Tag: Brenda Joyce

Guest Review: A Rose In The Storm by Brenda Joyce

Posted October 8, 2013 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

17163577Judith’s review of A Rose in the Storm by Brenda Joyce

When Rivalry Becomes Passion  

With warfare blazing through Scotland, the fate of the Comyn-MacDougall legacy depends on one woman. Recently orphaned, young Margaret Comyn must secure her clan’s safety through an arranged marriage. But when an enemy invasion puts her at the mercy of the notorious Wolf of Lochaber, her every loyalty—and secret want—will be challenged. 

And A Kingdom Is At Stake 

Legendary warrior Alexander “The Wolf” MacDonald rides with Robert Bruce to seize the throne of Scotland. But when he takes the fiery Lady Margaret prisoner, she quickly becomes far more than a valuable hostage. For the passion between them threatens to betray their families, their country . . . and their hearts.

No matter how many different kinds of romance novels I read, I always return to what is for me the “mother lode” of romance and that is historical romance fiction.  I have always especially loved those set in the Medieval period since the very first substantive novel I read as a kid was Ivanhoe.    (I still love that book.)   Add in the fact that Brenda Joyce is right Up There as one of my favorite authors and you have what is for me a winning combination.  However, this novel is a bit different that Ms Joyce’s last few.  This book is really for those who love the historical information and content as much as they love the romance.  Some historicals really skim over the history.  This book does  not.  And for that reason it may not be favorite for those who come down on liking the romance more than the history.  I, for one, love the history and find that I learn as much from reading historical romances of substance as I gain entertainment from the act of reading for one, and enjoying the love story for another.

As always, Ms Joyce’s characters are larger than life, gritty and edgy, not always very nice, and certainly there is more than one’s share of manipulation and political machinations afoot.  After all, this is Scotland we are talking about here, and anyone who knows even a tiny bit about that troubled history knows that if the Scots aren’t fighting the English they are fighting among themselves for Clan supremacy.   That whole business of family honor and the like are often the substance if not the excuse for setting out to do in one’s perceived or real enemies.  Like so many others, Lady Margaret gets caught in the cross fire and seeing how she has her own agenda, the mix is explosive to say the least.

Again I would warn potential readers that there’s lots of history here, lots of descriptive passage that involve the conflicts between the Clans and the politics of Scots fighting Scots.  If this sort of stuff is not your meat and potatoes, then this novel is probably not for you.  But I thought it was delightful, rich and complicated, colorful and energetic, with the raw passions of men and maidens whose lives are often shortened by war and who must live every day to the fullest because it could well be their last.  I revel in such fiction and this book was everything I loved about historical romance fiction.  It was absolutely worth every minute it took to read and I’ll probably be re-reading it in the near future.

I 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 Harlequin HQN.  You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Guest Review: Surrender by Brenda Joyce

Posted November 20, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Surrender (The Spymaster’s Men #3) by Brenda Joyce

A DESPERATE WIDOW . . .Once a penniless orphan, Evelyn D’Orsay became a countess and a bride at the tender age of sixteen. But the flames of revolution forced her to flee France, with the aid of a notorious smuggler. Recently widowed and without any means, Evelyn knows she must retrieve the family fortune from France so she can raise her daughter in Cornwall—but only one man can help her… the smuggler she cannot forget.

A DANGEROUS SPY . . . Jack Greystone has been smuggling since he was a small boy—and he has been spying since the wars began. An outlaw with a bounty on his head, he is in hiding when he becomes aware of the Countess’s inquiries about him. He is reluctant to come to her aid yet again, for he has never been able to forget her and he wants to avoid her intrigues. But he soon realizes he’ll surrender anything to be with the woman he loves.
Being together is dangerous—being apart is impossible.

It is my personal point of view that almost any story that grows out of a time of war has to have multi-dimensions and characters that are both honest to a fault and those who inhabit the shadows of the spy world.  In this third story in a series, the author has also delved more deeply into the world of illegal smuggling that was so much a part of the 18th and 19th centuries and the ways it sustained the economy and lifestyle of those who lived in the coastal areas of Great Britain.  Added to the aspect of smuggling is the fact that the British government took advantage of those who were deeply involved in this illegal endeavor to recruit spies for England against Napoleon and the French Revolutionary government.  It was a Catch-22 for men like Jack Greystone, a man who had been raised in a gentleman’s family but who lived, breathed, ate, and slept for the adrenaline rush of danger, of using his wits and sailing skills to outwit those in the British government who were set on catching and punishing him a criminal with no regard to the use the Brits were making of his contacts in France.

