This is probably my only highly-rated rant, but the one thing that bothered me, keeping this from being a 5 star book, was a big deal to me.
Last night...moreThis is probably my only highly-rated rant, but the one thing that bothered me, keeping this from being a 5 star book, was a big deal to me.
Last night around midnight, I read a friend's review of this book. I had it on my nightstand, so I picked it up to see what was so fabulous about it.
I read til about 1 am (I think I made it about 115 pages) before I was forced to pry the book out of my own hands and set it aside for the night.
The book was fantastic, all except for one thing.
The dichotomy that Duncan faces over his dual roles, was great. His inner turmoil was really well done. But the heroine Amelia is so incredibly naive. At first I liked that part of her since it made sense. But the more in depth we got into the story, the more she kept trying to get him to lay down his weapons and not fight anymore.
This bothers me for a few reasons. At several points, everything she has ever believed in is thrown into question. Amelia is forced to throw off her blinders of polite English society and realize she's been kept quite sheltered. She is forced to see her fiance in a new light. She is forced to see the whole of the British army, the Scots, and even her father-a great soldier, all in a new light. The minute she recognizes that her father had been a soldier, and had more than likely killed people, I really thought she'd "get" it: That fighting is sometimes necessary. Especially during the Jacobite Risings.
The reasoning was that she wanted him to stop being "The Butcher" and to start living and move on. The reasoning wasn't bad, but it was very black and white. She had no understanding at all of the fact that while she hated war, she (and he) had no choice in the matter. he might have to fight. At one point she is nearly raped by a British officer and his soldiers that she'd run to for help. I liked how she finally FINALLY understood that it was possible her precious Redcoats weren't all men of honor. I thought for sure she'd finally get over telling him to stop fighting. But no. She kept on with her telling him not to take his vengeance out on a man (her fiance Bennett) who had raped and murdered Duncan's wife-to-be.
I get that she was looking out for him, and she wanted him to be safe, she wanted to help him save his soul from the dark. I liked that-but she never relented. She cost him a good friend, and while he'd always been divided on how to gain peace for Scotland, or at least his role in that endeavor, Amelia had helped him realize he didn't want to fight anymore. I think that's such a naive viewpoint for that time period, especially by a Highland laird who was nicknamed the Butcher. Idealism is one thing, but the idea that she was okay letting her ex-fiance continue raping and killing and murdering made me so angry! She had almost been raped and yet she was willing to subject other women to that? Duncan only wanted a fair fight with Bennett, and she wanted to let him be. When Bennett actually came to get her back, she felt if she told him she was happy with Duncan, that he would only want what was best for her and go on his merry way. Are you kidding me?! This was towards the end when Amelia had become more worldly and supposedly grown up. she even admitted she saw lies in Bennett's eyes, yet she still was all "let the courts take care of him." Even her Uncle told her he'd probably get acquitted. She still couldn't trust Duncan to do his duty to Scotland, to protect his people, to be laird. She actually told him she would only marry him if he laid down his weapons!
I really enjoyed Duncan...until he got to their destination (won't spoil because you might guess the twist). I felt like he changed from this very sure warrior to what Amelia wanted him to be. I'm very big on respecting one's partner's wishes, but also not changing yourself to be what they want. I felt that's what Duncan did.
The witty banter was fun and cute, but felt way too contemporary. Many authors have well-written historicals without the accents, so it's not that I necessarily need a Scottish accent, but I don't want to read an historical romance that feels modern.
Moving on, the book is very easy to get caught up in. The story is an enjoyable one, and I liked the constant teasing of Amelia by Duncan.
"How long was I asleep?" "Over and hour," the Butcher replied. "An hour? Surely not." "Aye. You were moaning my name and saying 'Oh Duncan, yes, Duncan, yes, yes. Again, again...'"
and at the beginning when he steals her from her bed, he gags her. Behind the gag she is trying to tell him that she won't scream if he takes it off. His response to her unintelligible sounds?
"What was that? You think I'm very wise? Aye, I think so too."
So my final verdict? I really did enjoy this book, up til the end. And I would absolutely recommend it to others, I just had that one thing that really bothered me. But I still rated it a 4, which makes it a good book for me. I read it straight through- lack of sleep and lots of coffee were side affects of this book :) (less)
4.5 This is the third installment in Jennifer Ashley’s Highland Pleasures series, and it is most definitely a fabulous read.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Mackenzie brothers, they are 4 brothers who have rank, wealth and political clout, but they don’t care. Can you imagine? They are peers in Victorian England, and they don’t care. Amazing. Added to that, they are Scottish, and they do as they please. This makes for a wild series.
In this book, we enter to see Cameron getting lucky with a woman, and the heroine is hiding in the curtains! And what do you suppose happens? She gets caught of course. Ainsley is searching for a love letter that she knows Cam has. No, it wasn’t written by her, it was written by the Queen. Her Majesty is being blackmailed by the very woman seducing Cameron, and Ainsley was given the task to retrieve the letter.
Cam doesn't believe she is what she seems for a second, he made that mistake once several years ago, and got burnt. But Cam isn't what he seems either. He has many scars, both inside and out, and when you find out how he got them, and what happened, you will cry. It's absolutely heartbreaking to hear about his past, but it's even worse to see what society thought.
Men bring their horses to him to train, and one in particular hates Cam. He only lets him train his horse because no one else will take her. Cam wants the horse so badly, but the arrogant jackass won't give her up. That side-story was fantastic, and Ainsley's little role in helping out was sweet.
Watching Cam try to be a good father by not making his own father’s mistakes is so heartbreaking to watch-and Daniel is growing up so fast. But Daniel's been raised by Mackenzie bachelors. Is that really the best thing for an impressionable young man? All Cam wants is to be with his horses and raise his son. He never expected to be blown away by a tiny little widow names Ainsley Douglas. And Ainsley is so much more than she lets on.
Their romance was passionate, and surprisingly sweet. I guess I expected more of a lust first affection later, but the combination of both lust and love, and of Cam's protective streak, meshed so well.
Daniel will surprise you. Maybe being raised with 4 Mackenzies isn't all that bad---he has a good head on his shoulders, respects women, and only made me hope he has a book coming. (and according to her website, HE DOES!!!)
The only thing I missed was we never saw their half-brother, Inspector Fellows. I thought he’d become more of a key player in this series, but he wasn’t even mentioned.
The set-up for Hart’s book (next year-boo! I don’t wanna wait!) is getting good, and I tortured myself by reading the teaser for his book. I’m warning you now, reading the excerpt will only make you want his book more. Jennifer Ashley is an auto-buy for me, and once you've read this, she will be for you too. Her writing blends humor, love, passion and storytelling into a beautiful story you won't want to miss.
**Thank you to Jennifer Ashley for the advanced copy and the guest post as well
4.5 stars It's no secret that I love Monica McCarty's Highlanders, but it's a well deserved love. In fact I'd say Monica's Highlanders started me on th...more4.5 stars It's no secret that I love Monica McCarty's Highlanders, but it's a well deserved love. In fact I'd say Monica's Highlanders started me on the road to becoming the Highland Hussy.
I will make this as spoiler-free as I can.
For those of you who haven't read The Chief or The Hawk, this is a new take on our Highlanders, and a new take on Highland Warfare. Imagine "special ops in kilts." Now that we all have that lovely image in our minds, (I know I'm imagining a Navy SEAL in a kilt, and yummmm)..I'm sorry, where was I?
After William Wallace was killed, Robert Bruce finally steps up to the plate and looks at what is best for Scotland. In this series, he finds the best warriors in Britain, and uses their specialties; so about a dozen men, all trained in different skills, but trained to work together. It's not easy.
Arthur Campbell has a special skill of having heightened senses. He gets a feeling, he can hear things before others can, and he's a damned good fighter. He is also deep undercover, part of the Highland Guard loyal to the Bruce, but on the surface, he's working for the English. One night, Arthur accidentally saves a lass from an ambush by his men, and in doing so, seals his fate.
A year later, he is sent by the Bruce into his enemy John of Lorn's castle as a spy. And finds out the beautiful lass he'd saved was his mortal enemy's daughter! What happens next is such an intriguing, suspenseful ride that I almost wish it could also be marketed as a romantic suspense. Obviously it can't be as simple as boy meets girl, they fall in love, happily ever after. Oh no, it has to be not only are they on opposite sides of the war, but they can't even tell each other that much. Between the secrets, and the passion, and stress of remembering which side he's really on, Arthur is trying his hardest to keep Anna at a distance. But her father has asked her to keep a close eye on him. In other words, she follows him around til the men are poking fun at Arthur. One of the hardest parts in the book for me to read was where Arthur saved Anna and her brother from an attack, only to find out he'd killed 9 of his own men. My God, how does he live knowing he saved the enemy at the cost of his friends' lives?
At one point in the book, Anna has been utterly rejected by Arthur, who can't let her get close to him, and she agrees to marry a former suitor and potential ally. Her father sends Arthur with her as a scout, and Arthur goes crazy with jealousy. One of my favorite scenes happens after Anna tells Hugh Ross she'll marry him. I think that watching Arthur realize he's in love with her was wonderful, but being an alpha male, he pulled the whole, "I can't have you, but I won't let anyone else have you either" crap and it drive me nuts!
