‘The Reluctant Highlander’ by Amanda Scott

trh asSTORY: Ordinarily, Lady Fiona Ormiston wouldn’t think of forming an alliance with an ungroomed, barbaric Highlander, despite the protection he offers. But now, by request of the king, Sir Adham MacFinlagh, a brazen stranger and outsider unlike anyone she has met before, is to be her husband. Torn from solitude and the comfort of her family to make a home with the rugged knight, Fiona surrenders to Adham’s powerfully passionate—and shockingly tender—touch, only to discover her new husband’s family ties may lie with an enemy of the king.

A sense of duty may have brought Adham to the marriage bed, but it’s his powerful feelings for his beautiful, willful wife that will be his undoing. Ultimately, the bold knight will have to decide: Does his allegiance lie with his blood ties to the man who hopes to bring down the king or with the bride who has stolen his heart?

REVIEW: I said it before and I’ll say it again. Amanda Scott is welcome to pull me out of my regency world anytime she damn well pleases. With her meticulous research and wonderful prose, she brings Highland’s history and politics to life and immerses me into her tales of intrigue and romance with an ease.

There’s a lot to like about this story, aside of being well written and researched. I found the story sweet and heartwarming. The couple was engaging and their story compelling. Fiona was sweet as much as she was strong and adventurous. She was a perfect match for Adham, an Alpha male warrior with shades of Beta hero tendencies.

What I found fascinating was the political plot to this story. I loved the history and intrigue of the setting and if you’re into that sort of thing, I think you’ll gobble it up.

I really liked this story and highly recommend it for its history and suspense as much as for action and romance.

Melanie for b2b

Gift copy provided by the publisher for an honest review

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‘Speak No Evil’ by Tanya Anne Crosby

sne tacSTORY: Lifting the veil of secrecy on a grand Southern family in decline, author Tanya Anne Crosby explores the lives of Caroline, Augusta, and Savannah Aldridge, three sisters who share a dark past and an uncertain future…

Caroline Aldridge was surprised by the number of mourners at her mother’s funeral. Evidently the newspaper heiress who had caused her children so much pain was well-loved by everyone else in Charleston. Now she was gone, leaving behind countless secrets-and a few demands: Caroline and her sisters must live together for one year or lose their inheritance. And Caroline must take over “The Tribune.” But a killer is making headlines, and Caroline may have unwittingly stepped into the crosshairs…

A series of kidnappings and murders resurrect the sisters’ memories of their brother’s disappearance as a child-and Caroline fears she may be next. Yet in the midst of her turmoil, she may be rekindling a romance she’d extinguished long ago. With Jack back in her life and the tattered bonds of sisterhood slowly mending, Caroline hopes the family can restore its position in Charleston society-unless a sinister force beyond their control tears them apart forever…

REVIEW: This is the first book in the series about the Aldridge sisters, Caroline, Augusta, and Savannah and the plot revolves about their memories of their brothers disappearance years ago. First up is Caroline and I have to say that she was an interesting and complex character.

The story is well written and the characters are well developed, making this story interesting and suspenseful.

If you’re a romantic suspense reader, I highly recommend you pick this one up because the ride will be thrilling and you can check all these off: action, romance and complex relationships.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Breton Wolf’ by Victoria Vane

bw-vvSTORY: She swore to defy him to her dying breath… But passion blurs the line between love and hate…

The bluest blood and the hardest heart… at least when it comes to marriage… The daughter of a duke and granddaughter of a king, Adele of Vannes was bartered at birth in a marriage treaty for the sole purpose of producing a royal heir. When her philandering husband is slain by Norse marauders, she is coerced to wed again in order to protect her home and her people. Adele knows that her beloved Brittany needs a strong hand to survive, but how can she ever reconcile her bitterness and hatred with the desire she feels for her mortal enemy?

She’s the jewel he seeks for his Breton crown…A Barbarian bent on building a dynasty, Valdrik Vargr, ‘the Norse Wolf,’ is renowned for both his bravery in battle and shrewdness in statecraft. Setting his sights on claiming the kingdom of Brittany, he knows that siring sons from royal blood would solidify his hold, but the woman he would claim as his queen refuses to have him. Will he fuel her hatred by taking her to his bed, or will the man who strikes terror in the hearts of men be reduced to wooing his bride? 

REVIEW: It’s no secret that I love Ms. Vane’s historical novels and finding out that she’d penned a Viking Medieval story was as much a surprise as delight to someone that is a huge fan of the Vikings series on History channel.

I must say that this story was action filled from start to finish, and despite the complexity of the politics of the two peoples, I truly enjoyed it. My enjoyment was tripled as Ms. Vane had went all out in creating the world and the characters that rang true throughout the story.

Adele was a true and devoted lady of her time, forced to wed a man who raped her on their wedding night, and never failed to humiliate her in front of their people. However, her submission to him only made her grow more strong and when his demise finally sets her free of him, she finds that she’s now become a “spoils” of the war.

When Valdrik, The Norse Wolf, is given a chance to claim the Kingdom in Brittany, he takes it because he knows that chances like that are rare, but in order to do that, he must fight a man and wed his wife.

If you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll love this story because it is well researched and told in such a way that you’ll fall in love with a world we hardly ever hear about these days. Highly recommended!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Her Highland Rogue’ by Violetta Rand

hhr vrSTORY: Errol MacRae’s days of gallivanting across the Highlands are nearing an end. His father’s health has taken a turn for the worse, and rumors are swirling that the crown intends to transfer ancient lands into the hands of the MacKenzies, the clan the MacRaes are sworn to defend. Errol expects to lead his men into battle soon. So he isn’t pleased when his father instead sends him to retrieve a beautiful flame-haired lass who has fled into the mountains.

