Sunday, May 31, 2009

Moonlight Warrior by Janet Chapman

Book Description:
Kenzie Gregor purchases a series of islands off the coast of Maine to set up an animal sanctuary, only to find a very tempting obstacle in his way: Eve Anderson, who lives with her elderly mother on the main island. Since she has no place else to go, Kenzie allows Eve to stay in exchange for her help -- and just maybe because she's so brave for such an adorable wee lass.

Eve swore off men after her husband ran away with another woman, and she's not the least bit interested in Kenzie, even though her mother and everyone else in town in trying to push her into his strong, capable arms. After all, she's perfectly capable of taking care of herself, her mother, and their failing woodstove business all by herself; she doesn't need some rich, gorgeous knight to come save her. Besides, she doesn't trust him: strange things have begun to happen at night since Kenzie's arrival, and she's sure he's involved somehow...

I'm a sucker for Janet Chapman's Pine Creek series, about a group of displaced highlanders from the 11th century that time travel forward and live in the mountains of Maine in present day running a ski resort. This book is a continuation of that series, only it takes place on the coast of Maine, Midnight Bay. This book centers on Kenzie, a tall, dark and handsome Scottish highlander who was once a panther who now, with Father Daar (from the Pine Creek books) has gone to set up a haven for other cursed animals that are really human. Kenzie's raison d'etre is to help them become human again by breaking whatever curse it was that made them become animals in the first place.

His current case is William who is a man that "believes" he is a dragon. Can Kenzie help William become a man again by showing love for someone more than himself and break the curse that was put on him 1000 years ago by a vengeful witch? Meanwhile, Kenzie finds love himself in the shape of Eve Anderson, a newly divorced and jaded young women that is facing near bankruptcy, eviction and the worries of seeing her mother slowly succumb to dementia in her later years. I really enjoyed this book and it was good to see some of the old characters from the last series, although, since I haven't finished that series yet, I was clued in to what happens in it, but not to the point where it was spoiled for me. If anything, it just whet my appetite to finish the Pine Creek series and read about what happens in the last two books of it!

I really liked Kenzie. Gorgeous, strong, capable, a highland warrior from his own medieval time, he's been human for six months after roaming Tar Mountain with the McKeague's as a black panther. It's been aeons since he's had a woman too, so once he sees petite, blonde Eve Anderson he is smitten. Luckily, she is in need of a knight in shining armor to help her with all her woes, but she's the last one to admit it. Kenzie immediately befriends her mother, Mabel, and as it turns out he has (unknowingly) bought the farmhouse they're being evicted from. Wanting to help, he asks them to stay on at the farm as his housekeepers while he camps out under the stars taking care of William (the dragon) and fighting off unatural lightning storms from the evil witch that wants to kill him for rescuing William. It sounds a bit complicated, but it's really not. The main gist of the story is, how can Kenzie get Eve to warm up enough to him so that he can court her in the traditional way, and at the same time keep her and her mother safe while battling supernatural forces and not revealing that he was once a panther for six months and has a dragon hiding out in the woods?

If anyone can do it, Kenzie can. Eve took some getting used to. She's scarred from her first marriage and isn't eager to get married again. Albeit, she is attracted to Kenzie, and her friend, Maggie, is determined to convince Eve to have an affair with him. One drunken outing with a bottle of spiced rum and loose lips was hilarious between Maggie and Eve and the knight in armor, Kenzie, who came to their rescue after Maggie crashed her truck. But, Eve is a tough nut to crack. Yes, we know she can take care of herself with karate lessons as a girl and the fact she can break a guy's nose and fingers in a bar, but she's cranky a lot. But hey, what it all comes down to is - she just needs a good lay! Kenzie succeeds in getting the job done and eventually she can't resist him and lets down her defenses and her life changes because of him. I liked reading about how she comes around and relaxes, yet still helps him battle the unatural forces that come to Midnight Bay. She learns to accept her mother's condition, she even accepts the fact that there is a dragon living in the woods who talks to her mother, and she learns that it's not such a bad thing to be barefoot and pregnant while churning butter!

The side characters in this book are strong, Maggie is a dear friend who we care about and I loved what happens to her with William at the end (one of my favorite moments of the book!) Mabel, Eve's mother is slowly losing her mind, but it is written well and thoughtfully. It is not maudlin or sappy, we like Mabel and it doesn't take away from her feisty and charming characteristics. Chapman writes from her experiences with her own mother's illness (as is explained in the author's endnotes). You can tell this is a subject she knows about and although Mabel's illness is handled with kid gloves, dementia and long term care is a very real problem in today's society, and it will only become more and more of a problem in the future. It was good to see it and it's repercussions addressed, even if it was in the most idealized and sugar coated way. We should all be so lucky to have our loved ones be as self sufficient and plucky as Eve's mother, Mabel. It makes you think, though, about life ahead and what can happen to your loved ones. Although this was a heart warming romance, I liked this side storyline that was interwoven well with the main plotline of William as a dragon who Mabel befriends. There are a lot of food descriptions in this book too - my mouth was watering at all the pies and bread and other bakery items described - Mabel like to bake (and I'm dieting!)

Overall, this was a good story, the sex scenes were steamy between Eve and Kenzie, although the actual build up of their love for each other was on the light side, one of those all of a sudden "I love him!" moments without enough emotions to go along with it to back up why she loves him. I'm eager to read the next book in this series. I suspect we'll find out what happens between William and Maggie or whatever other animals come down the pike to Midnight Bay for rescuing. A heart warming, realistic, yet paranormal/fantasy contemporary - I recommend this!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Untamed by Pamela Clare

Book Description:
In the breathtaking tradition of The Last of the Mohicans...MacKinnon's Rangers
They were a band of brothers, their loyalty to one another forged by hardship and battle, the bond between these Highland warriors, rugged colonials, and fierce Native Americans stronger than even blood ties.

Though forced to fight for the hated British, Morgan MacKinnon would no more betray the men he leads than slit his own throat--not even when he was captured by the French and threatened with an agonizing death by fire at the hands of their Abenaki allies. Only the look of innocent longing in the eyes of a convent-bred French lass could make him question his vow to escape and return to the Rangers. And soon the sweet passion he awoke in Amalie had him cursing the war that forced him to choose between upholding his honor and pledging his love.

Second in the MacKinnon Rangers books, this is the story of Morgan, brother to Iain from the last book, Surrender - which I loved. This was a good story, but I was not as enthralled with the adventure and love story as much. The story picks up where Surrender left off. Iain's brother, Morgan is now the leader of the cracker jack outfit known as MacKinnon's Rangers who are fighting against the French in the French and Indian War in upstate New York. Morgan is captured outside Fort Ticonderoga by the French. He is injured, and a beautiful young - and very naive - French Amalie Chauvenet nurses him back to health. Predictably, she grows to love the handsome Morgan MacKinnon - who wouldn't? He's a transplanted Scottish Highlander, with a Scottish burr, an amazing body that has unusual warrior tattoos on his chest and arms and courtly manners to go with it. Growing up in a convent, Amalie has never seen anything like him!

