Publisher: Ballantine Books

Review: Shadow Music by Julie Garwood

Posted November 19, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Shadow Music by Julie GarwoodReviewer: Rowena
Shadow Music by Julie Garwood
Series: Highlands Lairds #3
Also in this series: Shadow Music , Ransom, The Secret (Highlands' Lairds #1), Ransom (Highlands' Lairds, #2), Shadow Music
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: December 26, 2007
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 339
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 A-Z Reading Challenge, Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

For Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel, Scotland is a land of stunning vistas, wild chieftains, treacherous glens, and steep shadows--skullduggery, betrayal, and now murder. Prized for her exquisite beauty, the daughter of one of England's most influential barons, Gabrielle is also a perfect bargaining chip for a king who needs peace in the Highlands: King John has arranged Gabrielle's marriage to a good and gentle laird. But this marriage will never take place.

For Gabrielle, everything changes in one last burst of freedom--when she and her guards come upon a scene of unimaginable cruelty. With one shot from her bow and arrow, Gabrielle takes a life, saves a life, and begins a war.

Within days, the Highlands are aflame with passions as a battle royal flares between enemies old and new. Having come to Scotland to be married, Gabrielle is instead entangled in Highland intrigue. For two sadistic noblemen, underestimating Gabrielle's bravery and prowess may prove fatal. But thanks to a secret Gabrielle possesses, Colm MacHugh, the most feared man in Scotland, finds a new cause for courage. Under his penetrating gaze, neither Gabrielle's body nor heart is safe.

I read this a couple of months ago and have been really busy so I’m catching up on writing my reviews right now. Shadow Music is the third book in Julie Garwood’s Highlands Lairds series and it follows Ransom, which came out ages and ages ago. While this book is part of the Highlands Lairds series, it can totally be read as a standalone. Reading this book brought back many memories of the other books that I have loved from Julie Garwood and it started an epic Julie Garwood binge readathon. I went back and re-read The Secret and Ransom and just kept right on re-reading all of my Garwood favorites. I enjoyed this book and even though it wasn’t a favorite read of mine, it was still a solid read that even my picky book club friends enjoyed.

Gabrielle’s father is a Baron from England and her mother is a Princess in St. Biel. St. Biel is a small country that has an interesting history that not very many people on St. Biel believe to be true. They believe the story of their homeland is more myth than truth but it’s part of their history and everyone knows it. When the story of St. Biel’s history becomes a real life threat to Gabrielle’s life, this story really heats up. Between being a pawn in King John’s efforts in trying to keep the peace with the Highland Lairds, her betrothed being killed and then coming upon an attack that starts a Highland war, there is much to dig into with this story.

Laird Colm MacHugh is trying to find out what happened to his brother. He is healing from injuries suffered from an attack at a nearby abbey and Colm means to find out what happened and who did this to his brother. He was not expecting to find himself engaged to an English lass who was just outed as a whore. As a favor to his friend, Brodick Buchanan, Colm steps up to protect the young lass and claim her as his. When she accepts his suit and then promptly disappears, Colm knows that he’s going to have his hands full with this new fiancee.

There is a lot going on in this book but I thought that Garwood handled the storytelling really well. I was invested in what was going on with Gabrielle and Colm. I loved seeing them come together in love. I adored seeing Brodick again, hearing about the Maitlands and the Ramsays and even though Brodick brings up what went down in Ransom and got the details wrong (he said that Ramsay’s brother Michael was taken when it was actually Iain’s son Alec that was taken), I still really enjoyed this one. Gabrielle was a great heroine and I really loved her guards. I loved how loyal they were to each other. They didn’t question anything or back down from anyone but Gabrielle and I really loved that. I also really loved seeing Gabrielle run circles around Colm until he couldn’t help but love the heck out of her. There were parts of the book that I didn’t care for, like the constant crap with the two English barons fighting over Gabrielle but I enjoyed the other bits enough that I could overlook them and their shenanigans.

This was a solid romance that I enjoyed from beginning to end and even though it’s not my favorite book by Garwood, I’d still recommend it to fans of her other historicals. I really wish she’d write more historicals.

