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Currently Browsing: historical romance
Jun
21

Review: The Highland Duke by Amy Jarecki

Review: The Highland Duke by Amy Jarecki The Highland Duke Author: Amy Jarecki Reviewer: Jen Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: The book opens with healer Akira finding the badly injured Geordie on the battlefield. Unwilling to provide his name because he’s a Duke who just rode against Queen Anne’s army, Geordie is smitten with the wisp-of-a-girl who is like an angel. Due to the determined redcoats hunting him, Geordie must take Akira with him as he escapes. Soon the pair is running for their lives, yet neither is willing to walk away. The Highland Duke held a lot of promise, and by the conclusion, I was satisfied with the story. However, a slow and rocky start almost made this book a DNF for me. In the end, I enjoyed the pairing of Akira and Geordie, but it took a long time for me to get on board with their romance. Akira is a young, innocent, poor girl with Romany heritage. This makes her and her family shunned. Yet she remains hopeful and helpful despite those who treat her poorly. She’s a solid character, yet her naivety creates a huge unbalance when matched with the powerful Duke of Gordon. Geordie is weathered and rough. He’s lived a full life, having divorced, fought, etc. He’s easy around the ladies and just comes off so much older than Akira (he is ten years her senior). She’s SOOOO young and naive. She’s a virgin and never been around any man in an intimate capacity. Not even hugged by her father, as he was never in the picture. It was difficult for me to get into their story, for rather than sexual tension and sparks, I saw an “old man” who is lying to a young girl that he lusts after. Another concern I had was that Geordie uses his position as an injured soldier to “tease” Akira. But to me it is sexual harassment as he uses his knowledge and power to put her into compromising positions; ones that Akira feel are improper behaviors. It’s not cute or fun, to me it’s destructive because she is so innocent. It really isn’t until after 50% mark that the book started working for me. Once Akira started standing up for herself and exerting confidence, she becomes her own person—one strong enough to stand up to and match Geordie. While I continued to struggle with her naivety, which was too much for my tastes, she finally becomes a worthy heroine. In the...
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May
10

Review: Marry in Haste by Anne Gracie

Review: Marry in Haste by Anne Gracie Marry in Haste Author: Anne Gracie Reviewer: Ang Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I really enjoyed Marry in Haste. Cal and Emmaline are a good match even though they don’t realize it at first. Emm is spirited and strong. She knows when to fight a battle and when to let something slide, which is a must for a military man like Cal who is used to people jumping when he says jump. I appreciated the chemistry between the all the characters, and that as usual, Ms. Gracie doesn’t just throw sex in for the sake of sex. The scenes make sense to the novel and add to the plotline. I also enjoyed the way Emm and Cal’s wards come together to make a family, pulling Cal back to his roots in the process. I would have enjoyed more time with Emm and Cal rather than focusing so much on the wards and the history/lack of relationship between them and Cal. And there were a few spots where things dragged on as if Ms. Gracie wasn’t sure how to bring things together. But overall she found her stride and brought nearly everything together in the end. She even included a cameo from one of my favorite Chance sisters, Daisy. Despite its few flaws, I had a difficult time putting Marry in Haste down. The characters were fun, complex, and engrossing, making the entire experience delightful. I’m looking forward to the next book in the new Marriage of Convenience series, and believe if you enjoy Ms. Gracie’s work or a marriage of convenience novel you will enjoy this one. Reading it was a great way to spend my day. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Major Calbourne Rutherford returns to England on the trail of an assassin, only to find he’s become Lord Ashendon, with the responsibility for vast estates and dependent relatives. Cal can command the toughest of men, but his wild half-sisters are quite another matter. They might just be his undoing. When he discovers that Miss Emmaline Westwood, the girls’ former teacher, guides them with ease, Cal offers her a marriage of convenience. But strong-minded and independent Emm is neither as compliant nor as proper as he expected, and Cal finds himself most inconveniently seduced by his convenient wife. Emm knows they didn’t marry for love, yet beneath her husband’s austere facade, she catches glimpses of a man who takes her breath away. As pride, duty...
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Apr
24

