**spoiler alert** This was the first book I read where the heroine cheated on the hero. I read this book as a challenge to myself. I don't like adulte**spoiler alert** This was the first book I read where the heroine cheated on the hero. I read this book as a challenge to myself. I don't like adultery as a theme, and the sex of the offender is immaterial. I will occasionally find a romance with this theme that I like regardless, and this is one of them. But it takes a powerful storyline to get past my bias. It wasn't a comfortable book for me to read at all, but I was glad I did tackle this book.
Jehanne really messed up bad. She knew it. And she got caught. She got pregnant. When her husband comes back from the crusades, having been gone long enough that there is no question that the child she had was not his, everyone expects him to take her to task. The thing I thought was great about this book is that Galeran shows her a lot of grace. He does hit her, but he has to because if he didn't do it, the punishment would be a lot worse for his 'wayward wife.' I am no way advocating a man beating his wife. Fortunately he doesn't hurt her at all. The fact that this is necessary is what bothered me. How many times does a man cheat on his wife and not face repercussions, but when a wife does the same thing, the punishment is severe. I do realize that the stakes are higher because of inheritance issues, but that is not an issue since Jehanne has a little girl.
I really liked Galeran. He's a beta hero. Very kind and loving, but possessing an inner strength. The adultery issue was like a piece of sand in my shell, and I spent most of this book wishing that Jehanne hadn't done it. Hadn't succumbed to her loneliness and fear of believing her husband was dead. Not having given in to her need for comfort from the knight who loved/was infatuated with her. But that was not the case. I suppose Ms. Beverley wanted to write a story showing how a marriage can/must overcome this sort of issue. She did a good job with it.
She didn't cop out and have the heroine be raped by the father of the baby. It was consensual. And Jehanne didn't try to lie and say it was rape. She did face the consequences like a grown up, which I respected her for. I liked that Galeran was determined to handle the issue his way, and not according to what outside parties thought of the situation. He loved his wife, had yearned for his family and home for the hard years at war. He wasn't going to throw that away because she had made this mistake. I had to admire him for that. I liked that he accepted and loved Jehanne's daughter, even though some husbands would have forced her to give up the baby and would have resented the 'cuckoo in his nest.' He didn't do that. To him, this was his daughter.
I don't know that I want to read too many more stories with this kind of plot, but this was a good story and it was handled well. I have come to notice that Ms. Beverley doesn't shy away from having difficult situations and characters in her books. I always know when I am reading her writing because of the depth of the story and the humanity of her characters.
This is a challenging romance to read. If you decide to read it, be prepared to deal with a difficult situation that might cause some angst, especialy if this is out of your comfort zone....more
Lady Ayla is threatened with either marriage to the powerful, conquering lord Margrave von Falkenstein or for her lands to be confiscated and 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.
After reading this entire book, I would say the comparison to Julie Garwood's Highland romance books is apt. Yet, it's good to have a new author who wAfter reading this entire book, I would say the comparison to Julie Garwood's Highland romance books is apt. Yet, it's good to have a new author who writes Highland romance with a lovable heroine and a fierce hero who is not quite tamed, but definitely gives his heart to her. If it works, why not do it?
Favorite aspects of this novel:
*Hands down, I really like Mairin. Who doesn't like a heroine who is genuinely kind and good-hearted? One who is also tough and determined but sweet and innocent as well. *A hero who does truly love her and shows it, despite the fact that it goes against his well-earned, tough-guy reputation to be a marshmallow for his woman. Ewan happily said I love you, which is awesome! (view spoiler)[Even though he married her for her dowry and heritage, in the end, he was more than willing to sacrifice that just to have her safe and sound with him. (hide spoiler)] *The suspense was good. The book starts with a bang, and the tension is well-sustained throughout with threats on Mairin's life. My heart was beating very fast towards the end. I literally wondered if I would get the happy ending I expected. Of course, I was not disappointed. *The bonding between Mairin and Crispen. Too cute how he would sleep in the bed with her and truly adored her. But then, she risked personal injury for his safety. Crispen was a cute kid period. *I felt like the period was well-represented without going too stereotypical "Highland romance." While I don't mind brogue, it was nice that Banks didn't feel the need to pepper the dialogue with Highlander accents. And the hero didn't wear a kilt. He wore trews. A Highland book but I didn't have to constantly be reminded of that in an in-your-face way.
*I think Mairin took more lickings than Harry Dresden from the series by Jim Butcher, and boy does he get hurt a lot! If this was a Charmed episode, she'd be rendered infertile by all the injuries she received (for those who watched, you know I'm talking about Piper). *Evil, evil villain. I did feel cheated that (view spoiler)[ I didn't get to see him get his arse kicked by Ewan, Mairin, or at least someone. My hope is that this is rectified in future books. (hide spoiler)]. *Really like that Rhionna promises to be a bonafide kickbutt heroine. Looking forward to her book. *The love scenes are nicely steamy! (view spoiler)[ I loved how after their first time is abbreviated by a threat, and Mairin does not have much confidence in Ewan's loving skills, he proves her wrong! (hide spoiler)]
Overall, this is a very good book. I am glad to find some newer Highland historical romance novels to read, since I enjoy them. While it wasn't mind-blowing, it was entertaining and had a novel feel to it so that I didn't feel like I was reading the same book again. The characters were well-developed and the humor touches were good. While Ewan and Mairin both have some miss-steps in their interactions with each other, it was clear that they were meant for each other, and I could feel the love. I also loved how Mairin won over the clan's loyalty.
