Tag: Zebra Books

Guest Review: No Other Highlander by Adrienne Basso

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

Guest Review: No Other Highlander by Adrienne BassoReviewer: Tracy
No Other Highlander by Adrienne Basso
Series: The McKennas #2
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: February 28th 2017
Pages: 368
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three-half-stars

Scottish Highlands, 1334: The McKenna clan flourishes under a family of warriors, fierce and righteous, faithful to their own until the last. But to produce an heir, the widowed eldest son must risk his heart again . . .

Lady Joan Armstrong Fraser was once the indulged and pampered daughter of a laird. But marriage to a brute changed her. When he sets her aside, she has only her wits and her beauty to protect herself and her child from the chaos of her former home. She will have to find another husband—a man whose strength is more than a weapon against the weak. A man she can trust . . . if such a man even breathes.

Sir Malcolm McKenna has known Lady Joan since her childhood, a spoiled princess as dangerous as she is lovely. But when she steps forward to protect him against a false accusation, he discovers a character stronger than he guessed—and an attraction he yearns to explore . . .

Malcolm McKenna has been accused of devirginizing a woman, promising her marriage and then disappearing.  The woman is the daughter of the McPhearson laird and he’s so mad now that his daughter has given birth that he’s put a price on Malcolm’s head. When Malcolm hears about this he’s shocked! Though he was drunk during the fete that this liaison supposedly took place, he thinks he’d remember deflowering a woman!  Malcolm’s father, Laird McKenna, decides to meet with the McPhearson to work out the issue.  They decide to meet on Armstrong territory as it’s neutral territory.

Joan Armstrong is a woman who married a monster. He was brutal and abused her both verbally and physically.  He finally put her aside and got an annulment stating that she was insane.  She doesn’t like the stigma of insanity but she’s certainly happy to be out from under his thumb.  Unfortunately coming home with her two-year-old son isn’t a happy reunion.  Her father doesn’t want her there because of the embarrassment Joan has brought to him and the family/clan.  She tries to do all she can to help but it’s never enough for her father.  She knows she’ll never remarry so what will she do if her father does remarry – she’ll no longer be needed.  When the McPhearson’s and the McKenna’s show up Joan is happy to look after them but being on the outside of the discussion she sees what no one else does – that Malcolm’s truly wrongly accused.  When the truth comes out the McPhearson wants Malcolm to marry his daughter anyway but in a stroke of inspiration Malcolm states he’s already engaged to Joan.

To say that Joan’s not happy about Malcolm’s declaration is an understatement but Malcolm is attracted to her and knows that he can care for her and her son.  He finally talks her into agreeing and they head off to McKenna lands.  Joan has agreed to marry Malcolm but will she ever be able to trust a man again and open her heart.

This was a great story.  I loved Joan and the love she had for her son.  She’d had such a bad marriage and she truly deserved happiness but she never thought it would come to her in yet another marriage.  I loved how Malcolm slowly brought her out of her shell and was so patient with her.  He knew that she’d had a rough go of it with her previous husband and though he wanted to bed her he took things slow and easy with her.  He was a good man through and through and he made a great hero.  Once Joan opened up a bit we got to see that she was a good woman as well.  I thought that the pair were perfect together and was so happy when everything worked out.

Besides Joan’s husband and his dastardly deeds during one portion of the book there really wasn’t a villain involved in No Other Highlander.  I really enjoyed the story being relationship driven and not having to worry about a whodunit as well.  The book was fun and funny as well as touching and emotional which to me was a good mix.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: At Any Cost by Mandy Baxter

Posted June 1, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: At Any Cost by Mandy BaxterReviewer: Tracy
At Any Cost by Mandy Baxter
Series: U.S. Marshals #4
Published by Kensington
Publication Date: May 31st 2016
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two-stars

Fast, cunning, and driven, he'll do whatever it takes to nail the most violent federal perps. But she is the one danger he'll never see coming…

