Publisher: Ballantine

Throwback Thursday Review: Original Sin by Allison Brennan

Posted January 23, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Original Sin by Allison BrennanReviewer: Casee
Original Sin by Allison Brennan
Series: The Seven Deadly Sins #1
Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: January 26, 2010
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 453
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Haunted by chilling memories of demonic possession and murder, Moira O'Donnell has spent seven years hunting down her mother, Fiona, whose command of black magic has granted her unprecedented control of the underworld. Now Moira's global search has led her to a small California town that's about to become hell on earth.

Tormented by his own terrifying past and driven by powers he can't explain, ex-seminarian Rafe Cooper joins Moira's dangerous quest. But Fiona is one devilish step ahead. Hungry for greater power, eternal youth, and stunning beauty, the sorceress is unleashing upon the mortal world the living incarnations of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Together with a demonologist, a tough female sheriff, and a pair of star-crossed teenagers, Moira and Rafe are humanity's last chance to snatch salvation from the howling jaws of damnation.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on January 25, 2010.

Why fix it if it’s not broken? That’s the question I wanted to ask Allison Brennan when I read the blurb for this book. She writes great romantic suspense, so why mess with a good thing, right? Then I read her acknowledgments that mentioned Buffy, Supernatural, and Veronica Mars all in the same sentence. With that one sentence, my faith was restored and I finished this book in one day.

I didn’t read the What You Can’t See anthology with has the prequel to the series. I didn’t really feel that I missed anything. What made this book so good was the heroine. Moira O’Donnell is a witch. She hasn’t used magic since her mother possessed her and forced her to kill her lover. Since that day, Moira has made it her mission to stop her mother. Fiona is a witch of powerful dark magic. Stopping Fiona without magic will take every ounce of strength and courage that she has.

In a ritual that will give Fiona control of the seven deadly sins, she is interrupted by Raphael Cooper. This is the only time I thought reading the prequel would be helpful. There’s obviously a back story with Rafe, but I think that Brennan did a good job of filling in the gaps. Rafe stops the ritual and saves a young girl’s life. Fiona loses control of the seven deadly sins and they are now free to roam the world.

Fiona is livid, especially when she realizes that Moira is in town. They have the battle to end all battles, yet they both live to fight another day. Original Sin is the start to what promises to be an amazing paranormal series. I like how the world was created that clearly showed similarities to Supernatural, but not too many similarities.

I’m pretty sure that Moira will be on my list of top five heroines of 2010. She’s the good. She knows her weakness and doesn’t lie to herself or anyone else. She takes blame that is hers instead of making excuses. She’s strong and independent but will admit when she needs help.

The romance between Moira and Rafe just barely developed in this book. The potential is definitely there. So far, this is the best book I’ve read in 2010.

4.25 out of 5

This book is available from Ballantine. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

The Seven Deadly Sins

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks

Posted October 17, 2019 by Ames in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Never Seduce a Scot by Maya BanksReviewer: Ames
Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks
Series: The Montgomerys and Armstrongs #1
Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 373
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Eveline Armstrong is fiercely loved and protected by her powerful clan, but outsiders consider her “touched.” Beautiful, fey, with a level, intent gaze, she doesn’t speak. No one, not even her family, knows that she cannot hear. Content with her life of seclusion, Eveline has taught herself to read lips and allows the outside world to view her as daft. But when an arranged marriage into a rival clan makes Graeme Montgomery her husband, Eveline accepts her duty—unprepared for the delights to come. Graeme is a rugged warrior with a voice so deep and powerful that his new bride can hear it, and hands and kisses so tender and skilled that he stirs her deepest passions.

Graeme is intrigued by the mysterious Eveline, whose silent lips are ripe with temptation and whose bright, intelligent eyes can see into his soul. As intimacy deepens, he learns her secret. But when clan rivalries and dark deeds threaten the wife he has only begun to cherish, the Scottish warrior will move heaven and earth to save the woman who has awakened his heart to the beautiful song of a rare and magical love.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on October 19, 2012.

I enjoy Maya Banks’ historicals and Never Seduce a Scot is no exception. I was initially drawn to it because the heroine is deaf and I was utterly charmed by this whimsical story.

Eveline is the daughter of the Armstrong Laird. The king has just informed her family that she must wed their clan’s most hated enemy, Laird Montgomery, to foster peace in the highlands. The Armstrongs are furious because Eveline is daft following a riding accident three years ago and sending her off with a Montgomery is the worst thing they can imagine. Graeme, the laird of clan Montgomery, knows about his bride’s infliction and is not impressed. However, both families realize that to deny their king’s wishes makes them outlaws. Graeme must marry Eveline, even if it’s a marriage in name only.