Anna is blunt, caring, feisty and sweet. She is the perfect match for Arthur who just needs someone to love and understand him. That his solitary existence has been to protect himself from getting close to anyone, that he's not a freak with unnatural abilities. He's just a man who loves a woman so much he won't do anything about it, so that when the war marches to her door, and her world falls apart around her, and she sees he's betrayed her, that maybe it will save her a bit of hurt.
I loved the way Anna was able to see through Arthur's exterior and love him despite his attempts at pushing her away. I loved how Arthur couldn't let her marry Ross. And I loved how Anna handled the discovery that Arthur was a spy and her father had him tortured.
I urge you all to read the author's note, because it's so full of the real names, histories and clans that Monica McCarty uses in her series. It's amazing how much true history is woven through this Highland Romance. I love how easily it is to visualize the descriptions and how realistic everything feels as you read.
With a name like The Highland Hussy, I get asked all the time which Highlanders are my favorites? Monica McCarty's are always at the top of the list, which is saying something considering I should really be suggesting my Highlanders and my book.
Okay, for all you who know me, we all know I'm a huge Monica McCarty fan- this book is no exception. I just love Erik MacSorley. He is half-Viking/half-Highlander and super hot! Erik is one of Robert Bruce's new elite Highland Guard. We met him in The Chief, and I loved him then-he's always got a joke and a ready come-back, but something about him makes me think it's a front.
This is a small quote about Erik that shows his devil-may-care attitude. He's playing a deadly game of chicken with a British ship, and his crew are wagering which way the English will turn, if they'll capsize, piss themselves in fear, you get the idea, they're boys being boys.
"Ellie would never understand men:how could you jest and wager at a time like this? They'd die going to the bottom of the sea and make a contest of who got there first."
I had to laugh because I swear that's my husband and my brother-in-law. So true of men!
Now in The Hawk, we see Erik dealing with Irish mercenaries and trying to get them to fight for the Bruce...and the Scottish crown. For those of you who haven't read The Chief, this series takes place immediately following William Wallace's execution. By the time we're reading The Hawk, Robert Bruce is battle-weary and demoralized. In fact his whole company of men is, except the Highlanders, "Bruce didn't think recognize fear if Lucifer himself opened up the fiery gates and welcomed them to hell."
Erik, or Hawk as everyone calls him, is at home on the sea, and his job is to get the Irish to fight for Bruce, and then to take them to the rendezvous point to meet with the Scottish forces. It is during this meeting that the Irish leader hears a sound. Sending out his men they find a wet and bedraggled lass eavesdropping. Unfortunately for her, the Irish want to kill her, but Erik steps in and saves her, although he saves her by suggesting he and his men want to have fun with her first.
Enter Ellie, or should I say Lady Elyne de Burgh? Her father is the most powerful earl in Ireland, loyal to English king Edward, and father-in-law to Robert Bruce. And so begins the complicated twists and turns of Ellie and Erik's story. Ellie doesn't fall for Erik's big baby blues, and he has no clue what to do with a lass who doesn't swoon at his smile. Not to mention, Ellie hasn't told him who she is, and he's let her believe he's a pirate. Usually misunderstandings on identity annoy me, but Monica McCarty wove hers seamlessly into the story and I was on pins and needles for the majority of the book! In fact, I fear that I now have a heart condition from the anticipation and tension that this book put me through!
I also loved Ellie. She may have been innocent, but she rarely came across as naive, and never once as idiotic-my biggest pet peeve in historical romances is when the heroine is portrayed as so naive she ends up coming off stupid. But Monica always writes strong heroines, and I find that incredibly impressive being that The Hawk takes place in the early 1300s.
During Ellie's "captivity" with Erik, she gets under his skin like no other. Constantly portrayed as merely "passably pretty" Ellie made me love her almost instantly. She was great, and I could absolutely identify with her. Even after she and Erik had been intimate, she still didn't tell him who she really was. And it broke my heart that her reason was to see if a gorgeous, sex-god of a man could actually care for her as she is, not because of her title, or dowry, or some misguided notion that he should marry her out of chivalry. And when he turned her away? I wanted to cry for her! I love me a good Alpha male (who doesn't?), but the female heroine can make or break a story for me. Ellie was me, and I was in love with Erik, and I wanted him to say yes to me. And he didn't. And Erik broke my heart too.
You'll have to read it yourself to find out what happens from there. But I will say that anyone new to Monica McCarty will enjoy this book, and any of you Monica McCarty fans out there know to expect her usual- she'll deliver, and you'll love Erik and Ellie too.
“Hart Mackenzie. It was said he knew every pleasure a woman desired and exactly how to give it to her. Hart wouldn't ask what the lady wanted, and she might not even know herself, but she would understand once he'd finished. And she'd want it again."
I’ve wanted Hart’s story since I first saw him in The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. He was such an ass to Beth, yet his love for his brothers, especially Ian, was so obvious. Hart seemed driven. He acted as if the fate of the world rested on his broad shoulders. And to him? Maybe it did.
When The Duke's Perfect Wife opens, Lady Eleanor Ramsey is pushing her way through a crowd of journalists to get to Hart. When she has him alone, she propositions him. And no, not in that way. She asks him for a job. This is my favorite thing about Eleanor. She may tend to babble, but she is also very direct. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything and she is a very capable woman. What a patient and caring woman Eleanor is. Hart just bulldozes over people to get his way, and El quietly sidesteps him every time. Eleanor is good for Hart, I only wish Hart had trusted her a bit more. The backstory between the two is finally brought to light, and I was surprised at how emotionally vested in their romance I became.
Eleanor is in possession of several photographs of Hart. This wouldn’t be so unusual, except that hart is nude in all of them. Someone has been sending them to her, and she can’t resist the chance to uncover the mystery (which by the way, was a great mystery!). But that means, she is uncovering more and more about Hart, as well.
Hart has been planning his life out down to the second. He knows what he’ll do, and where he’ll be 1 year from now, 5 years from now, you get the idea. Having Eleanor sitting across from him in his carriage, telling him he will give her a job, actually fits with his plan. He wants El for his wife, he always has. He blew it with her when they were young, and now that he has her in his life once more? He won’t let go.
This poignant quote was from Mac to Hart, warning him not to hurt Eleanor again.
“We're Mackenzies," Mac said, his gaze steady. "Remember that we break what we touch." He jabbed a finger at Hart, "Don't break this one."
One thing I wish we had seen more of was Hart’s penchant for “unusual proclivities,” because it was such a huge part of who he was. What we did see, though, was how hard it was for Hart to share that side of himself with Eleanor. It wasn’t easy for him, and even Ian seemed to understand Hart better than he understood himself. In fact, Ian was in this one quite a bit, and not only did he diffuse a tense situation merely by being Ian, but he stole every scene. He is the one who kept telling Hart to let Eleanor see every side of him.
I love how this series has such a different feel to it from Jennifer Ashley's other books, even compared to her other Historical Romances. The language, the words, the way they speak, it's all such a seductive world, you’ll get swept away, just as I did.
I didn't think the back of the book made this one sound all the interesting, to be honest, but man was I mistaken!
From the first word I was hooked. I...moreI didn't think the back of the book made this one sound all the interesting, to be honest, but man was I mistaken!
From the first word I was hooked. I read so late that my husband actually turned the light off on me! I put it down,and while the kids were at swim lessons, I picked up my Nook and kept reading. I felt so much anticipation from this one, I swear I have heart palpitations.
The book opens with 4 boys visiting a witch. I was intrigued. Next up is a forced marriage. I was interested. Then the 4 heroes of the series were captured. I was hooked. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a good Highlander book-they don't call me the Highland Hussy for nothing!
In a mistaken circumstance, Ian is forced to wed 13 yr old Sileas (this is the 1500s, so that's not as bad as it sounds, plus Ian is like 17). For Sileas, not only is Ian the one she's wanted since she could toddle after him, he has been her protector, her savior, her guardian in all things. But this was not how she wanted him.
The forced wedding is awful. Not only is it Sileas' worst day of her life, but Ian is forced at knife-point to say his vows. The morning after the wedding, he bails. Ian and his 4 best buds go off to France and he tries his best to ever forget he was married. The only reason he comes back at all is that his clan is attacked and his father gravely injured. He and his friends Connor, Duncan, and Alex are inseparable, so they all return.
Ian's plan is to annul the marriage to his child-bride...but he not once ever thought that she might have grown up. His child-bride is no longer a child.
Sileas is the heir to knock castle, and her lands are important to any clan that can get its hands on the castle. Not only has she grown into a beautiful young woman, she is basically the glue holding the family together. She also has a line of suitors waiting for her to give up hope on her estranged husband.
With one look at Sileas, Ian is a goner...but he doesn't recognize his wife in the sultry young redhead. When he finally does, she has run off because not only did Ian snub her at their wedding, he snubbed her the day after by leaving, and every day since in not coming home. To not even acknowledge his wife in front of the clan? Major faux pas.
