Sunday, November 3, 2019

BLOG TOUR - The Highlander's Christmas Bride


In bestselling author Vanessa Kelly’s irresistible Clan Kendrick series, Christmas in the Highlands means family, celebration—and for one brother, the beginning of a passionate adventure . . .

Being thrown over by the man she expected to marry was humiliating enough. Now that Donella Haddon, grandniece of the Earl of Riddick, has also proven a failure as a nun, she has no choice but to return to her family’s estate. The brawny Highlander sent to escort her is brash, handsome, and the only thing standing between Donella and a gang of would-be kidnappers. But the scandal in her past can’t be so easily outrun . . .

Wealthy widower Logan Kendrick was expecting to meet a plain, pious spinster—not a gorgeous, sharp-tongued lass who can hold her own in any ambush. Though she’s known as the Flower of Clan Graham, Donella is no shrinking violet. In fact, she might be the perfect woman to bring happiness back to his lonely little son’s life, just in time for Christmas. But first he must protect her from ugly gossip and a mysterious threat—and convince her that their wild, unexpected desire is heaven sent.

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Title:   The Highlander's Christmas Bride
Author:  Vanessa Kelly
Series:  Clan Kendrick #2
Genre:   Historical Romance/Scottish
Publisher:  Zebra Books
Format:  ebook & Paperback
Pages:  432
Date of Publication:  October 29, 2019
My Rating:  5 Stars

She'll never be a nun. But, she was oh, so close. Fairly well kicked out of the convent, Donella Haddon, grandniece of the Earl of Riddick, is about to return to her family home.

The highlander sent to collect Donella is Logan Kendrick. Accompanied by two grooms, after a day or two, Logan hopes to have deposited to woman at her family's estate. Nothing like that happens, however. Instead, more than a few days pass, and they face grave danger. 

Logan wonders why Donella was sent to the convent in the first place, and why she has been sent away. He discovers that she is called the Flower of Clan Graham and that she has an unlikely past. For now, it is Christmas, and preparations are in order. Meanwhile, Logan has another surprise in front of him. That is in the form of his six-year-old son, who he hadn't seen in a year. Logan's wife died years before, and the child remained at his grandparents home in Canada.

Now, his son is there, and Donella is there, helping the family set up for Christmas. Logan now has two battles on his hands. For one thing, he doesn't know how to draw close to his son. What is more is that he is truly drawn to Donella. Although he seeks to court her, he must first stem the ugly gossip that always seems to be chasing her. 

This is a story of second chances. It is a second chance for Donella to escape a troubled past. It is also a chance for Logan to let memories of his first wife go and to focus on being a good father. Instrumental in this development is the fact that his son falls head over heels in love with Donella. Their interactions were incredibly touching in this story.

If you long strong heroines in historical romance stories, look no further. Donella is the best of the sort. The troubles that she has dealt with in the past, as well as the things she must deal with now show amazing strength. I loved watching the two of them grow to love one another. 

This truly enjoyable story is the second in the Clan Kendrick series. The first book is The Highlander Who Protected Me. This story was rich with characters from that book, and the next book in the series is The Highlander's English Bride, due for release in May, 2020.

Many thanks to Zebra and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

*This mass market paperback release also includes a bonus novel by Annie Raines, Christmas on Mistletoe Lane, and previously review link is:

Please enjoy the following excerpt:

Donella eyed the man sitting across from her in the carriage. With his hat tipped over his eyes, arms crossed over his chest, and long legs stretched out, he looked ridiculously comfortable. She, however, was crowded against the side of the coach as she tried to avoid jostling into him.

She couldn’t really blame him for taking up room. Logan Kendrick was a veritable giant. But she could blame him for being cavalier, high-handed, and incredibly annoying. In fact, Donella was fairly certain she already hated the man.

Thankfully, at least he’d stopped talking. She fully understood the awkwardness of their situation, but she had no intention of offering an apology for any inconvenience. It wasn’t her fault that neither Reverend Mother nor her uncle had thought to provide a chaperone. Unfortunately, it had never occurred to her to ask about such a pertinent detail, either.

In fact, she’d had no control over the travel arrangements whatsoever. She’d told Mr. High and Mighty Kendrick exactly that after yet another delay in setting out. After all, how could she be blamed for one of the horses throwing a shoe just as Foster was pulling out from the inn to come fetch them?

