Tuesday, December 6, 2022



The Highlander's Holiday Wife - Vanessa Kelly

Filled with saucy wit, surprising twists, and unforgettable lovers, the latest novel in USA Today bestselling author Vanessa Kelly's captivating historical romance series puts the most levelheaded Kendrick at the center of a passionate and perilous adventure...
It's Christmastime in Edinburgh, but Lady Samantha Penwith's secret mission takes no holiday: the Highlands-born lass vows to find the assailants who murdered her beloved husband, founder of a charitable school for orphaned boys. On her latest undercover excursion, she closes in on a pair of armed attackers and interrupts another assault, then disappears into the darkness, leaving the lone victim mystified--and lucky to be alive...

Braden Kendrick may be the sensible brother, yet the dedicated doctor routinely ignores the dangers of his late-night calls to the city's slums. But when a fleet-footed rescuer saves his life, he's determined to uncover the stranger's identity. And once he does, he'll find himself facing his own past loss for the first time--and more than willing to risk his heart again, just in time to make the Clan Kendrick's Christmas celebrations more festive than ever...

Despite the title, while this does take place around Christmas, I didn't think it was overly Christmasy, so I guess I wouldn't let the name prevent you from reading this at other times in the year. I'm kind of odd in that I don't really like to read holiday books outside of the holidays, but that's me. I'm odd. I also haven't read anything else from this series, but it was fine as a stand alone. I will say that I wish the romance was just... different. We got so much buildup and then.... I won't say it's a clean romance, but it's a closed door kind of romance so you know what's happening just.... you don't know what's happening, if that makes sense. This one was a bit of a different story because it's clear from the start that children with different abilities aren't really seen as equal, so that's kind of a bummer story line. So we've got that, we've got a romance, we have a possible murder, and we have a maybe coverup/mystery, it's just a lot going on, but it was a pretty good blend making this a good read for anyone. 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour! Read below for an excerpt from The Highlander's Holiday Wife
Kade, one of Braden’s brothers, makes a surprise holiday visit to Edinburgh, along with Angus, the family’s colorful and rather disreputable patriarch. Braden immediately suspects that his family is up to something… 


Angus scratched his chin, suddenly looking furtive. “We dinna want ye to feel neglected, particularly at such a special time of year.” 


Braden narrowed his gaze. “That sounds a bit fishy, Grandda.” 


“Why don’t we join the others in the drawing room,” Kade smoothly interjected. “Braden, I’m sure you must be wanting a drink before dinner, yes?” 


Braden nodded. “I should change, first.” 


Donella emerged from the back hall. “No need to rush. You can change when I send Pippa upstairs. She’s much less likely to fuss if you take her up to the nursery.” 


Pippa, a sweet-tempered four-year-old, was the least fussy child Braden knew. 


Over the years, he’d developed excellent instincts when it came to his family. At the moment, his instincts were giving him a good thump between the shoulder blades. 


“Why are you all trying to manage me?” he asked. 


Donella simply gave him an innocent smile. No one did innocent better than his sister-in-law, but he wasn’t fooled. 


Angus heaved a dramatic sigh. “Och, laddie, yer growin’ paranoid. That’s what comes from workin’ so hard. Yer picklinyer brain, which canna be—” 


“Why don’t we pickle our brains with a nice whisky,” Kade said as he steered Angus toward the staircase. “I hear you just got a new batch from our Graeme’s distillery.” 


“Yes, Logan says it’s quite excellent,” Donella brightly replied. 


Braden followed the others up the stairs, listening to their cheerful—and disingenuous—conversation about Graeme’s thriving distillery business. The more he listened, the more he became convinced that some plan was afoot. This visit was not a spur of the moment decision by any means. 


Logan was ensconced in a leather club chair by the drawing room’s fireplace, reading his paper.  “Ah, finally. I thought I’d have to drink all this splendid whisky myself.” 


Pippa, who’d wedged herself into the chair beside her father, shook her head. “That would be bad, Papa. Mamma would have to scold you for being a scaly hog grubber.” 


Donella scowled at Angus. “You’ve been here less than an hour, and you’re already teaching Pippa cant?” 


“Me? I never teach the bairns rough words.” 


Grandda, you do it all the time,” Kade said. 


Joseph walked into the room, catching the tail end of the conversation. “Grandda knows all the best swear words.” 


Logan snorted. “Aye, he always had a talent.” 


Angus pointed a finger at his great-grandson. “Laddie boy, yer not to be sharin’ any of our secrets. It’s breakin’ the code.” 