I wasn't crazy about Amalie, I just never warmed up to her like I did with Annie in the last book. Amalie had led such a sheltered life and it was hard for me to like her - a French girl, who is part Abenaki as well. To suddenly change gears after reading the last book with the French and Abenaki as the enemies took some getting used to. Plus, I found her throwing herself at Morgan all the time annoying - though she kept doing it unconsciously - which was even more bothersome! She was a virgin, yet, she could not understand this feeling she had for him. I hate these kinds of heroines who are so innocent, yet boom - as soon as they're near a real man they become wanton hussies who don't think twice about creeping around dark hallways in their nightgowns and searching out single men in their bedrooms! Yet, by the second part of the book, once Amalie toughens up a bit from the frontier life and is used to Morgan and their sex life is underway she's not as insipid. Eventually she meets Annie MacKinnon (Iain's wife) who helps to train her as a frontier wife and I grew to appreciate her more once she smartened up, but she's a great deal more helpless than Annie ever was in the last book. But, I get ahead of myself...

Morgan is enticed by Amalie's natural beauty and sensuality and the two of them can't keep their hands off each other once he makes a deal with the commander of the fort to turn traitor and fight for the French. Of course, this is all a ruse, and he merely intends to spy on the French and eventually get back to the Rangers and the British fort where they are quartered. But, his love for Amalie complicates everything. I can understand what drove them to be in lust with each other, but I didn't see much chemistry between the two that was worthy of love. To me, their story fell a little flat, especially since he had to deceive her through most of their courtship. Eventually they are caught by her guardian, almost in the act, so they must marry, but Morgan knows he must leave her eventually to go to his men. He hates to do it, but he must, so they do everything except actually consummate their marriage by the marriage act itself - if you get my drift. This way if she needs to get an annulment sometime later, she can. Poor Amelie, she's kept in the dark of most of what he has in mind for her and his leaving. Blah, blah, blah. He almost succeeds in leaving her the day after their wedding night, but he's then captured by the Abenaki who want to burn him alive as revenge and more blah, blah, blah, much hand wringing on Amalie's part, "How could you leave me and deceive me?" "But, I still love you no matter what" "I can't live without you" blah, blah, blah - I plodded through it all until finally they wind up at the MacKinnon farm where Iain and Annie are with their baby. Iain is overjoyed to see Morgan (since the commander at Fort Ticonderoga made them all believe Morgan had died of his wounds when he was captured) and they take Amalie under their wing while Morgan goes back to the British to try and clear his name and explain all that happened. I liked seeing Annie and Amalie interact, as brief as it was, before Amalie is then captured by Wentworth (the commander of the British garrison from the last book) and taken back to Fort Elizabeth to testify in a court marshall of Morgan - it was endless! More hand wringing, mean British officers, a clever escape, etc. until finally all is well again in the Epilogue.

Frankly, the whole thing exhausted me and it didn't help that I was reading most of this with no break while in the emergency room at the hospital after bringing my teenage son there for emergency surgery two nights ago and then sitting with him all day yesterday at the hospital in recovery. He's all right and home now, but I kept wishing I'd had a better book to read for all those hours! Maybe I would have liked this one better if I had been reading it under better conditions. It wasn't bad, the writing itself was great and the research and setting were tops, and the sex scenes were written beautifully with lots of passion - hot! But, I was let down compared to the last book, this just seemed like a watered down version. Maybe it was just me, maybe it was because I didn't warm up to Amalie, who knows?

Still, I plan on reading all of Ms. Clare's books, this isn't stopping me, and I am eager to read anything and all she writes in the future regarding this series since I really do love it. The setting is close to my heart since it reminds me a lot of the later Outlander Series books. I just wasn't wowed by this one like I was with the last. Oh well.


Monday, May 25, 2009

My Lord and Spymaster by Joanna Bourne

Book Description:

Raised as a poor but cunning pickpocket, Jess Whitby may have grown into a wealthy young woman, but now she must once again rely on her guile. Her father's been wrongly accused of selling secrets to Napoleon, and he's going to hang--unless Jess finds the real traitor in the London underworld. She never dreamed her search would begin by waking up naked in a rude captain's bed. Or how little she'd mind...


When Captain Sebastian Kennett prevents a kidnapping on the London docks, he takes the headstrong would-be victim home. He's infatuated with her courageous spirit. She's enthralled by his commanding strength and the sexy spark in his eyes. Then she discovers something else about the spellbinding seaman: He could be the traitor she's hunting, the man whose next move could determine her father's fate--and her future as well.

My first official summer read in the sun to launch Memorial Day Weekend and the beginning of summer!

I really loved Ms. Bourne's first book in her Spymaster Series, The Spymaster's Lady, and have been looking forward to reading this next one ever since. This was a quick read for me, I can't say it was as good as her first, but it involved another feisty, resourceful, strong heroine, Jess and another dashing, clever and not so perfect hero, Sebastian who at times are adversaries, but also can't resist each other as well. I loved Sebastian: handsome, strong, virile - he was great in everything he does, but again, as was the case with Ms. Bourne's last hero, he has two sides to him. When he is Sebastian Kennett, he is known as the owner of a fleet of trade ships, a wealthy and well known merchant recognized by many. But, when he's Bastard Kennett, he's a dangerous, not to be meddled with ruthless cut-throat who knows how to kill when needed and is not someone to cross around the dockyards. Still, in either persona, he is a noble and honorable man. He is someone that is accustomed to getting his own way and is respected by all, from the the great spymasters at British Intelligence all the way down to the notorious and dangerous leader of London's underworld, Lazarus. Let's just say, he's the ideal man that fits into any kind of situation, I found him quite swoonworthy, frankly.

Sebastian and Jess aren't exactly spies, but they interact with them - or are accused as such. Our lovely heroine, Jess Whitby is convinced that Sebastian is the Cinq, a spy that is selling British naval secrets to Napoleon's supporters. Her father has been framed as Cinq and is awaiting his trial and supposed hanging. Jess is determined to find the real Cinq and clear her father's name and save him from the noose.

