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Currently Browsing: historical romance
Aug
31

Review: The Highlander’s Bride by Amanda Forester

Review: The Highlander’s Bride by Amanda Forester The Highlander’s Bride Author: Amanda Forester Reviewer: Nima Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: There are something like a million books out there (ok, I’m exaggerating, but there are a lot) that share the title or some variation of The Highlander’s Bride. We like our Scottish heroes and imagining what’s under—or not under—their kilts.  Come on now, Gerard Butler?  Richard Madden?  Sam Heughan? Kevin McKidd? *fans herself* So highlanders and their stubborn brides abound.  It’s almost its own genre.  I admit that I didn’t expect much from Amanda Forester’s version of this historical romance category, but I was very pleasantly surprised.  The Highlander’s Bride was, in a word, charming. Our Highlander in this case is Sir Gavin Patrick.  Think of Richard Madden now and sigh.  Picture him as your personal guard, spending his every waking moment trying to protect and take care of you. He is a knight of the highest moral character.  His only flaw is that always doing the right thing often means he’s in the middle of conflict, trying to right wrongs, fulfill duty, and keep his word.  In The Highlander’s Bride, Gavin’s duty is to see the Lady Marie Collette and her substantial dowry safely to Scotland and deliver her to the contractual fiancé her father has chosen for her.  This is the entire plot of the book.  You don’t need to read it to know what the main struggle is going to be.  For its simplicity, I normally wouldn’t even consider handing out an A+ rating, but Forester surprised me.  Gavin is only human, and the lengths to which he goes in trying to do the right thing made him entirely endearing. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but my favorite moment in this book involved rope and a cold, wet night.  It was worthy of an award because in a predictable storyline, I didn’t see that particular moment coming. It would be easy not to like Collette.  She’s been raised as the daughter of nobility that she is, and she most definitely makes Gavin’s life difficult.  However, Forester deftly justifies her words and behavior.  She is a stubborn charge, but in the feisty, likable tradition of Maureen O’Hara, Sandra Bullock, and Julia Stiles.  She was sympathetic, not whiny and annoying.  With two such captivating main characters, I wanted to take the journey to Scotland with them. It was a rocky journey with thieves, enemy soldiers, war lords, madams, orphans, ladies-in-waiting, and...
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Aug
3

Review + Giveaway: Bound with Honor by Megan Mulry

Review + Giveaway: Bound with Honor by Megan Mulry Bound with Honor Author: Megan Mulry Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Archibald Cambury has always taken his role as the Marquess of Camburton with all the propriety and seriousness warranted by his station. Having lost his father when he was just a child, Archie has spent his life trying to do what was proper and right, even with regards to whom he allows himself to love. Of course, losing his heart to anything less than a perfect little wife and mother was never a consideration—at least until he sets his sights on the independent and spirited Selina Ashby. Perfectly capable of supporting herself without her family’s assistance (or interference), Selina Ashby has finally found a peaceful place to pursue her writing career at Camburton Castle. Having already found happiness in her relationship with her friend and lover Beatrix, she never expected to fall in love with the handsome, captivating Marquess, as well. But, society is never accommodating of anything that goes against the established rules, no matter how much she might wish otherwise, and getting what she needs could be far more difficult than she ever imagined. This series has been tempting me for some time, and when I saw that Ms. Mulry had undertaken a romance with four partners of different genders and orientations, I was immediately both hopeful and wary all at once. Thankfully, Bound with Honor seemed to treat the different relationships involved with respect, well-timed good humor, and sincerity. Although I liked him a great deal, Archie is an undeniably frustrating character—as I’m sure he’s meant to be. He is the embodiment of everything prohibitive, judgmental, and hypocritical about the society in which he lives, and I wanted to stomp my foot at him on many occasions right along with Selina. Sadly, many of those failings are still rampant today; a point that Ms. Mulry makes quite successfully over the course of the story. By contrast, Selina has never been able to meet the expectations of others, and has therefore enjoyed a degree of freedom that Archie hasn’t. Not that her freedom was in any way easily won, because it wasn’t. Inherently defiant and marvelously improper, she nearly shimmers with all the possibilities. It’s no wonder that Archie can’t resist her. As the main couple, Archie and Selina ably carry the bulk of the conflict, but I found the secondary characters in Bound with Honor to be just as compelling. Christopher and...
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Jul
20

