Howell, Hannah 1950-
HOWELL, Hannah 1950-
(Sandra Dustin, Sarah Dustin, Hannah Dustin Howell, Anna Jennet)
PERSONAL: Born 1950, in MA; married; husband's name Stephen (an aeronautics engineer); children: Samuel, Keir. Hobbies and other interests: History, reading, crocheting, gardening, piano.
CAREER: Romance writer, 1988–.
MEMBER: Romance Writers of America, NEC.
AWARDS, HONORS: K.I.S.S. Awards, Romantic Times, 1992, for Beauty and the Beast, and 1996, for My Valiant Knight; Golden Leaf Award, 2002, for Magically Delicious Kisses.
NOVELS AS HANNAH HOWELL; EXCEPT AS NOTED
Amber Flame, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1988.
(As Sarah Dustin) A Taste of Fire, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Promised Passion, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Compromised Hearts, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1989.
Elfking's Lady, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Stolen Ecstasy, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Conqueror's Kiss, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1991.
(As Sandra Dustin) Highland Hearts, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Silver Flame, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Beauty and the Beast, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1992.
(As Anna Jennet) Reckless, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Wild Conquest, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Kentucky Bride, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1994.
(As Anna Jennet; with others) Timeless (short stories), Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Only for You, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1995.
(As Anna Jennet) Fire, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1995.
My Valiant Knight, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1996.
(With others) Baby Dreams (short stories), Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1996.
(As Anna Jennet) My Lady Captor, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Unconquered, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1996.
(With others) A Joyous Season (short stories), Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Wild Roses, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1997.
(With others) Scottish Magic (short stories), Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Highland Destiny, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Only for You, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Highland Honor, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Highland Promise, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1999.
(With others) Castle Magic (short stories), Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1999.
A Stockingful of Joy, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Highland Vow, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Wild Roses, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2001.
Highland Knight, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Highland Bride, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2002.
(With others) Magically Delicious Kisses, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Highland Angel, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2003.
(With others) His Immortal Embrace (short stories), Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Highland Groom, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Highland Warrior, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Lynsay Sands) The Eternal Highlander, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Highland Conqueror, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Highland Champion, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Hannah Howell has authored dozens of books in the historical romance genre under her own name as well as under pen names Anna Jennet, Sandra Dustin, and Sarah Dustin, since her first publication in 1988. Many of her novels are set in the Scottish highlands, a region she has thoroughly researched and investigated. Howell's talent in reproducing this setting was noted by a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, who wrote, "Few authors portray the Scottish highlands as lovingly or as colorfully as Hannah Howell." Howell's novels are set in Scotland from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries, beginning with the 1992 Highland Hearts, written under the pseudonym Sandra Dustin. Two trilogies stand out; one comprises Highland Destiny, Highland Honor, and Highland Promise, and another is made up of Highland Vow, Highland Knight, and Highland Bride. Numerous other titles by Howell are also set in the Scottish highlands, including Highland Angel, Highland Groom, Highland Warrior, and Highland Conqueror.
Both of Howell's Scottish trilogies follow the destinies of the Murray clan. In Highland Destiny, the saga focuses on Lord Balfour Murray, lord of Donncoil. Kidnapping and a forbidden romance fuel the engine of this tale, as they do many of Howell's novels. In this case, the lord's brother, Eric, is kidnapped by family enemy Sir William Beaton, and when a rescue attempt ends badly Balfour meets up with Maldie Kircaldy, a young woman who has her own animus toward Beaton. Balfour and Maldie team up in a liaison that leads to love, but not without some suspicion on Balfour's part. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found Howell's "narrative … rich with detail and the plot promising," but at the same time complained of "uneven" pacing and dialogue that is "clotted" with Scottish dialect renderings. Reviewing the same novel for RomanticTimes.com, Beth MacGregor called Highland Destiny an "enticing book," and further praised it as "rich in historical detail and character development."
Nigel Murray takes center stage in Highland Honor, set both in France and Scotland, and dealing with the love of Nigel for the mysterious Giselle, a woman in hiding who is accused of slaying her husband. Nigel helps her escape France, but when the action shifts to Scotland, Giselle is surprised to discover that Nigel has a wife he left seven years earlier. Writing for RomanticTimes.com, Kathe Robin praised Howell's "well-developed" characters, but went on to criticize the "weak conflict and storytelling [that] make this a pleasant but unexciting read."
