‘A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong’ by Cecilia Grant

acgpw cgSTORY: It should have been simple…

With one more errand to go—the purchase of a hunting falcon—Andrew Blackshear has Christmas completely under control. As his sister’s impending marriage signals the inevitable drifting-apart of the Blackshear family, it’s his last chance to give his siblings the sort of memorable, well-planned holiday their parents could never seem to provide.

He has no time to dawdle, no time for nonsense, and certainly no time to drive the falconer’s vexing, impulsive, lush-lipped, midnight-haired daughter to a house party before heading home. So why the devil did he agree to do just that?

It couldn’t be more deliciously mixed-up…

Lucy Sharp has been waiting all her too-quiet life for an adventure, and she means to make the most of this one. She’s going to enjoy the house party as no one has ever enjoyed a house party before, and in the meanwhile she’s going to enjoy every minute in the company of amusingly stern, formidably proper, outrageously handsome Mr. Blackshear. Let him disapprove of her all he likes—it’s not as though they’ll see each other again after today.

…or will they? When a carriage mishap and a snowstorm strand the pair miles short of their destination, threatening them with scandal and jeopardizing all their Christmas plans, they’ll have to work together to save the holiday from disaster. And along the way they just might learn that the best adventures are the ones you never would have thought to plan.

REVIEW: This was such a fun little novella and if you haven’t read any of this author’s stories before, I think you should give this prequel to the other books, a chance.

The Blackshear family is interesting, intriguing and vastly amusing.

I liked Andrew, the oldest Blackshear brother so much. Talk about a gentleman! He is one of those hero’s that you can’t help but like. He is so prim and proper, so “starched” that being in his mind I just couldn’t help but chuckle through the whole book.

And then we have Lucy. Lucy, Lucy, Lucy! She was a perfect counterpart to Andrew and no matter what he may have thought of her actions, he just couldn’t help but like her.

Ms. Grant is one of those authors that creates characters that even though they come to us from 200 years ago, you can’t help but identify with them.

I highly recommend it and especially now that you can grab it for FREE!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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‘The Ranger’ by Monica McCarty

tr mmcSTORY: Chosen to help Robert the Bruce in his quest to free Scotland from English rule and claim his crown, the legendary team of warriors known as the Highland Guard battles on.

Embedded deep behind enemy lines, Arthur “Ranger” Campbell is prized for his razor-sharp senses and his ability to blend into the shadows. But when Arthur infiltrates the clan of the chieftain who murdered his father, his heart is locked on revenge. Inside he faces unexpected resistance from the sweetest of obstacles—a honey-haired siren who is his enemy’s daughter.

Intrigued by this ruggedly handsome newcomer to her father’s forces, the vivacious, enchanting Anna MacDougall is a woman whose skill at uncovering deception rivals Arthur’s own. Though yearning for a quiet life with a good man to love, Anna is drawn to this mysterious knight whose eyes devour her but whose words push her away. As danger, treachery, and the threat of looming war draw them closer into each other’s arms, a warrior made of steel must make a choice from the heart: love or revenge.

REVIEW: Arthur “Ranger” Campbell is one of the Bruce’s secret Highland Guard. He is sent into the enemy MacDougall camp to spy. He is to get information that will help Robert Bruce win the war. He also has a personal vendetta against Lorn MacDougall that he hopes to take care of during this mission. I love the fact that Ranger has this uncanny ability to sense things. It’s something that sets him apart from the others and has made him feel an outcast from everyone around him. He’s a loner and intends to remain that way for life.

Anna MacDougall is carrying secret messages for her father who is against Robert Bruce. He feels that by sending women the men fighting for Bruce won’t suspect and intercept these messages. One night she is caught by some highlander’s who kill her guard then let her go. She is amazed at their abilities, some she has never seen before. She knows that she will never forget the man who saved her life that night even though she couldn’t see his face.

Arthur and Anna have this chemistry that is screaming to be acknowledged but he is having nothing to do with it. She is his most hated enemies daughter for heaven’s sake! He is there to see her family brought to it’s knees. She, on the other hand, is entranced with him and finds any reason to stay near him and butts in every chance she gets.

His resistance starts to crumble about the same time she starts to question things about him. They both give themselves over to this attraction only to find their loyalties and the love they share questioned and put to the test in the most ultimate ways.

This story kept me flipping pages as fast as I could read them I was so enthralled with the battles, the tension, the secrets and their reveals, the pain, and the love. This Highland Guard that Monica McCarty has given us has captured my interest and heart.

Leah for b2b

‘MacKinnon’s Hope: A Highland Christmas Carol’ by Tanya Anne Crosby

mh tacSTORY: The MacKinnon’s Bride Missing Epilogue

Eleven years later, Hugh FitzSimon is a broken man. He is forsaken, alone, a wretch left to wallow in his grief. A scrooge to rival Ebeneezer, Hugh is visited by the ghost of his dead wife, who has come to reveal what life has been, what it could be, and where he will end if the candle burns out before he’s made amends.

For years fans have asked for a MacKinnon’s Bride epilogue and here it is, a short story to lend a little cheer for the holidays.