It seriously takes Ian like a week to realize that he actually wants to keep Sileas as wife, and that he needs to do more than crawl naked into her bed (yeah, the idiot did that!). I loved watching Ian have to work for Sileas' attention and affection. A few quotes of my favorite quotes:
"You are mine, he said pausing to look at her with burning eyes. "And I'm claiming every inch of ye."
"When she was a wee thing, she trusted him to rescue her from mishaps. And now that she was a woman, she trusted him with her heart. He would do his best to deserve it, now and always."
I have a feeling that all of the politics involved in this book are super important for the series. Everything from Connor's chieftainship, to Knock Castle. There was a visit to Stirling where Sileas tried to get the queen to annul her marriage-what a scary place, Court, I mean. All the backstabbing and awful awful things going on...I was very satisfied with how that turned out, but I know that Douglas will play an important part in the series-he's too evil and wily to just fade away.
The ending and all of the events leading up to it were tied in together so neatly (but not too nice and neat, otherwise there wouldn't be a series!) and made me feel that Ian had redeemed himself for leaving Sileas and his clan.
Final verdict? I have 2 of Margaret Mallory's books on my nightstand and I am seriously wondering why I've never read them? I will be reading her backlist this week.
everyone who told me that this was fabulous can now say "I told you so!" lol yes, all you who know who you are (Leah, Catherine, Ally, Monica, UM, and...moreeveryone who told me that this was fabulous can now say "I told you so!" lol yes, all you who know who you are (Leah, Catherine, Ally, Monica, UM, and anyone else I forgot), I loved Maddy and Ethan. Jane had a 2 second cameo and still managed to piss me off-wonder if I'd have liked Hugh's book better if I could have liked Jane?
So it's no secret how much I love Kresley Cole's IAD, and I liked her Sutherland Brothers series a lot as well. So, since me being me (the Highland Hussy), I love KC, I love Highlanders, what could be better than KC's Highlanders? Apparently a lot. The first book was good, but nothing special, in fact the heroine irritated me and Court was a jerk for most of the book.
The second book had such a great hero...I just loved Hugh, and I love the overlap of the series, but Jane? I really think it's fair to say that I hated her. Really. And I've wondered if I'd have rated the book better if Jane hadn't been such a holier-than-thou bitchy heroine? I mean I love me a kick-ass heroine, or even snarky and sassy, but Jane just made me want to slap her across her face! She needed someone to take her down a notch! (deep breath-this review isn't about Jane)
So for everyone to tell me that this was the best book of the series when Ethan was kind of a prick for the first 2 books, I wasn't at all looking forward to reading it.
I loved it!
Not only was he a tortured hero, I felt he wasn't really as big an ass as he pretended to be. And thank goodness Maddy saw through that too! Of all the heroines KC has written I usually love her Valkyrie. I could seriously see Maddy as a kick-ass mouthy Valkyrie.
I won't go into detail since a ton of readers have summarized and reviewed this one, but the big secret that Maddy finds out about Ethan? Broke my heart. I only wish Maddy had waited to see Ethan again before taking off for Paris. But him rescuing her? Fantastic. And the epilogue that had all three couples? So so wonderful. (less)
I was super excited to read this book, seeing as everyone loved this book, and I love Jennifer Ashley/Allyson James. I was not disappointed. This has...moreI was super excited to read this book, seeing as everyone loved this book, and I love Jennifer Ashley/Allyson James. I was not disappointed. This has one of the best storylines I've ever read. I won't summarize since so many people have reviewed and/or summarized, but can I just say "Wow."
Lord Ian Mackenzie is the youngest of 4 brothers and he has a slight disability. He doesn't understand emotion. For example, he can play a piano piece perfectly after only having heard it once, but he can't feel the emotion behind it. Or he knows that one applauds after a show, or at the opera, but he doesn't get why. Lord Ian is intelligent, highly so..a genius with numbers and odds, so an acquaintance of his asks his opinion on his bride-to-be. Lord Ian has her investigated, and he feels Beth is too good for the likes of Mather. so not only does he tell her, he proposes. it was a great scene. Fantastic, and this whole book was above and beyond my expectations.
Beth, however, decides Ian can't possibly be serious, and goes off to Paris. Well Lord Ian follows. But not before having a few scandalous episodes that Beth spots in the London Post society section. Lord Ian harbors a couple big secrets, really big ones, and not only is the Inspector way off in his deluded case of "justice," but so is everyone else's opinions. One secret (and not a "spoiler" secret)is that his father killed his mother in front of him in a fit of rage, and at 12, he had Ian committed. Ian was never mad, but he was different. And he was so worked up that at the sanity hearing (mind you he was 12 and had just watched his father shake his mother to death!) he could only rock and repeat the same phrase from a poem over and over to calm himself. So of course, he is committed. Luckily his brother gets him out after their father dies, but Ian had been locked up for something like 10 years or so (I forget the actual number). The electro shock therapy, the cold ice baths, the beatings, all of it, had taken it's toll, and yet Ian remained a remarkable man. He has rages, like when he sees the vengeance-driven Inspector Fellows talking to Beth, but he really is afraid he'll rage against Beth.
The romance between the two is fabulous, as is the passion. I like how Beth's husband (her first husband) was a good man, and she was able to still love him, but be passionately in love with Ian as well. I loved the Mackenzie clan. even Isabella, Mac's estranged wife. We see her when Beth goes to Paris. And just as we think Ian is in front of Beth, it turns out to be one of his brothers, Mac Mackenzie. Mac is keeping tabs on his wife. Their story is next, and also fabulous!! The only thing I didn't like about this book was Inspector Fellows. The surprise twist at the end was good, and well played, but I couldn't muster enough emotion for Fellows after the way he had harangued Ian and Beth.
(I meant this review to be short...ha!)
I loved how Beth was able to hold her own with Hart...he was such a jerk to her, and yet she was able to make Ian laugh...that was a miracle in and of itself since he usually didn't understand humor. At the end, Ian still couldn't understand a lot of jokes, or follow a conversation with more than one or two people, but he'd gotten better at making eye contact, and he fell in love with Beth...there is a side story of a murder from 5 years before (hence Inspector Fellows' obsession with bringing Ian down) and then a similar murder right after Ian and Beth met. But anyways, I tell you this so you understand when I say that Beth is injured in her quest to clear Ian, and Ian finally understands that without Beth he has nothing, and feels nothing. It was simply amazing to watch his transformation and his and Beth's romance. When he tells her he loves her, and it becomes "Iloveyou.loveyou.loveyou.loveyou." It was beautiful.
A couple years ago, I discovered a fabulous author(Monica McCarty). When I finished with her books, I asked her who her "go-to" authors...moreUpdated review:
A couple years ago, I discovered a fabulous author(Monica McCarty). When I finished with her books, I asked her who her "go-to" authors were. Monica's answer? Karen Marie Moning. Since my library only had this book by her, this is what I read. Wow, Cian is one hunky medieval male. I immediately returned this book and bought the whole series.
This book focuses on Cian MacKeltar, a 9th century druid who is trapped in a mirror..a mirror that is an Unseelie Hallow (a fae created relic).
Jessi is a grad student who accidentally sees Cian (aka the sex god) in the mirror. What she didn't know was that her professor had bought this antique mirror after it was stolen from Lucan during a power outage (that is alluded to in the Fever series), another ancient druid. Well, he wants it back. Lucan sends assassains after anyone who has had any contact with the mirror. Cian decides to help Jessi, so he tells her the spell to release him from the mirror. Problem is, she thinks it was just a dream, because super hot sex-gods don't live in mirors and help random grad students, right? Totally a dream.
Unfortunately, if Cian is freed from the mirror, its only temporary. And there's no set time-the mirror is fickle and reclaims him after a few hours, or after a day. It's never consistent.
Cian helps her, convinces her he's real and that her life is in danger. So they head off to Scotland, to MacKeltar land, hoping to hide her out in the Highlands. But lo and behold, there are many more MacKeltars than expected! Not only the current line of Christopher and Maggie, but Drustan and Gwen, and Daegus and Chloe!! The way Daegus and Cian meet is hysterical! I loved that scene and I loved the whole gathering of the MacKeltar clan.
[anyone who can get this on audio-do so! Phil Gigante doing all the Keltar men in one room? OMG I drooled]
They grudgingly help Cian and Jessi defeat the evil dark druid Lucan who had entrapped Cian in the mirror so long ago. But there's a twist-to escape the mirror permanently, will cause his death. How on earth will he do it? Will Daegus surprise us with his (still) dark knowledge from the Drughar? Will he double-cross Jessi and Cian? Gotta read to find out....
And at the very end, we get a brief glimpse of Aivheal the Seelie queen. That is the part that is important to the Fever series.
Total foreshadowing for the Fever series...if you don't like romances but like Urban Fantasy, read the Fever series, but add this and The Immortal Highlander to it, almost as prequels.(less)
This book had a lot of the old cliched plot devices, a gruff Highlander on horseback barging in on a wedding, kidnapping the bride, holding her for ransom...you get the picture. But you know, for being cliches, I've actually only ever read one story where the hero barged in on a wedding (Karen Marie Moning's To Tame a Highland Warrior). So for me, this was all new.
