Tag Archives: historical romance novels

Sinful Scottish Laird

Sinful Scottish Laird by Julia London

sinful-scottish-laird

Overview by Publisher:

A young widow puts her sexy suitors to the test in New York Times bestselling author Julia London’s scintillating return to the idyllic Scottish Highlands.

Widowed and forced to remarry in three years’ time or forfeit her son’s inheritance, Daisy Bristol, Lady Chatwick, has plenty of suitors vying for her hand…and her fortune. But a letter from a long-lost love sends Daisy and her young son to her Scottish Highland estate to buy time for his return. Along the way she encounters the powerful Cailean Mackenzie, laird of Arrandale and a notorious smuggler, and she is utterly—though unwillingly—bewitched.

Cailean has no use for any Sassenach in his glen. But Daisy’s brazen, flirtatious nature and alluring beauty intrigue him. When her first love appears unexpectedly at her estate, Cailean knows that a passionate woman like Daisy cannot marry this man. And to prevent the union, Cailean must put his own life at risk to win her heart.

The premise of this book was great – widow visiting the Highlands, falls for hot Highland neighbour, has steamy affair and then must decide what to do.  For the most part, it is executed well.

Daisy has been widowed for two years.  She has a young son who has inherited his father’s title.  She has to marry within a year in order to keep her inheritance.  To escape London and the pressure, she moves her family to the Highlands to see the hunting lodge left to her son.  Quickly she meets her hunky neighbour Cailean.

What works well in this book is the relationship between Daisy and Cailean.  I was surprised at first with how Daisy literally threw herself at Cailean.  But then, he was so deliciously described that I couldn’t blame her.  In some respects, it was interesting to read about a woman in a historical novel who was so confident with her wants and needs.

What I found challenging about this book was the family dynamics.  Daisy’s family took up a lot of pages and conversations.  I found myself reading through those parts as quickly as possible so I could get back to the scenes with her and Cailean.

The second half of the book gets very interesting.  A nemesis of Cailean’s and a former flame of Daisy’s shows up and causes some great complications.  This made up for the slow start with the family dynamics.  As Daisy’s unmarried state pushes more complications into her life, the story moves quickly and with exciting scenes.

I totally adored Cailean in this book.  There is no way I would be moving back to London if I had him as a neighbour.  As his character was slowly revealed, he just became better to read about.  It certainly didn’t help that he was definitely an alpha male and when pushed to his limits by Daisy’s flirting, the results were toe curling.

This is a quick read.  It starts a little slow, but once the plot starts to develop the story becomes really interesting and engaging.

 

The Beast of Aros Castle

The Beast of Aros Castle (Highland Isles #1) by Heather McCollum

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Overview by Publisher:

On the run from a dangerous man, Ava Sutton flees to the Isle of Mull off the coast of Scotland. Masquerading as a titled, English lady, Ava must convince the cynical and darkly handsome chief of the Macleans of Aros to wed her before the devil tracks her down. 

Tor Maclean, the new chief of Aros Castle, has sworn off marriage after his first wife tricked him into it. Despite his efforts to scare away the Englishwoman, his father arranged for him to wed, Tor is drawn to her fire, courage, and beauty. But when truths are revealed, and hearts as well as lives are on the dagger’s edge,  Tor doesn’t know if he can forgive or if he will truly become the solitary Beast of Aros Castle…

There is SO much to love about this book!  It reminded me a lot of Monica McCarty’s books, which definitely means it was a great book!

Ava and her friend Grace are on the run to Scotland to get away from a dangerous Lord who has perversions in mind when he lurks in the shadows.  Ava is a natural leader and therefore she pretends to be Grace, who has a marriage contract with the Laird of Aros.  You know right away that concealing one’s identity will lead to big problems, but it creates some great complications.

Tor has no desire to marry.  He definitely doesn’t want to marry an English lass who tempts him like no other.  It becomes a battle between the two.  Ava must get him to propose and fast.