REVIEW: Love, love, love! I feel as we have completed the circle and my heart feels warm and satisfied. We’ve been revisited by favorite characters and some have even found their peace and happy endings that have been a long time coming.

Hugh found his forgiveness and Constance, who has been a favorite of mine from the moment her tiny, free spirited, toes touched the pages of Tanya’s stories, has found her happy destiny. One of my very favorite quotes from The MacKinnon’s Bride makes an appearance that left me sitting here with a silly grin on my face. “Catching glowworms perchance?” … this is, for me, the quote that starts the story of Page and Iain so when I read it within these pages, I felt we had came full circle.

Thank you, Tanya, for giving us this missing epilogue! I’ve been drawn to your writing for what seems like forever and you never fail to move me with your stories.

Leah for b2b

‘A Too Convenient Marriage’ by Georgie Lee

atcm gl A secret carried down the aisle! 

Late one night, Susanna Lambert, the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Rockland, bursts uninvited into a stranger’s carriage, turning both their worlds upside down. Suddenly, fun-loving Justin Connor finds himself forced to consider marriage!

For Susanna, marrying Justin is a chance to finally escape her cruel stepmother and forget about the rake who ruined her. But as wedding bells begin to chime, Susanna discovers she’s carrying a huge secret…one that could turn to dust all promises of happiness as Justin’s wife!

REVIEW: London – 1818

Justin Connor is out in his carriage one evening when a strange young woman jumps in begging him to drive away. Before he can react, two men open the door and a fight ensues. It appears that the young woman is Miss Susanna Lambert who has slipped away from her home to meet and run away with a man who never showed. The men fighting Justin turn out to be her father, the Duke of Rockland, and her step-brother. When the Duke realizes they have the wrong man, he asks Justin to visit him the next day to compensate him for the misunderstanding.

Susanna is the illegitimate daughter of the Duke. He brought her into his home when her mother died. The Duke’s wife and her daughter had always treated Susanna with disdain. Now, the Duke is trying to marry her off and offering a thousand pound dowry to be rid of her.

When Justin arrives the next morning at the Rockland home, the Duke offers for him to marry Susanna and obtain her thousand pound dowry. Even though his recent investment in a ship was lost when it sank, Justin is inclined to refuse the offer. Currently, he is helping his friend, Philip, with his debt collection business and is hoping to save up enough money to become a wine merchant.

Susanna, is very happy with the offer and when she shares her previous experience with selling wine while living with her mother, Justin realizes she could be a true asset to him.

They marry right away and find that they have a true attraction to one another. However, a serious turn of events explodes that may destroy their marriage before it gets a chance to start.

I really enjoyed this book. Justin and Susanna just click together perfectly and the characters are very well written.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Duke and Miss Christmas’ by Amelia Grey

tdamc agSTORY: Crispin, the Duke of Hurst, has never met a woman he couldn’t handle–until he’s hit over the head with a basketful of mistletoe by a young lady who mistakes his intentions. When he gets into a tussle with her–and she can hold her own–Crispin knows he has finally met his match.

Miss Gwen Prim is mortified that she attacked a duke, but even more concerning is the way her resolve melts when she’s near him. She’s never felt this way about a London gentleman in her life. And with the magic of Christmas in the air, she may end up with a proposal she didn’t expect…

REVIEW: Crispin, the seventh Duke of Hurst, has been invited to a Christmas Ball by his friend, Bray, the Duke of Drakestone. The oldest of six younger siblings, Crispin has decided to forego Christmas Day with his family to attend this Ball. As he is riding his horse to Drakestone, he comes upon a young girl named Sybil sitting in the snow surrounded by a basket of greenery cuttings. She has hurt her ankle after falling from a tree attempting to pick mistletoe so he offers to put her on his horse and take her home. As he is lifting her onto the horse, he is attacked behind by a young woman who thinks he is trying to steal Sybil away! Sybil is a good rider and takes off on the horse. Crispin struggles with the young woman who had attacked him and scrapes his face with the basket. He tries to calm her down and explain to her that he was only trying to help young Sybil. She refuses to tell him her name so he calls her Miss Christmas.

Gwen Prim is the sister-in-law of the Duke of Drakestone. Having returned from her season she is heartbroken from her experiences. However, she is shocked to find that Crispin is a Duke and will be staying at Drakestone. She is horribly embarrassed that she struck him and he now sports a scratch on his face.

Crispin is a member of the Heir’s Club which is a group of wealthy young men who tend to become involved in scandal. That is exactly what happened with Crispin, so he chose to join his mother and siblings in America for awhile until the gossip died down.

Crispin and Gwen are immediately attracted to one another and even after the Ball, they continue to correspond with one another. They are both quite fond of their many siblings. Gwen needs to be sure that the previous gossip about Crispin is not true before she can allow herself to fall in love with him.

This is a sweet novella with lots of humor. Once again, Amelia Grey has given readers a fun story.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Beyond the Sunrise’ by Mary Balogh

bts mb “I will love you all my life and even beyond that.”

