Friday, November 17, 2017

Review: Romancing the Scot

Romancing the Scot Romancing the Scot by May McGoldrick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Authors holding $100 Visa gift card giveaway to celebrate new series! Click Giveaway for chance. Ends Nov. 26

3.5 stars

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Napoleonic Wars are over but the political maneuverings are far from, Grace and her father are traveling with messages from Joseph Bonaparte to his wife Julie. They are attacked and Grace ends up hiding in a crate that gets shipped off to Scotland. As the daughter of a French cavalry officer with Jacobite ancestors, Grace finds herself in a perilous position when she awakens in the home of a former English cavalry officer and current judge.
Hugh still blames himself for not being able to rescue his wife and son during the war; he therefore likes dangerous hobbies such as ballooning. When an unconscious woman is found in the new basket he had delivered, he can't help but be drawn to her.
Grace and Hugh may have been on opposite sides of the war but their serendipitous meeting will have them joining together.

"I shouldn't have kissed you," she finally managed to whisper.
"No, it was I," he said, his gaze still setting her body aflame even from two steps away. "But I don't regret it, and I don't think you do, either."


First in the new Pennington Family series, Romancing the Scot is a rich and intriguing tale. Hugh is our viscount, former cavalry officer, and current judge hero, whose parents you might remember from the authors' Scottish Dream Trilogy. I greatly appreciated the authors' attention to Hugh as a judge. We don't get a courtroom scene but instead an engaging look at how he approaches his cases, specifically through a case involving a deaf and mute woman accused of murdering her child (in the author's note, the case is said to be based on a real one). This approach not only allowed Hugh and Grace to bond through solving how to work the case, showing how Hugh appreciated Grace's mind and abilities, it also added unique details to an often written about time period.

While Hugh provided the calm and commanding demeanor, Grace gave us the action and compelling components. She at first claims amnesia because she fears that her father fighting for Napoleon and her Jacobite ancestors might land her in trouble but can't keep lying as she grows closer with Hugh. Grace was a wonderful heroine who didn't need to be dramatically overwritten to show her brilliance in strength living the everyday life she was placed in. She traveled with her French cavalry father, fighting sicknesses, helping wounded, and marching in the muck like many of the women in her time did; she's utterly capable but also so human in her vulnerability. The story's drama comes from Grace running from men who killed her father and her thinking they're after a huge diamond she didn't know until later she was transporting. There are English and French spies and some machinations.

The story started off right away at a bit of run and it did jolt me a bit as I had to attempt to place the characters and what exactly was going on but it does level off fairly quickly. The middle slowed a bit as I thought more of a focus on the romance between Grace and Hugh could have sparked vivacity but I also greatly enjoyed the feel of history in this historical romance. There's a mention of the Spa Fields riots, the workings of the law I mentioned, and a focus on the Scottish Clearances. If you read a fair amount of Scottish historicals from the 1800s, you've probably run across this historical event, what made this feel different was instead of just reciting what the Clearances were or did, the authors' focused on the actual people and effects, it felt more intimate. The historical components in this story felt true and woven in a way that immensely added to the feel and created a richer story tapestry.

I thought the middle could have used more romance between our couple but I also believed in them when they made love, the writing sometimes veered toward flowery/purple, the plot was weaving and intriguing, and the historical components highly enriched the story. Hugh's sister Jo was a touching character in her own right and with the set-up (adopted, broken engagement) the authors' have alluded to, I can't wait to read her book. Romancing the Scot was just an all around interesting read and a strong beginning to the Pennington Family series.


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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Release Day! Romancing the Scot by May McGoldrick




ROMANCING THE SCOT
by May McGoldrick,
E-Original published by Swerve
Publication Date: November 14, 2017
ISBN: 9781250166906
Price: $3.99


Description
In this stunning series starter by USA Today bestselling author May McGoldrick, meet the new generation of Penningtons...five brothers and sisters of passion and privilege. Enter their aristocratic world…where each will fight injustice and find love.

Hugh Pennington—Viscount Greysteil, Lord Justice of the Scottish Courts, hero of the Napoleonic wars—is a grieving widower with a death wish. When he receives an expected crate from the continent, he is shocked to find a nearly dead woman inside. Her identity is unknown, and the handful of American coins and the precious diamond sown into her dress only deepen the mystery.

Grace Ware is an enemy to the English crown. Her father, an Irish military commander of Napoleon’s defeated army. Her mother, an exiled Scottish Jacobite. When Grace took shelter in a warehouse, running from her father’s murderers through the harbor alleyways of Antwerp, she never anticipated bad luck to deposit her at the home of an aristocrat in the Scottish Borders. Baronsford is the last place she could expect to find safety, and Grace feigns a loss of memory to buy herself time while she recovers.

