Publisher: Swerve

Guest Review: With This Christmas Ring by Manda Collins

Posted October 19, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: With This Christmas Ring by Manda CollinsReviewer: Tracy
With This Christmas Ring by Manda Collins
Published by Swerve
Publication Date: October 3rd 2017
Genres: Historical Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

A wallflower determined to fulfill a dying promise, the rogue she jilted years ago, and an orphaned baby are all brought together amidst the magic of Christmas in this new novella from Manda Collins.

Miss Merry Parks makes a deathbed promise to a schoolfriend that her infant daughter will be taken to her absent father. There’s only one problem—to find the baby’s father, she’ll have to consult his cousin, Viscount Wrotham, the man she jilted five years ago. The man she couldn’t forget.

Alex Ponsonby, Viscount Wrotham, is stunned to find Merry Parks—looking more lovely than ever--on his doorstep with an infant in her arms. His shock soon turns to dismay when he learns his own cousin William is the man who abandoned his wife and child. As head of the family he’s duty bound to see right is done. But he can't let this opportunity pass. He’ll take Merry and the baby to his cousin, but he’ll woo her back in the process.

Merry agrees to travel with Alex and the baby to Wrotham Castle, where the entire Ponsonby family has gathered for Christmas, but her plans to see the baby settled then leave are ruined by a snowstorm. After five years apart, Alex and Merry will spend the week getting reacquainted. Perhaps it’s the spirit of the holiday, or the magic of the season, but there could be something else in the air this Yuletide…A Christmas Reunion.

When Merry’s friend, Charlotte, gives birth she asks Merry to find the father for her right before she dies.  Charlotte had eloped but then her fiancé left her at her parents’ house and never returned.  The father is the cousin of Viscount Wrotham. Merry had been engaged to Viscount Wrotham five years ago but had ended the engagement despite her love for him.  She still loved him and it certainly made her anxious to have to go to his house to find baby Lottie’s father.

Alex Ponsonby, Viscount Wrotham, never stopped loving Merry Parks.  The note she’d left him ending their engagement was so vague he never truly figured out why she ended it.  He’s been in Paris but now that he’s back in London he’s determined to find Merry and see if he can win her back. He certainly doesn’t think she’ll knock on his door with a newborn asking for his cousin!  Alex is relieved when he finds out that the baby isn’t Merry’s, that’s for sure.  They determine that the cousin, Will, is at the family estate as it’s right before Christmas and Merry and Alex end up traveling together to deliver the baby.  Merry gets snowed in at Alex’s estate and can’t make it home for Christmas.  Alex is thrilled as this just means he gets to spend more time with Merry and he takes his chances with winning her back.

With This Christmas Ring turned out to be a lovely little Christmas surprise for me.  It was a sweet story that didn’t throw a lot drama into the story just for drama’s sake (although there was once part…).  I enjoyed Merry and her character as well as Alex’s.  The pair truly never stopped loving each other so it wasn’t all that difficult to get back together.  Family interference had sent Merry away once and it looked for a bit like it would happen again but it all turned out well in the end.

The story of Charlotte and Alex’ cousin, Will, was quite sad and made my heart break a little.  The situation was a tad distressing but had Charlotte not died then we wouldn’t have had a story so I had to keep reminding myself of that – despite the tragedy of it all.

In the end the story was a sweet, fast read and one I definitely enjoyed

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Christmas in Kilts by Terri Brisbin, Lecia Cornwall, Bronwen Evans, Lavinia Kent & May McGoldrick

Posted October 12, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Christmas in Kilts by Terri Brisbin, Lecia Cornwall, Bronwen Evans, Lavinia Kent & May McGoldrickReviewer: Tracy
Christmas in Kilts by Bronwen Evans, Terri Brisbin, Lecia Cornwall, Lavinia Kent, May McGoldrick
Published by Swerve
Publication Date: October 3rd 2017
Genres: Anthologies (multiple authors), Historical Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

A HIGHLANDER'S HOPE by Terri BrisbinA village harlot who would never dream she could have a different life meets a Highlander visitor for the holidays who brings with him an offer and hope!

LEFTOVER MISTLETOE by Lavinia KentWhat happens when a highlander finds himself stranded, maybe kidnapped, with an English lady around Christmas... maybe the mistletoe will help answer that question.

A SCOT FOR CHRISTMAS by Bronwen EvansShe's ready to embrace her life and future as a spinster, he's trying to have one last hurrah before he gives into his family's wishes and proposes marriage to his neighbor, but fate has other ideas when the lady and the Scot meet at a holiday house party in the wilds of Scotland.