The beginning cracked me up because our heroine Emmaline is being married off to some old goat (pardon) ahem, a randy old goat, to save her father from debtor's prison. What was so funny is that she's 22 and the audience is talking about how lucky she is to be marrying the old earl, and how old she is,and how she's very lucky the old earl has enough experience in bed ::snicker:: to satisfy her.
But alas, as they are saying their vows, several men burst in with guns, and the man on horseback, Jamie Sinclair, tells the old earl he's here for his bride. he abducts Emma and takes her high into the mountains where the earl's men will never find them.
The majority of this story takes place while on the run, and Emma has known nothing but a kindly old man who wants an heir, whilst Jamie knows the true evil in the old goat's soul.
I actually think it got a bit slow towards the middle, but once the two realized they were in love, and he was still going to ransom her off, it really picked up!
Since the earl had been suspected of killing Jamie's parents when he was a babe, Jamie wanted proof. It came from a very unlikely source, and it was so not what we were expecting!!! In a "wow," way, not in an "out of left field" kind of way.
But the oh so predictable ending I'd predicted was...Wrong!
I was totally surprised at what had happened and I was soo endeared to Ian, the old earl's great-nephew and Jamie's best friend when they were younger. (there's a long story there, that I was incredibly happy with the outcome)
And watching Emma blossom under the kidnapping ordeal was great. She changed just enough to stay true to her character.
The ending was a bit of a muddle, thought IMHO. I think the ending with Jamie, Emma and Ian was brilliant, however, the old earl's comeuppance was a bit much. And too easy. Hence, the muddle.
But I'd re-read this one, and definitely suggest to other fans in need of a good Highland romance.(less)
2.5 Wow, where to begin. Okay, obviously, at the beginning. If this book weren't written by Kresley Cole, one of my absolute favorite authors of all ti...more2.5 Wow, where to begin. Okay, obviously, at the beginning. If this book weren't written by Kresley Cole, one of my absolute favorite authors of all time, I would not have finished it. About page 65 or so, I hated the heroine's idiocy and thought our Alpha male hero was just a jackass rather than an Alpha.
I am glad I finished it because around page 250 or so I began to like the book. Why such the gap? I can't be sure, but I feel like our idiotic heroine and our jerk of a hero became two separate characters. And not in the good "Oh they've grown" kind of way, in the "Am I sure this is the same book? Same names, yep, same title, yep. Okay same book."
So, with all this not really liking or caring about our people, why the decent rating you might ask?
Well, it's really a 2.5 star, but since goodreads doesn't give it halfsies I added a half star for Kresley's witty dialogue. She is the only author who can write an historical romance during the Victorian era of all times, and use current snarky sarcasm in her witty banter and PULL IT OFF!! So, well done, KC, well done.
By the last hundred pages plus, I found some amazing lines from Court that I just loved, and they are so typical KC,
"I never want to see you with a gun in your hand, Anna." "Why not?" "You were no' meant to," he said simply. "What is that supposed to mean?" His gaze caught hers, and she saw his eyes were bleak. "It means people like me were put on the earth so people like you never had to do bad things and suffer from them."
The first time I actually saw who Court really was.
Next, Annalia was naked in front of him, and getting shy because Court was staring. I loved how again we see a glimpse of the real Court, who feels he doesn't deserve her and would never see her.
"I'm starin' because you're more beautiful than I could ever imagine and it gives me pleasure tae look at you, all of you. I'm starin' because I never thought I would."
My favorite one, isn't really all that fantastic or romantic, but I loved how Court sees himself. He's telling her why he can't stay in her room with her, since she's safe now.
"I might do something we'd both regret." "Why do you think I'd regret that?" She saw his shoulders stiffen, his hands clench. "You doona know me, Anna." As he shut the door behind him, she barely heard him mutter, "If you did, you would no' waste your interest in me."
I think with the snarky but sassy heroine and the Alpha male, and the fated mates, I can see Kresley Cole entering her flow as far as what she uses in her IAD series. But here, it drove me nuts.
So, I liked the book after about 2/3 of the story, and at that point I would definitely have put this book off if it weren't a KC.
This was a good Highlander book, but there were a few things that made it too hard for me to enjoy.
Deep breath, Okay, I canNOT believe I'm about to sa...moreThis was a good Highlander book, but there were a few things that made it too hard for me to enjoy.
Deep breath, Okay, I canNOT believe I'm about to say this, but I think there was too much sex. Seriously. I'm the friggin Highland Hussy, this book should have been perfect for me---hunky laird, lots of steamy sexy goodness---and yet...
Let me explain. Shannon McBoyd is the daughter of the McBoyd laird. He's an arrogant, bloodthirsty and cruel man. He sent Shannon off to be married to his buddy, but the McLeren laird captures her and takes her as a prize since her father sneaked onto McLeren lands and slaughtered women and children while the laird was away. Stealing her, he realizes he admires her stubborn and tenacious personality and her courage. I liked her a lot at the beginning. I liked that she didn't give in to Torin right away. But then she became a self martyr with a bitch complex. She mentions several times that her father is cruel (she was beaten by him in the first chapter), and he would never in a billion years have treated a prisoner as well as Torin has her, and yet, she still has to fight him at every turn.
Okay, so back to my too much sex issue, once they start having sex, it's super obvious Torin loves Shannon. Like he tells her he cares for her obvious. At one point, this was my favorite part of the book, it was their first time together, and it's soo sweet:
"Did ye mean what ye said?...That ye are here because ye choose to be?...Did ye mean it, Shannon McBoyd?" She narrowed her eyes. "I did, but I'm rethinking the matter now that ye are throwing my last name at me." "Use mine."
aww, I seriously loved that line. *le sigh*
And from that point on Shannon ruins it.
She pulls back from him. They have tons of wonderfully written steamy sex, and yet I wanted to say "Whoa whoa whoa, here, let's take a break and Shannon, you tell Torin why you won't wear his plaid even though you won't wear your father's colors either. And while we're at it, tell him why you don't want his child, to marry him, or to make a home in his super fantastic castle that you love so much."
At first the misunderstanding didn't bug me-but it wore on to the point where Shannon was called to Holyrood Palace to deal with her father's traitorous behavior, and Mcleren's cousin Lundy McLeren(who claimed he should be laird) said several times that he was going to kill Shannon, and she was still too stubborn to appreciate that Torin's best friend and neighboring laird was trying to keep her alive.
Then in front of the lieutenant Regent or whatever his title was, I liked her spunk again, but she blew it when Torin was "gifted" her by the Douglass, and yet still was all huffy that she was considered property. Guess what? YOU ARE PROPERTY. It was hang with your traitor of a father or go live happily ever after with the man you love! Is this supposed to be hard? You say "Thank you for not hanging me and letting the McLeren keep me since he stole me fair and square!!!!"
Then she still tells Torin she won't marry him. I swear if it had been a paperback I'd have thrown it!
They do of course get married, and Shannon didn't bother me the whole time, I just wish that once,just once,instead of having so much sex, they could have actually finished the conversations they would start. I think that it was a solid 4 star book for me until Shannon started telling Torin she wouldn't marry him, and she was being treated like a whore because he flew the gown with her virgin's blood out the window. In his mind they were already married and she still would tell him it made her feel like a whore. This is where I just wanted her to say why--Just tell him more than that. Everyone who had treated her like crap at the beginning had by this point liked her, and even they told her it was a symbol of respect their laird showed her.
And everyone snarled at everyone. Shannon and Torin would be snarling in tenderness, in frustration, in anger, and in the middle of sex. I got annoyed with all the snarling. And,really, how do you snarl in joy?
Okay, my rant is over. final verdict, I enjoyed the book, will definitely read more by Mary Wine, especially if it has the queen in it, because I loved getting her point of view and I'd love to see her much more. I also loved the side characters. I loved Torin but I didn't feel we got enough of him. I just got annoyed by Shannon's behaviour and by the sex over conversations.
Oh, and I loved this quote too:
"If the man never told her he loved her again, she would not question his feelings, because they were there in every glance he sent her way."(less)
The Chieftain was everything I love in Scottish Romance: a dedicated-to-his-clan-laird, a likeable heroine, a great plot, and a villain worthy of the title.
I normally don’t like heroines like Ilysa, and yet I loved her. What I mean by that is, Ilysa is very passive, and very. . .calm. I normally like my heroines to be spunky and sassy and to fight with the hero a bit. Ilysa wasn’t like that at all, but she wasn’t a boring doormat either. The author managed to make Ilysa a wonderful and enjoyable character who I loved to read.
When Ilysa decided that she would be following Connor to his new home, it made sense. She’d been running his castle for years now, so she’d go help him settle in. Her brother didn’t see it like that, though. (uh oh)
Ilysa made friends with the Cook and pretty much most of the servants, and I loved how she won them over. She was a sweet heroine without being overly sweet, or perfect. You can’t help but love her, and you can’t help but feel her unrequited love for Connor as she does everything for him, but he barely notices.
Except...when he does notice.
Connor can’t get sweet, drab Ilysa from his mind lately. She always there, she’s always helping him, and he can’t figure out why he would have such lustful thoughts over his best friend’s little sister.
And then Ilysa has a vision.
