Tag: Sharon Cullen

Guest Review: Lost to a Spy by Sharon Cullen

Posted March 14, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Lost to a Spy by Sharon CullenReviewer: Tracy
Lost to a Spy (All the Queen's Spies #3) by Sharon Cullen
Series: All the Queen's Spies #3
Also in this series: Wed to a Spy, Bound to a Spy
Published by Random House Publishing Group, Loveswept
Publication Date: March 13th 2018
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 222
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Goodreads
four-stars

Ladies in waiting can’t help noticing more than they let on. After so many years at the court of Mary, Queen of Scots, Emma Howard sees quite plainly that the royal couple is anything but happy. Reeling from a failed marriage herself, Emma sympathizes with her beloved queen. But the last thing she wants is for the king to be murdered, let alone to witness the shocking act herself. With her whole world turned upside-down, Emma is saved by the quick thinking of a lowly printer . . . who, unbeknownst to her, is one of England’s most daring spies.

At Queen Elizabeth’s behest, Tristan has been stirring discontent against the Scottish nobility. Now that the king is dead, his mission is even more critical. There’s only one complication: the exquisite courtier who’s unexpectedly fallen under Tristan’s protection. Emma rouses his body and his soul. But after she learns that he’s a traitor, the fate of two nations hangs on her response. Tristan’s prepared to risk his life in exchange for hers. Will Emma do the same for the man she’s come to love?

Emma Hamilton lives at Holyrood Palace and is close with Mary, Queen of Scots.  She feels safe there and Mary has been kind to her since her Emma’s evil husband died. She’s a Scot through and through and doesn’t plan on leaving the palace any time soon.

One night while walking home from dinner she witnesses what might be a murder but before she can think too long on it, there’s an explosion and Emma is knocked unconscious.  The sound rouses the Edinburgh residents from their homes, including printer Tristan Fitzherbert.  He finds Emma and takes her back to his home above the print shop to nurse her back to health.  He did this as he could tell she was nobility by how she was dressed and feared that she would be arrested when she was found as she was so close to the explosion site.

Emma fears all men after her husband treated her so badly during their marriage.  She’s frightened when she wakes up in a strange place but Tristan puts her at ease and soon she’s enjoying spending time with him. As the explosion killed the King consort, Lord Darnley, they talk a lot about that and Emma tries to sort out what she saw that night.  Tristan, for his part tries to get Emma to see that the Queen’s right-hand man, Bothwell, is most likely responsible for the death.  The more he talks, the more she sees things might not be as safe in Holyrood Palace as she thought.  In just a few days she starts to have feelings for Tristan and he for her.  Emma’s a smart girl, however, and soon figures out that Tristan isn’t necessarily who he says he is – a lowly printer.  More like an agent for Queen Elizabeth of England.  She fears for his safety when she hears about printers being gathered up and questioned for printing seditious placards but what can a woman do to help the man she loves?

This was another wonderfully intriguing book by Sharon Cullen.  I’m just loving this series so far and this book was no different.

Emma and Tristan were farther apart in station then I think the previous couples in the series were so that made it a bit more interesting for me.  They were so cute together!  The main part of the story takes place in the span of about 2 weeks which is a short time to fall in love, but I guess when you know, you know.  The pair just clicked from the first and of course Tristan’s protectiveness kicked in when Emma was hurt.

I’ve loved reading about all of the intrigue throughout this series.  When I first started I didn’t know much history about Mary, Queen of Scots but I’ve done a little reading up on her since then and I think Cullen has kept pretty closely with the actual events in history, taking just a little license with it all.

If you haven’t read any of the books in this series I definitely recommend them.

All the Queen’s Spies Series

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Bound to a Spy by Sharon Cullen

Posted October 24, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Bound to a Spy by Sharon CullenReviewer: Tracy
Bound to a Spy by Sharon Cullen
Series: All the Queen's Spies #2
Also in this series: Wed to a Spy, Lost to a Spy (All the Queen's Spies #3)
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: October 24th 2017
Genres: Historical Romance
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Rose Turner’s mother sent her to the court of Mary, Queen of Scots, to give her a better life. Raised with rowdy brothers in a notorious border clan, Rose has plenty of experience fighting and thieving—and practically none when it comes to matters of decorum and discretion. Without a single ally, she has little hope of making a good marriage to salvage her family’s reputation. But after overhearing several influential lords plotting to murder the King of Scotland, Rose meets a man after all: a handsome spy trying to shield her from danger.

As one of the Queen Elizabeth’s top agents, Will Sheffield has come up north to keep a close eye on the goings-on at Mary’s court. A consummate professional, Will notices Rose’s presence at the secret meeting . . . and he’s not the only one. The wild, naïve beauty has made a fearsome enemy—and only Will can keep her safe. But after an attempt on Rose’s life pulls them tantalizingly close, Will faces an agonizing choice between professional loyalty or powerful passion.

Rose Turner is the daughter of a border clan lord who is known for his thieving.  She was sent to court to try and find a husband.  It’s truly the last place she wants to be as she’d rather be at home taking care of animals, wearing breeches and having a good time with her five brothers.  She tries to spend as much time outside of the palace as possible but as it’s horribly cold out those times grown shorter and shorter.  During one of her outdoor times she tries to get out of the weather and uses a hidden door she knows about.  Unfortunately she happens to hear men behind a closed door plotting to kill the king.  She gets away before they see her but drops her shawl.

Will Sheffield is the son of a Viscount but he’s also one of Queen Elizabeth’s spies.  He’s been sent to Queen Mary’s court to gather information and is hidden in the shadows listening to the plot to kill the king when Rose arrives.  He knows that he has to protect her from the plotting men, but his fellow spies tell him to leave it be.  There are casualties in all their missions and she will be another.  Will doesn’t exactly feel that way and sets out to meet the beautiful Rose.

Rose and Will spend more time together and Rose starts to care for him – just as Will starts to care for her.  She is approached however, by Lord Lysle who starts to pay attention to her.  She is fine with it until Will tells her that he is one of the plotters. She has to play her cards right so that Lysle doesn’t have a clue that she is aware of his deeds. Rose is also torn – she knows she should go to the queen to tell her of the plot but if she does but is scared.

Will knows he should stay away from Rose but he finds himself falling in love with her anyway.  He knows he can’t be with her or marry her but when it comes down to doing his job or saving Rose, which will he choose?

Bound to a Spy was a lovely story of secrets and intrigue, love and romance.  I truly enjoyed reading about Rose and Will’s meeting and falling in love.  Though they both knew it was wrong to fall in love with the other they still could not stay away from each other.

Will had had a childhood with no love.  His parents had resided in London while he had lived on their country estate raised by nannies and governesses.  He knew he’d never get married nor fall in love as he didn’t believe he knew how to love someone.  It was sad to know he thought this way about himself.  He was a good man who ended up taking such good care of Rose.

Rose was a wild little thing who was clearly out of her element in the palace.  She wanted to be outside in the fresh air and not stuck sitting around doing embroidery (that she wasn’t good at). Rose may have been an outdoor girl but she still had grace and refinement and I liked the dueling parts of her personality.  When it came to Will she was a goner from the get-go.  Truly smitten from minute one and it only grew from there.

This romance flowed so nicely within the story and blended well with the intrigue aspect of it.  Cullen once again did a fantastic job of bringing us the story of Elizabeth’s spies and the love stories.  I can’t wait to read the next one as it looks to be just as good as this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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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
Also in this series: Bound to a Spy, Lost to a Spy (All the Queen's Spies #3)
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: May 23rd 2017
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
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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