Scandal of the Season by Liana LeFey – a Review

Scandal of the Season by Liana LeFey – a Review

 

Scandal of the SeasonAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Description:
Five years ago, Lord Sorin Latham fled England’s shores to avoid heartbreak and scandal in the form of one Lady Eleanor Cramley. On returning home, he finds the young miss he used to scold for lack of decorum is now a stunning woman who fires his blood. But he must resist temptation or risk losing his honor as a gentleman and the friendship of those he holds dear, including Eleanor.

Lady Eleanor is determined to be the paragon of propriety Sorin urged her to become. But now that he’s back, the man she once thought of as an older brother makes her long to be anything but proper. She must make Sorin see her as worthy of his heart and his desire without losing his good opinion, or her Season will end in disgrace.

 

Review:

Do as I say, not as I do? No, not quite that…I expected you to listen, but not to change? An impossible request to be sure. Somewhere between both expressions hovers the end result of Sorin’s hopes for up and coming Eleanor. Could her London debut have provoked Sorin’s feelings…and prompted his hasty retreat? It may have been wiser to allow the young cousin (and ward of his dear friend), to explore the grandeur of the peerage, since five years later, and both still unwed. Has fate stepped out of the shadows to illuminate a path to HEA? Liana LeFey shares such a story in Scandal of the Season.

But Sorin stumbles…

“She grew up with me lecturing her on comportment, correcting her every lapse, always urging her to better herself. She once told me I was worse than any governess. I’m not exactly a romantic figure in her mind.”

And stumbles some more. They’re more like indelicate comments that come across as chastising/heavy-handed to Eleanor, but bless his heart. Sorin realizes that this relationship might earn disapproval — he’s been the dutiful proxy alongside Eleanor’s upbringing. It won’t be an easy task for outsiders to overlook, her guardian cousin and Sorin’s best friend to condone, but of most importance: Eleanor’s heart to win.

Sorin’s angst is palpable, but Eleanor took contemplative to a new level while coming around to the idea of Sorin as a love interest. This introspection allows for thorough examination and consideration of feelings, but it felt practically interminable before the relationship took on an intimate angle.

“The sensation spread, until her whole body felt alive and awake as never before. How peculiar? Was this heightened self-awareness due to the fact that she now regarded him as the potential companion of her life? Had she considered another, would it have been the same?”

A friends-to-lovers story stymied by rumors and complicated relationship labels. I enjoyed the storytelling; there were even zealous saboteurs looking to discredit the fair Eleanor (who serendipitously riled up Sorin’s patience and courage), but I wished for a quicker pace. 74% into the book and I was begging for any sort of scandal to ensue! Heartfelt, swoon-worthy soliloquies (on both ends) needed to be revealed sooner than later, lest the other relinquish pursuit.

Liana LeFey wrote with a mastery of the language and culture of the Regency era. I was enchanted by the developing romance and enjoyed the influence and support of the background characters. While Scandal of the Season did not steam up my Kindle, it proudly boasts that “The truest love begins in friendship.”

Reviewed by Carmen

Copy provided by Publisher

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A Dangerous Seduction by Jillian Eaton – a Review

A Dangerous Seduction by Jillian Eaton – a Review

 

A Dangerous SeductionAmazon

Description:
A MURDER….

When Lady Scarlett Sherwood’s husband is killed in a riding accident that turns out to be no accident at all, she becomes the number one suspect in a murder investigation that takes the ton by storm. Her accuser? None other than the dark, ruthless Sir Owen Steel, Captain of the Bow Street Runners… and the only man Scarlett has ever loved.

A BETRAYAL…

Owen was just the poor son of a baker when Scarlett spurned him for a highborn lord. Now he is one of the most powerful men in England, but he never forgot the woman who left him humiliated and heartbroken. He always vowed he would make Scarlett pay for her treacherous betrayal, and what better way to seek revenge than to see her imprisoned for murder?

A DANGEROUS SEDUCTION…

But old passions are hard to ignore, and one kiss is all it takes for Owen and Scarlett’s sizzling chemistry to be reignited. Soon they find themselves swept up in an affair that could have dangerous consequences for them both. Because there is still a murderer on the loose, and he’s just found his next victim…

Scarlett.