What works so well in this book is the development of the characters.  Tor and Ava are not one dimensional.  They are lush, sensual characters who create sparks when they interact.  I didn’t want to miss one scene where they match wits, or kiss or fight.

What also works really well is the complications of the English and politics.  Like all Monica McCarty’s books, the tensions with the English soldiers in Scotland lead to many problems that force the characters to react and often with interesting consequences.

Seeing Scotland through the eyes of Ava and Grace made me fall more in love with the Highlands and Isles.  Scotland is such a wonderful place to set a historical romance novel.  When done well, it becomes like a character in the novel.  This story is true to Scotland and every nuance of Scottish life infuses the plotline.

I have to come back to the romance between Tor and Ava.  It’s passionate and steamy and I loved every passage and word.  Tor is a magnificent lover and with Ava, they literally set the pages on fire.  It’s passionate scenes like this that make the romance even more exciting to read.

If you are a fan of Highlander romances, Outlander or men in kilts, then this is a book you will definitely want to check out!

The Duke

The Duke (The Victorian Rebels Series) by Kerrigan Byrne

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Overview by Publisher:

He’s noble. notorious. And takes no prisoners…

Strong as a Viking. Handsome as Adonis. Rich as Midas. Collin “Cole” Talmage, Duke of Trewyth, is the stuff that legends are made of. He’s the English Empire’s golden son–until fate has its way with him. Cole’s family is killed and his closest comrade betrays him on the battlefield, leaving him gravely injured. But Cole is not one to dwell on misfortune. He is a man of duty, honor–and desire. And now he’s ready for the fight of his lifetime…
Imogen Pritchard is a beautiful lass who works in a hospital by day and as a serving maid at night. Years ago, when she was young and penniless, she ended up spending a scandalous night with Cole, whose tormented soul was matched only by his earth-shattering passion. Imogen entered a marriage of convenience—one that left her a wealthy widow—but she never forgot Cole. Now that her long-lost lover has turned up in her hospital, injured and with no memory of her, Imogen is torn: Is it a blessing or a curse that their past remains a secret to Cole, even as his new passion for her leaves him wanting to protect and possess her…at all costs, in The Duke, the next Victorian Rebels novel by Kerrigan Byrne.

I have found it so hard to read lately.  The news is just captivating and horrifying.  It makes me grateful for authors like Kerrigan Byrne.  This series and book have been a welcome distraction to the horrors of what is happening around the world.

What I liked about this book was the evolution of the main characters.  Cole becomes a duke and must adapt to his new life.  Instead he continues to work for the foreign service and is imprisoned in the Ottoman empire and comes home a changed man.  The life he has lived is brutal and yet privileged.  He has one magical night with a prostitute and she becomes his talisman and his reason for living.

Imogen has had a very challenging life.  She had to work off her father’s debt at a whore house as a servant.  She supports her mother and sister working at a hospital.  The weight of responsibility on her shoulders is overwhelming.  Things come to a head and her life changes.  Throughout her evolution, she never forgot the man she spent one night with and never gave up hope for his safety and life.

Cole and Imogen meet throughout the story.  At times,  it was frustrating because Cole didn’t know who Imogen was, but it was also delicious anticipation for when her identity would be revealed to him.  Cole has been searching for ‘Ginny’ for years, believing that she is the only one who will make him happy.  Never did he imagine that he was already acquainted with her.

The relationship between the two is full of sparks.  Cole is abrasive and mean, as he is hurting and damaged.  He battles with Imogen and struggles with his attraction when he is still searching for his Ginny.  The new Imogen is so strong and I loved her strength and values.  She takes on Cole and doesn’t back down from what she believes.  I wish all books I read feature strong women like Imogen.

The romance between the two can be so hot and feral at times it scorched the pages.  Cole and Imogen share a passion that is rewarding to watch unfold.  I found this book to have a level of reality that made it so enjoyable and believable.