Eveline is not daft. She’s deaf. But because of a situation out of her control, she decides to let her family believe she is daft to protect herself. She never imagined that she would marry, but she’s becoming somewhat hopeful when she figures out what’s going on, that the king has commanded she marry. Eveline may be deaf, but she is also extremely smart and she has taught herself how to read lips. And when her bridegroom shows up, Eveline is first drawn to his voice. She can’t hear it but she can feel it. The deep timbre of his voice creates very pleasant vibrations that Eveline can feel. And after a few interactions, she can tell that he is kind. Not the monster her family has made all Montgomery’s out to be. Eveline is hopeful for her future.

And things are fine between her and Graeme when they return to his keep, but it’s his clansmen and women that make things difficult. Graeme doesn’t hold who she was born to against her, knowing she had no control over being an Armstrong. And he doesn’t like how his people are taking their anger towards the Armstrongs out on his innocent wife. But Eveline wants to win his people over on her own. She knows she cannot get Graeme to command they respect her, she has to earn it.

I really enjoyed this novel. I liked that Eveline was deaf. I thought it was believable that she would feel vibrations and very loud noises. I also thought her reasons for acting daft around her family made sense. She was supposed to marry a MacHugh but when she met her intended, he was a real monster. She lost her hearing in a riding accident, trying to run away to avoid marrying him. But after marrying Graeme, she felt safe and she told him what happened. She also felt safe enough with Graeme to speak, something she hadn’t done in 3 years.

I liked how Graeme realized almost from the beginning that there was more to Eveline than what she presented. And he was very patient and kind with her. At first, thinking she was daft, he knew he would never be able to consummate his marriage. And even after ‘speaking’ with her before the wedding and realizing she was smarter than she let on, he still wasn’t planning on making his marriage real. He even put her in a separate room when they got to his keep. There’s a cute scene where Graeme’s sister helps Eveline move into Graeme’s room.

I really felt for Eveline when the women of Graeme’s clan were cruel to her. They did it in a way that was not obvious to Graeme, but I did love his reaction when he found out what was going on.

There’s a bit of a mystery when someone shoots Graeme and goes after Eveline…but I guessed almost right away who it was. Overall, I enjoyed the relationship between Graeme and Eveline and I liked how Banks handled Eveline’s deafness. Refreshing and sweet!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Montgomerys and Armstrong

four-stars


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Review: Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya Banks

Posted October 31, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya BanksReviewer: Rowena
Seduction of a Highland Lass (McCabe Trilogy, #2) by Maya Banks
Narrator: Kirsten Potter
Series: McCabe Trilogy #2
Also in this series: In Bed with a Highlander, In Bed with a Highlander, Never Love a Highlander, Seduction of a Highland Lass, In Bed with a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy, #1), Never Love a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy, #3)
Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 323
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
five-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Maya Banks, the New York Times bestselling author of romance and romantic suspense has captivated readers with her steamy Scottish historical novels, perfect for fans of Julie Garwood. In Seduction of a Highland Lass, an indomitable Highland warrior is caught between loyalty and forbidden love.

Fiercely loyal to his elder brother, Alaric McCabe leads his clan in the fight for their birthright. Now he is prepared to wed for duty, as well. But on his way to claim the hand of Rionna McDonald, daughter of a neighboring chieftain, he is ambushed and left for dead. Miraculously, his life is saved by the soft touch of a Highland angel, a courageous beauty who will put to the test his fealty to his clan, his honor, and his deepest desires.

An outcast from her own clan, Keeley McDonald was betrayed by those she loved and trusted. When the wounded warrior falls from his horse, she is drawn to his strong, lean body. The wicked glint in his green eyes ignites a passion that will follow them back to Alaric’s keep, where their forbidden love draws them deeper into the pleasures of the flesh. But as conspiracy and danger circle closer, Alaric must make an impossible choice: Will he betray his blood ties for the woman he loves?

Seduction of a Highland Lass is the second book in the McCabe Trilogy by Maya Banks and holy cow, what a freaking romance! There were times when I wanted to punch both Ewan and Caelen in the junk in the beginning of this book but by the end, I was back to loving them so all is well in the McCabe world.

In my opinion, this was a well-written romance. There was a good balance of romance, suspense and a cast of characters that I couldn’t get enough of. I spent a good chunk of this book trying to figure out how Alaric and Keeley were going to end up together. The way that Maya Banks brought them together was magic. I was wrapped up from beginning to end, ask Holly, she has the text messages to prove it.

