Publisher: Zebra

Guest Review: Highland Devil by Hannah Howell

Posted July 23, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Highland Devil by Hannah HowellReviewer: Tracy
Highland Devil (Murray Family #22) by Hannah Howell
Series: Murray Family #22
Also in this series: Highland Groom
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: July 31, 2018
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
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Goodreads
three-half-stars

When a red-haired woman tries to steal Sir Gybbon Murray's horse on his journey back to the Murray stronghold, he thanks his lucky stars that his horse is a rude lout—and that the pretty thief is not so injured that she can't tell her tale. He's no nursemaid to delicate lasses, but Mora Ogilvy is fleeing her ruthless cousins, fearing for her life. And when she tells him of the home they've taken from her and the man they say she murdered, Gybbon cannot let such injustice stand.

Mora's pride demands she take back her lands, but not by risking the lives of this handsome, wicked knight and his family. Still, she needs to recover from her wounds, and staying close to Gybbon in his brother's keep is a seductive solution. A few weeks at his side will be a sweet memory for her when she returns to fight her own battles. Except the depth of her cousins' treachery—and the fierceness of Gybbon's love—may turn her own heart against her plans.

Mora is on the run from her evil cousin.  He admitted to her that he killed her parents and she just manages to get her seven-year-old brother, Daniel, on the run before he tries to stab her.  She gets away from him and heads off to her mother’s family, the Camerons.  While on the run she comes across a man with a horse and decides to steal the horse.  Unfortunately the horse doesn’t take well to strangers and bucks her off.

The own of the horse is Gybbon Murray.  He takes pity on Mora and offers to take her to Sigimore Cameron as he knows him well.  Sigimor agrees to help Mora as the Camerons hate the fact that her cousin, the Laird’s son, is trying to take the property from her.  With the help of the Camerons, McFingals and Murrays they help Mora figure out a way to save what’s left of her family and her property.

I had mixed emotions about this book.  You’ll see that I gave it 3.5 stars but I have to admit that is for the whole my-cousin-is-trying-to-kill-my-family part of the story – which is most of it.  I liked how the three clans get together to deal with the Ogilvy Laird and his psycho son.  The humor is high in the book and that definitely kept me reading.

What I didn’t care for in this book was the romance.  It was low on romance.  Ok, it was almost non-existent, actually.  I hate to say that but it’s true!  Mora and Gybbon meet and then they start dealing with her family issues immediately afterward.  He randomly kisses her a time or two as he’s feeling possessive but really it’s just about spending time together as they deal with her cousin.  The fact that the author had them falling in love so quickly was a bit of a shock.  I know this is how things happened back then, but I need my romance! Lol

In the end the 3.5 stars are for the family part of the book.  If I had to rate this on romance alone, I’m sorry to say it would have been a 1.5.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Murray Family

three-half-stars


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Review: Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken

Posted April 9, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: Dragon Actually by G.A. AikenReviewer: Holly
Dragon Actually (Dragon Kin, #1) by G.A. Aiken
Series: Dragon Kin #1
Also in this series: Light My Fire, Dragon on Top, Bring the Heat, Bring the Heat
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: September 1st 2008
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 336
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four-stars

It's not always easy being a female warrior with a nickname like Annwyl the Bloody. Men tend to either cower in fear - a lot - or else salute. It's true that Annwyl has a knack for decapitating legions of her ruthless brother's soldiers without pausing for breath. But just once it would be nice to be able to really talk to a man, the way, she can talk to Fearghus the Destroyer.

Too bad that Fearghus is a dragon, of the large, scaly and deadly type. With him, Annwyl feels safe - a far cry from the feelings aroused by the hard-bodied, arrogant knight Fearghus has arranged to help train her for battle. With her days spent fighting a man who fill her with fierce, heady desire, and her nights spent in the company of a magical creature who could smite a village just by exhaling, Annwyl is sure life couldn't get any stranger. She's wrong...

