Review: Romancing the Scot by May McGoldrick

Romancing the Scot

Kindle Edition, 284 pages                                           ASIN  B0746MLYFZ

Published November 14th 2017 by Swerve           Series   The Pennington Family #1

Rating:  5*

Grace Ware is an enemy of the English crown along with her father, an Irish military commander of Napoleon’s defeated army. On top of that, her mother, was an exiled Scottish Jacobite. On a the way to deliver a new message to the wife of Napolean’s brother things went terribly wrong.  Her father and his footmen slain and Grace was in the run for her life. While running from her father’s murderers through the harbor alleyways of Antwerp, she hid in a crate never realizing that said crate would then be sealed moved aboard a ship.Grace’s luck went from bad to worse when the crate was delivered to the home of an aristocrat in the Scottish Borders. Baronsford is the last place she could expect to find safety, and Grace feigns a loss of memory to buy herself time while she recovers.

Hugh Pennington—Viscount Greysteil, Lord Justice of the Scottish Courts, and a hero of the Napoleonic wars—is also a grieving widower with a death wish. When he receives an expected crate from the continent, he is shocked to find a nearly dead woman inside. Her identity is unknown, and the handful of American coins and the precious diamond sown into her dress only deepen her mystery.

***  This was an absolutely terrific read with an amazing adventure and truly sensual romance.  Grace had spent her entire life caring for her father after her mother’s passing.  Bad enough to have seen her father’s murdered bloody body but when trying to escape she had the misfits to hide in a crate, which was then sealed and loaded onto a ship without food or water for five days.  When Hugh Pennington discovered her half dead body it was no wonder she wasn’t forthcoming with information about herself.  After the many days it took for her to recover, she discovered she was in the home of a man who had every reason to detest her for her father’s actions during the war.

However, there was even more hurdles to overcome when both began to feel the passion that seemed to be brewing in each others hearts and to realize someone  out there was still looking to capture and/or kill Grace for the secrets she was carrying without knowing herself what they were.

Truly a great read and one I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

Marilyn Rondeau

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Review: Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh

Someone to Wed

Series:  Westcott #3            Rating: 5*                          Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages

Publish:  November 7th 2017 by Berkley                   ISBN13: 9780399586064

Wren!  What a refreshing and delightful protagonist she turned out to be!  Wren had literally been a recluse for letting a purple birthmark on the left side of her face dictate her future.   But a year after her beloved adoptive parents passed,  Wren decided she wanted more out of her life and being fabulously wealthy and independent decide she would ‘buy’ herself a husband. Doing her homework, to find a man who would wed her and let her continue on as before she made a list of four prospective men she would interview.

When Alexander Westcott became the new Earl of Riverdale, he inherits a title he never wanted and a failing country estate he can’t afford. However, he dutifully intends to do everything in his power to undo years of neglect and give the people who depend on him a better life knowing it would take years to bring the estate back to life.

Being a business woman who ran a highly successful glassworks factory, Wren initially began in a very brusque manner stating the obvious to Alexander of his lack of coin in his circumstances of inheriting a pile of stones and estate he couldn’t possibly afford.  Then went on to explain that he might consider wedding her whereby, she could “with her ample supply of cash” help him refurbish the estate.  Alas, Alex was astounded at her bad taste in bringing up such a personal matter which was in bad taste to ever discuss upon just meeting someone.

***  The first thing I must say is when I start a novel by Mary Balogh, I get that “Ahhhhhh….” feeling just knowing that when I get to the last page, I will experience that very same feeling of contentment and relaxation.  In SOMEONE TO WED I had already read the first two books in this series so was more than ready in anticipating this third book, though I hadn’t  come across anyone like Wren before.

Obviously, both protagonists had a lot to work out between them before any romance could ever be developed.  Both had issues – Wren with letting her birthmark define her life; and Alex with his abject horror to discover that he just might be the type of person who would marry for money?    Alex finally agreed to a proper courtship, hoping for at least friendship and respect to develop between them. Naturally, neither was prepared for the desire that overwhelmed them both when Wren finally lifted the veils that hid the secrets of her past.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Sadie’s Highlander by Maeve Greyson

Sadies Highlander

Published: September 12th 2017 by Loveswept                           Rating:   5*

ASIN:    B01MZ18FVS          Series:   Highland Protector #1

I have loved Maeve Greyson’s Highland books since I first discovered her Highland Hearts series and now, I am so lucky to starting Book #1 of her Highland Hearts series and just by reading the first book SADIE’S HIGHLANDER – I can tell that this is going to be just as engaging, funny and sensual as her prior series.

