This is a crazy series and this second book is even crazier than the first. The dialogue is so ridiculously inappropriate at times, and the characters...moreThis is a crazy series and this second book is even crazier than the first. The dialogue is so ridiculously inappropriate at times, and the characters are pretty out there. But I really enjoy this series and this book. There is some really disturbing content, so be warned.
Lady Ayla is threatened with either marriage to the powerful, conquering lord Margrave von Falkenstein or for her lands to be confiscated and...more Synopsis
Lady Ayla is threatened with either marriage to the powerful, conquering lord Margrave von Falkenstein or for her lands to be confiscated and her people killed in war. With her father ailing from a long-term degenerative condition, she has assumed command of his lands in his stead. She refuses the Margrave's offer of marriage, knowing that it will mean war, because she realizes giving into him is the wrong decision to make for herself and her people. On a trip through a nearby forest to notify her vassals of her need for men to protect Luntberg Castle and its villagers, she is robbed by the fearsome, dreaded, red-armor-wearing Robber Knight, who dares to take her money, property and her beloved horse, although he spares her life and doesn't harm a hair on her head. Lady Ayla vows to see him caught and hanged.
When Ayla and her steward find a sole-surviving, wounded man in a field of bloody, mutilated bodies, they bring him back to the castle. His name is Reuben, and he claims to be a merchant, but he is really the same Red Knight. If he reveals his identity, he will be hanged as a thief. And he is too weak to flee for his life from his wounds and a subsequent fever and infection. As he is nursed back to health by the beautiful Lady Ayla, his cynicism and overpowering self-interest gives way to love. Can Ayla keep her people safe from a deadly siege, and avoid falling for a man below her station who she believes is not telling her the whole truth about his identity?
The Robber Knight is an entertaining trip back in time to the medieval era. The narrative voice is lively, with subtle humor and vivid characterizations. Reuben is the perfect rogue character, a man who hasn't decided if he wants to take the trouble to be a better man again, until Lady Ayla shows him he is capable of it. Ayla is sweet and determined, a woman of her times. Beneath her ladylike exterior, she has the heart of a lion and a backbone of steel. The secondary characters, such as the old vassal but still capable knight and fighter, Sir Isenbard, are well-developed.
Mr. Thier clearly has a background in medieval history, and a talent for writing a story that is enlightening about the period, but in a very entertaining, readable fashion. The depiction of medieval castle warfare is lifelike and realistic without being overly graphic. The reader learns the ins and outs of protecting a castle against invaders alongside Lady Ayla, and her people, most of whom have lived in a time of peace and whose war skills are limited to non-existent. I cheered along with them as they survived numerous assaults due to the advice of the injured Reuben.
Readers who enjoy romance stories will appreciate the slow build of attraction and feelings between Ayla and Reuben. The author makes the most of their every moment together to show romantic tension and growing love between the characters.
The Robber Knight is a story that will appeal to readers who have interest in the medieval period. It's an edifying read, flows and keeps the reader's interest with engaging characters and a well-paced narrative. This reader recommends it, despite the fact that the cliffhanger ending pricks at one of the biggest pet peeves of mine.
This is a really good first novel about monster hunters who bond to their almost living weapons. I was impressed with this dark and intense action hor...moreThis is a really good first novel about monster hunters who bond to their almost living weapons. I was impressed with this dark and intense action horror/dark urban fantasy novel. I recommend it to fans of the series "Supernatural" or other fiction about monster hunters.
Sarah Pendleton returns to her hometown of Mistletoe Valley, Oregon, to get her deceased grandmother's affairs in order, especially the sale o...moreSynopsis
Sarah Pendleton returns to her hometown of Mistletoe Valley, Oregon, to get her deceased grandmother's affairs in order, especially the sale of her grandmother's home. Her past memories of Mistletoe Valley are painful, including her rebellious behavior and earned reputation as a "Preacher's Kid," her subsequent failed marriage, and most of all, having to give her baby daughter up for adoption. Her first day back, she meets handsome and friendly real estate agent, Rich Stevens, who happens to have an adorable daughter named Carly (who coincidentally is the same age as her daughter). An instant spark and connection develops between them, but Sarah knows she doesn't intend to stay in Mistletoe Valley, where the past has eliminated her hope for a good future. Besides, Rich is also a part-time youth pastor and a grieving widower, not an ideal choice for a romance, considering Sarah's bad reputation as a rebellious "Preacher's Kid" when she was younger. Can they spend the short time they have together, knowing that they will have to walk away from any love developing between them?
The Heart Leads Home is a sweet contemporary romance that has a meaningful message about letting go of past mistakes and pain and being open to a future. Both leads have distinctive burdens to carry, and they clearly help each other through their pain, although each has to work through the bulk of their emotional issues themselves. I could feel Sarah's anguish over having to give up her daughter, failing her grandparents, and her regrets over her short-lived marriage. Her fears are reasonable, and her desire not to ‘go back' is completely understandable. She showed a lot of courage to face people who knew about her mistakes, so when she had occasional lapses in mettle in being open to a future romance and letting go of the past, it's forgivable.
