Book Review: The Raven’s Wish

cover-review-the raven's wishTitle: The Raven’s Wish [Scottish Clans 3]

Author: Susan King

Genre: Romance, Historical

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

When Elspeth Fraser, a beautiful Highland seer, has a sudden vision of a handsome stranger’s death, she is stunned to see that same man ride into her life soon after. Duncan Macrae is not only the queen’s lawyer–he has been sent north to stop the feud between Elspeth’s wild Highland cousins and a neighboring clan. Determined to send him away to save his life, Elspeth soon resists a strong attraction to the queen’s handsome, mysterious lawyer. Duncan ignores her warnings, intent on finishing his mission for the queen, yet he never expects to feel such passion for this stormy, vibrant Highland lass. When a dangerous enemy threatens all they hold dear, they must face their shared destiny–for if the prediction holds true, they will lose all… including the powerful love that could save them both.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I enjoyed The Raven’s Wish by Susan King, though not for the reasons I enjoy most formulaic historical romances.

Technically speaking, the book was exceedingly well written. Though there were a handful of small typos, including missing spaces, missing words, and a mistake in tense, most of them were small and easily navigated around. I never felt bogged down or confused with what I was reading—they were only small hiccups. The pace, though slow at times due to the language the characters were forced to use (historical books often have flowery, drawn out language), most of the time I didn’t mind. I enjoyed the beautiful and often clever descriptions in the narrative. The only time it became a problem was during the sex scenes, where the flowery language and vague language sucked the steam right out of the bedroom and seemed to make the sex drag on for ages. It was pretty—but didn’t convey the amount of lust/steam I was expecting. Most of the time, I opted to skim over the sex scenes.

The characters themselves were a delight—I loved Elspeth and Duncan, both as individual people and as a couple, though Elspeth was definitely my favorite of the two. I love characters with a spark of stubborn defiance and joy in them. That isn’t to say that the characters were perfect, however. Other than Elspeth and Duncan, the characters honestly didn’t seem that fleshed out. Despite having 80 or so ‘cousins’, a lot of time wasn’t spent on the other characters in the book outside the main character, and most of them could have been used interchangeably. I wish they had been more complex, that there had been more depth… but I also recognize that this is a romance book, and it’s pretty par for the course to keep the focus on the main couple (as it should be), and that often means that the minor characters aren’t as well fleshed out.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. For a romance, it was better written for most—the language and the descriptions were beautiful, but again, it was a formulaic romance. The book didn’t break any molds, and it was fairly predictable. Still, I liked it, and I’m glad to have read it. If you’re looking for a strong, well written historical romance full of beautiful descriptions and fun characters, I’d suggest you give this a try. If you aren’t a fan of formulaic romance with happy endings, this may not be for you.

Book Review: Love Beyond Hope

cover-review-love beyond hopeTitle: Love Beyond Hope [Morna’s Legacy 3]

Author: Bethany Claire

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Time Travel, Historical

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Baodan McMillan values many things in life: friendship, loyalty, kindness, but certainly not love. After the tragic death of his wife many years ago, he hardened himself to the idea of giving his heart to another. There is but one lass who can thaw his chilly heart, a lass he’s never met nor knows of, a lass whose birth won’t occur until centuries after his death…

Mitsy Fredrickson is in serious need of a distraction. With the ink still drying on her divorce papers, she flies to Scotland determined to forget about her own problems by helping her best friend re-enter reality. She knows Bri’s claims that she is able to travel back in time and is currently living in the year 1647 are a lie but, instead of locating her friend, Mitsy falls prey to the same magic and is quickly forced to believe the impossible.

Modern and sassy, Mitsy finds few who know how to take her fiery personality in the seventeenth century, but she finds her match in Baodan, laird of McMillan Castle. He is her opposite in every way, yet she feels balanced in his presence. The more time she spends with him, the harder she falls. She suspects he feels the same way, but something is holding him back — a dark secret from his past that even Baodan doesn’t fully understand. Mitsy works to uncover what is hidden in the hopes that with resolution Baodan will be free to love her. But the truth is darker than she expects, and it threatens to destroy them both.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I adored this book—much more so than the second in the series. Mitsy was one hell of an intelligent, spitfire of a heroine, and I loved every moment spent with her.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. Other than one misused word (Shuttered should not be the equivalent of Shuddered), the writing was practically flawless. I didn’t run into any typos, awkward sentences, incorrect grammar, or improper punctuation. The writing was clear and fluid and moved at a good pace. I was sucked into the story from the very beginning and didn’t stop until the book was over.