Final Grade

4 out of 5

Highlands Lairds

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

What Are You Reading? (+ J.R. Ward Giveaway)

Posted April 19, 2019 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 8 Comments

Casee: It’s been a slow reading week for me. I haven’t had the time nor the inclination to read. I’ve been reading At the Pleasure of the President (The Perfect Gentlemen #5) by Shayla Black and Lexi Blake for about a week. It’s not that it’s not good because it is. I’ve just had a lack of concentration that’s been driving me crazy. I’m hoping to finish it by today. After that I plan on going back to Kristen Ashley and reading Wild Man (Dream Man #2).

I’ve actually listened to quite a few audiobooks this past week. I found that the first three books in Shayla Black’s More Than Words series were part of the Audible Romance Package, so I decided to give those a try. I have to admit that I did not enjoy More Than Want You (More Than Words #1) at all. I don’t know why I continued, but I did. I listened to More Than Need You (More Than Words #2) and enjoyed that far more. I was going to move onto More Than Love You (More Than Words #3), but decided to take a break. I then tried to listen to Shadow Rider (Shadow Riders #1) by Christine Feehan in anticipation of the release of Shadow Warrior (Shadow Riders #4), but the narrator was God awful. Like, terrible. After that I picked up Lost Hearts (Memento Mori)(Masters & Mercenaries: The Forgotten #1) by Lexi Blake. I’m not a fan of the heroine so far, but the hero is great. We will see how that plays out.

Holly: I’m in a strange reading funk. I want to read, but I don’t want to read anything new. I’m mostly just re-reading things. I read American Witch by Thea Harrison, which was fabulous. I adored Molly and loved the intensity of the romance. Then I started Ice Hot by Tracy Goodwin so I could review it with Rowena, but I ended up DNF’ing it. I couldn’t get into the story and the characters annoyed me. I read The Bride Test by Helen Hoang and it was so wonderful! I even got all teary eyed at the end.

Aside from that, I finished re-reading Wildfire by Ilona Andrews, then I re-read The Gamble by Kristen Ashley and Repeat by Kylie Scott (it was just as good in print, though Andy Ardnt as narrator really added something extra to the story).

I’m still listening to Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper. It’s slow going. I don’t think it’s the book so much as my lack of concentration. I plan to read Getting Hot with the Scot by Melonie Johnson next. I started it months ago but couldn’t get into it (it wasn’t the book, it was me). Wish me luck?

Rowena: I read some books! I started the week finishing up my re-read of The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years #4) by Sarina Bowen and that was great. Then I didn’t read a thing until I read Magic Burns (Kate Daniels #2) by Ilona Andrews and enjoyed that one heaps more than the first one. I also read Hook Shot (Hoops #3) by Kennedy Ryan and loved that one. Man, Kennedy Ryan writes the best emotional romances. So freaking good. I also started and DNF’d Ice Hot (New York Nighthawks #1) by Tracy Goodwin, that book just wasn’t for me. The dialogue, the immaturity of both the hero and heroine (the hero is supposed to be a veteran player in the NHL, mentoring younger players and I didn’t buy his whole deal) turned me off that I begged Holly to choose another book for us to read together….so we read The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2) by Helen Hoang together and squee I’m almost done with it and I’m enjoying it so much. I should be finished with it on my lunch hour.

After that, I’ll be re-reading The Fifteenth Minute (The Ivy Years #5) by Sarina Bowen to finish up my re-read of the series and then I’ll be jumping into Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson #7) by Patricia Briggs because I fell behind in my reading challenges and I chose that book for my entry into this month’s TBR Challenge. I’m still playing catch up but I’m just happy to be reading on a regular basis now. Yay!!

Giveaway Alert

We are very fortunate here at Book Binge. We have loads and loads of books to read and we want to share the wealth so each week, we’ll be tacking on a Freebie Friday giveaway to our What Are You Reading posts. This week, we’re giving away…

What Are You Reading? (+ J.R. Ward Giveaway)The Thief by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #16
Also in this series: Lover Unbound, Lover Avenged, Lover Unleashed, Lover at Last, Lover at Last, The King, The Shadows, The Beast, Lover Enshrined, The Chosen, Lover Mine, The Thief, The Savior, Where Winter Finds You
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Pages: 454
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: three-stars

New enemies rise and desire burns in the next thrilling novel of the #1 New York Times bestselling paranormal romance series the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

Sola Morte, former cat burglar and safecracker, has given up her old life on the wrong side of the law. On the run from a drug lord's family, she is lying low far from Caldwell, keeping her nose clean and her beloved grandmother safe. Her heart, though, is back up north, with the only man who has ever gotten through her defenses: Assail, son of Assail, who never meant to fall in love--and certainly not with a human woman. But they have no future, and not just because she doesn't know he is a vampire, but because he is not about to stop dealing arms to the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Fate, however, has other plans for them. When Assail falls into a coma and lingers on the verge of death, his cousins seek out Sola and beg her to give him a reason to live. The last thing she wants is a return to her past, but how can she leave him to die?