I liked Jess because she's complicated. Smart and resourceful, she can handle herself in any kind of scenario, yet she's vulnerable when it comes to dealing with her past life in the face of her present life and the thought of losing her father again. She learned how to be a pickpocket as a child, virtually raised by underworld leader, Lazarus when her father disappeared when she was eight years old. In a way, she was brainwashed by Lazarus to be subservient, convinced he "owned" her. He taught her the ways of thievery and at the time, she grew to like it until she was twelve years old and her father returned from a French prison to reclaim her. She left the life of the underworld and traveled the world with her father who amassed a fortune in smuggling and raised her to be a proper young lady. Like Sebastian, Jess has two different personas. She can still be the Cockney guttersnipe from Whitechapel who can easily pick a pocket or jump from roof to roof burgling with her back of tricks and pet ferret, or she can be the proper Miss Whitby, daughter of the wealthy and powerful Josiah Whitby, who can appreciate the finer things in life that her father's money can buy, living in luxury, wearing beautiful French silks and priceless jewelry (all smuggled, of course.) In addition, she is an expert in accounting, with a mind and memory like a trap, handling the books for her father's successful business. Yet, she'll never be able to lose the memories and nightmares of her past life as a pickpocket under Lazarus, with the scars to go with them.

Jess and Sebastian meet as she tries to pick his pocket looking for secrets in a dark alleyway - and the sparks fly, but she unexpectedly gets hurt in an accident and he has no choice but to take her back to his ship and nurse her for that evening. He plies her with brandy and medicinal herbs, strips her bare of her wet clothing and puts her to bed - his bed. But, that's as far as it goes, though he doesn't hesitate in appreciating her womanly assets, but as he says himself, he's not the sort of man to take advantage of an unconscious woman or force himself on someone who is unwilling - even though his nether regions might be telling him otherwise! I quite liked the fact that he wasn't exactly the 'master of his domain' when it came to Jess - he had to put "jack" back in the box a couple of times when dealing with the beautiful Miss Whitby!

Sebastian quickly learns about and understands Jess' weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Having grown up as an orphan in the streets of London until his aunt found him when he was seven, he can sympathize with her - he's been there himself. I loved the way he could be gentle with her, yet he also has the style and virility of a man who wants her, yet his honor and good sense rules his mind and he doesn't just take advantage of her on his ship. He realizes soon enough that she is the daughter of the man he thinks is a traitor and she thinks he's the man that has set her father up. There soon becomes a cat and mouse game played out between them in which he is the cat and she is the mouse. They're both attracted to each other and he tells her more than once he's going to bed her (and just how he'll do it) and she can't help but like the idea, but keeps telling herself it's never going to happen as long as she thinks he's the one that has set up her father. I loved the sexual tension build up which was drawn out for most of the book.

This game goes on for a while and sometimes, I sort of lost track of what was going on in the somewhat complicated espionage plotline, but it was fun to read - I guessed who the real villain was - or at least partly, but it was all well done and thought out and it had an exciting finish. I did get a little tired of Sebastian always worrying so much about Jess, though he did save her neck a few times. She has a tendency of going off and doing dangerous things that don't always end well. If you're looking for a real steamy romance, this isn't it, but the sexual tension and build up between the two was well done as well as the interesting London locales and people associated with them, whether it's the Historical Society in Mayfair or the seamy underside of London's world of crime.

I was also happy to see some brief glimpses of familiar faces from the last book in the series who are spies with British Intelligence, such as Adrian and Doyle. One last thing, I luuurved the inside cover of this book - yummy. Sebastian is depicted just as I imagined - instead of the ubiquitous Nathan Camp model that shows up everywhere (as mentioned recently in a post at Racy Romance Reviews).

I recommend this book for historical spy romance lovers, the research is tops and it features a strong heroine who's had a hard life, but can take care of herself when need be, and a tall, dark and handsome hero who loves her all the more for it, but who intends to take care of her for the rest of her life in any case.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Claiming the Highlander by Kinley MacGregor

Book Description:
It is said that Braden MacAllister, English baron and proud Highlander warrior, can fell an enemy with a single blow -- and a woman with a single kiss. But not Maggie, it seems. For the fire-haired beauty, determined to end the long running feud that rages between their clan and it's common foe, is immune to Branden's attempts to stop her foolishness. But stop her he will, once he gets the meddling minx alone... and favors her with a passionate caress and an irresistible kiss. No matter how she trembles beneath Braden's sensuous touch, Maggie must not yield! As long as this feud continues, the lives of her brothers are at stake. And though Braden is known to have bedded many a lass, he has given his heart to none. But dare she dream that by assuring peace for her clan she may also be claiming the most magnificient Highlander for herself?

I had high hopes for this book, it has been on my TBR list for almost a year and after reading it for a while I came to the conclusion that it was surprisingly dull. Unusual for me, since I love Highlanders, and I loved the first book in this series about the MacAllisters, Master of Desire. This book had it's moments and good points (the sex scenes were tops!), but the plot itself was slow and plodding, taking forever for the real plot of the story to get going and the heroine could be really dense at times, another damsel under the impression that she is not pretty or good enough for the hero to fall for. Grr! Of course, she couldn't be further from the truth, but it takes the whole book for both hero and heroine to realize this.

This is the story of the young, handsome ladykiller, Braden MacAllister who finally meets his match in little Maggie, the girl he grew up with and played with as playmates. Never having considered her in a romantic light before, he finds he is now attracted to her and he is in a conundrum. He wants to bed her and thinks of it constantly, but he is not the marrying kind and he doesn't want to dishonor her by not marrying her afterwards. Why? I never quite understood why Braden felt he could not ask her to marry him. What was stopping him? This was a sticky point for me through the whole book! Is he so convinced he's incapable of loving only one woman? She has loved him her entire life, she'd marry him if she thought he could be monogamous, but she doesn't believe he is capable of it. Still, if there is one man who could talk her into losing her maidenhood, it's Braden, her Achilles Heel. Will she lose her virginity for a few nights of passion with him, knowing all too well he'd never be faithful to her?

Maggie is a red headed spitfire that wants to stop the feuding between her clan (the MacAllisters) and the MacDonalds. Too much blood has been shed between both clans and she has convinced all the women of both clans to lock themselves up in their respective castles, refusing to feed or bed their men folk until the feuding is over. The men are naturally upset and fed up - and angry as hell at Maggie for putting the women up to this idea. They capture the MacAllister laird, Lochlan, the eldest of the MacAllister brothers, Braden (our hero) being the youngest. They tie him up and tell Braden and his other brothers that they will kill Lochlan in four days if they don't get the women to give up their foolish plan.

