Vala (Highlands Series book 2) by Michelle Dalton
Publication Date : August 4th 2020
Publisher : 3 Umfana Pty Ltd
Genre : Romantic Suspense
Pages : 178
Is Love Enough, Or Will The Darkness Takeover?
Can Calla acknowledge the truth of her past, accept her gift, and embrace an open invitation to love?
On the anniversary of her father’s untimely death, forensic anthropologist, Doctor Calla Conroy, is thrown in the deep end of a murder investigation.
To complicate the situation, the voice in her head has returned.
With everything to lose and no time for a psychotic break, Calla ends up in the small highland’s village of Lairg. Here she meets the handsome Detective Hamish Bell, who elicits powerful emotions that frighten her.
Can Calla make peace with her traumatic past and the reality of her gift? Or is she simply losing her mind, her heart, and possibly her career?
From the award winning author of Epona, comes the second in a thrilling women’s fiction romance you won’t be able to put down.
Previous book I read in Series-
Epona ( Highlands Series book 1 )
** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to author. ***
Vala was interesting sequel of Epona that revolved around Calla, her grief, and unusual gift she doesn’t want or understand. It was bout grief, loss, guilt and regret, logic and science vs myths and superstitions, friendship, love, domestic abuse and violence, and accepting once strength and belief to give life a second chance.
Writing was captivating, descriptive and fast paced. It was third person narrative from Calla and Hamish’s alternative POV that gave characters more depth. Setting of Lairg, Scottish Highlands was beautiful. More places were explored in this sequel than previous one. I enjoyed reading about town’s belief, superstitions, and geographical history. Cairn burial ground, River Ness, Ord Hill, dense and mysterious forests made the story atmospheric. Like first book this too had heavy Scottish accent and Celtic/ African/ Norse words but there was glossary for it and I was used to the accept after reading first book.
Plot was interesting with murder mystery along with Calla’s struggle with her gift that helped her more than she was ready to believe. Book takes place few months after the end of the first book as students of agriculture department of University of Edinburgh are now in town. And there are old characters and mention of their past as well so I suggest to read this book in order.
It started with Calla moving from South Africa to take job in Forensic Anthropology department of the college in Inverness but college threw her right into murder investigation in Laird where she met Hamish who brought out emotion she wasn’t prepared for. Still troubled by her father’s death, unresolved issue with mother and constantly nagging voices didn’t help the situation for Calla. Hamish already heart broker wasn’t prepared for the attraction Calla evoked in his guarded heart. I was curious to find read about both Hamish and Calla’s past, what happened to Calla’s father, why it affected her so badly and why she blamed her mother, why she turned her back to the myths and legends her mother and grandmother told about and believed in, what was her gift, and if she would accept the reality of the gift.
Characters were interesting and realistic. It was great to meet both old and new characters and how they connected with each other. Calla and Sadie being childhood friend took me by surprise. I loved Sadie and the way she helped Calla in letting go of things and take step towards moving forward. Munros as usual were amazing and lovely.
Call was complex character. In initial chapters, she sounded frustrated, even more than Sadie did in first book. Her irritation towards her mother’s happiness, bitchy reaction to Sadie on knowing she was alive, was shocking. It was hard to like her but I knew there was more to her and everything pointed to her traumatic past related to her father’s death. Once the past was revealed I could feel her sadness, anger and guilt. I loved how she overcame her grief and see her mother through new light that strengthen their bond. Behind all this troubled soul, she was a lovely person who was She was smart, strong, clever and amazing at her job. Her friendship with her assistant was lovely. I loved her for not taking crap from new lab assistant, and the way she helped in solving the murder.
Hamish was good, down-to-earth cop who didn’t feel low in admitting his lack of experience for the type of murder case they were investigating. I loved him for taking slow steps when it came to Calla and how he kept his suspicion about odd behaviour of Calla because of her gift hidden until the time was right and she was ready to talk about it.
Romance was not major part of the book as there was more focus on Call’s past, struggle and the murder investigation but scenes in which they were together, attraction they felt with mystique air around Calla that Hamish could see was well written. Even though attraction between Calla and Hamish was instant, the start wasn’t smooth because of their past and doubts and both not ready to accept or risk their feeling in middle of investigation made it slow and gradual.
It’s in third part of the book I could figure out Vala, (also called Völva, a priestess, in Norse mythology) means seeress, a woman who can foretell future. I wish there was more about this, a legend or myth. But I liked reading about the rituals and occult for Goddess. It was fascinating to read how murderer and suspect were practicing it.
Twist and turns were good. Some I could see coming while some I couldn’t. So much happened last 30% of the book with finding murder site, Calla accepting and talking about her gift with Hamish and their increasing trust and bond. Climax was surprising with suspect they found at murder site and interview with the suspect that made it easy to guess who was killer. Signs were there throughout the book but author made it difficult to pinpoint anything until revelation. Events after that interview were tense and shocking. End was great.
Why 4 stars-
While I liked few things more in this one than first book like more places explored, glossary at the end, a better hero but I found heroine a bit frustrating with her stubborn refusal to listen to anybody and her knee-jerk reactions. It was ironic she called herself person of science and still couldn’t see her medicines didn’t have any effect over her body or voices even with increased dosage! Like I said I wanted a bit more about myth/legend on Vala.
Overall, Vala was interesting, captivating, fast paced and dark romantic suspense. I look forward to read next books in series.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about this book and my review, have you read this book already or any book by the same author? Have you read book related to Celtic mythology?
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