As a lethal new enemy of the vampires shows its face, and the Brotherhood needs Assail back on his feet, Sola finds herself not only a target, but a mission-critical force in a war she doesn't understand. And when Assail's truth comes out, will she run from the horror . . . or follow her heart into the arms of the male who loves her more than life itself?

What Are You Reading: The Thief by J.R. Ward

What are you reading this week? Any new favorites or books that drove you crazy? Share!


Tagged: , , , ,

Review: Never Love a Highlander by Maya Banks

Posted November 1, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Never Love a Highlander by Maya BanksReviewer: Rowena
Never Love a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy, #3) by Maya Banks
Narrator: Kirsten Potter
Series: McCabe Trilogy #3
Also in this series: In Bed with a Highlander, In Bed with a Highlander, Never Love a Highlander, Seduction of a Highland Lass, In Bed with a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy, #1), Seduction of a Highland Lass (McCabe Trilogy, #2)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 305
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

In a tale of strong ties and true love, Maya Banks' trilogy comes to its conclusion, as the youngest McCabe brother uses sword and seduction to save his clan - and seal his heart.

Caelen McCabe’s young, reckless heart nearly destroyed his clan. Now, putting family loyalty above all else, he steps up to marry his older brother’s jilted bride and salvage the uneasy alliance between two clans. While beautiful Rionna McDonald is a fit wife for any man, Caelen trusts no woman, especially not this sweet temptress who torments him with white-hot longing.

As the sacrificial lamb in her father’s power game, Rionna will do her duty but vows to protect her heart and her pride from humiliation. Despite everything, though, the heat in Caelen’s touch melts her defenses, and she craves the sensual delights of a husband who guards his emotions as fiercely as his clan. But when the ultimate battle for the McCabe legacy is upon them, Rionna’s true warrior spirit emerges. She will risk the wrath of her father, the fury of her enemies, and her life to prove to Caelen that his wife’s love is too precious to lose.

Never Love a Highlander is the series finale and boy oh boy, what a finale it was. This book wasn’t as angsty as Seduction of a Highland Lass but it was just as good. I was telling Holly while I was reading this book that Maya Banks did such a great job with this series. This entire series was well written and reading each book just added to my overall enjoyment of these stories. Each story was different and refreshing but one thing that didn’t change through each book was how grumpy Caelen was.

Rionna McDonald has been engaged to all three of the McCabe brothers but it is the youngest of the McCabe’s, Caelen that she will finally marry and his attitude leaves much to be desired. He’s bossy, he’s grumpy and she can’t at all picture a happy future with him. Not that she has much of a choice. With her blessing, Caelen takes over as Laird immediately after they wed and not after their first child is born as originally agreed upon. As you can imagine, Rionna’s father was not happy with that but Caelen doesn’t give a damn and honestly, neither does Rionna. Rionna has grown up knowing that her father was a bad Laird and an even worse father so she can only hope that Caelen is a better Laird and will turn things around for her clan.

When they get back home to the McDonald keep, there is much to be done. Caelen has to earn the respect and loyalty of the McDonald men and Rionna has ideas of how to go about that but Caelen, being the hardheaded asshole that we’ve known throughout this entire series doesn’t listen to her. He’s gotta do it his own way and seeing him work through every defense that the men throw his way went a long way to winning me over to him.

Rionna was such a fantastic heroine. I warmed all the way up toward her character in the last book when we find out how she looked after Keeley and her reasons for her silence on the matter. The amount of love Rionna had for Keeley warmed my heart and seeing her front and center in her own book only served to show me how much more I would come to love her.