Alec MacDara and his brothers and family traveled forward in time to be the protectors of the sacred Heartstone.  They are now owners and operators of a theme park called Highland Life and Legends.  As the chairman of this enterprise, Alec has been keeping the real castle and it’s treasures separate, while fending off a plethora of requests to film on the grounds.  However after some very charming letters from a production assistant, he agrees to a meeting.  At first, the minute he meets the CEO of the company he realizes what a mistake he’s made, but then he notices her assistant.  The woman with lush curves who is so down to earth he almost forgets his name!

Sadie Williams is the sister to the owner of the motion picture company who has for years kept Sadie in the lowliest of positions while Sadie waits for her sisters promise of one day becoming a writer.   However Sadie was shocked when Alec agreed to allow the picture company upon one condition! Sadie would have to live in the castle and report to Alec every day of the company’s progress. Sadie agrees but wonders why Alec looks at her as if he was waiting to gobble her up!  Knowing she was a bit on the chubby side and having always been told by her sister she was ugly, Sadie didn’t know what to think of the hunky Highlander who thought she was beautiful!

Fabulous, funny and sexy – couldn’t ask for more and Maeve Greyson delivers in spades!!!

Marilyn Rondeau

 

Review: Once A Rebel by Mary Jo Putney

Once a Rebel

September 27th 2017 by Zebra Historical (first published May 30th 2017)

Series  Rogues Redeemed #2                  Rating:  5*

This was truly a fully fleshed out and wonderful read.   To summarize the plot, Callie and Lord George are childhood best friends and neighbors with horrid fathers.  Callie’s father decides to rid himself of her and announces he has found her a husband.  He’s three times her age, a man she’s never met and will take her away to Jamaica to live.  Callie runs to Lord George and they decide to run to Gretna Green; they stop to rest and the father’s alerted by one of Callie’s sisters, found them.   In trying to save Lord Georges life who was being beaten to death by her father she promised she would marry the man and be a good and dutiful wife.  Later Callie was told that George had been killed on his way to Botany Bay.

It’s fifteen years later, and Callie is widowed with two step-children and living in Washington, as the British are invading and trying to burn it down.   She sends her family and retainers off to Baltimore fearing for their safety, while she remains behind to keep her home and dressmaking business safe from looters and approaching British soldiers.  Unfortunately, unbeknownst to her some rebel snipers had such into her home and used the upper floors to try and assassinate the top British officer as he rode through town.   The soldiers blamed Callie and just as she was about to be raped or worse, a hero came to her rescue.

The hero turned out to be Lord George, now calling himself Gordon who had survived and was sent on a mission by relatives to try to discover and save the missing widow, and/or provide for her if she wouldn’t come back to England.  They both recognized one another and the friendship they once had allowed Callie to trust Gordon to see her to her step – family and decide whether to remain in America or go back to England.

This was a real adventure, packed with an enormous amount of American history and a wonderfully sensual romance.   I can’t say much more about it other than it was on those hard-pout-down reads!

Highly recommended.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Beauty Like the Night by Joanna Bourne

BeautyLikeNight

Orphan of the French revolution and sometime British intelligence agent, Severine de Cabrillac has attempted to leave her life of spying behind her.  Now she devotes herself to investigating crimes in London and finding justice for the wrongly accused.

Raoul Deverney, an enigmatic half-Spaniard with enough secrets to earn even a spy’s respect, is at her door demanding help. She’s the only one who can find the killer of his long-estranged wife and rescue her missing fourteen-year-old daughter.  After much debate Severine reluctantly agrees to aid him, even though she feels the growing attraction between them makes it quite unwise. Their desperate search for the girl unleashes treason and murder. . . and offers a last chance for two strong, wounded people to find love.

*** I have been a long-time fan of Ms. Bourne’s Spymasters series and have quite enjoyed each and every one!   Obviously BEAUTY LIKE THE NIGHT ended up in a class by itself!  The two main protagonists while attracted to one another, started out terribly opposed to working together, in fact not quite trusting one another.

