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.

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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.

Irish Reads

Ireland is a colorful country with a history and culture that’s reflected in its art. The book are no different, and I just wanted to throw out a few of my favorite works by Irish authors. Some you’ve probably read, a few have movie deals, and others are hidden gems from the Emerald Isle.

The Wanderings of Oisín by W.B. Yeats is technically a book of poems. While I’m not a poetry expert, or normally even a fan, I really enjoy how he fleshed out Irish legends and think he did a marvelous job. For the full effect of his work, look up “The Stolen Child.” You’ll see what I mean.

You’ve probably seen Brooklyn, starting fabulous Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, but Brooklyn was a book first by Irish author Colm Tóibín. It’s a very moving piece of fiction about a young woman named Ellis who leaves Ireland for America and ends up straddling two worlds. It’s a book about tough decisions that belongs on any bookshelf.

Here’s another book turned movie where the book is better, in my opinion. PS. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern is about a widow named Holly, living in Dublin and grieving the premature loss of her husband. He left her a stack of letters to help her through life without him. It’s a tear-jerker for sure!

Seventeen year old Maggie was a steerage passenger on the Titanic who woke up in New York. She decides to never return to her native Ireland, or speak of her journey again. But secrets never stay that way forever in The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor.

How Many Miles to Babylon by Jennifer Johnston explores class differences in Ireland before the onset of WWI. An aristocrat and one of his laborers begin a friendship that follows them into the trenches. It’s a historical fiction of the highest caliber.

The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie McGill is a novel that fits perfectly in the historical thriller section of any personal library. A mysterious death in Northern Ireland brings two women together, intertwining their lives for decades.

Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes is a romantic comedy suitable for anyone who wants a light read. After visiting a psychic, Lucy thinks there might be love on the horizon, but life’s never that easy.

Here’s a dark comedy that takes place in Cork. There’s a wild cast of character in The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney that are brought together by an accidental crime that has unintended consequences.

That’s it for my short list! Have you read any of these books, or do you have any others to add? Let me know in the comments!

The Forsaken

I will never stop saying that Echoes from the Past by Irina Shapiro deserves to be on the big screen, as an HBO special or a Netflix series, really put out there. Especially since after the book three, I almost thought Quinn was ready for the quiet life. But oh no. Shapiro has thrown our fav clairvoyant archeologist for another loop in The Forsaken.

As always, I’ll try to keep this spoiler free, but if you still won’t take my advice and get this series, it’s on you if I slip up.

  • Genre: Historical/Time Travel
  • Story Rating: 100/6 Glass Slippers
  • Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

In 2014 Quinn’s mother in law comes upon a grisly discovery beneath the kitchen of her ancestral home. Quinn and Gabe go to her aid and unearth skeletal remains, a sword, and a rosary that Quinn can’t wait to get her hands on. The mystery is made more pressing since whoever was found under the floor was somehow connected to Gabe’s family. But as Quinn learns time and time again in her own life, some familial secrets are best left undisturbed.

In 1462, Lady Kate has just been forced from the priory to go home to her parents. She’s grieving the loss of her brothers from the last battle of the War of the Roses and fears her father will marry her off, something her mother always warned would be the worst thing to ever happen to her. But she comes upon some wounded knights, and although she never took her vows to become a nun, seeing them safe is her Christian duty. While she sees her nursing as nothing more than a necessity, one of the knights is making his own plans, plans that will change her life forever.

Where to begin…I guess I can start with Quinn’s tale, our favorite psychic who often dives into the past. Over the course of the other few books, I’ve gotten attached to her and wish that she could just live her life in peace instead of constantly picking through the rubble of of other peoples mistakes to find answers. She’s been betrayed over and over in a series of events that leaves me both wanting more and just wishing Quinn could finally settle down into the simple life she’s trying to build. And as far as her biggest problem, the person I blame for it all? Well I hope the chart below makes things clear.

