Book Review: Highland Legend

review-cover-highland legendTitle: Highland Legend [Scots and Swords 3]

Author: Kathryn LeVeque

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

As the bastard son of a duke, Magnus Stewart’s royal blood has been a curse. Lured by the mystique and riches of the legendary fight club, Ludus Caledonia, Magnus uses his anger and bitterness to battle his way to the status of a prized gladiator known as The Eagle.

Diantha de Mora has heard of The Eagle, and in desperation, she seeks his help to escape the men pursuing her. Magnus comes to her aid, and in one night, his fate is changed forever. Mutual attraction is instant, but with enemies at every turn, it’ll take muscle and a miracle for them to make it to the Highlands alive. There, Magnus can reclaim his destiny, as Diantha guides his heart home.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

To be honest, Highland Legend by Kathryn LeVeque was an okay read. It had some good qualities, but it had some pretty bad qualities as well.

The writing itself was great – I didn’t run into a lot of typos, or at least no glaringly obvious ones. The narrative flowed fairly smoothly, and overall, I liked the characters. The romance between the two main characters was sweet.

That was also part of the problem, though. The romance between Magnus and Diantha was cautiously sweet in almost a naïve way – which didn’t really fit the determined Diantha and experienced Magnus very well – it felt out of place in the context of the story.

On top of this, the world-building was perplexing. I guess I just don’t understand the point of a book being placed in the Scottish highlands being so heavily built around roman culture.

Don’t get me wrong, if you want a light romance read set in a historical context, this would be a good book to pick up while you’re sitting in a waiting room and want to pass the time… but it isn’t a book you’ll probably get engrossed in.

Book Review: The Dane Law

reviewcover-the dane lawTitle: The Dane Law [The Atheling Chronicles 2]

Author: Garth Pettersen

Genre: Historical Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

After a peaceful year running their Frisian estate, Harald and Selia are called to Engla-lond.

Their return is marked by violence and intrigue. The king has vowed to Queen Emma that their son, Harthacnute, will inherit the throne, but the atheling is cruel and reckless. Many view Harald as the better choice, which makes him a target for the unseen supporters of his half-brother. King Cnute urges Harald to be prepared to assume the throne should Harthacnute prove inadequate. Harald resists being swept up by forces beyond his control, but doubts he will survive the reign of King Hartha.

And what of his older brother, Sweyn?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

If you are a fan of historical tales full of romance, intrigue, and action, The Dane Law by Garth Pettersen will be right up your alley.

The book is wonderfully well-written, full of beautiful historical detail and vibrant atmosphere. The narrative is well-paced and sucks you into the time period effortlessly.

I truly enjoyed the characters and the little bits of humor thrown in especially. It is a bit of a heavy read, but well worth it.

Book Review: A Curse of Ash and Embers

reviewcover-a curse of ash and embersTitle: A Curse of Ash and Embers [Tales of the Blackbone Witches 1]

Author: Jo Spurrier

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

A dead witch. A bitter curse. A battle of magic.
Some people knit socks by the fire at night. Gyssha Blackbone made monsters.

But the old witch is dead now, and somehow it’s Elodie’s job to clean up the mess.
When she was hired at Black Oak Cottage, Elodie had no idea she’d find herself working for a witch; and her acid-tongued new mistress, Aleida, was not expecting a housemaid to turn up on her doorstep.

Gyssha’s final curse left Aleida practically dead on her feet, and now, with huge monsters roaming the woods, a demonic tree lurking in the orchard and an angry warlock demanding repayment of a debt, Aleida needs Elodie’s help, whether she likes it or not.

And no matter what the old witch throws at her, to Elodie it’s still better than going back home.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

A Curse of Ash and Embers by Jo Spurrier was a stunning read. The writing itself was fantastic and flowed effortlessly. The characters were interesting and likable. I really enjoyed the worldbuilding in particular – that sort of small village atmosphere, mixed with a run-down and secluded old stone house.

