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Judith’s Reviews

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Guest Review: Guess What Washed Up On My Shores . . . “The Laird’s Choice” by Amanda Scott

Posted December 20, 2012 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Please welcome my mama to Tracy’s Place.  Some of you know her as Judith, some as Dr. J, some as a guest reviewer on Book Binge and some not at all.  I just know her as Ma.  However you know her, or don’t, just know she writes great reviews and will be hopefully be writing a few more for my blog in the future.  
Bound . . .
Andrena MacFarlan has been different since the day she was born. Possessing the
power to sense others’ most intimate desires, she knows her duty is to marry
the man who will take the MacFarlan name as his own and help her father regain
the chiefdom of their clan. But her unique gifts don’t prepare her for the day
when a mighty warrior suddenly enters her life. The attraction between them is
undeniable — and insatiable.

Desire Unleashed . . . Hunted
by brutal enemies, the wounded Magnus Galbraith washes up on MacFarlan land
where he is rescued by a laird’s lovely daughter. Andrena is like no one Magnus
has ever known. She has the uncanny ability to both calm and enflame him in
ways he never dreamed possible. But she has other unknown-and dangerous-powers.
Now, as Magnus seeks to avenge a brother and protect a king, the young beauty
could prove his greatest ally-or his ultimate undoing.

Historical novels aren’t
for everyone.  There are lots of
different kinds of history-based novels that are far less intense than those
written by Amanda Scott but I, for one, happen to like the heavy nature of her
writing.  She is an author that does lots
and lots of research and leaves no doubt in the minds of readers that she knows
this time period backward and forward. 
That being said, this particular novel is set in a time when  Scotland was being torn asunder by political
and clan rivalries, when the reign of Scotland’s king was on the brink of
coming to an end, when the characters in this story were caught in a clan and
family battle for power and position within the Clan Farlan (as it was then
called).    The Lady Andrena’s father,
the rightful Laird, was hopeful that with the marriage of his oldest daughter
he could secure the kinship and loyalty of a strong son-in-law, hopefully a
warrior, and one who would not feel threatened by taking the Clan Farlan’s
family name as his own. 
Thus the stage is set for
the romance of Andrena and Magnus, two very strong people who had learned to
survive under very difficult circumstances. 
Magnus had been taken as a prisoner of war during a clan conflict that
had caused his brother’s death—a death for which his father blamed him and had
essentially disowned him.   For two years
he survived as a galley slave until  he
found opportunity to escape during a timely storm.  He was literally “washed” into Andrena’s life
and when she brought him home—wet, bedraggled, and seeking sanctuary from those
who would again imprison him, the clan laird saw his future son-in-law standing
before him.  Curiously, Andrena predicted
that such would be her father’s response to Magnus’ appearance in their keep.  And so their relationship begins. 
This is a very involved
historical novel and I have to say that if the reader is one who likes a little
history mixed in with their romance, this is probably not the novel for
you.  This story reeks of history and
there were times I felt that the historical content overwhelmed the
romance.  Yet thinking back on that
reading experience, it was the history that made their relationship possible
and which constantly shaped the experiences in which their relationship grew
and matured.  Certainly the marriage was
consummated.  Arranged marriages and
especially those of political necessity never depended on love or romance.  Yet Magnus was a man of his time in many
respects and yet he was one who was attracted to Andrena, recognized that there
were facets of her personality that were, to say the least, mysterious.   Her willingness to fit in with her father’s
plans, to see the rightness of what needed to happen and to accept Magnus’
presence in her life as husband testify to the way she was raised and to the
fact that her father had treated her as a person of worth, not just a female
handy for breeding. 
It is a credit to this
author that she found a way to feature the relationship between these two very
different people in the midst of a historical context that was so convoluted
and mired with war and conflict.  The
characters in the story are both real and fictional, but all are merged
together in a literary tapestry that is seamless so that the reader, especially
one not really knowledgeable of this era, cannot distinguish one from the
other.  It is a novel that testifies to
the fact that even arranged marriages were successful, whether deeply loving or
just grandly respectful  didn’t matter.  In Andrena and Magnus’ case, what began as
political reality and burgeoning respect, gradually grew into a passionate love
affair that gave both these people an opportunity to be loved and cherished
beyond their expectations.
I want to comment also,
that I don’t think the publisher’s blurb is quite as accurate as I would
like.  This romance didn’t begin, to my
way of thinking, with that electric spark or thunderous awareness of deep
potential passion.  I think it started
with a quiet attraction, a set of possibilities that gave Magnus a new start and
Andrena the possible home and hearth she craved, but it was a marriage/romance
that grew quietly and steadily into a grand passion for them both.  Now don’t get me wrong.  They certainly found ways to light up the sheets
almost from the beginning.  But perhaps
this story is more about how their arranged union grew from political necessity
and physical consummation into a bond that made their marriage a true and
loving one.
Ms Scott is a prolific
writer and she just keeps on gracing her readers with some beautifully written
stories.  I, for one, am deeply
grateful.  We all know there are lots of
romance fiction writers and there are lots of levels of expertise and ability
“out there.”  It is a grand thing to
encounter novels that not only tell and really good story but which educate the
mind and memory as well as entertain the soul. 
This is one of those books.