Review: Hard-Hearted Highlander by Julia London

Review: Hard-Hearted Highlander by Julia London Hard-Hearted Highlander Author: Julia London Reviewer: Jen Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Rabbie Mackenzie longs for the days before the Scots and English were at war, a time before his beloved was murdered and worse. Nearly suicidal: he doesn’t want to live, but doesn’t have the courage to die. Set to fulfill a family obligation by marrying a very young English bride, he finds little joy except when in the company of Bernadette Holly. Miss Bernadette Holly has her own secrets and cross to bare. She works for Lord Kent, serving his daughter, Avaline as her maid and confidant. Torn between saving Avaline from a horrible marriage to Laird Mackenzie and her own haunted past, Bernadette finds solace on her long walks and surprisingly, in conversation with Rabbie. Hard-Hearted Highlander starts a couple years after the conclusion of the previous title in the Highland Grooms series. We discover that life as a Highlander has become rough and even dangerous, as the war with England is not going well. The Mackenzies are struggling and many of their neighbors have fled to safer lands. In order to protect their interests, they strike a marriage bargain with Lord Kent. However, his younger daughter (17, to Rabbie’s 35) is a selfish child and Lord Kent is a monster, and this causes a lot of difficult and awkward interactions. Both Rabbie and Bernadette are jaded survivors. Their backstories are similar, both losing much. Yet when Rabbie turned inward and contemplated death, Bernadette dove into her work and pushed the past away. Both live each day with holes in their souls, and it isn’t until they see past the surface into one another that they finally begin to heal. While Rabbie and Bernadette are perfect for one another, I struggled with the story and romance between the pair. The first quarter of the book was slow moving and confusing as it was full of political maneuvering. Additionally, it took at least that long before the pair even had a civil conversation. However, the largest hurdle that I struggled with was the simple fact that Rabbie is engaged to Bernadette’s charge and friend, regardless that it is an arranged marriage and neither party wants to go through with it. Bernadette experiences tremendous guilt over her feelings and actions, which really dampened any of the butterflies she feels from her attraction to Rabbie. Once the wedding was finally called off, the book was nearly over. Yet...
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Apr
5

Review: The Lady and the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall

Review: The Lady and the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall The Lady and the Highlander Author: Lecia Cornwall Reviewer: Una Rating: A What I’m Talking About: The Lady and the Highlander is another great story in the Highland Fairy Tale series. This retelling of Snow White was inventive, creative and enthralling. I loved Laire and Iain’s story. It was unique and I enjoyed the obstacles and challenges to Laire and Iain’s romance. Iain is bound to Laire’s stepmother by a traumatic past. Laire is haunted by her own tragic past but determined to save her family. Between Iain’s duty and Laire’s stubborn courage, it seemed their future was impossible. However, as in all fairy tales, love finds a way (even if it includes a bit of nail biting). I loved how Ms. Cornwall wove the essence of Snow White into the story. It was perfectly balanced and though the elements were present in some form – the story was absolutely its own. It was gripping, heartfelt, and full of surprises. Even knowing the story of Snow White, I wasn’t sure how certain elements would come together. I delighted in how unique and yet familiar the story felt. I think my favorite Snow White inclusion was the “dwarfs”. The band of thieves that take Laire in was utterly creative and provided a fascinating element to the story. Overall, I loved this latest installment in the Highland Fairy Tale series. Laire and Iain’s journey was gripping, full of twists, and passion.  I eagerly look forward to the next story. If you enjoy a creative and gripping spin on a fairy tale, full of romance and suspense, then you definitely need to pick up this series. Though they can be read as a standalone, the series is richer if you start with the first book, Beauty and the Highland Beast. My Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: Laire MacLeod’s father has married a mysterious widow who is a vain beauty that deals with potions and spells. Laire does not drink them with the rest of her family and is the only one who could see through her stepmother’s games. When Laire flees to find help from her Uncle the Lady’s huntsman follows her with orders to kill. Laire must survive in a dangerous new city and find the antidote to a poisonous potion before it is too late. Iain Lindsay is cursed. He is bound for seven years to be the hunter of a Lady who uses him to bring back...
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Mar
20

