Friday, April 25, 2008

The Pride of Lions and The Blood of Roses by Marsha Canham

Two books, back to back leading up to the Battle of Culloden:

The Pride of Lions

Book's Description:
They were torn between pride and passion. . .

It was a boastful wager, a bold flirtation meant to win a proposal from the most eligible officer in His Majesty's Royal Dragoons. How was the spoiled and pampered Catherine Augustine Ashbrooke to know the handsome stranger with the brooding midnight eyes would see through her plot and make her the pawn in a dangerous game of his own?

United by a reckless game of chance. . .

Alexander Cameron may have won the highborn English beauty in a duel, but not even the lure of long-forgotten desires could keep him from his meeting with destiny. He had no choice but to carry his reluctant bride off to the Highlands, to a world of ancient blood feuds and a brewing rebellion--a world where fiery passion and breathtaking courage would prove that even legendary warriors could lose their hearts.

Bestselling, award-winning author Marsha Canham sweeps us into the turbulence and romance of Scotland's quest for freedom in a saga of two born enemies whose lives and destinies are irrevocably bound to the fate of an empire.

Sounds like my kind of book, doesn't it? I had heard these books were great to read if you're an Outlander fan like I am. Scottish Highlands in 1745, a Scottish warrior is forced to marry an English sassenach bride - hmm... sound familiar?

Yes, it is familiar in some ways (like the setting) to Outlander, but believe it or not, I found it more similar to Gone With the Wind! How so, you ask? Crinoline skirts, the heroine loves another man, our hero smokes a cheroot and has glossy black hair, the flash of white teeth and that knowing smile...

All throughout this book, I got the feeling that the author was a big fan of GWTW. Instead of the Civil War she substituted the Stuart uprising and ultimate downfall at the Battle of Culloden. It wasn't bad, but I found all these little GWTW-isms distracting. But aside from the fact that I was constantly comparing her hero to Rhett Butler (and who smokes cheroots in 18th century Scotland?), and rolled my eyes at the descriptions of her heroine's pantalettes under her crinoline skirts (umm, they weren't worn until 100 years later) and a replay of Scarlett's morning after "I can't believe I did that with Rhett!" scene, I enjoyed this book! Her battle descriptions were vivid and riveting and the sex scenes were hot (though after a while became a bit tiresome). Plus, she had a Fraseresque, busty red haired villainess who stole every scene she was in. Even though I couldn't help noticing a number of plot similarities to Outlander (although this book was written before it) I got caught up in this book and looked forward to the sequel especially since it leaves you with a huge cliff-hanger ...

The Blood of Roses

Book Description:
The stunning sequel to The Pride of Lions!

In a novel that sizzles with passionate intrigue and breathtaking romance, Marsha Canham whisks the reader back to war-torn Scotland as a legendary warrior fights for the two things most precious to any man: his country and the woman he loves.

She was born an Englishwoman, but he made her a Scot, pledged to fight for her beloved husband--even against the country of her birth.

Catherine Ashbrooke Cameron had committed the unpardonable sin of falling in love with her husband--a Scottish spy she married in her English home. Now, as she raced to the Highlands, into the strong, tender arms of Alexander Cameron, the innocent English beauty would learn the passions of war--and the price of love ....

He fought to keep her safe as he battled the English enemy--and betrayal from within.

Alexander Cameron was a man with a price on his head and enemies to burn. Love had made the legendary warrior vulnerable. Now he must protect Catherine from the dangers that threatened them both. But as he rode into battle against the English, she refused to stay behind. He had claimed her, touched her, loved her, and she vowed nothing would ever separate them again.

This was not your typical Highland romance. This was meatier leading up to the Battle of Culloden, the battle itself and aftermath. It was similar in some ways to Dragonfly in Amber, 2nd in the Outlander series, so how could I not like it? Not as gut-wrenching, but it had it's moments. Often I couldn't help wondering if Gabaldon read these books before writing hers.

Lots of twists and turns in this book, and many surprises. Just when you think you know who the traitor is in their midsts, you're wrong! It's who you least expect! I really enjoyed this 2nd book much more than the first. I found it hard to put down, and I thought of it often. Whereas the first book reminded me of GWTW, this one hardly did at all. The author really found her stride in this one, and the battle depictions were very good - she does a great job at describing the scene of Culloden and Drummossie Moor, the weather, the scenery, the villagers come to watch - very vivid!

I was drawn in and had to keep reading! I recommend this series for Outlander fans. Alex and Catherine are no Jamie and Claire (not even close!), but they do have a good story and if you're interested in the Battle of Culloden and the events surrounding it, you'll appreciate these books. Keep in mind, these are romances, without the depth and scope of an Outlander, but I was pleasantly surprised and they helped assuage my thirst for anything remotely like Outlander while waiting for book 7 to come out! Plus, they have plenty of kilted men and sexy hotness thrown in for good measure!


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