SWEET HOME HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS by May McGoldrickA chance encounter between a ship's captain and a desperate aunt trying to keep custody of her young niece leads to a little magic during the holidays.

A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS WAGER by Lecia CornwallWhen a snowstorm forces a charming lass hiding a broken heart to take shelter in a castle with three fine Highland lairds just days before Christmas, there’s a game afoot—who will be the first to win a kiss and maybe her heart.

A Highlander’s Hope by Terri Brisbin

Iain McKillop is a widower who, by my calculations, is in his mid-40’s.  He’s ready to marry again and his nephew thinks he can use him for some sort of clan alliance.  Iain knows that there’s really only one woman for him, and that’s Robena of the MacKendimen clan.

Robena is the village harlot.  While she doesn’t love what she does she has protection from people in the clan and they care about her.  The only person who ostracizes her is the Laird of the Clan – who’s not a nice man anyway.  Robena is excited when she hears that Iain is coming to visit for Christmas because she loves spending time with him.  He puts a genuine smile on her face and of course she loves that he pays for her exclusive services while he’s there.

Robena can tell right away that there’s something different with Iain but is shocked when he asks for her hand in marriage.  He wants a wife and a mother to his children.  She doesn’t think she’s good enough for him and besides, she can’t have children – how can she be the person that Iain needs in his life?

I have to say that I wasn’t a huge fan of this story when it started but Iain and Robena soon won me over.  Iain was such a giving man and he truly loved Robena – despite her profession.  He dealt with her past men in his own way but certainly wasn’t willing for her to be with anyone else ever again.  It was a sweet story in the end and I liked how Brisbin worked out the details of their future life together.

 

A Highland Christmas Wager by Lecia Cornwall

Meggie MacLeod is traveling home with her grandmother.  She is excited to be going home for Christmas after being gone for three months taking care of her grandmother after she’d broken her leg.  Unfortunately the weather is against them and they can’t make their halfway point before the blizzard begins.  Their travelling group takes refuge at the closest keep and that happens to be the home of the man who’d taken Meggie’s virginity eight years earlier. She’s definitely not happy about being there.

Magnus McVane is the Laird that had seduced and left Meggie all those years ago.  She’d thought herself in love with him after only 3 days but after he finally had sex with her, he left to go get married.  She was devastated.  Magnus isn’t home alone, however.  He has his dead wife’s brother, Charlie McKay – yet another Laird – there with him.  Magnus is hoping to get Charlie to marry his sister, Catriona, who they all think is a shrew.  Also visiting is Laird Hugh MacAuley who is there under unknown circumstances.  When Magnus sees Meggie he’s positive he can seduce her again and then he could probably marry her as she’s an heiress.  Charlie’s got his eye on her as well though, and they end up making a wager, dragging Hugh into their game.  Whoever gets Meggie to willingly kiss them first – a long kiss, not just a peck – gets a few prized possessions from each man, but also the right to talk to her father about her hand in marriage.

Hugh is at the keep as he’s been instructed by the elders of his clan to ask for Catriona’s hand in marriage – something he really doesn’t want to do.  The elders don’t think the man has a brain and though he is laird he truly has no power.  When he sees Meggie he is attracted to her immediately and rethinks his possible proposal to Catriona.  He’s a shy man, however, and bumbles along with Meggie despite her attention to him.

This was a lovely, romantic story.  I loved Hugh and his quiet, calm personality.  He was a breath of fresh air compared to the obnoxious Magnus and the over-excitable Charlie.  Hugh and Meggie were perfect for each other and the ending of the story put a smile on my face.

 

A Scot for Christmas by Bronwen Evans

Dougray is thinking about getting married to beget an heir but he plans on a marriage of convenience so that he won’t get attached to a wife.  His first wife died and he doesn’t want to have to live through that once again. His plan is to marry a neighbor’s daughter, Fiona Mackenzie, so that he can help her father financially. He made a promise to his dying father that he would help the Mackenzie, but the man would not accept his funds – even as a loan.  Marrying Fiona is the only way he can get the funds to him.

Dougray and his cousin, Angus, are having a hunting party around Christmas time.  A party that includes his friends and their paramours, with a couple other women of questionable virtue coming along as well.  When Dougray’s best friend’s younger sister arrives he’s horrified and tries to get her to leave at once.  She refuses, of course, and instead asks him something.  She is in her late 20’s and has come to terms with her spinsterhood.  She asks Dougray to sleep with her.  She’s been in love with him for years and plans on having the memory of their lovemaking to last the rest of her life.  Dougray refuses at first but then finally agrees as he can’t resister her. He doesn’t realize until later that Emma is in love with him.  Despite his growing feelings for Emma he’s determined to marry Fiona Mackenzie. He refuses to have a wife he cares about.