“There is no such code, and you’ve never been able to keep a secret in your life,” Braden dryly noted. 


Donella eyed each of the males. “I would still like to know who is teaching my daughter inappropriate language.” 


“Papa,” Pippa replied with lethal candor. “But he told me not to tell you.” 


Logan winced. “Oh, bloody—” 


Donella whipped up a hand. “Do. Not. Goodness, husband, I expect better of you.” 


Braden snorted. “Mistake number one.” 


Of course I didn’t actually teach her,” Logan explained. “She just overheard me talking to one of the grooms.” He did his best to look contrite. “Sorry, love. I promise it won’t happen again.” 


She scoffed. “It will absolutely happen again. You are a very bad man, Logan Kendrick.” 


“I’ll show you just how bad I can be the next time we’re alone,” he said with a grin. 


Joseph grimaced. “Ugh. Papa is trying to be romantic again.” 


“Are you in trouble, Papa? I’m sorry if I got you in trouble,” Pippa said, placing her little hand on his arm. 


He winked at her. “Papa is usually in some sort of trouble. Grandda might have to take me out behind the mews for a paddling.” 


Pippa giggled. “Now you’re just being silly.” 


“A natural state of affairs.” Donella said. “Now, we have time for one drink before dinner. Cook has gone to a great deal of trouble to make a special dinner for Grandda and Kade, and we mustn’t spoil it.” 


“Oh? I thought their arrival was a surprise?” Braden casually asked. “When did Mrs. Brady have time to pull together a special dinner?” 


If he hadn’t been watching her closely, he would have missed his sister-in-law’s slight wince. 


“That’s why we had to set dinner back. Mrs. Brady had to reorganize the menu a bit,” she said. 


“Then we’d best get to it,” Angus said. “I’m that eager to try the new brew.” 


While Logan poured the drinks, the rest of them chatted about the new batch from their brother’s distillery, and the general state of affairs in Clan Kendrick. It was as pleasant a family scene as one could imagine. While it might be a cold and gusty evening in late November, in the house all was warm and inviting. 


Too bad his blasted family was up to something. Now he had to figure out what it was before they embarked on one of their typically deranged—if well meaning—plans. 


When a glass appeared under his nose, Braden glanced up to see Logan regarding him with a quizzical expression. 


“You look rather lost in thought,” his brother said. 


“Oh, thanks.” He took the glass. “Just thinking about the family.” 


Angus heaved a dramatic sigh. “It’s not much time ye have for us. We never see ye, what with yer doctorin’ work and them bodies ye like to cut up for fun. Ye’d think ye love those cadavers more than ye love us.” 


“What’s a cadaver?” Pippa asked. 


Braden shot his grandfather an irritated look. “I do not cut up dead bodies for fun. Besides, Kade’s away far more than I am. We barely know where he is from one day to the next. Which is perfectly reasonable,” he hastily added. “He’s building his career as a pianist, just as I’m building my medical practice.” 


“Aye, but ye—” 


“Braden’s right,” Kade said. “If you’re going to bite off anyone’s nose for flying the coop, it should be mine.” 


“Aye, but yer in London or on the Continent. Our laddie here is only a few hours away from Glasgow, yet he canna find the time to visit his own family. And the laird himself—that would be yer brother, Nick,” Angus pointedly said to Braden, “is worried about ye.” 


“I know who the laird is,” Braden dryly replied. 


“Everything is fine, Grandda,” Kade said. “Stop fussing.” 

Angus subsided with a mutter. 


“By the way,” Braden said, “where’s the rest of the family spending Christmas this year?” 


“Oh, at Kinglas, I suppose,” Kade vaguely replied. 


“You suppose?” 


Angus frowned. “Of course they’ll be at Kinglas. Where else would they be?” 


“All of them, including Graeme and Sabrina?” 


“Aye, unlike some people we willna mention.” 


Donella jumped up. “More whisky, anyone? I can fetch it.” 


Joseph frowned. “But Mamma, you said there was only time for one glass, remember?” 


When Donella sighed, Braden was tempted to laugh. His family’s clumsy charade was falling apart before his eyes. 


“We’re not sure about Graeme and Sabrina,” Logan hastily put in. “Awfully long trip from Lochnagar to Kinglas at this time of year.” 


Of course they’re goin’ to Kinglas, ye ninny,” Angus said. “I told ye that.” 


Logan shook his head in disbelief. 


“Do ye really think our Braden doesn’t ken what we’re doin’?” Angus demanded. “He’s got more brains than the rest of ye put together.” 


“True,” Kade said. “But we were trying to be slightly more subtle about it.” 

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