She can't remember when she wasn't afraid. She can't go to the police. And "Olivia Gallagher" is only a day away from fleeing her Idaho wilderness life before biker gang leader Joel Meecum finally catches up with her. So keeping her rugged new neighbor at arm's length is the only safe play. Until Livy can't resist one last hungry chance to feel alive…

For U.S. Marshal Nick Brady, taking his vacation next door to Meecum's ex-girlfriend seemed the smartest way to find him. But suddenly, nothing is making sense. How could this feisty, straight-talking brunette ever get mixed up with Meecum's brutal crew? And why is he breaking his oath and getting so close that all he wants is to keep her safe? Now as the clock ticks, Nick and Livy's only chance at escape may be the one they can't survive…

Nick Brady has been with the US Marshal service for a mere three months and he’s already in the director’s office because he’s in trouble.  He wants to hunt fugitives, that’s why he joined, but the director wants him to work the courts, escorting prisoners to and from.  Boring.  The director tells him that’s now on a forced vacation (read: Suspension) but Nick isn’t about to sit around and sip cocktails.  He decides to follow up on a lead that they had on one of their top 15 fugitives, Joel Meecum.  There was a possible lead on Meecum’s ex-girlfriend that he follows which takes him to Idaho.

Nick rents a cabin across the street from Olivia Gallagher who he believes is actually Kari Hanson.  He befriends her but soon they can’t deny their attraction to each other and fall in bed together.  Unfortunately, when Livy finds out that Nick knows exactly who she is he’s not sure that their relationship will be able to go any farther.

Let me start by saying that I really wanted to like this book.  It had a good premise and I obviously liked the blurb or else I wouldn’t have read it.  That being said this was just an ok read for me.

Nick was a not really a likable guy and that bothered me.  Yes, he had good intentions with wanting to find Meecum but he bucked authority to do it.  Now I’m not all about following the rules but Nick was almost to the point of going vigilante to get the bad guy and that didn’t sit well with me.  I also didn’t like that he started a relationship with Livy knowing that he was lying to her about who he was.  This doesn’t normally bother me but it did in this instance for some reason.

Livy was a careful woman.  She locked doors and checked things constantly for her own safety.  When she so easily lets Nick into her life and starts doing things she knows are out of her norm, therefore putting herself in danger, I really questioned it.  That just wasn’t her and she didn’t seem like the type of person to just agree to go out on dates after meeting Nick when she had previously been afraid of her own shadow.  IDK, it just didn’t make sense.

The story itself dragged for me.  I needed more action and less sex as the sex scenes went on and on.  I found myself skimming those time and again.  I hate to say I got bored after a while but I did.  The very last portion of the book was when the action happened, which was good, but by that time it was just too late to salvage the book for me.  This was my first read by this author so I’ll give her another chance in the future.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reading Order

One Night More
One Kiss More
One Touch More
At Any Cost
Locked and Loaded

two-stars


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Guest Review: The Highlander Who Loved Me by Adrienne Basso

Posted December 22, 2015 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Highlander Who Loved Me by Adrienne BassoReviewer: Tracy
The Highlander Who Loved Me by Adrienne Basso
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: December 29, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
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three-half-stars

Scottish Highlands, 1329. Sir James McKenna, second son of the powerful McKenna Chief, knows he has found his destiny when he falls in love with sweet Lady Davina Armstrong, niece of the Armstrong Chief. Orphaned in childhood, Davina has always felt like an outsider, and with James finally feels that she belongs. But their plans for a happy future are shattered after a brutal attack by a band of rogues. Horrified, Davina’s overprotective family quickly shelters her from everyone—including James…

Five years later, James is a changed man. His fighting skills sharpened to perfection, he is hardened by the war and destruction he’s endured as a Scottish knight—and by the loss of Davina. Weary, he returns home—and is shocked to find Davina there. Is it too late for them to start anew, or will the past dare to lay claim to their future once more?

James McKenna is completely smitten with Davina Armstrong in the first days that he meets her.  He stays at her father’s keep for a while and they end up falling in love.  He proposes and she accepts but before they can even blink they’re attacked by brigands and Davina is assaulted.  She tells James that not only can’t she marry him now but she can’t marry any man (as she has no idea if she was raped or not).  Just looking at James brings it all back to her and she sends him away.

