The Highlander’s Bargain (by Barbara Longley)

Historical Romance (time travel)

A Review in Two Acts

Act 1 – Robley travels to present day U.S.A.

 

In book one True to the Highlander Alethia Goodsky was cast back in time to 15th century Scotland where she was taken in by the Clan MacKintosh. While there she used her supernatural gifts as a truth seer and her modern know how to thwart an evil plan by a rival clan.

Now in book two, Robley, one of the bit players in book one with a thirst for adventure has decided he wants to travel to the future, back to where Alethia came from. He enters into a bargain with the faerie madam Giselle and finds himself in modern day Minnesota, literally landing on top student midwife, Erin. Like Alethia, Erin is descended from faeries and has some healing powers, and it soon becomes apparent that Giselle is pulling strings in her own little theatre.

What I Thought

This first section didn’t impress me all that much. Calling a spade a spade, I could easily have walked away and considered it. It strikes me that what makes a book about time travel work is in taking a modern person and putting them into a foreign situation…the past. The interest in the history behind a book can sustain it…taking a person from the past and putting him/her into a modern environment doesn’t have that going for it. I mean seeing somebody’s amazement at flushing toilets doesn’t really hold your attention for more than a minute.

So act 1 was a bust for me.


 

Act 2 – Erin Returns with Robley to 15th Century Scotland

When the faerie discover Giselle’s machinations they track down Robley and cast him back to the 15th century. But in the scuffle, Erin finds herself also cast back. While there she busies herself helping expectant mothers but with a death sentence hanging over Robley’s head they cannot get settled and any hope for a family and happiness cannot be fulfilled unless they confront Giselle.

What I Thought

This section was much better. To be honest it saved the book. It was entertaining and it was well worth getting past that first section to get to this. Unfortunately if I take the book in its entirety, that first section make what would have been a good book, just OK.

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Into the Shadows (by Carolyn Crane)

Romantic Suspense

Thorne is the second in command of a brutal gang that deals in human misery, everything from human trafficking to drugs. When a number of their warehouses are raided, suspicion falls on him and he finds himself needing to hunt down the raiders or end up in a shallow grave.

Two years earlier, Nadia was in love with Thorne. Then after her gangster father was killed he kicked her to the curb and moved on to another gang, the Hangmen. All that is left of him is her 2 year old son and she will do anything to protect him. Then she learns that her mother who she thought was dead is alive and slave working in one of the Hangmen gang’s sweatshop. Together with a group of mercenaries who will take loot as pay and the bodyguard her father assigned to her they begin raiding the sweatshops searching for her mother.

When Thorne shows up at her home searching for a CD containing inside information on the gang’s activities she knows the noose is tightening. She steps up her plans to find her mother but also needs to make sure Thorne never finds out about his child. What she doesn’t know is that Thorne is deep undercover and working for the Associates. Alone and vulnerable she was the last person he trusted, but she betrayed him. Now he needs to learn to trust her again if they are to have any chance of finding her mother and surviving coming out alive.

 
I guess it says something that Into the Shadows took so many words to summarise. Carolyn Crane is like that. Her books aren’t easily defined. There is a wonderful oddness that comes through, even in her romantic suspense. Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised to turn the page and encounter a giant continent destroying death ray…come to think of it I might have seen something like that in book 2.

She always surprises me and that’s why Carolyn Crane has fast become one of my favorite authors. Into the Shadows is very good romantic suspense with quite a healthy dose of steamy sexy for those who enjoy that.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 4.32.33 pmMany thanks to CrushStar Multimedia and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

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Poison Promise (by Jennifer Estep)

Urban Fantasy

All Gin wants is to be known as the owner of the Pork Pit, home to Ashland’s best BBQ. Unfortunately she can’t shake off her other title, The Spider, the assassin who killed underworld king-pin Mab Monroe. Now every two bit hood who wants to make a name for himself is gunning for her and she spends as much time dealing with them as serving pulled pork and coleslaw.

When she stumbles onto one of her waitresses being threatened by a drug dealer and his goons she steps in and makes short work of them, but it soon becomes apparent she’s bitten off a little more than even she can chew. Now she has come to the notice of Beau Benson, a sadistic vampire who doesn’t just drink blood, he sucks the very life force out of his victims, feeding on their fears and insecurities. And he sees her as the perfect guinea pig to test out his new drugs on.

 
Poison Promise is book #11 in Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series. It should be getting old. I should be pointing out recycled plots.

I’m not.

Her last few books are easily the best in the series. Heart of Venom (book #9) is a stand out as my personal favorite, but Poison Promise is definitely in the running for the silver medal.