I felt the characters were well characterized, and I especially loved Mitsy, Baodan, and E-o (it’s okay Mitsy, I can’t pronounce or spell his name either). Though Niall was a little too black-hat for my tastes (what I wouldn’t give for a cleverly characterized villain who is neither good nor evil, but a delightful shade of gray), he served his purpose… though I still don’t entirely understand what his motives were.

My only true complaint, once again, is that the romance moved a little too quickly for me to be comfortable. I understand that Mitsy and Baodan fell in lust at first sight. The guy was hot, and she was a quirky redhead. Who wouldn’t love her? But, in what seemed like a few short days, they were ready to tie the knot. There was never any tension between them, no obstacles in their way to drive them together or apart as the book wore on. Their relationship was easy, and never in question. I only wish there’d been more drama between them.

I like the series so far, but I will admit that it seems to be a running theme that the characters all get pretty easy happily ever after’s. For whatever reason, the complications thrown in their way are almost always solved almost before they even cause a problem for the characters, and just about every character is suddenly falling madly in love despite years of not being interested. It doesn’t ring as genuine.  For hardcore romance readers who enjoy formulaic romance, this isn’t going to be a problem… but if you’re more of a fantasy reader who enjoys romance as a subplot, you may find it a little hard to believe—as I do.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I’d recommend it for someone looking for a heartwarming romance with a sassy heroine.

Book Review: Love Beyond Time

review-cover-love beyond timeTitle: Love Beyond Time [Morna’s Legacy 1]

Author: Bethany Claire

Genre: Fantasy, Time Travel, Romance, Historical

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

It began nearly four hundred years ago. The Conall clan and all their people were murdered in a surprise attack, their beloved castle and all evidence of who destroyed them burned to the ground with their bodies. In the centuries following, archaeologists searched through the ruins looking for any evidence of what or who had caused the untimely demise of such a powerful Scottish clan. All efforts were fruitless, until a spell put in place by an ancient Conall ancestor finally began to work its magic…

Texas kindergarten teacher, Brielle Montgomery, finds comfort in the mundane routines of her life, but when her archaeologist mother asks her to accompany her on a dig in Scotland, she decides to step out of her comfort zone. Once in Scotland, they discover a secret spell room below the castle ruins, and Bri finds herself transported back in time and suddenly married to the castle’s ill-fated Laird. Now, she must work to change the fate of his people, all while trying to find a way to return to her home and century. But with each passing day, Bri finds herself falling more deeply in love with her new husband. If she can find a spell to bring her home, will she use it? And if she stays, will it ultimately mean her own death as well?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I enjoyed Love Beyond Time by Bethany Claire. Having never read this particular author’s work before, I was curious to pick up the first book in the Morna’s Legacy series to see what all the fuss was about—and I wasn’t disappointed.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. I didn’t stumble across any misspelled words, awkward sentences, incorrect punctuation or grammatical errors. The pace was a bit fast for my liking, but not egregiously so, and I found myself easily slipping into the story from the beginning. The writing was engaging and clean and read like a polished Harlequin romance… for better or worse.

I liked the characters, especially poor Brielle (love her name), who found herself sucked into the past and did her best to make an impossible situation as pleasant as possible—even if she had to delude herself a little to accomplish the feat. However, I’ll admit that there was a certain lack of depth to some of the characters that left me with some doubts.

To be clear, I really enjoyed the book, but it wasn’t without it’s problems. The book was almost a little too formulaic. There was a certain lack of complexity to the characters, a lack of grittiness to the world Brielle was thrust into that made it seem as if things were perhaps going a little too easily for the heroine. Situations arose where the solutions just seemed to pop up on their own before things got too tense, and after awhile, I felt that it sucked some of the interest out of the story for me. The quick pace of the writing contributed to the problem, making it seem as if maybe some of the world building and character development had been left out in lieu of moving the story along as quickly as possible. It wasn’t bad… but I think it could have been better.

Overall, I liked the story, the characters, the plot, even the writing. Was it the best I’ve read? No. I wish there had been a little more to it… but it’s still a good book, and I’m glad to have read it. I think people who read typical formulaic Harlequin-esque romance literature will appreciate the story a lot more than the typical fantasy reader, but I’d urge you to give it a try if you like time travel romances.