Highland Vixen

Highland Vixen (Highland Weddings Series) by Mary Wine

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Overview by Publisher:

Marcus MacPherson is every inch the fearsome Highlander. He’s used to men averting their eyes and women cowering before him. He thinks he’ll eventually settle down with a nice, obedient bride. Instead, he gets Helen Grant… Stubborn as the day is long, fearless and dedicated to raising as much hell as possible, Helen is definitely going to challenge Marcus. And challenge him some more. And then some.

This was a great Highland story!  I have just booked a trip to London and Scotland in the spring and reading this book made me so excited to go!  Not because I expect to be transported back to the time of James Stewart, but because of the culture and history that is abundant in the Highlands.

Marcus is the war chief for the MacPherson clan.  After Outlander, many people understand what the war chief position entails.  Marcus is a tough man and works to protect his clan.  Part of that was actions that happened in the first book of the series.  He kidnapped Helen Grant from her home in the Highlands in retaliation for her families actions and brings her to the MacPherson keep.  There is history between these two when the story starts, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy this book without reading the first.

Helen is repeatedly called a vixen in the story.  She is a very strong willed woman who leads men in the Highlands (and lowlands) on a chase.  She demands respect and is smart.  It was easy to respect Helen and her battles with Marcus.  She is not from a wealthy clan and doesn’t have a lot of monetary assets, but she has pride.

Marcus wants Helen.  He chases after her when she escapes the MacPherson hold.  He follows her to court and finds himself entangled in royal affairs.  What is so interesting about this story is the machinations of the royal court and how women were used like trading cards.  While it was grotesque how women were treated, it was interesting and an effective plot point to highlight how important it was that Helen stood her ground with men.

Back at MacPherson land, the danger to Helen and Marcus doesn’t abate.  Between the burgeoning romance there is many plots to undermine the clan and the politics of the Highlands.  This is the best kind of historical romance story – one that blends a romance and political intrigue.  Marcus and Helen share some very intense sexual moments and it was the perfect blend of story and action.

This story has it all.  An alpha male, a saucy lady, danger and the beautiful Highlands as a backdrop.  If you like historical romance set in Scotland, definitely give this book a try!

Wicked in His Arms

Wicked in His Arms (Wedded by Scandal #2) by Stacy Reid

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Overview by Publisher:

Tobias Walcott, the Earl of Blade, has learned it is best to exercise rigid control over his passions and emotions in all that he does. Uncaring that it makes him seem cool and aloof to most in the ton, he is content with his desire to only woo agreeable and demur females. Then unforeseen circumstances see him trapped in a closet at a house party with the last woman he would ever make his countess.

Lady Olivia Sherwood is everything he should not desire in a female—unconventional, too decisive, and utterly without decorum. But passion ignites between them and they are discovered. Honor demands they wed, and while Tobias finds himself unwillingly drawn to the bewitching beauty, he must do everything not to tempt the passion that burns in him for her, lest it leads to disastrous consequences.

I loved this book!  I started to get that feeling pretty soon into the book, that this was something special.  I almost felt like I was reading a Judith McNaught book.  What makes this story work so well is the epic events that take place, alongside the small intimacies of courtship and everyday life.

Tobias and Olivia are so well developed that as the reader I understood their motivations and fears.  I don’t want to spoil the story, so I will refrain from revealing their inner most thoughts.  As the reader, you will appreciate how the characters are unveiled, how their compromises come about and how they find themselves.

There are all the usual elements:  the ton, house parties, scandals and duels, but that doesn’t do this book justice to just list points.  The story is masterfully told and the romance is exquisite.  Tobias and Olivia share a lust and attraction for each other that was very enjoyable to read about.  What I liked was that Olivia approached the bedroom with the same lust for life that she had out of it.  Like the book, Lady Sophia’s Lover, Tobias and Olivia find unusual places to consummate their relationship.