give it a rating of 4 out of 5

Amanda Scott 

If you’d like to read more of Judith’s reviews you can check out her blog Dr. J’s Book Place

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Guest Review: Eagles Run by Desiree Holt

Posted July 22, 2010 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith‘s review of Eagles Run by Desiree Holt.

Her father was murdered by an unknown killer. Now Leah Morgan, the half-Commanche daughter of the owner of White Eagle Ranch, is faced with his unsolved murder, as well as two illegitimate half brothers who have each been left a share of the ranch. If not for Shane Duffy, the hot-looking, hot-blooded veterinarian, she’d be falling apart completely.

As she fights to retain control of the ranch and considers her heritage, Leah finds comfort in long nights of sweaty sex with Shane. And then there’s Grant Fallon, the geologist who wants to show Leah he can bring her more screaming orgasms than the hunky vet if she’ll just give him a chance.

But someone has an ulterior motive. Is it Shane? Grant? One of her half brothers? Leah might find the answer–if she’s not too busy chasing away the shadows in the arms of her lover.

Desiree Holt has written quite a number of steamy, sweaty, sexy volumes of erotic romance in a number of genres, not the least of which is Western romance. This particular book is the first in a two-book series and while it is not an extensive read, contains a fair amount of suspense and mystery to go along with the erotic romance.

The introductory paragraphs give you the gist of this book’s plot, but suffice it to say that Leah is at a critical crossroads in her life journey. She has really planned to continue on running White Eagle Ranch with her dad until he was murdered. Now she finds that she not only has to contend with the murder mystery, grief over her father’s death, but she also now cannot make decisions for the ranch without the say of her two half-brothers, previously unknown to her and who now own 2/3 of the ranch. The are willing to leave the day-to-day running of the ranch in her hands since neither of them have ever run a ranch before this. In fact, her father’s will is the first time that her dad had acknowledged either one of these men as his son. And Grant Fallon? That handsome, pestiferous presence that is supposedly a geologist that has been granted permission by her father to survey the ranch for possible minerals that could be mined? He wafts in and out of this story and is constantly putting doubts in Leah’s mind about the loyalty and genuine affection for her by boyfriend Shane. Now she wonders if any of these men really cares about her or do they just want her ranch?

Anyone who has read Desiree Holt knows that she can steam up the windows of your reading room as fast as anyone out there, but I’m not sure she gets enough credit for writing a darn good story. She has developed this plot beautifully, helped the reader to know not only the presence of each of these characters but also a bit of what is “making them tick.” There are a number of surprises and just the nature of the mysteries within this story is enough to keep the reader on the edge of their reading chairs. I was quite taken with the fact that by the time I was in the middle of the book I was not sure how Holt was going to resolve the issues and reveal who the “bad guy” really was. Well, she did it, and she did it well.

