This is the first book from Monica McCarty hugely popular Highland Guard series, which loosely uses actual historical figures and events to set up the...moreThis is the first book from Monica McCarty hugely popular Highland Guard series, which loosely uses actual historical figures and events to set up the premise of a group of elite warriors who embark on a secret mission to help free Scotland from English rule.
Leading this assembly of hunky highland men is the ultimate Scottish swordsman and warlord Tormod MacLeod. Tor is Chief of his people, taking the throne at the age of ten after his parents were murdered. Fiercely independent, he is a fair but aggressive leader, dedicated to his clan and answering to no one.
When Robert The Bruce handpicks him to train and lead a group of the 10 deadliest warriors the islands have ever seen he initially refuses, having no intention of being drawn into Scotland’s war against the English. After the lovely Christina is negotiated into the deal he suddenly finds himself with not only a luscious new bride but a disorganized and lethal fighting force at his disposal. She of course tries to tame him while his men try to kill each other.
I loved the fact that this story took actual historical figures and used them within the story. “Loosely based” is how the author describes it, which kind of made me laugh because this is such a “romance” in the true sense of the word and I’m sure the real 14th century Robert The Bruce or William Wallace were hardly sporting six packs and waxing poetic as they fell for their lassies (although Braveheart would have us believe otherwise.)
I don’t want to sound negative because I did enjoy the hell out of this once I got with the program but because so many of the reviews placed emphasis on the historical accuracy I went in expecting something with a bit more meat to it, so that while I appreciated the effort ultimately this was just another sexy highlander romance.
Still it’s a good one, The Chief is well written with an exciting plot, a spunky heroine to soften our alpha hero’s brutal shell and seriously smoking hot love scenes. We are also introduced to numerous other kilted hunks so that I just have to continue on with the series. Cheers.(less)
Opening Line: “The first time I saw her again, I felt as if I’d been hit.”
I absolutely loved this book, another winner from JoJo Moyes who bases this...moreOpening Line: “The first time I saw her again, I felt as if I’d been hit.”
I absolutely loved this book, another winner from JoJo Moyes who bases this moving story on real events (and her own grandmother) Taking the reader back to 1946 in the aftermath of the Second World War as thousands of young war brides are transported from Australia to England to meet up with their GI husbands who they’d married during the conflict. For many woman it was a time of huge uncertainty, leaving their families and everything they’d ever known behind and preying they didn’t receive the dreaded “Not wanted, don’t come telegram” once aboard.
Ship Of Brides follows four of these woman (out of the 650 on board) all from very different backgrounds and covers their experience from a boarding house in Sydney throughout their 6 week journey at sea aboard an aircraft carrier (which also still carries over a thousand naval officers so rules of honor, duty and separation must be enforced.
The story begins in India in 2002 (which initially threw me a bit) as an elderly grandmother on vacation stumbles across the broken hull of a once great British warship, now in the process of being dismantled for scrap on an oily, debris littered beach. She has come upon a ship graveyard and can just make out the name on one of the rusted hulls “Victoria” and at once is overwhelmed by memories…
I was surprised by how involved I got in this story but Moyes not only takes the reader back to 1946 but manages to keep a huge element of suspense going throughout the journey (Frances, a former nurse is kept frustratingly mysterious until the very last pages – and I kinda loved her.) We also enter the POV of the injured and grieving Captain, a Marine who has received a Dear John letter, a woman widowed before she reaches her destination, another who discovers her husband is already married and follow stowaway dogs, boiler room brawls, disastrous fires, miscarriages, lovely leg contests, ashore days in India and Gibraltar, excitement, fear, heartache and joy.
Because this has been based on an actual sailing taken by the HMS Victorious, Moyes was able to include extracts from journals, newspaper clippings, and diary entries from the actual men and women aboard which added an element of real emotion to the voyage.
The writing is fantastic and by the end I felt like I really knew these women and wondered how their lives had turned out, in fact I didn’t want to let them go.
Opening line: “So this is how a marriage ends, thought Julia Hamill as she rammed the shovel into the soil.”
This was a very good read although not qui...moreOpening line: “So this is how a marriage ends, thought Julia Hamill as she rammed the shovel into the soil.”
