Book Review: The Highlander’s Choice by Callie Hutton

The Highlander’s Choice by Callie Hutton

 Highlander's Choice

Publisher & Release Date: Entangled Publishing, July 14, 2015

Time and setting: May 1816, Scotland

Genre: Historical Regency Romance

Length: 195 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 4.25 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

The Scottish Highlands, 1815

Lady Sybil Lacey is every inch an English woman. She’s horrified her best friend is wedding a barbarian Scot. For aren’t Scots naught but brutish, whiskey-swilling lechers? So to find herself secretly attracted to the tall and devastatingly handsome Scottish laird of Bedlay Castle is quitedisconcerting…

Liam MacBride is convinced that English ladies are silly sassenachs who think of nothing but social events and clothes. So why is he intensely drawn to Lady Sybil? All they do is quarrel…until loathing turns into undeniable lust.

A tempestuous, fiery romance between an English lady and a Scottish laird cannot end well.

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Vikki’s Musings

The Highlander’s Choice is not the first book I have read by Callie Hutton. I read A Baron’s Betrayal and enjoyed it a great deal. When I received a request from the publisher to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review, I agreed immediately. This is a lovely romance novel set in the beautiful highlands of Scotland.

When Lady Sybil Lacey accompanies her friend to Scotland for her wedding to a Scottish laird, the last thing she expects or wants is to be attracted to a barbaric Scots, but when she meets Liam, Laird MacBride, that is exactly what happens.

Will Sybil and Liam find a way to move beyond their prejudices and find true love, or will they let those issues drive them apart forever?

This story is a sweetly developing tale of two individuals with preconceived ideas based on what they grew up believing. Liam, Laird McBride thinks all Sassenach females act entitled and are not concerned over anything besides balls and parties with an endless line of servants waiting on them all the time. Lady Sybil believes all Scottish men are barbarians, drink huge quantities of whiskey and bed any woman they can find. Obviously, they are worlds apart in their thinking.

I liked Lady Sybil’s character quite a lot. She is loyal to her friend, loves her brother and sisters, and is in tune with nature and the beauty of Scotland. She is no young miss without a thought in her head besides attending parties and participating in idle gossip. She quickly shows Liam that she is no pampered miss. I liked her determination to remain calm and not react to what Liam’s mother tries to do. Even though she is a bit of a hoyden, she is quite feminine, a female after my own heart.

Liam makes a great hero. He is a man of honor and integrity. He is loyal to his friends and treats women with a great deal of respect, while still having a touch of a daring twist to his character. He is fairly uncomplicated and straight forward. When he makes up his mind to woo Sybil, he sets out to do that in a big way. He allows her to see the real Liam without any hidden agendas. This may sound like he is a bit boring, but he is not at all. It is a refreshing change for the hero to be a straight up kind of guy, so many of the heroes in romance novels are terrible rakes.

That is not to say, he is above taking his wooing as far as need be to win his lady. Ms. Hutton does a superb job of building sexual tension, and when Sybil and Liam do crawl between the sheets, sparks fly. While the love scenes are mildly explicit, they are deeply emotional, satisfying this reader’s romantic heart.

The Highlander’s Choice is a tale that bridges the gap between cultures. Still to this day, Scotland strains under the yolk of British rule. At the time of this story, there were still people alive in Scotland who had lived through the aftermath of Culloden. It’s no wonder some Scots like Liam’s mother, still hated the English. Ms. Hutton was able to handle this delicate issue with great expertize.  I have high hopes that now that the Scottish people have voted to stay a part of Great Britain, there can be lasting acceptance and collaboration between England and Scotland and old wounds can be healed at last.

At one point in the story, I greatly feared the couple would not be able to bridge their differences, but thank goodness this is romance so they do manage to attain their “happily ever after.” I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful love story, and I cannot wait to read Sarah’s story. Happy reading!

Book Review: A Sword for His Lady by Mary Wine

A Sword for His Lady by Mary Wine

A Sword for His Lady

Publisher & Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, July 7, 2015

Time and setting: 1189, England

Genre: Historical Romance/Medieval Romance

Length: 350 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 3.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

He’d defend her keep…
After proving himself on the field of battle, Ramon de Segrave is appointed to the Council of Barons by Richard the Lionheart. But instead of taking his most formidable warrior on his latest Crusade, the king assigns Ramon an even more dangerous task-woo and win the Lady of Thistle Keep.

If only she’d yield her heart
Isabel of Camoys is a capable widow with no intention of surrendering her valuable estate. She’s fought long and hard for her independence, and if the price is loneliness, then so be it. She will not yield…even if she does find the powerful knight’s heated embrace impossible to ignore.

But when her land is threatened, Isabel reluctantly agrees to allow Ramon and his army to defend the keep-knowing that the price may very well be her heart.