Braden and his half-brother, Sin (he has his own book later) join ranks with Maggie and they travel on foot to the MacDonald castle to try and stop the feuding. It takes several days to get there and on the way, Maggie and Braden have a sort of courtship. Mostly, Braden winds up seducing Maggie, which isn't hard since she's already head over heels in love with him, but his conscience keeps getting in the way, and he finds his honor will not let him deflower her - until she takes the bull by the horns and doesn't take no for an answer. She is convinced it might be her last night alive on Earth and figures she better make the most of it! They finally make love (and it was very well done, if I must say so myself), but then there is more of the "He'll never marry me now" scenarios, where both think the other one doesn't care about them, blah, blah, blah, miscommunication, awkward moments, and more lovemaking when they get the chance. As much as both the characters were kind of charming in their own individual ways, they were annoying because they were so stupid! Their journey seemed to take forever, but it all ends predictably and Maggie gets her man in the end.

I expected more from this book. The character development was weak and there wasn't much sexual tension between the hero and heroine. Where there could have been some funnier drawn out scenes, such as when Maggie had to pretend she was a young man fighting off a horny farmer's daughter, they were cut and fizzled out. Braden winds up being misunderstood, he's really not as big a womanizer a la Errol Flynn as we are led to believe at first, in fact, he is depicted as the victim of women who are constantly throwing themselves at him (that's a first!) For a smart and clever highlander, he was amazingly dim when it comes to his own feelings, his brother Sin could see what was happening easily, but then they say love is blind - in this case, I'd have to agree. Plus, we never really get the low down on why he is an English baron, his back story is foggy and unclear.

Still, if you are a fan of Highlander medieval romances, give it a try, I have high hopes for the future books, especially about Sin's who was raised in England, he has a sad and dark story of his own.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Through A Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen

A magnificent tapestry of a grand and glorious era...

As opulent and passionate as the 18th century it celebrates. Through a glass Darkly will sweep you away to the splendors of a lost era. Like Gone With the Wind, it is rich with characters so vivid -- from aristocrats to scoundrels--they create their own immortality. Here is the story of a great family ruled by a dowager of extraordinary power: of a young woman seeking love in a world of English luxury and French intrigue, and of a man haunted by a secret that could turn all their dreams to ashes...

I love great big huge books that you can sink your teeth into. This was one of them, plus it was one of my books that I've now finished for my TBR Challenge. Over 750 pages, it's the detailed and engrossing story of Barbara, the grandaughter of Alice, the stalwart, domineering - and aging -- dowager, Duchess of Tamworth. Set in early Georgian England and Paris, the story is sprawling and majestic, set amidst aristocratic society and the royal courts. Mistressses, lovers, gossip, scandal and secrets all abound in this entertaining piece of historical fiction.

Barbara is a young and innocent fifteen year old who is engaged to marry the handsome and dashing Roger Montgeoffrey, a man much older than she, but who she has always loved since she was but a young girl. Roger is sophisticated, a man of the world, but he is a self made man, once the protege of her grandfather, the Duke of Tamworth who has been dead for five years. Her grandmother still rules with an iron hand at the family estate of Tamworth and has been Barbara's virtual mother, since her own egotistical mother, Diana is more interested in other things, like her schemes and lovers and most importantly - money.

Diana has brokered the marriage between Barbara and Roger with a trump card that makes Barbara irresistible. She brings to her marriage what Roger wants most - land. Not just any land, it is prime acreage in London in which he plans to develop and build a huge house for himself, with a square with shops and buildings, town houses, and the crown jewel - a church designed by none other than Sir Christopher Wren himself - a showpiece to last forever. This will be his legacy in which he will be remembered by all. Loads of scheming goes on before the marriage takes place - it almost doesn't - but in the end Barbara gets her way - and Roger. Little does she know what will happen once they're married. I loved the way the book unfolds and I grew to love this young and naive Barbara who only wants to marry the man she loves. I adored her grandmother, Alice as well, who is a tough old woman with still a lot of grit and spunk in her. She helps Barbara get Roger. She is a worthy dowager duchess, I really loved her. Diana, Barbara's mother is also a great character with her machinations and steely desire to get what she wants no matter who dies or lives in the process - or gets hurt by it. I loved to read about what horrible thing she'd do next. All the characters are written well, they have their own interesting personalities and backstories, even down to the servants like Therese and Annie - all were superb.

Once Barbara and Roger are married, he whisks her off to Paris and she is immediately introduced to the gossip and scandalous society of the Parisian court. Much of it is decadent and debauched and Barbara is out of her league at first, but soon she learns the way of life in Paris. She is relatively happy, yet is disconcerted that she if often neglected by her new husband, a popular man in town who spends all of his time with his old "friend" Phillippe, a french nobleman. Roger has a dark secret he keeps from Barbara which will ultimately devastate her. It was fascinating reading about Parisian society and the scheming and back stabbing involved - I loved every bit of it, all the while knowing that the proverbial shit would soon hit the fan when Roger's secret gets out. The question was: how?

The second part of the book takes place four years later, after Barbara learns the truth about her husband's lifestyle. She is back in London with a lover of her own, yet not divorced. In my mind, this was the weaker part of the book. Who was this lover of Barbara's all of a sudden? He didn't have the same depth as the other characters. I didn't feel like I knew him the same way I did with the others, except that he bore a striking resemblence to Roger. Roger still supports her in the lavish lifestyle she is accustomed to, yet they live apart. But soon Roger and many others in her life are affected by the financial imbroglio known as the South Sea Bubble that ruins many in London during this time. Much of this part of the book involves the financial ruin of many and I couldn't help but think how similar the South Sea Bubble was to the internet bubble in the late 1990's on Wall Street, and the latest financial credit debacle that occured last Fall. Barbara is now a little older, a little more mature, but still in love with Roger, and not much wiser. She finds herself in the midst of a huge scandal involving a duel and her current lover, Charles. I found it disconcerting to see what had happened to Barbara over the years. She's still incredibly young - only twenty, but much happens to her and her family. Much of it is sad. But, she always has her grandmother at Tamworth to go back to and find her strength.

Throughout her ups and down are her loyal servants and friends, as well as her brother, Harry and cousin, Tony, who I grew to really like. I'd like to think that Tony, who is the present Duke of Tamworth will one day win Barbara, since he fell in love with her almost on sight when she first came to London before her marriage to Roger. Tony blossoms through the book, I felt sorry for him and I hope something good happens to him in the sequel.

I highly recommend this book, I grew to love the characters in it and was sorry to finish it, I can't wait to read the sequel Now Face to Face and the prequel about Alice, the Duchess, Dark Angels before she marries her beloved, Richard, Duke of Tamworth during the time of Charles II.

A great read, you won't be sorry!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Whisper of Roses by Teresa Medeiros

Book Description:

As she peered over the edge of the gallery, Sabrina Cameron trembled at the sight of the sun-bronzed giant striding into view. But she never recognized the stranger...not until the moment she found herself surrounded by arms of warm steel—and drowning in smoldering green eyes that had once held cool disdain but now shimmered with passion. Morgan MacDonnell, the boy, had been her tormentor. Now it looked as if Morgan, the man, would prove infinitely more dangerous...