This was a very good read although not quite what I was expecting. The Bone Garden is two stories woven into one; starting with Julie Hamill in present day who has just purchased a new (old) house in Boston following her divorce. While attempting to dig a garden she makes a horrifying discovery –a human skull. According to medical examiner Maura Isles (who only has a cameo in this book) the skull is very old, belongs to a woman and has the unmistakable marks of murder. This information sends Julia on a quest to find the story behind her death and sends the reader back to the 1830’s and the hunt for the West End Reaper.
Back in 1830 we follow Rose Connelly, a poor Irish immigrant trying to care for her newly orphaned niece and Norris Marshal, a struggling medical student. Their paths intersect at a teaching hospital as Rose’s sister lies dying from childbed fever and then again later when Rose witnesses a murder and Norris unwittingly becomes the chief suspect after he stumbles across the latest victim. Together they join forces to solve the murders and protect the baby which seems to be at the heart of the mystery.
I really enjoyed the beginning of this book, setting things up in both timelines and Gerritsen plays with the reader by ending each section on a bit of a cliff-hanger, forcing you to keep turning the pages. There are many well developed secondary characters in both time lines including a resurrectionist (grave robber) who digs up corpses from graveyards for sale on the black market (worth 25$ and totally gruesome)Speaking of which, Gerritsen goes into graphic 1830’s medical detail here, I mean I learned everything I didn’t want to know about childbed fever and how to amputate an arm. And you will be shaking your head (and shuddering) as the simple concept of washing your hands didn’t exist. Imagine the consequences of handling diseased corpses and then going from bed to bed checking pregnant woman!
In modern Boston Julia teams up with Henry, an ornery 89yr old with a cellar full of wine and boxes of documents and personal letters belonging to the previous owner of her house and dating back to the time of the murders. -Henry was one of my favourite characters in the book. We also see the spark of a romance beginning with her cute dog walking neighbor.
As the book progressed we spent more and more time in 1830 until those sections took over completely. I actually would have preferred a more balanced split between the two as modern day Julia was left a little vague and honestly I was ready for the olden day mystery to wrap up long before it did. The attention to the detail of that time is astonishing, especially the medical stuff and the brutality of living in a Boston slum.
Gerritsen‘s writing is always topnotch, with persistent suspense, a touch of romance, well developed characters, attention to detail and as usual she puts her medical training to chilling good use. Cheers. 396jb4(less)
Opening Line: “I sometimes think to myself that I’m the last of my kind.”
Well I’ve gotta give this 5 stars because Nicholas Sparks did it to me again...moreOpening Line: “I sometimes think to myself that I’m the last of my kind.”
Well I’ve gotta give this 5 stars because Nicholas Sparks did it to me again with another unforgettable romance. I just can’t help myself when it comes to his stuff. By now I’ve also come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to be guaranteed a HEA, which may actually be part of the attraction, it sure adds to the suspense factor as I never know who he’s going to kill off and I’ve thrown more than one of his books across the room in disgust but, yeah I keep coming back for more.
The Longest Ride was different than the last couple in that there’s no mystery or unscrupulous bad guys here. No big suspense factor or real tragedy. It is still a fantastic story though, the romance is just beautiful –soft and slow burning between our modern couple and sweet and sad via the Notebook-esque flashbacks from our older couple, who manage to give us a complete picture of their long life together –I just loved them. I also enjoyed the bull riding aspect, with its descriptions of the PBR and Luke’s battle with his nemesis “Big Ugly Critter”. The accounts of a hard working ranch life are also well done. Sophia was a little harder for me to relate to; a New Jersey college girl and her sorority sister issues. A great pairing of opposites.
Despite the lack of an antagonist the ending still managed to be pretty exciting, keeping me up late to see the outcome and wondering once again if Sparks was going to kill off another hero. I will say that this one is a little twisty, a little sneaky and (view spoiler)[ we do very much get our HEA so I didn’t have to throw anything or cry. (hide spoiler)]
Alternating with 3 different POV’s we begin with 91 year old Ira Levinson crashing his car over an embankment during a snow storm. Ira is alone in the world and no one is going to be looking for him for a very long time. In poor health to begin with he is now suffering from multiple injuries, unable to move and barely conscious, somehow his beloved wife Ruth appears in the passenger seat beside him. She’s been gone for 9 years now so couldn’t possibly be here yet she forces him to hang on, her clothes and appearance changing with the times as she urges him to recount the stories of their life together. Their early courtship, the dark days of WWll when he served as a pilot, their eventual marriage and their discovery of art which begins a lifelong hobby of collecting paintings from as then unknown artists. It is a life well lived.
