Leah’s 2013 choices for…

Five Star Reads are:

XMTS VRI know we all have our favorite genres and our favorite authors. As for me, I read all types of historical books. Even a few contemporaries.

I had many 4 – 4 1/2 star reviews this year but I thought I’d post about my 5 star reads and you will see by my list just where my heart lies when it comes to genres, which doesn’t mean that I won’t give high marks to contemporary novels.

I gave a very high 4 1/2 to ‘Spin’ by Bella Love.  I am hooked! You can check out my review here.

Now, back to my FIVE STAR reads and so, here we go….

Julianne Lee and her Tenebrae series

‘Knight Tenebrae’, ‘Knight’s Blood’ and ‘Knight’s Lady’.

“Trapped in a place not their own, two strangers find the only thing they can count on is one another”.

Follow Alex and Lindsay as they travel back through time to 14th century Scotland. All three books take you on their journey. I was simply full of emotion throughout all three books. Read Mel’s reviews for the series here.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder and her Highland Warriors series

 ‘Sins Of a Highland Devil’, ‘Temptation of a Highland Scoundrel’ and ‘Seduction of a Highland Warrior’, along with SOTC PBthe novella, ‘Once Upon a Highland Christmas’.

I can tell you that Sue-Ellen brings medieval Scotland to life for me every time I go into one of her stories. They are full of humor, mystery, highland magic, warfare, and love. All are filled with history bits that will keep all history buffs happy. You can read my reviews for the series here, here & here, with Melanie’s review for the novella here,

Monica McCarty and ‘The Hawk’

It is part of the Highland Guard series and I highly recommend it. They all received high marks from me but Eric “Hawk” MacSorely stood out above the rest. She is another auto-buy for me. You can read my review here.

Diane Darcy and ‘She Owns The Knight’

I can’t express enough how much I enjoyed this book! I am sitting here smiling from ear to ear as I write this. If you love 13th century England, laughing, and watching as two people learn what love is all about, this story is a must buy! You can read my review here.

Victoria Roberts and ‘X Marks The Scot’

TH MMcCThis is #2 in the Bad Boys of the Highlands series and I waited patiently for Declan and his story and was so excited when I finally got it in my hands.

I knew there was a wonderful man behind the rogue. Laidain is just the woman for him too, one who won’t let him hide behind his blether, and one who is strong enough to stand her ground with him and everyone else for that matter.

This story is packed with treason, danger it seems around every turn, secrets discovered that condemns some and saves another, and laughter…..tons of laughter!

Patricia Bracewell and ‘Shadow on the Crown

Loved this story! From the history to the direction Patricia took this story in, her writing had hooked me in!

I felt for Emma as she accepted her lot in life and smiled when she stood for herself when needed. King Aethelred was constantly suspicious of everyone and because of his guilt, found himself tortured by visits from his murdered brother’s ghostly shadow. He also blatantly carried on with Elgiva, his mistress. I enjoyed the way Ms. Bracewell took the story line with Athelstan, the King’s son and his relationship with Emma. Through her words she brought OUAHC SEWcharacters into my life to love and hate, and added with the history, this became one of my most favorite reads this year. I cannot wait for the next on this series to see what she brings us next!

Kris Kennedy and ‘The Conqueror’

This author’s words move me. Period. I feel a deep connection while reading her work and urge you to give her a try if you haven’t yet. You can read my review here.

Margaret Mallory and ‘The Chieftain’

This is book 4 in the Return of the Highlanders series.

From beginning to end she had me captured in their world. My heart-felt warmth as I read the epilogue. I enjoyed watching their love come to fruition and talk about HOT!! I loved the mystical parts of this story. Tearlag and Ilysa and their sight, the fairy glens and the chants… ghostly sightings and the legends surrounding them all call to my heart. Scotland is full of lore and Margaret Mallory does an TIW KKexcellent job of bringing it to life.

She left me aching to walk the fairy glens, graveyards, and hills with standing stones. You can read Melanie’s review here.