Orphaned as a young girl, Aileana vividly remembers how the MacRaes rescued her and welcomed her into their clan. For ten years, she has served them loyally—until the night she’s nearly despoiled by one of the laird’s captains. Aileana risks her life and her reputation to seek refuge in the snowcapped peaks of the Five Sisters, the one place that has always felt like home. But after the strong-armed, strong-willed Errol tracks her down in a blizzard, she finds herself tempted to risk something even more dangerous: her heart.

REVIEW: There are some books that work, and then there are some that don’t and there are many, many reasons for either. For me, the story has to have at least one strong character to whom I’ll be attached to and root for. In this case, there were two and I just couldn’t suspend my imagination enough to care for either of them.

The hero was a typical Alpha and had no redeeming qualities, at least for me, and the heroine wasn’t strong enough to carry this story on her own. I think that the characters needed more development as well as the story. Everything just felt two dimensional.

As for the writing, it was just okay. Nothing in this story spoke to me, nothing attracted me to it and in all honesty I can’t recommend it.

Melanie for b2b

‘The Beast of Clan Kincaid’ by Lily Blackwood

tbock lbSTORY: They call him the Beast—a hardened mercenary whose heart seems as cold as his icy blue gaze. They do not know his true name: Niall Braewick, son of the Laird of Kincaid. It has been years since he escaped into the forest the night his father was murdered. Now he has returned, ablaze with a vengeful hunger. He will gain the MacClaren chief’s trust, gather his clan, and take back his lands. And take the MacClaren’s daughter as well…

Though he pulled her from the river, saving her life, Elspeth has been warned to keep her distance from her father’s hired warrior. He is a barbarian—a shame, as he is far more compelling than the lechers and fools competing for her dowry. Little does she know that, like the castle itself, she is a prize Niall intends to claim…but will he extract blood for blood and possess what is his, or will his enemy’s beautiful, innocent daughter tempt him to forsake his dream of conquest?

REVIEW: This is the first book in the Clan Kincaid series about three brothers who supposedly died in an uprising against their clan. The first story is of the oldest brother and I liked it a lot.

The characters are well developed and the hero is Alpha male to the core. The heroine, who just happens to be the daughter of the hero’s enemy, was such a hoot!

I liked that the story moved fast and the revenge trope was well executed and I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the stories.

If you’re a fan of medieval period, and especially of the Highlanders, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this one.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Beautiful Pretender’ by Melanie Dickerson

tbp mdSTORY: What happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

REVIEW: Thornbeck Forest – 1363 – Roman Empire

Reinhart Stolten, Margrave of Thornbeck, is out riding on his vast property chasing away a pack of wolves in an effort to keep everyone in the area safe. Once a powerful knight, he is now reduced to using a cane to walk. When he returns to his castle, he finds he has received a missive from the King requesting that Reinhart get married and suggests the daughters of the Duke of Geithart and the Earl of Plimmwald as possible brides. It happens that the fathers of these men had fueded with the previous Margraves of Thornbeck and the King wants to unite these families and thus ensure peace. While Reinhart would rather ignore the request, his aide, Jorgen, encourages him to comply with the King’s wishes. So, Jorgen and his wife, Odette, begin planning the ball. It is decided that there will be a two-week party and ball at Thornbeck Castle. These two ladies and others will be invited so Reinhart can meet them and decide which one best suits him.

Avelina is a lady’s maid to Lady Dorothea, daughter of the Earl of Plimmwald. Dorothea is hoping that her father doesn’t find out about her trysts with his Knight, Sir Dietric, and now she is carrying his child. When her father orders her to go to the Margrave’s ball, she runs away with her Knight. Upon learning what she has done, her father decides to send Avelina to attend the party and pretend that she is Dorothea.

Upon arrival at the castle, Avelina feels out of place but is befriended by a lovely woman also attending the party and works hard to keep her true identity secret. It becomes more difficult for her when she realizes that Reinhart seems to be quite taken with her.

But mischief is afoot and someone is trying to get her out of the way. As there has been bad blood between the families before, it looks like more problems may be coming.

This was a good story that stayed well with the time period. I enjoyed it and I know other readers will as well.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘Knight of My Dreams’ by Lynsay Sands

komd lsSTORY: Lady Alice knows she is not the type to entice a man. She’s too voluptuous, too intelligent, too strong minded. Why, she even reads! But then Jonathan, Earl of Fairley, arrives at court. Tall, dark and handsome, the knight is any woman’s dream. And he has just been ordered by the king to find a bride … and Alice is to help him!

Jonathan has been evading his mother’s matchmaking schemes for years, so why does she insist that Lady Alice isn’t for him? Alice is only to aid in his search for a bride, yet Jonathan can’t help but be distracted by her glorious hair—the color of a sunset—and a figure that is like a lush berry about to burst to full ripeness … Has Jonathan fallen prey to love?

Originally appeared in the print anthology A Mother’s Way, under the title “Mother May I?”

REVIEW: As short stories go, this one was very well written and a lot of fun to read in one afternoon.

If you’re in a mood to spend a short time in Medieval Era than you should give this story a try. With unconventional heroine and an Alpha hero, the story moves fast and entertains on all levels and through the end.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher