Tag: Sharon Cullen

Guest Review: Wed to a Spy by Sharon Cullen

Posted June 2, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Wed to a Spy by Sharon CullenReviewer: Tracy
Wed to a Spy by Sharon Cullen
Series: All the Queen's Spies #1
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: May 23rd 2017
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four-stars

Simon Marcheford wants nothing more than to settle down on the land bestowed upon him by the English crown. Queen Elizabeth, however, is not about to let her best spy retire so easily. Simon will have his reward, she decrees, after he completes one last mission in Scotland. But no sooner has he sussed out a diabolical plot up North than Queen Mary weds him to her cousin—an exquisite beauty with troubled, soulful eyes—and orders Simon to watch her every move.

Aimee de Verris is no spy. But her life may depend on becoming one. Banished from the French court by Catherine de Medici, Aimee finds herself tasked with reporting on Queen Mary’s activities in Scotland, where she’s unnerved by the frigid weather and brutish customs. Worst of all, Aimee’s been married off to a most uncouth lout. But when murder strikes, she learns to appreciate Simon’s talent for shielding her with every inch of his muscular frame. If Aimee desires her husband, perhaps she could trust him—or even love him.

Simon is an English spy in Queen Mary’s court in Scotland via his assignment in Spain.  He’s asked by the Queen to keep an eye on Aimee de Verris as Mary believes her to be a spy.  While Simon thinks that Aimee’s beautiful he has no true interest in her – nor her in him.  That doesn’t stop Queen Mary from ordering them to get married.  What?  Yep, the next day they’re married and neither is happy about it.

Aimee was raised by her aunt, Catherine de Medici, in the French court.  She fell in love with a man but when they were caught in an embrace Catherine sent Aimee to Scotland.  Catherine told Aimee that she needed to spy and if she succeeds then Catherine would let Aimee and her man be together.  Of course because Aimee believes herself to be in love with a man in France the last thing she wants to do is marry someone else.  Though she fights it she ends up marrying Simon.  She likes the man but the thought of being married to anyone but her love and an Englishman to boot is horrible.

Aimee and Simon try to deal with their marriage as best they can but when someone is killed in Queen Mary’s court they have to hide and then escape to save their own lives. While in this dire situation they get to know each other and realize that maybe they can learn to love each other.

While this book blurb was based on two spies coming together we soon learned that Aimee wasn’t anywhere near being a spy.  She was just a young girl who had been played by her aunt.  I felt horrible for her for being so used by both Catherine and in the end, Queen Mary.  She had just wanted to be left alone to be with her man, Pierre.  I was happy that she soon realized that what she thought was love with Pierre was just an infatuation and that Simon was a man she could love – and then fell in love with him.

Simon was a great guy who just wanted to be left alone to raise his young sister in the country.  His Queen had tasked him with one last mission and he never imagined where it would lead him – into matrimony.  The more time he spent with Aimee the more he liked her and soon found himself in love.  He was a good man and I was thrilled that he found love with Aimee, even if it was unexpected.

The characters in this book were interesting and intriguing.  The story was well written and sucked me in from the first page.  My one issue with the story is that the falling in love happened really quickly.  I loved that they fell in love I just wish it would have happened a bit slower – a minor issue, really.

Overall I enjoyed the book and definitely recommend it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Campbell’s Redemption by Sharon Cullen

Posted January 23, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Campbell’s Redemption by Sharon CullenReviewer: Tracy
Campbell's Redemption by Sharon Cullen
Series: Highland Pride series #3
Also in this series: Sutherland's Secret, MacLean's Passion
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: November 22nd 2016
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four-stars

Like his ancestors, Iain Campbell, the Marquess of Kerr, swears loyalty to whichever government happens to be in power. Privately, however, he despises the British for the slaughter following the Battle of Culloden and finds himself playing a dangerous game of deception. When he defends a fellow Scot under cloak of darkness, Iain is wounded and must put his life in the hands of a mysterious healer. The prickly, bewitching woman saves him with her touch, though she denies Iain the pleasure of a smile from her sensuous lips—which only makes him want her all the more.

Cait Campbell has no fondness for the marquess and his political machinations. Now he makes a treacherous patient, since Cait is harboring Jacobite fugitives in her cellar. But with Iain confined to bed rest, Cait sees another side of the fierce warrior. How can she hate a man whose eyes sparkle in candlelight, a man whose voice stirs her soul? She soon discovers that he loves the Scottish people deeply—and, despite her painful intuitions, Cait is tempted to let Iain love her, too.