 With all this as a backdrop, a quiet but pursistent love relationship begins and slowly grows between Jack and the Countess Evelyn D’Orsay, a British woman who has married a French aristocrat, partly to get away from an abusive and unkind aunt and cousins, and partly because she had come to love this man who was 25 years older than she.  Now the French Revolution had robbed them of everything and the only thing they had left was their lives, and it is to Jack Greystone the Countess appeals.  It could accurately be said that this story begins slowly and grows in intensity over time with that sense of always being undercover, just as Jack’s life is hidden from the authorities.  Yet no matter how he tried to push Evelyn away there is a raw and unyielding determination in the core of this young woman, driven in part by her absolute need to spare her child from the humiliation she suffered as the “poor relation” of her aunt and uncle, and partly because she finally came face to face with the authentic nature of a deep and genuine love, no matter how often or strenuously Jack denied the nature of his feelings.  I often use the analogy of a roller coaster to describe the emotional content of a novel, but this particular story is more so that way than most.  Just when it appears that the situation between Evelyn and Jack is being resolved, mayhem again occurs and they are driven apart.

Suffice it to say, there is an unrelenting intensity in this novel that is, in part, due to the context of war and the nature of espionage.  It is just as gripping in history as it is in contemporary times.  That intensity of context adds an exponential intensity to the love story as well.  It is a riveting and compelling tale and one that is more than suited to this series and by no means takes a back seat to the first two stories.  If anything it is filled with even more nail-biting action and that sense that the characters are headed toward total destruction through circumstances beyond their control.  Brenda Joyce is a writer of proven skill and her stories seldom disappoint.  This is one that will educate and entertain.  It is one that is well worth the time to enjoy.  I don’t think you will want to miss this one, especially if you are a reader who is drawn to novels with that edgy spy content.

I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5.

The series:

Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

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

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

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Guest Review: Persuasion by Brenda Joyce

Posted August 23, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Persuasion (The Spymaster’s Men #2) by Brenda Joyce

Betrayal Tore Them Apart Amelia Greystone was deeply in love when the earl of St. Just abruptly ended his courtship and left Cornwall ten years earlier. So she is stunned when Simon returns, recently widowed. Now she must forget the past they shared and his betrayal and console him as any neighbor would. Simon has changed-he is dark and haunted now-but he can still make her reel with a single look. When he offers her the position of housekeeper, Amelia knows she must refuse. But for the sake of his children,she throws all caution to the wind…. Passion Will Reunite Them A British spy, Simon Grenville is now playing both sidesin a time of war, his goal to keep his sons safe. Yet when he is brought face-to-face with the woman he once loved, he realizes nothing about his feelings for Amelia has changed-if anything, they are even stronger. Still, Simon knows he must stay away from Amelia; his life is too dangerous now. But sometimes passion is too strong to be denied.

This is the second in a series of novels entitled the “Spymasters” and set against the backdrop of the war in France just after the French Revolution.  Featuring the older of the Greystone sisters, this novel tells the story of a woman who gave her heart totally and without reserve to the younger brother of Earl of St.Just only to have it disregarded and thrown away by the occasion of the earl’s death and her suitor’s taking over the title.  Two years later he wed an aristocratic young lady of great beauty.  Now she has died in childbirth and the earl returns to Cornwall after ten years, and Amelia is struck once again with the knowledge that she has probably never stopped loving him.  He, on the other hand, appears to have changed greatly–inward and uncommunicative, treating her as a friend who he needs to help him with his three children.

This novel is really quite different in tone from the first one in this series in that there is the over arching awareness that these two people have now been walking different paths in life and there seems little likelihood that their future is together.  Yet Amelia is one of those women who gives her all, and while Simon has to own up to the fact that his marriage was loveless and that his feelings for Amelia are as strong as ever, he cannot offer her any hope for the future due to his involvement in the dark world of espionage.