Tanya Anne Crosby and her Highland Brides series. 

‘The MacKinnon’s Bride’, ‘Lyon’s Gift’, ‘On Bended Knee’ and ‘Lion Heart’ were re-reads for me that kept calling for me to pull out. Screamed at me actually. ‘Highland Song’ is a new addition to the series and stole my heart just as swiftly as the others did.

I found Tanya when I started reading 20 years ago and she was instantly catapulted to the top of my favorites list.

To me, her writing pulls at my heart and wraps me solidly within its pages.

You can read my reviews for the series herehereherehere, and here. You can now get the first 4 in the series in a boxed set…Cheaper that way, only $9.99!

So, there you have it! The stories that hit 5 stars for me this year and in no particular order. I would love to hear what everyone else read this year that received a 5 star rating. Feel free to share with us and give us your recommendations.

Now, I’m looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings into my reading world.

*Leah for b2b

Spotlight on Margaret Mallory and…

The Return of the Highlanders

TG b1 MMTHE GUARDIAN

Book 1

After years of fighting abroad, Ian MacDonald comes home to find his clan in peril. To save his kin, he must right the wrongs from his past . . . and claim the bride he’s long resisted.

As a young lass, Sìleas depended on Ian to play her knight in shining armor. But when his rescue attempt compromised her virtue, Ian was forced to marry against his wishes. Five years later, Sìleas has grown from an awkward girl into an independent beauty who knows she deserves better than the reluctant husband who preferred war to his wife. Now this devilishly handsome Highlander is finally falling in love. He wants a second chance with Sìleas – and he won’t take no for an answer.

TS b2 MMTHE SINNER

Book 2

Alex MacDonald is known for his skill as a warrior, his prowess with women, and his vow to never take a wife. But now his chieftain has asked him to make the ultimate sacrifice: wed Glynis MacNeil, a lass famed throughout the Highlands for her exquisite beauty-and defiant ways.

Familiar with heartbreak, Glynis refuses to fall for another handsome scoundrel. Yet when Alex’s past sins force an unlikely union, Glynis gives in to temptation and becomes his wife. Will their newfound passion be strong enough to fight the enemy that threatens their home, their clan, and their very lives?

TW b3 MMTHE WARRIOR

Book 3

From the Isle of Skye to the battlefields of France, Duncan MacDonald has never escaped the memory of the true love he left behind. Deemed unworthy of a chieftain’s daughter, Duncan  abandoned the lovely Moira to prove his worth in battle. Now, when called upon to rescue her from a rival clan, one thing is certain: Moira’s pull on his heart is stronger than ever.

Bartered away in marriage to a violent man, Moira will do anything to ensure she and her son survive. When a rugged warrior arrives to save her, the desperate beauty thinks her prayers have been answered-until she realizes it’s Duncan. The man who once broke her heart is now her only hope.   Moira vows never again to give herself-or reveal her secrets-to the fierce warrior, but as they race across the sea, danger and desire draw them ever closer.

TC b4 MMTHE CHIEFTAIN

Book 4

Connor, chieftain of the MacDonalds of Sleat, holds the fate of his people in his hands. Rival clans are plotting to take over his lands, and duty determines whom he will fight, trust . . . even marry. Seeking guidance, Connor turns to Ilysa, a young lass with the gift of foresight, who reveals an approaching danger-and a passion that burns only for him. But the warrior must make a powerful marriage alliance, and Ilysa’s bloodline is far too humble.

With her powers to heal and see evil where others cannot, beautiful Ilysa dresses plainly, speaks softly, and loves her chieftain from afar. Yet when Connor finally stokes the embers of desire that have so long burned within her, Ilysa feels bliss unlike any she’s ever known. Now as he is forced to place duty before happiness, Ilysa senses Connor is in grave peril. Can she find a way to prove she is the woman he needs by his side?

One lucky commenter will win her own CHIEFTAIN!