Cait is happy with her life.  She’s a healer living on the outskirts of Campbell land.  It’s been four years since her husband died and she’s doing well.  She heals both the Scottish people as well as the redcoats that come to her.  She doesn’t like helping them but she’s a healer so that’s what she does.  She also believes this will create goodwill between her and the soldiers and they’ll leave her alone.  When Iain Campbell brings the commander of his warriors to be healed she’s happy to help but she wants nothing to do with Iain.  Her husband, John, was Iain’s commander when he was alive and died by a bullet intended for Iain.  Cait can’t help but find Iain responsible for John’s death even though logically she knows he’s not.  Part of her solitude is harboring Scottish fugitives from the English.  She’s not willing to give that up for anyone.

Iain has felt guilty for John’s death and though he told John as he was dying that he would take care of Cait he hasn’t.  The guilt was too much for him to be around Cait but once he was back in her house he couldn’t keep himself away.  He has feelings for Cait but she’s not willing to make an affair with him public.  Unfortunately the redcoats Cait thought she was keeping away didn’t stay away and when she’s threatened Iain will stop at nothing to protect her.

Another great story in the Highland Pride series.  Iain Campbell, in previous books helped both MacLean and Sutherland but yet everyone thought he was an English sympathizer when the truth was he was a spy. Because I wasn’t totally sure of his loyalties going into the book I was cautious.  Cullen made me a lover of Iain very quickly as his care for Cait was so honest and real.

Cait was a stubborn woman from beginning to end.  She had lost everyone who she had ever loved and she wasn’t willing to get involved with Iain and take the risk of losing him.  Luckily Iain was persuasive with Cait and was able to make her believe his love for her.  I really loved the two of them together.  Individually they were strong characters but together they were a bit invincible.

There was a bit of intrigue in the story as well and I thought that was well done.  It was woven well into Cait and Iain’s story and made it that much better. The whole of the story was well worth reading and I very much enjoyed it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: MacLean’s Passion by Sharon Cullen

Posted June 28, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: MacLean’s Passion by Sharon CullenReviewer: Tracy
MacLean's Passion by Sharon Cullen
Series: Highland Pride series #2
Also in this series: Sutherland's Secret, Campbell's Redemption
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: June 28th 2016
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three-half-stars

Colin MacLean has always felt like a black sheep—especially after his brothers are slain before his eyes in the Battle of Culloden. A smuggler by trade, Colin makes for an embarrassing chieftain. He can’t even save his friends from their British pursuers without getting himself captured. But before he is martyred by the hangman’s noose, Colin escapes with his cellmate, a brave lad he’s come to admire. It’s only in the depths of the Highlands that Colin discovers the lad is a lass—and a bonnie one at that.

Raised by her older brothers, Maggie Sinclair can drink a pint in no time flat and wield a dagger with the best of ’em. Still, men have always excluded her and women have always shunned her. Colin makes her feel different. His wild spirit and rugged good looks have Maggie reconsidering her less than ladylike ways. For the first time, she’s tempted to put on a gown, just to see how Colin would react. She can only imagine what might happen next: a kiss . . . a touch . . . and perhaps enough sultry heat to melt a cold Highland night.

Colin is imprisoned after Culloden when he purposely puts himself in the path of the red coats to save a friend.  He’s in prison for weeks with a mostly silent young boy.  He is let free with the help of an unlikely helper and decides to take the boy with him.  Colin is quite sick when he escapes and soon collapses.  The young boy, who Colin soon finds out is actually a woman, Maggie Sinclair, nurses him back to health as best she can and then they set off for Sinclair lands.

Colin has what he believes is an unhealthy attraction to Maggie and that gets him into trouble a time or two.  He’s not happy with Maggie’s brother who tries to marry her off to an English sympathizer but he didn’t plan on marrying her himself.  That’s exactly what he ends up doing.  Maggie and Colin then set off for MacLean lands but is then informed that Captain Abbott, the man who took such satisfaction from beating Colin when he was imprisoned has taken over the MacLean stronghold.  Colin’s not sure he can get back what’s been taken but with the help of Maggie and his clansman he’s determined to try.