This is also about the hurt and fall-out that comes when a person engages in irresponsible relationships and is not willing to make amends when children are involved. Both these half-brothers stand as metaphors for many people who have been brought into this world because of a thoughtless roll in the hay by people who are not prepared to live with the consequences of their irresponbility. Now, they not only are victimized by their now-dead father, but Leah’s life has been turned upside down. There are indications that her dad would have done the same thing to Leah if her Commanche grandfather, a tribal elder, had not visited Mr. Morgan in full battle dress and demanded that he “make an honest woman” out of Leah’s mother. Not a very nice guy!!

I liked this book a lot and I am look forward to reading the next book in the series that is just newly available–Eagle’s Redemption. I have read quite a bit of Holt’s work and find her to be very creative and a writer who has managed to stay off personal “hobby horses” where themes and plots are concerned. I think erotic romance fans will find a lot to like in this novella, especially if your heart goes pitter-pat over those hunky Texas cowboys. I give this book a 4 out of 5 rating.

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

You can read more of Judith’s reviews at Dr. J’s Book Place.

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Guest Review: Lying With Wolves by Cynthia Cooke

Posted October 31, 2014 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Genres: Paranormal Romance

Judith’s revLying with wolvesiew of Lying with Wolves by Cynthia Cooke.

Only her powerful magic can save the Colony and the man she loves…In the wake of a betrayal, Celia Lawson, the last of a preeminent magical bloodline, is building a new life for herself outside the security of the Colony. Meanwhile, demon raiders have breached the protective barriers of the compound and are threatening everyone she loves. When she learns of the tragedy, Celia races home to help mount a magical offensive–and finds comfort back in the arms of the shifter who broke her heart….

Risking exposure for all that he’s done, Malcolm Daniels wants only to redeem himself with the pack and win back Celia’s trust. But as demon forces invade, Celia’s magic–and her own conflicted feelings for Malcolm–will be tested in ways neither of them ever would have imagined.

I don’t remember the last time I read a book by this author but I found this new novel on Net Galley and chose to review it.  I have liked paranormal/shifter romance for a long time and have found that most of the Nocturne series of stories from Harlequin to be quite good.

I am sorry to say that I did not find this one to be one of the really good ones.  There was romance and emotion, hope and hurt, family and friendship, and lots of stuff that is usually found in a romance novel.  But I can’t say it any other way:  that indefinable something, that “wow” factor that makes a novel pop, that compels the reader to want to go back and start all over when reaching the ending just wasn’t there.  In fact, there were times when the drawn out angst with the heroine’s cousins, the shock and surprise and upset over discovering their shifter heritage became tedious and the momentum of the story lagged badly.

On the other hand, the story was constructed just fine and testified to the fact that this author certainly knows how to put a novel together in fine fashion.  I think the fault for me lay in the action of the story, the sense that the leadership of the pack was never demonstrating that sense of power that alpha wolves traditionally display, the silliness of council members who are so out of touch, and the fact that the hero sought to cement his leadership of the pack with manipulation rather than with good leadership.  All this may have more to say about me than about the story, and I am willing to own up to the fact that having read so very many paranormal romances has made me somewhat jaded.  The writing was good;  the editing was fine–I have seldom found any publications by Harlequin that have not been up to a pretty high standard in this factor.  The story was just not up to snuff for me–it just fell short and I guess that’s the best I can do.  I would urge you to read the book for yourself.  It may be that you will be impressed with it far differently than I.

I do want you to know that I am going to go back and read something from this author to check out her work as a comparative study.  I think she wrote well.  I want to encounter some of her work that really excites me.

I give this book a rating of 3 out of 5

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place

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


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Guest Review: His Every Fantasy by Delilah Devlin

Posted September 25, 2014 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’sHis Every Fantasy review of His Every Fantasy (Sultry Summer Nights #2) by Delilah Devlin

 The last thing ex-SEAL Sergei Gun needs is a complication. As part of a powerful black-ops company, he’s led an extraction team into the Mexican jungle to rescue two men who have been kidnapped. Everything has gone according to plan until Serge discovers a third hostage-an exquisitely beautiful woman with a secret haunting her stormy gray eyes . . . a woman who refuses to make this rescue easy. With no choice but to bring her back to the compound deep in the sultry, steamy Louisiana bayou, Serge vows to protect her, body and soul . . .