 

Review:

The introduction was forward and flirtatious, unbecoming of such a well-bred lady, but was it ever so charming and tantalizing! Good for Lady Scarlett to engage, and commit, to securing the attention of Owen. Where was that spine, though, when she had to make a choice between her head and her heart? Seven years later, Owen returns to London to face Scarlett, to declare that…her husband is dead. As captain of the Bow Street Runners, Owen is charged with the heavy task, but damn if he’s not a tiny bit satisfied, even suspicious, about Scarlett’s role in the murder. Second chance romances get me every time and Jillian Eaton‘s A Dangerous Seduction, the first of her Bow Street Brides series, delivers well.

As the investigation unfolds, details reveal Scarlett’s loveless farce of a marriage. Given their failed past, perhaps Owen should have recused himself from the investigation if not based on the sheer amusement derived from Scarlett’s misery! I suppose it’s only natural to experience a degree of satisfaction to learn that the one who spurned you has suffered in your absence. I suppose that’s reasonable. Owen, however, arrived with a derisive chip on his shoulder; so determined to make Scarlett admit that she regretted her choice (and, oh yeah, committed murder). Again, this may fall within the realm of “How you like me now?”, but when Owen drops his barriers, and faces Scarlett’s truths, we discover Scarlett isn’t the only one holding back feelings this whole time. It was total denial, of course, but it allowed us to forgive Owen’s cruel exterior and hope for reconciliation.

It’s not a quick fix, if that’s what you’re expecting — where’s the fun in that? While technically “free” of her acrimonious marriage, an immense relief to be sure, Scarlett must don the pretense of grieving widow. How can she get close to Owen, explain that her rash decision, made as a child, was one of inexperience, not lack of love? Ms. Eaton uses opportune flashbacks to explain the fundamental inequity of wealth and opportunity between Owen and Scarlett. Choices break hearts, but fate finds a way to intervene.

What a fun read! I enjoyed the feisty banter between Owen and Scarlett. It was insolent and combative, but their fierce love for each other prevented irrevocable harm. *sighs* Something that nagged at me, an issue I hate to criticize since it’s not content, but I feel compelled to recommend an additional review of the manuscript. There were so many typos, it was distracting.  I’d love to catch those for you by way of an ARC ;). I’m shameless.  I just want your work to shine!

The prologue prepared us for the saucy sequel starring two secondary characters who experienced quite a moment. Sign me up now, please!

Reviewed by Carmen

Copy supplied for review

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Bedchamber Games by Tracy Anne Warren – Review & Interview

Bedchamber Games by Tracy Anne Warren – Review & Interview

 

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Description:
In this irresistible romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Happily Bedded Bliss, appearances can deceive, but the heart is not so easy to fool…
 
Rosamund Carrow has spent years learning the law by assisting her barrister father, despite the frustrating truth that the profession is closed to women. When he dies unexpectedly, necessity compels her to disguise herself as a man so she can step into the courtroom to finish his cases. She’s willing to put her reputation at risk, but she never expects that the greatest peril will be to her heart…
 
Lord Lawrence Byron is a rising star in London’s legal circles, despite his reputation as an unrepentant rakehell. When an upstart young barrister defeats him in court, he’s determined to discover everything he can about his rival. He’s stunned when he uncovers the shocking secret that his new opponent is actually a beguiling, brilliant woman…one he can’t help but want in his bed. Passion draws them together as they break all the rules, but it may lead to something more lasting—like love…

 

 

 

Review:

Diving back into The Rakes of Cavendish series by Tracy Anne Warren is a decadent delight! Bedchamber Games is the 3rd book and lamentable final installment. Never fear, there is much to love, and vicariously derive, from the exciting lives of Lawrence and Rosamund. This is a re-imagined Mulan. An intelligent woman with an affinity for law, but disallowed to practice as a barrister (thanks, 19th century England), disguises herself as a man to bring her late father’s cases to conclusion. When opposing counsel, the very handsome Lawrence, discovers Rosamund’s deceit, does he oust her or does he collude, allowing alternate forms of compensation for his silence?

“For now that he knew Ross Carrow was a woman, he had to decide how to proceed.  After all, there was a fraud at large, one who was most definitely in need of unmasking.”