This was a lovely follow up to Sutherland’s Secret.  Though it didn’t have quite the same effect on me as book one in the series it was still good.

I’m not a huge fan of women in my historical novels dressing like men but in this case I thought it was well done.  Maggie had been brought up by her brother and since he was just about a kid himself when their parents died he did the best he could.  It amused him to see Maggie in breeches and he loved teaching her to fight.  Of course when she became a woman he realized his mistake and tried to change her.  She was determined to not let that happen.  I loved her fight and her strong-will.  Though her brother said some pretty hurtful things she was always willing to stand and make her opinion known.  I loved that about her.  She was also scared several times throughout the book but didn’t let that stop her from her goals.  She was a great heroine and I loved reading about her.

Colin, apparently, had been beaten down verbally by his parents and his siblings.  Because of this he didn’t have very good self-esteem and when it came to fighting for what was his he wasn’t completely convinced that he could do it.  He kept hearing his family’s voices in his head telling him how he was no good.  This bothered me some.  I’m not sure what it was about it but it just didn’t seem logical.  Yes, he’d been stubborn growing up from what I read and strong-willed, but to be told over and over that you’re no good and won’t amount to anything?  IDK it just didn’t seem right for as much as he loved his brothers.  Maybe it was me but it just seemed like something was off.  Anyway, Colin ended up being a strong character as well and I loved the way he adored Maggie for who she was and didn’t plan on changing her at all.

In the end the book was a good one with just a few issues.  I look forward to reading more in this series in the future.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Sutherland’s Secret by Sharon Cullen

Posted January 21, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Sutherland’s Secret by Sharon CullenReviewer: Tracy
Sutherland's Secret by Sharon Cullen
Series: Highland Pride series #1
Also in this series: MacLean's Passion, Campbell's Redemption
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: January 19, 2016
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four-half-stars

Terror reigns in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden. As British troops obliterate the last traces of the Jacobite cause, Brice Sutherland, the Earl of Dornach, risks everything to arrange a covert escape route to Canada for his fellow Scots. But when he encounters a dying Englishwoman, hauntingly beautiful though scarred by manacles and unable to speak, Brice’s true courage is put to the test. Nothing but ruin could result from helping her, or worse: falling in love.

The pampered daughter of a Marquess, Eleanor Hirst was the talk of the London season when she wed the Earl of Glendale. Little did she know that his posting as an officer in Scotland would be their undoing. Now her husband is dead and Eleanor is a fugitive in a hostile country. Desperate for help, she throws herself on the mercy of Brice Sutherland, a handsome Scottish warrior who should be her enemy. Instead, he cares for her tenderly, reviving her shattered spirit—and awakening urges unlike any she’s ever known.

Brice Sutherland is traveling a road to his lands when he sees a pile of rags in the road. When he goes to investigate he finds that it’s a woman and he believes that she’s so close to death she won’t make it through the night. He decides to take her with him so that she won’t have to die alone and the woman surprises him and rallies. Brice takes her home but she’s skittish and he can tell that she’s been abused in more ways than one. It turns out that a colonel in the British army wanted her for himself so he killed her husband and then tried to take her for himself. She refused him so he imprisoned her but she managed to escape.

Though Eleanor can’t talk when she first gets to Brice’s home, Dornach, she is soon making herself comfortable by being useful. She finds herself loving being a different person than the insipid, naïve woman she used to be. She also finds herself getting quite close with Brice as he helps her sleep through the nights and survive her nightmares. They get closer and closer but there are many things standing in the way of the two being together. Eleanor decides she must leave for Canada as the colonel who is searching for her, Blackwood, will never give up the search for her and when he finds her she knows she’ll die.

This was a great story. The premise, the tension that is created between Brice and Eleanor, the unknown aspect of Blackwood, Eleanor and Brice’s growing love – it all coalesced into a well written book.

Eleanor had been a pampered London miss who was raised to be that way. She didn’t know any better and by her own admission had been selfish and snobbish. Once she sees the inside of dungeon and experiences the horrors there her world and priorities changed. When she meets Brice he changes her mind even further about what she wants out of life and I loved seeing the way she grew throughout the book.

Brice was a wonderful hero. He was kind and thoughtful, generous with his feelings and his time and I loved almost everything about him. Though he wasn’t involved in the battle of Culloden and hadn’t chosen sides he was sympathetic to the Scottish people who were being terrorized by the British soldiers. Because of that he was helping people leave Scotland for Canada. He risked his life for those he didn’t know and it made me love him even more.