Review: If the Duke Demands by Anna Harrington

Review: If the Duke Demands by Anna Harrington If the Duke Demands Author: Anna Harrington Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Miranda grew up with the Carlisle siblings, living with her aunt and uncle as tenants on the Carlisle family land. Always closest with middle brother Robert, Miranda wants him to see her as more than the girl next door. However, in her efforts to woo Robert, she mistakenly tries to seduce the Duke of Trent, eldest brother Sebastian. Weight of family obligation and dukedom on his shoulders, Sebastian longs for the carefree life he once lived. But duty comes first, which includes courting and marrying a daughter of a Peer and producing a suitable heir for Trent. Spending the season in London to find the proper duchess, it is Miranda who opens his eyes to joy again, seeing life through her unfettered eyes. I absolutely adored If the Duke Demands! Sebastian and Miranda are two halves of whole. The conflict of love versus duty plays out perfectly as Sebastian attempts to live up to his father’s legacy. The guilt over missing his father’s death because of his dalliances haunts Sebastian daily and controls his every action. It takes the exuberance and love of a strong woman to help him find the man who died with his father two years ago. The book grabbed my attention right from the start with its mistaken identity twist, followed by the pact that Sebastian and Miranda create. Not only does this ensure that they will spend alone time together as they plot, the secretive nature of their agreement lends itself to create a strong bond between the pair. This allows them the freedom to open up to one another, sharing things they never would have otherwise. Additionally, it gives Miranda the freedom to be herself and challenge Sebastian’s ambitions and goals. I love that they banter like a couple of equal standing. As the pair becomes comfortable around one another, their mutual interest deepens and grows. My heart raced as I also became caught up in their passion. Their inappropriate conversation in public at the opera, the stolen kisses… the author does an amazing job building sexual tension and desire, and I found myself completely head-over-heels for this couple. Yet, Sebastian’s misguided intentions and guilt prevent him from completely giving himself to Miranda, even as she risks her heart, surrendering fully. If the Duke Demands is an absolute delight. Ms. Harrington puts forth solid, strong characters who worked...
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Feb
20

Review: Sinful Scottish Laird by Julia London

Review: Sinful Scottish Laird by Julia London Sinful Scottish Laird Author: Julia London Reviewer: Jen Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: The widowed Lady Chatwick, Daisy, while more than capable of taking care of herself and son, lives in a time where men rule. Upon his deathbed, her late husband, Clive stipulated that she must find a suitable man and remarry within three years of his death, or she forfeits her son’s inheritance, because he felt Daisy (a woman) would be unable to raise their son alone. With less than a year left to remarry and a long line of greedy suitors, Daisy finds hope in a letter from her childhood love that he will be returning to London soon and wishes to marry her. In an effort to stave off the Bishop and his match-making, Daisy heads to the Scottish Highlands to her late husband’s neglected hunting lodge. As a member of London’s society, Daisy is looked down upon by the Highlanders, although once they hear of her fortune, she finds more suitors at her doorstep. Everyone seems interested in Daisy, except her handsome neighbor, Cairlean, the Laird of Auchenard. Sinful Scottish Laird is a delightful historical romance that hits all the right notes for me. I love Daisy: a strong, well-educated woman who demands life be lived on her terms. Even though she is still tied to her late-husband’s commands, she takes her time to find a man that will be a good match for both her son and her. I love that she takes life by the reigns and isn’t afraid to play games or speak her mind. She’s not ignorant, but will play the part if it gets her what she wants. Coy and beautiful, she lives life to its fullest during the time she has. She’s not afraid to take risks to be happy. On the other hand, Cailean has been burned by life and is afraid to take chances. He doesn’t trust outsiders and won’t play Daisy’s games. At first, he seems to be the wrong match for Daisy. Yet the enigma that is Daisy draws in Cailean until he cannot withstand the force of their mutual desire. He begins to see and appreciate Daisy for who she truly is, even if she drives him mad. Yet, he won’t risk his heart, or Daisy’s standing, so he allows himself to continually walk away. It’s heartbreaking, yet makes each “reunion” so passionate. Although I know very little of the Scottish/English history,...
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Nov
28