Though hatred divided their clans, Morgan MacDonnell had come to Cameron Glen hoping for a truce...only to find that by evening's end the only way to avert bloodshed between the two families was for him to marry his enemy's daughter. But even as Morgan spirited Sabrina away to his rugged fortress, his battle would not be won. For this delicate rose of a girl would put up a bold fight...and the spoils of victory would be nothing less than a heathen MacDonell's heart.

This is the 2nd Teresa Medeiros book that I've read, and unfortunately this one didn't thrill me too much, much the same as the last one. The premise was good and sounded like I would like it. It's a Scottish Highlander romance, but I found it hard to like the hero, Morgan MacDonnell at first. Then, when we finally like him, we no longer like the heroine! Plus, there was this nagging feeling the hero was in love with her mother - huh?!

It is the early 18th century and Sabrina Cameron's family has had a long going feud with the filthy, disreputable MacDonell's as long as anyone can remember. Wealthy, her father invites the MacDonnell's to dine at his castle. After many years, Sabrina who grew up with Morgan McDonnell (he fostered with them as a boy during the summers) meets him again. He is now grown up, handsome, strong, virile, everything she thought he'd be. Yet, he had been a bully to her for years and had treated her badly. Now, we are led to believe that she had carried a torch for him all that time?

Inexplicably, during the grand feast, the laird of the MacDonnell's is murdered, a knife in the back. All hell breaks loose and after much ado, it is determined that Sabrina is going to have to marry Morgan. Yes, I know you must be thinking - "what?" But, they cook up a good reason, and she must leave her beautiful home and go live in the poor and ramshackle crumbling castle of the MacDonell's.

Sabrina and Morgan are wary of each other at first, but before long they fall in love and have a pretty good time of it... But, there are others in the clan who don't want her around and a scheme is carried out by Morgan's kinsmen (unbeknonst to him) that ends in tragedy. Sabrina winds up having a terrible accident in which her legs are broken, and she is crippled. In her own mind, she feels she must do the "noble" thing and make Morgan think she blames him and hates him for being the cause of her accident so that he'll divorce her and find a "whole" woman. Grrrr! I hate it when the heroines gets these stupid ideas in their heads!

So for the rest of the book, the two of them separate and then try to reunite at the instigation of her parents who hate to see what she has become. Sabrina turns into a bitter shrew and Morgan goes to London (where she is living with her English aunt and uncle and cousin, Enid who turns out to be a promiscuous miss in love with one of Morgan's cousins) and poses as a wealthy Scottish earl to win her back. The London part of the book was good, but most of the rest of the book was just a little lacklustre. I can't put my finger on it, but it didn't grab me. Then when we find out the big truth at the end of the book - I really found it hard to believe that Morgan would just accept it! It's quite a revelation!

I've left a lot out, but this review was the gist of the book. It's not much of a review, party because I couldn't really get excited about writing one up! There was a lot of deception, scheming and some sex, but the heroine is just boring. Sometimes she seems intelligent, and other times too stupid to live. I found it hard to believe she had always loved Morgan after he'd been so mean to her. And what did he see in her? I'm not reading any more by this author, I've realized there are better Scottish romances out there, this was well written, but there wasn't much passion in it and as much as there were some good parts in the book, there were also some dull and slow moving parts and revelations that were, in my opinion, hard to live with. As a whole, it all left me with an overall blah feeling in regard to the book. Maybe it's just me, but I recall I felt the same way with the other book I read by her. Disappointing.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Spell of the Highlander by Karen Marie Moning (audio)

Book Description:
Powerful. Sensual. Seductive. He is all that is shamelessly erotic in a man. In her sexiest Highlander novel yet, New York Times bestselling author Karen Moning stirs up a sizzling brew of ancient mystery and modern passion as she brings together a devilishly handsome Celtic warrior trapped in time... and the woman who's about to pay the ultimate price for freeing him. Age-old secrets haunt them. Deadly danger and irresistible desire shadow their every move. It's a relationship for the ages. And all that separates them is a mere thirteen hundred years....

Jessi St. James has got to get a life. Too many hours studying ancient artifacts has given the hardworking archaeology student a bad case of sex on the brain. So she figures she must be dreaming when she spies a gorgeous half-naked man staring out at her from inside the silvery glass of an ancient mirror. But when a split-second decision saves her from a terrifying attempt on her life, Jessi suddenly finds herself confronting six and a half feet of smoldering, insatiable alpha male.

Heir to the arcane magic of his Druid ancestors, eleven centuries ago Cian MacKeltar was trapped inside the Dark Glass, one of four coveted Unseelie Hallows, objects of unspeakable power. When the Dark Glass is stolen, an ancient enemy will stop at nothing to reclaim it, destroying everything in his path -- including the one woman who may just hold the key to breaking the ninth-century Highlander's dark spell. For Jessi, the muscle-bound sex god in the mirror is not only tantalizingly real, he's offering his protection -- from exactly what, Jessi doesn’t know. And all he wants in exchange is the exquisite pleasure of sharing her bed.

Yet even as Cian's insatiable hunger begins to work its dark magic on Jessi, his ancient enemy is about to obtain the final and most dangerous of the Unseelie Hallows -- and the ninth-century Highlander must stop him from getting it. Nothing less than the very fabric of the universe and two passionately entwined lives are at stake–as Cian and Jessi fight to claim the kind of love that comes along but once in an ice age....

Oh. My. God. I loved this audiobook. Once again, I am in love with a voice. This time, it's Phil Gigante who is the voice of Cian MacKeltar. He has this deep, strong, masculine voice, that has such repressed sexuality in it - it just makes you melt listening to him! At one point I was walking down the aisle in the supermarket listening to him, and almost felt my legs give out beneath me - talk about your legs turning to jelly! I wish I had listened to all the other KMM books before this one, since this is the 7th in the Highlander series of hers. Now I know what everyone has been talking about with this guys's voice! It's sex on a stick. If you haven't listened to any of these books yet, at least listen to this one. It made me absolutely love this book - I think it might be my favorite of the series, or if not favorite, 2nd favorite.

The book opens with Jessi St. James, who's a graduate student, studying anthropology. Young and pretty with no social life because she is working and studying so hard for her Masters degree, she wishes for something exciting to happen in her life someday. Well, I'd say she got her wish and more...

By doing a favor for her professor, she meets the man in the mirror, Cian MacKeltar. He is a Highland Scot who is a Druid from the 7th century. He has had this spell on him for over 1,100 years, which has kept him locked in the mirror and soon, within a month he will have a chance to escape from the mirror for good. But, he must convince Jessi to release him from the mirror by saying "the magic words", a special Celtic prayer. She hems and haws and doesn't do it right away, since she's understandably freaked out by the whole thing. But, as she finds out people are dropping like flies who have all seen this mirror, she realizes that Cian is her only hope of not getting murdered herself. He is the only one that can protect her from the evil Lucan Trevaine.