I recommend this book to historical romance readers, especially those who enjoy medieval, Highlander books.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I'd love to give this 5 stars for the droolicious cover. But the actual book is more like 3.5 stars. Entertaining stories that I think most fans of HI'd love to give this 5 stars for the droolicious cover. But the actual book is more like 3.5 stars. Entertaining stories that I think most fans of Hot Scots who happen to be vampires would enjoy. (Danielle pauses mini-review to stare longingly at the beautiful cover.) Where was I???? (Pulls attention back to review.) Oh. This was reviewed for the September issue of Affaire de Coeur magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com....more
This was a total impulse buy that paid off. I loved this book. It was one of those stories that I couldn't put down, and I was compelled to read, evenThis was a total impulse buy that paid off. I loved this book. It was one of those stories that I couldn't put down, and I was compelled to read, even though I had already started some other books. It couldn't believe how fast I read it, within about four to five hours.
I love medieval romances, so that helped. And I'm a sucker for the broken/scarred/hurt hero. Well, Roderick is all three. He comes back from the Crusades a broken man, although he had lots of baggage before he went there, with a father who did nothing but torment and treat him poorly and had driven his mother to suicide. Thankfully, his good friend that he makes during the Crusades saves his life and gets him medical attention, and the word that his father has died and he must find a bride to keep his land, gives him the strength to fight to get better and to come back to England.
There were times when Roderick descended into self-pity. I suppose this might not work for all readers, but it was realistic. If if a man had always been talked down to and ridiculed by his father, I wouldn't expect him to have the healthiest self-esteem. Yes, he might annoy some readers the way he pushes his son away and doesn't want to let Michaela in, but I loved Roderick from the first page. He's one of those heroes I really wanted to see happy. I could understand why he kept those he loved and who loved him at a distance, feeling he wasn't worthy and would fail them.
I adored Michaela as well. She had some moments of self-interest, but at the same time, I could see why she was motivated in such a fashion. She had been picked on her whole life because of her mother insisting that she had gotten kidnapped by The Wild Hunt. They called her Devil's Child and stuff like that. She was clumsy and tended to trip and run into things. Plus she grew up poor, although very much loved. One night at a party at her overlord's manor, she gets his attention by her bond with his daughter, Elizabeth, who hasn't talked since her mother died. Also her beautiful singing voice makes Michaela stand out. He invites her to come live with them as Elizabeth's companion. Because of this attention she gets from him, she fell in 'love' with her overlord, and he made some gestures like he was going to marry her, but married her arch-nemesis instead, humiliating her. So she decided to marry the Beast, who was the lord over the man who spurned her, a move motivated out of revenge against this man who spurned her, since he won't inherit the properties of Roderick, his cousin.
She goes to his rundown castle, determined to fulfill the required ninety days of residence before the marriage. When she finally sees The Beast, she is instantly attracted to him, scars, limping, and surly demeanor and all. She falls into his beautiful and bright green eyes, and likes his large, sculpted body, despite the fact that it's clear that his leg and arm are crippled. Their dance around each other made this book worth reading. There was an intense attraction between Roderick and Michaela that sparkled off the page. At times, Michaela was very much put into the role of the "Chaser," but it worked for me, because Roderick had never been loved in that way, so it was nice to see someone working for his affections. It was cute how Roderick was somewhat bewildered by his strong feelings for Michaela.
Another thing I loved was the toddler Leo. He was so cute. I just wanted to take him out this story as my own baby. I loved his baby talk, and how loving he was. As Roderick's acknowledged son by a prostitute in the Crusades, he had a big role, since he was Roderick's heir. Also, the interplay with Roderick as he tries to keep his distance out of fear of destroying his son the way his father destroyed him was pivotal in the evolution of this story. Just reading the scenes with this cute little boy made this book so much more enjoyable. I'm so serious. This kid was so adorable. I liked the way Michaela bonded with him and helped improve the relationship between Roderick and his son. Like any baby, Leo loved his father unconditionally, but was somewhat kept at a distance that was somewhat confusing for the toddler. I was glad that this changed significantly over the course of the book.
Hugh was also a great character. His steadfast friendship and aid to Roderick. His love and care for Leo. His flamboyant tastes in clothing. His potty mouth and irreverent humor. His bad advice to Michaela about how to snare Roderick's affections. It gave this book another appealing layer.
There is a thread of the paranormal that runs through this book that intensifies at the climax. I thought it was very interesting, and also unnerving. It was very cool. Now I have to read the short story in Highland Beast, which is about a character who shows up in this story.
I really, really liked this book,and I would highly recommend it to fans of scarred/wounded heroes,and heroines who are determined to get their man, but aren't obnoxious about it. I'm glad I was able to spend a few hours with Roderick, Michaela, cute little Leo, and Hugh, who made me laugh, and also choked me up with his devotion to Roderick. It was time well spent....more
I would have loved this book had I not wanted to murder the hero. Gavin Montgomery should be tied to two tons of bricks and dropped off a very high clI would have loved this book had I not wanted to murder the hero. Gavin Montgomery should be tied to two tons of bricks and dropped off a very high cliff....more
I couldn't stay away from this book any longer. It sat on my bed, calling my name, and I dived in. This is a good book for those who like the English-I couldn't stay away from this book any longer. It sat on my bed, calling my name, and I dived in. This is a good book for those who like the English-Scottish conflict romances. It's got a healthy dose of the politics of that situation, but not so much that it's boring. The focus stays on the growing romance between Grace and Lachlan. Their relationship doesn't start out ideal, either.
