Secrets of a Highland Warrior

Hot Highlander alert! I’m always pumped to read a book based in my favorite country, so when Nicole Locke told me about Secrets of a Highland Warrior, I was totally on board.

  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️❤️
  • Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

The year is 1293 and Rory Lochmore is the son of the chief of Clan Lochmore. Their lands are separated from the McCrieff’s by a single stream, one too thin to keep them from constantly drawing their swords. Rory is eager to prove his worth yet again by claiming the land given to them by the king, but a pair of deep, green eyes catch him off guard. Yet he’s not one to be swayed by a pretty face, until he’s made an offer he can’t refuse.

Ailsa McCrieff is the healer for her clan and the daughter of the next chief. When her father inherits the title, he’ll also be inheriting generations of hatred between the McCrieffs and the Lochmores, but he has a plan to mend the strife…have Ailsa marry Rory. She’s horrified at the thought of being tied to a savage, despite his handsomeness, but she knows it could be the only way to save lives.

There’s nothing more then animosity and physical attraction between them, not a great start to a marriage. But the fates of both their clans rest on their shoulders and only a wedding will stop the bloodshed. Can they come together to make a true match, or are they doomed to lives of misery?

While this is book four in the Lochmore Legacy Series, it’s the only book I’ve read. While I did feel that I missed out on some backstory and a few tidbits what would have made reading much smoother, it wasn’t anything crazy. I would suggest starting with book one, as you should with all good series, but I enjoyed myself immensely, even by starting at the end.

Ailsa was a fantastic character. Her tongue was just as sharp as the shears she used for cutting herbs and she wasn’t one to be meek and obey. She’s really makes the marriage happen by seeing Rory see reason and I liked how she wasn’t just a swooning lass. Their relationship was also a pleasure to follow, as they went through not only newlywed growing pains, but found a way to trust that the other wouldn’t stab them in their sleep!

I also found the historical side to be very believable. If you’re not familiar with me, or the blog, you won’t know that I’m a historian and nothing ruins a historical book for me than blatant mess ups. For example, many people will write books set in Scotland and throw kilts around like confetti, despite using the wrong tartan or having the time period set before kilts were even a thing! It’s silly, but having Locke not throw Rory into a kilt was fabulous.

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely and recommend it to all historical romance lovers.

Precious Bones

Irina Shapiro has captivated me since the first book in her Echoes from the Past series. When she told me about her book Precious Bones, I knew I was in for yet another fantastic ride. And, as always, I wasn’t the least bit disappointed.

  • Genre: Historical/Contemporary Romantic Mystery/Thriller
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️
  • Story Rating; 6/6 Glass Slippers
  • Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

When a body is found in an old Tudor house in London, successful author Cassandra is stunned at her reaction to the skeletal remains. She’s brought to tears by the news report, although the death would have taken place hundreds of years before. Her boyfriend doesn’t understand her fascination with the story, and as she begins to write a tale based on the Tudor house she buys impulsively, she unravels a tale that’s almost too close to home.

Constance is a Catholic in the time of Queen Elizabeth II, making her very religion dangerous to publicly claim. While her brother prepares to marry and her little sister flirts with a highborn man, she’s left wondering what her role is in a world where women don’t have many choices. A brief encounter with a spy leaves her rattled and she embarks on a journey of secret letters, arrests, and a marriage to the man she least expects.

While Cassandra reveals more of Constance’s life through her writing, her own life spirals out of control. She begins to question her own sanity and the realness of her haunting visions.

As in her Echoes from the Past series, she blends the past and present to perfection in a way I didn’t expect. Both time frames hold enough drama, intrigue, and romance to be books in their own right. I was hooked from the first page and the non-stop twists left me on the edge of my seat. Waiting to see how the lives of such different women turned out was nearly torture!

I enjoyed the parallel timelines. The fantasy aspects weren’t overdone and I felt as if everything that happened in Cassandra’s story was completely believable. Her emotions were real and her reactions to things were easy to relate to. I hope there’s more of her story one day.

I’ve never listened to anything narrated by Verity Burns, but I thoroughly enjoyed her work with this book. She had different inflections when reading for Constance and Cassandra, making it clear what time period the story was in. She’s very talented and I know this won’t be the last of her work I’ll listen to.

Overall, I’m thrilled with my latest Irina Shapiro book. I highly recommend it to all book lovers, no matter their favorite genre.

Ask Me to Marry You

Summer means summer reading and road trips. And for me, road trips mean audiobooks. Actually, I find any reason to listen to them, especially if Meghan Kelly is involved. Enter Ask Me to Marry You by Heather Blanton, a two part book with some familiar faces I know I was excited to see again.