The epic ending gripped me.  It was past three in the morning and I couldn’t put the book down.  There was no way that I was going to stop reading and it was SO worth it!  I truly adored this story and while it’s very hard to quantify, this book has the hallmarks of the great historical romance novels I have read!

 

Highland Spy

Highland Spy (Mercenary Maidens Series) by Madeline Martin

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Overview by Publisher:

Ariana Fitzroy has lost her family and her fortune. The fight for survival leads her to the shadowed card games of court where she discovers she has quite a talent for slipping cards into her favor. While the winnings are enough to sustain her at present, they will not last forever…

Connor Grant, trainer of the fallen women from the English court and personal assassin to the king, is just as broken as the women he trains. After losing his own land and all his people in a brutal attack from a trusted friend, he has no choice but to rebuild any way he sees possible—even if it means going against everything he’s ever believed in.

After catching Ariana cheating at cards, Connor has a new trainee to instruct at one of the king’s many confiscated castles. In the dilapidated ruins, he discovers Ariana is more than she appears and falls in love with her incredible tenacity and dedication—a love that is challenged by Connor’s chance at reclaiming the inheritance he once lost and has sought so desperately to regain.

This story is one of second chances, of realizing a strength where only hopelessness once resided—a story of rising above the bad hand one has been dealt into a life of accomplishment and love.

This is a new series from Madeline Martin.  She is a relative new comer to the historical romance genre and garnering attention for her amazing stories set in the Highlands of Scotland.

This story is a really interesting premise – high born ladies who are alone or in trouble are recruited to be trained as spies for King James.  It is a given that royal courts were places filled with gossip, intrigue and politics, so it’s a realistic premise that women on the fringes of society would be targeted.

Ariana is one such woman.  She is recruited by Connor and taken deep into the Highlands to train to be a spy.  I found the training regime fascinating.  Exercise is never really covered in historical romance novels, unless the hero is practicing his swordplay.  In this book, the women are fit and fierce.

Ariana takes her training seriously.  She realizes that she has been given a second chance in life and puts her full energy into her new role.  At first she views Connor as a saviour, but eventually they develop an easy relationship and friendship.  They begin to plan missions in accordance with the King’s commands.

What works well in this book is the premise.  It’s so unusual but so plausible at the same time.  The Highlands were at times lawless under England’s rule, clan chiefs and politics taking precedence.  I can’t count how many books I have read that are based in the Highlands that didn’t have spying happening between clans – but it was all men.  The missions and the strategies Ariana and Connor employ are fascinating and keep the reader very engaged.

The relationship between the two is developed slowly, which adds authenticity to the plot and the emotional response the reader has.  Ariana has suffered much in the past.  Alone in the world, it would be natural for her to lean on Connor for strength.  However, that was not why they develop a relationship.  When Ariana arrives at their stronghold, she is painfully thin and weak.  Attraction is the last thing on Connor’s mind.  Rather, it is through their conversations, interactions and common purpose that they find each other.

This book works because it’s so original and refreshing.  Madeline Martin doesn’t waste words.  So often, there can be paragraphs between dialogue from authors so eager to spell out everything to readers.  Thankfully, that is not the case with this book.  The plot is really well developed and precise.  The plot is complicated, full of twists and turns.  I found myself tense while reading because I was dying to know what was coming!

If you haven’t read Madeline Martin yet, you need to check out her work!  This is the first book in an exciting new series!

Wild Wicked Scot

Wild Wicked Scot (The Highland Grooms) by Julia London

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Overview by Publisher:

Born into riches and groomed in English luxury, Margot Armstrong didn’t belong in a Scottish chieftain’s devil-may-care world. Three years ago she fled their marriage of convenience and hasn’t looked back—except to relive the moments spent in wild, rugged Arran McKenzie’s passionate embrace. But as their respective countries’ fragile unity threatens to unravel, Margot must return to her husband to uncover his role in the treachery before her family can be accused of it.

