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: Code of Honor by Alexa Aston

CodeOfHonor.jpg

(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

TheHighlandDuke

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

houseofsilence

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

highlandsinner

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

MarkedbyHonor

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