Rich's issues seem to take a backseat in the story. The author does mention his pain about his wife's death, and there is a sense that he is grieving, but not as much page time is spent on processing his grief as is spent on Sarah's journey. Also the stress of his juggling his single father status with his full-time job as a realtor and his work as a youth pastor wasn't as well-described as I would have liked. I felt that his portrayal was lacking, as a result.
The romance is well done. I appreciated that even though this is a sweet/lightly inspirational romance, the author does establish romantic chemistry with some sexual attraction between Sarah and Rich. One of my pet peeves with Christian romances is the way that the characters are often sexually neutered by the author, perhaps out of the sense that any sexual content is inappropriate. While I respect that not all readers would feel comfortable with graphic sexual descriptions, I see nothing wrong with a passionate kiss between the characters or even an acknowledgement that they feel attraction to each other. Voeller achieved a good balance in her portrayal of Sarah and Rich's developing feelings for each other. How, yes, they initially feel physically attracted to each other, although their love is built on a foundation of friendship and respect.
I did feel that the secondary characters lacked definition and development. Because they seemed one-dimensional, some of the dialogue between the characters seemed disingenuous. Overall, Carly was well-done as a child character, although the scene where she behaves badly could have been more authentic.
For readers who enjoy sweeter contemporary romance with a light inspirational theme, The Heart Leads Home will probably be an enjoyable read. In some ways it seemed to have an identity crisis, because the Christian message felt a little sidelined/watered down. For readers who don't really identify with the faith message, this might appeal. But for Christian readers or those who read books to gain insight into the way believers live out their faith, this might be disappointing. Additionally, the crises faced by both leads were watered down in how they were described (another pet peeve of mine with Christian romance). Being a Christian is hard, and Christians face some serious challenges in life, and the tendency in Christian fiction novels is to sanitize the content to the point that the message lacks profundity. Despite the way the end dragged, leading to the loss of some of my emotional investment, this was a well-paced, well-written book overall.
Wow, this novella is so action-packed, it feels like a full-length book! I seriously love this series now. The magic is fantastic and McHugh clearly k...moreWow, this novella is so action-packed, it feels like a full-length book! I seriously love this series now. The magic is fantastic and McHugh clearly knows his legends. Nate is a guy I would love defending me, but I'd hate to have as an enemy. This is a series not to be missed.
Sarah is one of the "poor" kids at the exclusive prep school she attends. Her father lost his money, and with it, any claim she had to social...moreSynopsis
Sarah is one of the "poor" kids at the exclusive prep school she attends. Her father lost his money, and with it, any claim she had to social status in the environment where how much money your parents have determine how many friends you have and if the boys want to date you. She admires Dan, the heir to a lucrative technology enterprise from afar (with no hope of him ever noticing her that way), even though he's dating her best friend Jillian. Sarah is biding her time until she can graduate, enjoying her art class the most, out of a love for art and the fact that Dan is also in her class. She also spends her time trying to avoid the disturbing attentions of Frank, a mean-spirited classmate with an unhealthy attraction to her. In short, her life is rather mundane, until things change in a spectacular fashion, and events beyond her comprehension show her that her world is nothing like she believed.
I enjoyed reading The Heir. The writing is smooth and it kept my interest. Sarah is an appealing lead character. I appreciated how the story begins in a very mundane fashion, but with the continued narrative, the reader slowly becomes aware that things are far from what they seem. This links the reader's emotions very tangibly to Sarah's, as we experience things concurrently with her. As tragedy befalls Sarah, I felt so much sympathy for her, as well as unease at the strange developments in her situation and in the relationships she has with pivotal characters around her.
The science fiction angle is well done. However, I think seasoned science fiction readers might find her world-building thin. While I would have liked more complexity and description in the world-building in the later part of the book, the developing plot details perked my interest, and I appreciated the creativity on offer. I also liked the societal concepts she presents in the science fiction aspect of this novel.
While the romance is a strong part of this story, it did feel a bit subdued. The chemistry between Sarah and Dan could have been better developed and touched on earlier in the book, and their changing relationship toward the end of the book would have felt more authentic and believable.
The Heir is a good start to a promising series. Lynne Stringer has crafted a young adult science fiction romance that feels distinct, with a lead character that readers will root for and feel sympathy with in her journey.
This is by far the darkest book in the series so far, which is saying something. I think it might also be my favorite. I loved the magic and the super...moreThis is by far the darkest book in the series so far, which is saying something. I think it might also be my favorite. I loved the magic and the supernatural entities in the book, and Nate when he's peeved is something to watch out for. This would make a great action movie, although I'd cringe on some parts. Nate is the man!!