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Vikki’s Musings

A Sword for His Lady is the first book I have read by Mary Wine. I received this novel from the publisher via Net-Galley in exchange for an honest review. There is no doubt Ms. Wine did her research for this story. Her descriptive writing brought this long ago time to life. I was sent back to that time where men were chivalrous and women were to be placed on a pedestal and admired at a distance. A lady was expected to obey her father, and then later when she married, her husband.

Ramon De Segrave is a trusted servant of the king, Richard the Lionheart. When Richard makes him a baron and gives him lands adjoining Thistle Keep, he accepts his new mission. Although the king wants him to marry Isabel of Camoys, he pushes back, and Richard does not command that he do so.

Isabel of Camoys is a widow and very content to remain one. Even though Ramon quickly proves he is a much better man than her late husband, she still fears giving up her freedom to another man no matter how kind and caring he seems.

Once Ramon meets Isabel, he is smitten and is determined to win his fair lady’s heart. Will his patience convince Isabel that he is not only a man to be trusted, but also the keeper of her heart?

The story started out well, and I immediately liked Ramon. He’s a brave warrior, a man loyal to his king and a champion of fair ladies. Everything I love and expect in a medieval hero. Unfortunately, I never felt I learned enough about him to fall in love with his character. I did like his gentle and caring treatment of Isabel, and he uses his intellect as well as his brawn to thwart the villain.

Isabel is fairly typical for a woman of her times. She received a bad deal from her first husband, so it’s no wonder she hesitates at first when she learns the king has sent Ramon to protect her lands and wants her to marry the man. However, once the villain comes around and even kidnaps her, she still hesitates after Ramon rescues her. That irritated me. Over all, I never warmed up to Isabel’s character.

As the story unfolded, I found myself flipping through sections that were a bit tedious to read. This book definitely has a sagging middle. However, the pace does pick up toward the end again. The plot seemed a bit superficial and the characters lacked any true depth. The villain’s character was actually quite one-dimensional, and his actions are completely predictable. There were no surprises and as I read, it was if I were watching from the sidelines.

Nonetheless, A Sword for His Lady is very well-written and gave me a great sense of time and place. This is a good book for anyone who enjoys a slowly developing love story, especially if you love the medieval period of history. Ms. Wine paints a realistic picture of Richard the Lionheart as a detached ruler only interested in the funds for his crusades, a man who rarely spent any time in England. I read some of the other reviews so there are plenty of other readers who loved this book, you may as well. Reading is subjective and what one person loves another may find just okay. That was the case for me. Happy reading!

Book & Audio Review: The MacKinnon’s Bride by Tanya Anne Crosby

The MacKinnon’s Bride by Tanya Anne Crosby

MacKinnon's Bride

Publisher & Release Date: Oliver-Heber Books, January 24, 2014

Time and setting: 1118, Scotland

Genre: Historical Medieval Romance

Length: 347 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 4.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

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Vikki’s Musings

I am so glad I found this book on Amazon. I was also able to download the audio version for an excellent price. I had never heard of Ms. Crosby, but the book description sounded intriguing, so I decided to take advantage of the great offer. I always enjoy a good medieval romance and this is a fantastic one.

Page is abducted so she can be exchanged for the MacKinnon’s son. Her father has the boy and plans to turn him over to the English king. When Laird MacKinnon arrives at her father’s keep, the man could care less what happens to his daughter. Through cunning and wit, the laird out maneuvers the earl and manages to get his son back, but the man tells him that if his daughter returns, he will cut out her tongue.

There is no way Iain will allow that to happen, so he tells Page he is keeping her for revenge, leaving Page with the impression her father wanted her after all, even though he has treated her so poorly all her life that he never even gave her a proper name.

Can Iain win his fair lady’s heart, or will his withholding the knowledge about Page’s father destroy any tender feelings she has for him?

Not only is there a beautiful romance between Page and Iain, there is a marvelous, action-packed plot that kept me engaged throughout the entire book. The suspenseful scenes are outstanding and even had my heart pounding. I was so enmeshed in this story, it felt as if I was Page and all her emotions were part of me. That is a great sign of an amazing storyteller.

Page is a marvelous character. Even though she has every reason to be cynical and negative, she is able to push all her hurts to the side and show a little boy tenderness and care, although she is in a frightening situation that would have the majority of women in hysterics. While Page is fierce and determined, she is still very feminine. I truly loved her character and wanted her to have her happy ending.

Iain, the MacKinnon is also a great character. He is fearless and a strong protector, plus he’s a Scottish warrior and a fierce leader, a man his clan can respect. Then add into the mix, he has the ability to love his son in an age where fathers did not actively raise their children. Even though love has not dealt him a winning hand in the past, he embraces his feeling for Page in a way that melted my heart.