I thought this was a very well-written story and found the historical content to be very close to the history of the time and beautifully woven in with the fictional tale.  Takes some real skill to do that!  However, I got a bit weary of Simon and his deep distress over the part he had to play in the spy game, and that may be just more about me than about the story.  I know that it was not an easy time and that people caught in the web of politicians who choose to use them without remorse or consideration for anything but their political objectives were without recourse in many instances.  There is no doubt that Simon’s situation as told here was almost impossible, but there was that sense that he refused to allow those who really cared about him to help him, to understand, to share the burdens.  Now maybe that is unrealistic on my part because I know that even in our own times, there are those involved in anti-terrorist under cover work who bear heavy burdens.  I really loved Amelia and her strength, her determination to do right by Simon’s children, but indeed–she was a person whose curiosity was almost out of control.  I guess the wonder of this novel is that these two found a way to even communicate, much less consider the remote possibility of having a future together.

So I enjoyed this book because I really like historical romance, and I really like stories set in this particular time period.  I found that Ms Joyce was very direct in dealing with the negatives of the underbelly of political intrigue and I appreciated that a lot.  So I think there was a lot here to pique my interest and I certainly didn’t get bored.  So I hope that historical romance fans will give this book a try.

I give it a rating of 4 out of 5

The Series:
Book Cover Book Cover

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

This book is available from HQN Books. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Guest Review: Seduction by Brenda Joyce

Posted July 3, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Seduction by Brenda Joyce.

Dominic Paget, the earl of Bedford, will do anything to resume spying upon Britain’s enemies. Badly wounded, he is put will do anything in the care of a beautiful gentlewoman, Julianne Greystone, only to discover that her sympathies lie with his enemies. Yet he can’t help but seduce the woman who saved his life—hoping she never learns of his betrayal.Julianne is captivated by the wounded stranger she believes is a revolutionary hero. Until she discovers the truth: …her “hero” is the privileged earl of Bedford. Devastated and determined to forget him, Julianne travels to London. But when she finds herself in danger, it is Bedford who comes to the rescue. Now Julianne must navigate the intrigues of a perilous city, the wild yearnings of her own heart and the explosion of their passion….

He’s wealthy and titled and powerful, but he is lying nearly dead on Julianne’s guest bed in Cornwall, spouting French and hysterical over the blood and savagery of war that has overtaken France in the wake of the Revolution. Now Dominic wakens to find out that Julianne has Jacobin sympathies–she believes in the Revolution and the Equality, Brotherhood, and Liberty that the Revolution appears to stand for but has never made a reality. Yet Julianne is terribly naive, and even though she is warm hearted and generous, willing to nurse anyone back to health, the fact that this man appears to be a French army officer engages her interest even more. When he then professes to be just that–Charles Maurice–and a man who is determined to return to his country’s battlefields, their attraction and subsequent affair appears to be doomed.

Julianne is a foolish and inexperienced woman, one whose ideology has no basis in fact and whose loyalties to her beliefs leads her to engage in harmful activities, some of which put her life in danger and endangers those who she loves. This novel is set in the times just after the French Revolution and a time when Britain’s responses to the war were rooted in espionage as well as supplying money, men, and armaments. It is a love story between two people whose beliefs stand in the way of genuine connection but their attraction and their physical involvement keep them connected, even when it appears that they are working at cross purposes. It is also a book that deals with the use of power, both noble and illegitimate, as the aristocracy of Britain parties merrily on while hundreds of soldiers are dying for lack of food and the necessities of doing battle. Those supplies are controlled by political expediency, and this novel does not back away from the deep injury to men and nations that occurs when politics determines actions rather than justice and humane concerns.

Yet under it all this is a love story, one that is intense and full of deep emotion. The cast of characters tell their own story–those who flee from the destruction and evil suspicion of war, those who car little for what is going on just across the Channel, and those who have deep family roots in France and watch with dread and grief as the cherished places of youth and family are destroyed without a backward glance. As always, Brenda Joyce writes with passion and clarity, bringing in the realities of history and weaving her fictional tale within those happenings with skill. I really appreciated the efforts the author made to keep the story true to history as much as possible, thereby making the stories of her characters leap from the pages wrapped in the coverings of reality. It’s a terrific book and is a first in a new series set in this time frame. I enjoyed it very much.