I'm loving the Hellequin series even more after reading this book. Nate is a Grade A Kickbutt Artist. The magic is pretty darn enthralling. Sensitive...moreI'm loving the Hellequin series even more after reading this book. Nate is a Grade A Kickbutt Artist. The magic is pretty darn enthralling. Sensitive readers will find aspects of the storyline hard to read at times, but I am glad that Nate is there to deliver some hard justice to horrible villains in this book. This series is not to be missed if you're a fan of urban fantasy.
I suppose I could only give this one 3.5 stars, because each day's devotional focus is so short. I think that's an advantage for readers who want some...moreI suppose I could only give this one 3.5 stars, because each day's devotional focus is so short. I think that's an advantage for readers who want something really quick, but I think I like a longer reading for my devotionals. Thus, I was a mite disappointed. I do have to say that the Gospel of John cannot fail to inspire believers with the majesty and power of the deity of Jesus, and his profound love for everyone. John called himself "the disciple whom Jesus loved." That man was so tapped into the love that Jesus has for us that the Romans couldn't even kill him when they tried boiling him in oil. That's a lesson for every believer to learn right there. So I was thrilled to get a copy of this devotional for free on Amazon Kindle. I have been specifically meditating on God's love for me (right believing leads to right living), and I already feel it has changed my life profoundly. John's gospel is required reading for believers who are on the same path for that reason stated above. I loved the prayers at the end of each devotion, and they definitely packed a punch for their short length.
So even though I didn't give this one a higher rating, I still feel it is a very worthwhile daily journal for less than a month of study.(less)
This was a nice, one month freebie devotional that I downloaded from Amazon Kindle. I was pretty happy with this overall. There is a daily writing, ba...moreThis was a nice, one month freebie devotional that I downloaded from Amazon Kindle. I was pretty happy with this overall. There is a daily writing, based on a scripture reference, with a nice prayer at the end. I found each day helpful to me, which I think is the mystery of the Holy Spirit, that each day can have something applicable, no matter what is going on in your life. I thought the prayers were well written, and short and sweet. It's good to have a nice little pre-written prayer if you're not confident in your prayers, even though prayer is just conversation with God, who loves you no matter what. I do have to say the one prayer about being a submissive wife didn't work for me (yeah, I'm not a big believer in that), but otherwise, they were all great.
I can't say anything more other than I recommend this one if you happened to pick it up free.
This was an interesting little book. I think it was more of a family drama than a romance though. I found the enormity of the family situation faced b...moreThis was an interesting little book. I think it was more of a family drama than a romance though. I found the enormity of the family situation faced by Brianna and Nathan to overshadow their romance in many ways. At the same time, I was really drawn into that situation after the book got started. I wonder what influenced Carole Mortimer when she wrote this book. It seems like it would make a good BBC drama, which isn't a bad thing. Some aspects of this book were surprisingly dark and sad for a Harlequin Presents, especially the reveal about Brianna's mother. It is a statement on how the sins of the prior generation can have a huge impact on the next ones, and that plays out in so many ways in this book.
I want to rate this one in two different ways. For a romance, I'd end up giving it three stars, because the romance is just not as well-developed, although there is certainly potential. I liked Brianna and Nathan quite a bit and I wish they had more page space to shine outside of the tangled family dynamics. As a serious drama story, I'd give it four stars. So I think 3.5 stars is a more than fair rating.
This was such an exciting free book deal on Amazon Kindle. I am an admitted huge fan of Anna Campbell, so I ran to get it when she said it was free in...moreThis was such an exciting free book deal on Amazon Kindle. I am an admitted huge fan of Anna Campbell, so I ran to get it when she said it was free in her newsletter. What a pleasant surprise that I enjoyed all the stories more or less equally. One caveat, if you don't care for very short romance stories at all, give this one a miss.
The premise was quite pleasing. This collection of stories revolve around the concept of a ball held by a particular doyenne of the ton known for throwing a Christmas ball where a particular couple finds their true love match. You would think the stories would be samey with this idea. In fact, quite the contrary. Each story had a different feel. In fact, you could go down the list and suggest themes for historical romance and this short collection more or less covers the gamut.
I liked the fact that an older heroine finds a second chance at love in Shana Galen's story. The inclusion of a Scarlet Pimpernel-type hero who rescued her and her son from the bloodthirsty French revolution and the fact that that same man has been in love with her for many years made this a delightfully romantic story. I didn't think I would enjoy having a heroine with grown sons as the main character, but it didn't bother me at all. I liked it, in fact.
Anna Campbell's story was the most passionate. I am not much of a fan of forbidden lovers, but she makes the desperate, illicit passion work in this story. Plus the hero is delightfully Scottish. The heroine is of the Cinderella variety, so you have to be in the mood for a downtrodden heroine. However, the romantic in me loves how the hero makes her long-cherished wish come true at the end.
