Source: Purchased

Review: Shadow Music by Julie Garwood

Posted November 19, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Shadow Music by Julie GarwoodReviewer: Rowena
Shadow Music by Julie Garwood
Series: Highlands Lairds #3
Also in this series: Shadow Music , Ransom, The Secret (Highlands' Lairds #1), Ransom (Highlands' Lairds, #2), Shadow Music
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: December 26, 2007
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 339
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 A-Z Reading Challenge, Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

For Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel, Scotland is a land of stunning vistas, wild chieftains, treacherous glens, and steep shadows--skullduggery, betrayal, and now murder. Prized for her exquisite beauty, the daughter of one of England's most influential barons, Gabrielle is also a perfect bargaining chip for a king who needs peace in the Highlands: King John has arranged Gabrielle's marriage to a good and gentle laird. But this marriage will never take place.

For Gabrielle, everything changes in one last burst of freedom--when she and her guards come upon a scene of unimaginable cruelty. With one shot from her bow and arrow, Gabrielle takes a life, saves a life, and begins a war.

Within days, the Highlands are aflame with passions as a battle royal flares between enemies old and new. Having come to Scotland to be married, Gabrielle is instead entangled in Highland intrigue. For two sadistic noblemen, underestimating Gabrielle's bravery and prowess may prove fatal. But thanks to a secret Gabrielle possesses, Colm MacHugh, the most feared man in Scotland, finds a new cause for courage. Under his penetrating gaze, neither Gabrielle's body nor heart is safe.

I read this a couple of months ago and have been really busy so I’m catching up on writing my reviews right now. Shadow Music is the third book in Julie Garwood’s Highlands Lairds series and it follows Ransom, which came out ages and ages ago. While this book is part of the Highlands Lairds series, it can totally be read as a standalone. Reading this book brought back many memories of the other books that I have loved from Julie Garwood and it started an epic Julie Garwood binge readathon. I went back and re-read The Secret and Ransom and just kept right on re-reading all of my Garwood favorites. I enjoyed this book and even though it wasn’t a favorite read of mine, it was still a solid read that even my picky book club friends enjoyed.

Gabrielle’s father is a Baron from England and her mother is a Princess in St. Biel. St. Biel is a small country that has an interesting history that not very many people on St. Biel believe to be true. They believe the story of their homeland is more myth than truth but it’s part of their history and everyone knows it. When the story of St. Biel’s history becomes a real life threat to Gabrielle’s life, this story really heats up. Between being a pawn in King John’s efforts in trying to keep the peace with the Highland Lairds, her betrothed being killed and then coming upon an attack that starts a Highland war, there is much to dig into with this story.

Laird Colm MacHugh is trying to find out what happened to his brother. He is healing from injuries suffered from an attack at a nearby abbey and Colm means to find out what happened and who did this to his brother. He was not expecting to find himself engaged to an English lass who was just outed as a whore. As a favor to his friend, Brodick Buchanan, Colm steps up to protect the young lass and claim her as his. When she accepts his suit and then promptly disappears, Colm knows that he’s going to have his hands full with this new fiancee.

There is a lot going on in this book but I thought that Garwood handled the storytelling really well. I was invested in what was going on with Gabrielle and Colm. I loved seeing them come together in love. I adored seeing Brodick again, hearing about the Maitlands and the Ramsays and even though Brodick brings up what went down in Ransom and got the details wrong (he said that Ramsay’s brother Michael was taken when it was actually Iain’s son Alec that was taken), I still really enjoyed this one. Gabrielle was a great heroine and I really loved her guards. I loved how loyal they were to each other. They didn’t question anything or back down from anyone but Gabrielle and I really loved that. I also really loved seeing Gabrielle run circles around Colm until he couldn’t help but love the heck out of her. There were parts of the book that I didn’t care for, like the constant crap with the two English barons fighting over Gabrielle but I enjoyed the other bits enough that I could overlook them and their shenanigans.

This was a solid romance that I enjoyed from beginning to end and even though it’s not my favorite book by Garwood, I’d still recommend it to fans of her other historicals. I really wish she’d write more historicals.