First of all, Grace has a skin condition (I think it was probably eczema), that she was self-conscious about. She also stutters, has really bright red hair, and limps. She's 26 yrs old, and firmly on the shelf. A big fan of Plain Jane stories, I was wondering where things would lead as I read this story. Would this be a 'makeover' story or the kind of plain jane tales I prefer where the hero sees the heroine as she is and loves her for the person she is. Luckily this fell into the second category. Grace's lack of looks wasn't really an issue for Lachlan. His issue was his weariness at all the fighting and intrigues, his distrust for his bride who may or may not have been his deceased brother's lover and murder. He is attracted to her voluptuous curves, her brown eyes, and her bright shiny hair. He also finds himself attracted to the courage she shows, despite the fear that she has.
Lachlan is one of those hard heroes that you have to warm up to. He fully intends to keep his mistress, although he will take full advantage of having a comely wife to get with child many times over. There is an almost adultery scene, but I was gratified that he couldn't do it in the end, because all he could think about was how it felt to be with his wife instead. Yay! But I was pretty annoyed when he was allowing his mistress to fondle him at the table with his wife. Grace was a cool customer about it. I probably would have brained him with a tankard. But all ended up well with that situation. Lachlan soon comes to realize that he doesn't want any other woman but his wife.
Grace is considered an outsider initially, but she slowly wins over her husband's people, first by saving a boy from a severe burning, and then by saving the son of a neighboring clan, who could be an enemy of the Kerr clan. However, there is sabotage trying to make it seem like Grace is trying to bring down the clan. I liked that Grace remained steadfast and true to herself the whole time. She didn't jump off the handle or do anything stupid. She showed the maturity of a woman of her age, and trusted that her integrity would shine through.
This book might not be to the taste of those romance readers who don't like a lot of history and politics in their romance. But I felt it was well intregrated into the story. Lachlan is in a dicey situation. He has loyalties to some of the English rulers but also the Scottish rulers. This book is set during the time when King David has returned, but also there is Robert the Bruce with his agendas, and some of the Scottish leaders want Scotland to be free of English rule, and some want Scotland under England. And right in the middle is Lachlan. He had been fighting his whole life according to pre-decided loyalties because of his French grandmother and his Scottish father who turned into a womanizing drunkard. Plus his brother wasn't the best man either, being a womanizer himself, and also very self-serving, going off and making political alliances he shouldn't have. All Lochlan wants is a home and a family. Although he is not happy at the edict from King David to marry Grace, she turns out to be the key to having the home he always longed for.
At times I was frustrated at Lochlan's lack of faith in Grace, in the face of clear evidence that she had proven her loyalty. I tried to tell myself that it was reasonable for a man who had buried a faithless wife and was cuckolded by his brother, and who spent most of his life involved in court intrigues, to be distrustful. Thankfully, Grace shows her solidarity to Lochlan and her new home not by going through any changes, but by being herself and being steadfast in her loyalties to the husband she quickly falls in love with.
This was a beautiful story, and the writing is fairly artistic in some passages. I think that Ms. James really poured her heart into writing a story that would touch the reader and give them entertainment that engaged the mind and the senses. Highly recommended for fans of Scottish-English conflict romances, arranged marriage, and plain jane themes in romance....more
It was great to finally read Reynold's story. I love him even more after seeing him find his way to his own happy ending. Reynold really made his legIt was great to finally read Reynold's story. I love him even more after seeing him find his way to his own happy ending. Reynold really made his leg more important than it was. He thought that it was all that anyone ever saw about him, and felt bad because it made him feel different from his brothers. He needed to strike out on his own and find himself. Fortunately, his pilgrimage brought him to a group of people badly in need of a hero. Sabine and her remaining people believe they are being preyed upon by a dragon. They entreat Reynold to protect them from the dragon. Reynold doesn't really believe in dragons, but his knight code requires him to protect those in need. Plus, Peregrine, the squire appointed by his kooky l'Estrange aunts by marriage, insists he needs to do this because it's preordained as his knight's quest. Reynold agrees to help them, and finds himself falling for the blonde beauty Sabine, even knowing she can't feel the same for him because of his infirmity.
I felt that Reynold was somewhat too mopey about his leg. It makes sense, to a certain extent. Being in a family of larger than life men, it must have been hard to be born different. This mission really gets Reynold to see himself and his 'lame' leg different. It doesn't have to be something that requires him to be alone and unloved by a good woman. It doesn't have to define him as a person. He begins to see himself through others' eyes for the strong, intelligent, capable man that he is.
Sabine adores him from the beginning, although she feels he's too good for a simple Sexton's daughter. Plus she's got her own secret cross to bear that she feel makes her unworthy of a man. Reynold is drawn to her, but thinks that she just wants his skills as a knight and not him. Reynold was somewhat frustrating in how he continued to push Sabine away because of his lack of self-worth. He was the only one who didn't see how wonderful he was. He had a habit of comparing himself to his brothers in a way that wasn't favorable for him--although having read the other de Burgh books, I could see that all the brothers have their weaknesses, no less than Reynold's. I was glad that he gets a wakeup call and comes to realize how much he's indulging in self-pity.
Although I thought this was a really good book, I was disappointed on how it was way too focused on the intrigue and mystery of the dragon. I wanted to see more about Reynold and Sabine's relationship. There are no love scenes. Okay, I admit that bothered me, because all the other de Burgh books did have some nice love scenes. I felt like Reynold should have gotten some good love scenes too. I think this book would have been five stars, if it had been a touch more steamy and if the romance was more of a focus. As it is, it's still a very good book, and I am so glad that I got to read Reynold story. I love this man!
