The Beast of Aros Castle
Highland Isles #1
By: Heather McCollum
Releasing February 20, 2017
On the run from a dangerous man, Ava Sutton flees to the Isle of Mull off the coast of Scotland. Masquerading as a titled, English lady, Ava must convince the cynical and darkly handsome chief of the Macleans of Aros to wed her before the devil tracks her down.
Tor Maclean, the new chief of Aros Castle, has sworn off marriage after his first wife tricked him into it. Despite his efforts to scare away the Englishwoman, his father arranged for him to wed, Tor is drawn to her fire, courage, and beauty. But when truths are revealed, and hearts as well as lives are on the dagger's edge, Tor doesn't know if he can forgive or if he will truly become the solitary Beast of Aros Castle...
He ignored her pity. “If I am to choose a bride, she would have to be someone I deem worthy. Someone who wouldn’t perish during the first winter storm or hide under the bed if troops came to take the castle.”
“I am actually noted for my resistance to illness,” she said, intertwining her slender fingers together before her skirts. “As well as my reluctance to crawl under furniture.”
He moved closer, an idea forming. The woman was brazen, unpredictable, and she thought she had the upper hand with that bloody camp of English just across the way. But if she thought it best to break the betrothal, he would accommodate her. And the best way to scare off a virgin, even a brazen virgin, was to give her a taste of fire.
“How about passion, lass?” He leaned down to her ear. “Are ye reluctant to crawl under my sheets?” She inhaled quickly as he pulled her against his body, one hand guiding her head while the other pressed against her back. Her eyes widened as he descended for the kiss.
He met her mouth with every intention of being frightening and hard. How dare this Englishwoman come onto his island, demanding he drop his mountainous pile of obligations as chief and sacrifice his freedom to wed her? But the moment he felt the soft warmth of her lips, the ripe feel of her body in his arms, against his length, the kiss changed. She tasted of woman and innocence wrapped together with awakening heat. He threaded his fingers through her hair to cup her face without breaking contact. Her cheeks were smooth against his rough palms, and instead of yanking away, she remained rooted to the ground.
With a slight tilt of her face, their lips melded intimately as she met him with the same intensity, moving in rhythm with him like they’d been tupping for years. The thought made a low growl creep up his throat before he realized it, nearly escaping as a groan. But he wouldn’t give her that triumph.
Dainty but strong fingers curled into his shirt, holding her to him as he bent to surround her on three sides. Yet he gave her room to escape. If she’d just step back, surrender to the contest, but she didn’t. Were her heels dug into the floor?
His pulse thrummed as fire swept through his body, and thoughts of victory turned to smoke. Tor’s fingers loosened pins and curls as he slid his fingers through her bound hair.
A gasp. “Tor, unhand that lass this minute.” His mother’s voice doused his desire with ocean spray.
As if breaking through the surface of the sea, Tor released Ava’s lips, but he still held her body. Her eyes were closed, her lips damp, cheeks flushed, hair tumbling free around her shoulders. She blinked, waking to stare straight into his eyes. But instead of fear or better yet, barely controlled passion, he saw something that cooled his blood more thoroughly than his mother’s scolding.
Her words were a soft issue from kiss-swollen lips. “So then,” Ava whispered. “You are a beast.”
Q: Describe yourself in five words or less.
Survivor. Mom. Romantic. Over-doer. Tea-lover.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your book?
The Beast of Aros Castle is the first book in a new Scottish Historical Romance series set on the islands off the west coast of the Scottish Highlands. The series takes place in the early 16th century (Henry VIII’s time period).
The Beast in this book is Tor, the chief of the Maclean Clan on the Isle of Mull. He was tricked into wedding a lass early in his life, and when she died, he swore never to be tricked again.
Ava is an Englishwoman, raised to be a lady’s companion. In order to save herself from a sadistic stalker, she masquerades as an Earl’s daughter and escapes to Scotland, where she must trick Tor Maclean into wedding her before the stalker tracks her down.
Sparks fly between Tor and Ava from their very first meeting, sparks that ignite into an inferno of passion!
Q: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I love developing my characters and letting them take over the story. The dialogue between Ava and Tor is my favorite part. She is everything I want to be: courageous, clever and ready with a quick response. And he’s been hurt, so although he is a fierce warrior, he needs to find the courage to trust again. I love bringing them face to face, poking them with conflict, and jotting down what they say to one another. So much fun!
Q: If you had a theme song, what would it be?
Fight Song by Rachel Platten. I feel like I’ve had to fight a lot in my life, but I refuse to give up. It’s the perfect song to straighten my spine, dry my tears and make me face whatever the world has dished up for me. The harder the fight, the sweeter the win.
Q: What do you like to do when you aren't writing?
I am an ovarian cancer survivor (5 years now), so when I’m not writing or answering the call of “Mom”, I’m usually speaking out against this sneaky, vicious disease. I never pass by an opportunity to educate women, so here goes!
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer:
Eating less & Feeling full faster
Trouble with your Bladder
Other symptoms may include: indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation, fatigue and menstrual irregularities. If one, or more of these symptoms, persists every day for 3 weeks or more, please see your GYN for a pelvic exam and possible transvaginal ultrasound and CA-125 blood test.
Q: What are your favorite types of stories to read?
Stories with happy endings. I believe if you read enough happy endings, you’re bound to bring one of them your way. Which is why I love romance. Even with all the difficulties and emotional baggage, two people can still find love together. It gives people hope and a goal.
Within romance, I love suspense and a little magic. Both make the world more thrilling.
Q: Where did the inspiration for this book come from?
I had the amazing opportunity to visit the Isle of Mull a few years ago, with my family. We attended an authentic Highland Games, and my son was even allowed to run in one of the races. The people were so welcoming, and the land was breathtaking. I fell in love with the green hills, wandering sheep, castle ruins and the fascinating history of the Scottish Isles. I knew right away that the Isle of Mull needed to be the setting of one of my books.
Heather McCollum is an award-winning, historical and YA contemporary paranormal romance writer. She earned her B.A. in Biology, much to her English professor’s dismay, and was a 2009 Golden Heart Finalist.
When she is not creating vibrant characters & magical adventures on the page, she is roaring her own battle cry in the war against ovarian cancer. Ms. McCollum recently slayed the cancer beast and resides with her very own hero & 3 kids in the wilds of suburbia on the mid-Atlantic coast.
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