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Reviewed by Stephanie Chapman for Readers' Favorite
April Holthaus continues the Protectors Of The Crown series with Heart of the Highlands: The Dragon. The setting starts in the Scottish Highlands in the year 1537. Leland Mackay and Lady Keira are standing vigilant beside an incapacitated Ian Mackay. Fearing for her sisters in Sinclair Hall, Lady Keira asks Leland to bring them to Iverncauld, so they can be safe from an impending war. Meanwhile, Alys is dealing with the fallout from learning about her father’s death by Mackay and accusations of treason. Fredrick Sutherland has transported two of the sisters to continue their studies at a convent. Leland arrives and Alys refuses to listen to him, believing her sister died with her father. The day Fredrick returns, he insists Alys marry him and will force the union the next day. Alys has to decide to trust Leland or marry Fredrick.
April Holthaus makes the stakes high in Heart of the Highlands: The Dragon. Alys has no true power because she is female. The treason accusations against her father make many people turn their backs on her, and cause the girls to face homelessness. I think Alys made a smart decision by granting two of the sisters permission to continue their studies. Leland almost seems barbaric, with his focus on his pride as a warrior. He is loyal, and he follows through with his promises, even if he faces death. The suspense in this story captivated me, and there were intense moments where I couldn’t stop reading for fear I would miss something important. Every situation had intricate and vivid details. The characters all had distinct personalities, with their strengths and flaws displayed to perfection. Readers who love action-filled romance stories with unforeseeable endings should read Heart of The Heartlands: The Dragon. While this story is part of a series, it can easily be enjoyed as a standalone book.