This was a good story, not one of my least favorites.  I guess it was just too predictable in my opinion. I knew that Dougray would sleep with Emma, of course, and he would fall in love with her and live happily ever after.  It was written in an entertaining way, and I liked the characters, but I just wasn’t a huge fan of A Scot for Christmas.

 

Leftover Mistletoe by Lavinia Kent

Emma Spencer is having a bad day – really, a bad life.  Her dear father had passed on and her cousin had taken the Earl’s title.  Unfortunately her cousin wasn’t a kind man and she was being sent to Scotland to live with her uncle who she didn’t even know.  Emma had marriage prospects as she was quite pretty. She believes her cousin is sending her away so she won’t ever marry.  Her financial portion would then stay in his hands forever.

She was travelling when her maid disappeared with her bag.  Her trunks were coming later and with the maid gone she was left with the clothes on her back, her reticule, and very little money.  She buys passage on a coach and the only other passenger is a snoring man who takes up way too much room.  At one point during their travels they stop.  Emma doesn’t know why and soon all is quiet.  When the man finally wakes up and goes to investigate he finds that there’s no coachman and the team of horses have been driven off as well.  He’s familiar with the land so he takes Emma to a cabin where they try to brave the storm that has begun.

Emma finds out he’s James Barran and he’s on his way to Edinburgh so that he can stop his sister from marrying his best friend.  He loves his best friend, but doesn’t want his sister marrying him.  He’s bound and determined to stop the wedding but his friend Robbie kept throwing up roadblocks to stop him.  One being the fact that Robbie paid the coachman to take the horses and now he and Emma are stranded.  They head to the cabin and while they’re there their attraction to each other grows and they start to fall in love.

Kent always writes such charming romances.  This was no different.  Yes, the couple fell in love quickly but it fit with their lives and circumstances of their confinement.  I thought James and Emma were perfect for each other and complimented each other well.   The humor in the story is another thing I liked about this story.  The banter between Emma and James was engaging and I found myself smiling a lot while reading.

 

Sweet Home Highlands by May McGoldrick

Captain Gregory Pennington is on his way home to his family for Christmas but is tasked by his brother with escorting four adults and a child to a neighboring estate near his home.  He’s in a pub and is anxious to be on his way when a small child starts up a conversation. She’s a funny little imp and mature beyond her 5 or 6 years.  It turns out that this is the child that he is to escort along with her aunt, Freya, and couple of servants.  The fourth person was to be Freya’s almost-fiancé but he doesn’t ever show up.

Freya is a young woman who has raised her niece almost from birth.  She was only 17 when her sister died a week after giving birth and she loves little Ella like her own.  Ella’s father was killed in the war and his family never wanted anything to do with Ella until recently.  Now Ella’s grandmother is demanding their appearance at her home so that she can make sure that Ella is financially well taken care of.  She also intimated that Freya wasn’t a proper guardian because she wasn’t married.  Because of this Freya had an understanding with the cousin that would inherit Freya’s father’s title and lands when he eventually passed.  Freya wasn’t looking forward to the marriage but was resigned to her fate in order to keep Ella with her.

Gregory is smitten with Freya the minute he sees her.  The minutes they spend together on the journey just make him like her more and more.  Freya starts to fall for Gregory as well but she knows that she must marry her cousin in order to appease Ella’s grandmother.

As I read more of McGoldrick’s books the more I become a fan.  This story was simply romantic on all levels.  It was the kind of story that will make you sigh with wonder at how sweet it is – but not sugary at all.  Just downright a lovely story.  This is kind of a prequel to a new series that McGoldrick is putting out and I personally can’t wait for it to release.

Gregory and Freya were wonderful in the story and little Ella – that child with a personality beyond her years – was enchanting.  I liked everything about this story and highly recommend it.

 

In the end I thought this was a very good historical anthology.  A lovely compliment of authors that brought a little Christmas cheer and romance to my life.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Werebiker by Paige Cuccaro

Posted September 13, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Werebiker by Paige CuccaroReviewer: Tracy
Werebiker by Paige Cuccaro
Published by Swerve
Publication Date: September 12th 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Years after she thought she left town for good, Jillian is back and has enlisted the help of her older brother’s ex-best friend (and the man who broke her heart), Jack, to track down her sister-in-law, who’s fallen in with a rival biker gang—but Jack knows they’re werewolves, and that he has to protect Jillian at any cost, even if she hates him.