Review: Home by Morning by Kaki Warner

Review: Home by Morning by Kaki Warner Home by Morning Author: Kaki Warner Reviewer: Ang Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Kaki Warner’s Heartbreak Creek series has a consistent theme of Redemption and Homecoming and Home By Morning was no different. Pru and Thomas, who are both fighting to figure out where they belong and what their purposes are in a post Civil War world, find that hurts can heal with the right love and support, and home is rarely found without a struggle; often in unexpected places and with the least likely of people. Anyone who has followed The Runway Bride series or the Heroes of Heartbreak Creek series, of which this is the third and final book, know that Pru and Thomas have been dancing around each other for a long, long time. Despite coming from very different worlds, their similar sufferings and the enduring of similar prejudices have brought them together and allowed them to learn to love each other fiercely; but the timing has never been right. And it appears through most of this book that the timing still isn’t right.  Pru is trying to further efforts to help former slaves via the underground railroad and the funding of education reform, which requires her to spend large amounts of time in the city and traveling. Whereas Thomas is ready to settle and needs the openness of Heartbreak Creek. Naturally this isn’t the only issue they must overcome, Ms. Warner throws in nasty villains and murder charges among other twists and turns. Thankfully we know going in that there will be a happily ever after or it could make the emotional rollercoaster a bit hard to handle. Ms. Warner does a beautiful job of showing us how they resolve all the issues while wrapping us in the beautiful scenery that is the western frontier. The other characters we have come to know and love in Heartbreak Creek all make an appearance, reminding us why we loved them in the first place. Finally, Ms. Warner does a beautiful job wrapping up all the loose ends in an emotional and somewhat tragic epilogue. All in all it was a lovely way to finish the Heroes of Heartbreak Creek series. It was a perfect balance of hard and rugged meets soft and sweet. If you’ve followed any of the other books you’ll definitely want to finish with this one. If you are new to Heartbreak Creek, I’m sure you’ll enjoy your visit and will most likely want...
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Jun
29

Review: The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie

Review: The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie The Spring Bride Author: Anne Gracie Reviewer: Ang Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Those that regularly read my reviews know that I am not new to Anne Gracie or the Chance Sisters series. After the second book in the series, The Autumn Bride, left we wanting, I am happy to report that was not the case with The Spring Bride. The warmth and banter that I have come to love from Ms. Gracie was back as Jane and Zachary get to know each other mainly through long walks around Berkeley Square. The inner struggles and unloading for life’s lessons and baggage was addressed and happily ever after was achieved. It was a lovely read filled with well written characters that kept me engaged and smiling. I enjoyed getting to know Jane better and seeing her come to terms with the baggage left from her difficult childhood and realizing that love and security can, in fact, come at the same time in the same package, if she allows herself to trust someone outside of her sisters and Lady Beatrice. Her struggle is well played and wonderfully written as she realizes that she is in fact in love with Zachary. She is smart, spunky, and spirited and willing to do anything for those she loves. Zachary is a funny, engaging rouge who comes to realize that he can go home again. He has a tender heart, a fierce desire to do right, and is quick to protect women and animals, which won me over immediately. He stands strong and steady as he fights for his inheritance, his freedom, and Jane’s heart, all while keeping his sense of humor. I enjoyed watching him come into his own as he discovered and fought for Jane’s heart. His attraction to Jane is evident from the moment they meet, and it was easy to feel their chemistry throughout the novel. One of the things I really enjoyed in the book was that the chemistry between Zach and Jane was real and intense, and it wasn’t shown through sex scene after sex scene. It was subtle a look here and a touch there, making it lovely. I never had to worry about leaving my book open where my kids might see because the emotion and heat was written in such a manner that is wasn’t offensive to the more gentle of people, and I appreciated that. As usual Ms. Gracie sprinkles her story with fun,...
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Jan
28

