A beguiling beginning of a promising series. Thank God the rest of the series is published!
Title: To Bewitch a Highlander Isle of Mull, book 1
Authors: Lily Baldwin
Genre: Historical Romance
Story Setting: Isle of Mull, 1263
Sold By: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Listening Length: 9 hours, 4 minutes
Narrator: Paul Woodson
Published By: Lily Baldwin
Release Date: October 3, 2014
Isle of Mull Series
Book 1: To Bewitch a Highlander (April 10, 2013)
Book Description: She will protect her identity with her very life if necessary. Who will protect her from herself? Shoney’s lightning speed with a bow captures Ronan by surprise, and their chance meeting ends with him lying unconscious at the bottom of a ravine. When he awakens, he cannot rid his mind of her startling beauty, her valor, or the secret fear he glimpsed in her steel eyes. He vows to find her, but as the mysteries of her identity unfold, his courage and heart are tested as never before.
My Thoughts: Ronan MacKinnon was the son of a Laird and was rather a hot-tempered individual. His friend and fellow warrior, Aiden, handsome, almost beautiful, was used to being chased by the village women. Aiden’s amiable personality, jovial manner and sweet nature was exactly the type of friend Ronan needed. I enjoyed the repartee and sarcasm between the two, particularly when Ronan was ready to blow a fuse and Aiden’s manner and wit inflamed and yet calmed him. There were no secrets between the two.
One day, Ronan and Aiden were on patrol seeking their enemy neighbor the MacLeans who often trespassed into MacKinnon territory. To finish the job more quickly, they split up; Aiden in one direction and Ronan in the other, to rendezvous before sunset. But Ronan didn’t make the appointment. He had slipped down a slope, cracking his head on a rock and lost consciousness. Before he slipped and fell, he was startled by the sight of a mesmerizingly beautiful young woman with flaxen hair taking aim with her bow and arrow at the same deer he was about to kill. When she saw him, her arrow redirected pointing at him. When he came to, Aiden was with him. Aiden not believing anything he said, just tried to placate his friend. Aiden figured the bump on Ronan’s head gave him this vision of loveliness and it was all a dream. However, for the next several weeks Ronan searched for this women. He saw her as alone and unprotected. He needed to help her.
The Witch of Dervaig had lived in the forest in a small hut for over a century. Ronan and Aiden couldn’t understand how she could live so long. When they saw her in the village, they would shiver with fear. These men were seasoned warriors, but the deformed, limping witch scared them beyond reason. They avoided the area where she lived and circumvented her if they saw her in the village.
The lovely vision with flaxen hair was none other than the Witch of Dervaig. Shoney was lonely, living alone since her mother had died. She had become the witch as her mother and her mother’s mother before her. Shoney was an unusual woman for she had never met a man. So when she saw Ronan, broad-shouldered, a giant of a man, she was overwhelmed. She wished she hadn’t been seen in the forest, but she had. Her mother had warned her off men. They were not to be trusted. Besides, she had learned to take care of herself and wanted no part of the Scots. However, she didn’t realize just how much a man could change a woman.
Ronan, Aiden and Shoney were all very likeable characters. Shoney was a healer, but also a seer which added depth and interest to the story. Shoney’s inner conflict of betrayal of her mother and her ancestors by falling in love with Ronan, tore at her soul. She was of the old ways, worshipping pagan gods while Ronan’s clan had a Christian belief.
Ronan knew he loved this woman, but how was she to fit into his village? If they knew she was the Witch of Dervaig they would kill her. Ronan had to have her, but how was he to keep her safe?
This was really a delicious listen. Shoney was spunky and probably as hot-tempered as Ronan. Both could give as much as they received, with Paul Woodson’s well-done narration providing the intensity of their dialog. His accents and voice nuances tied me to the listen. He had me raptly listening, experiencing the fear of being and worshipping differently in an intolerant and fearful society.
About the Author: Historical Romance author Lily Baldwin loves writing, Scotland, her wonderful husband and beautiful young daughter–though not necessarily in that order. She has a BA in anthropology from the University of New Hampshire, and an MA in International Studies from Birmingham University in the UK. She daydreams constantly, and gets her best story ideas while running; she is even training for a half-marathon. She also finds inspiration in Nature, a quality revealed through the powerful description and drama in her books.
She has published three books in her Isle of Mulls Series. She is also a GUARDIANS OF CRIDHE author.
Her novella, part of the GUARDIANS OF CRIDHE’s bundle is titled A Jewel in the Vaults.
She lives in New England with her cherished husband and daughter.
About the Narrator: Narrator Paul Woodson records, edits, and master audiobooks commissioned by authors and publishers through Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX). He’s been an AEA and SAG actor for almost 20 years, with most of his work in Theater. He studied theater at Boston University’s BFA program with work in classical theater, dialect and vocal training. When he was a lad (love that word) his family lived in England where his father did graduate work at Cambridge. I asked Paul how he had such great accents in this reading. His answer was thus:
“Perhaps the immersion at a young age, plus my frequent portrayal of Englishmen and Scotsmen has kept my dialects sharp over the years.”
He has narrations of 23 books presently on Amazon. If you are a medieval romance historical romance reader, check out his narrations of books from Ceci Giltenan and Lily Baldwin. If any of my author friends need a narrator who speaks French and German among other talents, seek him out.