Overall, the book was just written well and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think in particular, the dynamic between Aleida and Elodie was my favorite part of it all – it was a strange sort of friendship, almost a sisterhood of sorts, that really drove the story on. If you enjoy Young Adult Fantasy with a bit of a historical feel to it, I’d recommend giving this book a try. I can’t wait to read further into the series.

Book Review: A Good Duke is Hard to Find

review-cover-a good duke is hard to findTitle: A Good Duke is Hard to Find [Isle of Synne 1]

Author: Christina Britton

Genre: Historical Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

After her third fiancé leaves her at the altar, Lenora Hartley is beginning to think she’s cursed. One thing’s for certain: she needs to escape London and her father’s tyrannical attempts to find her yet another suitor. The Isle of Synne, an isolated and idyllic retreat off Britain’s northern coast, is blessedly far from society’s gossip, but it also carries haunting reminders of her first fiancé. Letting go of the past to find happiness seems impossible—until Lenora is thrown in the path of a gruff, mysterious blue-eyed man who makes her pulse race.

Next in line for a dukedom he doesn’t want to inherit, Peter Ashford is only on the isle to exact revenge on the man who is responsible for his mother’s death. Once he’s completed the task, he’ll return to America where his life can finally be his own. Yet when he meets the beautiful and kind Miss Hartley, he can’t help but be drawn to her. Can Peter put aside his plans for vengeance for the woman who has come to mean everything to him?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed A Good Duke is Hard to Find by Christina Britton. This author was new to me, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I was pleasantly surprised to read such a well-written book. The characters had depth, and the world-building was clear without being over-done. I found the story easy to read, and the narrative well-balanced.

The romance between Lenora and Peter had a touch of soulmate magic to it in a way, even though it was never stated that it was intended, but they also had a healthy dose of desire, and primarily, deep respect and understanding for one another, despite how easy it would have been to simply take each other at face value. Though not always easy, their relationship was healthy and carried just enough misunderstandings to create tension.

If you enjoy historical romances, this is a good one to pick up.

Book Review: Say Yes To The Duke

review-cover-say yes to the dukeTitle: Say Yes To The Duke [The Wildes of Lindow Castle 5]

Author: Eloisa James

Genre: Historical Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Miss Viola Astley is so painfully shy that she’s horrified by the mere idea of dancing with a stranger; her upcoming London debut feels like a nightmare.

So she’s overjoyed to meet handsome, quiet vicar with no interest in polite society — but just when she catches his attention, her reputation is compromised by a duke.

Devin Lucas Augustus Elstan, Duke of Wynter, will stop at nothing to marry Viola, including marrying a woman whom he believes to be in love with another man.

A vicar, no less.

Devin knows he’s no saint, but he’s used to conquest, and he’s determined to win Viola’s heart.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

If someone asked me to recommend a historical romance, Say Yes To The Duke by Eloisa James wouldn’t even cross my mind. I’ll be honest, it was… fine. It wasn’t a terrible book, but it also didn’t stick with me. The writing itself was well done, the editing was spotless, the cover is pretty… but I didn’t truly like any of the characters. They didn’t feel like real people, instead, it felt like I was watching a play where characters dashed on and off stage, living out scenes a little more dramatically than necessary to make the audience laugh or boo.

I got 90% through the book, set it aside for an evening, and then completely forgot I was reading it for a week. I picked up the book sometime later, noticed it was on 90% read, and figured I’d made a mistake and skipped ahead in a new book. It was only when I reread the entire first chapter that I realized I’d picked it up before. It wasn’t a mistake. The book just wasn’t memorable. I had to re-skim the entire book to remember what it was about.

Was the book awful? No. Nothing made me want to put the book down or throw it across the room… it just wasn’t great.

Book Review: Would I Lie To The Duke

review-cover-would i lie to the dukeTitle: Would I Lie To The Duke [The Union of the Rakes 2]

Author: Eva Leigh

Genre: Historical Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Jessica McGale’s family business desperately needs investors, and she’s determined to succeed at any cost. But she knows London’s elite will never look twice at a humble farm girl like herself. Posing as “Lady Whitfield,” however, places her in the orbit of wealthy, powerful people—most notably the Duke of Rotherby. His influence and support could save her company, but Jess never expected the effect he’d have on her.