The War of the Roses is the beginning of one of my favorite times in history. Bloody, wrought with scandals, and focused on a cast of real people placed in almost otherworldly situations, Shapiro touches on that in her book. She slips slivers of historical events into conversations and passing news from riders to intertwines Kate’s life with real events and keeps the reader, or in my case the listener, gently reminded of what’s going on in the wider world.

When it comes to narration, Wendy Wolfson consistently knocks it out of the park. Her silky smooth voice can highlight the southern drawl of a business man, the low brow accent of a 15th century stable boy, and the gentle tones of a well born lady pining for her knight in shining armor. It’s always a pleasure to listen to her read a story so wonderful.

I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend this book to lovers of historical, romances, dramas, general fiction, reading, history, air, basically everyone. Lovers of the Outlander series and works by Philippa Gregory will be particularly enthralled, but I really mean it when I say all readers should give this series a try.

Rescued by the Sea Nymph

Narrator Megan Green has just introduced me to the Little Mermaid retelling I didn’t know I needed. Well, calling it a retelling is unfair, since it was much more than that. There are gods and goddesses in disguise, Demi gods on the loose, and a host of rules for both the land and sea. So before I give too much away, here’s Rescued by the Sea Nymph (London Mythos Book 1) by Rebekah Lewis, narrated by Megan Green.

  • Genre: Fantasy Historical Romance
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️❤️
  • Story Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers
  • Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

James is merely the third son of a viscount, a position where he won’t inherit a title or a fortune, so he sets off to make his own. While the majority of his work as a ship’s captain is legal, he has been known to smuggle a bit, something that could send him to the gallows. One night, he taken hostage by a band of men who want his ship and his beautiful sister. When he defies them, they cut off his hand and toss him into the sea.

Ione has drifted along in her underwater kingdom for years, the outcast of her flashier sisters. She wants more out of life than to breed with a human male and then send him to his grave. And when one in need of her help floats into her ocean, she can’t help but go against every instinct she has, just to save his life.

Poseidon is feeling generous and gives James a hook for a hand and Ione three days on land to decide her future. But when the men that attacked James are still at large and everyone in the ton wants to know more about the mysterious beauty on his arm, three days might feel like a lifetime.

First of all, I love the gods and goddesses in London theme. They pop in and out of mortals’ lives, sometimes doing good and sometimes tossing them to the Kraken. I’m really into the theme and I’m going to look into the rest of the books in the series to get my fix.

Ione is charming, funny, and practical beyond words when it comes to silly human rules like not being able to ride in a carriage with a man and not dancing the waltz too often. She is a modern woman in a mermaid world who doesn’t need a man to be happy, but she wouldn’t mind taking one for a spin. The whole book, I was rooting for her to get her guy, get her legs, and get everything else in the world she wanted. Sure, James is great too, but Ione is a smart mermaid with a quick wit, so she’s my obvious favorite.

It’s always so funny to me when a narrator goes from one extreme to the other without pause. The first work of Green’s I listened to was a squeaky clean romance with a few pecks, but this book has a lot more steam than that! But I guess that’s what’s impressive about voice actors, they need to have a certain kind of flexibility to allow them to cover so many different kinds of works.

Overall, this book is funny, interesting, different, sexy without being erotic, and a must read…or listen. I’m really not picky, as long as you grab a copy.

The Unforgiven

Irina Shapiro has graced us with another audiobook that has left me wanting more. Narrated by Wendy Wolfson, I listened to The Unforgiven, book three in the Echoes From The Past series nonstop since downloading it. I really wish I could tell you all the gritty details, but if you haven’t paid attention and haven’t picked up this series yet, I’ll keep my review as spoiler free as I can.

Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Heat Level:❤️❤️❤️

Genre: Historical/Contemporary Mystery

Quinn is back on the hunt for her father, and hopefully the truth about where her gift comes from. Her clues lead her to New Orleans, Louisiana and a family that seems to welcome her with open arms. What begins as a weekend away from Gabe turns into several weeks as a new story unfolds before her eyes.