The facade is going well, Rosamund adheres to the style and demeanor of men, but at some point I was starting to wonder if Lawrence wasn’t harboring some latent homosexual tendencies; so entranced was he by the developing friendship, his desire to engage with this intriguing fellow so frequently. Please take no umbrage to my suspicions because Lawrence’s reaction to Rosamund’s reveal was all male (if not a bit of relief, lol!)

Was it “misguided hubris” that was Rosamund’s ultimate demise? Or was it Lawrence’s keen eye, and heart, that forced an end to the charade. Whatever the case may be, Ms. Warren detailed a swoon-worthy, albeit clandestine, courting. Rosamund continued to fool the public and to remain aloof in Lawrence’s company, but it only served to heighten the anticipation; allowing them luxurious passion in the time they secured away from prying eyes. But it’s not without some much needed agony to earn its HEA. It’ll stop your heart, bring forth tears, and make you appreciate it all the more. Great writing runs the gamut of emotions.

As a highly satisfied reader, games in all sorts of chambers are welcomed when Ms. Warren is at the helm. I am concerned, however, that at 100% completion of my ARC, my screen read “Teaser TK 8 pages”. I’m desperate to find out if this was reference to an epilogue? Ms. Warren, if you would be so kind as to illuminate this fan? 😉

Reviewed by Carmen

Copy provided by Publisher

 

 

Interview-Gold

TRC: Hi Tracy.  Welcome back to The Reading Café.  

Tracy:  Thanks! It’s great being back at The Reading Café. I always enjoy having the chance to talk to readers and I’m excited to discuss my newest book, Bedchamber Games.

TRC: Bedchamber Games was recently released, which is the 3rd book in your The Rakes of Cavendish Square series. For those of who have not read this series, can you please tell us the premise of Rakes of Cavendish Square?

Tracy:  The books in the series are linked by way of the heroes – each with a well-earned reputation as a rake – who happen to live on the same street, Cavendish Square. In the three novels, readers get to enjoy seeing how each of these unrepentant rakes meets his match – and the love of his life. The stories also tell how the last three Byron siblings – Leo, Lawrence and Esme – from the Byrons of Braebourne series find their happily-ever-afters.

Bedchamber GamesTRC: Can you please give us a brief description of Bedchamber Games?

Tracy:  Rosamund Carrow knows the law as well as any man, but she can’t use her knowledge or skills in the courtroom due to her gender – until her brother convinces her to disguise herself as a man in order to save their family’s reputation and livelihood. Lord Lawrence Byron enjoys a brilliant career as a barrister. He never loses in court – until he argues a case against a new barrister, Ross Carrow. Determined to learn all he can about the man who bested him, he never imagines that this talented and intriguing legal mind actually belongs to a woman, who is as captivating as she is clever. Soon the professional respect Rosamund and Lawrence feel for each other turns to something far more intimate and personal.

TRC: How many books do you have planned for this series?

Tracy:  The three books now in print – The Bedding Proposal, Happily Bedded Bliss and Bedchamber Games – complete The Rakes of Cavendish Squares series. They also complete the Byrons of Braebourne arc, which includes eight novels and one short story.

TRC: What challenges do you face with switching between Contemporary and Regency romances?

Tracy:  When I first wrote my Graysons series contemporaries – The Last Man on Earth, The Man Plan and Mad About the Man – I didn’t think I would have to do as much research as I usually do for a successful historical. I was mistaken. Careful research is just as necessary for contemporary novels as it is for historical. One of the challenges of writing historical romance is that no one living today can really know what life was truly like during the period being depicted – in my case the English Regency. So, as an author, I research the life and times of the period in order to create, what I hope is, a believable Regency world. The challenge of a contemporary romance is that everyone living today knows what modern life is like. Yet everyone’s life is not the same; so, as an author, I have to research the nuances of current times in order to develop unique – and believable – contemporary characters.

Another challenge is the language used in each subgenre. I have to watch to make sure my historical lexicon and Regency era voice don’t creep into my contemporaries and vice versa. American set contemporaries need to sound modern and American with modern slang and dialects, not British and turn-of-the-nineteenth-century. Both subgenres have their own challenges; there’s ‘no free lunch’ when writing either.