Five years later Davina is corresponding with James’s mother and is invited to McKenna lands for Christmas.  She has pretty much made herself a prisoner for the past five years and hasn’t even been out of the castle gates in all that time.  She can hardly stand the sound of loud male voices and she certainly can’t take being touched by one.  She is determined, however, to be a stronger woman and ends up going traveling against her aunt and uncle’s wishes.

The first night she’s there they family is eating dinner when James, who hasn’t been home in five years because of being the Crusades, returns.  He’s not necessarily happy to see Davina as he’s worked hard the past years to try and forget her.  He wasn’t successful and seeing her again brings back all of the old feelings.

When the McKenna finds out that Davina’s traveling party was attacked while en route to the castle he feels that it would be safer for her to be married and have the McKenna protection so strongly encourages her to pick either James or his brother as a husband.  Davina refuses but that doesn’t stop James’s brother Malcolm from giving it his best shot.  Davina is still in love with James and as much as James tries to stay away from her he find he just can’t.  Getting married, however, doesn’t keep Davina safe and together the pair has to find out who is behind all of the trouble.

The first part of this book, with James and Davina getting attacked was pretty heart wrenching.  I felt so horrible for Davina that she had no idea if she’d been raped or not and certainly didn’t blame her for her self-imposed seclusion.  She truly wanted to be “normal” again but her aunt and uncle (who she’d lived with since her parents died) encouraged her hermit-like behavior. I wanted her to break out of her shell because I knew that she could do it.

When she got to the McKenna keep and Malcolm started paying attention to her I wasn’t thrilled. He had no idea that she had been romantically involved with James or how deep that relationship had been.  I don’t feel she purposely tried to make Jame jealous but I was a bit miffed that she felt so comfortable with Malcolm.  He wasn’t a bad guy but he need to grow up a bit, that’s for sure.

I was happy that James finally broke out of his gruff I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude he became a really nice guy.  He was so determined to not let Davina effect him again that he was a bit of a bastard but he finally became the loving man he had been before – just able to protect her better.

Overall I liked the story.  It was a decent romance and the suspense portion of the story was enough that it kept me interested.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Feel the Burn by G.A. Aiken

Posted December 4, 2015 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Feel the Burn by G.A. AikenReviewer: Tracy
Feel the Burn by GA Aiken
Series: Dragonkin #8
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: November 24, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
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four-stars

I, Gaius Domitus, one-eyed rebel dragon king of the Provinces, know that better than most, since I have to fight off half my ungrateful family on a regular basis to keep law and order here in my lands. But I never expected to have to consort with a barbarian human woman.

Kachka is beautiful, if you like them fierce—and of course I do. But she keeps complaining about how spoiled and decadent I am, and how a feared Daughter of the Steppes has no time for foolish dragons. I think she likes my eye patch, though. It is quite dashing. With death always at our tails, we take our passion like we take our allies. As they say, love the barbarian you’re with…

Gaius Domitus is the one-eyed rebel king of the provinces.  He is on a mission to find his aunt and kill all of his relatives who are evil and must be destroyed.  While on this mission he comes across Kachka Shestakova who is a Daughter of the Steppes (and sister to Elina from Light My Fire) and is on her own mission to take down the fanatics who are killing Queen Annwyl’s temple attendants.

Kachka isn’t impressed with Gaius and his “spoiled” lifestyle as she puts it, but there is some kind of attraction between them.  Kachka is very down to earth and makes no bones about her want of Gaius physically but as she never goes back for seconds with a man she thinks they’ll get together and then go their separate ways.  They end up working together and also end up falling in love…in a way that only Gaius and Kachka can – with not a lot of romance.

The eighth book in the Dragonkin series was another good one.  I loved seeing the characters from previous books as well as getting to know Gaius and Kachka and their interesting personalities.

