Tag: Guest Reviews

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart

Posted August 6, 2020 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Shadow Lover by Anne StuartReviewer: Jen
Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 1, 1999
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 320
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three-half-stars

A woman holds vigil over her wealthy, dying step-mother. Tensions -- already high with greedy relatives appearing to claim their inheritances -- are further strained by the appearance of the dying woman's long-lost son, who ran away 18 years ago. His mother greets him with joy, the relatives with resentment, but the woman alone knows he is hiding something...that he is not who he says he is. As she uncovers secrets and deceptions of the past and present, she knows only one thing in her heart -- that the irresistible appeal and seductive power of this mysterious stranger may be more dangerous than she thinks!

This review was originally posted on January 30, 2014.

I’ll just get this out of the way now–this book is not going to work for everyone! It has some flaws, yet I found myself really enjoying it. It’s very gothic, which is something I love in romances. I get to enjoy the tension of “who is a good guy/gal here” while still knowing that the romance will be happy in the end. Honestly, when I started the book I was worried I had accidentally stumbled into a non-romance gothic. I genuinely wasn’t sure there was going to be a happy ending. Rest assured readers, there will be a happy resolution, even if the path to get there isn’t quite what you expected!

Carolyn has returned to the home of her wealthy foster mother Sally McDowell to care for her while she’s dying of lung cancer. The rest of the wealthy, disgusting family also takes up residence during the vigil. While Sally shows her a certain amount of affection, the rest of the family treats Carolyn as a poor relation, and even at the start of the book Carolyn fully intends to cut them all out of her life once Sally dies. The family is thrown into turmoil, however, when Alexander McDowell, Sally’s long lost son, shows up. The problem is, Carolyn knows it can’t be Alex because she alone saw Alex die over a decade ago. So who exactly is this man claiming to be Alex? Is he a con man trying to get money, or is there something more going on?

Carolyn and Alex have some interesting chemistry. Carolyn had been infatuated with the teenage Alex, even though he was an obnoxious, spoiled juvenile delinquent who acted horrible towards her. When he ran away at age 17 (and when she saw him get killed), she was devastated. Clearly there is a part of her that desperately wants to believe this man is the real Alex, and whoever he is she is still very attracted to him. Alex too is drawn to Carolyn against his better judgment. It created some of the great tension in the book, and it made their sexytimes a little more steamy than I expected. Alex, however, is kind of a dick, at least for much of the book. He’s smug, cocky, and selfish. These qualities definitely soften up later in the book, which made me question just how smug and cocky he really is, and what is all an act. Who is the real “Alex”? Part of what I enjoyed about this book was the complexities and mysteries of the characters! Some characters turn out to be much worse than they at first appeared, and others turn out better. I love this kind of psychological creepiness, rather than the supernatural creepiness gothic novels sometimes have.

But there are some things not to like here, too. As I said, Alex can be kind of off-putting and domineering, and Carolyn can be kind of a wet blanket. The book is a bit dated, which isn’t surprising given that this is a reissue. (The original was published in the late 90’s.) The book age wasn’t totally obvious, though–for the most part, nothing in the story jumps out as being out-of-touch, just not quite modern. There are some things that don’t make tons of sense, though. One of the biggest questions is why Carolyn would bend herself over backwards for this family in the first place. She is basically the daughter of a servant that Sally took in when she was 2 years old. Everyone in the book agrees that Carolyn was never treated like a real member of the family, always like a poor relation to be tolerated. Sally never adopts her and it’s very clear that she’s never really considered “family.” Carolyn had moved out and gotten her own life, but she quits her job, gives up her apartment, and moves back in to care for Sally even though she admits Sally’s love is cool and conditional. While the other relatives seem to be most concerned with Sally’s illness because of how it will affect their inheritance, Carolyn is only getting some sort of small stipend, not a huge chunk of money. The explanation given is that Carolyn never had a real family and therefore feels loyalty to the only one she has, even if it’s a lousy one, but that’s not a great reason in my mind, especially when the family is insanely rich and could afford the best care. There really was no logical reason for Carolyn to be there, but you have to just accept it and move on!