Jill is shopping for a motorcycle when she runs into Jack, her brothers ex-best friend.  He refuses to sell her a bike when she tells him what she wants it for.  Her brother is coming home from his military service and his wife is MIA.  Jill has found out that she’s been hanging around an MC called the Hellhounds.  When Jack finds out he’s determined to keep her away from the Hellhounds but Jill is too determined to let it go.

Jack knows that the Hellhounds are bad because he once was one.  The night before he was set to take off to basic training with his best friend, Jill’s brother, he was attacked and turned into a werewolf.  The guys in the Hellhounds have a way of mesmerizing women so that they never want to leave their side.  This is what has happened to Jill’s sister-in-law, Carrie.  Despite Jack’s warnings Jill makes bad decision after bad decision going after Carrie but there’s only one way to get her back to her brother’s side and that’s to find the cure for the “virus” that has infected the Hellhounds.

This story had an interesting blurb and premise so I thought I’d give it a try.  Unfortunately there was a lot about it that just didn’t work for me.  First, Jack and Jill’s antagonism toward each other – it just didn’t feel authentic.  Yes, they had every reason to be mad at each other but it felt forced.  Jack also did everything in his power to keep Jill away from the Hellhounds and she was so freaking stubborn she put herself into trouble more than once and had to be saved.  It annoyed me that she was being so stupid!

When it came to the romance – it fell flat for me.  Jack and Jill (don’t even get me started on the names!) had kissed at one point but Jack had walked away.  Jill’s feelings were hurt but she’d never given up hope that they could one day be together.  Jack wants to stay away from her because of what he is but can’t seem to do it.  The romance ended up feeling rushed, especially at the end, and I just wasn’t feeling it.

Overall the story is mildly entertaining, but I can’t say that I recommend this book.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Guest Review: One True Pairing by Cathy Yardley

Posted August 24, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: One True Pairing by Cathy YardleyReviewer: Jen
One True Pairing by Cathy Yardley
Series: Fandom Hearts #2
Also in this series: Level Up
Published by Swerve
Publication Date: July 25th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 200
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

They couldn't be more opposite, the Hollywood actor and the hometown girl, but all they need is a little convention magic to become the perfect ship in Cathy Yardley's One True Pairing.

Jake Reese needs a decoy girlfriend. Fast. The lead actor of the popular TV show, Mystics, is tired of losing his shirt to overeager fans. Literally. Which is why a chance meeting with gothabilly bookworm-slash-barista Hailey Frost seems almost too perfect to be true. Hailey is not impressed with his TV fame and is desperate to save her family's bookstore. It's a match made in Hollywood, but as the two pretend to date, fan fiction becomes reality. Can this OTP become canon?

I was absolutely charmed by Cathy Yardley’s Level Up when I read it last year, so I was beyond excited that her series was picked up by a major publisher and that there was a new book coming out. I didn’t love One True Pairing as much as Level Up, but I had a great time reading it.

In Level Up, we met the sisters running the failing bookstore, and this book focuses on one of those sisters, Hailey Frost. The sisters are barely keeping their head above water, and Hailey is hustling in every way she can to keep the bookstore open, mostly so that her agoraphobic sister Cressida won’t be forced to move. If you read Level Up, you’ll remember that the women all love a show called Mystics, which is frequently compared to the real-life show Supernatural. Jake Reese is an actor on the show, and when Hailey meets him by chance, she concocts a plan to get his help to give the store publicity. Jake needs Hailey’s help, too. He is worried his contract for Mystics won’t be renewed, and his agent suggests that getting himself out there more would help. Hailey offers to help him increase his popularity if he helps her save the bookstore. Of course, things don’t go as smoothly as either one expects, and both of them have to figure out how to overcome their fears to move forward.

Hailey is a great character. She’s tough and totally devoted to her sisters, but she’s put her own needs aside for years in an effort to take care of them. Unlike so many romance characters, Hailey lives paycheck to paycheck. She worries about money, about healthcare, about what to do when she loses a job. It’s kind of refreshing to read! She is absolutely, totally terrified of relationships, however, and when she starts having feelings for Jake it freaks her out. Jake, though, is my favorite. He is an absolute sweetheart, and I loved that he was so ready to be the kind of partner Hailey needed. I really enjoyed reading about the conflict with his dad as well. His dad was a major Hollywood star, and he had a lot of expectations for how his son’s career should go. You can tell Jake has tried so hard to do what his dad wanted because he just wanted his dad’s love. In reality, though, Jake was just a nice, geeky guy who enjoyed being on Mystics because it was fun and fulfilling, and he needed to give up trying to meet his dad’s expectations of fame and stardom. I wanted to give him a giant hug.