    Genre: Sweet Western Romance
    Heat Level: ❤️
    Story Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers
    Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Part one: Audra is used to hard work and running the show, but the death of her father leaves her with a ranch she can’t run. The ranch hands don’t respect her, and she knows it’s because she wears a skirt. She needs a husband, and the one old man who has his eye on her property doesn’t fit the bill. She’s stuck between a rock and a hard place, but she’s not about to give up.

Dillon is in trouble, and his lawyer has a plan to keep him out of jail. He has to marry Audra for a year, and only a year, to be released. Dillon isn’t thrilled, but sees the upside. He’ll be free after his “sentence” and she’ll get a man to back her up on the ranch. But this mail order husband isn’t ready for what life in a Wyoming small town really entails.

Part 2: Dent never expected to fall in love with Amy, but once he realized how precious she was, he knew he could never let her go. As he makes plans for their future, someone from her past appears, bearing gifts and a few plans of his own.

I’ll start this review by saying you should listen to or read Hang Your Heart on Christmas, the first book in The Brides of Evergreen series. While you could hypothetically just listen to this one, you’d miss out on some world building and characters from the first book, and miss out on how Amy and Dent got together! You can read my review on that HERE. I loved seeing their relationship grow from basic enemies to the couple we see now.

I’ll start by saying I adored Audra. She was witty and strong, even when the odds were stacked against her. While some women might have sold the farm or married someone simply based on their ability to provide, she decided she would only marry on her terms.

As always, Meghan Kelly astounds me with her range. She can be a sultry temptress, a gruff cowboy, a little kid, or a witch at the drop of a had. She gives everyone a distinct voice, making it a breeze to follow along with who’s talking without thinking you missed something.

Overall, this sweet romance has plenty of heart and enough drama to keep any reader, or listener, thoroughly entertained.

Sweetpea

Craving something dreadfully dark and fearfully funny? I just finished Sweet Pea by C.J. Skuse.

  • Overall Rating: 6/6 Bloody Glass Slippers
  • Genre: Psychological Thriller/Comedy

There are few things in life Rhiannon truly loves. In no particular order, it’s her chihuahua Tink, her collection of Sylvanian families, and the feeling of blood on her hands. No, she doesn’t think she’s a complete psycho. After all, a Buzzfeed quiz said she doesn’t hit all the marks. Besides, is she really a psychopath when she only goes after sex offenders? It’s just community service.

On the outside, she lives a charmed life, despite the viral news story that shot her into fame as a child. She lives with her handy boyfriend in a nice apartment. Her job is good enough for someone without a fantastic education, and she gets on well with some of her coworkers. But when her mask slips and she forgets to pretend to be like them, more than one person becomes suspicious about who and what she really is.

Unlike when I write summaries for romances, this one was a little tricky. Rhiannon is a multilayered character who doesn’t always have a plan. She tells her own story through hilarious pop culture references with a matter of fact tone that makes it difficult to tell if she’s being serious. But Rhiannon doesn’t know how to be anything but.

Before reading the book, you think you’ll never side with a killer. But something about Rhiannon is charming and terribly likable. That’s what the experts say about psychos like Ted Bundy. Though if you ask Rhiannon, she’ll say she’s nothing like Bundy. She hasn’t been caught.

Time for me to start book two.

What Happens in the Ruins

The second book in my What Happens series is now available for preorder! Introducing What Happens in the Ruins.

Can she stop her past from ruining her future?

Sorcha Mackinnon isn’t your typical tortured artist. She is also a party girl, a vintage shopper, and the heiress to a whisky fortune. But when inspiration suddenly flies out the window, she’s left with an empty whisky glass and a blank canvas…until a childhood friend waltzes back into her life.

She’s known Danny Gordon since birth, but they lost touch as their careers took them in different directions. He offers to show her the parts of Scotland he swears will spark life back into her brushes. And as they tour the sights on the back of his motorcycle, Sorcha realizes that under the tattoos and smart mouth, Danny may inspire more in her than just a new painting.

But as a good time begins to morph into an ever after, Sorcha is reminded of old wounds that just won’t heal. Danny tries to open her heart, but her self-imposed isolation makes things harder than ever. Now she must decide what to do, because what happens in the ruins doesn’t always stay there.

Preorder this book HERE and enjoy your trip to the Highlands🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

The Marriage Rescue

Joanna Johnson is a brand new Harlequin author who’s bringing the drama with her first novel release, The Marriage Rescue.

