Tag Archives: Scotland

Endurance: A Sin Series Story

Endurance:  A Sin Series Story by Georgia Cates

endurance

Overview by Amazon:

I’m a doctor. Mobster. Killer.
My hands are covered in filth. I don’t have the right to touch anything as clean and pure as Ellison MacAllister.

I distance myself … always remaining obscure, composed, restrained.
Careful to never allow my eyes to linger too long.
Careful to hide my interest.
Careful to keep my burning desire buried beneath the surface.

I do it for her—suffer in silence—because it’s what is best for the woman I love.
And she has no idea.

She’ll be initiated as a Fellowship member soon. One of my mafia brothers will go through endurance so he’ll earn the right to claim her.
Make her his wife.
Kill. Me. Slowly.

I’m running out of time. Only a month remains before she’s beyond my reach forever.
I want to taste her. Share sleepless nights. Ride out her storm.
I want to give her the kind of nights she will still feel between her legs the next morning.
I want us to share the kind of passion that forms on our skin and drips down to saturate the sheets.
Between the sweat and the moans and the messy hair, I want her to know how hard she’s been loved.

To have her is to taint her.
I should stay away. But I won’t. I can’t.
I’m a selfish bastard.
A selfish bastard in love.

I am deeply disappointed that I didn’t realize this book was out.  I have adored Georgia Cates’ writing and the Sin Series and was hoping for another book about the Scottish Mafia, The Fellowship.  I probably shouldn’t be to surprised that I missed this release as it came out November 11th, which was a few days after the US election and the whole world was reeling.

However, I found it and am grateful.  You don’t need to read the three books featuring Sin and Bleu before reading this book, but I highly recommend it.  The Sin Series features the story of Sinclair, the heir to the Fellowship mafia organization.  Bleu has infiltrated the organization with the mind to kill Sin’s father as retribution.  It’s a fascinating series set in modern day Scotland with lots of sex, violence and danger.

This story is about Jamie and Ellison.  Jamie is Sin’s best friend and the doctor for the Fellowship. This is how he has chosen to serve instead of being a fighter.  He’d rather save lives than take them.  He has met Ellison, as she is Bleu’s sister from America.  She has been hidden away from the Fellowship until Sin is ready to initiate her into the family.  A man, a brother, must step up and take responsibility for Ellison.  It sounds so old fashioned, but the rules of the Fellowship are fascinating.

Ellison is a nurse.  She has no family left and has moved to Scotland to be with Sin, Bleu and the babies.  If you have read the Sin Series, you will love spending more time with all the characters from the previous books.  Ellison is beyond frustrated with Jamie.  They make a great team, if only he could see it.

Jamie desperately wants Ellison, but he worries for her safety as he won’t always be around to protect her due to his role as doctor.  He has reason to worry as the women of the Fellowship are often targeted by their enemies.  Ellison doesn’t care and embarks on a month long fling with Jamie hoping that he will change his mind.

That is what makes this book so good.  We spend the month watching Jamie and Ellison work as a team in the Fellowship infirmary and also as lovers.  They are falling hard and fast, yet as the reader you have no idea how things will end up.  Georgia Cates is one of those great authors who isn’t afraid to take the plot to places you didn’t expect.

I really enjoyed this book and was beyond excited to find out that Jamie’s sister, Westlyn would be getting her own book very soon.  I have high hopes that Leith and Lorna will get their happily ever after as well.  This series and Endurance are must reads if you like contemporary romance novels and men with Scottish accents.

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!

Highland Spy: Q and A

Highland Spy by Madeline Martin is coming out very soon!  I posted a review of the new book and series today!  I have really enjoyed Madeline’s writing and when I had the chance to ask her a few questions, I jumped at the opportunity.

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Her website is here – it’s full of beautiful images from her book covers.