The romance between Caelen and Rionna had moments where I was frustrated with how dense Caelen seemed to be about Rionna’s feelings and then he’d explain himself and I couldn’t help but see where he’s coming from. There was a lot of back and forth between them but I was wrapped up in all of their drama. I loved every minute of it.

The entire last half of the book had me shook. From the lengths that Rionna goes to save Caelen, doing what she had to do to make sure that he stayed alive hit me right in my feels and that ending battle? Seeing all of the McCabe brothers fighting side by side to bring the bad guys down? I had pictures of Jon Snow going into battle and coming out victorious running through my head while all of that was going down. I loved it all and when I finished the book, I was a little sad to be done with all of the books. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the McCabes and McDonalds and the way that Banks wrapped up everyone’s stories was so satisfying that she cemented herself on my auto-buy list. This book was good dammit. Go and read this series if you haven’t yet. You won’t be sorry.

4.5 out of 5

McCabe Trilogy

four-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Summer Reading Challenge Review: In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks

Posted September 11, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Summer Reading Challenge Review: In Bed with a Highlander by Maya BanksReviewer: Rowena
In Bed with a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy, #1) by Maya Banks
Series: McCabe Trilogy #1
Also in this series: In Bed with a Highlander, In Bed with a Highlander, Never Love a Highlander, Seduction of a Highland Lass, Seduction of a Highland Lass (McCabe Trilogy, #2), Never Love a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy, #3)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 351
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Maya Banks' beguiling new trilogy features three unforgettable brothers risking everything to save their clan and their legacy—and to surrender their hearts to love.

Ewan McCabe, the eldest, is a warrior determined to vanquish his enemy. Now, with the time ripe for battle, his men are ready and Ewan is poised to take back what is his—until a blue-eyed, raven-haired temptress is thrust upon him. Mairin may be the salvation of Ewan's clan, but for a man who dreams only of revenge, matters of the heart are strange territory to conquer.

The illegitimate daughter of the king, Mairin possesses prized property that has made her a pawn—and wary of love. Her worst fears are realized when she is rescued from peril only to be forced into marriage by her charismatic and commanding savior, Ewan McCabe. But her attraction to her ruggedly powerful new husband makes her crave his surprisingly tender touch; her body comes alive under his sensual mastery. And as war draws near, Mairin's strength, spirit, and passion challenge Ewan to conquer his demons—and embrace a love that means more than revenge and land.

In Bed with a Highlander is the first book in the McCabe’s Trilogy and it’s also one of Holly’s picks for my Summer Reading Challenge. I’m happy to report that Maya Banks has hooked me with this first book and I cannot wait to read Alaric and Caelen’s books.

Mairin Stuart is a wanted woman but not by the law or anything like that. No. She’s wanted by land and money hungry men who want to claim her and all of the riches she brings to a marriage. When she’s found at the abbey where she was hiding at and then captured, she comes across a young boy who needs her help and protection so she uses her wiles to protect that little boy. After a severe beating, Mairin and her young charge flee for their lives. The young boy, Crispin vows that his father will protect her and all they need to do is get home.

When they’re rescued by Crispin’s uncle and taken home, Mairin realizes that she may not have to marry Laird Cameron but she does have to marry Crispin’s father, Ewan McCabe, in order for him to properly protect her. She has no wish to marry someone she doesn’t know and a little part of her has always wanted someone to want to marry her for her and not what she can bring to their marriage. While living with the McCabe tribe, Mairin tries to make the best of her situation and make a place for herself within the McCabe clan and just when she thinks maybe she’s found her place in the world, she’s summoned before the King to validate her marriage to Ewan.

Ewan has the weight of the clan’s problems on his shoulders and even though he’s made progress on building his clan back up, he’s still struggling to make ends meet, make sure everyone is fed and clothed and the responsibility never ends for him. When his young son goes missing and returns with a woman who protected him from those that meant to harm him, on one hand, he’s grateful but on the other hand, he’s wary because he has no idea who this woman is and what she’s doing with him. She becomes the answers to all of his dreams and nobody is more surprised than he is that he develops feelings for her and he would go to the ends of the earth to keep her safe.