Review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

Review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt Duke of Pleasure Author: Elizabeth Hoyt Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Hugh Fitzroy, Duke of Kyle and bastard son of the King, is the widowed father of two young boys. His marriage to Katherine had been passionate, but a disaster, and now he’s trying to rebuild a relationship with his sons. However, he’s been tasked by the King to destroy the Lords of Chaos, a deadly secretive group who will stop at nothing to keep their identities unknown. When Hugh is attacked by some ruffians, he is helped by the mysterious Ghost of St Giles. And when Hugh realizes his savior is a woman, he cannot stop thinking about her. Alf is the Ghost of St Giles by night and a teenage errand boy by day. She took over the roll of the Ghost recently (it’s like the Dread Pirate Roberts), and after saving Hugh, feels something she’s never allowed herself to feel as a woman. Now that Hugh has hired the boy Alf to help him uncover the truth, Alf the woman is frightened what will happen if her secret gets out. Although I am new to the Maiden Lane series, having started with the previous full-length novel, it has quickly become one of my favorites. The Duke of Pleasure is no exception, with its smart wit, intelligent plot, exciting action, and passionate romance. Although at first, it was difficult for me to see Alf as a woman and match for Hugh because she hid herself as a boy, her character really started to blossom once the truth was discovered. And I am thankful to the author for avoiding a pedophile storyline and any attraction of an adult Hugh with an apparent underaged boy. Ms. Hoyt unveiled Alf’s true self in an incredible sexy and appropriate manner. Alf is a wonderful character. Growing up an orphan and hiding as a boy in the worst part of London, she’s maintained a moral compass but avoided the pretentious nature of the ladies of her time. Her openness could be a deficit if she was hired by anyone other than Hugh, but with him, she is allowed to be her true self. Same goes with Hugh’s friend Iris and his men, who accept Alf as she is, and in fact, become enamored with her in their own ways. While I was enthralled with the romance behind the story, the plot following the Lords of Chaos was utterly...
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Nov
8

Review: When a Laird Finds a Lass by Lecia Cornwall

Review: When a Laird Finds a Lass by Lecia Cornwall When a Laird Finds a Lass Author: Lecia Cornwall Reviewer: Una Rating: A What I’m Talking About: As much as I enjoyed the previous novel, Beauty and the Highland Beast, I truly loved When a Laird Finds a Lass.  Sadly though, Vampbard isn’t able to review this book with me as she is nursing a minor injury so you are stuck with just my thoughts. Just as with the previous story, this novel is based on a fairy tale.  When a Laird Finds a Lass is inspired by The Little Mermaid with a little bit of West Side Story thrown in. I loved how the essence of the fairy tale is brought to life. Like the mermaid, Marcail is found on the beach by Malcolm.  He not only brings her to his people, but also protects her.  When he fears he has lost her, he conquers his own fears to find her. I loved Malcolm and Marcail.  They are both a little lost and through each other, find themselves.  I loved the romance between them.  Both are strong characters and are a balanced mix of honor and intelligence, tempered by kindness.  Raised away from the highlands, Malcolm is a lowlander lawyer.  Not only does he not dress like a highlander, he certainly does not act like one… at first.  As he connects to his highland roots, he truly becomes the Laird of Dunbronach.  One they desperately needed.  Marcail is a strong factor in his growth.  Though she suffers amnesia, she doesn’t seem to lose her personality.  The amnesia only seems to free her from previous constraints.  She was a formidable heroine and the perfect match for Malcolm. I had great difficulty putting this novel down.  It flowed seamlessly.  I loved the balance of the romance and the plight of Malcolm and the clan.  It was fascinating to see the grain of truth behind the magic.  The fairy tale elements were woven into the story in such a way that they grounded the novel.  It was also fun to revisit Marcail’s family.  I loved this novel and look forward to the next one.  If you love fairy tales reimagined into Scottish romance with a dash of realism, you definitely need to check out this series. My Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: She is his greatest enemy and his only salvation. Malcolm MacDonald, a lawyer in Edinburgh, unexpectedly inherits his father’s title of Laird of Dunbronach, forcing him to...
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Oct
31