Hugh is taken by her beauty, passion, and courage to challenge his beliefs and open his mind. Grace finds in him a wounded man of honor, proud but compassionate. When their duel of wits quickly turns to passion and romance, Grace’s fears begin to dissolve…until danger follows her to the very doors of Baronsford. For, unknown to either of them, Grace has in her possession a secret that will wreak havoc within the British government. Friend and foe are indistinguishable as lethal forces converge to tear the two lovers apart or destroy them both.


Excerpt: 
Looking the shipping crate over for damage and seeing none, he retrieved an iron crow from a workbench. Jo was standing inside the doors, eyeing the box doubtfully from a safe distance.
“Come closer. It won’t bite.”
“Not a chance. From the smell of that thing, a person would think you’re importing cadavers. Have you also taken up being a Resurrectionist as a hobby?”
He patted the crate affectionately. “This sweet thing has been sitting in the bowels of a ship from Antwerp. You know what the hold of a ship smells like?”
“Actually, I don’t.” She held a handkerchief to her nose and drew closer. “But I think you’re correct with the reference to ‘bowels.’”
Hugh took the first nail out. “Well, stand back, since you’ve become so prissy. Though I recall a younger version of you leading the rest of us through bogs and marshes that smelled no better.”
“Of course! But as I recall, we had frogs and turtles and the occasional dragon that needed hunting,” she replied with a smile. “Very well. Open it and let’s see this treasure of yours.”
Prying off the top took him only a moment. Throwing it to the side, he pulled back the tarp that covered the basket and then stared curiously at the dark green rags bundled at the bottom.
Leaning in, Hugh’s enthusiasm evaporated as a horrid realization settled in. This was no pile of old clothing. A shock of blond hair. A shoe. A hand. The body of a dead woman lay curled up in the gondola.
“Bloody hell.”
“What is it?” Immediately, Jo was at his side. “Good God!”
Hugh climbed in and crouched beside the body. He took her hand. She was cold to the touch. His heart sank. The crate had been shipped from Antwerp. To be trapped for so many days with no water, no food, in the cold and damp of the ship’s hold. He had no idea who this woman was or how she came to be in here.
The thought struck him. Perhaps it wasn’t an inadvertent act. Perhaps she was murdered and her body had been dumped into the crate.
Dismay and alarm clawed at him as he pushed away the matted ringlets of golden hair. She was young. He lifted her chin. The body had none of the stiffness of postmortem. He stared at her lips. He may have imagined it but they seemed to have moved.
“Bright . . .” The whisper was a mere rustle of leaves in a breeze.
The fingers jerked and came to life, clutching at his hand.
“She’s not dead,” he called to Jo, relieved. “Send for the doctor. I’ll take her to the house.”
His sister ran out, calling for help, and he lifted the woman. She emitted a low groan. Her limbs had been locked in the same cramped position for so many days. Hugh propped her over the side of the gondola.
“Stay with me,” he encouraged. “Talk to me.”
Holding the woman in place, he clambered from the basket and then gently lifted her out, cradling her in his arms. She weighed next to nothing.
As they went out into the rain, he feared she was about to die. The exertion of trying to breathe showed on her face. He’d seen this on the battlefield. The final effort before death.
Starting up the path, he stumbled, not realizing the woman’s skirts were dragging on the ground. He staggered but caught himself before they went down. Her head lolled against his chest, her face gray and mask-like. She appeared to be slipping away. It would be a shame that she’d survived the crossing only to perish now.
A dagger point of anger pierced Hugh’s brain as he recalled another dismal day when he’d lifted two other bodies, wrapped in burial shrouds, from a wooden box.
“Talk to me,” he ordered. “Say something.”
As he made his way up the hill toward the house, a bolt of lightning streaked across the sky above Baronsford. Thunder shook the ground and the sky opened, unleashing fierce torrents of rain on them.
His wife. His son. Hugh hadn’t been there for them. They’d died as he and the British army were being chased by the French across Spain. He’d been trying to save his men’s lives, not knowing that those most precious to him were suffering.
“You’ve survived a horrifying ordeal. Give me the chance to save you.”
The woman struggled weakly in Hugh’s arms, and her head tipped back. He watched as her lips parted, welcoming the wetness of the falling rain.
“We’re almost there.”
“Bright . . .” she murmured.
He looked into her face and saw she was trying hard to open her eyes.
“Yes, brighter than that crate,” he said, encouraged by her effort. Any movement, however small, gave him hope. “And you’ve been in there for Lord knows how long.”