Annwyl the Bloody is sister to the evil king of the realm. She’s been fighting his troops for years, slowly gathering support to form a rebellion meant to overthrow him. When she ends up on deaths doorstep outside a dragon’s den, she doesn’t expect to live. Either her brother’s soldiers will kill her, or the dragon will. But she isn’t going to go down cowering. She’ll go out as she lived, fighting for all she’s worth.

Fearghus the Destroyer is an antisocial dragon. He prefers being alone in his den to dealing with humans or other dragons. But Annwyl the Bloody intrigues him. Not only does her reputation proceed her, but she’s the only human he’s ever met who doesn’t cower from Dragons. She’s fierce and bold, and he can’t stop himself from wanting to heal, take care of and spend time with her. He knows if she wants to defeat her brother he needs better training. She has to learn to control her rage.

When Fearghus tells Annwyl he has a Knight who can help her hone her skill with a sword, she’s skeptical. But she can’t deny the man has skill. Still, for all of her attraction to the Knight, she prefers the company of the dragon.

This was such a good book. I loved how bloodthirsty and kickass the heroine was. She wasn’t a shrinking violet who needed to be saved. I loved Fearghus the dragon. He was so cute. Every time he and Annwyl snuggled I got all melty. I struggled more with her relationship with the Knight. They had a contentious relationship that didn’t really lend itself to softer feelings.

View Spoiler »

Still, I really enjoyed the story, the heroine and the dragon. This was a great start to what I hope will be a great series.

4 out of 5

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Hunting Julian by Jacquelyn Frank

Posted March 1, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Hunting Julian by Jacquelyn FrankReviewer: Holly
Hunting Julian (Gatherers, #1) by Jacquelyn Frank
Series: Gatherers #1
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: January 1st 2010
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 332
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three-stars

As an Advocate for his colony, Julian Sawyer travels to Earth to bring back the Chosen--women who possess energy potent enough to help revitalize his people. The stunning, silver-clad beauty who strides into his club one night radiates a sensual magnetism unlike any he's encountered, and Julian realizes that Asia Callahan is not just Chosen, she is his kindra: his one true mate.

For months, Asia has tracked the beautiful and mysterious Julian across the country, convinced that he's behind the disappearance of her sister and a dozen other women. She's prepared to believe he's a ruthless killer, but when she presents herself as bait, she discovers that the truth is far more shocking. Taken to a strange, hazardous realm she never knew existed, Asia will face the ultimate choice--between abandoning the life she's always known, and forsaking a passion as dangerous as it is powerful.

***Every Thursday in 2018 we will be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This book was originally posted on February 16, 2011.

I picked this up on a whim out of my TBR pile. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t a sci-fi novel featuring aliens from a different plane of existence. Despite my lukewarm feelings about the premise in the beginning, I admit the story sucked me in the more I read. I enjoyed the world. Frank’s description of Beneath and the creatures that inhabit it were well done. I also enjoyed Julian. Though it was hard to take his actions in the beginning, I think Frank did a fairly credible job of redeeming him.

Asia was harder to take. Although I understood her actions in the beginning (if I’d been kidnapped I image I’d have tried to escape/flout authority, too) they became increasingly hard to excuse away as the novel progressed. Although that isn’t my main issue. My main issue was her insistence that she “wasn’t made for forevers and happily ever afters”. That’s it. That was all the resistance between her and Julian. It wasn’t the fact that she was from Earth and he wasn’t, or that he brought her to his world without her permission, or that his people needed her to feed them energy, all of which I could have understood. Instead it was just “eh, I’m not a HEA type of girl”. She based this on nothing more than the fact that she was jaded and hadn’t ever had a lasting relationship. Considering the amount of resistance she put up, that was a very flimsy excuse.

Beyond that, there were several holes in the plot. The idea that Julian and Asia had to have sex in order to feed his people energy was somewhat outlandish, but so was the rest of the plot, so I could set that aside. It was harder to set aside disbelief over other things, such as the way Julian and Asia constantly fought with each other. That hampered the progress of the romance, so I didn’t find their feelings for each other believable.