Madeline is a monied young lady from Louisiana in 1858. She’s adored by her father, as an only child. But when he dies and the estate is sold to pay his debts, she’s sent to live at the Arabella Plantation with a grandmother she never knew and a cousin who welcomes her fully. While initially excited to learn more about the family her father never spoke of, she finds that he had been banished years before and her grandmother hates her in place of him. But no one will tell her what terrible sin he committed.

There’s no record of Madeline in the history books or in the family grave. Quinn longs to know more about the young woman and uses her gift to unravel a life cut short. But her own life is turned on it’s head, and as she comes to terms with her own heritage, she’ll find that alligators and voodoo are not the only dangers in Nola.

I think I’ve said this every time I review this book…it deserves to be a TV series. The time hopping adventure Shapiro creates are completely enthralling and deserves a wider platform. I’ve become emotionally involved in these characters, something that usually wears off after a few books. But these have such backstories that I have to know more!

There was a small teaser in the books end that gave me hope that the series will never end. I could red about, and listen to, Quinn’s adventures forever. Each story is so different and compelling, one could never get bored of her glimpses into the past. The fact that her personal life is full of wild twists and turns doesn’t hurt anything either!

I highly, highly, highly recommend this book series too all book lovers, but especially those who love some mystery and history in their reads.

Thrice to Thine

  • Y’all, the lovely Meredith Stoddard is back with the third book in her Once & Future series. I’ll try to keep this spoiler free, but I highly recommend you read all the books in her spellbinding collection. Interested? Take a peek at her Amazon page HERE to snag the whole series. So, without any more introduction, here’s my review of Thrice to Thine.
    • Heat Level: ❤️❤️
      Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Romantic, Mystery
      Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

    Sarah has been looking for answers to her family’s secrets for years. Yet the more she searches, the more tangled they become. She doesn’t have much to work with, only her grandmother’s stories and some folklore. Luckily, she still has Dermot to help her, although he never thought he’d see her again, being with him is still a major distraction to her work, and his coworker Kirstie is less than hospitable to “the American.”

    More than anything, Sarah wants to find out what happened to her mother in the mysterious village in Scotland. Between a diary and some hazy dreams, she needs something more tangible, and her supernatural gift isn’t much help. She wants to tell Dermot about her abilities, but fears what would happen it came into the hands of James Stuart, who is growing a little too close for comfort. She can almost grasp the answers, but someone else may find them first.

    Ugh, book three and I still have so many questions! Poor Sarah may never find what she’s looking for, but I have hope that Stoddard will put me out of my misery in book four! At least I hope she does, because just like Sarah, I can almost taste the answers.

    The writing, as always, is simple, yet vivid. You really get a proper feeling for Scotland, between the stone buildings, rolling hills, and perfect Gaelic, it’s a picturesque view of an imperfect situation that has been decades in the making. I also enjoyed learning more about Sarah and Dermot, really diving into their backgrounds to get to the root of what draws them together. Overall, I suggest any fan of mysteries and fantasies should pick up this amazing series.

    The Lovers

    Every so often you come upon a book you know will be an all time favorite. As you go through it, you want to keep reading, yet don’t want it to end. And as an author, you’re both enamored with the story and almost jealous you didn’t think of it first! I found that with the audiobook The Lovers: Echos From the Past by Irina Shapiro, read by Wendy Wolfson.

    Heat Level: ❤️❤️

    Genre: Historical/Contemporary Romantic Drama

    Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

    In 1665 Elise de Laseppes has been biding her time, waiting to announce her secret betrothal to a common lad to her father. But one morning, her father calls for her, telling her to prepare for her wedding to Lord Asher. Lord Asher is rich, widowed, twice her age, and able to save the de Laseppes from ruin. While she wants nothing more than to run away with the boy who promises her the world, she can’t. Her two little sisters depend on her to keep the family afloat, even if they don’t fully understand it. So she leaves her childhood home to become the literal lady of the manor. But her well-bred husband hides more than one secret and Elise will be tasked with not only saving her family, but herself as her husband strives to get an heir.

