Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Victoria Zak whose second book in her Guardians of Scotland series, Highland Storm, blends alternative history, high fantasy and supernatural elements in an action-packed romance.
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ABOUT HIGHLAND STORM
TITLE – Highland Storm
SERIES – Guardians of Scotland series book two
AUTHOR – Victoria Zak
GENRE – Scottish historical fantasy romance
PUBLICATION DATE – Jan 13 2015
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) –
COVER ARTIST – JAB Designs
A long forgotten Ancient kingdom has been awakened and threatens to change the Dragonkine world forever.
Can passion weather the dragon’s storm?
The only true pleasures in life Conall Hamilton yearned for were to marry a good woman, raise a family, and hide away into seclusion to live a normal life away from battle and war, not an easy task for the Dragonkine warrior and Clan Douglas’s second in command. Assigned to investigate an allied clan, he vows upon his return to marry his love, Effie. That’s until the Dragonkine warrior finds himself accused of a crime he did not commit, murder. Imprisoned, he must find a way to escape not only to save his own life but to save the life of the woman he loves.
In time the past will catch up with you…
Effie Douglas is a survivor. Though not born a Douglas, Effie leaves her old life behind to seek safety within Clan Douglas. For five years Conall Hamilton has been her secret lover and savior, helping her pick up the pieces of her damaged past. Hiding the true nature of their relationship from their clan had become a burden for the red-headed lass and now she desires more. She wants Conall’s name. When Effie is summoned home, she is plagued with unwanted memories, treachery, and new found information that will change her life forever. Will Effie have the courage and strength to weather the storm that rages around her?
BUY LINKS FOR HIGHLAND STORM
In case you need any reasons to love the Highlands…
10) Scottish Whiskey
9) The glens
8) The mountains to the coastline
6) Scottish folklore
5) The magic
4) The beauty of the landscapes
2) The Scottish Brogue
I will admit from the outset, I hadn’t read Book 1 in the series and unfortunately that put me at a disadvantage when it came to understanding the cast of characters and the mythology and ‘Verse for an alternative history Scotland in the time of Robert the Bruce. The Prologue provided some background, but it was more confusing than helpful in setting the stage for the next episode in what appears to be an extended saga.
As with most epics, the cast is huge and oft times confusing, with characters appearing and disappearing quickly without adding substantially to the plot. It took a fair amount of time for the narrative to settle finally on the core love story between Conall Hamilton and Effie, a young maiden with secrets that will prove the undoing of all. And interspersed is a complex of political and social developments that will alter the relations between clans and within Dragonkine, the Guardians of the Scottish realm from the dawn of history.
Having missed out on the development of Dragonkine history and the relationships amongst the ruling caste in Book 1, it was still reasonably easy to paste together how that society worked and the implications for what might happen should their tenuous guardianship be disrupted. There’s quite a bit of innuendo about the awakening of King Drest, how it is manifested and which of the Kine might play a role in the changes to come. But again, I was left with too many unanswered questions about what it all meant for the collective and for the individuals involved.
The antagonist throughout the story was Effie’s brother Tavish, a truly heinous individual you will love to hate. Various pairings among Clan Douglas are featured from Book 1 and carried through a goodly portion of Book 2, along with the main love interest, and then a hint of yet another which will likely dominate in Book 3. That acts to tie together the cast of characters and bridge the gaps between books, yet it also tends to distract from the core elements of the primary love interest.
The sense of location was skillfully drawn and quite atmospheric. The quibbling and the politics, the constant sense that one’s life hung in the balance depending upon who came to power in a time of political upheaval and social change, and the use of sufficient idiomatic language without overwhelming the reader … all were quite well done. However, there were quite a few editorial issues (typos, verb tense, some POV problems) that detracted from the reading experience.
It is quite difficult to rate a book when one hasn’t read the precursor, but as a reviewer I must judge on the merits of what I am reading. Overall, I was able to overlook most of the gaps (and hoped what I pieced together was indeed correct) and the action keep me turning the pages. There was quite a bit of inner angst, especially for Effie (though she had every right), and more hinting at the dragon within and what he wanted or could do and not nearly enough real evidence to back it up until almost the end of the book.
As an alternative history/fantasy epic, I would rate this as a pleasant read; but I think to get the most out of it, you would be best served to start with Book 1. For this effort, I’m inclined to be generous and give it Four Stars because of the authenticity of the locale and history, and I liked the characters and came to care about what happened to them—enough so I will likely go back and read the first book.
ABOUT VICTORIA ZAK
Growing up in the sister city to Stirling, Scotland, Sottish flare was abundant throughout Dunedin. From her High School band to the annual Highland Games that took place right across the street from her childhood home, the bagpipes beckoned her toward her calling. It seemed only natural for Victoria Zak to want to write in the Scottish historical romance genre. Add to the fact, she was also a paranormal romance junkie, there was no doubt that her influences would be the driving force behind her stories.
Although, she never sought out a writing career, her desire for the written word grew the more she read. Her love for Scotland, curiosity of history, and passion for romance has inspired her to write her first book, Highland Burn. The Guardians of Scotland series continues this winter with Highland Storm.
Now, Victoria Zak lives in the sunshine state with her husband, two beautiful children, and three furry friends. Living in paradise, being a stay at home, and to be able to share her stories has been a blessing.
Victoria loves to hear from her readers. You can connect with her through FB, Twitter, G+, and her website.
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From the Author
I just started a Thunderclap campaign for my new release Highland Storm and I would love your support. Supporting my campaign is easy peasy. All you have to do is click on this link and add your support. That’s it.
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