TRC: Can you please tell us what you working on now, and what you have upcoming in 2017?

Tracy:  Currently, I’m between contracts, so Bedchamber Games will be my only published novel for 2017. I’ll let my readers know what’s next as soon as I know.

TRC: How long does it usually take you to write a book from start to finish?  Are there different types of stories that take you longer to write?

Tracy:  My goal is to write a full-length Regency novel in six months with additional time for any rewrites requested by my editor, copy edits and reading the final proof. My novels never seem to take less time; however, a story may take longer, if there’s an unusual amount of research necessary. This was the case with Bedchamber Games. I spent many more hours than usual learning about the English legal system in the Regency period in preparation for writing Lawrence and Rosamund’s story.

TRC: What is your favorite place and time to write?

Tracy:  I have an office, which is where I do my writing. I prefer writing later in the day and generally work until 10 o’clock in the evening and sometimes later.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Tracy:  It’s been lots of fun having the chance to chat with you and all the book lovers at The Reading Café. I hope your readers enjoy Bedchamber Games, the last of the Byrons of Braebourne and Rakes of Cavendish Square novels. I’ve loved writing about the Byron family; they are very near and dear to my heart. As for the future, I’m looking forward to starting a new series soon, one I hope my readers will also enjoy!

TRC: Thank you Tracy for giving us an update on the Rakes of Cavendish Square. It was a pleasure having you visit us again. We wish you the best of luck with Bedchamber Games.

Tracy:  It’s been my pleasure, too. Thank you for inviting me to join you. I look forward to chatting with you again sometime soon!

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The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel – a Review

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel – a Review

 

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Description:
“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.”
 
After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.
 
Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.
 
As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

Review:

Did you wake up screaming?…Was it a nightmare?”

 “Did you wake up screaming? Was it a nightmare?”
 I shook my head, confused and a little scared.  “No.”
“Then it was nothing like that.”

Nightmares are the least of concerns; losing sleep a luxury in comparison to the knowledge, and experience, of surviving in the house Roanoke built.  Amy Engel crafts a book equal parts compelling and disturbing.  The Roanoke Girls details a family dynamic, a cycle of abuse without limit or censure, until one resolves to face the demons and expose the plague.  This story is cringe-worthy, but so artfully written, you’ll feel its haunting beauty.   

“My head knows this place is no good for me, but my stupid, traitorous heart sings HOME.

Lane Roanoke is going back home to Kansas.  Only, you’re not supposed to go home again, right?  Or does Oz always welcome you back?  Trust me when I say Roanoke is light years away from fantasy.  When Lane’s cousin, Allegra, goes missing, Granddad summons Lane home.  Ten years ago, Lane ran away from Roanoke, vowing to stay away from her cryptic family.  But guilt, its “dirty fingers under [her] skin” have forced Lane to return.  Only Allegra could revive Lane enough to revisit this hell.  Allegra, the rebellious, reckless, spirited cousin whose mysterious disappearance reopens wounds and shines a light on silent, insidious corruption.

Don’t think me dramatic, but I don’t think I can say much more.  Amy Engel parses out pivotal memories that stem from a malignant root, but the identity isn’t the most startling.  To quote Ms. Engel, “it’s the WHY of it” that brings the story to full culmination. You will hear varying degrees of blame, tainted versions every one, but “life picks away at all of us, backs us into corners we never anticipated.  Turns us into people we never thought we’d become.”  A riveting story of innocence lost.

The Roanoke Girls were born into an underbelly of family taboo cloaked in dark seduction and heartbreaking complacency.  Amy Engel weaves in light and hope in the most desperate of times.  I told her The Roanoke Girls was memorable, but now I can honestly add recommendable.  

Reviewed by Carmen

Copy provided by Publisher

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Secret Stalker by Lena Diaz – a Review

Secret Stalker by Lena Diaz – a Review

 

Secret STalkerAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Description:
A SWAT officer must protect the woman who broke his heart 

Years ago, detective and part-time SWAT officer Max Remington proposed to the woman he loved. Her response? To flee town—and Max’s life—under a cloud of suspicion. Folks said Bexley Kane killed the man “allegedly” stalking her and got away with murder. Now Bex is back in Destiny, Tennessee, but their tense reunion is cut short when bullets start flying, and this time, they’re aimed at her. As Max fights to keep Bex safe, he’s also fighting to protect his heart. Can they unravel the secrets of the past in time to save each other? Or will Bex’s final secret destroy them both?