I give it a rating of 4 out of 5

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

This book is available from HQN Books. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Guest Review: Secrets by Brenda Joyce

Posted May 2, 2011 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Publisher: Avon, Harper Collins

Tracy’s review of Secrets (Bragg Saga #7) (Delanza Family #1) by Brenda Joyce

Injured during a train robbery, Regina Shelton awakens with no memory of who she is—and in the arms of the most handsome man she has ever seen. The dangerous stranger calls her “Elizabeth,” and his touch sets her blood racing—impelling her toward a romantic destiny not rightfully her own.


Slade Delanza has finally found the missing heiress who came west to wed his brother James. But now James is dead—and the rugged loner is expected to marry wealthy “Elizabeth Sinclair” himself, in order to rescue his family’s California ranch from ruin. Though he aches to possess his innocent young bride, Slade’s honor demands that he deny his own desires. And he vows to resist temptation, never dreaming of the stunning secrets that could seal their love—or tear them apart forever.

Regina is on her way via train, with her chaperone, to Paso Robles Resort to take the baths there. She’s in America from England to attend a family wedding and her parents have returned to England. During the ride the train is boarded by thieves and they’re not nice, gentle ones either. When one of the bandits gets a good look at Regina she decides that not only will she save her pearls, she’s going to save her virginity as well. She manages to leave the train car and jumps off the slow moving train (can I just say that even a slow moving train travels quite quickly).

When Regina is found beside the tracks she has no memory of who she is. The man who finds her, Slade Delanza, calls her Elizabeth and Slade believes that she is his brother James’ fiancé who was heading toward their rancho to get married to James. But James is dead. The rancho, Miramar, still needs Elizabeth’s funds (she’s an heiress) to get the ranch back on track. The only way to do that now is to bring Elizabeth back to Miramar and have Slade marry her. Slade’s not really fond of the idea – even though he really likes Elizabeth and is hot for her – but he loved James and feels dishonorable about taking a woman to wife that his brother loved. Slade finally agrees and marries Elizabeth but plans on making it a marriage in name only (he didn’t bother to share the information with Elizabeth, btw). He can’t resist Elizabeth’s charms on their wedding night however and is disgusted with himself in the morning. He takes off for San Francisco where he’s been living and working for the past 10 years and doesn’t bother to let Elizabeth know that he’s gone.

Elizabeth, a couple of days before the wedding, remembers that she’s Regina. But she finds herself in love with the brooding Slade and decides to go through with the wedding. When she finds out that Slade has left her she is pissed off (yeah, I would be too) and heads to SF to get a divorce from the man.

But when she gets to SF things change. Slade turns out to be a completely different man than she thought she married – both good and bad. Her parents return to America to see her and her father is not happy at his daughter being married for her money, and Slade doesn’t know what the hell he wants. If he does, he’s not admitting it to anyone, including himself.

Where do I begin to tell you my thoughts this tale? The story takes place in late 1899 in California which was a change for me and it was a nice one. Usually when I read historicals they’re set in England. While I’d like to say that I got a taste of England from Regina because she was supposed to be all that was good and proper – she never, in my opinion, acted like she was a proper lady (she was an Earl’s daughter!). She really acted like an American – and a contemporary one at that!

The story, for me, had too much going on in it. Regina and Slade had so much going on in their lives that it was a bit overwhelming for me as the reader. The entire story takes place in the span of only about 6 weeks, I think – no more than 2 months – and the crap that this couple went through was crazy. I’d like to say that I liked Slade and Regina so much that the reading went smoothly for me but truly it was just overwhelming. Just when I thought we could work on some issues with the marriage something else would come up. It was just too much.

Slade and Regina – I’m just not sure I liked them together…or apart for that matter. Slade was a quiet, brooding man who wanted things done his way or no way. Regina while she simpered a lot in this book, and “cried out” a lot (with an abundance of exclamation points thrown in) turned out to be one tough cookie. I’d like to say that I admired her for sticking through the tough times but really, at a couple of different points I wanted her to just cut and run. She reminded me of a Timex slogan – takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

I’ve liked most of what I’ve read from Joyce. I really like Joyce’s DeWarren series and some of her paranormals, but this one was just ok. It felt to me like it was supposed to be this epic love story and it fell short in a lot of ways.

Rating: 3 out of 5

The Series
Innocent FireFirestormViolet FireDark FiresThe Fires of ParadiseScandalous LoveSecrets

You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place

This book is available from Avon. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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