*US only.

Margaret Mallory

Author Bio: Margaret Mallory started out as a Midwest girl. Except for two years in Africa, she grew up in small towns in northern Michigan, where her dad was a county extension agent. She received degrees from Michigan State University and the University of Michigan Law School, and then headed to Washington, DC to save the world. When that failed, she packed up and moved to the Pacific Northwest for no reason except that it was beautiful and far from her last jobs and boyfriends. She admits to having a vague notion of finding herself a park ranger with a dog. The man she met was not a park ranger, but he was willing to get the dog. Marriage and children soon followed.

Margaret spent many rewarding—but rather wearing—years in jobs devoted to improving services for abused children and care for the elderly. Not long ago, she surprised (shocked?) her friends and family by abandoning her legal career—and steady job—to write novels. She is thrilled to spend her days writing stories of love and adventure, instead of going to endless meetings. After all, she has always loved romantic tales, heroic deeds, and happy endings. And, at long last, she can satisfy her passion for justice by punishing the bad and rewarding the worthy—in the pages of her novels.

Places you can find Margaret:

Website / Facebook / Tweeter

Scottish Seduction

SCOTTISH SEDUCTION blog tour: 

February 11 – Tempting Reads
February 11 – SOS Aloha
February 11 – Seawitch Reviews
February 11 – My Book Addiction
February 11 – Reading Between the Wines

February 12 – Romance Junkies
February 12 – Typing with Wet Nails

February 13 – Finding The Time to Read
February 13 – Sarah Ballance
February 13 – Demon Lovers Books and More
February 13 – Herding Cats and Burning Soup

February 14 – Bookworm 2 Bookworm
February 14 – Chick with Books
February 14 – A Novel Escape

February 15 – Kara Loves Reading
February 15 – Bookhounds

February 16 – Ramblings From This Chick
February 16 – Romance Crush Junkies
February 16 – CMash Reads

‘The Chieftain’ by Margaret Mallory

TC MMSTORY: Connor, chieftain of the MacDonalds of Sleat, holds the fate of his people in his hands. Rival clans are plotting to take over his lands, and duty determines whom he will fight, trust . . . even marry. Seeking guidance, Connor turns to Ilysa, a young lass with the gift of foresight, who reveals an approaching danger-and a passion that burns only for him. But the warrior must make a powerful marriage alliance, and Ilysa’s bloodline is far too humble.

With her powers to heal and see evil where others cannot, beautiful Ilysa dresses plainly, speaks softly, and loves her chieftain from afar. Yet when Connor finally stokes the embers of desire that have so long burned within her, Ilysa feels bliss unlike any she’s ever known. Now as he is forced to place duty before happiness, Ilysa senses Connor is in grave peril. Can she find a way to prove she is the woman he needs by his side?

REVIEW: This is a new author for me, and starting with book four was a disadvantage to be sure. However, by the time I was done reading this story, I realized that the author actually did an outstanding job making sure the story stood on its own. She made sure that I wasn’t lost and even though the past characters kept popping in and out of this story, I felt she made sure her focus stayed on Connor and Ilysa.

As always, with each new author, comes new voice and it took me about half way through to get the hang of Ms. Mallory’s voice. Once I did, I relaxed and enjoyed the ride.

There are a few things to recommend this story and here are just a few from my observations.

I found the story solidly written, fast paced and the plot, albeit predictable, compelling and believable.

Ms. Mallory gave us a great Alpha hero who I found likable and heroic, while his heroine was sweet and innocent. Just a perfect counterpart to him.

What I also found much to my liking were the secondary characters that quickly grew on me [read, need to buy the other three books, like… now!].

I have no doubt that the fans of Margaret Mallory will love the end to this series, and the ones that never read her work, such as myself, will be making sure to visit their nearest book store to pick up the earlier books in this series. If you are in a mood for a light and entertaining story with men in kilts, this one will definitely fill the bill!

Book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.