Once she releases him the book becomes hysterically funny. Picture this six and half foot god of a man who hasn't had sex in over a millenium being released from captivity by a bosomy, young college co-ed who also happens to be beautiful and has been longing for a boyfriend of her own as well. Of course, she's a virgin, and has some moral scruples - but still! A girl can only withstand so much testosterone! Cian is irresistible and not the sort of man that will take no for an answer. He is like a stallion that is ready to go - come hell or high water. The first thing he says to her after he is released is something like, "Remove your blouse and show me your breasts, woman!" Her response is something like, "Are you for real? As if!" You see, Cian has this power known as "Voice" in which he can command people to do whatever he wants. His voice gets this strange sort of ringing vibrating sound to it. But... "voice" doesn't work on Jessi because she has a metal plate in her head from a car accident she was in when she was a senior in high school. After this initial meeting between the two, all hell breaks loose and they must flee and get themselves to Scotland for Cian to escape his captor and evade him until Samhein which is in about 25 days.

Jessi puts Cian's amorous advances off (she is a virgin afterall) as much as she can, but she's losing the battle, he is so amazingly handsome and virile and... big. As luck would have it, he can only be out of the mirror for short periods of time, and at some very inopportune moments he all of a sudden is transported back to the mirror until the next day, when Jessi has to say the magic words again and let him out. This is probably the only thing that saved her virginity until they got to Scotland. There were plenty of amusing moments between the two. Poor Jessi has to put up with Cian's caveman sensibilities and using "voice" on everyone that they come across. It really was good, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

One particularly funny scene that I liked was when they're in a hotel room in Chicago, and Jessi has almost been killed, and Cian has killed her murderer from the mirror (he can throw knives and clothing from inside it). She's screaming and screaming and can't stop. Finally, once she does, some guy from the hallway is calling her to see if everything is okay in there. She has to act like she saw a spider and she mouths to Cian to say something, since she's told the guy in the hall her husband killed it. Cian booms in his big voice, saying something like "Twas nice of you to be concerned, but all is well now!" After the guy walks away, Jessi says to Cian "Twas?? All is well now?? Could you sound more archaic?" It was so funny, but you have to hear it yourself to appreciate it. They were some pair!

Together they travel to Scotland, she is dragged along wherever he says to go. In some ways this part of the book reminded me of Kresley Cole's A Hunger Like No Other that I reviewed last year. They both came out around the same time, coincidentally. I liked this book more, simply because I prefer men over werewolves and vampires. But, I digress...

Once they get to Scotland and Jessi manages to battle a snippy female airport employee, they hook up with Cian's descendents, Drustan and Daegus MacKeltar from the previous books in the series. They are not exactly glad to see him, and even they think Cian's outlandish with his braids and tattoos and demanding and unreasonable attitude! The only one who can tame him and bring him back to earth is Jessi. I really liked Jessi, I know some people found her annoying and stupid, but I liked her. Poor thing, at one point Cian stole her some clothes (because hers got all bloody) and he didn't even get her a bra, so through most of their long journey, she's bouncing around wishing fervently for just a bra - any kind will do! I had to like a girl like that.

I won't spoil the rest of the story or how it gets resolved, but just be assured it ends happily with an exciting ending within the last 20 minutes before midnight on Samhein.

If you have never read these books, listen to them, if possible. If ever there was a book to listen to - instead of reading - this is one of them. I think I'm going to go back and get all the audiobooks to these books and just listen to them, rather than re-reading, it really takes it all to a whole new and better dimension with this narrator who is absolutely fantastic! I could listen to him all day. My one gripe about him is he's not the greatest at female voices, making them sound kind of ditzy. Jessi has brains and is no ditz, but understandably, she did get flustered around Cian at first (who wouldn't?) and had a lot on her plate dealing with him.

A thoroughly enjoyable book, I highly recommend this highlander romance with a contemporary setting and paranormal themes - I simply loved it! Plus, I loved the sexy cover!


Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Charm Stone by Donna Kauffman

Book Description:
When it comes to love...

When expert surfer Josie Griffin has a rare wipeout, she’s shocked to discover that a real-life treasure chest is to blame--one that contains a necklace hung with the biggest stone she’s ever seen. But that’s nothing compared to the shock she gets when she places the jewel around her neck. Instantly a mysterious little kilted man appears to inform her that the charm has betrothed her to an eighteenth-century Scottish laird! It’s not that Josie has anything against handsome lairds--or older men. But three hundred plus years may be stretching things a bit. After all, she has a career to consider. And besides, she’s sure the effects of her concussion will be wearing off any minute--until the minutes turn to hours...then days...

A little charm goes a long way

The spirit of Connal MacNeil has been waiting centuries for his betrothed to appear on Scotland’s roaring shores. Josie’s arrival with the MacNeil charm stone is his dream come true. Her passion is a fiery match to his own--and her powerful body is perfect for bearing the heir he plans. He bargained his soul for this last chance at prosperity, and he won’t take no for an answer. Unfortunately the lass doesn’t quite understand that destiny has bound them for all eternity. In fact, she seems determined to deny him at every turn--when she isn’t busy with her foolhardy need to go wave hunting.

But it doesn’t take long for other, more earthly MacNeil charms to take hold. For Josie is only human--and Connal has waited long enough for the love affair of his lifetime to finally begin....

When I first read the description of this book, I thought, hmm, this sort of sounds fun, "Gidget meets an 18th century Scottish warrior", but it wound up being much more than that. Josie is no Gidget. She's 26 years old, a woman with intellect, an artist who works with her father, Big Griff, designing surfboards that are prized and sold around the world on the internet. She also happens to be an expert surfer, residing in South Carolina. An interesting and different premise for a heroine.

One day while surfing, Josie gets clunked in the head by a sea chest in the ocean. She opens the chest and inside she finds an ornate and very old looking necklace. Intrigued, she tries it on and lo and behold this kilted Scottish elf pops up and introduces himself to her as the "Guardian of the Stone." At first, she thinks she must have really cracked her head and is hallucinating, but she can't seem to get rid of him. He pops in and out of her life trying to convince her that it's her Destiny to go to Scotland with him and become the MacNeil chief's bride and bear him a male heir. She thinks he's crazy and tries to ignore him and deny the whole thing.

But destiny does step in for Josie, and before she knows it, she's in Scotland in Glenmuir, this little Scottish isle that has seen better days. This turns out to be the former MacNeil lands. But, there are almost no MacNeil's left, and before long, she becomes friends with many of the islanders, most of whom are senior citizens but they become avid surfing enthusiasts! She teaches them how to surf, and it was kind of cute and bizarre at the same time.

