Tag Archives: Historical

Review: Gilded by Karina Cooper

20 Dec

5 out of 5 scoopers

Gilded by Karina Cooper
HarperCollins Publisher/AVON (Dec. 26, 2012)
Mass market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780062127662

Favorite Lines: “Blood dries to an oily brown, like embedded dirt or forgotten paint. Beneath a month’s worth of dust, the color stained the floor in unshakeable evidence–I had not imagined everything. A body had fallen here. Bled out here.” (p. 13, e-galley)

In the gleaming heights of Victorian London, a world of deception awaits an unconventional Society lady whose taste for adventure makes her a most formidable adversary…

Though Society demands that I make a good marriage, I, Cherry St. Croix, have neither the time nor the interest. I am on the trail of a murder with no victim, a mystery with no motive, and the key to an alchemical formula that could be my family’s legacy.

Yet the world is not so kind as to let me pursue simple murder and uncomplicated bounties. Above the foggy drift, an earl insists on my attention, while my friends watch my increasingly desperate attempts to remain my own woman. From the silken demands of the Midnight Menagerie—to whose dangerously seductive ringmaster I owe a debt—to the rigorous pressures of the peerage, all are conspiring to place before me a choice that will forever change my life.

Tarnished introduced me to Karina Cooper‘s St. Croix Chronicles. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I never thought I’d come to love the historical urban fantasy series the way I find myself obsessing over it. I think you’ll know exactly what I mean after you read Gilded. Do NOT try to jump into the series with this book or you will be totally lost.

Gilded is told in the first person from Cherry’s point of view.

Opium addict and member of polite London society, Cherry St. Croix is still collecting money working as a bounty hunter of sorts in foggy London. She struggles to fit into a world where young women are trained to marry and raise children. It’s hard for her because she has a scientist’s brain and her family history–let’s just say it has her teetering into ostracized territory. Or it would were it not for the highly eligible bachelor Lord Cornelius Compton. He’s not the only man in her life. Her nights are often interrupted by Micajah Hawke, the Midnight Menagerie’s ringmaster.

The last book left me wondering who Cherry would choose to have a relationship with: society or the night. There were good points which could have swung her either way, but she makes a clear decision in Gilded. The repercussions of that choice will be played out in book three. I asked Cooper on Twitter when it would be released, but she did not yet know.

I wanted to punch some of the women for being vapid, eye-fluttering fools. I wanted to shake Cherry for making poor decisions. I wanted to scream and wail when I turned the final page of the book. I tried to put it out of my mind, but for days I replayed the events that culminated on the final pages of Gilded. I’ve got to know what will happen to Cherry. I’ve re-read a particular section in the final chapters several times and I guess that is how you know it was a good book.


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Review: The Warrior by Margaret Mallory

24 Oct

4 out of 5 scoopers

The Warrior by Margaret Mallory
Grand Central Publishing (Oct. 30, 2012)
Mass market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780446583091

Favorite Lines: “Moira lied instinctively to protect her son, but she did not regret it. Duncan did not deserve the truth. After living with Sean, Ragnall was hungry for a man he could look up to. He would take to this big man who had a quiet strength and the fighting skills of the warrior of legend. She would never give Duncan the power to disappoint Ragnall as he had her.” (p. 81, e-galley)

From the Isle of Skye to the battlefields of France, Duncan MacDonald has never escaped the memory of the true love he left behind. Deemed unworthy of a chieftain’s daughter, Duncan abandoned the lovely Moira to prove his worth in battle. Now, when called upon to rescue her from a rival clan, one thing is certain: Moira’s pull on his heart is stronger than ever.

Bartered away in marriage to a violent man, Moira will do anything to ensure she and her son survive. When a rugged warrior arrives to save her, the desperate beauty thinks her prayers have been answered-until she realizes it’s Duncan. The man who once broke her heart is now her only hope. Moira vows never again to give herself-or reveal her secrets-to the fierce warrior, but as they race across the sea, danger and desire draw them ever closer.

Combine Scottish highlanders and the high seas and you’ve got the men who make up Margaret Mallory‘s Return of the Highlanders series. The Warrior is book three out of the four which make up the series. I’ve read every book so far and each can be read as a stand alone. So far I’ve found each book to give just enough information about the next book’s hero to entice me to read it.

The Warrior follows the Chieftain Connor’s best friend Duncan as he finds love with Connor’s sister, Moira. The two were lovers before Moira’s father split them up and their reunion will reignite the passion of the past. As the former lovers learn to trust one another and discover the truth about their separation, outside forces threaten to ruin their entire clan.