To prevent Connor from dying, she locks him in his own dungeon. For 3 days. Uhh, locking a man in his own dungeon is bad, but the chief? Your friend, the man you love? Yikes. Of course once he’s out he orders her to leave. Which she does. But by morning he’s cooled off, and changes his mind. But it’s too late. Ilysa has left, and his castle is falling down around him. The food is horrible, there’s no order, and no one seems to know what to do.
Ilysa goes back home, and her friends decide to get her out of her drab clothes and dress her befitting her station. Their goal is to marry her off at the next gathering. There will be many chieftains there so it’s completely possible. And ya know what? She’s offered marriage by a clan chief! She also makes friends with an enemy of Connor’s. Big things are about to happen.
And then Connor sees her. And he doesn’t recognize her. (the jerk! LOL)
...And then he does.
He knows rage like he has never known when he sees all the men falling over themselves to speak with her.
And he can’t figure out why.
I loved their romance, but I really loved seeing the end of a plot that’s been running since the first book. Some old things were resolved, some new alliances were made, some were broken, and through it all Ilysa and Connor discovered that their love is more important than anything else.
For anyone who wants a delicious new Highlander series, Margaret Mallory delivers with her Return of the Highlanders series.
***ARC courtesy of netgalley and Forever Romance(less)
This is one of my favorite series of all time, I just love KMM and her hot Highlanders! I loved Adrienne and I thought she handled the whole being toss...moreThis is one of my favorite series of all time, I just love KMM and her hot Highlanders! I loved Adrienne and I thought she handled the whole being tossed back in time a few centuries pretty well. Hawk really made me mad, and I thought that the whole "seeling" her to him like his falcons was a bit much. I liked the way the two of them were together after they finally had sex. I loved Adam Black, oh my gosh did I love him! A hot sweaty blacksmith in nothing but a kilt? mm-mm Too bad his book isn't until later! But I didn't like how he went from seduction to anger so quickly. See, Adam is a fae prince, and he made a bet with his queen that Adrienne will fall for him instead of Hawk. But it doesn't quite work out that way. adrienne does everything she can to safeguard her heart from beautiful men. She's been hurt before, and really until she lets Hawk into her heart, she had never felt anything but alone. The story was sweet, passionate, full of drama...I don't like seeing Adam Black as the bad guy. He's one of my favorite heroes out of any series, so for me it may have colored my perception of the whole book, but still a very great story and a great kick off to the Highlander series.(less)
Highlander Untamed is what started my love affair with Highlanders.
I think that Rory is the absolute epitome of the clan c...moreThis review is long overdue.
Highlander Untamed is what started my love affair with Highlanders.
I think that Rory is the absolute epitome of the clan chief who values honesty and loyalty, and whose main focus is for the good of his clan.
Rory MacLeod handfasts with Isabel MacDonald to do his duty, hopefully uniting the two clans. Unfortunately the MacDonald clan is ruthless and is their most hated enemy. Rory's sister Margaret had been married to Isabel's uncle the MacDonald, who used her and returned her. And she was in an accident that cost her the use of her eye, and scarred her face. When Isabel met her, Margaret wore an eye patch that was just horrid.
Now Isabel is quite the dutiful niece and is planning to snoop for her uncle, until she realizes that her uncle might just be wrong. She begins to admire her husband more and more. She is supposed to seduce him, but he won't be seduced. Rory's plan is to return her a virgin and pretend the year-long handfasting never happened. Eventually they do succumb, of course ;)
One thing that's really cool about this book is that it uses real people, and real history. The Fairy Flag the MacLeods have existed. The "War of the One-Eyed Woman" was true. The characters lived and Monica McCarty breathed new life into them. (you can find all the real info on her website, btw)
Eventually Isabel gains Rory's trust, and that of his family, and she actually doesn't betray him, even thought what happens looks bad. So Rory throws her out. That scene is just heartbreaking.
She goes back to the MacDonald clan in shame, and more than anything she feels that she has to prove to Rory that she's innocent. Their reunion scene is so beautiful. She and Rory of course live happily ever after, and what's cool is that there's a little bitty side romance with Margaret, who maybe didn't realize that the patch she wore was worse than the scar.
Great romance, and a great heroine. I liked how she grew up and realized that her uncle was the villain, not her husband. Her husband finally loosened up a bit and there is one line in this book that several years later as I write this review, I've never forgotten:
Wow, what an amazing first book! This is book one in the Highland Guard series, and I was more than impressed. Sometimes an author comes along who put...moreWow, what an amazing first book! This is book one in the Highland Guard series, and I was more than impressed. Sometimes an author comes along who puts so much history into a novel that it is like reading a textbook. Monica McCarty is NOT one of those, in fact the history of William Wallace and the time of the Bruce was inserted so seamlessly that it hardly felt like I was reading history. It was part of the story, and part of Christina and Tor's romance. Christina's father is a noble who hates King Edward,and his 3 year imprisonment has left him bitter. When the rumors start of the Bruce wanting to oust King Edward, her father is forefront with wanting in. Christina and her sister Beatrix are to be used as a bargaining tool for the Highland Chief Tor MacLeod. Basically whichever of the girls appeals to him, he can have as a bride. Too bad he doesn't care. Tor has his own problems. His twin brother abducted a girl to be his bride, and they ran off. A love match. The problem? Tor's clan and his brother's bride's clan don't get along. Meanwhile, he wants to stay neutral in the Edward/Bruce conflict. But he is the best at training soldiers, and the Bruce wants Tor to train an elite guard (about 10 men) who are the best at what they do, tracking, hunting, swords, fighting, etc, and to teach these men to put their differences aside in order to work together. Ms. McCarty has dubbed it "Special Ops in kilts." So so true. Imagine Navy seals made from the fiercest Highland Warriors. Oh and an English knight. Christina's father has a plan to make Tor agree. Once seeing the ethereal beauty of Beatrix, or the sultry, curvy Christina, Tor should be eating out of his hand, right? Nope. So Christina's father says he will put Beatrix (a beauty, but better suited for the convent, than the marriage bed) in bed with the MacLeod chief and hope that he can "find" them together, thus forcing the marriage. Christina agrees to do it, to save her sister. Meanwhile, Tor wakes to find a voluptuous wench in his bed, and thanking his host for his hospitality, endeavors to put Christina out of his mind. Oops! He takes her in the dark, from behind, and realizes his mistake as her father barges in with "witnesses." Christina realizes 2 things- 1 her father meant for that to happen, and 2 Tor has no desire to marry Christina. Tor is convinced to both marry Christina, and train the elite soldiers, but he is not happy about it. Christina wants nothing more than a home and a man to love. Her romantic ideals cause her to believe Tor is that man. Tor, however does his utmost to dash her illusions. And yet he finds himself wanting to please her, and he can't keep her from his mind. At one point, Christina is used by a spy among the MacLeod people to flush Tor out. She endangers the whole mission by running the missive to Tor, but she also lead the spies right to him! Tor tells her in no uncertain terms that she is to stay out of his life, and to stay away from anything that does not directly relate to her duties as lady of the keep. Her heart broken, Christina runs from him. Unfortunately she is captured by the English and used as a ransom. But she never was one to keep idle; thinking only of escape, Christina does a fairly good job of escaping, until tor and his Special Ops team shows and takes out close to 100 men! And it's believable! Monica McCarty does an amazing job of weaving history and romance plus the added bonus of hunky Highland warriors throughout this book, and I for one, can NOT wait until the end of August to find out more in The Hawk: A Highland Guard Novel(less)
This is the 6th book in Monica McCarty’s Highland Guard series, and it’s an intense ride. This book, like the last, is extremely emotional, and extremely realistic.
At age 14 Mary is married to her knight in shining armor, the Earl of Atholl. It isn’t long before his armor starts to dull. Mary though, ever in love with him, tries her hardest to get him to love her. To Atholl, she was a child bride, and he never really stopped seeing her as a child. He was a champion, he was famous, he was a hero. His courtly ways entranced Mary from the get-to. But her childhood infatuation was crushed when she found out he wasn’t ever in her bed because he was in, well, pretty much every other woman’s bed.
And then he is branded a traitor and hanged, his head placed on a pike. Mary’s twin Janet comes and tries to take her back to Scotland, but that ends with disastrous results-Janet is swept away after a bridge explodes, and no one has seen or heard from her since. Mary is stranded in England, widow of a traitor, has to find a way to survive. And she does. And she does it in England to stay close to her son. She keeps her head down, she stays off the king’s radar, because the last thing she wants is another marriage, and she tries to make her own way. (all of this is before chapter 1!!!)
She’s doing alright, until she’s asked to go to Scotland and spy on the Bruce (her brother-in-law). This is where we see Mary start to come to life. She meets Kenneth and one of the hottest scenes I’ve ever read happens and I was entranced.
Mary is trying to forget Kenneth and go back to her normal life, while Kenneth is trying to become one of Bruce’s elite warriors and going through hell to prove himself.
And then they meet again.
Wow, the emotional toll this book took on me was insane. I felt both exhilarated and drained at the same time. The intensity of the war going on, that any minute Kenneth could be caught, of the secrets between them coming out...
You don’t want to miss this one.