 

Review:

How many times have we attempted to do the right thing only to still cause heartache or grief, regardless of the best intentions? Too many to count – me, too. But when love is on the line, doesn’t it behoove you to listen to your heart, since it’s the one in need of healing? Max and Bex are flung into a hostile situation, which they handle admirably, but their 10 year separation reopens gaping wounds and wreaks havoc anew.

Bex was supposed to go unnoticed in Destiny, settle her mom’s estate and escape unscathed, but small towns have the uncanny ability of drawing attention to one of their own. Max, detective and SWAT member, is just as crazed by Bex’s unexpected presence, but two attempted threats on her life demands his professionalism (and is more dangerous to her health) than facing their failed past. Secret Stalker is book 2 in Lena Diaz‘s Tennessee SWAT series. Max was the stud in the background of book 1 (Mountain Witness available here), so jumping into his story has been deliciously anticipated.

“It was as if the universe was against her, throwing obstacles in her path to keep her from leaving.”

As if threats upon her life aren’t escalating, the death of a high school classmate haunts Bex (and the town). Destiny is small-town charming, but it has a long, unforgiving memory and Bex being back home stirs up several troubling emotions in lots of complicated people.

Bex is being harassed and Max, as a detective, is following the case closely. Closer because of his prior relationship with Bex. While the investigation unfolded, obstruction of justice nagged at me. To quote the book’s synopsis, Bex flees town “under a cloud of suspicion”. It seems unlikely that a key figure would disappear without serious repercussions. Well, attempts on Bex’s life certainly qualify, don’t they? It’s collusion at worst then. Max is brave and aware of the larger legal picture; aware that connecting the dots is the only way to secure Bex’s complete exoneration. His heart and feelings for Bex blur the lines of job execution.

Second chance romance is one of my favorite tropes, the heartfelt pleading, even the thrill of the head-turning chase, but Max and Bex didn’t sizzle from the onset. Oh, their bodies reacted out of proximity and space (working together doesn’t diminish attraction), but this low simmer allowed Ms. Diaz to fully flesh out her characters and develop plotlines, so who’s really complaining? The steam gradually ensued and it was a perfect union.

The pacing of the story was a bit unusual this time around. Learning the details of Bex’s “silent stalker” so late into the story felt like the build-up of animosity came too late? I wanted to rail against this guy from the beginning! Alas, interesting twists enhanced the resolution. I was banking on one suspect, but Ms. Diaz veered and spun my theory into another. Really enjoyed the action-laden finale!

Lena Diaz continues to expand on her wonderful Tennessee SWAT series with Secret Stalker. Do not miss this or her next!

Review by Carmen

Copy supplied for review

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First Comes Desire by Tina Donahue – a Review

First Comes Desire by Tina Donahue – a Review

 

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Description:
On a lush, secluded island, one passionate adventure leads to another . . . . Diana Fletcher means business. The beautiful, innocent, reverend’s daughter has traveled all the way to a tropical island off Madagascar on a mission: To find her brother-and to punish the man who drove him to a life of piracy. But when she comes face to face with the enemy in question, the handsome, powerfully seductive man is not at all what Diana expected . . . . Tristan Kent never intended to harm Diana’s brother. A man of humble origins, Tristan claims he tried to save him from another ruthless captain. Diana is desperate to believe he is telling the truth . . . and that the intoxicating desire that escalates between them is true as well. But can she trust him? Or is Tristan’s story-and his heart-nothing more than fool’s gold? Amid the haze of sensual delights and soaring ecstasy Tristan has in store for her, all will be revealed . . .


Review:

Can we just take a moment to pause and appreciate the book cover? That’s Tristan the pirate. He will invade your heart, and make demands of it, before the unconventional courtship even begins. *sighs* Diana, a proper English woman, sets off to rescue her young brother who was kidnapped by Tristan and his band of unruly heathens. Or so she thinks. First impressions are unflattering, but dubious, until you unearth its heart. The layers of Tina Donohue‘s book undoubtedly declare: First Comes Desire is the path to love.

