I haven’t read Heather McCollum before, but the promise of an adventure involving the Tudors, pirates and magic made this one irresistible. Also, I was in the mood for romance and men in kilts. There was plenty of both…and Tudors, pirates and magic.
Second in the ‘Highland Hearts’ series, ‘Tangled Hearts’ follows Ewan Brody and his cousin, Searc Munro, to London. They’re transporting the body of a traitor, as requested by King Henry VIII. Along the way, they interrupt a witch trial. Actually, it’s a burning and Pandora Wyatt had all but saved herself using her magic to call enough rain to douse the flames. The knotted ropes were still giving her a bit of trouble, though. Ewan rescues her.
Ewan isn’t too disturbed by her magic. Searc’s mother has a gift for healing and so does the wife of Caden McBain, his best friend and mentor. Pandora’s parentage is more of a worry as she’s the daughter of the man, the body, in the back of his wagon..the slowly decomposing body. She is also the long lost niece of an important family at court and still wanted for witchery. To add further complication, her adoptive father and brother are being held in the Tower of London for piracy.
They both have a reason to be in London and so agree to travel together, in a manner of speaking. Pandora needs Ewan’s help and isn’t ashamed to ask for it by extracting a promise from the honourable highlander. Ewan is swayed by her pretty face and a genuine desire to help. He’s a good man and the more time he spends with Pandora, the more faint the echo of Caden’s warning to steer clear of complicated English lasses becomes.
Travelling together means she has to play the part of his wife. Sparks fly as the couple resist becoming romantically involved. They don’t battle the inevitable too hard, however. They obviously share a mutual attraction and seem to genuinely enjoy each other’s company, when not teasing and baiting.
In London, they become embroiled in a decades old plot to foil Henry VIII’s attempts to secure a male heir. It will take co-operation and the revelation of more than a few painful truths for them to save Pandora’s adoptive family, expose the real traitor and deal with a pirate of the worst kind.
I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. It’s a fast-paced and enjoyable read. Heather McCollum does not waste words. There are no idle scenes in the book. Even when the characters are resting, they are entertaining. Their thoughts and conversations form part of the story, building character and exploring backstory and side-plots. What this means is that there was no part of this book where I was tempted to skim. I enjoyed reading every word. McCollum also managed to impart the proper historic flavour without treading too heavily in the footsteps of the genre. ‘Tangled Hearts’ has a more playful style and the role of women wasn’t pinned to the period.
I loved the main characters. For having been raised by pirates, Dory is charmingly naive. For being a warrior, so is Ewan at times. They’re well-suited. Dory is very precocious, but not utterly self-absorbed. Ewan felt suitably male without being written as an utterly insensitive clod. I enjoyed his sense of humour and his focus as a warrior. The jousting scene was so exciting! Dory’s use of magic throughout blended seamlessly with the period. She ran the risk of persecution, but felt compelled to help friends and strangers, alike.
The visit by other highlanders, including Caden McBain, gave me a glimpse of what I missed in the first novel and will likely delight fans of the series. I plan to read back so I can then read forward with the third book in the series, ‘Crimson Hearts’, which is due for release in May.
(pub: Entangled Select. 368 page paperback. Price: $11.47 (US) £ 9.05 (UK. ISBN: 978-162266-365-1 Ebook: Price: $ 5.69 (US), £ 3.99 (UK). ASIN: B00FOAJ8V8)