Red-haired, green-eyed Margot was Arran’s beautiful bride. Her loss has haunted him, but her return threatens everything he has gained. As the Highland mists carry whispers of an English plot to seize McKenzie territory, he must outmaneuver her in games of espionage…and seduction. But even as their secrets tangle together, there’s nothing to prevent love from capturing them both and leading them straight into danger.

This is a great book!  It has all the elements you want in a book featuring a Highlander – lush setting, politics between England and France and a brawny man.

What works so well in this book is the writing.  Julia London creates delicious conflict between the characters.  As the reader, you may not like the actions of the characters, but they are so well developed that you relate and understand their motivations.  Margot was like an English hothouse rose.  Only thinking of her next soiree or ball.  Very young, Margot is married off to Arran as a political tactic.  She is transported to the Highlands in Scotland where everything is foreign to her.  She doesn’t behave well.  In fact, it was easy to cringe at her histrionics and actions.  What makes this book so worth reading is the evolution of Margot.

Arran is the typical man – while he tries to placate and appease his young bride, his life doesn’t really change due to marriage.  However, that is because he is a Laird and must take care of his clan.  His frustration is palpable on the page.  The only place the two seem to find some common ground in the bedroom.  For all her faults, Margot shares her passion and body with Arran without reservations.

The story picks ups after Margot fled three years previous.  She has been sent to Scotland to spy on her husband.  In order to find out what is happening, she must reconcile with Arran after she left him so abruptly.  Through the reconciliation we get to know more about Arran and Margot.  Seeing things through Margot’s eyes definitely doesn’t lend a romantic view of Scotland and daily life in a castle, however she learns valuable lessons in humility and reality.

This book has a great relationship between two very interesting characters.  The passion between the two is hot and captivating.  The story is so well developed and is still resonating with me days later.  Highly recommend checking out this book!

The Rebel of Clan Kincaid

The Rebel of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood

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Overview by Publisher:

LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD

Since childhood, Magnus has been led to believe he is the Laird Alwyn’s bastard, and raised to hate the Clan Kincaid. But when he learns he is without a doubt the son of the murdered Laird Kincaid, his life as he has always known it is shattered. Now, hiding his knowledge and his fury, he returns to Burnbryde Castle, awaiting the chance to strike against the man whose treachery robbed him of his legacy. His first act of rebellion: to steal a kiss from the redheaded beauty who’s betrothed to the Alwyn’s eldest son and heir.

Since her arrival at Burnbryde, Tara Iverach has been confined to a tower to guard her virtue before she marries. But after a surprise embrace with a lean, bare-chested Highlander who claims to be the Alwyn’s oldest son, she can’t contain her excitement over her good fate. Unfortunately, he is thewrong eldest son, and she is set to marry his cruel and lecherous half brother, Hugh. Can Magnus conquer his rivals and claim his Kincaid destiny before the woman who’s captured his heart becomes his sworn enemy’s bride?

The feeling I had while reading this book was tension.  The story starts off with revenge, fear, suspicion and politics.  Magnus has come to learn that he is the lost son of the Clan Kincaid, a line that has been thought to be extinct since they were slaughtered by neighbouring clans.  Magnus has unfinished business before he can reunite with his brother and take his place in the newly formed Kincaid clan.  He must avenge his family against Alwyn and Buchan who wreaked the havoc on the Kincaids.

We meet Tara as she is being escorted from the abbey she has called home to her new home at castle Alwyn.  She is full of trepidation as her sister has recently passed and she is to replace her as bride to the Laird’s son.

The grim beginnings lead to many challenges for Tara and Magnus.  Tara is determined to get away from the horrible Alwyn’s and find the truth about her sister.  She is locked into a tower and threatened by Hugh, her intended.  Her only hope is Magnus.

