McCabe: Seduction of a Highland Lass

Seduction of a Highland Lass

Seduction of a Highland Lass

Fiercely loyal to his older brother, Alaric McCabe leads his clan in the fight for their birthright. Now, he is prepared to wed for duty, as well. But on his way to claim the hand of Rionna McDonald, daughter of a neighboring chieftain, he is ambushed and left for dead. Miraculously, his life is saved by the soft touch of a Highland angel, a courageous beauty who will put his fealty to his clan, his honor, and his deepest desires, to the test.

An outcast from her own clan, Keely McDonald was betrayed by those she loved and trusted. When the wounded warrior falls from his horse, she is drawn to his strong, lean body. The wicked glint in his green eyes ignites a passion that will follow them back to Alaric’s keep, where their forbidden love draws them deeper into the pleasures of the flesh. But as conspiracy and danger circle closer, Alaric must make an impossible choice. Will he betray his blood ties for the woman he loves?

I have to admit, this series has come as something of a surprise. I looked at the cover and I read the blurb–for this book and In Bed with a Highlander–and was a little hesitant. As you know, I loved In Bed with a Highlander. But it’s been a while so I once again found myself judging a book by its cover. And once again, I was completely blown away.

Alaric is the middle McCabe brother. He’s not as serious as Ewan and not as grouchy and brooding as Caelen. He’s the nice brother. This isn’t to say that he’s any kind of slouch in the sexy badass department. His loyal to his family and his clan is absolute. There is nothing he values more in his life. Which is why, when Laird McDonald put forth the idea of uniting the McCabes and McDonalds through marriage, Alaric stepped up and offered to marry Rionna McDonald. He’s not totally enamoured with Rionna, but… she’ll do. Marrying her will also give Alaric the opportunity to be laird of his own keep, something that will be impossible if he stays with his family. In all, not a bad way for his life to go. But as it turns out, things don’t go exactly to plan. In fact, they go horribly awry with Alaric and his men being attacked in the dead of night. All of his men are killed and Alaric is gravely injured. He hops on his horse in the hopes of getting to safety as soon as possible.

Enter Keely. Keely’s been living on her own for years after being kicked out of her clan. She doesn’t get many visitors aside from those who seek her out for her healing skills. So you can imagine her surprise at seeing this huge ass horse riding up to her cottage and an unconscious man dropping to her feet. Keely’s a little uncertain. Which is smart given that she has no idea who Alaric is or where the hell he came from. But she can’t in good conscience leave him there so she manages to drag him into her cottage and nurses him back to health. Everything goes along swimmingly until the McCabes come to reclaim Alaric and insist on her accompanying them back to their keep. This is where Keely and Alaric are drawn deeper into their attraction to one another. Things are especially difficult for Keely once she realises that not only is he betrothed to another, but that this woman–Rionna– was once her best friend.

I enjoyed this book so very much. Keely and Alaric were wonderful characters. I especially enjoyed Keely. That girl had steel in her spine. She managed to survive after being kicked out of her home for something she didn’t do, she manages to heal the people who come to her for help and, especially impressive, she manages to hold her own with the McCabes. Despite knowing that the guy she loved was going to marry another, Keely had so much dignity. Alaric was… surprisingly sexy. I wasn’t too sure about him from the previous book. It’s not that I didn’t like him, I just wasn’t paying him very much attention. Trust me, all that changed pretty quick; it involved some sexy time featuring some light bondage. It may or may not feature for this week’s Holy Wow Wednesday…

I definitely recommend giving this book a try. Please, I know the blurb and cover are misleading, but this series is so definitely worth your time. You can get it over at Kobo, nice and cheap ūüėČ ¬†¬†¬†

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Scandalous Brides: A Beginner’s Guide to Rakes

A Beginner's Guide to Rakes

A Beginner’s Guide to Rakes

A Risque Business

All of London is abuzz with the return of the utterly alluring, recently widowed Diane Benchley. Will she remarry? What will she do with her late husband’s fortune? Society is shocked by her announcement-at the Grand Ball, of all places!-that she plans to open an exclusive gentleman’s gaming club in the family mansion. But no one is more stunned than the Marquis of Haybury, Oliver Warren.