  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️
  • Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Selina Agres hasn’t lived an easy life the past twelve years. A member of the Romani, she was born into a world that sees her as less than, and is constantly reminded of it. She detests the English Gentry and blames them in part for her mother’s death. And years later, when they return to the cursed land, Selina is again in danger and only sees one way out of it, by way of a choice given to her by a member of the Gentry she has sworn to hate forever.

Edward Fulbrooke of Blackwell Hall must marry, despite his feelings on the matter. The society ladies that have been pushed into his path are far more interested in his station than him, something his calculating uncle Charles bets on. If Edward doesn’t take a wife soon, the estate will belong to Charles. But neither man expected a blast from the past in the form of a mysterious young woman dropping from a tree.

The pair met as children, their interaction leaving no mark but a scar on his cheek and the whisper of a memory. Years later, their worlds collide once again, resulting in a mutually beneficial marriage that sets off a chain reaction neither expects. But as their farce deepens, will it be enough to heal old wounds?

I adore the amount of research Johnson put into writing this book, especially when it comes to the Roma people. Some authors give a Romani character a crystal ball and BAM they’re a gypsy. That’s not how cultural identity works and it’s very refreshing to see how Johnson didn’t run along with stereotypes and really dove into what made the Romani so unique. It gave Selina a new edge not seen in some historicals.

I also want to say that I really like this cover. Does the man look a wee bit familiar? The model’s made the rounds on a few books now, and in the reader world, he’s basically Jamie Fraser from Outlander’s twin, making this book a lovely addiction to any bookshelf! But I digress.

Edward is adorable and Selina is sweet and smart as a whip. Together, they’re romantic perfection that any reader would fall in love with. The slow burn of their relationship was easy and natural. Nothing felt forced or out of place between them and you really root for the pair to fall in love. So if you’re looking for an indulgent romance to curl up with, look no further!

New Addition- Christmas is Coming in November

Kelsey and I have a big announcement to make! In November 2019, our newest book, Cupid Claus is set for release. It’s a lighthearted romance about what happens when Mrs. Claus, Cupid, and Mother Nature try to find a wife for Mrs. Claus’ son.

This is our second joint venture and it’s sure to put you in the holiday mood. What we love about this book is that it reaches out to the young lovers learning to trust each other, and their parents learning about love after child raising.

Remember…A book is better when you have someone to share it with

Love Sarah and Kelsey

Unlaced by the Highland Duke

I love all things Scottish. I love the history, the mystery, the architecture, all of it. But I also adore books set in Scotland, no matter the time period. But it’s been a long time since I read a historical romance set in the land of my ancestors, so I was eager to read Unlaced by the Highland Duke by Lara Temple.

  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️
  • Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Benneit’s wife Bella has been gone two years, leaving him to raise their young son Jamie alone. His wife’s family implores him to allow them to raise the child, but the Duke of Lochmore refuses time and time again. But he realizes that in his grief and loneliness, his son has suffered from a want of companionship on the estate. Enter his late wife’s widowed cousin Joane. The mousy woman has a tongue like a viper and for the first time in years, Benneit is on his toes…and likes it.

Joane, or Jo as she likes to be called, adores young Jamie at once and fosters his imagination. At first, she sees Benneit as a surly, brooding, gruff man who needs to be taken down a notch. Lucky for her, he’s amused by her quips and she begins to break through his hardened shell. Soon, she catches glimpses of the man behind the shield, the caring one with the deep laugh and soulful eyes. But she can’t let herself get too close before her heart gets broken.

Her sharp tongue and witty admonishments and his generous nature and secretive, boyish joy make Jo and Benneit toe the line of proprietary as their hearts take them in a direction neither intended. As the pair warms to one another on the cold Scottish hills, the woman Benneit is to marry comes into full focus. Lady Tessa checks all the boxes for an amenable wife, something that doesn’t escape Jo’s notice…or Benneit’s.

It’s so refreshing to fall into a fabulously done Scottish romance again. Temple really wove a tale of love, longing, and rolling hills to create a quintessential historical I didn’t want to put down. There was passion, emotion, and picturesque countryside between every page.

Jo was a lovely character who had her head on straight. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, even when she probably should keep quiet, but she isn’t obnoxious about it. Benneit had a lot of depth, more than you would think when you first meet him. They grow together, and it’s nice to see.

Overall, this book is perfect for all historical romance fans.

The Unseen

I feel like I’ve waited forever for the lovely, talented Irina Shapiro to grace my Audible App with the next installment of Echoes from the Past. This addictive series steeped in history, mystery, and enough drama to keep anyone on their toes has easily become one of my persona favorites. Today, we’ll discuss The Unseen, book five in the epic saga that is Quinn’s life.