Magnus finds that his chivalrous nature is called upon when he meets Tara.  He is drawn to her and takes her cause up as his own.  For such a sheltered young woman, Tara trusts her instincts with Magnus and not only relies on him to save her, she falls for him as well.

You would think with such dark and desperate times, there wouldn’t be much to smile about.  Tara and Magnus find special moments that belong to just them.  I could completely imagine them in Tara’s tower room discovering each other and spending frantic moments plotting their future as well as their passion.

The nefarious villains in this book are SO good.  Lily Blackwood is able to make the characters evil and terrifying.  While the story is not black and white, the politics are engaging and force the reader to examine the nature of humans and their propensity to support evil or fight it.

I found this book to be really interesting.  At the heart of it is the bond that Magnus and Tara build to fight back against the people that would oppress them.

This is the second book in the series.  Read my review here The Beast of Clan Kincaid

Tempest in the Highlands

Tempest in the Highlands (Scottish Relic Series) by May McGoldrick

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Overview by Publisher:

Miranda MacDonnell is on the run. When she inherited a mysterious relic from her mother, she had no idea the dangers it would bring. Now hunted by a relentless foe who will stop at nothing to find her, she has one choice: stow away on the ship of the notorious privateer, Black Hawk.

Rob Hawkins, the half-English privateer known as Black Hawk, has a mission from the Tudor king to find and kill the rogue commander, Sir Ralph Evers. To complete his quest, Hawk must find Miranda, a young woman Evers is pursuing. Caught in a tempest, he is shipwrecked with a “boy” who demonstrates an uncanny ability for saving him. Cast away on the mysterious Isle of the Dead, Hawk realizes that the “boy” traveling with him is actually Miranda MacDonnell and having her means that Evers will come to him. What begins as a ploy —using her as bait—soon changes, however, as he falls in love with her.

Ancient forces are at work, drawing the four possessors of the relic’s power to the Isle of the Dead in the Outer Hebrides for a final battle where good must overcome the forces of evil in this spectacular finale to the Scottish Relic Trilogy.

This is the final book in the Scottish Relic Trilogy.  It has been a wild ride with some really great plot and characters. Each story features a young Scottish woman who has a stone that gives her a power – heal the sick, see the future, speak to the dead.  These powers are being hunted by rogue English soldier, Sir Ralph Evers.  Time is winding down and this is the final story that will resolve the lingering issues from each book.

Miranda has lost her mother and been given her powers. She is to look for a man named Hawk as he is her only hope.  She steals aboard his ship and ends up saving his life.  They wash up on the Isle of the Dead and things are not what they seem.

Miranda has been pretending to be a boy.  It takes a while for Hawk to realize this, so the relationship between the two is one of master and employee for a good while.  This is a good thing in the book.  It is because you get the measure of Hawk’s temperament and thoughts as he thinks he is speaking to a subordinate and a boy.  It’s sort of like how it is important to see how your date treats the waitstaff at a restaurant. The author gives the reader time to decide if Hawk is just a pirate or a man worthy of Miranda and her powers.

The island adds a paranormal aspect to the story.  Strange things happen on the island and there is more to fear than being stranded there.  Miranda and Hawk spend their time battling the elements and the mysterious inhabitants of the island.  Since the characters are stranded on the island, there is little interaction with the outside world and for the reader to see them in a different setting.  While isolating, it does create intimacy for the two.

Miranda and Hawk fall in love pretty quickly once he realizes that she is not a boy.  They share their hopes and disappointments, finding common ground over their difficult fathers.  A remote, hostile island in Northern Scotland doesn’t sound like the most romantic setting, but they manage to find a way.  There isn’t as much steamy action as the other books, but that is because there is a huge finale to come.

The story wraps up all the storylines of the trilogy.  The women who hold a relic all meet on the island and confront the evil Evers.  I won’t spoil the resolution, but it was quite rewarding and exciting!  A fun, engaging historical paranormal romance!

Read review of BOOK ONE and BOOK TWO Taming the Highlander