Review: The Wrong Highlander by Lynsay Sands

Avon Publishing – Jan 29, 2019

Series:  Highland Brides #7         Rating: 4*

Lady Evina MacLean had heard all the stories describing Rory Buchanan’s skill as a healer. Now, with her father so near death she had no choice but to go and beg him to come and save her father’s life!  However, when she came upon the Buchanan washing up in a waterfall, she couldn’t believe how handsome he was all naked and wet.  Evina sent in her man to bring him out from under the falls when a fight ensued with Buchanan not knowing who was dragging him from the falls assumed he was a  bandit.  The Buchanan put up quite a struggle and rather than see her man hurt Lady Evina  knocked him out with the hilt of her sword.  Granted she did hit him pretty hard – but time was of the essence! Evina had to get him home before her father perished, so while still naked, he was strapped over his horse and raced back home to Evina’s castle. 

Unfortunately, what Evina did not know was that she had not taken Rory Buchanan but his brother Conran.  While he was not the healer Rory was, Conran did have some healing skills learned from his brother.  But rather than explain the mistake, Conran just did what he knew to do and tended to her his patient and after a few hours, he had discovered the cause and proceeded to bring the man’s fever down.

***  In Lynsay Sands’ novels you will always find some feisty heroines, hunky heroes, and lots of laugh out loud moments and THE WRONG HIGHLANDER is no exception!  From the ride back with Conran’s naked butt and Evina’s hand hanging on to his cheek to keep him from falling off, to the miscommunication involving her marital state and the picnic in the tall grasses the reader will experience a whole range of emotions!   Adding in a plethora of lovely secondary characters also added to the total enjoyment of the read.

Yet all was not right and someone was trying to kill Lady Evina. Just when you think you know what’s going on there will be red herrings tossed in to make you think otherwise.  And you can always remember  that what you think is obvious is not going to be the answer.  However, what you can count on is a simply terrific and engaging sensual novel that will allow a whole range of emotions to be let loose with dynamic and creative writing.

Marilyn Rondeau

REVIEW: The Dane Law by Garth Pettersen

(The Atheling Chronicles #2)

After a peaceful year running their Frisian estate, the main characters, Harald and Selia are called to England by Harald’s father King Cnute.  Their return home is met with violence and intrigue. 

Cnute, the king had vowed to Queen Emma that their son, Harthacnute, would inherit the throne, but Cnute also recognizes that the man is cruel and reckless. Many view Harald as the better choice, which makes him a target for the unseen supporters of his half-brother. Regardless King Cnute is not a fool and urges Harald to be prepared to assume the throne should Harthacnute prove inadequate. Harald resists being swept up by forces beyond his control, but doubts he will survive the reign of King Hartha. Unfortunately, there is another brother to contend with. Sweyn, and he could be an even bigger threat to Harald.

***  While I appreciated the author’s research with names and terms that were used during the period of history and his preface of explaining what they were and meant was helpful, I had some difficulty getting into the story why I tried to understand what was going on.  It didn’t take that long and I did find myself totally swept up in the history and the events including scheming, murder, bribery and betrayal as the fight for power was going on.   This was definitely an all for themselves kind of life as well as a very brutal time to live and die which the author brought to glorious life.

Without giving too much away, I truly was into the many facet of the characters, their strengths and weaknesses and really enjoyed reading this chronicle.  Would definitely recommend all history buffs to read and enjoy!

Marilyn Rondeau  

Review: The Warrior of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood


Publication: July 31st 2018 by St. Martin’s Paperbacks

ISBN13: 9781250084842                 Series: Highland Warrior #3

Derryth MacClaren is fleeing her sister’s castle home to avoid capture by the vicious nobleman known as the Wolf.   When a surprise attack leaves Derryth vulnerable, she ends up in the hands of Cull, an enemy warrior who claims her. Cull’s gentle ways and touch seduce her heart—and body—completely…and when she discovers the tattoo on his arm that proves him to be the legendary, long-believed dead son of the murdered Laird of Kincaid, Derryth knows she must find a way to alter his fate—and her own.

Cull has no memory of his family or past—all he knows is the life of a slave then trained as a warrior, to fight on behalf of the Scottish king. If Cull can help the king’s law officer, the Wolf of Badenoch, defeat the Highlanders, Cull will earn a name and land plus keep possession of Derryth. But now that she has told him who he really is — Cullen Braewick, the youngest son of the slain laird—he is torn. If Cull exacts revenge against the Wolf, who executed his father, he stands to lose the precious lass who he has come to love. What is he willing to sacrifice for Derryth to keep her safe…and in his arms?

A very sensual love story between the two protagonists as they come to trust another and recognize the feelings each inspires in each other. The betrayals of the Wolf and his treacherous games and son are part of what made this story so fast paced and full of suspense.  It was fun to see Derryth’s attempts to aggravate Cull into sending her back to the other hostages and his reactions to her tricks.   Great characterizations of all including the villains who were really nasty!  The romance was terrific and loved the entire story !

