Thursday, May 11, 2023

Review & Giveaway - - Highlanders Hold Grudges

Highlanders Hold Grudges
by Julie Johnstone
Wicked Willful Highlanders - Book 1
Publisher: Julie Johnstone
Release Date: May 11, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

He kidnapped her to save his clan, not to lose his heart.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and no one is more desperate than Highlander Alasdair MacRae. His clan is on the verge of disaster, thanks to continuous raids from the lying, thieving, murdering MacKenzies. Their latest strike has left Alasdair’s family on the precipice of starvation and his brother badly wounded. The time has come to hit back, and what better blow to deliver than to kidnap his enemy’s daughter and use her to negotiate much-needed peace. His plan is simple: wed the lass. It’s well-known that she’s beloved by her father, and the doting Highlander certainly won’t go to war with Alasdair’s clan if he’s married to the man’s daughter. Once the vows are spoken, he plans to send her to a nice little cottage on his land, where she can live her life as she wishes, and he can live his as if he’s not wed. But his plan meets an obstacle he didn’t foresee, and suddenly, Alasdair finds himself fighting to protect a woman he thought was his enemy and questioning whether he’s wooing the lass to see out his scheme or to truly capture her heart?

When Maeve MacKenzie discovers her adoring father has denied his own heart’s desire so that she may find hers, she resigns herself to stop delaying and finally honor the betrothal to her childhood friend. Their union will strengthen her clan and give her father a second chance at love. But when tragedy strikes, she’s snatched from her home by Alasdair MacRae: the barbaric Highland beast who long ago awakened cravings in her that are impossible to forget. As the heiress of a strategic fortress coveted throughout the Highlands, she’s well-aware the Highland fiend wishes to gain her castle. She has no intention of falling prey to his transparent ploy to woo her, though, and every intention of escaping him. Except the blasted Highlander still possesses an extraordinary ability to kiss, and beyond that, he has the nerve to display seemingly honorable qualities at every turn. How’s a lass to know if it’s all simply a ruse by a cunning, too-handsome foe or if the man she believed to be her enemy is really her greatest hope?

Winning Maeve’s love isn’t something Alasdair ever expected to want, but the sharp-tongued, iron-willed lass ignites a yearning in him that can’t be denied. And when enemies threaten to take her from him forever, Alasdair will do whatever it takes to make her his, even if he has to fight a war to win his bride and lay claim to her heart.

PJ's Thoughts:

Scottish Medieval Romance is one of my favorite sub-genres to read and, in my opinion, Julie Johnstone is one of the best authors currently writing it. Highlanders Hold Grudges launches a new series for Johnstone, showcasing all the storytelling facets I most enjoy about her books.

I love all the layers within Maeve and Alasdair. These two are far from one-note characters. They have honor, loyalty, and a fierce determination to do right by their clans. Enemies to lovers is a favorite trope of mine and one Johnstone uses to delicious effect with feisty banter, sweet emotion, and sizzling desire. I love how Maeve and Alasdair slowly come together with hard-won admiration, respect, and affection, though not without some substantial mountains to climb on the way. Some of those mountains come in the form of well-developed secondary characters who enrich the story while also providing either conflict or support. 

This is Medieval Scotland where feuding clans were the norm and consequences could be deadly. Johnstone takes full advantage of that with plenty of intrigue, adventure, and danger to keep her characters on their toes. Her descriptions are vivid, the characters authentic to the era in which she writes, and the intensity of the life or death stakes they face impossible to ignore. She takes me on an emotional roller coaster of a ride, always making me feel like I'm right there in dense forests, cool waters, and tightly-guarded castles as characters who have captured my heart fight for their lives and their love. And I love every minute of the journey.

If you enjoy high-stakes romance, intriguing characters, honorable heroes, strong heroines, and hard-won, happy endings, give this book a try. I highly recommend it. 

I'm already looking forward to Johnstone's next book and the breath-stealing adventure she's sure to have planned for her characters...and me. 


Have you read Julie Johnstone yet?

Do you enjoy Medieval Romance?

The Scottish Highlands account for 49% of my ancestry DNA. Maybe that's why I feel such a draw to these characters. Do you feel a connection to a certain place or group of characters? 

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, May 13 will receive an e-book of Highlanders Hold Grudges.

*U.S. only
*Must be 18


  1. My ancestry is Scottish and Welsh with some French added. So, yes, very Celtic here. I love bag pipe music, and most people don't, but it sings to my heart. I have not read any books by Ms Johnstone, yet. And I have only read a few Medieval Romance books but not many. This does sound like a lovely romance. Thanks for your review.

  2. I've had some of Julie's booked saved in my Amazon shopping cart for some time now, but I have never read any of her books. Thank you for reminding me to take another look at them!

  3. I've read a couple of Julie's books and absolutely loved them. I do love Medieval Scottish Romance as well. My ancestry is primarily German and Swedish with a whole lot of other things thrown in the stew pot. There are several places where I feel at home and would love to spend more time but not because of my genetics: Italy is one but that's because of my love of history, pasta, cheese, and wine. ;-)

  4. It looks really good, but oh my word! The paperback is $16.99! Those of us who haven't fallen in love with digital reading are getting increasingly cranky. Sigh.

    1. It's a shock isn't it?? Some digital books are being priced like that and I just can't do it. (Cue Monty Python "run away! run away!"

  5. Medieval romances were the first romances I read and they are still my favorites. I have read several of Julie Johnstone's books. I like her descriptive style. She does a good job of placing you in the time and place the story is set. My ancestors are from Ireland and France. One of the Irish great.... grandmothers did come from Scotland. The pull to all things Celtic has always been strong. We attend as many Highland Games and festivals that we can. Patricia B.

  6. I have read her books. I enjoy Medieval books.