There were other problematic points too, though it’s difficult to go into detail without spoilers. There are a lot of twists and turns in this book, and I don’t want to ruin them for anyone. I can say, though, that I still greatly enjoyed the book. The slightly unbelievable points didn’t overpower the mystery and the great atmosphere. If you enjoy gothic romances and are willing to overlook some mild unbelievability, I think this book would be a hit for you.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5.

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Seducing A Scottish Bride by Sue-Ellen Welfonder

Posted July 30, 2020 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Features, Reviews | 5 Comments

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Seducing A Scottish Bride by Sue-Ellen WelfonderReviewer: Tracy
Seducing a Scottish Bride by Sue-Ellen Welfonder
Series: MacKenzie #6
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: March 1, 2009
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 366
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three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Gelis MacKenzie is one of the most desirable heiresses in all the Western Highlands. She is the youngest and much adored daughter of the indomitable Black Stag of Kintail, Duncan MacKenzie, who was the hero of Welfonder's novel DEVIL IN A KILT. Unfortunately, Gelis has been branded unmarriageable, but not for lack of masculine interest. No matter how lofty the ancestry, how deep the purse, or how mighty the sword arm, nary a one of her suitors is good enough for her father. Although he loves Gelis fiercely and knows he must someday see her settled and wed, Duncan isn't quite ready to let her go.

But now Duncan has received an offer for Gelis's hand in marriage that he is honor-bound to accept-and it comes from the worst possible quarter. The suitor, Ronan MacRuari of Castle Dare, is the last man Duncan MacKenzie would wish for a son-in-law. Known as the Raven, Ronan is the scion of a dark clan that has been marked by a deadly curse.

Ronan and Gelis are instantly attracted to one another, but they are immediately estranged. Ronan's last two wives have died abruptly and he doesn't want to see his vivacious newly-wed Gelis suffer the same fate, so he distances himself from her as much as possible. In the meantime, Ronan searches for the Raven Stone, a fabled treasure that he believes holds the power of the curse over his clan. But Gelis has fallen in love with her new husband, and she's determined to help him. Though Ronan doesn't know it, Gelis also has the gift of second-sight, and she has seen a future in which she is destined to help redeem her cursed husband.

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

This review was originally posted on March 5, 2009.

After Gelis’s vision of the man she is to marry she is very excited about the match. She knows nothing about the curse on the MacRuari clan at first but when she hears of it is bound and determined that she call aid in the breaking of it.

Ronan MacRuari is dead set against this arranged marriage – arranged by his grandfather. He is certain that he is cursed to the point of thinking bad things and having them come true. He doesn’t want to have yet another wife, his 3rd, die as the other two have.

This book was a little confusing for me. The curse was explained but until the end you didn’t know exactly what the curse was and even then it was sketchy. The Holders, who were the ancient Druids that were the ones who cursed the MacRuari clan were talked about but it was never definitely stated exactly who they were or where they came from. Now, this appears to be the 6th book in the series so these items may have been spoken about previously but as a newcomer to Ms. Welfonder’s work I was a tad baffled by things occasionally.

It was a cute book though. I normally like my romances to have a little more depth in them when it comes to the relationship between the hero and heroine but for a historical book with an arranged marriage it was nice. I also thought the book had a good mixture of reality and magic so if you like a tad bit of paranormal in your historical this would be a great book for you.

And can I just say I love the cover of this book! There’s just something about it. Maybe because we see so many “fronts” of people these days that it’s a nice change to see the back! lol

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Guest Review: Accidentally Compromising the Duke by Stacy Reid

Posted July 29, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Accidentally Compromising the Duke by Stacy ReidReviewer: Tracy
Accidentally Compromising the Duke by Stacy Reid
Series: Wedded in Scandal #1
Publisher: Entangled Scandalous
Publication Date: May 30, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 259
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

England, 1817.

Miss Adeline Hays is out of options. Determined to escape marriage to a repugnant earl, Adeline plans to deliberately allow herself to be caught in a compromising position at a house party with the much kinder man she’d hoped to marry. Instead, Adeline accidentally enters the wrong chamber and tumbles into the bed of the mad duke.

Edmond Rochester, the duke of Wolverton, is seeking a wife to care for his two daughters. A young lady of sensibilities, accomplishment, and most importantly, one who he is not attracted to—a complete opposite of the bewitching beauty who traps him into marriage. But despite the lust he feels for his new duchess, Edmond is resolved to never allow them intimacy, refusing to ever again suffer the tormenting loss of a loved one.