In addition to the eccentric and spry inhabitants of the island, she also meets the enigmatic and brooding MacNeil laird she is destined for, Connal MacNeil. Tall, virile, handsome, every inch the Scottish warrior, there is one drawback with him. He's a ghost. Still, he can partake of earthly delights if he wants. *wiggles eyebrows* Josie tries to deny him as much as she can, but he soon becomes irresistible and they begin a love affair. Yet, it's not your typical affair. No one can see him but her and there's the pesky problem of "how do you have a relationship with a 300 year old ghost?" Still, it was amusing and sexy at times, except for the fact that Connal is hell bent on fulfilling this promise he made long ago to "the Gods" to produce an heir so that his clan can live on. Whoever is the wearer of the stone is to be his bride and mother of his "bairn." Josie doesn't want to have a baby, but she doesn't mind her close encounters with Connal either. Does she fall in love with his ghost? Can a ghost fall in love with a mortal woman? Still, this whole dilemma about conceiving a baby and Connal's pact that once he gets her pregnant, he can rest in peace and no longer haunt the village of Glenmuir was bothersome. It dragged the story down and at times it was convoluted and hard to grasp.

Still, I enjoyed this little book, it was cute and picturesque and I liked the villagers Josie becomes friends with and I was spurred on to finish it to see if Josie and Connal fall in love and I really wondered how it would all end up. How can she be happy with a ghost? One of my favorite movies is "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" with Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney. I love that kind of storyline, and this had some similarities to it, with the added bonus that the hero and heroine can actually get it on together (unlike in the movie.) If you like contemporary romances in addition to Scottish highlanders, then you might enjoy this book very much. The writing was well done, funny at times and believable (despite the fantastical elements), although there wasn't a whole lot of depth in the characterizations, but enough to make everyone interesting and move the story forward. A cute, light read that got me in the mood for the beach this summer!


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Too Hot to Handle by Robin Kaye

Book Description:
He sure would love to have someone to take care of...

Dr. Mike Flynn's single mom taught him early how to cook and clean, and there's nothing like vacuuming or doing dishes to help a guy relax. Annabelle Ronaldi is an artist without a domestic bone in her body. Since her fiance's death, she can't paint, and life looks hopeless.

Until the day after her sister's wedding, when she wakes up with Mike next to her in bed, and then she's really beside herself - because the handsome stranger is a dead ringer for her dead fiance.

After their mind-blowing one night stand, Mike is sure this is the woman he wants to take care of forever, but she acts like she's seen a ghost. While Mike sets to work wooing Annabelle, she sets to work sniffing out the truth of the convoluted family secret that turns everybody's lives upside down.

Ms. Kaye has written another winner!

The second in her Domestic God series, this is the story of Annabelle Ronaldi and Dr. Mike Flynn. Annabelle is the sister of Rosalie (from Romeo, Romeo). Let's just say, Mike Flynn is a dream man - and a doctah no less! A contemporary romance set in Brooklyn, it picks up right where Romeo, Romeo left off. At first, I was a bit put off by Annabelle, she's not exactly likable in the first book, but she grows on you during the course of this one. She's complex and has a lot of baggage to carry around. On the surface you wouldn't know it, but underneath she has lived an entirely different life in Philadelphia in love with a boyfriend who dies of cancer, of which her family in Brooklyn knows nothing about. At her sister Rosalie's wedding, she meets Dr. Mike Flynn, who happens to be the spitting image of her dead boyfriend, Chip. Well, let's just say, he's not the exact spitting image of him of which is an ongoing joke in the book - you'll have to read it to find out what it is.

As I said before, Annabelle has her flaws. Having just broken up with a slimy mortician fiance, she unexpectedly takes up with Dr. Mike. They have a whirlwind romance after she gets plastered at the wedding and they wind up in bed together the next morning, which is how the book opens. Annabelle has never been a fan of sex until Dr. Mike opens her eyes to it. Mike has been looking for a girlfriend, but as a young workaholic doctor he hasn't had much time for relationships - until Annabelle. For the better part of the book, I couldn't really see what Dr. Mike saw in her, and why he was so crazy about her to the point he falls in love with her in less than a month, although it does happen to take place during the lusty month of May - Spring Fever and all that? Anyway, it's obvious what she sees in him to begin with - he looks just like her old boyfriend, but aside from the mind blowing sex they have together, she just seems kind of cranky most of the time. But, Dr. Mike flips over her and they spend a lot of time at her apartment, and again, like Ms. Kaye's last hero he enjoys cooking and cleaning! Not to mention he's great in bed - every women's dream. Ms. Kaye is an expert at steamy and romantic.

Still, their story is complicated. Not only does Annabelle have to deal with the truth of who Dr. Mike winds up really being, but she's convinced that he won't want to continue to be with her once he does. Added to the pot is her best friend and Chip's twin sister, Becca, who is her confidante. I really liked Becca who I pictured as being a Reese Witherspoon type. Annabelle learns of the truth of who Mike's real father is and it turns out he is the love child of Chip and Becca's super wealthy doctor father from before he married their mother. Are you with me here? It gets a little complicated. Mike is really Becca's half brother. Becca's parents hated Annabelle from when she was with their son Chip, and felt she was just a gold digger. Now Annabelle doesn't want to come between Mike and his new family, plus she's sure he'll hate her once he finds out that she used to be with his dead brother who looks just like him! I must admit, I think that would throw me for a loop if I were Dr. Mike too. Understandably, the shit hits the fan when the truth is revealed. But, this is a romance after all with a happy ending, and I was glad to see that Annabelle is able to cope with the demons from her past. She comes a long way in one short month and I wound up liking her for it. She really blossomed over the course of this book, thanks to the love of a really great guy and some true blue friends.

In addition to all the drama that is taking place on the Annabelle/Mike end of the story, one of my very favorite parts and the real heart tugging emotion in the book for me was the poignant storyline between Mike's mother and real father. The scene in which Dr. Larsen (Mike's real father) is reunited with Mike's mother brought tears to my eyes. I was so there with them in the kitchen, after seeing one another again after so many years. I would have liked to have seen more between Dr. Larsen and Mike's mother. But, we get enough of a glimpse and innuendo to get the idea of what they must be feeling. I also really loved the part in which Mike meets his father for the first time. I was riveted and sucked into this part of the storyline and couldn't get enough of it.