I was a bit disappointed by this book. It was good, but not great. It never quite grabbed me. Let's put it this way, I decided I'd rather sleep on theI was a bit disappointed by this book. It was good, but not great. It never quite grabbed me. Let's put it this way, I decided I'd rather sleep on the planes than read it. I think it had great potential with a tortured hero and heroine, a heroine who was misunderstood and had a bad reputation, and was forced to wed a brutish, scary warrior. That could have been a great book.
I tired of the back and forth, hormonal imbalances of the hero and heroine. The couldn't decide if they loved each other or hated each other. I really didn't feel there were great obstacles between them, so their bickering was mildly annoying. Maybe if the love scenes had been more passionate I would have accepted this better. I don't think love scenes have to be explicit, but the ones in this book was unnaturally lukewarm. I didn't really find the action scenes very exciting. Normally that is a part of medievals I really enjoy. Not necessarily a lot of blood and gore, but more showing and less telling. And since the hero was known to be a formidable warrior, I was expecting to be wowed by his prowess in the fight scenes. Also the cameos by King Henry and Queen Eleanor didn't really seem that vivid. Okay, I am quite the Medieval Romance Nerd, so my standards are a bit high, but I enjoy having the requisite, yet well-done cameo by a regal figure of the time.
Although this is not the worst book I've read, but I have read much better medievals in the Harlequin Historical line, and one by this author. I think for the disgraced by their allegiance to the King/Queen, you should reach for The King's Mistress by Terri Brisbin before this one....more
Lord of Desire was a very good introduction for me to Paula Quinn's work. I found myself drawn into this novel about a young woman who falls in love wLord of Desire was a very good introduction for me to Paula Quinn's work. I found myself drawn into this novel about a young woman who falls in love with a man based on how powerfully he loves another woman. It sounds weird, but this was quite a hook.
Brynna came across Brand and his love Colette, frolicking in a sun-drenched pond. From that moment on, she cannot shake the visions of her black-haired, blue-green eyed merman with his all-consuming joy and passion that spills from him for his lover. Much to her surprise, her merman turns out to be one and the same as her arranged husband. Except now he is a cold-eyed, fierce, frightening Norman warrior, one who vows never to love her. Although Brynna craves a husband that can love her, she is willing to marry him anyway, if it will save her home. However, this strong, determined woman can't help but fight to chip away the glacial ice that coats her husband's heart.
I was captivated with Brand. His mix of icy ferocity and passionate emotion truly intrigued me, and had me falling for him. I liked the descriptions of him, and how clear it was that he was a very good man, one who'd had his heart stomped on by a woman who he loved so deeply that this love destroyed him when she betrayed him. He was very tortured in that he had given so much of himself that nothing but a deep, dark void remained. I could totally see why Brynna fell hard for him. I did too, I must admit.
At first, I was worried that Brynna would be too bratty for me, but she wasn't. She was very spirited and she stood up for herself and for others, which I liked. I loved that she was strong enough to take on her troubled husband (and the spectre of the woman who did him wrong), and to love him deeply, even knowing it could be a losing proposition in the end.
I liked the setting and the storyline, which prominently features a real life historical figure, Duke William of Normandy, otherwise known to us medieval history buffs as William the Conquerer, the man who changed the face of England in 1066. William's character is brought to vivid life as a big, strong, hearty, passionate man. Brand is one of his most trusted warriors, and William himself campaigned for the marriage between Brand and Brynna. He becomes a close friend and ally to Brynna in her battle to win her husband's frozen heart. I have this feeling that Ms. Quinn has a bit of a crush on William the Conqueror. He plays a big role in this book, and his scenes and dialogue are delivered with a loving attention to detail. It was a nice touch for me, since I haven't read any books that showed William as a real man, and a prominent character. I have to say that I liked him very much in this novel.
Although there are elements of intrigue and danger, most of the focus is centered on the developing relationship between Brynna and Brand. The chemistry and passion between them is red-hot, and I felt that powerful intensity that wrapped their hearts together. The love scenes were good and plentiful, although I did feel like some of the word choices were a little purple prosy. I struggle with how love scenes are described in some books. I don't like the raunchy language, but I admit that the purple euphemisms can make me giggle. It makes me wonder if it's better just to keep the descriptions vague if you don't want to go there and be too explicit. I think in this case, the attraction between this couple was so fierce, I probably didn't even need all the descriptions to be satisfied with the love scenes.
One other aspect I liked was how sinister the villain turned out to be. I read a lot of books, and I wish that many more had truly nasty villainesses. This is one for you if you like to see a good female villain. It really struck me that this woman could be so conniving and evil. I wish there was a bit more of a resolution on her final fate, but at least she's out of the picture between Brand and Brynna. And that's all that matters.
I have to say I am glad that I have several of Ms. Quinn's books in my pile. I like her style. She won me over with this tale of a man that is both hot like fire, and cold and fierce like iron is to faeries. I am a sucker for a good medieval romance, and this fit the bill very nicely. Recommended!...more
Short synopsis from historicalromancewriters.com: A rough-and-tumble warrior and an innocent intellectual embark on a dangerous mission to expose theShort synopsis from historicalromancewriters.com: A rough-and-tumble warrior and an innocent intellectual embark on a dangerous mission to expose the scheme of a corrupt churchman and save England from civil war. But their plan may be cut short and their lives endangered by the undeniable, irresistible force of passion flaring between them.
The Sun and the Moon is a love story between a female scholar, Phillipa and a dissolute, cynical warrior/spy, Hugh in Medieval Europe. They work together to infiltrate a spy ring with treasonous intent, in which one of the leaders is heavily involved in sadomasochistic sexual practices, and the hero has a history with her.
This story is not the usual. It is a celebration of the golden age of historical romances, where there was more freedom to write an unusual historical, with characters who weren't in the 'norm.'