The passion between Page and Iain sizzles from their first meeting. Ms. Crosby is great at building sexual tension. That is one of the reasons I love historical romance so much. While the love scenes are not explicit, they are sensual, and they are high with emotion.  While I normally enjoy more explicit love scenes, these are so well written I found them very satisfying.

The MacKinnon’s Bride is a fantastic tale of love, intrigue and suspense with an excellent medieval setting. There is a good amount of historical detail without bogging down the story. While this is the first book I have read by Ms. Crosby, it will not be the last. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loved the medieval period. Happy reading!

Book and Audio Review: Guardian of Darkness by Kathryn Le Veque

Guardian of Darkness by Kathryn Le Veque

Guardian of Darkness

Publisher & Release Date: Dragonblade Publishing, January 4, 2014

Time and setting: 1200, England

Genre: Historical Romance/Medieval Romance

Length: 374 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 5 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

1200 A.D. – After decades of warring between the Lairds of Kerr and Prudhoe Castle in Northumbria, a tentative peace is reached. The Lady Carington Kerr is sent to Prudhoe as a hostage to ensure her father’s good behavior, and a more reluctant hostage there never was. 

Small and dark, with emerald eyes and a luscious figure, she is as gorgeous as she is fiery. Enter Sir Creed de Reyne; a gentle giant of a man, he is, by nature, calm and wise. He is the ice to Carington’s fire. As Carington resists the attempts to keep her in her English prison, Creed is placed in charge of the captive as both jailer and protector.

But Creed is also as reluctant a protector as she is a hostage; six months prior, he had been given the important assignment of escorting Isabella of Angoulệme from France to England as the bride of King John. Isabella, a woman-child of twelve years, was smitten with Creed from the start. When he spurned her advances, she fabricated a story of Creed’s indiscretions against her and brought the king’s wrath upon him. Creed fled to Prudhoe and straight into another assignment guarding a firebrand of a young woman.

Creed soon discovers that Carington is far different from the petty child who would become queen and against both his judgment and his wishes, he falls for the Scots lass. Suffering through tragedy and triumph, Creed and Carington have a love that only strengthens with each passing moment. Even when Creed is forced to flee for his life and leave Carington behind, their only thoughts are of being together again.

With Isabella and King John closing in, Creed and Carington must fight for their very survival as two countries and a kingdom seek to separate them.

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Vikki’s Musings

A friend of mine has a blog, Booktalk with Eileen, and she does quite a few audio book reviews. She has done several of Ms. LeVeque’s books, and since I love a good medieval, I decided to find one to read/listen to. I found Guardian of Darkness on a free promo through Amazon and was able to add the audio for a great price. I am so glad I read this book. This is a fantastic medieval romance! Since this book has a detailed book description, I will not do a synopsis. It would be redundant.

Ms. LeVeque writes beautifully with a great deal of emotion. In fact, I did not just tear up a few time, I had tears rolling down my face. When Carington’s horse had to be put down, I became very emotional. It is a very moving scene. There are other scenes that also moved me greatly.

Even though, Ms. LeVeque tells much of the story in omniscient point of view, I was still able to connect with Carington and Creed. Normally, I feel as if I am sitting on the sidelines watching when omniscient POV is used, but that was not the case with this book. I was pulled into the story from the first page and remained so until the end.

Guardian of Darkness is an excellent example where external conflict enhances the story. While there is some internal conflict, the external ruled this story, bringing the hero and heroine closer as they try to overcome their many trials.

I loved the romance between Carington and Creed and found it believable even though they do fall in love incredibly fast. Since my parents experienced love at first sight and it lasted throughout their marriage, I do believe in it, which helped greatly. What I liked about this story is that it spans over months, allowing me to see their love continue to grow and flourish. I absolutely loved the epilogue since it gives a look at them after many years have passed. I found it vastly satisfying.

I also listened to the audio version performed by Brad Wills. I thoroughly enjoyed his narration. Ms. Wills does a fantastic job distinguishing the many voices, especially the children. That is a huge feat for a male. Now at times, he did speak a bit fast making it difficult to understand every word, but not enough to take away from my listening pleasure. I will be looking for other recordings by Mr. Wills.

Guardian of Darkness is a riveting tale filled with an emotionally-charged love story and plenty of suspense. That is a winning combination for me. I highly recommend this incredible book to all who enjoy medieval romance. I am confident that you will enjoy it as much as I did. Happy reading!

Book & Audio Review: Laiden’s Daughter by Suzan Tisdale

Laiden's Daughter

Book Review: A Bit of Heaven on Earth by Lauren Linwood

A Shadow’s Kiss by Kirsten Blacketer

A Shadow's Kiss

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