Review: According to Hoyle by Abigail Roux

Review: According to Hoyle by Abigail Roux According to Hoyle Author: Abigail Roux Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: As soon as I heard talk about some of Ms. Roux’s stories being revised for Riptide Publishing, I decided to hold off on getting the ones I hadn’t already purchased, including According to Hoyle, until available from Riptide. And, while I’m positive I’d have loved it anyway, I’m very glad I did. This book is simply good, all-around fun. It’s got a little bit of everything—suspense, secret government agencies, gunslinging, mayhem, humor, romance, and more—set against the backdrop of the post-Civil War American West. The main characters of According to Hoyle are divided into two pairs: the outlaws and the lawmen. The former, made up of Gabriel “Dusty” Rose and another prisoner initially referred to only as “Cage,” are being escorted to a trial, hanging, or both by US Marshals. The Marshals, Eli Flynn and William Henry Washington, have seen more than a few battles together and know one another better than anyone else ever could. Beyond that, it would ruin too much of the enjoyment of learning about them to elaborate more on the different personalities in play, except to say that Flynn’s repeated bouts of irritation were some of my favorite moments in the story. Of course, everybody seems to like it when Flynn gets flustered, so I felt that I was in good company. In addition to creating a unique and often endearing assemblage of main characters, Ms. Roux has fashioned an inventive and suspenseful narrative, as well. At least two key machinations (one overtly referred to, one only hinted at) are in play from the beginning of According to Hoyle, and letting them unfold as they do makes this a truly clever piece of storytelling. Little nuggets of information perpetually emerge from scene to scene, constantly sifting their way through other layers to either address existing questions or create new ones. The answers are always just out of reach, and, even with a few moments of additional insight, the plot wasn’t at all obvious, especially during the first reading (I read it twice). Another thing According to Hoyle has in its favor is the subtle (and not-so-subtle) romantic elements that are present throughout the story, softening the roughest edges in all the right places. There is a quick familiarity between some of the characters that works extremely well in this case, given that the nature of the environment and situation these...
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Jul
9

Review: Where the Horses Run by Kaki Warner

Review: Where the Horses Run by Kaki Warner Where the Horses Run Author: Kaki Warner Reviewer: Ang Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I am so glad to be loving Kaki Warner again. After the crazy disappointment that was her last book I will admit I went into this one a bit nervous but found I had not reason for it. Where the Horses Run was a lovely read complete with her tell-tale wounded cowboy and her beautiful heroine who come together to rescue each other from the cruelties of life. This novel, however, had a few fun and expected twists beginning with the location. Instead of taking place in our lovely Heartbreak Creek, we were in England as Rafe our hero, helps Ash find and buy horses to take back to Heartbreak Creek. Seeing our cowboy outside of the rough Colorado wild and forced into English manners was a fun and made for an interesting story, blending beautifully the typical historical romance and Ms. Warner’s lovely Colorado Cowboy touches. Another thing I enjoyed was the lack of hardened villains in the typical cowboy sense. The twist and turns are there, as are the bad guys, but not in the kidnapping, pistol shooting way. This change helped keep things fresh and entertaining, so I didn’t feel like I was rereading the novels from earlier in the series. Ms. Warner continues to do a beautiful job of showing and telling me the story, and as is her style, she fills the story with wonderful settings, emotional descriptions, great chemistry between Rafe and Josephine, and just enough angst for us to understand their struggles without bringing the novel down. Ms. Warner also held true to form by continuing to share with us fantastically colorful secondary characters, mostly from Heartbreak Creek, that help move the story along and give us insights into Rafe and Josephine without taking away from their telling of the story. For example, Jamie is a wonderful secondary character that adds color, innocence and perfect insight to Josephine, her past and her current struggles. Overall, I found Where the Horses Run to be a perfect summer read. Just enough heat in just the right spots ,but not so much that you couldn’t take it to a public place like the pool or beach and read it. I also loved that the story was well-written and thought out and that the love scenes were used to add passion and color and not to take the place of the...
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Jun
11