Review: Texas Tall by Kaki Warner

Review: Texas Tall by Kaki Warner Texas Tall Author: Kaki Warner Reviewer: Ang Rating: A What I’m Talking About: It is no secret that I tend to really enjoy Kaki Warner’s novels, and Tall Texas was no exception. It is a lovely story about second and even third chances, along with finding healing and learning to forgive yourself and others. It tackles themes like equality and trust without getting preachy and has the perfect balance of sweetness, spunk and humor. I adored Ty and Lottie and all their issues, together and apart. I felt like their struggles were real and relatable to the time period, as were their strengths. Their chemistry was fun, which made for terrific banter and sweet soulful moments that added wonderfully to the story. The secondary characters were equally well written with their own strengths that added a great dynamic to the story and reiterated the variety of themes without taking away from Ty and Lottie. The descriptions are vivid, romantic and chocked full of crisp beautiful images. Likewise the language as a whole is beautiful flows like the smell of cotton blossoms on a spring breeze for example: “He was her anchor-her lost self- the part that had been missing from her life that made her whole.” It is imagery like this, coupled with the colorful characters and strong storyline, that had me turning page after page. All in all, I would highly recommend this fun, fast moving tale placed in the wild of Texas. I have no doubt you’ll enjoy every moment of your time with Ty and Lottie. My Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: Seeking vengeance for a tragic past, Tyree Benton joined the Rangers and became a different man—but his brutal actions still twist his conscience. Now he’s found a woman he could love, but she deserves more than a man who makes a living getting shot at. If Ty were honorable, he’d leave her alone. But he can’t seem to stay away…. Orphaned at fourteen, Charlotte Weyland has used her talent for numbers to build enough of a fortune to fund Ty’s dream of owning a ranch…if he’s not too stubborn to accept her help. But when Charlotte’s past catches up to her, she finds herself on one side of the law with Ty on the other. To keep their dreams alive, they’ll have to make compromises, but doing so might cost them everything they have… Release Date: October 4, 2016 Publisher: Berkley Series:...
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Oct
17

Review: A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana Gray

Review: A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana Gray A Most Extraordinary Pursuit Author: Juliana Gray Reviewer: Ang Rating: C What I’m Talking About: If you are familiar with my reviews, you know that I enjoy Juliana Gray’s work and typically rate it fairly high. I am disappointed to say that wasn’t so much the case with A Most Extraordinary Pursuit. When I received the title I was excited to continue the adventures with the Duke of Olympia’s tribe, and although Olympia clearly has a hand in this story, I found it to be nothing like Ms. Gray’s other novels. I realize that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but I really struggled with her changed format and writing style. Although the characters had plenty of chemistry and banter, I found the storyline to be jumpy. The constant bouncing back and forth between the narrator’s current world and the “book of Hayward” was distracting, hard for me to follow, and sometimes downright exhausting. I finally had to start taking notes so I didn’t have to keep going back and forth between chapters to remember what was going on. I understand what Ms. Gray was attempting to do, but think it would have worked better if she had added these parts at the beginning or end of the chapters, rather than sprinkling it whenever and wherever. Another area that was a struggle for me was in the way some of the secondary characters were presented, for example the Queen. I have read the entire book and still have no idea what her purpose is or why she is a part of the storyline. Is she supposed to represent the mother Truelove never really knew? Is she just a figment of her imagination? I understand better why her dead father appears throughout the book better than why the Queen jumps in and out. Maybe that will be better explained in future books, but in A Most Extraordinary Pursuit I found it to be distracting and frustrating. While the dialogue between Truelove and the Queen is well written and the banter between them is even humorous at times, I’m just not sure why it’s in the story. It adds to the word count but I’m not sure it adds to the storyline. I guess my greatest struggle is that I was expecting a love story, a romance novel and although there is a love story between Tedeus and Desma and there is romance hinted at between Truelove and Silverton, it...
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