As for the lack of a chaperone, well, what did it truly matter? As far as Donella was concerned, her life was as good as over. She’d failed at being a nun, and after working so hard at it, too. Just like she’d worked so hard at everything else in her life before joining the convent.

It was perplexing, because she used to be good at things, whether it was managing a large household, helping the local vicar in his charitable work, or excelling at her studies and music. These days she seemed to be stumbling about in the dark without a clue what to do next.

The carriage jolted through a large rut, forcing Donella to grab for the strap. Her companion stirred not a jot.

Mr. Kendrick was big, bold, and swaggering, with a self-confidence that set her teeth on edge. He was also quite handsome, with thick black hair, strong features, and eyes the blue of a mountain loch—deep, clear, and so penetrating they stole one’s breath.

When Donella had first emerged from the guesthouse, those eyes had swept over her in frank appraisal, no doubt because she looked like a perfect dowd in her ridiculous bonnet and gown. The sisters had done their best, but her old clothes had long since been given to the poor or ripped apart and refashioned for other purposes. She hadn’t cared one whit about her appearance during the week she’d wandered about the village and surrounding countryside, worrying about her future and waiting for her escort to Blairgal.

But she had cared when Logan Kendrick fastened his sardonic gaze on her, sizing her up and obviously finding her lacking. The notion that he would think her attractive was ridiculous, which rendered the need for a chaperone entirely moot. He’d probably shoot himself before engaging in a flirtation with her, much less putting her in a situation that would necessitate he do the honorable thing by offering marriage.

She scowled at his sleeping form. “I’d boil myself in oil before I married the likes of you,” she muttered. “Just like one of the early martyrs.”

When Kendrick tipped up his hat to look at her, Donella almost slid off her seat.

“Careful, lass, or you’ll end up arse over teakettle,” he said, after thrusting out a hand to stop her slide. “Now, what were you saying? Something about marriage and martyrdom?”

Donella righted herself with as much dignity as she could. “You misheard me. I was praying to Saint Valentine.”

Oh, God. She’d pulled the first martyred saint she could think of out of her frazzled brain. The fact that Valentine was also the patron saint of romantic love was incredibly embarrassing.

“That makes perfect sense,” Kendrick said. “No lass in her right mind would ever think to equate marriage and martyrdom.”

“Really? Why do you think there were so many convents in the first place?”

“Maybe those poor ladies just didn’t meet the right man.”

He was clearly twitting her. She had the urge to stick her tongue out at him.

To avoid the temptation, she made a point of lifting the shade and squinting out against the setting sun. Would they never arrive at their inn? She wanted to crawl under a pile of covers and sleep, desperate to forget for a few hours what a mess her life had become.

“It’s not much longer,” Kendrick said in a more sympathetic tone. “The Perth Bridge should be only a few minutes ahead.”

“We’re stopping in Tibbermore, correct?” A small village, Tibbermore was a more secluded and private stop than the bustling market town of Perth.

Kendrick rolled his broad shoulders, trying to stretch in the tight quarters. “Yes, and not a moment too soon. I’ve had enough of carriages for one day.”

“We’ll have a long day tomorrow, I’m afraid.”

“Aye, but then we’ll reach Blairgal fairly early the day after.” He smiled. “I’m sure you’ll be glad to get home.”


She wondered if Blairgal or Haddon House, her brother’s small estate, would even feel like home anymore. She’d never expected to see either place again.

She forced a smile. “Yes, of course.”

“And happy to see your family, no doubt.”

“Why would you assume otherwise?” She tried not to bristle, but why did he even care?

His eyebrows ticked up. “I’m simply trying to make conversation to pass the tedium of the journey.”

She winced. Clearly, her nerves were getting the best of her. “I apologize, sir. I suppose I’ve fallen out of the habit of polite conversation.”

He regarded her with a softer eye. “Carmelites observe the Great Silence, do they not?”

Donella was surprised he would know such an arcane detail. “Outside of chapel or meals, we observed silence. Only in the most pressing of circumstances did we break it.”

“Did you like it, all that quiet?”

She thought about it for a few moments. “I grew up in a noisy family, and there was a great deal of clan business taking place and visitors coming and going at the castle. The quiet was something of a relief.”

In particular, Donella’s mother had dragged chaos in her wake, making life a trial. But family history was certainly not something to share with a stranger—or anyone.