How to School Your Scoundrel by Juliana Gray

How to School Your Scoundrel by Juliana Gray How to School Your Scoundrel Author: Juliana Gray Reviewer: Ang Rating: C What I’m Talking About: First let me start by saying as a rule I really enjoy Juliana Gray’s books. She writes fun, engaging characters with strong story lines that draw you in immediately and keep you turning the pages until the end of the novel. That, however was not the case in How to School Your Scoundrel, at least not for me. I have been waiting for this book since I started the A Princess in Hiding Series. I was excited to finally have all the pieces put together and really get to know Louisa. Would she be as feisty as her sisters? Would we finally find out out who killed the king and why? So many questions, and although a few were answered, overall I felt like the entire point of this book was to tie the first three books of the Affairs by Moonlight series together with this series. Having read all six of these books, I knew there was a connection, and reading about how all the characters were connected was interesting. However, it should have been an interesting secondary plot that if you were familiar with the story lines you understood, but if you weren’t, no biggie. Instead I felt like it became the main storyline with Olympia as the puppet master, and it was all about him fixing his mistakes and controlling the characters in the book. BLECK!! who’s got time for that? These are thinking, mostly rational adults, and although they might need some help figuring out that revenge is no way to live, watching them be completely manipulated left me irritated at the very least and completely angry in some places. This was suppose to be Louisa’s story and Philips’s redemption. Yes Philip does find his redemption eventually, but it isn’t the self realization or the journey that you expect from Ms. Gray. Instead it is forced upon him by the very man who backed him into a corner in the first place. And pour Louisa I feel like she is a left in the wings until the very end when Ms. Gray FINALLY fix all the issues with her kingdom. We never really get to know her, see her personality, understand what drives her. She is a strong German princess you’re tell me she has no spunk? no fight? I know it is there we get glimpses I just...
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Apr
23

Review: The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie

Review: The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie The Winter Bride Author: Anne Gracie Reviewer: Ang Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: The Winter Bride is the second book in the Chance Sister series, and I was really looking forward to reading it. I enjoyed The Autumn Bride a great deal and was excited to learn more about the Chance Sisters, but unfortunately I was left wanting. This book had tons of potential but fell flat in my opinion. Both of the main characters, Freddy and Damaris have tons of internal conflict and heavy baggage from their past which would have made for fantastic internal dialogue or reflection, but instead we are given only snippets of their issues until the very end, and then it is Damaris who tackles the issues for both of them. We never really see Freddy stand on his own two feet and face his issues which made me sad. He is clearly a strong and likable character and is completely capable of taking the bull by the horns and facing his own issues yet he doesn’t, and I think letting Damaris handle it all felt like a weak out. Damaris is a sweet, unassuming likable character with her own hard issues, and I would have liked to have seen those issues dealt with in a more compassionate manner. Her strength is clear throughout the novel, but I would have liked to have seen more of her vulnerability with those she loved and trusted throughout the book, rather than having it crammed into a few chapters at the end. Overall, The Winter Bride is a completely predictable, albeit sweet, historical romance. The chemistry between the characters is clear, the settings are lovely, and the conflicts are moving. It just needed a little more of something. It lacked the warmth and banter of The Autumn Bride among other things, and while I realize we are dealing with different characters, every time Freddy would try to engage in some verbal sparring, Damaris left it flat, which left the novel feeling flat for me. It wasn’t a bad read it just wasn’t great, and that’s why it is getting a B- grade. It wasn’t average b/c the struggles were intense but it wasn’t a huge page turner for me either. I hope the next one in the series is less predictable and more fun to read. My Rating:  B- Liked It, but I had a few small issues About the Book: Damaris Chance’s unhappy past has...
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Feb
24