Alaric McCabe is the middle McCabe brother and when his older brother Ewan married Mairin Stuart, the pending alliance between their clan and the McDonald clan gets thrown in the air so in an effort to keep the peace and bring the alliance together, Alaric steps up to do his duty for his clan. He is to marry Rionna McDonald and align their clans. Alaric will take over as Laird of the McDonald’s after the birth of their first child and join their armies together once they go to war against Duncan Cameron. Alaric doesn’t want to get married but he’ll do his duty for his clan. He meant to keep his word and was on his way to the McDonald clan to handle his business when he’s set upon by the enemy and he’s injured. His horse takes him away and helps him escape and he finds himself at the healing mercy of a young woman.

Keeley McDonald was cast out of her own clan by the Laird’s family and she’s been on her own for quite a long time. She’s a healer so she makes money when people come to her to cure their ails. She lives a lonely existence and is more than a little surprised when an injured warrior shows up on her doorstep being dragged along by his horse. There’s no choice to make, Keeley has to heal this stranger and heal him she does.

By the time that Alaric’s brothers find him, he’s on the mend but not out of the woods and instead of being grateful that Keeley has taken Alaric in and is healing him as best as she can, they light into her like she’s a common criminal and I get that they’re worried about their brother and don’t trust Keeley but dude, fucking relax and find out what happened before jumping down her throat at every turn. It bugged the hell out of me because not only do they treat her like shit, they kidnapped her and forced her to become their clan’s healer without so much as a, please.

The MacCabe men brought nothing but trouble to Keeley’s life but man did I love the protectiveness that the women of the clan showed her and after going for so long without a clan at her back, when Gannon says, “I’m glad you’re here too, Keeley McCabe” I was in tears.

I was kind of anxious, trying to figure out how they could possibly end up together with Alaric not wanting to go back on his word. The angst was real! I kept texting Holly trying to figure out how in the world things were going to work out, and I had hella theories going on but I should have had more faith in Maya Banks because she handled the entire thing in a way that I was completely satisfied with. I cried throughout most of the second half of the book. Seeing both Alaric and Keeley love each other and know that they can’t be together. Keeley trying to keep her distance so that she could walk away from him when the time came. Alaric’s heart breaking when Caelen brought Keeley to him one last time. I was a mess but holy cow did it all come together so nicely.

This book was everything that I wanted it to be and more than I was expecting. Emotionally, this book grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let up. I loved that Keeley found a home for herself with a clan that loved and supported the hell out of her. She got the family she craved and I was so happy for her. Gah, this book was so good and it’s not getting a 5 star rating from me because I had deduct some stars for the asshole behavior of both Ewan and Caelen in the beginning.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

McCabe Trilogy

five-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Cry No More by Linda Howard

Posted October 4, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 8 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Cry No More by Linda HowardReviewer: Casee
Cry No More by Linda Howard
Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: April 27, 2004
Format: Print
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 392
Add It: Goodreads
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five-stars

Fueled by an obsession to fill the void in other people’s lives, Milla Edge finds lost children—all the while trying to outrun the brutal emotions stemming from a tragedy in her past. Traveling to a small village in Mexico on a reliable tip, Milla begins to uncover the dire fate of countless children who have disappeared in the labyrinth of a sinister baby-smuggling ring. The key to nailing down the organization may rest with an elusive one-eyed man. As Milla’s search for him intensifies, the mission becomes more treacherous. For the ring is part of something far larger and more dangerous, reaching the highest echelons of power. Racing into peril, Milla suddenly finds herself the hunted—in the crosshairs of an invisible, lethal assassin who aims to silence her permanently.

Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy!

This review was originally posted on October 2, 2009.

When I first read this book, it was only a year or so after I first discovered Linda Howard. After the Night, Shades of Twilight, Son of the Morning; I loved them. I wanted Gray, Web, and Niall to be real b/c I wanted to marry them. Going from that to Cry No More is not an easy transition. In fact, it’s kind of like the lights going on after you spent two hours in complete darkness. Now it’s clear that Linda Howard evolved as a writer. At RWA a few years back, a friend and I were in LH’s line. My friend had brought her hardcover of Cry No More. LH laughed and said that she didn’t think anyone would be bringing that book to sign. I was silently thinking the same thing. Now I wish I had brought my copy.

This book is the journey of Milla Edge. When her infant son is ripped out of her arms in Mexico, Milla almost dies trying to get him back. Her quest for answers and her relentless search for her son destroyed her marriage. She became a different person after Justin was kidnapped. Going through something that no mother wants to imagine made Milla harder. If she never would have lost her son, the core of her personality would have been the same, but she wouldn’t have gotten the edginess she has now.

After ten years pass, Milla starts losing hope but still won’t give up. When she finally gets a lead, she ruthlessly follows it even knowing that it could lead to her death. Diaz is a name that is whispered throughout Mexico. He’s thought to be an assassin. Milla doesn’t care who he is if he can help her find Justin. And that’s exactly what he does.