Adeline Hays was once attacked by an Earl.  When she went to her father, expecting him to be furious, he ends up promising her hand in marriage to the bastard. How could he?! She has a fondness for a man, Mr. Atwood, who will one day be a barrister.  Unfortunately her father won’t accept his suit, even though he’s asked several times.  Adel knows that she has no other choice but to take matters into her own hands. While at a house party Adel gets the keys to Mr. Atwood’s room from her best friend, and with a bit of liquid courage heads off to do some compromising.

Adel only planned to be caught in Mr. Atwood’s room, but after tripping she ends up in bed with him.  He’s much more muscular than she thought, and wow, he smells better than she remembered, too.  They end up kissing but when she realizes that she is not, in fact, kissing Mr. Atwood, she tries to get away.  Too late, they are discovered, as Adel had planned, but instead of just her best friend’s mother, it’s half of the people in the house!

The Duke of Wolverton, Edmond, thoroughly enjoyed kissing this mystery woman and though he’d had a list of women to check out to be his new bride and mother to his children, he decides to do the honorable thing and marry her. His first wife died in childbirth and while the Duke needs a mother for his children, he doesn’t want any more children.  He has no plans to consummate the marriage, nor fall in love with Adel.

Can Adel break through the hurt of Edmond’s past and make him see that she’s not his previous wife?  Can Edmond keep his distance from Adel?  You have to read the book to find out! 🙂

This was a good story.  I really like the Reid books that I’ve read so far and this one is included in that list.  In this story I really liked Adel.  She was straightforward and knew exactly what she wanted (his love) and how to get it.  She was honest (for the most part) and just a lovely person.  How could Edmond not fall for her? There was a part of the book where Adel isn’t completely honest with Edmond and I had an issue with this.  It was just so not in her character that it was hard for me to believe that any of it would have happened.  Luckily Reid did a great job of making everything right for me.

Edmond was cold at first, then very warm…hot actually, and then a right bastard.  I liked him for a portion of the book and felt his pain, but I thought he took things a little too far.  The author did a good job of making me dislike/like/hate/like him in turns. Lol

When my friend, Nikki, first told me (and our friends, while on a Zoom call) about this book I laughed at the title and didn’t plan on reading it.  Accidentally compromising?  Really?  I said, “What, they’re in a carriage that hits a bump and the heroine accidentally falls on his dick? Oopsie.” Lol  We then affectionately retitled this book Accidentally Falling on the Duke’s Dick. Of course, after Nikki shared the premise with us we were all intrigued and I ended up reading this Reid story as well as another.  I’m glad I did and definitely recommend it.  I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series and I’m quite happy it’s already out (this one was published 4 years ago).

Rating: 3.75/4 out of 5

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Dancing in the Dark by Jennifer Dunne

Posted July 2, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Dancing in the Dark by Jennifer DunneDancing in the Dark by Jennifer Dunne
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Publication Date: April 19, 2010
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher
Genres: Erotica
Pages: 82
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three-half-stars

A humdrum life… Keri Montero lives a boring life. Work, TV, volunteering, and her quilting hardly make the stuff of fantasy and dreams.

A mistaken invitation… All this changes when she receives an invitation to a charity Halloween costume party to benefit the local opera house. She decides to go, even if the tickets are—gasp—$100 each.

A walk on the wild side… Her costume can be anything, and Keri decides to live on the wild side for once. Going as a submissive slave girl might invite trouble. But when she meets the man of her dreams, she decides to go even wilder. Keri wants to submit to his every…sexual…whim.

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

This review was originally posted on May 8, 2010.

So after getting the invitation to the Halloween party Keri has to decide what to be. She goes online after deciding to be a slave girl – since there are always so many in the operas – and buys a costume sight unseen. That right there would put up a big red flag for me. When she gets the costume it’s more of a bdsm costume than anything else but Keri decides to go for it. When she gets to the party she talks up many gentlemen but none of them seem to get what she was trying to do – which was a find a master. When she meets the man – who’s dressed as a sun god and is masked himself they immediately are drawn to each other and leave the party.