Duncan is a steadfast man who would never betray his friends and family, so it really bothered me that the woman he loved didn’t see those characteristics in him. Moira lusted after him, but didn’t trust him enough to tell him her secret. When given the opportunity she lied. It made me think less of her. Everyone remembered her as a spoiled little princess and she lived up to that label by being self-absorbed. Had she removed the blinders from her own face and chosen to believe in Duncan’s trustworthiness I would have rooted for her happiness. As it was, I wanted Duncan happy and since he wanted her…I accepted it.

Family is a running theme in the book. There are the relationships between parents and children, siblings and lovers being explored. Some were doomed before they began. Others are just beginning. All have an impact on building the different people introduced in the story.

Unlike The Sinner, most of the moments that stick with me from The Warrior take place on land. Like when Moira and Duncan physically reunite, when Duncan figures out Moira’s big secret and when Moira sees her family again, all of it is on land. Don’t get me wrong. There was a lot of movement during the story which is when water and boats came into play. From Scotland to Ireland to different locations around Scotland, The Warrior traveled with the characters all over the place. It helped keep the story moving by showing what was taking place in multiple locations and by physically moving the characters to the beat of the plot.

Despite being rather predictable, The Warrior was a nice historical romance. I didn’t love it, but it was above average. I’ll be reading the concluding book, The Chieftain, when it is released in February 2013.

Review: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

16 Oct

DNF

Ironskin by Tina Connolly
TOR/FORGE (Oct. 2, 2012)
Hardback: $24.99; ebook: $11.99
ISBN: 9780765330598

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.

It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin.

When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a “delicate situation”—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.

Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her scars and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio…and come out as beautiful as the fey.

Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things are true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of a new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.

Ironskin is Tina Connolly’s introduction to a fantasy world which is recovering from a war between humans and the fae. During the war the fae would fling curses at humanity. Those scarred by the curses can prevent the curses from spreading by covering the marked area with iron.

This is another book that I wanted to love. I didn’t. I didn’t even make it very far before deciding to put it aside. I was bored. Plain and simple. I’ve read that it’s supposed to be a rewrite of Jane Eyre. Don’t bash me, but I didn’t like Jane Eyre. I’m not into updating or rewriting old stories either. Had I known it was a retelling of anything I never would have requested the story. As such, I’m not going to rate it. I’m leaving it firmly in the Did Not Finish category.

For those of you who loved it or take pleasure in retellings, Tina Connolly’s website says a sequel is scheduled to be released in 2013.

Review: Claimed by the Highlander by Julianne MacLean

8 Oct


3 out of 5 scoopers

Claimed by the Highlander by Julianne MacLean
St. Martin’s (Reissued-August 2012)
Mass market: $4.99; ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9781250016270
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Sometimes, I need you so bad, I just want to drop my sword in the middle of a training exercise and leave the men to their own devices, so I can take you to bed. But when I think about you coming to any harm, I want to pick up my sword again. You pull me in two directions, lass” (p. 170-1)

NIGHT OF CONQUEST
With his tawny mane, battle-hewn brawn, and ferocious roar, Angus “The Lion” MacDonald is the most fearsome warrior Lady Gwendolen has ever seen—and she is his most glorious conquest. Captured in a surprise attack on her father’s castle, Gwendolen is now forced to share her bed with the man who defeated her clan. But, in spite of Angus’s overpowering charms, she refuses to surrender her innocence without a fight…

PRISONER OF PASSION
With her stunning beauty, bold defiance, and brazen smile, Gwendolen is the most infuriating woman Angus has ever known—and the most intoxicating. Forcing her to become his bride will unite their two clans as one. But conquering Gwendolen’s heart will take all his skills as a lover. Night after night, his touch sets her on fire. Kiss after kiss, his hunger fuels her passion. But, as Gwendolen’s body betrays her growing love for Angus, a secret enemy plots to betray them both…

Claimed by the Highlander is the second book in Julianne MacLean’s re-issued Highlander trilogy. It’s told in the third person and set in 1718 in the Scottish highlands. Featuring an alpha warrior, Claimed by the Highlander is about the prodigal son returning home and finding redemption and love.He finds it with an innocent but feisty heroine who happens to be the daughter of the man who killed his father.

Gwendolen is a lot smarter than I initially gave her credit for being. She wanted to fight, but soon realized there was another way to get what she wanted. For the most part she didn’t try to be sneaky or self-serving. She went with the flow and just went after what she wanted–love. It isn’t easy because she seems to have been paired with a man with a stone instead of a heart.

Angus warmed up to Gwendolen before the midpoint of the story. He’s a man who rarely lowers his guard, but when he does it’s magnificent. Unfortunately Angus is just as quick to raise his guard which is frustrating. Happy moments aren’t as pleasant because he’s wondering when a blow is going to strike out at him. I wanted Gwendolen to make him suffer or be spiteful, but she isn’t me.  She stayed true to character which made the happily ever after factor real. I believe that the hero and heroine are the perfect match because they fit together. They know, understand and respect each other by the end of the tale.