Raoul was a tough character to embrace, caustic and arrogant, it was hard to embrace him even as later he did seem a bit more likable.  Not that Severine was easy to get close to as her life had been unusual and she had learned not to give her trust to just anyone!   Although once they did agree to combine their intelligence, they did work well together.    What made the story even better was the search for Raoul’s missing daughter (whom he denied vehemently that he was not the father).   In trying to discover what was going on once they discovered that they needed to stop an assassination, the action deepened and it was edge of the seat reading while they tried to catch the assassin.

Bottom line:  The story was totally engaging and the ending was wonderful if not surprising.  Highly recommended.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: My Fair Lover by Nicole Jordan

My Fair Lover

Lady Katherine Wilde believes she has overcome any romantic feelings toward Brandon Deverill, who rejected her six years ago. Now that the rogue needs polishing to claim his title and inheritance, she’s willing to strike a practical bargain: Kate will mold the brash privateer into an acceptable English nobleman if Deverill will safeguard her from brigands on a voyage to recover lost family treasure.

Brandon had often thought of the day he turned Kate away from his bed all those years ago. Even a rake such as he couldn’t seduce an innocent beauty before sailing into battle. But now that he’s inherited a title and must take a suitable bride, it is Kate he sets his sights on.  Brandon never grew up in a home with love and the notion of love was something he’d never before experienced.  However, Brandon soon realizes he’d gladly trade his life to save a woman who has captured his heart.

***  Nicole Jordan and her ongoing series of Legendary Lovers has been both a success for her and brought extreme enjoyment to me.  While I appreciated the banter and the seductions I did feel something missing and that would be just a bit of suspense with something more to overcome than just Brandon not realizing his feelings for Kate as love.

The contretemps with the pirate Louvel was and should have been expanded to a much higher level rather than the small tiff it seemed to represent.  Other than that the seduction was sublime and and sensuality irresistible.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Too Scot to Handle by Grace Burrowes

Too ScottoHandle

Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages July 25th 2017 by Forever

ISBN13: 9781455569991      Series:   Windham Brides #2

Rating: 4-1/2*

During his military career, Captain Colin MacHugh was loved and respected by the men he led.  Stern yet fair, using common sense when needed to deal justly with all situations.  Now, he has become a titled gentleman, and still fighting – only to keep his bachelorhood safe from all the marriage minded mama’s and their debutante daughters.  Then he meets Miss Anwen Windham and her demure nature and keen intelligence masks a woman whom he can admire.  Her compassion towards the less fortunate children of London was not for show, but purely from her heart.  When Anwen asks for Colin’s help to raise money for the orphanage, he is more than happy to oblige.

*** As always, Ms. Burrowes embellishes her stories and characters with creativity and freshness.  I absolutely fell in love with Anwen’s ‘boys’.  Anwen was not going to let her boys lose the only home they had ever known, but it was Colin who knew enough to realize just what they truly needed – purpose!  I loved Colin’s understanding and kindness towards the boys as well as listening and taking into consideration Anwen’s ideas and concerns.

Because Colin was new to the ton and his wealth came from trade, the false friends he had initially fell in with he soon discovered were NOT his friends.   Colin was not ashamed of how he worked for his wealth but the spoiled aristocrats were spoiled and wanted to bring him down a peg or two.   Loved how Ms. Burrowes handled all these small attacks on him.

The romance was built slowly and was completely wonderful while others tried to undermine Anwen’s dreams for her boys, and her romance with Colin.   All in all – Ms. Burrowes continues to hit it out of the park with her deliciously fresh and creative historicals.

Marilyn Rondeau

 

Review: Journey to Honor by Alexa Aston

JourneyofHonor

Series:  Knights of Honor Book 4                               June 27th 2017

Published by Dragonblade Publishling, Inc.               ASIN:  B07118ZCNM

Rating:  5*

The Earl of Shadowfaire was a brutal man treating his wife and servants with a cruel and sadistic hand.  He went so far as to rape his wife’s servant who then held a lifelong grudge and bitterly hated him.   When his wife delivered male twins, the first babe (the heir) was dark looked exactly like the earl; the second twin was blonde, delicate, and looked like the mother whom the servant was devoted to.  The servant switched them around declaring the blonde weakly looking twin was the earl’s heir, and not the twin that resembled his father.