Here is a bio from her website:

Hi, I’m Madeline Martin, a USA Today bestselling author of Scottish set historical romance novels. I live in sunny Florida with Mr. Awesome (a man who truly deserves such a great name) and two wonderfully magical girls, known collectively as ‘the minions’.
I enjoy working out (really to support my love of Nutella and wine), traveling, and doing fun kid-like things with the minions.  In addition to working full time, writing, mothering and keeping everyone in the house alive, I also support a FB addiction where you can not only read about all our crazy daily antics (and see how addicted I really am to cat memes and videos), but you also might have an opportunity to win a free book from another author during my weekly Free Book Friday giveaway.

 

So Madeline gamely answered my questions that I sent her over the holidays – even while hosting family and suffering from a cold!

1.     How did you come up with the idea of female spies?  What was the inspiration?
When I wrote my debut release, Deception of a Highlander, I found I really enjoyed having a heroine who played a spy. It was dangerous, edgy and fun. I even took Krav Maga when writing it so I could have a better understanding of the fight scenes (that was a blast!). After I released that book, I had ideas in place already for the following books, but knew I had to do a whole series on female spies.
I did a lot of research on spies in history and slowly but surely pieced together the idea for the Mercenary Maidens. It was really fun taking modern day spy applications and putting them in a historical context. Like lock picks and color contacts to change eye color, etc. It really put my creativity to the test and I loved it!
 
 
2.  I follow you on Facebook and saw that you went to Scotland this past year.  What inspired you when you were there?  What should a tourist not miss?
            Oh wow – it was such an incredible trip. All of it was so inspiring, even just breathing in the air and walking through that gorgeous scenery. We were really fortunate to have sunshine almost every day we were there and it lit up Scotland in such a beautiful way, it made everything feel like we were walking through a calendar.
            In addition to the scenery, there was the folklore. I think every town, every pub, every home has its own legend associated with it. I have to say one of my favorite stops (and a definite recommendation to anyone planning a trip to Scotland) was the private tour of Castle Stalker. It’s near Oban and is privately owned, but the man who owns it will ferry you in on a small boat and take you through everything. He’s a natural born story teller and shares all kinds of wonderful tales while taking you on a personal tour through the home he rebuilt with his father. It was truly a memorable experience.
 
 
3.  What is your writing routine?  You have a busy life with work, two adorable minions and marathons, how do you find time to write?
LOL I definitely do stay busy J I have a really strict schedule I stick to. I usually wake up around 430 for an hour or so before I have to get the kids up for school and prep for work. I’m what I like to call a ‘time scraper’ and I try to make something whole out of all the pieces of time I can rummage together. That said, I go to the gym on my lunch break, then when I get home (if it isn’t a Girl Scouts night with the minions) we set to doing homework while I make dinner. No matter how busy we are, I always love to have dinner at the table as a family with no electronics or TV or other distractions. That’s very important to me. After that, it’s bed time for them and I have a chance to catch up on social media and e-mail.
            It’s a busy life, but it’s a full life and I absolutely love it. I feel very fortunate to be able to fulfill my dreams despite my tight schedule.  
 
4.  Wishes for 2017?  2016 was pretty crappy, so what do you hope to see in this new year?
            I confess the latter part of 2016 was a little stressful and I did sacrifice some of my healthier habits in 2016 that I’ll be picking back up again in 2017. I’m putting a strong focus on my health, which is always a worthy investment.
            Regarding book news, I have so many exciting things in store! I’m going to be part of three different anthologies, all releasing in 2017. I’m also very excited to announce I’ll be one of the authors of the Historical Romance Retreat in Spokane, WA (http://www.historicalromanceretreat.com). And I’ll officially begin writing my next series, the Jacobite Jezebels.
 
5.  What is next for the Mercenary Maidens Series?  When will the next book be released and who will be the heroine?
            The second book of the Mercenary Maidens will be Highland Ruse. There is no date for that one as yet, but that book will be Delilah’s story. That will then be followed by Highland Wrath, which will be Sylvi’s story. Neither have release dates as I’m aware of as yet. I actually just sent out Highland Wrath to beta readers for feedback! It’s so exciting to have this series starting to release and hope everyone enjoys it as much as I have.
Thank you Madeline!
You can get Highland Spy on Amazon Barnes and Noble Kobo
Read my previous reviews of Madeline’s books here:

Tempest in the Highlands

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

tempest-in-the-highlands

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

Campbell’s Redemption

Campbell’s Redemption (A Highland Pride Novel) by Sharon Cullen

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Overview by Publisher:

With Cait Campbell hiding Scottish fugitives from the British crown, who should arrive wearing his English-style coat but Iain Campbell, the traitorous clan leader and the man responsible for her husband’s death. Iain seeks a healer for his fallen kinsman, and out of a sense of duty Cait is obliged to help. Her uncanny ability to read people is powerless against his dark, impassive gaze, yet Iain is kind in a way that moves her.
 
In Cait’s company, Iain is overcome by painful memories of his best friend, her husband, who died protecting him. But grief shows weakness—a luxury he cannot permit, because Iain is playing a dangerous game with the British army. One small misstep and he could be branded a traitor or executed as a spy. But even with political tensions mounting to a fever pitch, Iain can’t get Cait out of his mind. What he doesn’t know is that Cait is playing a deep and deadly game of her own, and their love could put everything—even Scotland itself—in peril.
 

If you know history, you will find this book hard to read.  It is set in the immediate years after Culloden and the beginning of the atrocities the English brought to the Scots (not for the first time).  For many Outlander fans, this is the time when Jamie Fraser was hiding in a cave to avoid the redcoats that overrun Scotland and destroyed the Scottish way of live in the Highlands.  The author was so adept at portraying the fear and anger the Scots had to the invasion of the English.  The English soldiers had carte blanche to treat the Scots however they wanted.  They drove men and women from their land, they raped women, they killed and beat Scots and the worst part was that Scots were not allowed to fight back, protest or protect themselves.  This despair was very evident in the story.

However, when there is great travesty happening, there are people who work to fight.  The plot of this story is how Jamie and Cait, albeit separately, work to fight submission to the English.  Jamie is a Lord and Laird, who plays both sides in order to help the Scottish people.  His position makes him unpopular with other Scots and also unable to really help stop what the English are doing.  Cait has teamed up with Sunderland (featured in a previous book) to be part of the underground railroad for disaffected Scots fleeing to Canada.  Both are playing dangerous games.

Cait has lost her daughter and husband.  She has basically lost everyone she loved, so she has shut herself away in a tiny home on the edge of Campbell land.  She is a healer, sought by both the English and the Scots.  Cait was a really interesting study of grief and how it impacts the psyche of a person.  I honestly don’t know if I would have had the fortitude that she had to keep going.  She despises Jamie and blames him for the death of her husband, but it can’t stop the pull she feels towards him.

What works in the novel is how the characters react and deal with the situations they are in.  They live in a mad world and how they seek to find some sense of normalcy and comfort makes them relatable. The development of the relationship between the two doesn’t seem fake or strained, it develops from a place of need.  Even with the extraordinary times, they still struggle with many of the common challenges that most couples go through.  The passion between the two was such a lovely reprieve from the dire situations they face.

If you are a fan of Scottish history or Outlander, this is definitely a book you should check out!

 

Not Quite a Scot

Not Quite a Scot by Janice Maynard

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Overview by Publisher:

McKenzie Taylor is high maintenance when it comes to fashion, but when it comes to travel, the socialite prefers privacy to parties, and her own space to hotels. After she and her friends arrive in Scotland and split up to pursue their own adventures, she rents a small cottage on the Isle of Skye. On day two, she crashes her rental car. But a hero emerges from the mist to rescue her. He’s handsome, earthy, funny, and before long is making her feel desirable, not mention desirous. There’s just one problem: McKenzie’s Highland dreamboat is a motorcycle riding American.