The ending was wonderful. I loved it, I loved the way Kenneth and Mary came together, and I really reallyreally loved the ending. An amazing story full of the rich history of the time, The Recruit is one of my favorite books of the year.
***ARC courtesy of netgalley and Random House (less)
This story begins with our heroine Lady Isabella MacDuff being led into a cage-a cage suspended above the courtyard at Berwick Castle. We see her strength of body, mind and spirit tested, as Bella has finally realized what crowning the Bruce king has cost her. The biggest price? She’s lost her daughter. They had to leave 12 year old Joan behind with her father, which wasn’t an awful fate for the girl since her father loved her, but imagine a loving mother being forced to leave her daughter behind.
I feel that the hardest part about this book was the emotional torment of Bella. Not only did she leave her daughter behind, but Bella was captured, imprisoned, hung suspended from a cage for almost 2 years, she then was forced time and time again to make decisions no mother should have to make. The welfare of her daughter over her own, of course, but the costs were high. Her jailor/tormentor used her daughter as a reason to keep Bella in line. “We will let you write to her, if you...” or “if you escape, we will hurt your daughter...”
Lachlan and Bella’s paths were constantly intertwined, as the two of them spent a lot of time together. He rescued her from her prison, but would she ever allow him close? It seemed that having been an object of lust her entire life, Bella wanted just one man to look at her without that gleam in his eye. But for some reason, when Lachlan looked at her with desire in his eyes, it didn’t bother her as much.
I will definitely say that this is a very emotionally draining book. But Bella has become one of my favorite heroines of all time. She survived so much, she did so much, and she never came off as a perfect heroine, she was flawed, and she was so strong. Not just due to Ms. McCarty’s incredible writing, but this woman was real, her imprisonment in the cage was real. My favorite thing about these books is the vast amount of truth and history woven into the story. I suggest reading the author’s note at the end.
I really like that by the end, Bella was able to see that her husband was not as cruel as she’d originally thought him, that he deserved her pity more than anything, and she was able to let go of many hard feelings (oh don’t get me wrong, the man was an ass, but it was nice to see a heroine look back and see that several things could have been handled differently and maybe her marriage wouldn’t have been as awful as it had been). That’s one of the reasons I love to read Ms. McCarty’s work- she never takes the easy way out. Her characters have to work for their happy ending.
The only thing I missed was seeing the Guard act together more. But I think Lachlan needed to realize that even though he always says he works best alone, that he’s come to depend on the other members of the Guard. And dare I say it, he kind of likes them. There is a scene at the end where he realizes just how much the Guard means to him, and he to them.
My favorite quote from this book was actually at the end. It shows everything from Bella’s spirit, to how not everyone gets the pretty Happy Ever After. Sometimes it’s more bittersweet than that, and you have to work for what you want. I loved that.
“I know you were hoping for a different ending,” Lachlan said quietly. This war had taken so much from her. But Bella refused to let it cost her her daughter. “It’s not the end, it’s only the beginning.” With Lachlan by her side, she would fight to the end. (less)
This is the sequel to My Fierce Highlander, and I loved it just as much. I can’t tell you how much I loved our hero Lachlan. He was the younger, untitled brother of Alasdair-chief of clan MacGrath and hero of the last book. But Lachlan is told he will never amount to anything by their father, so he sets about proving him right. Lachlan is a man whore--a different woman each night, you know the type. The heroine Angelique catches him! So her first meeting of Lachlan is while he’s with Lady Eleanor, but she remembers seeing him with a different lady the night before, and she knows of his reputation. Let’s just say that she doesn’t take it well when she is gently forced by the king to marry Lachlan.
Her lands might be hers, but her people don’t trust either Lady Angelique or her new husband, their new chief, Lachlan. I liked how Lachlan earned their trust, and dealt with those who betrayed that newfound trust. I hated how Lady Angelique couldn’t understand that there were some things she wouldn’t be involved in. She was a woman, she was not the laird. Yet she would get so angry with Lachlan for doing things that involved her clan, without including her. I understand her fears and insecurities, in fact I think they were very well-developed and any woman could understand them. But it still drove me crazy.
Lachlan was a great character and a fantastic hero. I liked that he changed to a single-woman-man, because it was believable. Not being attracted to other women confused him. He was so befuddled as to why he only wanted his wife, and it was so fun to watch him fall in love with her. Once he realized why he didn’t want other women, he really worked hard to gain Angelique’s trust, and her faith in him. I found myself really enjoying the story. Once I passed a certain turning point for Angelique, the plot really picked up, and I found myself reading as fast as I could to find out what would happen next. A certain hare-brained scheme cooked up by the menfolk really rubbed me the wrong way, but to them the ends justified the means. This book was a great follow-up to My Fierce Highlander, and it really made me want more. In fact, I want Dirk’s story now. Like ASAP.
*One thing I’d like to mention is that I suggested this book and the previous one to someone, and her response was that she didn’t read self-published authors. Well, I had no idea this author was self-pubb’d! This book is just that good. If I ever go that route, I want her for my critique partner and I want her editor. I highly recommend Vonda Sinclair’s Highlander books.
**Thank you to the author for the review copy (less)
This book caught me off guard, in a good way at first. On page one, the heroine is trying to leave a man’s bed, but he tells her that her skills are not exaggerated and he drags her back. Afterwards, we see her ritual after a night like that, where she goes to the beach to clean off, and debates coming back up for air. She would end it all if she thought her sister would be protected.
Isabel is trying to protect her sister, so when her stepfather forces her to whore herself out so he can use the information she gathers against his enemies, she does so. He uses her sister’s welfare against Isabel in order to keep her in line. We are shown emotional and heartbreaking scenes where he has her leg broken, and then lets his men rape her repeatedly while her leg is broken. This made me just want to reach through the book and choke her stepfather. It was hard for me to understand, though, why Isabel was so ready to believe he’d abuse Thora, her sister. Thora was his blood daughter, and it would be to his advantage to get a good match for her. Isabel was not his blood relation, so while I loved her protectiveness of Thora, it made little sense that she believed her stepfather would harm the girl. I get that it's the 11th century, but still, she had no reason to believe he'd hurt his "real" daughter.
I got about 85 pages in before I knew it, and I was blown away by the plot. Blown away. This book was a solid 4, until... the hero did something that floored me. It’s awful. And he did this more than once!
Duncan asks Isabel what she would like to do this evening. She dons her "whore persona" (she is a whore, btw, it's all she knows, and he has paid her stepfather a ton of gold for a month with her).
"As she considered her words carefully before speaking he felt her retreating within herself, almost as if building a wall around her innermost thoughts and desires and needs so no one could touch them. The whore's expression returned to her features and he wondered if she even knew when she used it. "You," she whispered in a husky tone. "I wish to do you." (...) POV shift here His response was fast and almost furious as he crossed the few paces between them, pulled her into his arms and dragged her onto the surface of the table where they'd just shared a meal. When she tried to ease her hands free so she could touch him, he took them in one of his and held them above her head. Before she could say a word to him, he kneed her legs apart, pulled the robe and his shirt out of his way and thrust into her. Isabel gasped in surprise, for he'd never done that in all their joinings. With no prelude and no attention to her at all, he shoved his cock until it could go no farther and then relentlessly sought his own release. Her body adjusted to his, her inner walls relaxing as they accommodated his length and thickness, pouring out moisture to ease his way. Just as her body fell into rhythm with his movements, his cock hardened and released his seed into her. His breaths were shallow and quick, but he did not pause to relax after his release. Instead he withdrew from her and stepped away. Laying exposed, her legs spread and his seed still escaping from within her, she felt like the whore she was... "Now that Isabel the whore has had what she wanted," he began in a low voice. His words hurt her for some reason she did not wish to examine too closely. "What does Isabel the woman wish to do this evening?" (...) "Have I angered you in some way?" she asked. "If and when you act the whore, I will fuck you like you are one."
Wow, he paid for a whore, got a whore, then got pissed when she acted like one?
Up til now, he's been the model hero. Patient, kind, and generous. This passage makes me want to stab him. Duncan had been trying to help her see that she could become more than just a whore, and he wanted her to see her value was more than just what she did on her back. And then he pulled this. And he did it again later! What kind of man is that? Definitely not a hero.
Her sister is never told/shown her father has been using Isabel. She was used as well, just in a different way. And it felt like she was a cardboard character. She is just used by Duncan, and by her father, and even by the author as a plot device.
The betrayal, was such a huge deal, and completely under-used. Things that could have been used and could have been incredibly emotional scenes were glossed over. I mean, Duncan’s solution to free Isabel from her stepfather is a gut-wrenching decision. (I won’t spoil it) But at the end, the solution is less than a paragraph. Way too easy, and too fast.
The paranormal aspect was mild, her water connection was never used to its fullest potential. Duncan is a healer, but he doesn’t understand his gifts. Isabel has a connection with water, but other than just looking refreshed after a rain, or understanding the storm and knowing how long it’ll last, there’s another plot device that could have been explored so much more.
I thought this book started off strong, amazing, and intense. Then it fell apart. I'm sad I didn't like it as the plot had the potential to be fantastic. It started off so well. But I lost all respect for the hero many times over. I liked the betrayal but it was glossed over. The ending was too easy.