I did like that Frank added more depth to the “destined” angle of the plot. Though Julian and Asia were “kindra”, meaning soul-mates, they didn’t immediately fall in love or accept they were meant to be together forever. Well, Julian did, but that’s to be expected since he’d grown up with the knowledge that it might happen. The fact that Asia resisted simply because it was “meant to be” was refreshing when compared to many other novels featuring the same trope.

Having said that, I’m willing to cut the novel a little slack because it’s the first of a new series. I did enjoy the world enough that I plan to read the next entry, Stealing Kathryn.

3.25 out of 5

three-stars


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Guest Review: The Scotsman Who Saved Me by Hannah Howell

Posted September 27, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: The Scotsman Who Saved Me by Hannah HowellReviewer: Tracy
The Scotsman Who Saved Me by Hannah Howell
Series: Seven Brides for Seven Scotsmen #1
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: September 26th 2017
Genres: Historical Romance, Westerns
Pages: 352
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Goodreads
three-stars

A brutal attack on Emily Stanton’s family has left her for dead . . . until she is found in the woods by a handsome stranger with a thick brogue who vows to protect her. There’s only one problem: As a woman with a noble English background, she has no business keeping company with such a man.

For Scotsman Iain MacEnroy, Emily’s high-tone accent is a bitter reminder of the oppressive regime he left behind. The last thing he needs is to be burdened by the needs of a beautiful, blue-eyed Englishwoman. But taking care of elegant, educated Emily begins to transform Iain in ways he never imagined. Could it be that the deep divisions from the old world no longer apply in the new—and that Iain and Emily can share a passion as lush and wild as the Scottish highlands themselves?

Iain and his brothers find Emily Stanton hiding with her nephew after they first find her sister and husband slaughtered and their house on fire.  Emily had been shot so the MacEnroy brothers take them back to their homestead and heal her.

Emily knows that once she’s healed that she should leave as she’s putting the MacEnroy’s in danger but she feels so safe with them – especially with Iain – that she just can’t make herself go.  Iain thinks that Emily is the most beautiful woman he’s ever met but when he finds out that she’s English gentry he grows cold.  The English gentry are the ones who forced the MacEnroy’s from their home in Scotland and burned it down.  He has no love for them and because of this has a hard time trusting Emily.  Of course as Iain gets to know Emily he finds that she’s nothing like the woman who forced them to flee their Homeland.  As Emily and Iain gets closer as time goes by they find themselves not only fighting for their lives but fighting their attraction to each other as well.

I’m not normally an American Frontier Historical romance lover but this was Hannah Howell so I needed to give it a shot.  It was definitely an decent read but not one I absolutely loved.

The story is that Emily and her sister and brother-in-law fled England because their cousin was after them.  He wanted the title that would go to Emily and her sister’s sons if they had any.  He wanted to make sure that they never had any so that he would eventually inherit the Dukedom– yeah, the guy was nuts.  I know you’re wondering about the line of succession in this book.  Apparently this wasn’t a Royal Dukedom but one that was bestowed on Emily’s ancestor for some reason.  That ancestor had the balls to negotiate about the line of succession and supposedly won so that it didn’t have to be a direct male line.  Emily’s nephew or her own son (if there ever was one) could inherit before their cousin would.

Anyway, with Emily, and soon all of the MacEnroy’s fighting to keep Emily and little Neddy alive, tensions were running high.  Because of this Iain was forced to look at Emily in a new light and realized she was nothing like the woman who had done his family wrong back in Scotland.  When he finally let himself trust and love her he was a changed man.  They made a cute couple.

