Tag: Guest Reviews

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks

Posted October 17, 2019 by Ames in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Never Seduce a Scot by Maya BanksReviewer: Ames
Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks
Series: The Montgomerys and Armstrongs #1
Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 373
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Eveline Armstrong is fiercely loved and protected by her powerful clan, but outsiders consider her “touched.” Beautiful, fey, with a level, intent gaze, she doesn’t speak. No one, not even her family, knows that she cannot hear. Content with her life of seclusion, Eveline has taught herself to read lips and allows the outside world to view her as daft. But when an arranged marriage into a rival clan makes Graeme Montgomery her husband, Eveline accepts her duty—unprepared for the delights to come. Graeme is a rugged warrior with a voice so deep and powerful that his new bride can hear it, and hands and kisses so tender and skilled that he stirs her deepest passions.

Graeme is intrigued by the mysterious Eveline, whose silent lips are ripe with temptation and whose bright, intelligent eyes can see into his soul. As intimacy deepens, he learns her secret. But when clan rivalries and dark deeds threaten the wife he has only begun to cherish, the Scottish warrior will move heaven and earth to save the woman who has awakened his heart to the beautiful song of a rare and magical love.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on October 19, 2012.

I enjoy Maya Banks’ historicals and Never Seduce a Scot is no exception. I was initially drawn to it because the heroine is deaf and I was utterly charmed by this whimsical story.

Eveline is the daughter of the Armstrong Laird. The king has just informed her family that she must wed their clan’s most hated enemy, Laird Montgomery, to foster peace in the highlands. The Armstrongs are furious because Eveline is daft following a riding accident three years ago and sending her off with a Montgomery is the worst thing they can imagine. Graeme, the laird of clan Montgomery, knows about his bride’s infliction and is not impressed. However, both families realize that to deny their king’s wishes makes them outlaws. Graeme must marry Eveline, even if it’s a marriage in name only.

Eveline is not daft. She’s deaf. But because of a situation out of her control, she decides to let her family believe she is daft to protect herself. She never imagined that she would marry, but she’s becoming somewhat hopeful when she figures out what’s going on, that the king has commanded she marry. Eveline may be deaf, but she is also extremely smart and she has taught herself how to read lips. And when her bridegroom shows up, Eveline is first drawn to his voice. She can’t hear it but she can feel it. The deep timbre of his voice creates very pleasant vibrations that Eveline can feel. And after a few interactions, she can tell that he is kind. Not the monster her family has made all Montgomery’s out to be. Eveline is hopeful for her future.

And things are fine between her and Graeme when they return to his keep, but it’s his clansmen and women that make things difficult. Graeme doesn’t hold who she was born to against her, knowing she had no control over being an Armstrong. And he doesn’t like how his people are taking their anger towards the Armstrongs out on his innocent wife. But Eveline wants to win his people over on her own. She knows she cannot get Graeme to command they respect her, she has to earn it.

I really enjoyed this novel. I liked that Eveline was deaf. I thought it was believable that she would feel vibrations and very loud noises. I also thought her reasons for acting daft around her family made sense. She was supposed to marry a MacHugh but when she met her intended, he was a real monster. She lost her hearing in a riding accident, trying to run away to avoid marrying him. But after marrying Graeme, she felt safe and she told him what happened. She also felt safe enough with Graeme to speak, something she hadn’t done in 3 years.

I liked how Graeme realized almost from the beginning that there was more to Eveline than what she presented. And he was very patient and kind with her. At first, thinking she was daft, he knew he would never be able to consummate his marriage. And even after ‘speaking’ with her before the wedding and realizing she was smarter than she let on, he still wasn’t planning on making his marriage real. He even put her in a separate room when they got to his keep. There’s a cute scene where Graeme’s sister helps Eveline move into Graeme’s room.

I really felt for Eveline when the women of Graeme’s clan were cruel to her. They did it in a way that was not obvious to Graeme, but I did love his reaction when he found out what was going on.