In no uncertain terms, Tristan makes his intentions known and Diana is not immune to his charms. I found him brazen and off putting initially, but there was never any artifice behind Tristan: He would plunder. Once the story unfolded, however, Tristan merely wanted Diana to look beyond skin deep; to discover what he wanted to give so freely. Oh, there was plenty of desire. Tristan awakened Diana’s sensual self and her lust was as healthy as his. The matter of love, a far more perplexing emotion than desire, shook Tristan to the core. I’m not comparing Tristan to Christian Grey, but there are parallels of the swoon-worthy variety and I was quickly on Team Pirate!

I got so wrapped up in the development of the relationship, Tristan’s approach while possessive was undeniably appealing, I must inform you of a rancorous former lover hell-bent on vindication, a shipload of disgruntled pirates on Tristan and Diana’s tail, a young brother trying to spread his wings, and a heartwarming, unforgettable path to love. It all goes back to love, doesn’t it? If you’re lucky. 😉

“Women were not meant to yield. Women could yield. They might even enjoy doing so, but only with the right man. One they desired. First came desire. Respect and love followed.”

Ms. Donahue marries erotica with character evolution quite deftly. Compelling even. It’s pretty easy to love Tristan and forgive his domineering nature, but when trust and devotion are cherished, there is joy in surrender. First Comes Desire, the first book in the Pirate’s Prize series was unforgettable. I look forward to more.

Reviewed by Carmen

Copy supplied for review

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Mountain Witness by Lena Diaz – a Review

Mountain Witness by Lena Diaz – a Review

 

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Description:
A woman in hiding and a man on a mission in the Smoky Mountains

Detective Chris Downing doesn’t know much about his neighbor. In the rural town of Destiny, Tennessee, Julie Webb lives a life of seclusion, rarely even offering a smile or wave. Only when Chris hears her frantic screams one night does he gain a glimpse into the life of a woman in hiding, and in saving her life, he is forced to kill her attacker. But Julie’s troubles are only beginning to unravel. When Chris learns the identity of Julie’s attacker, questions of trust are raised and suspicions run high. Together they will uncover the motives of a killerand the undeniable attraction between them.

 

Review:

Death comes to us all, but by means of murder? That’s sure to keep Julie’s guard up, fend off anyone remotely interested. “Too bad the good manners his mama had instilled in him…wouldn’t allow him to ignore her the way she ignored him.” A blessing, turns out, to live in such proximity to Detective Chris Downing. But wild thoughts invade and derail the promise of the hot, new neighbor: “That maybe Julie Webb knew she was moving next door to a cop all along. That she had planned this whole thing from beginning to end. *(In italics, please – this last line)* That she’d just used Chris as a weapon to commit murder.” Things just got very interesting in Destiny. Mountain Witness is book one in Lena Diaz‘s awesome, new series, Tennessee SWAT. It is a fast-paced, why-is-someone-hell-bent-on-killing-me story packed with intensity and swoons!

Poor Julie can’t catch a break. It’s bad enough that Julie’s marriage hit a downward spiral, but when this attack notifies the assistant district attorney, we soon discover a pending investigation from Nashville is going to reach the small town of Destiny. And here she thought she’d get away from the past; trouble seemingly follows Julie. Will Chris’s theories condemn Julie or exonerate her once and for all? Because, seriously: blaming the victim? Definitely an obstacle to hurdle with the emerging attraction.

Piecing together clues is bittersweet work for Chris because he’s good at his job; it’s gratifying to explain intentions. But, it’s the nefarious nature of the crime, of the plot, to harm Julie, that interferes with the lines of professionalism.

“There was zero doubt now that more than one person was after her, trying to kill her. Whatever was going on was bigger than a soon to be ex-husband wanting to settle the score.”

Revealing privileged information while protecting the victim is delicate business. Chris’s growing feelings for Julie keep him ever vigilant and committed to nabbing the culprit, but maintaining that balance will win you over for sure! Chris is fiercely loyal and determined to make Julie feel safe again. Let me take a moment to pause in deference to Chris’s fellow SWAT officers. Lena Diaz developed camaraderie and unflinching support within each character. Yeeessss…here’s hoping Max’s story is up next!