For the most part, the conflicts in the book are realistic. Jake is wary at first about Hailey’s motives, as he should be. In fact, she really IS using him, and I didn’t love that. She wants him to promote her bookstore, and I couldn’t help feeling a little bad that while Jake genuinely wants to get to know her, she wants something else from him. Of course, she is helping him with his PR problems too so it’s not all one-sided, but Jake was such a sweetie that I felt a little protective of him! Because Jake is a genuinely nice guy, the time where he punches someone felt extremely out of character for him, and I thought it was an unnecessary inclusion. Jake could have handled the situation in a million other ways. Still, it was a small blip in an otherwise consistent story.

While I think everyone should read Level Up because it’s so great, you don’t have to read it to enjoy One True Pairing. It’s a smart, modern story and I loved it.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Buck Naked by Evangeline Anderson

Posted April 6, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Buck Naked by Evangeline AndersonReviewer: Tracy
Buck Naked by Evangeline Anderson
Series: Cougarville Series #1
Published by St. Martin's Press, Swerve
Publication Date: April 4th, 2017
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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three-half-stars

Sadie Becker is not herself. A 40-year-old, divorced mother of two, Sadie wakes up one morning and realizes that she looks and feels like she did in her twenties. Suddenly she’s unable to walk around in her new town of Cougarville without men falling at her feet. Confused and alone, Sadie isn’t sure who to turn to…except answers to her problems might reside with her broodingly handsome reclusive neighbor, Mathis.

An alpha shifter, Mathis lost the love of his life, and he knows he’ll never find another mate. But his innocent new neighbor clearly doesn’t know the danger she’s in, and he's the only one who can save her.

But when the attraction pulls too strong, will Mathis’ animal nature be unleashed and claim Sadie for his own?

Sadie wakes up on her 40th birthday, looks in the mirror, and can’t believe how she looks.  She looks about 20 years younger and she’s a bit freaked out by it.  She starting a new job so she has to get to town.  She’s just got divorced from her cheating husband and moved to a cabin in a town fondly called Cougarville by its residents.  Her mother left the cabin to her after she died but neither Sadie nor her twin, Samantha, knew anything about it.

Her first day in town doesn’t go exactly as she thought it would.  No one will serve her, they keep calling her “Juvie,” they act like she’s got leprosy and they keep kicking her out of her businesses.  Someone even slashes her tires!  When she ends up crying on her hot neighbor’s porch he eventually explains that everyone is calling her “Juvie” because she’s got a shifter gene in her that makes her someone who rejuvenates when they hit anywhere from 40-50 years old.  They are the only ones that can breed new shifters and they’re very rare.  Apparently her mother was one as well and now all the men want her and all the women hate her because they’re not a juvie as well.  Sadie is stunned by this news but soon handles it with aplomb – probably because she gets to get naked with her hot neighbor, Mathis.  Unfortunately the mayor of Cougarville, Liam Keller, wants Sadie for himself and he’s not afraid to play dirty to get her.

Buck Naked was a cute erotic PNR.  Anderson put a nice twist on the whole shifter/mating thing which made things a little more interesting.  What also made things different in this story was the fact that all of the shifters in Cougarville shifted into animals from the Paleolithic era (yes, the Stone Age).  We only got to read about Mathis’s Irish Elk and Keller’s cougar which was more like a saber-tooth tiger.  I’m sure there were other animals in town but I have no idea what they were.

Sadie was a sweet woman but was more than clueless when it came to the town.  I wouldn’t have put up with the town’s shit they were shoveling out but she just kind of ran instead of getting answers.  Mathis was great to her and I loved how he cared for her when she needed him.

Mathis was a good man.  He had been married before and loved his wife.  He has sworn to after she died that he would never take another mate and hadn’t been with a woman in 20 years.  He tried his best to stay away from Sadie but found himself falling in love with her.  It happened quickly but it was still cute.

Overall a good start to a paranormal series. Of course there is A LOT of sex in the story because it was an erotic romance.  Anderson always writes good sex scenes, that’s for sure.  If you want a quick, sexy read then grab this one.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Totally apart from the story…what is up with the guy on the cover of this book? I can’t stop laughing! Is that supposed to be a sexy smirk? Fail. He looks like he’s trying to get something out of his teeth. And his eyes…he’s not cross-eyed but the way he’s looking to the side certainly makes it look that way. Weird.

three-half-stars


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