Marilyn Rondeau 

Review: Journey to Honor by Alexa Aston


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: Code of Honor by Alexa Aston


(Knights of Honor Series Book 3)

ebook, 210 pages

Publication: March 28th 2017             by Dragonblade LeCleRe Publishling, Inc.

ASIN   B06X6K3456 Rating: 4*

In a bold and horrific beginning the Earl of Sandbourne banishes his supposedly unfaithful wife to a convent. After trying to stop his father from striking his mother again, Michael was beaten back by his father, whereby, he jumped on his horse and swore to never return home until his father was dead and he could restore his mother to her rightful place of honor as the countess.

Fifteen years later, the newly knighted Sir Michael Devereux serves Lord Geoffrey de Montfort at Kinwick Castle.   Asked to organize the honor guarding for Lord Geoffrey and his family as they traveled to visit Lord Geoffrey’s sister and attend the wedding of their niece Michael was thrilled and honored to be chosen.   Michael unknowingly falls in love with a horse-mad maiden he helped to foal a mare and assumed she was part of the stable workers.

Lady Elysande is furious at her step-father for not listening to her pleas to call off her betrothal which was made when she was but a child.  As her wedding day approaches, she is full of dread especially as she has also fallen in love with the honorable knight who helped her foal her mare.  It almost seems like fate has intervened when she hears that her betrothed died on the way to the wedding, but unfortunately, his aged father plans to step in and take over for his son.

***   I have to say I really enjoyed this story, to only because I have been following along with the, Knights of Honor series, but because each book in this series had wonderful characterizations which made me fall in love with the characters.

Just when you thought the Elysande’s problems were over along comes this beast of a supposed father-in-law who after burying his only son wanted to jump in and marry his dead son’s betrothed! The events  leading up to the show down between Elysande and her step-father and finally her mother’s support still made you think all would be well.   But, there was more in store for these ill-fated lovers and some really neat surprises as well.

Bottom line: Fast pacing, great writing and a wonderful story make this one highly recommended Historical Romance fans should hurry to read!!!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Highland Duke by Amy Jarecki


Paperback, 384 pages

Expected publication: March 28th 2017 by Forever

ISBN13: 9781455597802 Series:   Lords of the Highlands #1

Akira Ayres was a healer above all else and when she happened upon a brawny Scot with a musket ball in his thigh, Akira had no doubt she must act to save him.   Even though the hated English were closing in on them Akira could not let another man die for not being brave enough to tend his wounds.   Even as Akira does her best to ease his pain and help him out she was definitely intimidated by the fearsome and huge brutally handsome highlander who refused to tell her his name.

Geordie knew that if Akira ever knew he was the Duke of Gordon, both of their lives would be forfeit.  The only way to keep her safe was to keep her by his side day and night.  However, the more time he spent with the sassy lass, the harder it seemed to let her go.  Despite the difference in their social standing Geordie was determined to make Akira his.

***  Again this is a new author to me and don’t you know I am just going to have to put Ms. Jarecki on my author watch list.   I really enjoyed THE HIGHLAND DUKE with its fast pace, great writing and and  wicked good dialogs.  I wasn’t always happy with Geordie assuming that his elevated status was insurmountable to making Akira an honest woman – I understood it – I just didn’t like it!

There were a lot of scenario’s where Akira was captured and released – some of them were even quite humorous but most were not.  However each attempt to free Akira was devilishly clever and the entrance of Akira’s Uncle Bruno was for me one of the highlights of the hit and run scenario’s found in the book .

Bottom Line:   Don’t be afraid of new authors – Ms. Jarecki’s THE HIGHLAND DUKE brought me a lot of pleasure and I highly recommend to fans of Scottish Historicals!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: House of Silence by Sarah Barthel


December 27th 2016                               Kensington Publishing Corporation

ISBN 1496706080                                      Rating 4*

In the setting of Oak Park, Illinois, 1875 young Isabelle Larkin’s future seems to be set. She is engaged to the very handsome, charming, and politically ambitious Gregory Gallagher.  Isabelle envisions her happy future to be one of  a grand house, becoming an important political hostess and filling her home with wealth and beautiful children.  But then she witnesses a murder of a young maid being strangled by her very own fiancé.  When she tries to tell her mother and the doctor who cares for her, no one wants to believe her, and worst of all her mother continues to insist that she go through with her marriage to Gregory who denies it all.

Fearing for her life, Isabelle thinks of only one escape, she will pretend a mental breakdown that renders her mute and forces her mother to whisk her away to the Bellevue sanitarium.  After many episodes of trying to convince the doctor that she is indeed unstable and not ready to be released Isabelle does make the acquaintance and friendship with a fellow patient, Mary Todd Lincoln who was committed years after her husband’s assassination.  After a time, Isabelle and Mrs. Lincoln become unlikely allies where Isabelle is able to share her secrets, she must still continue her charade of mentally unstable because her mother refuses to give up her dreams of Isabelle marrying Gregory.