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Author Bio
Authors Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick (writing as May McGoldrick) weave emotionally satisfying tales of love and danger. Publishing under the names of May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey, these authors have written more than thirty novels and works of nonfiction for Penguin Random House, Mira, HarperCollins, Entangled, and Heinemann. Nikoo, an engineer, also conducts frequent workshops on writing and publishing and serves as a Resident Author. Jim holds a Ph.D. in Medieval and Renaissance literature and teaches English in northwestern Connecticut. They are the authors of Much Ado About Highlanders, Taming the Highlander, and Tempest in the Highlands with SMP Swerve.

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Release Day! Twisted Truths by Rebecca Zanetti #Giveaway


TWISTED TRUTHS by Rebecca Zanetti
Part of the BLOOD BROTHERS series.
November 14, 2017 | Trade paperback: $14.99 | eBook: $5.99 | ISBN: 978145559431

"TOP PICK! 4 1/2 stars! Zanetti proves that when it
comes to RS, she is in a class by herself!" RT Book Reviews


DESCRIPTION
One year ago, Denver Jones blew up his life and left everything behind. To stay alive, he had no other choice. But now, when video footage of the woman he could never forget goes viral, begging for his help, he has no choice but to go to her. Her niece has been kidnapped and Denver and his blood brothers are the only people she can trust. 

But Denver isn't the only one watching that video. The deadly forces from his past see it too-and they'll use anything--and anyone--they can to lure Denver out of hiding to exact their revenge.  

Excerpt:
Slowly, numbly, she shrugged.  “I knew you were dangerous and relentless in pursuing somebody,” she whispered.  But a killer?   Her search for him had held a romantic element, and she knew it.  This guy was all edge—no romance.  “Am I in danger?”  Her voice quivered, but she had to know.
“Yes.”  He didn’t move.  Didn’t even seem to breathe.
She blinked.  Rapidly.  “From you?”
His eyes darkened.  “No.  The only thing I’m capable of breaking is your heart.”
Cold swam through her.  The arrogance.  “You think you broke my heart?”
His lip twisted.  “I know I did.”  His tone was low with what seemed like self-hatred.  Dark and raw.  “I’m sorry.”
Those words.  She’d needed those words and hadn’t realized how badly.  “Thank you,” she said, going on instinct.  “Then how am I in danger?”
“I’m in danger, and anybody close to me is free game for an enemy who will keep coming until I’m dead.  Until everything I care about, everything I dream about, is taken away and I want death.”  He looked back down at the computer, intensity pouring from him.
Whoa. Okay.  Denver didn’t have one bit of hysteria in him.  His words scared her, but curiosity still rose up.  “Who?”
“Irrelevant.  As soon as we get Talia back, you have to forget me.  Now.  Back to Richie.”
She could live forever, and she’d never forget him.  Not for one second had she been able to pretend he didn’t exist.  But he was right.  They had to find Talia, but he still needed to explain more.  She had a right to know everything.  “I have files on everything.”  She threw her pack at Denver, and he easily caught it before it smashed him in the face. 
He didn’t so much as frown.  “Thank you.”
She swallowed.  They were in the same room.  After a year of hurting for him, he was right there in solid form.  More than solid.  She hadn’t imagined his hard body or intense charisma.  He owned every room he walked into with no effort.  She’d never met anybody like him, and here he was.  Her body tingled, her heart ached, and her mind spun.  Yeah.  Denver was definitely there.  “What now?” she asked, her eyes gritty and her throat scratchy.
“I’ll do some research.”  Slowly, numbly, she shrugged.  “I knew you were dangerous and relentless in pursuing somebody,” she whispered.  But a killer?   Her search for him had held a romantic element, and she knew it.  This guy was all edge—no romance.  “Am I in danger?”  Her voice quivered, but she had to know.
“Yes.”  He didn’t move.  Didn’t even seem to breathe.
She blinked.  Rapidly.  “From you?”
His eyes darkened.  “No.  The only thing I’m capable of breaking is your heart.”
Cold swam through her.  The arrogance.  “You think you broke my heart?”
His lip twisted.  “I know I did.”  His tone was low with what seemed like self-hatred.  Dark and raw.  “I’m sorry.”
Those words.  She’d needed those words and hadn’t realized how badly.  “Thank you,” she said, going on instinct.  “Then how am I in danger?”
“I’m in danger, and anybody close to me is free game for an enemy who will keep coming until I’m dead.  Until everything I care about, everything I dream about, is taken away and I want death.”  He looked back down at the computer, intensity pouring from him.
Whoa. Okay.  Denver didn’t have one bit of hysteria in him.  His words scared her, but curiosity still rose up.  “Who?”
“Irrelevant.  As soon as we get Talia back, you have to forget me.  Now.  Back to Richie.”
She could live forever, and she’d never forget him.  Not for one second had she been able to pretend he didn’t exist.  But he was right.  They had to find Talia, but he still needed to explain more.  She had a right to know everything.  “I have files on everything.”  She threw her pack at Denver, and he easily caught it before it smashed him in the face.
He didn’t so much as frown.  “Thank you.”
She swallowed.  They were in the same room.  After a year of hurting for him, he was right there in solid form.  More than solid.  She hadn’t imagined his hard body or intense charisma.  He owned every room he walked into with no effort.  She’d never met anybody like him, and here he was.  Her body tingled, her heart ached, and her mind spun.  Yeah.  Denver was definitely there.  “What now?” she asked, her eyes gritty and her throat scratchy.
“I’ll do some research.” 