This is billed as Highlander #8. We see Queen Aibhoil and the unseelie king (for the first time!). The story is clever and I loved it (as I do all of K...moreThis is billed as Highlander #8. We see Queen Aibhoil and the unseelie king (for the first time!). The story is clever and I loved it (as I do all of KMM's highlanders). Aiden is trapped by the unseelie king as his Vengeance, and forced to give up everything to simply survive, but he gets one month in the "real world" to be free (after 500 yrs imprisonment) and he meets his soul mate. But he doesn't remember the dreams the seelie queen gave him about her, and his soulmate must make him remember her to save him and their love. Anyone who is a fan of the Fever series might want to read this, because I wonder if this is where the seelie queen has been for the past 4 books? It is a novella in the book called Tapestry, and it is so worth the read.(less)
I enjoyed it. It was a sweet romance (which was the best part of this story-a very romance-centered story) and it was plenty steamy for even this Highland Hussy.
This story starts out with English Lady Arabella on her way to Stirling in Scotland to be married to an English baron named Sir Stewart. But on the way some Scottish rebels attack her people. One of the barbarians sees her fighting for her life and plucks her from her horse to sit with him. Little does Arabella know that he is not a rebel. He has saved her from the rebels.
Laird Magnus Sutherland has just delivered his sister to her soon-to-be husband when he comes upon a lady being attacked by some of the rebels. But the men who are going after Arabella’s party aren’t going to discriminate that she’s not a warrior. She is English and that’s enough for them to hate her. Magnus swoops in and saves her, but he then sets things into motion he never would have thought of before.
Even one of his own men attacks Arabella because she’s English. Magnus’ solution is to marry her, that way she’ll have his protection and his men will be honor-bound to protect her as well. It doesn’t hurt that this way he won’t have to marry the neighboring clan chief’s bratty daughter (this will, by the way, come back later to bite him in the bum).
I think this was a very romance-centered book. This is good because you don’t see too much of that any more. I truly enjoyed Arabella learning that not all Scottish men are brutal barbarians, and I liked watching Magnus fall in love with his English wife. His fall was the best because at the beginning he couldn’t understand how any man could allow a woman to mean so much to him. Ya gotta love when those kinds of heroes fall in love.
I had a small temper tantrum with this book at one point where Arabella did something so dumb I wanted to throw my nook across the room. I settled for turning it off and grabbing a glass of wine ;) After she realized how stupid it was of her, I went back to liking the book again. Oh, and the ending was cute. I really liked Arabella’s father, even though he didn’t get much page time, he was a good character.
I hope to read more by this author, and I really think anyone who wants a romantic medieval story will love this one.
This is such a unique book. I've never read a story where the couple has been married for years, and well, life intervenes. This story is basically...more3.5
This is such a unique book. I've never read a story where the couple has been married for years, and well, life intervenes. This story is basically what comes after "And they all lived Happily Ever After." This story is more along the fact that they lived, they dealt with life, they dealt with loss, grief, and the real world.
It's also a very emotional book.
Laren is a very timid and shy woman. She married the love of her life Alex, who defied his mother to be with Laren, and supposedly they lived happily ever after, right?
Well, not really. During a battle, the English burnt down their keep. Alex is now laird, and Laren is trying to get their daughters to safety. She can't stand to leave without one last look at her husband, and she gets shot with an arrow. It's not a horrible wound-well, for her, for me I'd pass out and whine, but I'm not a medieval woman, I'm as girlie and modern as they come :) But she takes care not to show her injury thinking that Alex has enough on his plate without worrying about her.
Alex sees Laren, and after losing his home, he wants her to run to him, to kiss him, to let him see she cares he came back alive. But Laren is in so much pain, she can barely keep a brave face. Alex thinks she doesn't care, Laren thinks she's helping by not giving him something else to worry about...and so begins a book about a marriage where no one communicates.
At first I was really very emotionally vested in their story-I just hit my 9 year anniversary, and trust me, I'm married to the king of not communicating, so this felt very real to me.
Alex feels that as laird he needs to keep the clan together and to rebuild. Laren meanwhile has some secrets of her own. Three years before, they lost their infant son. As heartbreaking as this is for both of them, neither one talks to the other about the grief.
But as we see through some very heart-wrenching flashbacks, and through their day-to-day interaction, the two of them don't know how to be with each other anymore.
Right about here is where Laren began to lose the sympathy card with me. She comes from nothing. From the poorest of the poor. She felt that marrying a man who was so far above her was, well, she felt like he could do much better than someone like herself. Unfortunately she kept right on believing that she was very beneath him, and not good enough for him. What bothers me about her low self-esteem isn't that she felt that way about herself, but that after several happy years together she still had a hard time believing Alex loved her and she was worthy of him. At this point he's become laird, and they lost their son, but they lost each other at the same time.
It took Laren being hit with an arrow for Alex to see the problems, so he tried to fix it. It was Laren who constantly stopped any attempts, because she still felt unworthy of him.
Now in order to deal with her grief over her son, she began visiting the priest who made stained-glass windows. He taught Laren, and she became a master glassmaker. Instead of taking pride in her work, she hid away and it wasn't until she was forced to show her husband that she eventually did.
What bothered me here, is not that she wanted to make glass, but that it took precedence over everything. She refused to even attempt to speak with the women of the clan. She wouldn't even try! She was painfully shy, I get it, but she's been living with this clan, for what, 7 years? And Alex has been laird for most of that time, so how is it really taking that long for her to finally feel comfortable? It felt more like an excuse-Oh they'll judge me, so I won't get up there. I do feel the clan was judging her, but it was because she'd disappear all day and they just figured she was lounging about rather than tending to her duties. She never even tried to dissuade her people.
At around 80% in, she finally realized what it meant to be married to the laird.
"Being Lady of Glan Arrin wasn't about giving orders to the people or putting on a false confidence. It was about taking care of your loved ones."
Meanwhile, their toddler is kidnapped and held for ransom by a brutal man. I felt like all of their marital issues were left behind in order to rescue their daughter, but after they got her back, those issues just were cleared up. I then thought the epilogue would show how she's functioning now as lady of the keep. But nope, I thought the epilogue was pointless-a love scene and then a huge commission for her glasswork. An epilogue is supposed to add something to the story. This added nothing. We should have seen Laren as more of a lady of the clan, rather than getting a love scene with her husband.
So my final verdict is that it was good, and I would absolutely read this author again, but I did find it very hard to connect with Laren.
”Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies. But all their trials on the battlefield can't prepare them for their greatest challenge yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.”
I loved The Guardian, so I was super excited to read this one. The Sinner is about Alex, and he didn’t disappoint. I liked the banter between our hero and heroine. Glynis is a stubborn and sassy lass who was sent back to her clan in shame after stabbing her husband of 3 months (she stabbed his inner thigh, guess where she was aiming?). Her father wants to marry her off again, but she has sworn to never marry again.
Enter Alex, who has sworn a similar vow. The two of them hit it off, even though they didn't want to...isn't that just the way of it? You aren't looking for love, then POW! hit upside the head with all these feelings and emotions.
I liked Glynis’ father, even though I’m not sure we’re meant to like him until later on, but he was a very realistic laird, and he acted like it. I wish we’d seen more of the other 3 warriors, the bits we got of Duncan, Connor, and Ian were good scenes—I just wanted more of them.
At one point, Glynis has conned Alex into taking her into Edinburgh to live with her mother’s family. But she’s never met them. She never even thought to ask to stay with them for a visit. So while they are very welcoming to have her as a guest, they also want to marry her off. She’d never thought in a million years that they wouldn’t just allow her to be the spinster relative who grows old in the attic. I laughed at that, just because it made more sense than having rude relatives, or super sweet ones. When Alex came to say goodbye, she threw herself at him, begging him to take her home—cracked me up!
Loved Alex, and I really liked Glynis, but after they got married, her whole personality changed, or reverted, I guess. It bugged me because she kept saying she trusted Alex, but then she wouldn’t trust him. His actions were definitely hard to ignore, but at the same time, why why WHY just bail? She just froze up inside, refusing to talk anything over with him at all. At least, until it was almost too late. But that ending was tense, and had me turning the pages as fast as I could.
There were several surprises, and it’s action-packed. I really have begun to love Margaret Mallory’s storytelling. Whenever someone asks me what a good Highlander book is that they should read, I usually suggest something like Monica McCarty’s highlanders. I think Margaret Mallory’s writing reminds me a lot of Monica McCarty’s. It has that historically descriptive prose that instantly transports me to the wilds of Scotland, and weaves in everything from Gaelic phrases to actual historical events without making it feel tedious.
All in all, a great story, a fabulous Scottish Romance, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a good Romance.
I thought this was a cute, sweet and fun little romance.
Everything happens very quickly, but as it’s a novella, I was okay with that.
So this one opens up as a Princess from a small area near Austria is traveling through Scotland. She’s widowed, but her uncle, the king, wants her remarried. Alexandra is unimpressed with the nobles she’s had paraded through for her. In fact, Alexandra’s secretly been in love with the idea of Scotland forever. One of her tutors was a Scot, so she’s secretly looking for a husband while she’s in Scotland.
And one by one, her plan seems to fall right into place.