Maya Banks is new to me but she’s won me over because I have already downloaded the rest of this series to my kindle and as soon as I can, I’ll be getting to know Alaric and Caelen a lot better. I can’t wait. Ewan and Mairin were a great couple that reminded me of my favorite couples from old school Julie Garwood books and that’s a plus for me. Who doesn’t love old school Julie Garwood? This was a fun book from beginning to end and the romance was lovely. So good. I definitely recommend.

Grade: 4 out of 5

McCabe Trilogy

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Review: Blood Fury by J.R. Ward

Posted February 15, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Blood Fury by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
Blood Fury by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Legacy #3
Also in this series: Blood Truth
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: January 9th 2018
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 411
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

A vampire aristocrat, Peyton is well aware of his duty to his bloodline: mate with an appropriate female of his class and carry on his family’s traditions. And he thought he’d found his perfect match—until she fell in love with someone else. Yet when his split-second decision in a battle with the enemy endangers the life of another trainee, Peyton has to face the idea that his future, and his heart, actually lie with another.

Novo, as a female in the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training program, feels like she has to prove herself to everybody—and she has no interest in being distracted by falling in love. But when Peyton proves to be so much more than a rich playboy, she is forced to confront the tragedy that has broken her soul and closed her off from love.

As the two grapple with Novo’s past and Peyton’s present, another couple must contend with an erotic connection that is unparalleled—and potentially scandalous.

Saxton, who has had his heart broken, discovers in himself a deep-seated attraction to Ruhn, a new member of the household. But will the other male explore the connection? Or will he close his mind and his heart to what could be true love . . . and cost Saxton everything?

Although the characters overlap between the Black Dagger Legacy and the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, the BDL series has overtaken the BDB. I am forcing myself to be a realist. Blood Fury is only the third book in a series that could potentially be eighty three books long. Zsadist’s book was the third book in the BDB series. At that time the series was still exciting and fresh as a daisy. What number are we at now? Fourteen? Twenty two? I digress. It’s not just the new look at the series, it’s the actually characters of the series. While they all have their stories, they aren’t hardened like the warriors are. It’s refreshing.

Blood Fury brings us the story of four characters. We have Peyton and Novo. We also have Saxton, who straddles both series, and Ruhn. I am not quite sure why Saxton and Ruhn got their story in a BDL book. Sure everything go explained away, but their story didn’t belong in this series.

Peyton and Novo have been dancing around each other since Blood Vow, which was book two. Novo is attracted to Peyton, but doesn’t have time for a man that is in love with another woman. A woman that is already mated. Peyton is attracted to Novo and he thinks he’s in love with Paradise. It’s only after he almost kills Novo by protecting Paradise (who doesn’t need protecting) that he realizes that he mourns a friendship that was made at an incredibly dark time for the glymera. Peyton and Paradise come from a world where friendship like theirs just aren’t formed and what he thought was love was nothing compared to what he feels for Novo.

Novo knows she’s attracted to Peyton and accepts that attraction. What she won’t accept is the squishy feelings he invokes in her. She’s been through enough in her life, losing who she thought was her mate to her sister. Right before she miscarried his young. Novo is someone that has never belonged anywhere in life, but she finds a home in Peyton. The love story between these two is intense. There are no BIG MISUNDERSTANDINGS, which was amazing. They are two people that have been misunderstood their whole lives. Finding each other is something that neither one of them ever expected and they don’t take it for granted. Then, well, this:

She was not his sun or his moon, but his galaxy.

I admit, I got misty. Novo was so deserving of everything Peyton was willing to give her. Of course she almost threw it all away, but she’s a smart girl.

Saxton and Ruhn. Ruhn and Saxton. Honestly, the summary of the book is misleading because it’s actually Saxton that almost ruins what could be what he’s been looking for his whole life. Saxton knows that what he feels for Ruhn is different. Even different than what he felt for Blay. Then he almost throws it away. What a fucking idiot. It doesn’t take him long to put his head out. As for Ruhn? I don’t think you could get a more perfect character. He definitely has his demons, but he is not going to miss out on life because of them. Ruhn isn’t bitter. He isn’t resentful of what he’s had to go through. He just is. I loved him.

There are parts of this book that definitely pulled at me. I was surprised that I liked it as much as I did. I was correct when I said that it would be easily finished once I sat down and actually read. It’s a fast read and will pull you in.

4 out of 5.

Black Dagger Legacy


Tagged: , , , , , ,