There’s a bit of a mystery when someone shoots Graeme and goes after Eveline…but I guessed almost right away who it was. Overall, I enjoyed the relationship between Graeme and Eveline and I liked how Banks handled Eveline’s deafness. Refreshing and sweet!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Montgomerys and Armstrong

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy

Posted September 26, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe KennedyReviewer: Jen
The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy
Series: Forgotten Empires #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

"The Orchid Throne is a captivating and sensual fantasy romance you won’t want to miss! High stakes. Remarkable worldbuilding. Unique and compelling characters. A slow-burn romance that’ll make you combust.” — Amanda Bouchet, USA Today bestselling author of The Kingmaker Chronicles

"The Orchid Throne captures from the first page and doesn't let go as Jeffe Kennedy weaves a timeless tale of love and survival amidst a lush backdrop teeming greed and deceit. You will fall for Lia and Con and root for them with every breath you take. This is a book that will linger in your thoughts for a very long time."- Darynda Jones, New York Times bestselling author

Welcome to the world of Forgotten Empires from award winning author Jeffe Kennedy that begins with The Orchid Throne.

A PRISONER OF FATE

As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…

A PRINCE AMONG MEN

Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?

Lia, Queen of Calanthe, has spent the last few years of her life playing a dangerous game. Her island nation is one of the few who has not been taken over by the brutal Anure and his Empire. Lia is supposed to marry Anure, but she has been skillfully putting him off. She knows time is running short, and she is desperate to find a way to protect Calanthe, regardless of what happens to her. Con led a revolt of slaves against the Empire, and he arrives in Calanthe hoping to further his cause. Lia and Con are drawn to each other, but neither particularly trusts the other. Lia has to decide whether to throw her lot in with Con or give in to the Empire.

There is a LOT happening in this book. Kennedy has created an incredibly rich world, and for that reason this book has some info dump in it. Normally, too much of that bores me, but here I was fascinated. It helps that the world of Calanthe in particular is gorgeous and mysterious and full of magic, making you want to hear more about its secrets. I was particularly (and surprisingly) engaged by the political games Lia must play. In many ways Con’s accusation that she has lived in luxury while people in the world are dying at the hands of the Empire is completely justified. Calanthe has been spared the cruelty everyone else experienced, and most of the residents are either unwilling or unable to acknowledge that privilege. Lia believes she’s doing the right thing, but you can see the other side of that argument too. However, that safety has come largely because of Lia’s own sacrifices in recent years. She deeply understands the expectations her subjects have of her, her role on the political stage, her role as a potential wife, and how to use subtlety, charm, and ruthlessness when necessary to get what she wants. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her weigh her options, work behind the scenes, and use all her available resources to save her kingdom. She has been sheltered, but she is also very, very good at being Queen, and everything she does, she does for her kingdom, not for herself.

Con and his people have experienced a LOT of trauma (and CW for talk of abuse, torture, rape, and slavery), but somehow he is still a kind man. He is particularly sweet and vulnerable in his interactions with Lia, and it was both heartbreaking and lovely. His life has been so horrible–you just want to see things go right for him for a change. You can tell he is still growing into his role as a leader, and I can’t wait to see where he goes in the future. He and Lia both bear the weight of expectation and loneliness, and by the end it appears that they will both be made better by their union.

I didn’t realize before I read the book that this isn’t a finished story, nor would I quite categorize it as a romance (maybe just the first installment of a romance). While Con and Lia do have some great sexual tension and do end up together (and have some very hot sex!), it doesn’t happen until the very end of the book. By the end, there is some tentative trust and agreement between them, but they aren’t fully a team yet either. Really, this book is set up for the world and the conflict, but it doesn’t resolve anything. Not knowing that, I was very disappointed when I got to the end and realized there would be no resolution. That did temper my enjoyment of the story a bit.

I did love this world and these characters, though. I want to see Lia and Con grow into true partners, and I want to see how they can fight against the Empire. I will be waiting with baited breath for future books in the series.

Grade: 4 out of 5.

four-stars


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Guest Review: One Dark Wish by Sharon Wray

Posted September 25, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: One Dark Wish by Sharon WrayReviewer: Jen
One Dark Wish by Sharon Wray
Series: Deadly Force #2
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: January 1, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 448
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two-stars
Series Rating: two-stars

Her life must be forfeit for his to be redeemed

Historian Sarah Munro is not used to being shot at, but that's just what happens while she's poking around cemeteries on Georgia's Isle of Grace, searching for the key to a centuries-old cipher. Her quest has unwittingly drawn the attention of two deadly enemies intent on destroying each other--and anyone who gets in their way.

Ex-Green Beret Major Nate Walker is on a mission of his own: to restore the honor of his men. To do that, he is required to stop Sarah--or one of his own men will die. Caught in the middle of a deadly rivalry, Nate can't afford to trust the woman standing in his way. But his heart says he can't afford not to...