Finley Craig knows his cute new tourist friend is stubbornly set on falling for a Scotsman. But he’s just as set on her falling for him. So he plans to give her a taste of what she thinks she wants. Because Finley suspects McKenzie isn’t as shallow as she appears. And in the process of surrounding her with his hand-picked suitors, she may just decide that American-made is best—especially when she and Finley are rained in together over one long, delicious, and very adventurous weekend…

This is the final book in the Kilted Heroes series.  Each book has featured one of three friends who has headed to Scotland for adventure and possible romance, after falling in love with the Outlander series and tv show.  I think the author has tapped into the ultimate fantasy for many women who drool over Jamie Fraser – me included!  Who wouldn’t love to throw off all responsibility and head to the beautiful highlands to find romance!?

McKenzie is the last friend to have her story told.  She is the wealthy one of the group.  She longs for the solitude of the isle of Skye.  Her start to her adventure is a disaster, she runs off the road and is stranded in the misty rains.  A would-be hero stops to help her and so the adventure begins.

Finley is not the highlander that McKenzie thought she would meet.  In fact, he is actually American and has been living on the beautiful island of Skye for ten years.  McKenzie stays at his home while her rental is being repaired and they definitely do not fall into each other’s arms.  Rather, they circle one another warily.  Finley calls her ‘duchess’, a nod to her designer clothes and multiple bags of possessions.  McKenzie recognizes that he is beyond handsome, but she is determined not to need his help.

While McKenzie explores the beauty of Skye, Finley fights to keep his hands off his unexpected house guest.  I am going to assume you can imagine how well that goes.  While I am all for independence, I wanted to yell at McKenzie to jump all that Scottish goodness that was the package of Finley!

There are moments of great humour in the book.  Finley doesn’t laugh at McKenzie’s interest in Outlander and Jamie Fraser.  Instead, he offers to introduce her to some local Scottish men so that she can find her Jamie.  Typically, the results are hilarious!  Why look further when the hottest man on the island is standing in front of her?!

Many books feature Skye and this story takes the time to showcase the beauty and history of the island.  I have never been there, but I already have a wish list based on the spots that McKenzie visits and explores.  This book is like a beautiful love letter to the people and places of Scotland.

Since this is the last book in the series, we get to catch up with the other two friends and see where they are in the romances they developed while on their month long holiday.  McKenzie and Finley definitely had the most difficult transition to being a ‘couple’ compared to the other two.  If you have read the other books in the series, then this story is one you can’t miss!

This has been a great series and I loved the premise and the characters, but most of all, Scotland!

Her Wicked Highlander

Her Wicked Highlander (Highland Knights #2.5) by Jennifer Haymore

her-wicked-highlander

Overview by Publisher:

A HIGHLAND KNIGHTS NOVELLA

A Highland Knight clashes with a Highland lass. Scotland will never be the same.

Aila MacKerrick has lived a quiet, lonely life since her parents died two years ago. That is until a dark stranger steals her from her bed one night, throws her on his horse, and spirits her away to an ancient, abandoned castle in the middle of the Highland forest.

Maxwell White has been assigned to take the MacKerrick lass to a safe location. In Max’s experience, women are docile, biddable creatures, but he’s never met anyone like Aila. She surprises him at every turn, with her spirited fight against him, with her willingness to dirty her hands, with her adventurousness in bed.

Max vows to protect Aila, but an ambitious warlord is determined to possess the legendary dagger that has belonged in her family for generations, and he’ll go to any lengths to get it–including tearing Aila away from Max forever.s

This is a quick and fun read featuring two great characters!  Aila and her family have guarded a Highland treasure for years.  She lives in isolation in the Highlands when a man steals into her home in the middle of the night.  He kidnaps her and takes her away – briefly admitting it’s for her own benefit.

I have really enjoyed this series featuring the Highland Knights.  They are a group of former military officers from Waterloo who have been formed to protect the crown.  Max has been sent to the Highlands to secure the precious dagger that can unite the clans against an enemy.