Claimed by the Highlander was initially published in March of 2011. It was repackaged, along with the rest of the trilogy, at a cheaper price and released in the fall of 2012. Its passion filled pages made the romance an enjoyable read. I’m not sure I’d have enjoyed it as much if I’d read book one-Captured by the Highlander-in which the hero betrays his best friend. But that’s a moot point, as I didn’t read that book.

This book is a solid romance. It isn’t my favorite, but it isn’t the worst I’ve read either. I recommend Claimed by the Highlander to those in need of a historical Scottish romance. It’s not action packed, but it is filled with lust which turns into love in the highlands.

Review: Temptation in a Kilt by Victoria Roberts

27 Aug

Temptation in a Kilt by Victoria Roberts
Sourcebooks (Sept. 1, 2012)
Mass Market: $6.99; ebook: $6.99
ISBN: 9781402270062

Favorite Lines: “Suddenly anxious to escape from his disturbing presence, she spoke hastily. “Pray excuse me. I believe my monthly courses have arrived.” Pulling herself to her feet, she bit her lip to keep from crying out in pain. Holding her ribs, she walked stiffly into the trees. She was running out of diversions.

Did she actually tell him her monthly courses had arrived? She was at a loss for what to say and had to think of something quickly so she spoke the first words that came to mind. That tactic usually worked on James. In fact, it would stop him dead in his tacks and he would always stop questioning her if she broached the subject. She could never understand why men were so adverse to womanly nature. They had no trouble bedding women, but mention a woman’s time or birthing…” (p. 42, e-galley)

She’s On Her Way to Safety

It’s a sign of Lady Rosalia Armstrong’s desperation that she’s seeking refuge in a place as rugged and challenging as the Scottish Highlands. She doesn’t care about hardship and discomfort, if only she can become master of her own life. Laird Ciaran MacGregor, however, is completely beyond her control…

He Redefines Dangerous…

Ciaran MacGregor knows it’s perilous to get embroiled with a fiery Lowland lass, especially one as headstrong as Rosalia. Having made a rash promise to escort her all the way to Glengarry, now he’s stuck with her, even though she challenges his legendary prowess at every opportunity. When temptation reaches its peak, he’ll be ready to show her how he really is…on and off the battlefield.

Temptation in a Kilt is a book that made me verra, verra happy. It’s exactly what comes to mind when I think historical Scottish romance. It’s set in 1603 and begins in England but quickly travels to Scotland.

I liked the story as soon as it began, but it was when the heroine showed her spunky behavior that I knew Victoria Roberts is an author to follow. The heroine, Rosalia, is running from abusive parents and an arranged marriage. She has been beaten mentally and physically her entire life. She is a virgin and verges on perfect, but that never bothered me. She is kind and “real.” She isn’t looking for a knight in shining armor. Thankfully a Highlander wearing a kilt decided she needed him.

Ciaran is the alpha stuck with a fulfilling a promise to his dying father. He agreed to ensure his youngest brother become a steadfast man instead of the drunkard and womanizer he has turned out to be. Until his brother is settled he feels that he cannot be happy in a marital relationship.This is a major roadblock for his deepening feelings for Rosalia because he feels that his own future must stay on the back burner until his brother mans up.

Temptation in a Kilt will make you smile as you watch Rosalia and Ciaran dance around their burgeoning romance. There is no sex and had there been–it would have been gratuitous. There is plenty of sexual attraction and it’s shown by the intimate situations and touches, as well as the heat generated by the glimpses of nudity that are shown. The danger to the couple comes from more than one source, which added drama to the love story.

My only complaint–it’s very minor–has to deal with the heroine’s family situation. Her parents seem to take a back burner and when they pop back into the picture it’s only to be told about them by secondary characters. I can live with it, but it seems anticlimactic. Also, we are told early on that there was an unknown reason why Rosalia’s father and grandmother didn’t speak which is never explored to my satisfaction.

I hope that book two in Roberts’ Bad Boys of the Highlands series will be about Rosalia’s cousin and will address the reasons why Rosalia’s father bailed on his family in favor of his English wife’s wishes. Yes, I will be reading it.