The highlight of this story was the relationship between Hugh and Phillipa. They are two people that you would not expect to fall in love each other, because they are so different. The hero is a sensualist, yet cold to other emotions. He is not a man of faith, in the slightest. The heroine is a rational and spiritual person, who has not discovered her sensual side, despite being recruited to seduce a cleric who is involved in the plot to overthrow King Henry. Because she is a female scholar at Oxford, she has the reputation for being sexually free with her favors (an inaccurate one, which Hugh soon finds out). In the course of their investigation, they learn from each other how to express those parts of themselves that they kept hidden and unrealized.
The sadomasochistic aspects linger on the edge of this story, not enough to take a reader out of her comfort zone, but coloring the story enough to reveal what an evil person the villain is, and that there are some aspects of BDSM that might be integrated into a healthy sexual relationship by interested parties. I'm not a fan of S/M, or particularly interested in BDSM, but it was interesting, and not abhorrent, to read about in this story. I enjoyed the love scenes, watching the heroine and hero explore themselves together, finding a deeper connection past the physical.
I recommend this book to readers who want a very deep historical romance, that has an interesting story that goes out of the typical formula. It's well-plotted, and the the adventure elements are very enjoyable. The characters were compelling, and you cared about them. I certainly wanted them to get their HEA, and I was very glad that they did when the book ended.
Reviewer's Note: This book is listed under the author's other name, P.B. Ryan on Amazon.com....more
A Historical Christmas Present lives up to its name with three enjoyable, Christmastime historical romance stories.
"I Will" is actually a favorite reA Historical Christmas Present lives up to its name with three enjoyable, Christmastime historical romance stories.
"I Will" is actually a favorite reread of mine. I think is my third time reading this story. I loved it just as much. I think that Ms. Kleypas found just the right story to bring the Christmas mood to this reader. This is a story about redemption and second chances. How hope comes in very unexpected packages, just like the baby born in a manger over two thousand years ago. Kleypas gives us the unredeemable rake and matches him up with a spinster who has the key to his very hidden heart. I loved both characters, even at their worst. Andrew has a ways to go, but love changes him, and his transformation takes place so believably in this 100 or so pages story, a testament to Ms. Kleypas' formidable writing skills. Of course this one gets five stars.
"Three French Hens" by Lynsay Sands is my least favorite story, but it has some stiff competition. This one is a medieval-set story that brings to mind "The Prince and the Pauper", where a lowly kitchen maid is talked into masquerading as a lady when Lady Joan is forced to spend time with her betrothed during holiday celebrations. Sands is known for her slapstick-type humor and some of that is on offer. It's a good story, although it doesn't quite feel as period as I would have liked. I think that she ties up the story very well, and I was happily surprised at the reveal near the end. It's a good story, so I'd give it 3.5 stars.
Leigh Greenwood ends this collection with a pleasing note with "Father Christmas". I have an enormous weakness for western historical romances, and this story reminded me of why I love them so much. Joe is a rough, gruff prison escapee with a heart of pure gold. The lovely ladies he gets charge of via his rascally deceased partner have him like a pile of mush in no time flat. Although love happens fast, it was completely credible. Joe never had a home, and he finds one with Mary, her stepdaughter Sarah, the baby she's expecting, and on their small ranch property. I just adored Joe, and Mary is a sweet, and likable heroine. I loved little Sarah, and I enjoyed how Samson, Joe's dog, his horse General Burnside, and even an ornery cow that Joe names Queen Charlotte also have pivotal roles in this beautiful little tale. I guess you can tell this is a five star read for me.
I was so happy to be able to fit this collection into my Christmas reads. It was an enjoyable book that definitely added to my Christmas mood. Thumbs up.
This is a recommended book if you like a good, realistic medieval romance with a good dose of adventure, and have an interest in the Crusades. SorayaThis is a recommended book if you like a good, realistic medieval romance with a good dose of adventure, and have an interest in the Crusades. Soraya is a likeable, industrious, wise, and loving heroine. Although initially Soraya vows to kill Marc for killing her uncle, She didn't hang onto her vow to kill Marc so long that it was annoying. Instead she forgave him when she came to know him as a person. He accidentally killed her uncle, and he was sorry for it, and that was made clear. I was glad that the whole book didn't consister of Soraya hating Marc and trying to kill him the whole time.
Soraya is dressed as a boy, and initially Marc doesn't catch onto her being female. But when he grabs her to pull her out of the way during an attack, it becomes very clear that she's a woman. Marc is an honorable man, so he doesn't spend the whole book trying to seduce Soraya and discard her, knowing that he has a betrothed waiting at home. I have read books with heroes who have no such scruples. Their love grows stronger as they suffer through countless dangers on their long trek back to Scotland. It was nice to see that when they come together, it is out of true love on both sides.
Marc is a battle-hardened, war-weary soldier in the Crusades army. He has seen horrible massacre and taken part out of a vow to follow his King, Richard the Lionheart during the seige of Acre where 2000 hostages were killed (some were Jews and Christians, not just Muslims). But he saw that this honorable man had ordered some unspeakable acts that even their enemies the Saracens might not have done and it killed something in him. Luckily Soraya comes along and gives him a reason to hope and to live again.
I liked Marc as a hero, but I have to say that Soraya impressed me much more. She was a very strong, caring, and resourceful person. She kept her commitments and did not give her love or trust easily. But when she did, she was steadfast. She stayed with Marc long past the point of it being to her benefit, even knowing that he would be returning a betrothed in Scotland, to a land where she had no ties, and would likely be disliked as a foreigner. Thankfully her steadfast love is rewarded, with a little help from Queen Eleanor.