We also meet Sophia Danko, a college senior in the midst of being pressured to join her roommate for a weekend at the local rodeo. Sophia is recovering from a recent breakup after her boyfriend of 2 years cheated on her and realizes her friend might be right, she needs a night out. She meets former PBR champion Luke Collins at the bull riding event, when he comes to her rescue in all his yummy cowboy goodness. Luke bears no resemblance to the silly college boys she’s used to and despite their differences the two start dating and fall in love. We follow them through the early stages of their budding relationship as they try not to think too hard about what the future holds as their worlds are so far removed. Luke is trying to keep the bank from taking his flailing ranch all while attempting a comeback after a horrific bullriding injury sidelined his dreams. His days are long and filled with guilt and fear.
Alternating characters throughout we see Ira and Ruth’s life lived while waiting and hoping for Ira to be rescued, growing weaker as the days pass. We witness young love and difficult decisions as Luke keeps a weighty secret and pushes himself to the limits. In the end Sophia and Luke’s lives are changed forever by an old man and the last letter he wrote to his wife on their anniversary. Cheers. Sigh.
Much like Christmas the BDB only comes around once a year and it's still my favorite book release of the year, even if I am starting to feel a little...moreMuch like Christmas the BDB only comes around once a year and it's still my favorite book release of the year, even if I am starting to feel a little too old to believe in "Santa" F-bombing it out in his leather pants.
Opening Line: “Nathaniel, this is Constantine.” Lady Rathbone nodded to him and then to the small blond boy standing next to a pair of adults whom Nat...moreOpening Line: “Nathaniel, this is Constantine.” Lady Rathbone nodded to him and then to the small blond boy standing next to a pair of adults whom Nathaniel assumed were his parents.”
This was only 50 pages long but they were a really, really good 50 pages. Well written suspenseful, heartbreaking, surprising, uplifting and just beautiful, I’ll definitely be searching out more from this author. Also complete in terms of story and character development, I became fully emerged in this novella which transported me back to another time when social standing, duty to country and family obligations were of the upmost importance. Being gay or even not marrying wasn’t an option.
We meet two young boys and watch as over a period of years they become best friends, then lovers, always separated by their preordained futures and country of birth. A surprising suspense factor came into play for me because I was always aware that WW1 was looming ahead, so as beautiful as it was watching Nathaniel and Konstantin fall in love it was also bittersweet because there couldn’t possibly be any future (even a clandestine one) between an heir to the British throne and his Russian counterpart.
Six year old Nathaniel and Konstantin meet each other for the first time in 1890’s England. I got the feeling that both boys were lonely, growing up in such wealth and standing and with so much expected of them when all they really wanted was to be children. Subsequently their connection is immediate, based on finding a kindred spirit.
Through Nathaniel’s eyes and over yearly summer visits and letters we see their friendship blossom into more, so that by the time they attend college together each is aware that those early kisses, fumblings and releases has developed into a serious love affair (although neither has a name for what they’re feeling or doing they just know that they long to be together) Eventually their carefree college days end, with family obligation and duty separating the men once more. They are now expected to marry and for me these were some of the most heartbreaking scenes. The anguish they each go through standing at the other’s wedding, imagining that the vows are for one another instead of their intended brides is heartbreaking.
“When it got to the part where Konstantin was saying his vows, Nathaniel concentrated on every word. It might sound foolish but he wanted to remember exactly what the words sounded like in Konstantin’s voice.”
With the progression of the 1st world war communication between our lovers cease, leaving Nathaniel trapped in England and assuming the worst. When he learns that the Russian royal family has been overthrown he’s devastated withdrawing from society and life in general, expecting to live out his days in seclusion. The ending is kind of abrupt but I have to say it was also perfect, leaving me with a big silly smile on my face. Cheers.
"Do svidanyia Nate.” “Do svidanyia Kosya. Until we meet again.” Konstantin bit his lip and then turned away and walked onto the ship without looking back.”