    In 2013 London, Dr. Quinn Allenby is straight off a nasty breakup and home from a successful archeological trip to Jerusalem when she receives a new task. A pair of skeletons was found in a chest, a makeshift coffin with evidence to show that neither person was dead when they were left alone in the dark. She’s approached by a producer who wants her to head a historical drama show, featuring the mysterious skeleton, and implores her to find the true story by any means necessary. Using her special skills, Quinn sets off to give them back their identities. But as she works to discover the skeletons’ pasts, her own comes into clearer focus.

    Two women, centuries apart, brought together by chance and a blue brooch that holds the secret behind the hidden chest.

    One of the hardest parts about writing reviews is that sometimes you need to leave out some of the best parts, as to not spoil anything. All I can say is that Quinn has certain abilities that ties her to Elise in a way she can’t fully explain. As more of Elise’s life is revealed, the deeper Quinn’s character development goes. She lives her life alongside Elise’s past in a seamless way that Shapiro should be congratulated for. It’s difficult to time hop without confusing readers or muddling the stories, but everything is crystal clear in this book by the end.

    As a historian, I love to take note of the bits and pieces in all historicals I read. Shapiro’s book was a a fine example of a well researched piece. The food, clothing, ailments, and accessories such as birthing chairs and plague doctors were slipped in naturally, setting up the time period without it being forced. Still, Elise and her loved ones had personalities that transcended time.

    The narration of The Lovers was wonderful. Wolfson’s voice was clear and easy to get lost in. The pace was perfect and the slight changes in the characters through their own voices wasn’t overdone or cartoonish as some are. Usually I limit my audiobook listening to car rides and dog walks, but I found myself listening to this one almost nonstop until the end.

    Overall, if you couldn’t tell, I loved this book. I could see it as a movie with the same thrilling, dramatic feel as The Da Vinci Code or Tulip Fever. In ebook, paperback, or audiobook, this is the perfect read for lovers of thrillers, romance, and mysteries.

    • For the ebook click HERE
    • For the audiobook click HERE
    • For the paperback click HERE

    The Silent Woman

    I’ve been on a historical kick lately, finding myself looking for the corseted gowns, gentleman callers, and times of days gone by. Well, instead of hunkering down with the latest in heaving bosoms and kilted men, I picked up The Silent Woman by Terry Lynn Thomas.

    Genre: Historical Fiction

    Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

    When we meet Cat Carlisle in 1937, she’s in her fine Kensington home, wondering when love had snuck out of her marriage to Benton. It may have been after the miscarriages, or after he took a mistress, but either way, it was gone. She had tried to fit into Benton’s high society world, but his sister has always despised her and the rules of their life was stifling. But it was nothing like what was happing in Germany, where Benton’s distant cousin Michael had just escaped from, having to leave his imprisoned wife behind.

    As Cat tries to find some light in her loveless, monotonous, life, she has taken a small job with a man named Reginald. She uses her Carlisle connections to deliver letters for him across the city. She doesn’t care what she carries, as she needs to money and something to do. But when someone tries to steal one of her mysterious envelopes, Cat begins to suspect there’s something more to the notes, and soon she’s asked to step deeper into the unknown. Will she weather the storm unscathed or will the far-off whispers of war come closer than she ever dared think?

    My summary does not do this book justice, but it’s so hard to create one when every small detail is like a breadcrumb leading to something big. Thomas paints a picture of pre-war life, down to the last vestiges of high society expectations and the dark beer of the Germans. Immersing yourself in a historical is truly part of the charm of reading and Thomas embraces it.

    I liked poor Cat, pitying her loveless, childless marriage and her inability to escape from the bonds of the Carlisle household. She’s kind to the servants and long for both her own identity and a bit of human compassion that isn’t just in the form of people feeling sorry for her. As you read, you really want to find a bit of happiness. But it’s hard to want her to completely retire to the quiet life when it becomes very clear that Cat Carlisle is about to step into a world far more exciting and dangerous than anything she has ever known.

    I highly recommend this book to both lovers of historical fiction and those that have an interest in pre-war Europe as a whole. And when the book is only $0.99, how can you not pick up a copy? Get yours HERE and see what’s in store for Cat.