The descriptions of the medieval towns were well done and authentic. You could see, smell, and hear what went on there. Danger lurked around every corner on their arduous journey, as Saladin sends assassins after Soraya if she fails to deliver the message he has entrusted her to give to King Richard. The book begins in the Middle East and ends in Scotland, as Marc has been tasked with escorting his wine-sodden, lecherous, but at the same time devout monarch, King Richard back to England. After seeing Richard safely back to England. Marc will return back to his lands to take up his role as the new laird of his people, since his brother has died.
The descriptions of King Richard speak to me as realistic. He was known to be a very blood-thirsty warrior, and had a reputation for being at least bisexual if not gay. In this novel Marc takes measures to protect the young boy Soray from his monarch's attentions. I appreciated that King Richard was shown as a real life person, not a historical figure who has been lionized to be completely absent of faults. King Richard doesn't make their journey easy at all, and a significant part of the time is spent rescuing the monarch from scrape after scrape.
Queen Eleanor also makes an appearance. With any other historical fiction I have read, she comes off as a powerful, intelligent, and magnetic figure. This book was no different. The use of Queen Eleanor and King Richard as characters adds depth to this love story.
Although Marc does not have a Scottish name, he is half-Scot, so this book would appeal to lovers of scottish historical romances, since it shows a Scottish slice of life, when the couple finally make it to Scotland.
I enjoyed this book very much as a medieval historical romance about the Crusades. ...more
I really loved this book. I thought it was so neat to have a deaf hero, and to see how he has compensated and become a very strong, capable man duringI really loved this book. I thought it was so neat to have a deaf hero, and to see how he has compensated and become a very strong, capable man during a time when people with disabilities were discounted and not even considered worthy of having their own properties and running their lives. I also enjoyed the relationship between Mairi and Robert. Lyn Stone knows how to write romantic and sensual, and interesting love stories. A must read.”...more
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I think Claudia Dain is a great writer, but the plot of a woman who had been married four times priorI was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I think Claudia Dain is a great writer, but the plot of a woman who had been married four times prior was not to my taste. I ended being pleasantly surprised. I felt deeply for Nicolaa, having been wedded, bedded, and rejected four times over by men who wanted to marry up. How scarring that must be to a person's self-esteem. And the King just keeps giving her to loyal knights or subjects as is his so-called right. When he gives her to Roland, she expects things to be little different. Except Roland has decided he wants to woo his emotionally-distant wife into loving him as she should love her husband.
Initially his motives are selfish. He doesn't even plan to stay around (although he will stay married to her). I thought that was asking a lot for him to want a loving, devoted wife that he wasn't even going to commit to living with. But he gets entrapped by his own plan. He begins to fall for the strong, yet inwardly vulnerable woman who he has been wed to. When she relies on her priest and confidant (who happens to be in love with her and doesn't want her married again) to get an annulment since their marriage hadn't been consummated, Roland forcibly consummates the marriage, determined that she won't be able to find a way to end it. I didn't like that. I suppose I could understand why he did it, but it wasn't a very nice thing to do.
However, Nicolaa doesn't let it faze her. She has dealt with four other husbands of varying temperaments and has trained herself to endure and give them what they want (or lip service) until they go away. Except Roland doesn't seem to fall into the usual pattern. He refuses to be ignored and tries to be everything that he feels she needs in a husband. His efforts start to chip away at the frozen wall around her heart. She finds herself falling deeply for the serious, godly knight who spent the several years prior to their marriage celibate after the loss of his dearly-loved wife who begged him to take her on the Crusades with him. He had determined he would not love again, but he falls deeply for his reluctant wife.
As is typical for a Claudia Dain book, the characters are complex, yet the writing style is poised yet simple. You feel immersed in the medieval period, and get to experience the everyday trials and tribulations of people who lived in that time. But fundamentally, she tells a good love story about people who have suffered in their lives, yet manage to find true love where they did not expect it to be found. ...more
This is my first time reading Tamara Leigh's historicals, and I was impressed. Although this is not a quick read, it's worth investing time into readiThis is my first time reading Tamara Leigh's historicals, and I was impressed. Although this is not a quick read, it's worth investing time into reading it. I felt the setting was very authentic (which I really like in a historical), the characters were intense and multi-dimensional, and the relationships complex.
The Norman conquest of England under Saxon rule was a defining point in English history. It affected the country profoundly and led to much bloodshed. One of the things I really love about historical romance is the duality of having a great history lesson with an engaging romantic story. I think that Ms. Leigh did a great job of doing both of these. You get to see the human element, and how the everyday person was affected by the Norman conquest in this story.
Another thing I liked about this book is that the heroine Rhiannyn is not a lady. She was the daughter of yeoman farmers. The Norman conquering lord, Thomas Pendry, sees her and takes her into his keep, makes her a lady, and decides to marry her. She doesn't want to marry him because he's a Norman, and she was promised to marry the true lord of the keep, Edwin. Edwin is a fugitive, who should have died with his overlord (as is the custom of Saxons), but was brought back to life by an old witch. Rhiannyn was treated kindly by Thomas, but never grew to love him. But when he is murdered by an unknown Saxon rebel, she is accused of the crime. She actually takes the blame because feels her actions of running away lead to the murder. Even though she could have ran away, she stays and holds Thomas while he dies. Thomas curses her because she doesn't love him, also because fleeing after her leads to his death. He calls to his brother for vengeance and curses Rhiannyn to never to know love and to never marry and have children unless she belongs to a Pendry.