Opening Line: “Alaric McCabe looked out over the expanse of McCabe land and grappled with the indecision plaguing him.”
Whoa, hello sexy Highland Warri...moreOpening Line: “Alaric McCabe looked out over the expanse of McCabe land and grappled with the indecision plaguing him.”
Whoa, hello sexy Highland Warriors. I guess I should have listened to all the rave reviews; I’m sorry now I waited so long to discover this series.
This is the second book from the McCabe brothers trilogy and what an epic love story it turned out to be. I’ll be honest, it took me a bit to get into the story but Alaric and Keeley grew on me as did Banks’ particular take on historical Scotland, so that that by the end I found myself ensnared by these lovers who face impossible odds in claiming their HEA. Yeah the ending left me kinda breathless actually; exciting, heartbreaking, and surprising
Centering on middle brother Alaric we join him on his way to meet his betrothed. His is not to be a marriage of love, Alaric is marrying out of a sense of duty, family and to bring an alliance to the McDonald and McCabe clans and because the King demands it. So it’s fair to say there is a lot riding on this union. In the midst of his journey Alaric and his warriors are attacked and he is gravely injured. Managing to escape, his horse conveniently deposits him near the cottage of a healer.
Keeley McDonald lives alone after being banished by her people (the whys are pretty harsh and expanded upon throughout the story) Anyways, Keeley is handy with the ole herb which is lucky for our fallen Highlander. Getting the warrior’s bulk into her small cottage is no easy task but she is swiftly drawn to him and the wicked glint in his green eyes as she begins to care for his injuries and nurse him back to health.
In time his (equally sexy) brothers locate Alaric and then essentially kidnap Keeley so that she can care for him back on McCabe land as well as serve as midwife for the birth of Ewan and Mairin’s (In Bed with a Highlander) upcoming child. It’s not all bad as they offer her a position within their clan.
Back at the McCabe castle Alaric and Keeley are having trouble keeping their hands off each other and finally just abandon any pretenses and go for it. They both know that there is to be no future for them as Alaric is promised to another but for the time they have they’re going to create memories that will last forever. And because this is Maya Banks boy do they ever! The sex scenes are plentiful and even a bit naughty!
So this is where their love story really started to grow on me, as their time together neared an end and each moment became precious. How will they say goodbye? How can Keeley watch while he marries another? I honestly wondered how these two were going to get their HEA and then tragedy struck and a big twist that totally made sense and set up the next book beautifully. Oh the ending is just so good.
I had put off reading this series for quite a while because I just couldn’t come to terms with the author of (Colters' Woman) being able to write a decent historical Scottish romance. (That book may have just scared me for life) I’m very glad I gave this a go because Banks surprised me here.
Earlier I mentioned Banks’ particular take on medieval Scotland, she has written this in modern English. Sure we get a few “Aye’s” and lassies, lochs and lairds, tankards of ale and even descriptions of how ‘things’ are about to burst out of trews but this has been written for the masses. It’s also vague on setting and time period which usually bothers me (i.e. not much research went into this) yet somehow it still worked and I can’t wait to continue on with Caelen’s story. Never Love a Highlander(less)
Opening Line:“The weather for her first wedding had been a splendor of nature.”
This was a great conclusion to the McCabe brothers trilogy, reinstating...moreOpening Line:“The weather for her first wedding had been a splendor of nature.”
This was a great conclusion to the McCabe brothers trilogy, reinstating the fact that I should have listened to all the rave reviews earlier because I’ve really enjoyed these hunky highland warriors with all their manly swordplay (LOL), their battle for the McCabe legacy and lovers who face impossible odds in claiming their HEA.
This one picks up directly after Seduction of a Highland Lass with sacrificial lamb Rionna finally (finally) getting her McCabe man. This poor girl has really had the run around but Caelen, the last remaining brother steps up, takes one for the team and Rionna actually gets her wedding, bringing an alliance to the McDonald and McCabe clans once and for all.
Caelen may put loyalty above all else but he trusts no woman, hardening his heart after a prior betrayal ended in the murder of his father and brother’s wife. This is to be a marriage of convenience for him, nothing more. This couple butt heads almost immediately upon return to the McDonald grounds as it becomes apparent that Caelen’s new bride is no wallflower. He of course tries to put her in her place, which would be inside the castle walls, running the staff and household not out leading the men in swordplay wearing trews which is where Rionna is happiest.