The book reminded me a lot of So Worthy My Love by Kathleen Woodiwiss.  A feisty woman held captive who falls for the man sent to protect her.  Things move fast as expected since this is a novella, but there is a ton of plot in the pages.  Action and adventure mingle with the lust and attraction in the pages.

If you’re looking for an enjoyable read for an afternoon with a sexy Highlander who meets his match – you have found the right book!

Wicked Rivals

Wicked Rivals (League of Rogues, Book #4) by Lauren Smith

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Overview by Publisher:

A LORD WITH LEGENDARY CONTROL…

Merciless and powerful, Ashton Lennox is a wealthy man because he puts business before everything else, especially love. As a member of the infamous League of Rogues, he’s no stranger to scandal. His bedroom conquests are as legendary as his fortune. As he searches for a way to bring down an old enemy bent on destroying the lives of his friends, the last thing he needs is a Scottish widow getting in his way.

A FIERY WOMAN WHO WON’T BACK DOWN…

The daughter of a Scottish lord with a dark and treacherous past, Rosalind Melbourne has spent years distancing from her past. After escaping her tyrannical father and marrying an aging English lord, she has become a powerful widow with a business empire at her command. Her business dealings are everything to her, leaving her no time for love. Especially not with her business rival Ashton, a man with a scandalous reputation as striking as his blue eyes.

A GAME OF WITS TURNS TO A GAME OF SEDUCTION…

Ashton is fascinated by the strong-willed, intelligent and sensual lady who, up until now, had outsmarted him at every turn. Rosalind wishes she could deny she is falling for the brooding, handsome baron. How can she possibly trust him when doing so could cost her what she values most—her freedom? When Ashton discovers Rosalind might hold the key to saving the League of Rogues, he knows he will do anything to woo his wicked lass. As their pasts return to haunt them and dark forces rise to keep them from exposing a deadly spymaster, their game of love turns to a game of survival…

Full Disclosure:  I love Lauren Smith.  Her writing is amazing.  Her characters are well written and developed.  I have never read a book by her that I didn’t love!  (She also provided a copy of this book for review – but my opinions are my own)

The League of Rogues Series is not the typically historical romance series. Yes, there is corsets, hot sex, dangerous foes and upper class society, but there is a difference here.  Lauren Smith has found a way to make her books stand out among the crowded market.  This series features five (now six) friends that have banded together against a childhood enemy.  Along the way, the men are finding the loves of their lives.  Each romance is unique from kidnapping to business battles.

Ashton and Rosalind have been opponents in business for the past year.  They play the perfect cat and mouse game with each other.  Like chess, they strategize and scheme to figure out ways to undermine and usurp each other.  I could totally see this plot in a contemporary novel – and likely have!  But that is what makes it unique within a historical romance novel.  Women are not often running a successful shipping business and compete with men – let alone best them!  Be still, my feminist heart!

Ashton has found a way to take control of Rosalind and stop her from competing with him.  He buys her debts and business interests, essentially owning her.  This causes her to race to his country estate to confront him and fight for her business.  And so begins the romance…

Rosalind is really well developed as a character.  We learn about her horrid childhood in the Highlands in Scotland and the rescue of her older, deceased husband.  Lauren Smith makes it very clear why the company means so much to Rosalind.  It’s not a lark, nor a promise made to her husband on his death bed, rather it’s her way of taking control of her life and ensuring that she doesn’t have to rely on a man ever again.

Ashton has had his share of dramas as well.  He had to rescue his family from ruin at the hands of his father.  Financial security and expansion means as much to him as it does to Rosalind.  He defines a competitive nature and male arrogance – but not too much!

The lines are drawn for these two characters.  While Ashton has the upper hand, he burn for Rosalind and wants a real relationship with her.  That is something he can’t buy, bargain or threaten.  He has to earn her trust, companionship and love.  While they heat up the bed sheets (and the bath, the alcove…) it is the intimacy they develop that is so fragile.