Even at fifteen, Jeanne, the privileged daughter of a royalist émigré, knew what she liked: Englishman Robert Blake, bastard son of a marquess. Yet his questionable birth rendered him forbidden. Forced to part, they were still young enough to believe in tomorrow. But as time passed, that brief ephemeral flirtation at Haddington Hall faded into memory.

Eleven years later in Portugal, during the Peninsular Wars, they meet again, both of them spies, and destined to be working on opposing sides. He is now a captain with the British army. She is the widowed Marquesa das Minas–sometimes going by the name Joana da Fonte. However for only one of them does the flicker of recognition still burn.

Amid the fury of war and in the shadow of secrets, passion flares once again. But for Joana and Robert, each entrusted to a dangerous mission that demands deception, falling in love could be the most dangerous risk of all.

REVIEW: England 1799

Robert Blake, age 17, is the illegitimate son of the Marquess of Quesnay of Haddington Hall. His mother was the mistress of the Marquess for many years until her death. While he has always been provided for by his father, the man’s wife hates him because she has never had any children with him. His father has promised to buy him a commission when he turned 18.

The lovely French girl, Jeanne Morisette, age 15, visits the Hall and meets Robert out on the grounds. They enjoy exploring the area and indulging in a few kisses. Jeanne is the daughter of the Comte de Levisse who had fled France during the Reign of Terror and now lives in England. Robert quickly falls in love with Jeanne but when she departs, she treats him with disdain.

Rather than wait until he was 18, Robert decides to run away and enlist as a soldier in the Ninety-Fifth Rifles infantry regiment. Private Robert Blake is then headed to India determined to make his life on his own.

Portugal and Spain 1810

Now we find Captain Robert Blake, a hero, tough, battle scarred, proud, and multi-lingual man healing from some serious wounds he received in battle. Anxious to return to duty and his men, he has worked hard to regain his strength.

He is invited to attend a soiree, he is shocked to meet Jeanne who is now known as Joana de Fonte, the Marquesa das Minas. She is now widowed and while he recognizes her, she does not recognize him probably due to the scarring on his face. She flirts with him but he remains simply cordial. Lord Wellington tasks him with escorting her to Viseu to visit her aunt and while he would rather decline, he has no other choice but to accept the assignment. There is something in her that wants to humiliate him probably because he would not fall at her feet like other men do.

When he safely brings her to her destination, he is then sent on a special mission by Wellington. He is captured by the French and at the same time he receives a great shock.

I have enjoyed Mary Balogh’s novels for many years but have to say that I was extremely disappointed and rather bored by this one. It is a re-release from the original 1992 book. I found Jeanne to be very irritating and there was way too much time of the book spent on the war.

Connie for b2b

‘The Bold Heart’ by Carmen Caine

tbh ccSTORY: (Scotland, 1488) – Ewan was a battle-weary warrior with haunted dreams. He no longer believed in love.

As Scotland’s greatest warrior and heir to the earldom of Mull, few dared to cross swords with Ewan MacLean. But the price he paid for his fearsome reputation was a heavy one. To survive, he buried his emotions and became only the warrior, riding from battle to battle with his men to protect Scotland from threats within and without her borders and letting himself feel nothing else.

But when his right-hand man, Alec Montgomery, is caught dallying with a powerful Lord’s daughter, a trap is set. And both Ewan and Alec find themselves in an English prison, their necks headed for the noose.

On the Isle of Skye, the raven-haired Merry MacLeod spends her days caring for the clan elderly and hurtling across the moors on the back of her black stallion. A high-spirited, adventurous lass, she is no longer troubled by childhood memories of the day the braw lad, Ewan MacLean, rescued her from her husband, the cruel MacDonald. But when she hears the very same Ewan is now confined in an English prison, she disguises herself as a lad and sets out to repay her debt.

After a bold, mysterious youth rescues Ewan and his men from the English, the group swiftly makes their way back to Scotland. But no sooner embarked on their journey home, a young Prince James sounds the call to arms, rises against his father, King James III of Scotland, and plunges Scotland into a dangerous civil war.

But as they journey to join the prince, both Ewan and Alec discover their rescuer’s secret–and both men find themselves falling unexpectedly in love with a raven-haired beauty.

REVIEW: Merry is this free spirited lass who is very good with a blade and bow. Ewan is a man riddled with revenge for those he’s seen killed, and sorrow for those he’s killed. It keeps him awake at night, hearing their death screams.

Merry owes Ewan a life debt where he saved her from certain death at the hands of her husband years ago so when she hears he’s been captured by the English she packs up and goes to secure his release. Once there, she sees that another, Alec Montgomery, is set to hang soon so she knows she has to save him too. Little does she know the steps she takes for their release will send them down a road of not only discovery, mystery, pain, and revenge, but one of enduring friendship and love.

I got so wrapped up in this story that at one point, I had tears running down my face before I knew it. I fell hard for these characters and the path they walked was a hard one filled with laughter and sorrow. I love the way she blended in the Olde Ways at one point and touched on the Fey. I feel that has always been an integral part of Scotland through the ages. This was well written and left me wanting the next in the series with a craving that will not cease until I turn that first page.

Leah for b2b