other, and for their own true love.

These Highland Lairds are a band of brothers, who will defend each other to the death—if they don’t kill each other first with their sharp wit and hilarious banter. They take their oaths seriously, whether it’s to bring peace to the Highlands and defend one another as friends and allies, or to razz each other so hard, only one brother is left standing—and then they’ll take him down too.

And the women they love? They have spirit, and tenacity, and they take care of others before they take care of themselves. They’re all different—their backgrounds, their struggles, their interests and talents—but at the core of each woman is a strength, compassion, and a capacity to love that brings their man to his knees.

Totally. Slayed.

Before I tell you about HIGHLAND PROMISE, here’s a little about me. I live on the west coast of Canada with my adorable (aka annoying) 5 year old boy/girl twins; my sweet yet sarcastic husband (who just said he’s not sarcastic at all, he’s ironic!); my counter-surfing puppy, Jasper, who turns one year old the same day HIGHLAND PROMISE debuts (Happy Birthday, baby!!); and my 86 year old dad who gets a look on his face every time it’s mentioned there are—gasp—sex scenes in my books…but then goes on to tell me young people (meaning me) did not invent sex.

Ears…burning…must pour…hot oil…inside…

Speaking of ears, as I’m writing this, I have ear plugs in because my son is beside me in my office (aka my bedroom) building a fort under the covers on the bed, while my Slytherin-declaring daughter waits to knock it down, which results in WW3; Jasper hovers at the edge, barking, until he can’t stand it anymore and jumps onto the bed with the monsters, er, I mean children; my husband comes in and says something “ironic” about the chaos; and I stare fiercely at my computer screen determined to ignore it ALL—and thanking God my dad can turn his hearing aids OFF.

Just grist for the mill…grist for the mill…said all writer-moms everywhere.

Okay. Onto the important part: HIGHLAND PROMISE! I started writing HIGHLAND PROMISE almost 10 years ago after reading ALL of Julie Garwood’s medieval-set historicals, most of which were set in the Highlands. I LOVED them. I don’t read a lot of books over and over, but I did hers. I found them completely captivating.

I think HIGHLAND PROMISE captures that same tone and spirit: Caitlin MacInnes is the archetypal Waif/Free Spirit who turns the archetypal Chieftain, Laird Darach MacKenzie’s life upside down—and then spins it around and dribbles with it for a while. As Lachlan MacKay, Darach’s foster-brother, says of Darach’s and Caitlin’s courtship:

“I doona know when I’ve laughed so much as watching Darach trying to control [Caitlin] over the past few weeks. Her intentions are good, but she’s trouble. It follows her around like a faithful hound.”

Darach is undone by her. His heart, which he swore he’d NEVER give to another woman, is torn from his body and becomes putty in her hands. Of course, he doesn’t know that at first, and even when he finally figures it out, he doesn’t tell her—he’s a warrior, a leader of his people, not a poet. And Caitlin, who is determined to make Darach happy whether he wants her to or not, doesn’t believe there’s any possible way she can stay with him. She needs to leave the Highlands immediately and find her mother’s family in France.

’Cause there’s a whole lotta trouble on her tail (some might call it a shite storm—haha!) heading straight for Darach. But what Caitlin fails to realize is that Darach, along with his brothers and their clans, is strong enough to handle it.

War is coming. Caitlin didn’t start the blood feud between the Frasers and the MacKenzies, nay, Laird Fraser and his sister, Darach’s former betrothed, did that, but she will be the catalyst that ends it—pinning the good men of the Highlands against a monster.

And hopefully winning.

(Well of course they win, and of course Darach and Caitlin live happily ever after—it’s a romance, after all!!)

Now go—before I start rambling and give too much away. Read the words and feel the feels. Fall in love with both Darach and Caitlin…and prepare yourself for Lachlan’s story next.

Smooches,

Alyson McLayne

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Giveaway

5 Copies of HIGHLAND PROMISE

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

473EEA56-C0D2-4DCF-BD66-F43EAB222D55A stay-at-home mom of twins and award-winning writer, Alyson McLayne is a dog lover and cat servant with a serious stash of dark chocolate. After getting her degree in theater at the University of Alberta, she promptly moved to the west coast where she worked in film for several years and met her Prop Master husband.

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