The instrument of vengeance is Maxen, Thomas's brother who was called the Bloodlust Beast for his many kills on the battlefield of Hastings. He has retired to a monastery to repent of his sins. When he gets a message that his brother has been slain, he comes to wreak vengeance. I found Maxen to be a very complicated, and initially not very likable character. He was a very angry man and seemed to let his anger control him too much. Although he spent two years in the monastery, he still seethed with negative emotions, the root of which are revealed as the story continues. He wants to destroy all those culpable for his brother's murder, and Rhiannyn is at the top of his list. However, when he sees her, he finds himself drawn to her in ways he doesn't like. Initially, he perceives this as the trap she set for his brother.
Rhiannyn is a complex character as well. She is completely torn between her loyalties to the Saxons, and the desire to do what is right and fair. She doesn't care for the Normans, but she wants peace, and she realizes that peace will come when the Saxons accept Norman rule. She is also conflicted because she is very attracted to Maxen, despite his anger and perceived ruthlessness. She is treated terribly by her people because they think she is a traitor, but she does do what she can to help them, even though it makes trouble for her with Maxen.
Maxen wants to be cruel to Rhiannyn, but he finds himself incapable of doing so. First and foremost, I think deep down, he didn't have it in him to be a cruel person. He might have been afflicted by bloodlust while on the battlefield. Also, his father trained him from the time he could pick up a sword to be focused on being a warrior. That kind of training is hard to turn off, even for a person that despises killing. That war rages in him. The desire for peace against the violent nature that was fostered in him by his sire. But it is clear that he would never hurt someone more delicate and helpless. Even when the Saxon rebels are captured, he spares them out of the desire to see no more lives lost. Ultimately, Maxen won my respect although he could be a hard person capable of harsh words, and initially he doesn't have honest intentions towards Rhiannyn. He swore he wouldn't marry her because of what she does to his brother. But he does want her and has intentions to make her his leman (mistress). Maxen is shown to be a very tortured character, but you can see how he heals because of Rhiannyn's gentle regard and acceptance over the course of this book.
Rhiannyn feels desire for Maxen that is difficult to resist. She is drawn to Maxen in a way she never felt for Edwin or Thomas. She knows that Maxen won't marry her, but the needs of her heart tell her to yield to him. There is a tug of war inside of her, and Maxen tests her willpower, although he also forces himself to hold back until she is ready. There was good tension and dramatic emotion between Maxen and Rhiannyn in this book that kept me reading to see what was going to happen.
I liked Maxen's younger brother Christopher very much. He is fourteen in this book, yet very mature. He was physically disabled, with a bad leg, but with an incredible brain and heart. He was the healer for the keep, but also very wise. He saw much and managed to probe deep into the hearts of Maxen and Rhiannyn and to help them see the truth about themselves and each other. He was quite the matchmaker for the couple, in fact. I hope that Ms. Leigh wrote a book about him before she stopped writing historicals, because I'd like to see him find happiness when he gets a little older.
There were times I had to put the book down and read something else for a little bit. I think it's because this is a serious book. Sometimes you want to read something quicker and light. This won't fit the bill when you're looking for a light read. But it definitely will fulfill a historical romance fan who likes an intense story that shows history from a personal perspective. All the characters are shown as humans, with good and bad urges. Edwin is the enemy to the Normans, but he is merely a man who wants back what was stolen from him. He is a man of honor, and that is made clear. His honor is questioned on a personal level in a way that really adds another layer to this story.
I will add Saxon Bride to my keeper shelf as another very good historical romance, highlighting the Normal Conquest Era. I was glad to read this book, and I look forward to reading more by this author....more
This is a truly lovely romance story about two scarred people who find each other. There are parts that made me so sad to think about how Gillian wasThis is a truly lovely romance story about two scarred people who find each other. There are parts that made me so sad to think about how Gillian was treated by her family. I was pretty curious to see how Ms. Kurland would handle a blind hero in a medieval romance. Think about it. How difficult that would be for a blinded knight? How could he run his keep, and keep what he earned by blood and sweat, in a world where might means right? I think she did a great job of dealing with the blindness issue. There's a part that is very realistic, although those who dislike heroes who are not 100% physically capable probably won't like it. But it made sense the way things happen.
I thought the emotion and love between Gillian and Christopher was so touching and poignant. The power of it transcended the words on the paper and went right to my heart. There are no love scenes in this book. And to be honest, they are not necessary. Yes, I love a good love scene, but a book that has a powerful love story doesn't need one.
This book was also good for the way you see scared, shy Gillian grow into a strong, beautiful woman. She was described as being unattractive, but part of it was because of her lack of self-esteem and belief that she was unworthy. There is no magical makeover. You see Gillian's inner beauty bloom as she is carefully tended and loved by Christopher. It brought tears to my eyes.
Christopher is a wonderful hero, thoughtful, intelligent, kind, and strong. He's been in a funk because of his loss of vision, but you don't hold that against him. It's perfectly understandable.
The humor was the perfect balance to the often dark subject matter. Colin, who has his own story in From This Moment On, is Christopher's best friend and companion. Christopher always knows when Colin is around because he can smell him. Colin's not too fond of bathing, so he has a characteristic odor. Despite my being a stickler for good personal hygiene, Colin won me over for his kind heart behind a gruff exterior. I loved his back-handed matchmaking for Gillian and Christopher.
This was a great medieval romance. Highly recommended.
The Wedding managed to make its way up into the ranks of Garwood books that earned a five star rating. Why? Because this book took me from laughing hyThe Wedding managed to make its way up into the ranks of Garwood books that earned a five star rating. Why? Because this book took me from laughing hysterically, to being angry enough for my blood pressure to shoot up (or so my throbbing temples testified to), to being so sad I wanted to cry. Also, it's just darn entertaining.