Deadly Force Series: Every Deep Desire (Book 1)One Dark Wish (Book 2)

If you read the blurb for this book, it doesn’t sound overly complicated, right? A historian wants to solve a secret pirate cipher to both redeem her career and save her father. An ex-soldier is tasked with stopping her in order to save his men. Along the way, they fall in love. In practice, though, this book was…a lot. Way too much, in fact.

The characters in this book are reasonably smart and interesting. Sarah is good at her job and cares about preserving history. Nate is a protective alpha who has long carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. They were a nice match, with both appreciating the other for their strengths and loving each other despite their weaknesses. I thought their relationship was the best part of the book, although it does move WAY too fast. The bulk of the book takes place in a matter of days–I had to set that fact aside to really believe their romance.

The problem, however, is that the book has an excess of both characters and plot! Nate is part of a group of ex-Green Berets who are trying to get on with their lives after scandal forced them out of the military. Quite frankly, I couldn’t tell most of them apart as they were kind of forgettable. They mostly spent the book whining and moaning about their situation, about their orders, about life in general. They were supposedly a tight-knit unit, yet many of them didn’t seem to particularly trust each other. One of the big conflicts of the book is how Nate is going to be taken away permanently for reasons I won’t spoil. While one or two of the guys is pretty broken up about it and tries to save him, the rest seem pretty ambivalent. Nate is treated VERY unfairly, and Sarah seems to be the only one who truly tries to do anything about it. Way to pull together, team! The commanding officer is a secretive, cold-hearted bastard, too. I’m guessing he may get his own story in the future, but I certainly don’t care to read about him.

Most importantly, the plot of the book is overly complicated and illogical. There is SO much going on. There is a secret warrior organization whose motivations are very poorly outlined. There is some sort of gun runner who seems to have an absurd amount of power and influence.  There’s a very rich lawyer and Senator who help the team for flimsy and convenient reasons. There are several double crossers with their own agendas and stories. There is a historical mystery and the pirate cipher they are trying to investigate. Then there are back stories galore: what happened to the Green Beret team on the mission that got them in trouble as well as what happened in the following years, what happened during Nate’s time in a POW camp, a mystery about why both Nate and Sarah’s dad are having seizures, and the question mark that is Sarah’s father, all of which barely get grazed in this book. Not to mention what I assume are set ups for future books in the series, where we start to hear back stories for the other team members. I recognize that this is the second book in a series, which I didn’t realize when I started reading, and I acknowledge that some of this is likely addressed in past and future books. I’d still argue that cramming so much into one book is a bad idea. This book is looooong at a whopping 448 pages (!), meaning halfway through I was straight up bored, not to mention rolling my eyes at the nonsensical things that kept happening. I kept going, only to find out how Sarah and Nate could get their HEA, not because I gave a crap about the rest of it.

In short, I think the author is trying to tell a very ambitious story, which I appreciate. However, some ruthless editing and way fewer story threads would have improved this book tremendously. 

Grade: 2 out of 5

Deadly Force

two-stars


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Guest Review: Christmas in Winter Valley by Jodi Thomas

Posted September 24, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Christmas in Winter Valley by Jodi ThomasReviewer: Tracy
Christmas in Winter Valley by Jodi Thomas
Series: Ransom Canyon #8
Also in this series: Sunrise Crossing, A Christmas Affair (Ransom Canyon #6.5), Mistletoe Miracles (Ransom Canyon #7)
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Westerns
Pages: 368
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Ransom Canyon welcomes you back for a Christmas that has everything you’re looking for: romance, family and a whole lot of Texas.

Cooper Holloway would take nature over people any day—especially visiting relatives. That’s why he’s headed for a rustic cabin in remote Winter Valley, where he’ll care for a herd of wild mustangs. But Cooper’s plans are quickly thwarted by the arrival of two unexpected guests: one, a stranger in desperate need of his help, and the other, a very attractive young veterinarian.

Elliott is busy trying to keep Maverick Ranch running smoothly with Cooper gone, which is no easy task with family visiting. And when a long-lost love suddenly reappears in his life, Elliott knows he’ll have more than just books to balance this season.

With a big, chaotic family Christmas around the corner and love blooming in surprising ways, the Holloway men will have to make big choices about the future—just in time for the holidays.

Christmas in Winter Valley is a group of smaller romances all set in one book/story based around the Griffin family and their place, Maverick Ranch.

First there’s the story of Cooper Griffin and Hayley.  Cooper is hurt while out checking on wild mustangs but Hayley, the vet that was out there to help him, saves his life.