Who knew Rionna was a “warrior Princess” it sure melts Caelen’s defences watching her in action. Initially Caelen’s character confused me (or should I say was realistic) as he was all smooth words, white hot longing and gentleness in the bedroom when they’re alone but outside of those stone walls and fur bedding he is gruff moody and harsh almost to the point of being cruel to his new bride.
There is a lot of action in this one and I particularly enjoyed the scenes where Caelen is training Rionna in combat skills. She also has some great scenes with Gannon the 2nd in command who I’ve enjoyed in all 3 books.
Maya Banks surprised me here with a fade-to-black love scene. What?! She makes up for it with plenty of others though. I felt that Caelen went a little soft towards the end spouting mushy nonsense in front of the King and his clan and the last battle had a few silly moments however the epilogue which has been taken from Caelen’s diary is so freakin good it will bring tears to your eyes as it is signed; Caelen McDonald laird of the McDonald clan. You’ll have to read it to find out the significance. Cheers. 387jb4(less)
Opening Line: “Victoria Ashford ran a slender finger across the line of her jaw, her cool grey eyes studying that small bit of smooth, perfect skin.”
I...moreOpening Line: “Victoria Ashford ran a slender finger across the line of her jaw, her cool grey eyes studying that small bit of smooth, perfect skin.”
I picked this one up second hand and enjoyed it way more than I expected to despite a few moments (where the time travel is concerned) when I had to just “go with it” and not ask too many hard questions. The writing is good and the story kept me guessing with numerous twists and turns. I also really liked the heroine in both eras, as she takes the form here of a poor Irish immigrant from the 1890’s as well as a supermodel from our time. The hero was pretty good too, all hunky, brooding beta but still willing to do almost anything to keep the woman he loves while also trying to control a “passion that burns hotter than fire” –or at least that's what the back blurb says.
Supermodel Victoria Ashford is on the top of the world after landing a huge perfume contract, her perfect face will be everywhere in the coming months and the massive paycheck that comes along with it feels like a bonus. The media blitz is just beginning when Victoria decides to celebrate with friends in her New York apartment; however tragedy strikes that night in the form of a horrific fire, leaving the beauty alive but permanently scarred and disfigured.
Two years and countless surgeries later Victoria is now all but homebound; depressed and in constant pain she longs for death, edging closer to suicide daily especially after her distorted face turns up in the tabloids. On a whim her best friend convinces Victoria to seek the help of Dr. Wing, a mystic who claims to be able to give his clients a new life. Victoria is of course skeptical but with nothing to lose she accepts his rules with a solemn vow (she can’t marry, have children, murder anyone or tell anyone who she really is as that would change the course of history) She will also have to die to begin her new life.
The actual “hows” of the time travel are a little vague but next thing we know Victoria finds herself residing in the body of Sheila Casey who is about to give birth in 1898 Boston. After giving the baby up for adoption to Jack and Cristina Wilkins “Sheila” finds work as a scullery maid –which I’m assuming would be a sucky job for a supermodel. Anyways, even through the baby isn’t really hers she can’t seem to stop thinking about her new “daughter” and goes about trying to find her.
At around the same time Sheila/Victoria is washing dishes and peeling potatoes frail, sickly Christina Wilkins dies and poor ole Jack needs a nurse to care for his ever crying baby. As luck would have it the baby immediately quiets when Victoria enters the room, Jack of course hires the saucy red head on the spot and together they enter into a quiet friendship which quickly crosses the lines of what’s acceptable between wealthy widower and nursemaid.
Now Victoria’s in a pickle; she’s fallen in love but she can’t ever marry, Jack’s bitch of a sister in-law has set her beady eyes on him as future husband material –making Victoria’s life a living hell and if Jacks guilt over never having truly loved his dead wife weren’t enough now the baby’s father has shown up with all manner of blackmail and bad doery promised. How will these star crossed lovers ever get their HEA? 328jb4(less)
Opening Line: “When two gentlemen are related by blood, they do not usually address each other with formality.”