    Genre: Historical Fiction with Time Travel
  • Story Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers
  • Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

In 2014 Quinn is settling into a routine, trying to juggle her work as an archeologist, being a mother two two children, one of whom is a newborn, being a wife, having a social life, and still using the past to investigate murders from long ago. When she’s brought to a London flat, she finds it frozen in the Edwardian ages, but that’s not the strangest part. There’s a skeleton in a clawfoot tub, hidden behind a secret door. Now Quinn is left to use her special talents to find out who the person was, how they died, and who killed them.

In 1917 aristocratic young lady Valentina narrowly escaped Russia with her life, as being well-born was a death sentence in the Revolution. She makes it to London with her mother and younger siblings without the wealth and prestige she once enjoyed. When a relative named Dmitry offers his help, Valentina’s family accepts without considering the secret cost. Who was once to be their savior soon becomes Valentina’s worst nightmare as the family fights for survival in a new land.

Armed with a Fabergè egg necklace, Quinn dives into the past to solve the mystery of the body left to rot in a London flat for a hundred years. But that’s not the one on her mind. The whereabouts of her long lost twin still haunt her and she’s left to wonder who she will find first, the killer or her sister.

I really identified with Quinn in this book as she tried to find a balance in life with a new baby. It’s nice to see a normal character who doesn’t immediately fall into the role of picture perfect mom who has it all without a care. She puts in the work, as all parents do, and it was lovely to see her overcome different challenges. Although most challenges she’s faced so far like a plot to murder her, the reveal of her birth family, and the fact she can see through time are some many people will ever go through.

Valentina’s story was an interesting one. When we think about the Russian Revolution, we usually think about the lost princess Anastasia and the rest of the Romanov family or the wild death of Rasputin. We don’t see much about the aristocrats that managed to hop trains, flee their homes on horseback, or buy their way to a different land, dressed as a peasant. Her struggle to grieve the loss of her former life and her father and fiancé while trying to keep her remaining family afloat was something I can assume many faced when in a supposed safe place. From page one, I worried what would happen to poor Valentina.

Shapiro did a fantastic job weaving in Russian history and facts into a thrilling drama of betrayal and loss. I suppose that shouldn’t be surprising since Shapiro herself was born in Moscow. Still, many authors forgo historical facts to focus more on just the story. She does neither, perfectly pairing the past and present to create a book that doesn’t sacrifice a thing.

I don’t think there will ever be enough praise for this series, which is perfect for lovers of women’s fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, time travel, romance, or just plain good books.

Consumed

If you’ve been following the blog for the past few months, you know I’m a fan of narrator Meghan Kelly. I’ve listened to several of her works and today I have something a little different to share. Consumed by Sara Fields is a super hot book you’ll want to wear headphones for. Trust me.

Genre: Paranormal Erotica

Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Story Rating: 4/6 Glass Slippers

Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Undercover agent Kassandra thought taking underworld mogul Marcos into custody would be a cake walk. But the billionaire has been at the game longer than she’s been alive and won’t go in without a fight. And although she tries to break free, it doesn’t matter where in the world she is because Marcos has her twisted around his little finger and wants to show Kassandra what he does to girls who don’t play by his rules.

Marcos isn’t an easy man to please. He has rules and standards one must abide by, or suffer the consequences. His hard hand has made him a master of the boardroom and a devil in the bedroom. The way he weaves himself into Kassandra’s mind and dreams leaves you wondering if he’s more incubus than vampire. It also begs the question of if she will stick around long enough to find out.

While I expected a ton of sex, I was hoping for some more story between the spankings. I have a lot of unanswered questions and felt as if it was more erotica than romance, which is fine, I was just left wanting more. More character development, backstory, and a well rounded ending with no loose ties. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the audiobook is only about four and a half hours long, and for that length, Fields did manage to fill the time with a lot. Maybe one day we’ll get an extra large version with plenty of plot to go around.

With Kelly, I’m pretty familiar with her work and could pick her voice out of a crowd. While I’ve listened to her give life to werewolves, cowboys, and yoga teachers, I wasn’t prepared for Consumed. I’ve never listened to an erotica and she had me blushing! While I’m no prude, I don’t know if I could do her job, which is why I’m such a fan. Writing is hard work, but creating different voices for an entire cast is no laughing matter.

Overall, I dub this book best for readers and listeners that are looking for some darkness and some serious heat in their stories. This is no 50 Shades level fire, this is a whole other level.