This book was an emotional roller coaster. There is little to no humor. The whole thing is very raw. Linda Howard did such an amazing job of writing Milla that I felt that I was Milla. I felt her anguish. I felt her heartache and her regret. I also felt her hope and despair. The whole thing was just very powerful.

Milla’s only goal is to find Justin, however that is not all she finds. Together, she and Diaz uncover an adoption smuggling ring and an organ smuggling ring. The path they travel will lead them to Justin, but it will also lead them somewhere that they weren’t prepared to go.

There is romance between Milla and Diaz, but it took a backseat to telling Milla’s story. Even then, it was still powerful stuff. Pure LH.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

five-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya Banks

Posted June 21, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya BanksReviewer: Holly
Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya Banks
Series: McCabe Trilogy #2
Also in this series: In Bed with a Highlander, In Bed with a Highlander, Never Love a Highlander, In Bed with a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy, #1), Seduction of a Highland Lass (McCabe Trilogy, #2), Never Love a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy, #3)
Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 323
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars


Maya Banks, the New York Times bestselling author of romance and romantic suspense has captivated readers with her steamy Scottish historical novels, perfect for fans of Julie Garwood. In Seduction of a Highland Lass, an indomitable Highland warrior is caught between loyalty and forbidden love.
 Fiercely loyal to his elder brother, Alaric McCabe leads his clan in the fight for their birthright. Now he is prepared to wed for duty, as well. But on his way to claim the hand of Rionna McDonald, daughter of a neighboring chieftain, he is ambushed and left for dead. Miraculously, his life is saved by the soft touch of a Highland angel, a courageous beauty who will put to the test his fealty to his clan, his honor, and his deepest desires.

An outcast from her own clan, Keeley McDonald was betrayed by those she loved and trusted. When the wounded warrior falls from his horse, she is drawn to his strong, lean body. The wicked glint in his green eyes ignites a passion that will follow them back to Alaric’s keep, where their forbidden love draws them deeper into the pleasures of the flesh. But as conspiracy and danger circle closer, Alaric must make an impossible choice: Will he betray his blood ties for the woman he loves?

Every Thursday in 2018, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review was originally posted on November 29, 2011.

Where the first book in the series had more external conflict, this one has a lot more internal conflict.

Alaric MacCabeis on his way to a neighboring clan to formally offer marriage to the Laird’s daughter, Rionna MacDonald, to secure an alliance, when he’s attacked. All of his men are killed and he’s gravely wounded. He manages to make it to Keeley MacDonald’s cabin on the outskirts of the clan. She’s a skilled healer and is able to save his life. When his bothers, Ewan and Caelen, show up, they decide to keep Keeley since they need a healer in their clan. Not only is Keeley charged with caring for Alaric, but Ewan wants her to attend the birth of his first child.

Keeley was cast out of her clan as a young girl after the Laird made unwanted advances and his wife cried her a whore. She’s been living alone ever since. The idea of being accepted as a healer in a new clan is appealing, but she’s not happy to have been snatched from her home with no choice. The deciding factor in her not fighting her situation is Alaric. They formed a deep bond while Keeley was caring for him.

The problem is Alaric promised to marry Rionna MacDonald. The MacDonald land lies between the McCabe keep and the new land Ewan McCabe (the laird) inherited when he married his new wife. Without the alliance the clan will be divided, not to mention the other alliances they’re working on might be jeopardized. Alaric knows his duty. As much as he wants Keeley, he knows he can’t have her. Not permanently.

Although Duncan Cameron, the villain from the first book, is still a threat in this novel, but the focus is on the internal conflict of Alaric and Keeley being in love but unable to marry. The story could have become bogged down with angst, but Banks managed a good balance between sexy-times, humor and conflict.

Keeley was a practical woman. Her clan threw her out, but she isn’t so hung up on it she’s willing to cut off her nose to spite her face. When Ewan offers her a place with the McCabe clan, she takes it. Her practicality and levelheadedness worked well with the conflict, too. Yes, she wanted Alaric, but she understood what was at stake and what would happen if they risked everything. Alaric also knew his duty, but my heart broke for him. He knew right away that he wanted Keeley and no other, but he also knew he didn’t have a choice.

I think too often in historical novels the main characters throw convention and duty out the window to the detriment of the story. Yes, it happened, but it was rare. I think for a couple to focus more on duty than on love brought a touch of realism.

The story isn’t perfect. There were times when it was bogged down with useless info. The dialogue ran toward cheesy now and again. I also found myself struggling to connect to Keeley in the beginning. Thankfully that didn’t last long. 

Overall this was a satisfying read. I enjoyed the characters and the conflict. Banks has penned a strong second novel for this series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

McCabe Trilogy

four-stars


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