“Right,” Kendrick said. “Your uncle is a clan chieftain, I believe. The Haddons are one of the larger Sept families in Clan Graham.”

She’d almost forgotten how nice it was to talk to a true Highlander. Few people understood the complicated and sometimes-frustrating tangle of relationships and clan ties.

“Malcolm Haddon, one of my father’s brothers, is the current chief. And Lord Riddick, my great-uncle, is heavily involved in clan business. Gatherings were held at least once a year when I was growing up, and there were always celebrations around holidays and marriages. It was quite…lively.”

“That’s one way to describe the gathering of the clan,” he replied. “Barely controlled mayhem would be more accurate.”

“It sounds like you didn’t much care for them, either.”

He gave a small shrug, a shifting of those impressive shoulders. “I did when I was young. What lad wouldn’t be fond of drinking, feasting, and dancing with pretty Highland lasses?”

She didn’t think she imagined the hint of self-mockery in his tone. “What changed for you, then?”

His sudden smile was charming—and insincere. “Nothing changed. I simply grew older and wiser. So, you enjoyed your peaceful life in the convent, did you? Coming from a large and noisy family myself, I can almost envy such a thing.”

Donella recognized the polite dodge. “I didn’t always enjoy it. The silence, I mean.”

“Why not?”

“It was too quiet sometimes. You could practically hear a fly crawling across a windowpane or the stones of the building settling into the ground. At night, you might think you were entirely alone, with not another soul in the world.” The memories of her cloistered life rose before her, poignant, complicated, and as painful as one’s first love.

“Sometimes I imagined I could hear voices from the graveyard, calling to me from under the earth,” she murmured, almost to herself.

Then she actually registered those words and heat flooded her face. “And now I do sound like a character from one of those lurid tales.” She gave an embarrassed chuckle. “How silly of me.” In fact, she sounded mentally unhinged like her—

Donella slammed the door on that thought.

Kendrick simply raised an eyebrow. “Ah, so there were mad monks and shrieking apparitions wandering about the place. You’ve been holding out on me, Miss Haddon.”

“It was a convent, Mr. Kendrick, not a monastery. No monks of any sort. Or apparitions. Reverend Mother wouldn’t allow it.”

He grinned. “I do hope the cemetery was at least appropriately gothic, with morose angels leaning sideways over crumbling gravestones.”

His smile was so likable it was hard not to return it. Logan Kendrick could exude charm as easily as whisky flowed from a bottle. Fortunately, she was immune to that sort of thing.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, October 29
Review at Coffee and Ink

Wednesday, October 30
Feature at A Book Geek
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, October 31
Review at Amy's Booket List

Friday, November 1
Review at Gwendalyn's Books
Excerpt at Donna's Book Blog
Review at View from the Birdhouse

Saturday, November 2
Review at Fictitiouswonderland

Sunday, November 3
Review and Excerpt at

Monday, November 4
Review at Nursebookie
Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, November 5
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Wednesday, November 6
Review at Bookish Rantings
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Thursday, November 7
Review at Unabridged Chick
Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Friday, November 8
Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Monday, November 11
Review at Jessica Belmont
Review at Stephanie's Novel Fiction
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, November 12
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

About the Author

Vanessa Kelly is a USA Today Bestselling, award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.”0 Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated in a number of contests, and she has won multiple awards, including the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her books have been published in nine languages.

Vanessa’s latest book, The Highlander Who Protected Me, was a USA Today, Barnes & Noble, and BookScan bestseller. Her Renegade Royals Series was a national bestseller, as was The Improper Princesses Series. My Fair Princess was named a Goodreads Romance of the Month and is a USA Today and BookScan bestseller. The Highlander’s Princess Bride, book 3 in the series, was a Barnes and Noble top 50 bestseller.

When she’s not dreaming of plots for her next Regency novel, Vanessa is writing USA Today Bestselling books with her husband, under the pen name of V.K. Sykes. You can find Vanessa at or at For all of Vanessa's latest news and contests--and to receive a free story--please sign up for her newsletter on her website.

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  1. Yay! So happy that you enjoyed Vanessa's book! Thank you for hosting the blog tour!

    HF Virtual Book Tours

  2. Thank you for hosting me, Robin! So glad you enjoyed the book!

    1. My pleasure! I was also glad to read book 1 first. Can't wait for #3.