Howell's initial Scottish trilogy is rounded off with Highland Promise. Eric Murray is the focus of this novel as he falls in love with Betha Drummond, a woman who has lost both her husband and twin sister and is now in charge of her orphaned nephew, James. When enemies who want James's inherited lands threaten the child, Betha flees from danger with James in tow. Eric is there to protect her, but at first she does not feel worthy of his love. Jill Brager, writing in RomanticTimes.com, urged readers not to miss this adventure, for "in typical Hannah Howell fashion," Highland Promise "is filled with adventure." Brager further noted that Howell's "warriors show not only tenderness, but a sense of honor."
Highland Vow inaugurates Howell's second highland trilogy. Once again the Murray clan is featured, but now its women are the focus. Elspeth Murray is the protagonist of the first installment, and a childhood crush turns out to be her saving grace when Cormac Armstrong comes back into her life to save her from the evil intentions of unwanted suitor Sir Colin. MacGregor, writing again for RomanticTimes.com, called Highland Vow "a heartwarming tale to while away a summers evening."
Two feisty Murray women are involved in Highland Knight: Lady Avery Murray and Avery's cousin, Gillyanne. The two damsels are kidnapped and turned over to Cameron MacAlpin in payment for a lost bet. When Cameron learns that Avery is the sister of Payton Murray, who supposedly raped Cameron's sister, he is bent on revenge. He does not, however, figure on the spirited nature of Lady Avery. A contributor for Publishers Weekly called Highland Knight a "sweetly savage, light historical," while Harriet Klausner, reviewing the same title in AllReaders.com, pronounced it "an amusing yet serious historical romance." MacGregor, writing in RomanticTimes.com, had higher praise, calling the book "funny, yet heartwarming and poignant."
Highland Bride concludes this second trilogy. In this novel, Gillyanne is the protagonist. Rebuffing numerous suitors who are after her dowry and lands, she opts for Connor MacEnroy, much to his and her clan's surprise. A Publishers Weekly critic wrote that "Gilly and Connor's vibrant personalities and teasing banter … make the story glow."
Various characters from Howell's trilogies also find starring roles in standalone titles or loosely connected novels. For example, Payton Murray is the center of Highland Angel, "one of Hannah Howell's best books in recent years," according to Brager in RomanticTimes.com, while Highland Groom and Highland Warrior both feature the MacEnroy clan. In the former title, Ilsa and husband Diarmot square off as the wife tries to shake her amnesiac husband's memory in a tale "that steals your heart with its magic and mayhem," according to Kathe Robin in RomanticTimes.com. Young Fiona MacEnroy is the main interest of Highland Warrior as she falls in love with the man who imprisons her. Klausner, writing in AllReaders.com, felt that "fans will appreciate this charming story of love."
Other romantic highland tales from Howell include Reckless, a tale of feuding clans, and Highland Conqueror, among many others. John Charles, writing in Booklist, recommended the latter title for fans of novels peopled by heroes at once "bold and brash," female protagonists who are "resourceful and clever," and love stories "filled with danger and adventure."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 2004, John Charles, review of The Eternal Highlander, p. 72; February 15, 2005, John Charles, review of Highland Conqueror, p. 1067.
Library Journal, November 15, 1999, Kristin Ramsdell, review of A Stockingful of Joy, p. 55; August, 2003, Kristin Ramsdell, review of His Immortal Embrace, p. 66; August, 2004, Kristin Ramsdell, review of The Eternal Highlander, p. 55.
MBR Bookwatch, March, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of Highland Conqueror.
Publishers Weekly, November 20, 1995, review of My Valiant Knight, p. 73; September 9, 1996, review of Unconquered, p. 81; April 28, 1997, review of Wild Roses, p. 73; July 21, 1997, review of Scottish Magic, p. 184; June 1, 1998, review of Highland Destiny, p. 48; May 14, 2001, review of Highland Knight, p. 59; January 7, 2002, review of Highland Hearts, p. 52; October 7, 2002, review of Highland Bride, p. 58.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (May 28, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of Highland Angel, Highland Conqueror, Highland Hearts, Highland Knight, Highland Warrior, His Bonnie Bride, and Reckless.
Hannah Howell Home Page, http://www.hannahhowell.com/ (May 28, 2005).
RomanticTimes.com, http://www.romantictimes.com/ (May 29, 2005), Beth MacGregor, reviews of A Stockingful of Joy, Highland Destiny, Highland Knight, and Highland Vow; Jill Brager, reviews of A Taste of Fire, Highland Angel, Highland Bride, Highland Hearts, and Highland Promise; Kathe Robin, reviews of Highland Conqueror, Highland Groom, Highland Honor, Highland Warrior, and Only for You; Lisabelle Cox, reviews of My Valiant Knight, Reckless, Wild Roses, and Unconquered.