Based on all the glowing reviews and ac...moreOpening Line: “When two gentlemen are related by blood, they do not usually address each other with formality.”
Based on all the glowing reviews and accolades THE RAKE has received I was really looking forward to sinking my teeth into this regency romance. And I guess because I’d heard so many good things I was a little surprised at well, frankly how dull this was. Even with Putney’s great writing, attention to detail and a reprobate bad boy as our hero this was a bit of a grind to get through.
My main issue was the tedious and repetitive descriptions of the day to day activities taking place at the estate. Sure I appreciate the research that must have gone into the time period and it was interesting to a degree but it was also too much. I kept waiting for something, anything to happen but it was just endless talk and dinners and details of farm life. The steam factor was also very low and even at the end I still felt like Reggie and Alys were more friends than lovers and don’t even get me started on the “letting you go because you’re too good for me” trope.
This really should have been titled “The Alcoholic” because Reggie is a very successful one, as a rake however he fails. We are told (continuously) about his rakish behaviour but he doesn’t often exhibit any. He’s basically just a drunk who makes questionable decisions while drunk. All his other choices are ethical and kinda heroic. He just allows people to think the worst of him, adding to his disgraced reputation which for whatever reason he seems to covet.
I will say though that it was refreshing to have an alcoholic as the leading man and I found the sections where he’s craving a drink and bargaining with himself (just one, I can stop any time) very well done. It does get a little preachy but Bill W would be proud.
Ayls Weston is running from her past, masquerading as a man in order to maintain her position as the (successful) estate manager of Strickland manor. All that’s about to change however when Reginald Davenport comes home, taking his place as the rightful master of his family estate. After extensive (see tedious) exploration of the grounds, Reggie decides to keep Alys on as steward and over time the pair realize they have much in common. Reggie is also on the run, trying to escape several decades’ worth of drink and debauchery in London which as of late has been causing him to experience blackouts. He just needs a rest, and Strickland will be perfect. When a fire destroys the steward house Alys and her wards move into the big house and a romance that could save them both takes hold.
First published in 1989 (THE RAKE AND THE REFORMER) stands up well by todays romance standards and I would consider it a must read for the genre, especially since I seem to be in the minority with my feelings. Cheers 360jb35(less)
Sebastian Easton has spent the last 12 years striving towards one goal. To take back his rightful title as the 8th Duke of Keswick, stolen from him by...moreSebastian Easton has spent the last 12 years striving towards one goal. To take back his rightful title as the 8th Duke of Keswick, stolen from him by his murderous and power hungry uncle. Upon the death of their father he and his two brothers had been locked away in a tower awaiting certain death until his friend Mary daringly set them free.
The three boys then ran for their lives, spending the next decade apart, with one of the brothers going to sea and another forced to a life on the streets. Sebastian became a soldier and went to war eventually earning enough to buy his commission but not before becoming wounded in battle. All three of the “lost lords of Pembrook” have returned to London hardened and changed men but Sebastian's scars mark him the greatest. He is of single minded focus to reclaim his title and avenge their stolen youth.
This was another solid story from Lorraine Heath. It wasn’t my favourite but still a fantastic read. I particularity liked the back story and set up for this trilogy and she has done a great job of showing (teasing) us with just enough of the remaining two brothers (Rafe & Tristian) to hook me into continuing on. I am very intrigued.
I will admit that once the fascinating backstory was put into place the actually story & romance part ended up being just okay. It seemed to stall out a bit for me in the middle and took ages for out H/h to get together. Ultimately it was also quite predictable with the bad guy uncle.
I do have a real weakness for the scarred and tortured heroes though and Sebastian suffers as much emotionally as he does from his battle wounds. He bears the blame for not being able to protect his bothers and for their rough orphan upbringings. And (because this is a historical romance) he also believes himself to be a monster, unworthy of love due to how he looks. (Missing eye and scars down his face, neck, chest)
This brings us to Mary, who of course sees past his scars. Loyal, fiery and at the time of Sebastian's return, also betrothed to another. This proves to be somewhat of an issue because they're having trouble staying apart which in turn threatens to destroy Mary's reputation and engagement. Even after they fall for each other Sebastian remains closed off emotionally, obsessed with righting Pembrook and refusing to see what is right in front of him...love. Cheers