The story itself was interesting but the book dragged in places. While I used to absolutely love Howell’s writing I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t a huge fan of it in this book.  In fact, it was quite stilted in the beginning and it was a bit disconcerting.  It just didn’t leave me in a good mindset for the rest of the book.  Despite not loving the book I’ll probably pick up the next book in the series to see what happens with the next MacEnroy brother.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Guest Review: Bring the Heat by G.A. Aiken

Posted September 15, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Bring the Heat by G.A. AikenReviewer: Jen
Bring the Heat by G.A. Aiken
Series: Dragon Kin #9
Also in this series: Light My Fire, Dragon on Top, Bring the Heat, Dragon Actually (Dragon Kin, #1)
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: August 29th 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 416
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Goodreads
four-stars

HE SAYS . . .I, Aidan the Divine, am . . . well, divine. My name was given to me by the Dragon Queen herself! I’m a delight! Cheerful. Charming. And a mighty warrior who is extremely handsome, with a very large and well-hidden hoard of gold. I am also royal-born, despite the fact that most in my family are horrendous beings who don’t deserve to live. And yet, Branwen the Awful—a low-born, no less—either tells me to shut up or, worse, ignores me completely.

SHE SAYS . . .I’ll admit, I ignore Aidan the Divine because it annoys him. A lot. But we have so much to do right now, I can’t worry about why he keeps staring at me, or why he always sits so close, or why he keeps looking at me like he’s thinking about kissing me. We have our nations to save and no time for such bloody foolishness . . . no matter how good Aidan looks or how long his spiked tail is. Because if we’re going to win this war before it destroys everything we love, we’ll have to face our enemies together, side by side and without distractions. But if we make it out alive, who knows what the future will hold . . .

My minute or so of lazy Googling didn’t give me a definitive answer, but this book feels like a partial conclusion (or at least a pivot point) in G.A. Aiken’s long running Dragon Kin series, since it resolves a couple conflicts in the series and checks in with tons of past characters. If you haven’t read the whole series, I’d argue you can still pick up the book and enjoy yourself, but I do think you’ll get more out of it if you’ve read at least a couple other books from the series. (You especially should read book 1 because that’s Annwyl’s book, and I love me some Annwyl!)

This time, the hero is Aidan the Divine, and the heroine is Branwen the Awful. If you’ve ever read a Dragon Kin book you know the names are totally ridiculous (and OMFG so hard to keep track of), but I do love the way the women are usually given brutal and powerful titles while the men often get the pretty and silly ones. In the grand tradition of the series, Branwen does indeed live up to her brutal name. She’s a tough, deadly military leader, but I really loved that she also has a lightness that some of the other heroines of the series don’t have. And Aidan is a cute match for her. He’s gorgeous and kind, and he is clearly smitten with Branwen even at the start of the book. He knows he has to wait patiently for Branwen to come around, though, and it showed how perfect a match he was for her.

But, this series isn’t really about relationship development. There’s no deep dive into characterization, no slow build up of tender feelings. All the books follow a similar formula, with lots of sex and lots of the woman being too busy kicking butt to realize that maybe she actually likes the guy attached to the penis she’s been enjoying, until she finally gets a clue and it’s the end. The appeal of this series for me is the way it’s so female-centric. The tone was set in book 1 with Annwyl, who is the baddest of all the badass warriors. (Seriously, she makes a major appearance in this book and she literally single handedly conquers hell. This lady ain’t messing around.) There’s been a lot of talk about female rage in fiction recently, and this series has that in spades. The women don’t get victimized, don’t get pushed around, don’t get dominated. They are the meanest, the strongest, and the smartest, and they rule the world. It is an incredibly satisfying fantasy, and I love to pick up a Dragon Kin book after I’ve read a few too many books about women getting held back, abused, slut shamed, and murdered. 

I think this book is one of my favorite installments in this series because I liked seeing the past characters and I enjoyed Branwen and Aidan. If you’ve read any of the others I think you might like it too. If you have read some and didn’t enjoy them, or if you don’t like raucous, funny, violent fairytales, you should probably move along.

Grade: 4 out of 5

 

four-stars


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