*** The threads of real life and fiction woven together made HOUSE OF SILENCE a fascinating read and the details of what life was like in the Bellevue Sanitarium were quite interesting – much different than what I expected and yet so much more.  Where I expected some of the cruelty and inhumanity associated with mental issues in the early century, Bellevue was like a rest home with assigned tasks to try to keep the patients relaxed. The author gave enough of background information  for some of the other patents that made this even more of story than just Isabelle trying to stay hidden and alive away from Gregory.

However, in the end it was a real thrill with edge of the seat action as the madness of Gregory came to the forefront and the reasons for it became exposed.   Bottom line:  HOUSE OF SILENCE was a truly interesting and well paced book that kept me up until the wee hours.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Highland Sinner by Hannah Howell


Zebra Published December 27, 2016

ISBN13: 9780821780015 Series:  Murray Family #16

Setting:  Scotland, 1478 (United Kingdom)    Rating:  5*

Yes, Tormand Murray was a rogue, a womanizer and may indulge in spirits more than he ought, but, he was definitely not a callous murderer.  Yet how exactly can he explain waking up next to the butchered body of one of his many former ex-lovers?  Anyone who knows Tormand can tell you he just isn’t that type of man.  But how to explain the next few bodies, all previous ex-lovers of his, that are turning up dead and butchered?  Obviously, someone wants Tormand framed for these murders with his own.

There is one possibility of proving him innocent, that of reaching out to Moraine Ross, a reclusive and sensual, beautiful woman known as the Ross Witch.  Skeptic that he is, Tormand would never believe the stories that anyone really had second sight and could have a vision to discover who the madman is who is butchering these women.  But as the deaths started the townspeople talking of lynching him, Tormand was willing to agree.

Moraine was skeptical of a man who didn’t accept that her visions were real, but she had feelings, for Tormand she’d never experienced before.  Although Moraine had to think, would her participation then mark her as another victim to be murdered who was connected to Tormand.

***  As expected whenever I pick up a book by Hannah Howell, I become immediately hooked, not only with the fact that it is a connected book to the wonderfully gifted Murray Clan series, but I know that it will be something fresh and new!  No disappointment there!   Moraine is of course a wonderfully strong and feisty heroine and a perfect match for Tormand.   I loved how he finally had come to a conclusion as he made a list of previous lovers, that his conscience came to life and he realized he didn’t particularly like the man he’d become.

Ms. Howell, threw in a LOT of zingers in HIGHLAND SINNER with new characters who had big impact on the plot and also some twists that were truly surprising.  Naturally, it was completed with one randy rogue who had to learn a lot about how to woo a woman, he knew was too precious to let slip through his fingers.    Bottom Line:  A great read and wonderful romance!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Marked By Honor by Lauren Linwood


Marked by Honor (Knights of Valor #2) – Publication: July 6th 2016 – Windtree Publishing

ASIN:  B01EEKVMSK   –  Rating 5*

The  second book of Ms. Linwood’s Knights of Valor series, picks up after the main leads from WORD OF HONOR, have found their happily ever after.  However, in no way should you assume that the first book should be read first as MARKED BY HONOR IS a complete stand alone.   But, speaking from experience – the first book was as great as this one!

Lady Beatrice Bordel, has led a less than comfortable life than the one she had been for into.  At the age of three, her beloved father had been killed in a freak accident as he attempted to save Beatrice from injury and lost his own life instantly that day when his horse stumbled.  Lady Beatrice has since blamed herself for that accident and has never willingly gone near another horse.  Her mother was so grief stricken, she took Beatrice away to her grandparents rented manor where they lived, and where her mother simply faded away from heartbreak.   On the same day Bea’s mother died, her beloved grandfather was struck down by a heart attack and died as well leaving Beatrice alone but for their one servant.

Within days, Bea and the servant headed out to her grandfather’s best friends estate.  She hoped once there, to be able to persuade from him a position as housekeeper, servant, anything to keep a roof over her head.  She and the servant were attacked on the way by three highwaymen and if not for the timely arrival of Sir Raynor, an honorable knight, Beatrice was saved from a fate worse than death.  Not being able to trust any man at that point, Bea told a lie that she was being escorted to her betrothed by her servant who was now dead.   Unfortunately, this one lie wold be her undoing as Raynor who had fallen completely in love with Bea knew he had to back off – for honor’s sake rather than take advantage of another’s betrothed.

***  Like the first book in this series, Ms. Linwood gives totally fleshed out characters and good motivational emotions so that the reader quickly becomes invested in hoping that good things could finally begin to happen to good people.   Naturally the feelings between Beatrice and Raynor grew exponentially with both feeling guilty over their attraction and feelings.   Raynor for battling his good judgement and afraid to be dishonorable; and Beatrice very afraid to admit her true feelings for Raynor and confess her lie.

Having taken the time to help Raynor bring his brothers estate, which had been sadly neglected, back to order, Raynor escorted  Beatrice further north to her proposed new home and betrothed. Other than both trying to behave themselves, the trip was somewhat uneventful, until they arrived and that my dear readers is where I will leave you.  Just know that surprises and twists will definitely follow in what I have come to expect from this author whose writing is such a pleasure and whom I look forward to following.  So far an excellent series and highly enjoyable reading!

Marilyn Rondeau