An Indecent Proposal

Years ago, Oliver and Diane shared a private indiscretion. Now Diane threatens to reveal Oliver’s most ungentlemanly secrets… unless he agrees to help her. A notorious gambler-and rake-Oliver is overqualified to educate Diane in the ways and means of running her establishment. But striking a deal with Diane might just be the biggest risk Oliver has ever taken. This time, the only thing he has to lose is his heart…

A Beginner’s Guide to Rakes is the first book in the Scandalous Brides series, and it was nothing short of brilliant. Couple a sarcastic, smarty-pants heroine with a charming, bad boy hero and you have one hell of a story. Every once in a while, a book comes along that really¬†really¬†reminds me why I love to read. This was one of those books.

Our leads, Diane Benchley and Oliver Warren, have a past. And it is this past that has made the two somewhat… hostile towards one another. Diane’s late husband gambled away their fortune and left them destitute. Then the bastard went and died, leaving her in the lurch. Oliver bailing on her was the final straw, and it taught her a valuable lesson: you can’t trust anyone, least of all a man. So Diane vowed that she would rely only on herself, and endeavored to get herself out of the mess her dearly-departed husband left her in. See, Diane has this grand master plan: she’s going to do something so scandalous that no one is going to be able to resist coming to see what’s the what. Dianne is going to open a gentleman’s club staffed almost exclusively by… women. Diane has everything all planned out. There’s only more thing she needs to make sure her plan is foolproof, and that is Oliver Warren. Much as Dianne would rather avoid Oliver, there is no denying that the man knows his stuff when it comes to gambling and the like. And luckily for Diane, she has a little something to blackmail Oliver with should he prove reluctant. Boy, was he really super¬†reluctant.

This book was really so much fun. I loved the witty and sarcastic barbs Oliver and Diane exchanged. I also liked that Diane wasn’t just willing to fall into Oliver’s arms the second he showed up. He hurt her and it was going to take time for him to earn her trust. I have to be honest, Diane totally outshone Oliver for me. I enjoyed his character, I thought he was very charming, but he didn’t have the same¬†ooomph¬†as Diane. I think it’s pretty hard for authors of historical romances to create kickass heroines without resorting to cliches (take the hot, petite chick dressing up like a young boy as an example). Enoch managed to create a no-nonsense leading lady without having to resort to any of the tropes so common in the genre.

I absolutely adored this book. It was so much fun. Diane was the perfect mix of sassy yet vulnerable, and Oliver managed to balance his devil-may-care charm with sincerity. I would definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for an original take on historical romance. You can get it over at Amazon or at Kobo. It’s actually cheaper at Kobo, but I heard that they did something (no clue what) and pissed a bunch of people off. If you are boycotting them, Amazon is the place to go.

Highland Pleasures: Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage

Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage

Six years ago, eighteen-year-old Lady Isabella Scranton scandalized all of London by eloping the night of her come-out ball with the notorious rake, Lord Mac Mackenzie. After three turbulent years of marriage, she scandalized London yet again-this time by leaving him.

Now the reformed Mac has returned, and he wants one thing: Isabella back in his life, his house, his bed. He’ll do anything he has to, play any game, as long as he gets her back. Isabella resists, but when she agrees to pose for erotic paintings he’s been working on, she realizes her body has never stopped craving her husband’s very skilled touch. Mac is determined to show Isabella he’s a changed man, but three years without her has only increased his hunger for her.

When an ingenious painter with designs on Mac’s paintings, and Isabella herself, comes dangerously near, Mac sets himself up as Isabella’s protector and vows to never leave her side, whether his independent and proud lady likes it or not.

Jennifer Ashley can quite easily become my favourite historical romance author. This series is so incredibly well-written, I am in utter awe of Ashley’s ability. She manages to create characters who are awesome on their own and, when you put them together, their chemistry is off the charts.