Society thinks Noel is a notorious, carefree duke who dabbles in investments, but there’s a side to him that only his closest friends see. When he crosses paths with Lady Whitfield at a business bazaar, his world tilts on its axis. She’s brilliant and compelling, and brings him to his knees like no woman has before. Trust is difficult for Noel, but Jess makes him believe anything is possible…

As time ticks down on her Cinderella scheme, the thought of achieving her goal at Noel’s expense breaks Jess’ heart. He doesn’t just want her now, he wants her forever. But will her secret end their future before it begins?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed Would I Lie To The Duke by Eva Leigh. I read a lot of historical romance, and it was nice to come across one that not only fit snugly into the genre comfortably but also pushed the envelope a little. The writing was fantastic, the characters were charming and well-edited.

The main female lead was intelligent, driven, and well aware of her shortcomings, even as they got in her way, which was a nice change from the usual simpering damsel. I found the plot to be smart and seductive, full of deception and escapades, with a healthy dose of romance to round it all off. There was an underlying theme of the characters continually trying to break societal barriers in both small, and great ways.

If you are a fan of historical romances, this is a great one to pick up.

Book Review: The Virgin And The Rogue

cover-the virgin and the rogueTitle: The Virgin and the Rogue [The Rogue Files 6]

Author: Sophie Jordan

Genre: Historical Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

A love potion…
Charlotte Langley has always been the prudent middle sister, so her family is not surprised when she makes the safe choice and agrees to wed her childhood sweetheart. But when she finds herself under the weather and drinks a “healing” tonic, the potion provokes the most maddening desire… for someone other than her betrothed.

With the power…
Kingston’s rakehell ways are going to destroy him, and he’s vowed to change. His stepbrother’s remote estate is just the place for a reformed rogue to hide. The last thing he wants is to be surrounded by society, but when he gets stuck alone with a wallflower who is already betrothed… and she astonishes him with a fiery kiss, he forgets all about hiding.

To alter two destinies.
Although Charlotte appears meek, Kingston soon discovers there’s a vixen inside, yearning to break free. Unable to forget their illicit moment of passion, Kingston vows to relive the encounter, but Charlotte has sworn it will never happen again—no matter how earth-shattering it was. But will a devilish rogue tempt her to risk everything for a chance at true love?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I absolutely loved this book. It isn’t often that you come across a historical romance where the heroine is the quiet, rather dull sibling. This book managed to flesh out such a character and turn her into a character worth taking note of. The romance between Samuel and Charlotte was sizzling without being raunchy and convinced me that the two characters, as different as they were, belonged together.

If you enjoy historical romances and you’re looking for a slightly different take on the usual fare, I’d certainly recommend giving this one a try.

Book Review: Nothing Compares To The Duke

cover-nothing compares to the dukeTitle: Nothing Compares To The Duke [The Duke’s Den 3]

Author: Christy Carlyle

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

His Only Regret…
Rhys Forester, the new Duke of Claremont, lives his life by four words: Enjoy All, Regret Nothing. He’s devoted to the pleasure of his wild soirees, reckless behavior, and shocking the ton with his interests in trade. The debts that come with his title don’t fit the carefree lifestyle he’s created, and when he’s forced to return to his family’s estate, he’s also forced to confront his one and only regret: the beautiful girl he left behind.

May Be Falling in Love…
Arabella Prescott has been the belle of more balls than she cares to remember. After three seasons and five rejected proposals, she’s done with the marriage mart. Bella’s hopes to live a comfortable life, alone, come crashing down when her parents demand she marry. But her salvation may come in the form of the man she hates the most.

Bella has never forgiven Rhys for what he did to her, but desperate times call for fake engagements. With a few dozen rules, their scheme begins, but it’s not long before the former enemies find themselves breaking every single rule, including the most important of them all: don’t fall in love…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Nothing Compares To the Duke by Christy Carlyle is not your usual historical romance. The heroine is extraordinarily clever, determined, and hard-headed, and the hero is a bit of a lost soul. Had the two never been childhood friends, this story may have gone an entirely different way, but there was something sweet about how close they were, despite being very different people.