This whole series is brash and violent. It’s unapologetically in your face. It’s great fun for lovers of urban fantasy.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 4.32.33 pmMany thanks to Pocket Books and Edelweiss for providing me with this ARC

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How to Marry a Cowboy (by Carolyn Brown)

Contemporary Romance

When Mason’s two little hellions, Lily and Gabby, find Annie Rose on their porch in a wedding dress no less they decide she is their new mother and immediately set about making it so. Overnight Annie Rose goes from being on the run from a violent and abusive ex to being a “mamma-nanny”.

Despite his attraction to her, Mason still holds feelings for his wife who died many years earlier and resists moving beyond a professional relationship with Annie Rose, but with the two little scamps pulling the strings, not even he can resist for long.

 
How to Marry a Cowboy felt like a G Rated, almost church going christian romance for most of the book. It was very much a book I could give to my 87 year old mother and she would really enjoy it. But then everything changed and the sex started. I don’t mind sex, I mean I’ve read more than one Tiffany Reisz book and rated them 5 Stars, but the sex level really didn’t feel right for this book.

I also found some of the set-up for the story a little too easy. For example, she has an accident and her car ends up in a pond fully submerged and never seen again, less than 24 hours later Mason has hired her as a nanny. She is on the run from an abusive ex, who doesn’t really feature in the story at all except as a reason for her to be running.

What I really liked and what saved the book was the characters…especially Lily and Gabby in all their 9 year old mischievous glory.

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 7.25.29 pmMany thanks to Sourcebooks and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

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Better Homes and Hauntings (by Molly Harper)

Paranormal Romance

Trying to rebuild her business after her former business partner decided to ruin her reputation and send her to the wall, Nina accepts a job away from the city restoring a mansion on an isolated island. Together with a very small team they are restoring the house and gardens which have stood deserted for more than 100 years. But they quickly encounter a malevolence that is haunting the house.

As they work, they begin to uncover a story of murder, betrayal and a curse that has passed down the generations. Now it seems that the ghost has decided to focus all of its fury on Nina.

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Better Homes and Hauntings is such a great book. Molly Harper writes with an intelligence and wit that is refreshing and completely addictive. This book actually has a slow build to the story which I haven’t noticed in her previous books and it took a little commitment, especially in those early chapters, but once I was hooked that was it, I just couldn’t put it down.

 

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 5.42.32 pmMany thanks to Pocket Books and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

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The Source (by J.D. Horn)

Paranormal Fantasy

When Mercy came into her powers at the end of book one, The Line her almost normal life ended. Now she has gone from being the one with no powers who was routinely dismissed to being at the centre of a seething maelstrom of plots and counter-plots.

When her mother who she thought was dead shows up telling her to trust no-one she doesn’t know where to turn. Together with the one person whose motives she fully understands, Aunt Ginny, she tries to find the truth in a whole haystack of lies.

 

 

The Source is a much better book than The Line. It feels like a more well rounded book, the story feels stronger and all in all it’s more entertaining. It’s not perfect, it felt like it was wandering off in the wilderness in the middle section and there was really too much going on, but taking into account that this is the author’s second novel (the first being The Line) it’s quite an impressive effort.

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The Duke’s Holiday (by Maggie Fenton)

Regency Romance

The Duke of Montford likes everything to be neatly lined up. A place for everything and everything in it’s place. The one blemish on his ordered ledger is a small unprofitable estate in Yorkshire. An estate which was swindled out of the family 100s of years earlier and will only return to him after the last male descendent of the Honeywell’s, the cads who swindled his family, shuffles off his mortal coil.

When Montford discovers that the aforementioned Honeywell did in fact pass on many years earlier he immediately smells a rat. Someone has been sending him reports from the estate and it’s lack of funds and signing them “A. Honeywell”.

Astrid Honeywell has been managing the estate and the family brewery since she was a child. Unfortunately as a woman she isn’t a legitimate heir and by rights the estate should be returned to the Duke of Montford. After Montford sends his right hand man to investigate she realises her number is up, but she won’t go down without a fight.

Astrid is completely wrong for Montford. Everything about her is wrong. Her hair is an unruly mess or red tangles. Her eyes are different colours, and not only does she wear a man’s clothing she insists on riding her horse astride. She definitely won’t fit into his ordered life.

But despite driving him crazy at every turn, she is also the first person who has been able to make him come alive –– to enjoy life, to get drunk and to make a fool of himself.

 

The Dukes Holiday is a complete romp. It’s great fun form beginning to end, one of those rare perfect books that I can’t fault in any way.

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