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The Series
Series Page on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2dcQsPD
My Reviews:




ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Zanetti is the author of over twenty-five romantic suspense, dark paranormal, and contemporary romances, and her books have appeared multiple times on the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestseller lists. She has received a Publisher's Weekly Starred Review for Wicked Edge, Romantic Times Reviewer Choice Nominations for Forgotten Sins and Sweet Revenge, and RT Top Picks for several of her novels.  She lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her own alpha hero, two kids, a couple of dogs, a crazy cat...and a huge extended family.  She believes strongly in luck, karma, and working her butt off...and she thinks one of the best things about being an author, unlike the lawyer she used to be, is that she can let the crazy out. Find Rebecca at: www.rebeccazanetti.com

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Author Website: http://bit.ly/2dh9aFd

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Release Day! Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt #Giveaway







ONCE UPON A MAIDEN LANE by Elizabeth Hoyt (November 14, 2017; Forever Yours Ebook; $1.99; The Maiden Lane Series #12.5)

A stand-alone novella from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt!

Miss Mary Whitsun is far too intelligent to fall for the rakish charms of a handsome aristocrat. But when the gentleman in question approaches her in a bookshop, mistaking her for his fiancée, Lady Johanna Albright, the flirtatious encounter only raises more questions. Could Mary, a servant raised in a St Giles orphanage, actually be Lady Joanna's long-lost twin sister? If so, Mary has been betrothed since birth---to the rakishly handsome artistocrat himself . . .

Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell, is far too intrigued by Mary to let her go so easily. He's drawn to her sharp mind, indomitable spirit, and the fiery way in which she dismisses him---ladies simply don't dismiss Lord Blackwell. But as Mary makes her first hesitant steps into society, she can't help but wonder if she truly has a place in Henry's world---or in his heart.

My Review


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About the Author:
Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing "mesmerizing." She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.

Social Media Links:
Add Once Upon a Maiden Lane to your shelf on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2hhJsmO
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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Review: Dream Island

Dream Island Dream Island by Josie Litton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

Even though this is my Random Number Generator month pick, I want to give a shout out to Becca for recommending and being responsible for putting it on my tbr. Thanks!

They stood in the silence that descended, looking at one another. Alex saw a woman of courage and honor who stirred his blood even as she won his admiration. Were he to have no concern beyond his own wishes, he would not hesitate to claim the right to both possess and protect her. For her part, Joanna saw a man who seemed to have stepped directly from a legend into her dreams. Were the world a different place, it would have been so easy to forget all else and yield to the soul-deep hunger he ignited within her.

I was a big fan of the heroine Joanna but the setting won my attention for best "character". This is set in Regency times but the author creates a fictional island and people called Akora (maybe Atlantis survivors?) and delivers big time on the descriptions. I was lost into the world the author created with such lush and detailed descriptions of the islands and their culture.

The clash of cultures between Joanna and Alex provided for some fun back and forth but what made it really fantastic was how they both respected each other, even when Alex was stating that Joanna needed to be subservient, he was admiring her strength providing a look into his true character.

There is a slight other worldly feel, the island atmosphere but also the "gifts" that Joanna and Alex's sister possess. I thought the traitor storyline could have been flushed out more and the beginning had a bit of a slow start but I think I'm too used to newer releases jumping right in instead of setting the atmosphere, which this one did.

If you're looking for something set in the 1800s but widely different, a magical feel, and two leads who challenge each, you'll want to hunt for this one. I'll definitely be continuing on in the series to see Joanna's brother and perhaps Alex's sister join in on the HEA.

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