As the second son of the Earl of Shadowfaire, Kenric Fairfax was raised and trained as a warrior. On the day of his Knighting Ceremony a horrible tragedy took place – leaving Kenric to flee to the north of England swearing to never marry.  Now in the service of Lord Michael Devereux, Kenric was asked to lead an escort party from London to bring Lord Michael’s wife’s sister home to Sandbourne.

Avelyn Le Cler has spent time as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Phillipa and finds the treachery at the royal court deplorable.  She is looking forward to coming home and hoping she can convince her brother-in-law to bargain the King and Queen to let her remain back in the country.  During the journey home Avelyn learned the dastardly secret of the truth of Kenric’s birth, but unfortunately there was no way of proving the claim – even if Kenric should believe her.

****   This was really a wonderful read.   The plot was not necessarily a surprise but the malice and hatred of the innocent babe that was handed down to Kenric during his childhood was truly painful.  The efforts Kenric made to steer clear of Evelyn knowing of the feelings he had for her plus worrying that as a landless knight he had nothing to offer the daughter of nobility kept him from even having the barest of hope that he could make her his.   Avelyn on the other hand had fallen deeply in love with such a strong knight whose honor and goodness were evident for all to see.  Evelyn had a dowery that she was sure they could live on and wanted nothing more than to continue on and convince Kenric that she would be fine as long as they were together.

I have the first three books in this series and I must say that each book just seems to get better and better.  All are stand-alone but each one tells an unforgettable tale of the rugged life in the early 12th century with creativity and deep emotion.    Bottom line:  JOURNEY TO HONOR by Alexa Aston is a wonderful and exciting read which I highly recommend.

Marilyn Rondeau

 

Review: The House in Quill Court by Charlotte Betts

HouseQuillCourt

Narrator – Anne Dover Audible Audio, 13 hours and 2 minutes

Published January 7th 2016 by Hachette Audio UK Rating: 5*

In 1813, Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her lovely, frivolous mother and idle younger brother.  Venetia’s father Theo is an interior designer with whom Venetia shares his passion and talent for design.  While he is away traveling for new and exciting items and accoutrements for his wealthy clients, Venetia and her family are always excited waiting for him to come home.  In the meantime Venetia daydreams of one day having an interior design shop where she and her father can display only five finest in home furnishings.

Just before Christmas a handsome but fairly hostile stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell’s cottage to deliver terrible and life-changing news.  Venetia’s beloved father is dead, her life turned topsy-turvey, and with no other options available to them Jack has come to escort the family to their new home in London -to the house in Quill Court.   Consequently, Venetia’s creativity, courage, and strength will be stretched to the limit, and the impossibility of discovering a love far greater than she ever could have imagined could be hers if only she can stay alive long enough to claim it!

***  I was totally immersed in this book from page one.  I loved Venetia right from the beginning, for her kindness in dealing with her frivolous and anxiety ridden mother and a little less for her catering to her lazy spoiled brother.   She was smart and her passionate artistic nature was a delight where I could almost feel her creativity flowing right through me.    I also felt her pain and disappointment in discovering her father’s ‘other’ family.     Unfortunately, Jack Chamberlaine, her father’s ward, was a little more difficult to warm up to having grown up with the ‘other’ family, he naturally felt that Venetia and her family were the upstarts and wouldn’t treat her step-sister kindly.  These were Jack’s assumptions without ever even trying to get to know Venetia.

The story was filled with great depth and very detailed scenarios.   All of which touched upon several of the secondary characters who all played really great parts in the overall story including, of course, some of the nasty villain(s) and their loathsome cohorts.  As I listened, the story and the all the characters seemed to find themselves up against the wall so many times and sometimes they were saved and other times, not so much.   As mentioned before the scenario’s and the villain were very well put together and trying to discover how the villain always seemed a step ahead of every plan will keep the reader on edge.

Bottom Line:   I loved this book, the story itself, the fast-pacing and the wonderful narration by Anne Dover.   This is highly recommended and I urge you to give this new author (at least for me) a try.   Highly enjoyable.

Marilyn Rondeau