Sutherland’s Secret by Sharon Cullen (Highland Pride #1)

Sutherland's Secret by Sharon CullenAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Historical Romance

Publisher: Loveswept

My Copy: Net Galley

Reviewer: Pam

Terror reigns in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden. As British troops obliterate the last traces of the Jacobite cause, Brice Sutherland, the Earl of Dornach, risks everything to arrange a covert escape route to Canada for his fellow Scots. But when he encounters a dying Englishwoman, hauntingly beautiful though scarred by manacles and unable to speak, Brice’s true courage is put to the test. Nothing but ruin could result from helping her, or worse: falling in love.

The pampered daughter of a marquess, Eleanor Hirst was the talk of the London season when she wed the Earl of Glendale. Little did she know that his posting as an officer in Scotland would be their undoing. Now her husband is dead and Eleanor is a fugitive in a hostile country. Desperate for help, she throws herself on the mercy of Brice Sutherland, a handsome Scottish warrior who should be her enemy. Instead, he cares for her tenderly, reviving her shattered spirit—and awakening urges unlike any she’s ever known.

This is a thrilling historical romance set in the wilds of Scotland soon after the Battle of Culloden where Jacobite’s are considered traitors to the Crown. The hero and heroine join together to fight those that betrayed her and along the way find love.

Brice Sutherland is the Earl of Dornach, and a Scottish laird, he does not want any trouble with the English, wanting to protect his clan and keep the recently found peace. At one time he was married but his wife left him for a desirable life in London, but died while aboard the ship. When he comes across a woman in the road who is more dead than alive, he makes a hasty decision that will change his life forever.

Eleanor Hirst is the Countess of Glendale; she traveled with her husband to Scotland, seeking an adventure, what she experienced instead was horrific and heartbreaking. Her husband was accused and hanged for treason and when she would not take what Lord Blackwell was offering, she also was accused and thrown in a prison to face torture and starvation. When she escaped after five months, she did not know what she would find, but knew death while fighting was better than giving up.

I love reading about the Highlands, those Scottish men in their kilts, the beautiful wild lands and of course the romance. This is the first in a new series featuring intriguing characters who are putting their lives back together following the Jacobite uprising.

I love Brice, his appearance is deceiving as his size seems to overtake a room, but he is kind and very sexy. The only thing he wants to do is take care of his clan, the fighting was intense with many losing their lives and still others are in hiding for their cause. When he finds Eleanor, his need to protect her is in full force and he goes against his men to keep her safe, even if it means the English will find out.

As we get to know Eleanor, we see a woman who is at first scared because of her surroundings and Brice’s appearance, but she eventually feels comfortable enough to tell her story and she seems like a strong and brave woman, however what I never knew was that she considered herself to be a very spoiled and naïve young woman before this ordeal, she had to transform in order to survive. I like who she has become.

Danger surrounds them as Blackwell looks for Eleanor as well as traitors to the crown. Brice in the meantime carries out a dangerous operation of sending Jacobite’s out of harms way, to the wilds of Canada and hiding Eleanor. Either cause could send him to the gallows. Yet between them lies an attraction that can’t be denied and they find themselves looking for a future together.

The story starts with a fast pace and does not let up, there is something going on continuously throughout the story. I enjoyed the characters the author introduces us to, including Lachlan who is Brice’s second, Colin MacLean, a good friend who fights beside Brice and Campbell, a loyalist to England but who is fair and helps them along the way. Eleanor’s brother Thomas is present and I enjoyed the part where he finds a very different sister then when she left. The story was wrapped up quite quickly with several important details left to hopefully future stories, Campbell’s promise and what happened to Colin. All in all a great start to a new series by a new to me author. I will be looking for more.

I give Sutherland’s Secret by Sharon Cullen 4.25 stars!

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