Final Grade

4 out of 5

Highlands Lairds

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

Posted November 17, 2019 by Rowena in Features | 2 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

This week’s spotlight is an oldie but a goodie. Dreaming of You is a book that I read in the early days of my discovering romance novels and man did I cry buckets while reading it. I adored everything about it and I completely loved both Derek and Sara. Their romance wasn’t an easy one to read but it was one of the most memorable ones that I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read their story yet, you’ll want to fix that because Lisa Kleypas has some gems in her backlist. She is still writing her ass off and making me cry but like with my other favorite authors, I love to re-read older Lisa Kleypas releases like this one. This one is such a good read. Check it out!

Sunday Spotlight: Dreaming of You by Lisa KleypasDreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Gamblers of Cravens #2
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: June 30, 2015
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 373
Add It: Goodreads
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five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

She stood at danger's threshold—then love beckoned her in.

In the shelter of her country cottage, Sara Fielding puts pen to paper to create dreams. But curiosity has enticed the prim, well-bred gentlewoman out of her safe haven—and into Derek Craven's dangerous world.

A handsome, tough and tenacious Cockney, he rose from poverty to become lord of London's most exclusive gambling house—a struggle that has left Derek Craven fabulously wealthy, but hardened and suspicious. And now duty demands he allow Sara Fielding into his world—with her impeccable manners and her infuriating innocence. But here, in a perilous shadow-realm of ever-shifting fortunes, even a proper "mouse" can be transformed into a breathtaking enchantress—and a world-weary gambler can be shaken to his cynical core by the power of passion...and the promise of love.

Excerpt

“Derek’s breath touched Sara’s throat in unsteady urges. “Sometimes,” he whispered, “I’m so close to you … and I’m still not close enough. I want to share your breath … every beat of your heart.”

He cradled her head in both his hands, his mouth hot on her neck. “Sometimes,” he murmured, “I want to punish you a little.”

“Why?”

“For making me want you until I ache with it. For the way I wake at night just to watch you sleeping.” His face was intense and passionate above her, his green eyes sharp in their brightness. “I want you more each time I’m with you. It’s a fever that never leaves me. I can’t be alone without wondering where you are, when I can have you again.” His lips possessed hers in a kiss that was both savage and tender, and she opened to him eagerly.”

Gamblers of Cravens

Giveaway Alert

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Sunday Spotlight: November 2019

Do you love this book as much as I do? Let us know in the comments and tell us what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Lisa Kleypas

LISA KLEYPAS is the RITA award-winning author of 21 novels. Her books are published in fourteen languages and are bestsellers all over the world. She lives in Washington State with her husband and two children.

five-stars


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Review: Warrior Fae Trapped by K.F. Breene

Posted November 15, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Warrior Fae Trapped by K.F. BreeneReviewer: Holly
Warrior Fae Trapped by K.F. Breene
Narrator: Nicole Poole
Series: Warrior Fae #1, DDVN #7
Also in this series: Born in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy, #1), Raised in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy, #2), Fused in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy, #3), Natural Witch , Natural Witch
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Purchased, Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 438
Length: 9 hours and 21 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars

The truce between the vampires and the shifters is long over. So when the two factions stumble upon a lost fae warrior who has no idea what she is, all hell breaks loose.

Charity hasn't had it easy. Growing up in a bad part of Chicago, left by her mother at 16, she's a survivor. So when she gets a scholarship to a good college out in California, she thinks all her dreams have come true.

Instead she falls head first into a nightmare.

At a posh party she doesn't belong, she gets the shock of her life: vampires and shifters are real! Magic is real. And she is anything but a mundane poor kid just trying to make it.

Warrior runs in her blood. If only she knew how to use it.

Suddenly, she is trapped between two magical super powers - a cunning elder vampire who wishes to use her for her blood ties and maybe tie her to the bed, and a sexy alpha shifter who will protect her at all costs.

Her life of surviving never could've prepared her for this. And if she doesn't learn to harness the fae magic running through her blood, she'll be imprisoned forever.

Action, humor, and romance - we're going back to the DDVN World!

Warrior Fae Trapped is set in the DDVN (Demon Days & Vampire Nights) world (Fire and Ice Trilogy, Magical Mayhem Trilogy), but I feel it stands alone well. You don’t need to have read the previous books to understand what’s happening here, though there is an overreaching storyarc that connects them all.