I didn’t enjoy Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage quite¬†as much as I enjoyed the first book, but that is not to say that this book wasn’t off the charts awesome. Lady Isabella and her husband, Mac Mackenzie, have always had a rather tumultuous relationship. They first met at Isabella’s debut ball where, after only having known each other a few hours, they skipped the rest of the party to go and get married. It caused a major stir in London, and set precedent for the rest of their married life: Lots of impulsive decisions that get people talking and occasionally came to bite them in their rear ends. Their relationship is also characterised by either fighting like cat and dog, or humping like bunnies. There was no disputing that they loved one another; it’s just that they could never find any middle ground. It was one extreme or another. Finally, it all became too much and Isabella told Mac that she’d had enough. It’s been three years since Isabella called it quits and both of them are miserable. They do their best to pretend that they don’t really miss each other, but they fall a little short. And then, they’re forced back into one another’s company when Isabella discovers that someone is forging Mac’s paintings. Mac doesn’t seem to care one way or another, but Isabella is determined to find out what’s going on. However, Mac catches an abrupt wake up when he realises that the dude mimicking his artwork isn’t as benign as he first seemed…

I loved Mac and Isabella together. There were such sweet moments between them and you could tell, despite how long they’d been apart, that they still loved each other as much as they did when they were blissful newlyweds. That being said, though, there were moments where I was a bit frustrated with Isabella. I thought that she was a little indecisive; she couldn’t seem to make up her mind about what she wanted. That is honestly the only thing I can think of that detracted from this book. Otherwise, it was as good as I’m coming to expect from Ms Ashley.

I’ve looked around and the cheapest place to get this book is over at Kobo. I really recommend giving this series a try. It’s epic!

The Adventurers’ Club: The Care and Taming of a Rogue

The Care and Taming of a Rogue

The Care and Taming of a Rogue

How to tell if a man is an unrepentant rogue:

1. He has no patience for frivolous debutantes.

2. He kisses you after a single dance.

3. He makes you forget yourself and kiss him back…

After years away from London, Captain Bennett Wolfe is back-and alive, much to Society’s surprise. Having been presumed dead, this rugged adventurer is much sought after by every marriage-minded young woman… but Bennett only has eyes for the intriguing Lady Phillipa Eddison.

Phillipa would rather read than flirt, but she does know a thing or two about proper courtship rituals. A gentleman does not kiss a lady senseless, and he certainly does not bring his pet monkey when he comes calling. Lady Phillipa’s never been so scandalized… or tempted. She simply must teach Bennett some manners-before she succumbs to temptation as wild as the man who offers it.

The Care and Taming of a Rogue is book one in the Adventurers’ Club and I enjoyed it for the most part. There were bits and pieces, though, that kind of irritated me. The biggest issue I had with this book was Bennett Wolfe, the hero. I started out liking him, but the more I read and the more I thought about it, the more he struck me as a bit of a bully. And that diminished my enjoyment of this story.

Bennett Wolfe lost his parents at an early age and is used to taking care of himself. He’s never been one for frivolity, which makes London and Society his least favourite places in the world. As soon as he was old enough, he left England and went on a number of expeditions around the world. He most recently traveled to the Congo, where he was very nearly killed. Now three years after he last set foot in London, Bennett is back… and boy, is he in for a surprise. Not only did his second-in-command during the expedition leave him behind in the Congo, the man plagiarised his work and wrote a book portraying Bennett as a bumbling oaf. Also, he spread a pesky rumour that Bennett was dead. Needless to say, Bennett is not a happy camper. There is one bright spot in the dreariness that is London, though: Lady Phillipa Eddison. Phillipa is what Society calls a “bluestocking”; she prefers books to people and finds Society unbearably boring. So imagine her excitement at meeting the famous explorer Bennett Wolfe, the man whose books she’s read a number of times. And imagine her surprise when she realises that he finds her just as intriguing as she finds him.