Then there’s Tye and Dani who can’t seem to keep their hands off each other.  Tye is an ex-rodeo star and is now a ranch hand at MV (Maverick Ranch). He falls fast and hard for the Griffin family cook, Dani, but here grown sons don’t like that too much.

Elliot Griffin was hurt 10 years ago by Jessica who he was engaged to.  He had to leave school when his dad died and each of them think it’s the other’s fault that they didn’t stay together after that.  Jessica shows up at MV to do the taxes and sparks fly between the two.

Creed (a ranch hand) and Dallas (cousin-in-law to the Griffins), end up as a couple, I think, but it’s hard to say as not much, if any, time was spent on their relationship.  Could be they just ended up FB’s. lol

While all of these people are falling in love with each other, all between December 10th and December 24th (yes, very fast), there are friendships growing and intertwining all of these characters.  Men and women alike are finding out who they truly are and how they see life and love.  It was well done, but I never felt that I was too invested in any of the relationships.  I’m not sure if that was because there was so much going on, or what.  Despite that I liked the book overall.

That said, I have to say that my favorite part of the book was a 9-year-old boy named Tatum.  Tatum was shipped off to his grandma’s house when his dad and then his mom died.  When his grandma died the evil neighbor lady told the sheriff that this small boy carried death wherever he went, was half-wild and they should take him to the pound.  WTAF? I wanted to crawl through the book and thrash that woman!  Tatum ended up running away before social services could get him and was found by Cooper Griffin right before the boy would have frozen to death.  I won’t tell you the amazing cuteness that comes out of Tatum’s mouth on the regular, but let me just say that he’s the sweetest thing in the world!  The relationship between Cooper and Tatum is heart-warming and I loved it. Jodi Thomas wrote his character wonderfully well and I actually found myself wishing he was more on-page than he was.  Yes, it’s a romance novel, but Tatum made the book for me!

Overall a nice Christmas story about love and family.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Ransom Canyon

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: A Healer for the Highlander by Terri Brisbin

Posted September 20, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: A Healer for the Highlander by Terri BrisbinReviewer: Tracy
A Healer for the Highlander by Terri Brisbin
Series: A Highland Feuding #5
Also in this series: The Highlander's Runaway Bride, Claiming His Highland Bride
Publisher: Harlequin Historical
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
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two-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

She can save his son

But can she resist the Highland warrior?

In this A Highland Feuding story, famed healer Anna MacKenzie is moved by Davidh of Clan Cameron’s request to help his ailing young son. She wants to help—and the commander has unknowingly provided the introduction to the clan she’s been looking for. But Anna has a secret, one that could jeopardize the fast-growing, heated passion between them…

Anna and her mother live in a small house above a waterfall – her mother is sometimes called the witch of Caig Falls. Anna is learning everything her mother knows so that she too could be a healer one day. She falls in love with Malcolm Cameron, the chieftain’s son and hopes to marry him one day. When her mother discovers that Anna’s pregnant she moves them to live with her mother’s family, far away from Malcolm.

Now it’s 13 years later and Anna has returned to Caig Falls. She has become the healer her mother hoped she would be, but she is sad because she learned not long after a bearing a son that the father, Malcolm, had died. Now Anna wants her son, Iain, to take his rightful place as the chieftain of clan Cameron.

Davidh Cameron was Malcolm‘s best friend. Thirteen years ago he knew something was up with Malcolm, but he never learned about Anna. When he searches out the healer of Caig Falls to heal his son, he never expects a beautiful young woman to be the healer. Malcolm’s son Colm, named after Malcolm, is terribly ill and Davidh would like Anna to treat him. The longer Davidh and Anna spend together the more she starts to fall for him. He eventually finds out about Iain’s existence and recognizes immediately that he is a Cameron, but he still doesn’t know that he is Malcolm‘s son.  Anna is not sure how she can take care of her son, take care of Colm, fall in love with Davidh, and still get her son to take his rightful place when the current chieftain seems to be such a good guy.

This book wasn’t great, let me just say that. I didn’t really like Anna all that much. I didn’t like that she kept her plans from Davidh even after he married her. I was almost disgusted when both of their sons get kidnapped, because nothing keeps a couple together like a good kidnapping, right? The whole thing kind of just left a bad taste in my mouth. Anna pissed me off on a regular basis and that’s never a good thing. Davidh seemed to be a good guy which was a plus.

I’ve read a few of Brisbane‘s books and really enjoyed them. This one just did not work for me.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

A Highland Feuding

two-half-stars


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