I've read many, many romance novels in my thirty-some years, and Julie Garwood has a way of writing singular heroines, like no other author. On first glance, they seem too sweet to be believed. But, their sweetness is completely genuine. Her heroines are so kind and loving, that you'd have to be a big jerk to hate them. As for me, I love them. Brenna certainly was no different. The poor girl. She really went through the wringer in this book, and Connor contributed significantly to her suffering. At times, I did want to take a frying pan to his thick skull. Of course, I realize that he's emotionally stunted from the tragedy of his father's betrayal and death, and the murder of most of his clan. His deathbed promise to his father was what drove him, and marriage was only a secondary concern. He's a hard man, and it took him sometime to realize that his husband skills needed improvement. You cannot put wives away on shelves to gather dust until you want to play with them, man! Thankfully, love conquers all.
This was a very good book, and I didn't want to put it down. Brenna won my heart, and I was very glad that Connor got a clue. I loved the secondary cast of characters, such as Connor's men Quinlan and Crispin, and his people, Father Sinclair, her family, and of course, Laird Alec and Lady Jamie. I'm not sure if medieval Scotland in any way resembles this book, but I almost want to go there just to enjoy the ambience (despite the lack of indoor plumbing).
I don't have it in me to write a long review right now, so this will have to suffice. How does Ms. Garwood do it? Write such brilliant comedy, but scenes that are ripe with emotional anguish? Those diametrically opposed tones shouldn't go together, but she manages it. Although some parts wrenched at my heart at what poor Brenna went through, I felt that things worked out very well. I know that Connor will never, ever take her for granted again. He'll realize just how precious the love he has with Brenna, and how that was more important than the vengeance his father swore him to. She snuck her way into his heart, just like she did mine.
Darn! I wish I had time to go back and read all her historicals again!...more
I'm not feeling very literate today, so I am going to compose this review around a list of reasons why I loved this book.
Reasons Why I Loved The BridI'm not feeling very literate today, so I am going to compose this review around a list of reasons why I loved this book.
Reasons Why I Loved The Bride by Julie Garwood
1. Jamie is a great heroine. Okay, she might have some Mary Sue-ness going on, although I hate using that term. She is really gorgeous, very nice, oh-so sweet, great at pretty much everything, giving, and self-sacrificing. However, she's totally loveable. For me, that's the opposite of a Mary Sue, because Mary Sues are characters that the writer tells you that you should love, but you don't. Julie Garwood has a way of writing heroines that it is impossible to dislike. Jamie is self-deprecating, and she has enough quirks that I wanted to give her a hug. I love her quick temper, because it usually ends up causing me to laugh instead of annoying me. I thought it was hilarious how she was always giving Father Murdock shillings to pay for indulgences when Alec got on her nerves (because he was sinning in her mind). She was very good at making lemonade out of lemons, and had a way of dealing with people that was fair but also had the people wondering what hit them. When Alec hurt her feelings, I wanted to hurt him. I was like, "Why are you being mean to this sweetheart?" Her heart is so big, that you just want to be friends with her, which is always a plus when it comes to characters in the books I read and enjoy.
2. This was a fun medieval didn't seem terribly inaccurate. Julie Garwood and I both know that she was playing some things for laughs. She's not trying to get me to buy this book, hook, line and sinker as 100% historically accurate, and that's fine. I found the setting to be believeable, and I was able to plausibly accept that Jamie could have lived back in the medieval times and married Laird Alec Kincaid. Good enough for me. Normally, I prefer books that are more historically accurate, but Julie Garwood is an author who gets the "Get out of jail free card" because her books satisfy in so many ways even if they aren't necessarily spot on in that way.
3. Alec might be the big, arrogant, "I know everything, and I will have things exactly the way I want them", but he was a really good guy. He learned pretty quickly that he loved his wife, and wanted to see her happy. He wasn't bossy and obnoxious. I found his arrogance endearing, in fact. He was tough and dangerous, as a Highland laird should be, but also warm and loving. Great combination!
4. Jamie and Alec were a great couple. The passion was sexy and hot, but also sweet. I liked that they both grew as people and grew together. As usual for a Julie Garwood hero, Alec thinks he is in charge, and that has his marriage all figured out, and Jamie will adjust to doing things his way. Ha-ha! Nope. Alec came to realize that his life was better for the chaos that Jamie brought into it. He was willing to give on things to keep his wife happy, although he was no pushover. That is not to say that Jamie wasn't willing to meet him halfway and adjust her life to his. She did plenty of that.
4. I love the fact that this book made me laugh, had its poignant moments, and had a little suspense. The suspense wasn't a huge part of the story, which is just how I like it. I'm not real fond of historical romances that are mainly suspense anyway.
5. Scottish Highlander books are just awesome to me. Yes, I realize that the Scottish Highlands aren't really like this. But, I enjoy my happy time with hot men in kilts with Scottish burrs, and claymores, and I'm a happy girl.
6. Like most of the Julie Garwood books, The Bride took me to that happy, warm and fuzzy place. There were plenty of 'sighworthy/happy joy-joy' moments, which made for an uplifting read. It was so lovely to read this book, and enjoy the zany results when Jamie and Alec met. It was like two storm fronts colliding head on, but the results were fruitful and delightful.
I've run out of steam here. But, I'm cool with that. Somehow, I thought I had read this book, because my memory is kinda bad at times, and I read every historical romance my library carried growing up. So, I assumed I read this one. But, I'm pretty sure I didn't now. So, I'm glad this was the January read for the Lisa Kleypas group. This was such a fun, loveable read, and it's yet another Julie Garwood book that's going on my keeper shelf....more