Kachka cracked me up.  Her and her Daughter of the Steppes compatriots were a force to be reckoned with and they never hesitated to show their incredible arrogance.  They had no lack of confidence, that’s for sure.  They felt themselves above all the others – mostly in the whole world but especially to dragons who they considered animals.  Kachka herself didn’t understand her sisters love of Celyn as he was an animal (dragon) but the more she got to know Gaius the more she could see her sisters reasons.  I loved how she ever so slowly got more comfortable with him and then gave in to him completely.  He was pretty excited about that as well. 🙂 Their relationship was one of sex and fighting with not a lot of romance but it worked for them (and me) and was perfect for the world that Aiken has created.

The overall story arc with the religious fanatics intersecting with Gaius’s mission to decimate his family (for good reason) was a good one.  I liked how the story didn’t fully focus on Gaius and Kachka but blended well with everything else that was going on with the on-going story.

We also got to read more about the children of the dragon couples that we have read about so far – lovingly called the Abominations – and got to see them a little bit more clearly.  Their powers are incredible and I truly can’t wait to see what will happen next in their lives.

If you love a good dragon story with lots of action, witty banter, sarcasm and sometimes laugh out loud humor this is a great book for you.  If you haven’t started the series yet I would highly recommend it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Dragon on Top by G.A. Aiken

Posted October 26, 2015 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Dragon on Top by G.A. AikenReviewer: Tracy
Dragon on Top by GA Aiken
Series: Dragon Kin #0.4
Also in this series: Light My Fire
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: October 27, 2015
Genres: Paranormal Romance
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four-stars

Try a little dragon tenderness.

I am Glheanna the Decimator. I am a warrior. A soldier. I know no fear. No pain. No mercy. I do, however, know acute embarrassment! How could I not after getting dumped by a bastard dragon in front of my own troops? So I tuck tail and return to my cave, drowning my sorrows in ale—as is my family’s way. But instead of leaving me to my misery, I’ve been summoned to the Dragon Queen’s court.

As if my life wasn’t pathetic enough, Her Majesty now has me escorting the highborn Bram the Merciful through dangerous territories—not exactly the best use of my military training. And just so he can negotiate with enemy dragons instead of battling them? Honestly, what has my world come to? Then again…Bram is quite easy on the eyes. And the perfect distraction for what ails me. Perhaps I’m looking at all this the wrong way. Maybe there is a place for a little “mercy” in my life…

Tracy’s review of Dragon on Top (Dragon Kin #0.4) by G.A. Aiken

Bram the Merciful is a peacemaker and has been in love with Ghleanna for years – maybe even a half a century. She apparently doesn’t know he’s alive but she’s been assigned to protect him on his journey to secure a true with the Sand Dragons. She takes along her brothers Cai, Hew, Adain and Addolgar. While on the way they are set upon and Ghleanna is hurt. When Bram tries to save her he finds he has no choice to be to seek refuge from the Sea Dragons – the ocean being a place he swore he’d never go again.

Bram and Ghleanna are required to stay under the water for a time and they each have their own tasks to occupy their time – Bram with creating a truce between Rhiannon and the Sea Dragon empress, Helena – and Ghleanna training warriors and creating a revolution. 🙂 But the best thing that they have to do is each other. Bram finally gets Ghleanna to see him for the man he is and once that happens there’s not stopping them for being all over each other.

This novella was just fun! I love this series to death because it’s such a wonderful blend of fun, funny, sarcastic, sexy, brutal and the dragon’s own form of romance. Aiken’s books never fail to leave me with a smile, that’s for sure.

In this story we had two very opposite people. A tough female warrior who would almost rather strike first and talk later and a peacemaker. You wouldn’t think that these two would work out but they have own way of dealing with each other and it works! I loved seeing the two come together and work things out.

This book, as the others in series do, had a great sense of family. It’s not like any family that I’ve ever met in real life but it works for these crazy dragons and they may be tough on each other but that’s the way they show love. I can’t help but love the way they show their affection for each other – even though there’s a lot of head-butting involved. 🙂

A great addition to the series and it was nice to go back and get Bram and Ghleanna’s story after reading about them so often.

Rating: 4 out of 5

This title is available from Zebra Books. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

four-stars


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