Review: The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin

Review: The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin The Jade Temptress Author: Jeannie Lin  Reviewer: Una Rating: A What I’m Talking About: After being enthralled by The Lotus Palace, I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Jade Temptress.  Suffice to say, I was mesmerized by the story of Mingyu and Kaifeng. The story picks up a year after the end of The Lotus Palace.  Mingyu continues to be the Lady of the Lotus Palace and a sought after courtesan.  However, Mingyu is no longer satisfied with her life not that much can change it.  But her life is unexpectedly and forever altered when her longtime patron, General Deng is murdered, and she is the one to find the body.  Not knowing what to do, she summons Kaifeng to the scene, the one man whom she has ever truly desired and who seems unaffected by her charms. Ms. Lin truly captures the Tang Dynasty for me in the Pingkang Li Mysteries.  I love, absolutely love the rich but superficial beauty of this age that hides so much poverty and survival below it.  These beautiful courtesans who seem to be well kept talented women are slaves.  The contradictions of the times and the somewhat rigid hierarchy of the culture is gripping, adding a tension and undercurrent to the story.  Again, it seems our hero and heroine are star-crossed lovers, doomed from the start.  Such stark beauty masking so awful a truth below – it is gripping as you hope that Mingyu can somehow escape this situation.  Although she has blossomed and made the most of it, she is still a slave without much choice. Yet, even for a man, Kaifeng is just as trapped.  Although a constable, he is neither educated nor from a wealthy family.  His position does offer him some honor but not enough to make him more than equal to a tradesman.  I find this reality fascinating and sad.  Kaifeng is a very intelligent man, who was educated by a foster father who was a physician.  Kaifeng is talented and yet stunted by his birth status.  Though it would vaguely appear that Kaifeng and Mingyu are in the same social class, they are worlds apart.  Yet their passion and personalities just fit.  Following them on this journey was gripping and heart-wrenching.  Although I had faith that Ms. Lin would provide that happy ending, the dark valley we had to walk through was torturous! The conflict of the murder investigation and the unwanted attention of a...
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Feb
5

Review: The Countess Confessions by Jillian Hunter

Review: The Countess Confessions by Jillian Hunter The Countess Confessions Author: Jillian Hunter  Reviewer: Ang Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Jillian Hunter is the queen of the O’Henry Twist. As I was reading The Countess Confessions and nearing the last 50 to 100 pages, all I kept thinking is “Wow, she never REALLY dealt with the conflict. She let the love story supersede the conflict.” Then BOOM right between the eyes! She threw a twist at me that a) I didn’t see coming, something very few authors are capable of doing, and b) wrapped up the entire conflict in one short chapter. Well done Ms. Hunter!!! Overall, I enjoyed my trip through England with Emily and Damien. Their chemistry is clear right from the start. His desire to protect her is admirable, and her trust of him is sweet and innocent without being saccharine. I found the story wasn’t so far fetched that it wasn’t believable, despite obvious liberties with timelines, passion, and probably family acceptance that were taken. The dialogue was well written and the numerous lovemaking scenes didn’t distract from the overall story line, something I tend to be a real stickler for. The lovemaking scenes were well written without going into raunchy, another thing I am always grateful for. I want the couples I read to understand and appreciate sex for the emotional connection and intimacy it brings, not just the physical act, and Ms. Hunter does this well. The themes throughout the story of love, forgiveness and redemption were handled well without getting preachy. And although I would have loved it if Damien had actually said the phrase “I love you” out loud to Emily, his internal dialogue and actions speak clearly that this is the case. I do wish, however, that we could have seen a stronger resolution between Iris and Winthrop. Although it is clear they achieve their happily-ever-after, I would have appreciated attending a wedding that I’ve no doubt Emily and Damien would have made sure was simple, beautiful and befitting of those they love and trust so much. My only real issue with this book are a few editing issues that hopefully will be fixed before the book is released. Namely the time line of the first party. Sometimes it is referred to as last night and sometimes it is referred to as two nights ago, which is the correct timeline. This oversight bugged me the beginning of the book but the pattern didn’t continue throughout the...
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