The book was so good and kept me on the edge of my seat as well as warmed by heart with the romance. If you love a good 18th century Scottish historical then you won’t want to pass this one by.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: The Reluctant Duchess by Sharon Cullen

Posted December 7, 2015 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Reluctant Duchess by Sharon CullenReviewer: Tracy
The Reluctant Duchess by Sharon Cullen
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
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four-stars

Perfect for fans of Mary Balogh and Eloisa James, Sharon Cullen’s seductive new historical romance ignites as a shy country girl and a hotheaded duke surrender to dangerous temptations.

Lady Sara Emerson was jolted out of her dull provincial life by her cousin’s murder. Now that the killer seems to be targeting her, Sara seeks help from the man who was once her cousin’s fiancé, Gabriel Ferguson, Duke of Rossmoyne. With his towering frame and fiery personality, Ross cuts an intimidating figure. Living under his protection, however, has its own hazards—like the sudden urge Sara feels to take their relationship in new, exquisitely inappropriate directions.

Dazzled by the social graces of his betrothed, Ross never noticed her shy, blushing cousin. Looking at Sara now, though, he’s drawn to her lovely eyes and calm disposition. Funny how a year away from the hustle and bustle of the ton changes a man. But Ross has no intention of allowing a woman to interfere with his plan to return overseas. He will simply capture the murderer and set sail once again. The problem is, with her beguiling lips and heavenly touch, Sara makes him never want to leave home—or his bed—again.

Two years ago Sara Emerson’s cousin, Meredith, was horribly murdered. Now Sara is receiving troubling letters and she’s gone to the only place she could think of – the Duke of Rossmoyne’s home. Rossmoyne was Meredith’s betrothed at the time of the murder and at the funeral he told Sara and her family that if they ever needed anything that they just had to ask. Sara heads to London to seek his assistance as she’s not sure what the letters mean. He has just arrived back from India after a year away and isn’t thrilled to be digging up old memories of Meredith. When he finds out that Sara has received one of the letters – a more threatening one – at the hotel she’s staying at in London Ross insists that she stay at his home while she’s in London (as his mother is in residence and can act as chaperone).

Sara, despite her worry over the letters, finds herself more intrigued by Ross by the day. He seems like a different person than the one that was due to marry her cousin. They spend evenings in his study talking about all sorts of things and she looks forward to that quiet time. She doesn’t want to admit to herself that she’s falling in love with Ross.

Ross was so enamored with Meredith that he never really noticed Sara – she was always in the shadows. Now that his focus is solely on her he can’t believe that he never realized how beautiful she is. As he spends more time with her he starts falling for her but when he tells her of his feelings she is almost dismissive. She believes her place is with her father because he can’t take care of himself and hasn’t since Meredith’s death (her “father” is actually her uncle, Meredith’s father, who raised Sara after her parents’ death). Between Sara’s reluctance and the ever-darkening threats from the unknown source, Ross isn’t sure he’ll ever be able to talk Sara into being his duchess.

I found Ross to be a good man. He hadn’t always been but after Meredith’s death he took a good hard look at himself and didn’t like what he saw. After the grieving period, when it was time to return to society, he headed off to be a diplomat. Between his own revelations and his experiences in India he had changed and with Sara he liked who he was. I really enjoyed his character overall.

Sara was a spinster who believed that her place was at her father’s side. After her parents died and her aunt and uncle raised her she felt obligated but she also loved them dearly. After Meredith’s death her mother had taken off for Bath and had never returned. Between keeping her absent-minded father eating and taking care of himself it was a full time job. Of course she’d fallen in love with Ross but she didn’t honestly believe that she belonged in the ton or that he could truly love her. I didn’t care for her lack of self-esteem when it came to Ross. She was a strong character otherwise and insisted on being in on the investigation of the letters and wouldn’t back down. But when it came to her love life she shied away and it was a bit disconcerting to have two such varied parts of her personality at work. I was quite happy when she finally gave in to him but it took a long time.

The Reluctant Duchess was a sweet romance that had a nice level of intrigue thrown in. I liked the blend of romance and mystery that was interwoven into the story and thought the author did a great job of balancing the two.

Rating: 3.75/4 out of 5

four-stars


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