NEVER CROSS A HIGHLANDER by Lisa Rayne

The Shadow Lairds

From the publisher:

Ailsa Connery has waited three long years to finally escape her enslavement at Stirling Castle and reunite with her clan. But her carefully laid plans are completely destroyed by the arrival of the infamous Highland warrior known as Dubh Mahoun, the Black Devil…who has plans of his own.

Kallum MacNeill’s fearsome reputation has long allowed him to keep hidden his secret double life of freeing enslaved captives across the land. It’s only when he kidnaps a servant lass―quite by accident―that he finds himself facing a wee predicament. He must accompany the lass home or risk her exposing his true identity. It’d be easy enough…if the feisty hellion didn’t fight him at every turn.

As they make their way to the Highlands, the perils the two must face are surpassed only by their constant sparring. Soon, their heated sniping sparks heat of a totally different kind. The kind that ignites a hunger that could consume them both. Yet the difficult journey is no match for the dangerous secrets they’re about to uncover.

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This author is new to me and I am so glad I found her! This was a historical Scottish romance with a twist – the main characters are people of color. I haven’t come across this, or talk of slavery, in a Highlands romance before and I really liked it.

Ailsa is a light skinned Black woman who was visiting the King with her clan. But as they were leaving, she was captured by the King’s guard and forced into servitude. No one from her clan ever came looking for her and no one in the King’s court would listen to her. She was a free woman of color, but no longer. All the clans were returning for a celebration, and Ailsa saw this as her opportunity to escape back to her clan.

Kallum is a fierce warrior and isn’t too thrilled to be going to this fete, but he needs to compete for his clan. He is a free Black man, and has been accepted as a brother to the laird’s son, soon to inherit the title. What they don’t know is that Kallum is also known as the Shepherd, because he rescues slaves and shepherds them to freedom. No one knows his identity which keeps him safe.

As he is preparing to leave with several slaves in tow, he realizes the princess’s servant isn’t among them, so he goes searching for her. To his surprise, she doesn’t want to go with him, but he takes her anyway. As they journey towards freedom, she is forced to explain why she doesn’t want to go. Kallum is concerned because it seems to him something is amiss in that her clan never came back for her. As they travel together, they fall in love but there are some serious obstacles in their way, not the least of which is the bounty on her head.

The struggle proves worthwhile, however, and Kallum and Ailsa eventually find their happy ending. This was an intriguing story, and a one night read for me. I hope to find more books in this series.

12/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

NEVER CROSS A HIGHLANDER by Lisa Rayne. Entangled: Amara (December 27, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-1649370952. 448p.

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