Charity grew up in a bad part of Chicago with an abusive father. When she was 16 her mother left, and since then she’s been trying to make something of herself. She got a full ride scholarship to college and ended up rooming with a rich girl who couldn’t stand the dorms, so she got her dad to move them to a little house instead. Charity is still beyond poor, but she’s working hard to change that. When her roommate invites her to a very exclusive party, Charity doesn’t want to go, but she wants to fit in and make friends, so she agrees. From the beginning things look hinky, and the warning she gets from another student as she’s going in not to drink the punch makes things even more strange.

As it turns out, this a vampire changing party. The vampires have set this up to change some of the very wealthy’s children, in hopes of gaining more power in the Brink (the non-magical side of Earth). Charity barely escapes, with the help of Devon, the werewolf who warned her off from drinking the punch. It turns out Charity is packing some magic herself, though she had no idea it was inside her, or that magic was even real.

Now she and Devon are on a mission to evade the master vampire who set up the party, and figure out what her magic is and how to train her. And there’s this pesky attraction between them..but that’s less important than the way their magic seems to clash…and combine.

This was another great entry in the series. I love how Breene creates strong friendships inside this world. Her heroines are tough and independent, but they from strong bonds. I don’t think we see enough strong female relationships in UF, and I’m glad Breene is changing that.

“Do you want a hug, a punch, or a change of subject?” Macy asked, deadpan.

Charity couldn’t help but laugh. “Change of subject, please.”

“Did you figure out your phone and computer?” Macy asked, bringing out her own phone. “Because I’m happy to make fun of you if you didn’t. Help. I mean, I’m happy to help you.”

Charity doesn’t just form a relationship with the female in the pack. She becomes close to all the pack members. I enjoyed seeing them rally around her, giving her the acceptance and sense of family she’d been missing.

“The afternoon class was the one with Andy, so that was actually good. He insisted that I sit with him and his friends. It was nice to be included.”

“The guys seem to like you, not to mention Macy.”

She turned her face up to his, a smile of gratitude boosting her loveliness. “I’ve landed in hell, but I’m in the trenches with good people. I didn’t have many friends growing up. It’s a neat feeling.”

The mystery of Charity’s past and where her powers come from is interesting. I’m anxious to see where things go in the next book. I’m enjoying the romance, though I did feel like the ILYs came a little too early. I’d rather have seen that happen in the second book. Still, the action kept me on the edge of my seat and I’m truly invested in seeing where this goes. I immediately started book 2.

Devon stopped in the middle of the aisle and blinked dazedly. “Did you just compliment me on my appearance and body, give me a verbal high five for being a slut, ask me to have quiet sex, and then opt for earplugs assuming I probably wouldn’t? Did all that come out of your mouth within the space of thirty seconds?”

Although there are darker elements at play, this novel is written in a rather lighthearted way. Not campy, but fun. There’s a lot of gore and some strong emotional scenes, but there’s also a lot of humor. If you’re looking for a fun, engaging novel filled with action, adventure and romance, this is a great place to start.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Warrior Fae

DDVN

four-half-stars


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Review: Death Knell by Hailey Edwards

Posted November 8, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Death Knell by Hailey EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Death Knell by Hailey Edwards
Narrator: Laurence Bouvard
Series: Foundling #3
Also in this series: Bayou Born
Publisher: Piatkus
Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 320
Length: 10 hours and 41 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

War burned her. Famine nearly killed her. Now Death is at her heels.

After her two worlds clashed apocalyptically, Luce Boudreau needed some time out. But Destiny had other ideas. When bodies begin washing ashore down the Mississippi River, Luce discovers they are part of a gruesome, lethal message. Her final sister, Death, is trying to break through.

Every sign is clear: the end is coming, but earth will be destroyed - quite literally - over Luce's dead body, even if that means she'll be battling her own nature. And her coterie will stand with her, though Cole keeps standing one step too goddamn far away. Her mysterious new partner, Adam Wu, on the other hand, seems determined to keep her close at all times. And the more Luce learns about the new world she's part of, the deeper the secrets go. Who - if anyone - can she really trust?