The sun god is truly looking for a slave and he wants to be Kerri’s Master. He takes Keri to his apartment that holds his dungeon and they proceed to get down and dirty. I don’t know too much about the bdsm lifestyle but I’d have to say that I found this to be bdsm light since Keri was completely new to the lifestyle. After 2 days of meeting with “the Master” Keri still has no idea who the man is or what he looks like but she doesn’t want to go back to her humdrum life and decides to take the bull by the horns and keep up with her slave girl position.

This was a very cute story but I have to say that I did have a couple of issues with it. First I found that what Keri was doing was completely not her. She came home and watched Charmed every day and ate microwave meals and quilted. I just couldn’t see her – even in her wildest dreams doing something like this. I saw her as more of the person who would get the costume on a whim and then decide not to wear it. IDK it just didn’t hit me right. The second would be that she fell in love with the sun god – sight unseen – knowing nothing about the man except having sex with him 3 times. Having great sex is wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but a love relationship it does not make imho.

Despite the niggles I had with it I thought the story was written well and it did get my attention and didn’t let go. This is a highly sexual & erotic novella and has more sex than not, but I didn’t find myself skipping any sex scenes (which when they get tedious, I must admit I do).

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place

This book is available from Ellora’s Cave. You can buy it here in e-format.

three-half-stars


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Guest Audiobook Review: The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen

Posted June 29, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Audiobook Review: The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. JensenReviewer: Tracy
The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang, James Patrick Cronin
Series: The Bridge Kingdom #2
Also in this series: The Bridge Kingdom, The Bridge Kingdom , The Traitor Queen
Publisher: Audible Original
Publication Date: February 27, 2020
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Length: 10 hours and 13 minutes
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five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Lara has only one thought when her husband is taken prisoner: I will do whatever it takes to set you free.

A queen now in exile as a traitor, Lara has watched Ithicana be conquered by her own father, helpless to do anything to stop the destruction. But when she learns her husband, Aren, has been captured in battle, Lara knows there is only one reason her father is keeping him alive: as bait for his traitorous daughter.

And it is bait she fully intends to take.

Risking her life to the Tempest Seas, Lara returns to Ithicana with a plan not only to free its king, but for liberating the Bridge Kingdom from her father's clutches using his own weapons: the sisters whose lives she spared.

But as Lara and her companions formulate a plan to free Aren from her father's palace, they soon discover that while it is easy to get in, it will be quite another thing to get Aren, and themselves, back out. Not only is the palace inescapable, there are more players in the game than Lara ever realized, enemies and allies switching sides in the fight for crowns, kingdoms, and bridges. But her greatest adversary of all might be the very man she's trying to free - the husband she betrayed.

With everything she loves in jeopardy, Lara must decide who - and what - she is fighting for: her kingdom, her husband, or for herself.

The Traitor Queen is the second book in The Bridge Kingdom series.

Where do you go and what do you do when you’ve unintentionally destroyed a kingdom and your husband has captured? The people you’ve come to love with your whole heart have now turned against you and you want nothing more than to help them make things right again.

Lara is in this situation and is running into stone walls when it comes to getting help from the Ithicanians who now hate her.  Where does she turn?  To her sisters who were all trained to be just as good as she at fighting for what they believe in.

I truly can’t tell you anything about this book without giving SO much away. The story has an incredible amount of action and goes non-stop from one event to the other.  I was listening to this story and never once wanted to hit pause while listening.  I can’t remember the last time that happened, if ever.

Lara and Aren’s story continues in The Traitor Queen but it’s not an easy one. The Ithicanian fight with the Maridrinians, as well as the possible resolution between Lara and Aren, had me on the edge of my seat for the entire book.  Throughout it all I couldn’t see how things would resolve but the author did a great job of it.  I would have liked just a bit more at the end of the book with the Ithicanians and Lara, but hopefully the author will put out a 2.5 novella for us (hint, hint Ms. Jensen).

The author has built a world that I kind of want to live in.  Seriously.  Sounds silly, but when you read the book, you’ll understand.  Though the main focus is on Lara and Aren, she didn’t limit us in just knowing them.  I felt she described the world so well, and made all of the characters so real to me, that I just want to go there. Lol

If you want to read a story with action, adventure, revenge, fury, resentment, romance and love then this is definitely the book you’ll want to read.

Rating: 5 out of 5

The Bridge Kingdom

five-stars


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