The book overall was well-written and well-paced. The characters had depth, and there were just enough hijinks to keep things going. My only real qualm with the story was the last chapter before the epilogue. There was something off about it – perhaps the desperation of the hero in the way he momentarily returned to his old ways… it just didn’t sit quite right with me.

That aside, the rest of the book was fantastic, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who loves historical romances.

Book Review: About A Rogue

cover-about a rogueTitle: About A Rogue [Desperately Seeking Duke 1]

Author: Caroline Linden

Genre: Historical Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

It’s no love match…
Bianca Tate is horrified when her sister Cathy is obliged to accept an offer of marriage from Maximilian St. James, notorious rake. Defiantly she helps Cathy elope with her true love, and takes her sister’s place at the altar.

It’s not even the match that was made…
Perched on the lowest branch of his family tree, Max has relied on charm and cunning to survive. But an unexpected stroke of luck gives him an outside chance at a dukedom—and which Tate sister he weds hardly seems to matter.

But could it be the perfect match?
Married or not, Bianca is determined to protect her family’s prosperous ceramics business, even when Max shows an affinity for it—not to mention a dangerous ability to intrigue and tempt Bianca herself. And when Max realizes how beautiful and intelligent and desirable Bianca is, he’ll have to prove he’s no rogue, but the passionately devoted husband she craves…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I loved About A Rogue by Caroline Linden, this was a new author for me, and I dare say, now one of my favorites. The book was exceedingly well-written and well-paced. The characters had depth, the romance was both achingly sweet, turbulent at times, and sinfully spicy. It was nice to have a male lead that was a bit of a rake without being a jerk, and a female lead that though from a small country town wasn’t necessarily a simpering, naïve maiden. Bianca was fiery and strong-willed, and willing to admit her mistakes. I loved them both.
 
If you are looking for a strong historical romance to sink into, I highly recommend this one.

Book Review: Chakana

cover-chakanaTitle: Chakana

Author: W.E. Lawrence

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 1 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

Can a romance save the world? Maybe this one could. Chakana is a historical romance novel filled with action, adventure, suspense, and intrigue.
In 1939, before the start of World War II, James Fleming, the original British secret agent, races on a high-stakes chase to track down the ancient lost treasure of King Huascar of the Incas. He must recover it before the Nazis do or the whole world will be in imminent danger.

But this is no ordinary treasure hunt. The Incas have proven their cunning and intellect in not only how they hid their treasure, but how they protected it. Fleming joins forces in the remote ruins of Peru, South America with Kate Rhodes, a policewoman on leave from the United States, her archaeologist brother, Nick, and their college professor, Dr. Charlie. Together, they must decode, interpret the clues, and face the challenges of the Chakana on their hunt for the treasure.

If this wasn’t difficult enough, the group is hounded throughout their search of the ancient Sacred Valley by international artifact smugglers, familiar with the Chakana and working with the Nazis, who are determined to acquire the treasure to help finance their war effort. Intrigue, danger, suspense, action, adventure, and even romance abound in this brave band’s quest to save the free world.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wanted to like this book – I really did, but I could not get into it. Though the characters were charming and the writing was clear and easy to read, I found it hard to push past the first few chapters.

The writing style was simple – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it bordered on the kind of writing you’d find in a middle-grade book. That’s not to say that it was juvenile, but it was so simplistic and lacking detail, that it threw the pace of the book off. Everything was happening incredibly quickly, and there wasn’t a lot to ground the story as far as atmosphere, dialogue, or detail went.

The way the action and character dialogue were written came across as staged and not quite real, and it made it hard to enjoy the story or feel any sort of tension even in the most dramatic moments. In the end, I just couldn’t sink into it like I wanted to. If you aren’t a heavy reader, and you’re looking for a simple, fast-paced read, this may fit you perfectly, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.