Vanessa Kelly has a nice guy hero who is sorely lacking in historical romance. Thanks to her for that. While I love bad boy, dangerous heroes, I also love sweet, kind heroes and I like the idea that the hero can be that really adorable guy that always has a kind word for a wallflower and is a really good friend. This story hit my 'aww' button.
Readers who like friends to lovers stories will enjoy Kate Noble's offering. Our hero realizes that he took his next door neighbor and boon companion for granted when he returns to find her a diamond of the first water who has no time for him, despite her tomboy past. I liked the turnabout is fair play aspect of this story. It also reminded me of movies like Sabrina, where the hero realizes that his heroine has been there waiting for him all the time when he is about to lose her.
All in all, a very enjoyable, and quick read that this reader enjoyed when she collapsed exhausted on her bed on Christmas evening. I am so grateful that this was a free Christmas present on Amazon. Thumbs up!(less)
This is basically a compilation of scriptures distributed into bite-sized readings over the 31 days of December. Some are more directly focused on the...moreThis is basically a compilation of scriptures distributed into bite-sized readings over the 31 days of December. Some are more directly focused on the story of the Christ child, and others delve into his majesty and identity as the savior of all humanity and his fulfillment of the ancient prophecies that foretold of God's promise to reunite and redeem humanity through his Son. The scriptures featured are both Old and New Testament and show the unbreakable link between Mosaic Scriptures, and the work of the Prophets (looking forward to the awaited Messiah) and the New Testament, which focuses on the arrival of Jesus the Messiah. It worked very well as a devotional during the very busy month of December. It serves a dual purpose of reminding believers why Christmas has crucial spiritual importance and also as a reminder of our hope in Jesus. It's fairly no frills, but it serves its purpose and the scripture was food to this reader's spirit.
30 Scripture Readings for Christmas was a gem of a free read on Amazon. I could see me reading it again next year. It's great for readers who want to follow the scriptures through the Christmas story in December, but it could work any month, honestly. After all, the promised and fulfilled hope of Christmas can live everyday in our hearts.(less)
Proper young lady, Celine Fairweather is summoned to stay with her pregnant sister, Penelope, Duchess of Blackthorne, keep her company, and he...moreSynopsis
Proper young lady, Celine Fairweather is summoned to stay with her pregnant sister, Penelope, Duchess of Blackthorne, keep her company, and help run her household through her final month of pregnancy. Shortly after her arrival, the dashing Lord Adair asks the ducal couple if his second cousin, the roguish George Rodrick Irvin, Viscount Elmer, who is apparently hiding from pirates can stay with them since he's going out of the country. Celine is nursing an affection for a very bad poet by the name of Philbert Woodbead, and the bored Viscount is eager to help her reconnect with him to keep his mind off his own situation of being Public Enemy Number One with a vicious group of pirates. With his checkered past and happy-go-lucky personality, Viscount Elmer brings life and chaos into Celine's ordered existence. He makes her realize the difference between a temporary affection and true love, but is Viscount Elmer here to stay or is this just a temporary diversion while he's in hiding from his enemies?
Seeking Philbert Woodbead has the slapstick humor tone of its predecessor, Penelope, but unfortunately, it lacks its charm and the cohesiveness. Celine doesn't have the presence and doesn't captivate (and bewilder) the reader as thoroughly as her sister Penelope. That was a shame, since I really loved Penelope, her personality and her antics. I perceive that the author wanted to flip the page with this book, and have a serious heroine with a silly hero, but George isn't as funny or as lively a main character as this book needed.
While there are some humorous moments, they didn't feel organic. The silly tone felt contrived, as if the author was trying a little too hard. The biggest issue was this book doesn't have the energy and spirit a story of this kind needs. When a story is played for laughs, it needs to own its absurdity, and I didn't feel that needed sense of abandon to silliness that makes Penelope such a delightful read.
Overall, Celine is likable, although a bit bland. I didn't connect with her as much as I liked, and I hardly felt any connection with George. For a hero who supposedly had his sense of joie de vivre, I didn't feel it. The pirate storyline could have been a bit more prominent and better integrated into the storyline, because a lot of the humorous potential within this plot was left undeveloped.
It was great to catch up with Penelope and her duke again, and their scenes were some of my favorite parts. Penelope is now a married woman who is heavily pregnant, and seeing her and the duke deal with some of the aspects of pregnancy and marriage was a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed with Seeking Philbert Woodbead after being so captivated with Penelope. This is a decent book, and if I hadn't loved the first Fairweather series book so much, I would have enjoyed it more than I did. It just doesn't hold up as well in comparison. I'm still looking forward to continuing this series, because I do enjoy Anya Wylde's writing and her desire to make the reader laugh with sweet, fun Regency romance.