Kara Nichols never imagined that she’d capture the interest of a powerful man like Serge. Yet from the moment they met, she’s fantasized about his strong hands caressing her naked skin, his musky scent lingering on her sheets. What began as a simple rescue mission ignites into a passionate affair. As Serge teaches her the tantalizing art of surrender, Kara finds herself more than willing to shed every last one of her inhibitions and submit to him fully. But the dark, dangerous forces that captured Kara aren’t ready to let her go so easily . . .

In a nutshell, this is a story about a former SEAL whose team was sent in to rescue two American business executives and they found a  woman being held captive as well.  There was no way they were going to leave her behind and thus began the relationship of sorts between Sergei Gun  and Kara.  Anyone who has read Ms Devlin’s previous work knows that she writes erotic romance fiction under the guise of many contexts and  genres.  In every case the stories are hot and romantic and filled with characters who are individuals most of us would like to meet and get to know.    This story is no exception.  It is filled with people who have strength within themselves that is put to the test in many ways.  Often, as is the case here,  there are unexpected happenings and complicated emotional involvement between the characters.  But one characteristic of this series is that all the  on going characters are former SEALs and have the bonds that loyalty under fire created.

Mostly this is a continuation with expansion of parts of book one.  The two oil executives who prompted the Mexican raid for their rescue appeared first in book one of this series but their situation was unresolved.  Kara, the young woman who was rescued at the same time, now realizes that her life has been drastically changed by her abduction.  She can never really go home.  The man who romanced her right into being kidnapped is a powerful Mexican cartel overlord and one who will never allow himself to be defeated.  He will continue to come after her until she is either caught or dead.  Her biggest concern involves her uncle, her mother’s older brother and a man who has never really shielded her from any of life’s hurts.  Now, as an intern in his law firm, she wonders if he has been a part of her abduction.  Needless to say, the mystery surrounding this entire situation is compelling.  Add to that the almost instant connection between Kara and Sergei, a man who has carefully guarded his heart since a woman he loved was brutally killed in Afghanistan years ago.  How can he allow Kara to become important to him and how can he let her go?  As always, it is the kind of situation Ms Devlin seems to know how to handle and one that often pops up in her work.

I have been reading Ms Devlin’s work for years and find that even though many of her themes pop up repeatedly, I don’t get bored with her writing.  Somehow she brings a freshness to each of her stories that keeps readers bound to the pages of her books.  In this case, all the men of this personal security firm are involved in the BDSM lifestyle and there are definitely aspects of that in the developing relationship between Kara and Sergei.  It is not hardcore by any means but seems to be appropriately used to build trust between two people who have learned that trust is a precious and often illusive commodity.  And as is so often the case, learning to trust forms the foundation of a journey of self-discovery just as much for Sergei as for Kara.

All in all, this is a find book, one that will delight Ms Devlin’s fans and one that is easily read and in my case, very much enjoyed.  It is beautifully written and edited and that is always a joy in itself.  Most of all, Ms Devlin has a way of bringing unusual characters to life and making them real to the readers.  Boone and Tilly, two of Sergei’s best friends and characters featured in book one, are of immense help to Kara in coming to terms with her situation and helping her to understand the dynamics of dominance and submission.  Tilly is also one of those women who knows how to accept others unconditionally and having that kind of friend is altogether new for Kara and the kind of friend she has long desired.  In all these characters we see personalities of friends we would like to know.  Even the men who are often brusque and tight-lipped are nevertheless the kind of people who one instinctively trusts.  They are the kind of characters one often finds in Devlin books.  I was delighted to find this book on Netgalley and am delighted to give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This title is available from Forever Yours Publishing.  You can buy it here or here in e-format.  This book was received by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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