The drama is never far behind the romance in the League books.  The League’s nemesis, Hugo, has been manipulating Rosalind without her knowledge.  This casts her under suspicious light to Ashton and his friends.  Enter Rosalind’s three protective Scottish brothers, the other Rogues, their wives, Ashton’s family and you have a well rounded story that is full of drama and also spicy passion.

What sets Lauren Smith apart is her ability to create true honest emotions in her characters.  I love how I feel the gamut of emotions while reading her books.  I veer from indignation to anticipation to anger to passion while reading her words.  She crafts great dialogue that is witty and also moves the plot forward – this is really hard to do!  The love scenes are always fresh and unique – her characters are not shy!  Most of all, it’s the emotional connection I make to the plot, the characters and the romance.

This book is available for pre-order!  Don’t miss it!

Hero In The Highlands

Hero in the Highlands by Suzanne Enoch

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Overview by Publisher:

Scotland, 1812: He’s ferocious and rugged to the bone, an English soldier more at home on the battlefield than in any Society drawing room. And when Major Gabriel Forrester learns that he’s inherited the massive Scottish Highlands title and estate of a distant relation, the last thing he wants to do is give up the intensity of the battlefield for the too-soft indulgences of noble life. But Gabriel Forrester does not shirk his responsibilities, and when he meets striking, raven-eyed lass Fiona Blackstock, his new circumstances abruptly become more intriguing.
Like any good Highlander, Fiona despises the English—and the new Duke of Lattimer is no exception. Firstly, he is far too attractive for Fiona’s peace of mind. Secondly, his right to “her” castle is a travesty, since it’s been clan Maxwell property for ages. As the two enter a heated battle of wills, an unexpected passion blazes into a love as fierce as the Highlands themselves. Is Fiona strong enough to resist her enemy’s advances—or is Gabriel actually her hero in disguise?

What I really enjoyed about this book was the humour and unconventionality that Suzanne Enoch brought to the story.  While this book follows a predictable formula that all historical romance readers enjoy and want, there was a little of this and a dash of that which made it unique.  Hardly a surprise considering that Suzanne Enoch is a fabulous author and knows how to craft a really good story.

The lead character Fiona has been acting as steward of the Lattimer estate in Scotland.  When Gabriel comes to claim his inheritance, it’s sparks between the two right away.  Gabriel and Fiona are not the typical Lord and miss – it’s much more complicated than that.  Gabriel has literally been pulled off the killing fields in Spain.  Fiona has been trying to keep the estate profitable against a tide of misfortunes, as well as finding work for the numerous Maxwell clan that need a job.

It is the little things that make a story great.  When Gabriel looks for one of his ‘eighty footmen’ or his ‘100 stable hands’, he is aware of the absurdity of the numbers of Maxwell clan hired to support a vacant estate.  Gabriel is a great character.  He is facing a greater enemy than he did on the peninsula – Scots!  They mistrust him and force him to use his battle wiles to win over the clan and a feisty woman who has captured his attentions.

Fiona is not the simpering young miss that many romance books feature.  From the start, she shows herself to be a force.  A force for good for the Maxwell clan and at times a force of nature against Gabriel.  The romance develops on two fronts – Gabriel’s pursuit of her affections and her gradual appreciation of his personality.

Fiona is saucy and spicy.  She literally isn’t a young miss and I liked that she had some experience in the bedroom.  She knew that she wanted Gabriel and went for it.  I adored that she challenged him to be perturbed by her lack of virginity.  A dash of the twenty-first century thinking in a historical romance is never a bad thing!

This story also includes the politics of being a Scottish Lord and a nefarious plot to get Gabriel to leave.  This was just as interesting as the romance between the two.  I would have bought this book just for the gorgeous cover alone, but the story inside is consistent with the great writing Suzanne Enoch is known for!