Another side character story that I liked was Annabelle's wealthy and oh so good looking boss, Ben Walsh who seemed determined to drive Dr. Mike crazy with jealousy! With his good looks and smirks, he had Matthew McConaughey written all over him! He was actually pretty funny stole every scene he was in. One of my very favorite parts of the book was when Mike finally socks Ben in the face - ha ha! I laughed out loud - in the face! Too perfect! I really hope we see more of Ben, he deserves a book of his own - and a someone to really throw him for a loop. *grin*

I highly recommend this book, you don't need to read the first to appreciate it, but it was fun to see old friends like the Fairy Godfathers, weird Aunt Rose and Dave, the big galoot of a dog. The Brooklyn lingo, snappy come backs and settings all ring true. The book has a fast pace - a quick enjoyable sizzling read. By the way, I have got to check out that St. Andrews restaurant - do all the waiters really wear kilts?


Friday, May 1, 2009

Surrender by Pamela Clare

Book Description:
A hand-picked cadre of warriors, they had the fierce courage of their Scots forefathers, combined with the stealth and cunning of the Indians who lived beside them in the wilderness. Battling the French in no-holds-barred combat, they forged a new brand of honor, became a new breed of men... MacKinnon's Rangers.
Iain MacKinnon had been forced to serve the British crown, but compassion urged him to save the lovely lass facing certain death at the hands of the Abenaki. He'd defied his orders, endangered his brothers, his men and his mission, all for a woman. But when he held Annie's sweet body in his arms, he could feel no regret. Though he sensed she was hiding something from him, it was too late to hold back his heart. In love and war, there are times when the only course of action is... SURRENDER.

I really, really loved this book! It was just my kind of romance. Historical, with a backdrop of Colonial upstate NY during the French and Indian War, plenty of action and adventure and a great love story that was wonderfully sexy and passionate - hot! I was swept up in this story and almost didn't want it to end! I wouldn't have known about this book if it hadn't been for Barbara at Happily Forever After who ran a contest - and I won (by default - but hey who cares? I got two autographed books as my prize!)

This book is primarily about Iain MacKinnon, a Ranger who with his two brothers, are transplanted Scottish Highlanders, the grandsons of the Laird of MacKinnon who perished at the Battle of Culloden. They've lived in Colonial America since they were young boys and have grown up to be braw fighters who know how to wield a claymore as well as a tomahawk. Iain is reminiscent of Hawkeye in Last of the Mohicans, in fact much of the book is like it, since they both take place in upstate NY, near Fort Henry during the French and Indian War. Only this time, the hero is Scottish - yummm! Iain and his brothers are unfairly forced to be Rangers in the war by the surly British Lord William who is a commander of a nearby fort. He recognizes that the brothers would be a huge asset to him with their fighting prowess and Indian knowlege of battle and stealth. Three years later, they are still under Lord William when they come across Annie while out on a scouting mission.

Lady Anne Campbell has a tragic story. Raised in Scotland to a noble family, her father and brothers are killed at Prestonpans (on the loyalist side). She and her mother go to live with her father's brother who turns out to be a sadistic murderer. Annie pretty much witnesses the murder of her mother while having some sort of kinky sex - "unatural ways" - with him, and takes her family jewels and flees. But, she is caught and her uncle brands her a thief (on her upper inner thigh) and sends her off to the colonies to become an indentured servant for 14 years! After three months of suffering as an indentured servant, the family she works for is slaughtered by an Indian attack and she flees into the woods, running for her life to escape.

That's where she meets Iain MacKinnon.

Just as she thinks all is lost and she is going to be killed, Iain is there and stops the Abenaki Indian warriors by killing them and so begins the journey between Iain and Annie (as she calls herself, assuming a new identity for her freedom.) Annie is hurt and cold and Iain is tender with her and carries her on his back for miles and miles through dangerous Indian infested forests and woods. He has gone against all his well trained soldier instincts to save her, but he couldn't just let the Indians kill her, it would have been as bad as if he had killed her with his own hands! The bond that is created between these two during this time is great and long lasting. They come to know one another and even though Annie is intent on preserving her virginity she is sorely tempted by him, as he is to her. The sexual tension is fabulous, and the gradual build up of their feelings was a joy to read. I simply loved it! This story was so good and I was drawn into their plight and worried for them. Will they make it back to the fort safely? Will Iain get hurt fighting for her? Will she give them away with an inadvertent gasp amidst the enemy? It really kept me on the edge of my seat!

Finally, when they do reach safety, she helps nurse Iain (who gets 100 lashes for disobeying orders and rescuing her) back to health and gradually they are able to "get to know" one another. The sensual scenes between these two were something else. Not over the top, very well done, sexy, realistic and breathtaking! The author knows what she's doing! This one scene that involves shaving... *fans self*

I really loved both Iain and Annie. They made a great couple and deserved each other. Both are likable and radgie (love that word by the way!) and I was rooting for them every step of the way - I couldn't wait for them to finally get together and kiss! They deserved it after so much of what had happened to them and their struggles! Annie was brave yet realistic with her frailties. Young and pretty, her life had been turned upside down. Instead of feeling sorry for herself she deals with it and survives. Although she's unsure of Iain at first, she overcomes any prejudice she might harbor against him because he's a MacKinnon (their families are enemies). He appears uncouth to her at first, but that becomes nothing after she gets to know him. His natural nobility and command easily overshadows any misgivings she might have had about him at first. She grows to love his bravery and honor, his strength and cleverness - not to mention everything he does in bed! *swoon* She realizes just what a stroke of luck it was that brought them together when he first saved her. Kismet.  But, even though Iain sounds too perfect to be true, he does have that "you are mine!" caveman streak in him. The barbarian in him comes out once in a while *sigh* Lucky Annie!

I don't want to spoil what else happens, but even after Iain and Annie's love is consummated, the story doesn't end there. Lord William has taken a fancy to Annie as well, and he gradually comes to realize he has met her before in Scotland. He enjoys playing games with her and Iain, only he's not very good at them and they keep backfiring on him. After a while, you sort of start to like Lord William. He turns out to be sort of a decent guy and not your stereotypical sadistic English jerk that you see so often in movies or books.

The other characters in the book are interesting too, but not too fleshed out, the other brothers I suspect are being saved for future books. Still, I enjoyed reading about some of the minor characters, many were endearing in their own ways and you feel badly when in battle if they're hurt or killed. The battle scenes were well written and gripping - really well done. The author did her homework and she truly has a way of sucking you in so you feel you are there facing battle, or hiding and praying the Indians or French won't find you. I felt I was there with them!

I can't stress enough how much I enjoyed this book. Anyone who is a lover of the later books in the Outlander series will especially appreciate the setting of this book.  A winner in every sense of the word - this is my kind of book!  I'm sure this will be a re-read for me one day!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Barbara and Pamela Clare! I'm now eager to read my other prize from the contest, the 2nd book about the MacKinnon Rangers, Untamed.

Related Posts with Thumbnails