I loved this book. You never know what you’re made of until your mettle is challenged and I saw wonderful growth and courage in Chris and Julie. They faced tremendous odds in fearsome situations, but they never undermined each other or succumbed to the evil dogging their steps. I did feel as if the end was fast approaching without resolution and I wondered if we’d be straining toward another chapter in the unfolding disaster. I was more than thrilled with its ultimate conclusion, but wished some of the aftermath hadn’t wrapped up so curiously. I’m betting Intrigue’s page count didn’t allow for full exploration. Trust me that Ms. Diaz doesn’t skimp on the feels!

Destiny might be a small town, but its effect on Chris and Julie is transformative. Another fabulous read by Lena Diaz to be sure!

Reviewed by Carmen

Copy supplied for review

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His Lordship’s Wild Highland Bride by Kathleen Bittner Roth – a Review

His Lordship’s Wild Highland Bride by Kathleen Bittner Roth – a Review

 

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Description:
A match made for mayhem.

“I’ve no intention of mating with this poor excuse of a man,” Lainie MacGregor declares after reciting her wedding vows. But it’s too late. Far from her beloved Highlands, her fate is sealed.

Ridley Malvern, Lord Caulfield, desperate for her dowry, agrees to marry a wealthy Scot’s daughter sight unseen. He is unaware his tantalizing bride is running from the law. Despite their sizzling attraction, all Lainie desires is to return to her clan. Attempting to make things right, Caulfield takes his wife back to the Highlands only to discover why her father sought the marriage—Lainie is wanted for murder. For her safekeeping, they must remain in England. Now Ridley needs to win her affections and prove that a wild Highland lass and an English lord, can find a love match, after all.

 

 

Review:

“I bloody well hate leaving ye here, lass, but ’tis a far better thing I do than taking ye back to Scotland. I’d only be seeing ye hang fer murder.”

Grounds for an annulment, you think? We learn early on that Lord Caulfield’s bride, Lainie, is wanted for murder in Scotland.

Author, Kathleen Bittner Roth, parses out tantalizing deflections to keep the reader in suspense and, some time, I presume, to make the groom fall so head over heels in love with the lass, he’d couldn’t imagine living without her. His Lordship’s Wild Highland Bride was an absolute delight!

It’s what Ridley deserves, we suppose. To cure his economic hardship, he agrees to a blind betrothal…attached to a generous dowry. That Lainie turns out to be a hellion, a “shrew” who prefers the company of her four walls or to be in self-appointed isolation rather than suffer Ridley’s presence is the mess, and mockery, he’s made of marriage. Just wait until she challenges him at every turn.

The story develops into a give and take between partners, and it was so lovely. Lainie and Ridley cannot fathom any commonalities between them, an English and a Scot are innately contentious, but our H/H are spark and fire blazing. In this unconventional, but true, courtship, a bond emerges from reading. Ridley reads to Lainie by firelight and it’s endearing as well as meaningful. That he reads her own countryman’s words is no coincidence — there are exterior forces, fantastic secondary characters, stoking the fire; hoping love will find its way into their hearts.

Before you know it, Lainie and Ridley deepen their relationship. They’re trying to make a real go of their marriage, but such intense, sudden feelings rarely go unchecked. Ms. Bittner Roth touches on all the intimacy and intricacy of love. Aside from Lainie’s murder accusation (who could ever forget that?!) and demons plaguing Ridley, the simple, but perilous trips of the heart can render one mad. I enjoyed the second-guessing and consideration of falling in love too quickly. A usual consequence due to poor eavesdropping, lol. The assumptions can be soul-wrenching…or life-affirming. You’ll want to experience the highs and lows of Lainie and Ridley.

To my surprise, His Lordship’s Wild Highland Bride is book 3 of a series called Those Magnificent Malverns. To my utter delight, I get to read the first two and be ready in time for book 4. Hamish is too enticing to stay in the background! I’m ready when you are.

Reviewed by Carmen

Copy provided by Publisher

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