And then we meet the hero.
I loved his first scene. The man is completely drunk and trying to stay on his horse. That made me laugh, because how often do we have a hero who’s not only a drunk, but also likeable? It was fun and funny.
Kintare is trying to avoid feeling any pain, and well, he’s trying not to feel anything at all, to be honest. He lost someone he loved once, and not only blamed himself, but refused to let anyone close so he would never feel the pain of them leaving him. It’s a sorry state he’s in, but then he gets snowed in with Alexandra.
This was a fun and steamy novella, and you definitely have to suspend belief to a certain extent, but I really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to read the next in the series.
***ARC courtesy of edelweiss and Pocket Star (less)
You guys are probably going to laugh at me- I got the next book Scandal in Scotland for review, and as I was flipping through it, I realized there was...moreYou guys are probably going to laugh at me- I got the next book Scandal in Scotland for review, and as I was flipping through it, I realized there was an excerpt for the first book (this one, One Night in Scotland) at the end. So, I started reading it. And was so intrigued by it, I ordered the book immediately.
We enter with a letter from the heroine's brother Michael, who is an Egyptologist, and is being held ransom by an unknown person, for a certain artifact. So Michael sends a letter to his sister Mary telling her to please get the artifact from a Scottish colleague Angus Hays, Earl Errol. Unfortunately he'd just sent a letter to Angus telling him not to give up that artifact to anyone, not even someone he would usually trust. When Mary claims to be Michael's sister, he doesn't believe her. Not only had he gotten that letter, but Michael Hurst had never once said he had a sister.
Angus locks Mary in a luxurious room, and leaves her there until her identity can be proven. Mary refuses to be cowed and makes as much racket as possible to gain his attention. That scene was hilarious! He tossed her furniture out the window, and kissed her senseless. Fabulous, wonderful scene!
The main things that prevent this from being a 5 star book for me were that once Angus figured out Mary really was who she said she was, there was no actual apology. She also took it waay too easily. Granted by this point they were in love, but it still felt too easy for my taste. Another thing that bothered me is that there were a few plot points that I don't even get where they came from. Angus' cousin was a nice guy, but at the end it turns out he does something rather dastardly (won't spoil it, but it didn't quite come from nowhere, but it didn't fit his personality either). And the biggie. I hated that Angus' deceased wife looked like Mary. And I don't get why this was necessary? Really. And Mary never noticed the resemblance, even though EVERY SINGLE PERSON comments on it. So what was the point of that? It was odd.
But, that aside, I really enjoyed reading this story. The book itself is fun, Mary is a great heroine (think Evie from the Mummy), and Angus has a secret...and some scars. But which ones are healed? The ones on his body? Or the ones inside? The plot is never quite tied up so we have to read the next one in the series to find out what happens to Michael...does the artifact reach him in time for the ransom? What is so darn special about this artifact? I read it in one shot, and I plan on reading Scandal in Scotland right up next.(less)
This is the "prequel" to the MacLean Curse series, even though it's listed as the 6th in the series-it tells about the White Witch a bit.
I enjoyed this book from the get-go. I loved Karen Hawkins' writing style, in fact I've got the rest of the series of the MacLean Curse, so I'm going to continue on. And the humor was great, the characters were fun and likeable. BUUUT there was a small part at the ending that made me so mad, I docked it a half a star!
Lady Fia is one of those incredibly sweet, but also very feisty and spunky types of heroines. normally they are my favorite types! And don't get me wrong I actually did like Fia, but I couldn't quite get past her determination to become a playwright.
I am more annoyed at the fact that she was willing to bail on her cousin, the laird and more of a brother to her, so that her plays could get an audience with the queen. If she could make it to London, and if the queen would grant her an audience, and if she could convince anyone that she was the author, and there are so many more "ifs" in her flawed plan. Meanwhile, her cousin Duncan MacLean has been very loving and lenient on her-she's not married yet at age 24 in Elizabethan England where girls were wed at 14 and 15. She's allowed this leniency since Duncan loves her so much that no man is good enough for her.
I get that she is spunky and wants her plays performed for the queen, but would she really have bailed on her cousin and laird? Really?
Annoyance over, she meets Thomas by accident and it is hysterical and sweet, and the misunderstandings between them were priceless!
Fia's cousin Duncan was one of my favorite characters...Lord Thomas was frequently thinking about how large the laird was. Thomas is like 6'2 and Duncan is like 6'6 and he embodies every stereotypical Scottish hero quality-tall, the laird, handsome as sin, loves his clan and family, great warrior. I loved him. Throughout the story Duncan kept making comments about the White Witch and an amulet and a few other cryptic and foreshadowing comments.
This is important because the rest of the series by Karen Hawkins is called the Maclean Curse...I'm assuming it has to do with the amulet he stole from her and had Fia give to the queen.
Moving on from Duncan, Thomas and Fia get married at swordpoint, and spend several weeks on a ship together trying to not consummate their marriage. Obviously that is an impossibility given their attraction together. But Thomas has had his emotions stripped from him by a cold father who drilled into him that his mother was a passionate woman who left them for her passions.
So, Lord Thomas realizes he is becoming like his cold father, and wavers between wanting to be cold and passionless, to not being able to live without Fia. This becomes important because he really runs hot and cold on poor Fia.
Now, here is what bothered me so much about this book that I docked it a half star:
***SPOILER ALERT RIGHT HERE***
Lord Thomas is a spy/privateer for the Crown. His mentor/handler is a man named Walsingham. Walsingham is playing Thomas and makes him believe Lady Fia has betrayed him. AND THOMAS BELIEVES HIM!! Thomas' best mate is a man named Robert and he has been trying the whole book to get Thomas to see Walsingham is not telling him the whole truth and even right at this pivotal point in the book, Robert is trying to force him to see Fia would never do such a thing. But Thomas' father had told him don't trust anyone, don't love anyone, and look at how messed up Thomas is by it! He believes the worst in Fia, and goes to her. He wakes her, says awful, unforgivable things, and then locks her in her room. Meanwhile, Robert proves Fia's innocence and Thomas is so relieved at her innocence that he thinks he'll simply beg her forgiveness. Too bad she climbed out the window!! The "apology" part is what made me dock the rating. It was crap. She was too easy on him and there wasn't enough (or any) groveling. I'm a sucker for a betrayal plot where the hero or heroine has to earn forgiveness and this was so minimal I was pissed by the too easy, too nice and tidy bow on the end.
So, I loved the story up til then, it's a solid 4 star read, but for me personally, I had to dock it. please don't let this annoyance of mine-I don't know maybe I'm too picky in my old age? lol-anyways, please don't let this discourage you from the book, I did enjoy the story, and most of you who like Historicals will too.
This book is a true case of this book didn’t work for me, but it may work for you.
I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped. I found the writing to be repetitive and frustrating. It wasn’t easy to jump into this story and there were a lot of extra side plots that absolutely didn’t need to be there.
There’s a ghost sub-plot. It is woven in pretty well, but I hated the ghost Drangar, so it kind of ruined it for me. He is an ancestor of the hero Alasdair, and he is a big fat jerk. He cheated on his wife, and she went to commit suicide for attention, but he is too late. Her skirts get tangled in the water and she drowns. The two of them spend several centuries lamenting their mistakes. At one point, though, Drangar is bemoaning his afterlife, and he says something like, “Oh but if she only had loved me enough to suffer instead of killing herself.” Wait, hold up. She should have loved you enough to suffer your cheating?! That’s a little victim-blaming right there. Ugh.
There’s a Viking sub-plot. This could have been super cool. Like amazing knock your socks off cool. Instead in fizzled out at the end leaving me holding my Nook and scratching my head thinking, “That’s it? All the build-up and that’s it?” Quick recap: The heroine has a foretelling dream of her death at a Norse lord. Said Norse lord is in talks with her brother Kendrew for Marjory’s hand in marriage. At the end, there is the makings of an epic battle. And then the Vikings turn away. That’s it. Done. No kidnapping, no fiery funeral pyre, no battle. Nothing.
Now the romance itself was sweet. I wish more time had been spent on it. Marjory has wanted Alasdair for a year or so now, and thought the feeling was mutual. He comes back from being gone for a while, but he’s a changed man—he’s harder. Not to mention her brother Kendrew and the man she loves hate each other. This was going well at first, but after a while, I felt Alasdair was just being petty and childish. He didn’t work as a responsible clan chief. He read like a petulant child whose pride had been hurt.
Kendrew then has a super abrupt about-face and lets Marjory and Alasdair marry and sends the Vikings on their way. It was so quick and so out of character that I didn’t buy it. If at one point Marjory and Kendrew had spoken and she’d said “Oh but I love him. Let me marry him.” He could be the doting big brother, and say yes, then it would have worked for me. But it was so random and out of the blue.
That being said, many of her fans will love it. Some of these things won't bug you at all. But for me it just didn't work.
Ending on a positive, I will say that fans of Sue-Ellen Welfonder won't want to miss her latest in the Highland Warriors series. With everything from Highlanders to Vikings, ghosts to curses, there's something for everyone. You won't want to miss this third installment in a series full of adventure and romance.
***ARC courtesy of Forever Romance and netgalley (less)