As the final pieces of an ancient war come together, Luce's chance to fight back comes sooner than she expected. Death can come at her . . . she's eager to return the favour.

Death Knell is the third book in the Foundling series by Hailey EdwardsIt’s difficult to review this series without spoilers, but I hate to include them because much of what happens is a surprise. I’m going to try to avoid them completely, which means a shorter review. I expected a sort of light paranormal, filled with voodoo and witchcraft, but this series is filled with so much more than that. For the first time in a very long time, I haven’t been able to figure out where things are heading.

Luce Boudreau has come a long way in a very short time. From a small child found wandering the bayou to a woman with strong family ties and a deep sense of right and wrong, to someone she barely recognizes. She’s determined to overcome the revelations of her past and rise above her previous actions, but holding onto herself is difficult as she gains more power and more of her memories. Cole, the chief of White Horse Security, and his team have become strong allies and anchor her to the here and now, but every step she takes seems to lead to a cold, dark place within her.

The world is very interesting and I love how things are progressing with Luce as her past is slowly revealed and she learns more about herself, her coterie and her family. I am struggling quite a bit with how slowly information is parsed out. Luce isn’t in a big hurry to learn everything there is to know about herself and her past, but I am. I decided to take a break after this book and wait until book 5 is available before continuing, because the slow drip of info is driving me mad.

Still, it’s a lovely series and I like how things are shaping up. There are unexpected twists and turns, a whole cast of intriguing characters and enough emotion and depth to keep me glued to the pages, despite some annoyances. If you’re looking for something fresh, this is the series for you.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Foundling

four-stars


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Review: Bone Driven by Hailey Edwards

Posted November 7, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Bone Driven by Hailey EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Bone Driven by Hailey Edwards
Narrator: Laurence Bouvard
Series: Foundling #2
Also in this series: Bayou Born , Death Knell
Publisher: Piatkus
Publication Date: May 31, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 352
Length: 11 hours and 15 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The bayou is burning, the battle is just beginning - and Luce Boudreau is smack in the middle of no-man's land . . .

Life as a cop in Canton Town, Mississippi, is never dull - particularly when hiding deep within you is a demon bent on the apocalypse. Luce is doing her best to pretend her two worlds aren't crashing into each other, but what should be a routine arson investigation takes a shocking turn when Luce discovers a link between the suspects and her own dark secrets. There's no turning back, even though her search for the truth threatens to burn her old life down around her.

Lines are being drawn in a war Luce barely understands, and she just might be on the wrong side of them. Now she must embrace her powerful destiny, or the ones she loves most will pay the ultimate price.

Bone Driven is the second book in the Foundling series by Hailey Edwards. I started it as soon as I finished the first because I wasn’t ready to let the story go, and because there were a lot of unanswered questions left at the end of Bayou Born. It picks up just where Bayou Born left off. I believe these need to be read in order.

Luce was found in the bayou as a child with strange markings on her arms and no memory of her past. She’s just discovered who she is and where she comes from, and who the men of White Horse Security are to her. Trying to deal with all the changes in her life and adjust to the reality of her past is very difficult, but she’s determined to hold on to her current self, and not let her inner demon take over.

I really enjoy Edwards’ writing style, and I like the way the story is shaping up. Luce is an interesting character and I really like her interactions with those she cares about. I can’t imagine dealing with the guilt and trauma her past brings, and I think in this regard Luce handles things extremely well. Luce’s relationship with Cole, the head of White Horse Security, and the other members of his team, is really intriguing. I love how things are shaping up and how we’re learning more about her – and them – as things progress. I can’t say a lot without including a lot of spoilers, but suffice it to say, I was anxious to see where things would go.

I did get frustrated with Luce as the story wore on, however, because she ignored so many things. She had a head in the sand mentality that really grated on me after awhile. Plus, these books are lengthy and move pretty slow in between all the action.

This moved slower than the first book, but I’m told it picks up steam in books 3 and 4, so I’m going to immediately start the next book, Death Knell. While parts of it frustrated me, I can’t deny I’m hooked on what’s going to happen next.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Foundling

three-half-stars


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