Review: A Perfect Knight for Love by Jackie Ivie

23 Aug

A Perfect Knight for Love by Jackie Ivie
Kensington (Sept. 4, 2012)
Mass market: $6.99; ebook: $5.99
ISBN: 9781420124002

Favorite Lines: “I ask her to assist me…she disobeys. I doona’ want an argue…but that’s all she does! I beg her na’ to make me chase her. What does she do? Ignores it! She does na’ obey the least thing! Blast you, wife! And your bonny frame!” (p. 195, ARC)

A Man Of Misfortune With his reckless, drunken brother bringing ruin to the clan, and the lass he’s loved all his life in the clutches of a violent husband, the last thing Thayne MacGowan needs is a spirited, sharp-tongued damsel to contend with—no matter how enticing she may be…

A Woman With A Secret

Having narrowly escaped an objectionable arranged marriage, Amalie is starting a new life—with a new identity. But her freedom is cut short when a surly but irresistibly handsome Highlander is forced to take her as his bride. If only he knew who she really was…

An Unlikely Love

Fate designs an improbable match, and a battle of wills ensues. As Amalie struggles to protect her identity, Thayne finds himself fighting for an unexpected love—and a passion neither can refuse…

Jackie Ivie is not a new name in the historical romance genre, but I can’t say I’ve really sought her out. After reading A Perfect Knight for Love I will keep my eyes open for more of her work.

Set 1689 Scotland, A Perfect Knight for Love introduces us to a woman running from a prearranged marriage. Amalie is semi-sheltered, open-minded and hard-working. She is practical, stubborn and. Sometimes her characteristics seem at odd with one another which makes her more realistic. I can’t say I loved her, but I did enjoy her for the most part. Amalie is unfortunate enough to get caught between two clashing clans.

Thayne, the hero, is a handsome man and not the head of his clan. He is, however, the man the clan looks to in all matters. See his brother, the leader of the clan, has issues. (I’m not going to tell you what exactly to avoid spoiling the story.) Thayne walks a tight wire trying to protect all around him, but when the woman he loved as a young man needed his assistance he dropped everything and rode to her aid. It wasn’t long before he was blind-sided by circumstances which led to his being with Amalie.

A Perfect Knight for Love is a book of battles. Not just the battle between clans, but that between man and woman, parent and child and individual verses self. It is somewhat predictable, but in that lay some of its charm. I knew that I’d read a story about a heroine who faces adversity only to get her Scottish laird in the end.

The beginning of the story is exciting. I couldn’t wait to see where Ivie took the couple. Unfortunately, that seemed to be the high point of the book. The story kept moving as the characters traveled and the couple got to know one another, but I never reached the level of excitement I started with. I pretty much knew what was going to happen every time a situation occurred. That took a little from my enjoyment of the story which is why I rated it 3.5 on GoodReads.

A Perfect Knight for Love is a good book. I’m not gushing over it, but I might read it again when I’m feining for a historical Scottish romance. It’s action packed, features a romance which knocked the hero off his feet and ends with a happily ever after. Most importantly, it’s a pleasant read with just the right amount darkness to prevent the book from being either a fluff or heavy read.

Review: The Warrior Laird by Margo Maguire

25 Jul

The Warrior Laird by Margo Maguire
HarperCollins/AVON (July 31, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9780062122889

Favorite Lines: “You are a beautiful lady who deserves a man of means who will take you to wife. Not a rogue who lost his head for a moment here in the moonlight. And so I do apologize, though I will ever regret the experience.” (p. 37, egalley)

Haunted by horrors of his childhood, Dugan MacMillan has sworn to protect his clan at any cost . . . even if he must search for a rumored treasure and kidnap a beautiful thief to do it.

The MacMillan laird has never crossed paths with anyone quite like Lady Maura Duncanson. After he saved her from certain death, the comely vixen had the audacity to disappear with his treasure map, his only key to restoring his clan. Dugan has no qualms about taking Maura hostage, especially when he learns she is to wed a wealthy old baron who will pay him a fortune in ransom . . . a fortune his people desperately need.

But, of course, Maura has no intention of returning to her despicable fiance. And the longer Dugan spends in the bewitching hellion’s presence, the less willing he is to surrender her to any man . . . at any price.

If you enjoy classic Scottish romance novels The Warrior Laird is the book for you. It takes a damsel determined to save herself and her little sister and pairs her with a laird who is just as determined to save his clan. The two battle their attraction for one another while on a treasure hunt which takes them across Scotland.

Maura comes from a vindictive family which wants to forget she ever existed. Her family is greedy though and offers her in marriage to a dirty old man. Dugan is the head of a clan which was demolished by Maura’s family. He just wants enough money to buy the land his clan is currently renting. His clan’s needs must come before his personal desires, just as Maura places her baby sister’s needs before her own wants.

The Warrior Laird is a slow burning romance with a dose of lust thrown in. It isn’t an instant jump into bed book, or I saw you across the room and knew I loved you story. Sure there’s instant attraction/curiosity between the hero and heroine, but there is no unbelievable interaction early on in the book to turn me off. It’s a good book for one of those days when you’re craving a historical romance set in Scotland.