I found that I could relate to Phillipa. She’s a booknerd in every sense and topics like fashion and flirting are beyond her comprehension. Rather than looking forward to the next big soiree, Phillipa just wants to be at home with a book. So when Bennett started paying attention to her, she was a little taken aback. Typically, men tend to gravitate towards her older, more sociable, sister. I found that I enjoyed Bennett’s character in the beginning. But as the book progressed, I found him to be a little bit of a bully. Phillipa had never had a beau, so her experience with physical and emotional intimacy was nil. There were moments where Bennett came on really strong and he kept telling her that he was being really patient, like he expected a noddy badge or something. It was just something that bothered me and it kept me from¬†really¬†enjoying this book as much as I wanted to.

In all, a little disappointing but I enjoyed Ms Enoch’s writing. If you’re looking to give this book and Ms Enoch a try, you can get this book at Foyles.

Highland Pleasures: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family-rich, powerful, eccentric, dangerous. A lady couldn’t be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them-of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz.¬†

The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He’s also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.

Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama-an alcoholic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old lady she became constant companion to. No, she wants to take her money and find peace, to travel, to learn art, to sit back and fondly remember her brief but happy marriage to her late husband.

And then Ian Mackenzie decides he wants her.

Just a quick heads up on this one: I will be making squeaky fangirl-like noises with this book. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is without a doubt the best historical I have ever read. The chemistry between the main characters was off the charts, I adored the peripheral characters, and I emitted so many dreamy sighs¬†that eventually people started looking at me funny. And you know what? I didn’t even care.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is the first book in the Highland Pleasures series and follows the mysterious Mackenzie brothers. The first book-surprise, surprise-is about Ian Mackenzie, the youngest brother. Ian is a little bit… strange. Actually, I think the best way to describe his personality would be to compare him to Sheldon Cooper: he has a brilliant mind but his people skills are a little iffy. But unlike Sheldon, Ian has a sex drive. And is totally, ridiculously hot. And tears you between wanting to give him a hug and jump his bones… Moving swiftly on, Ian had a¬†really¬†rough childhood. Being a little boy genius during that time was not easy, and his father was convinced that Ian was insane. As a result, he threw Ian into an asylum where he was subjected to horrific “scientific” procedures designed to make him act “normal”. Thankfully, as soon as the old bastard died, Ian’s older brothers got him the hell out of there. The closeness between the Mackenzie brothers was one of the many aspects of this book that I loved. They could argue and brawl with the best of them, but they would cheerfully ax murder anyone who threatened one of their brothers. Now, I’ve spoken a lot about Ian so let me move on to Beth. This woman was chock full of awesome. She was so patient with Ian. She never got irritated when he stopped listening to her or when he got distracted by something else. She didn’t give a continental damn what other people said about him. She looked beyond all the things that would have put other women off, and she found an utter gem. She is my favourite heroine out of any historical that I’ve read, and probably in my top twenty heroines in general.

I was actually disappointed when I finished with with this book. I mean, normally you read a book and you enjoy it. You’ll laugh and sigh and grumble, and then you’ll move on to the next book where you’ll do the same thing. And that’s fine. But with this book, I felt¬†it. There were scenes where I could almost literally feel my heart wrench. And no, I’m not exaggerating. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie was¬†that¬†good.

I think I’m going to stop here. I’m actually finding it a little hard to write this; I don’t think I’m quite doing this book the justice it deserves. Just trust me and go read it. You will definitely not regret it. The cheapest place to get it right now is over at Kobo.

Highlander: The Highlander’s Touch

The Highlander's Touch

The Highlander’s Touch

A Warrior of Immortal Powers

He was a mighty Scottish warrior who lived in a world bound by ancient laws and timeless magic. But no immortal powers could prepare the laird of Castle Brodie for the lovely accursed lass who stood before him. A terrible trick of fate had sent her 700 years back in time and into his private chamber to tempt him with her beauty-and seduce him with a desire he could never fulfill. For this woman he burned to possess was also the woman he had forsworn to destroy.

A Woman Caught in the Mists of Time

When Lisa felt the earth moving under her feet, the fiercely independent 21st-century woman never dreamed she was falling… into another century. But the powerful, naked warrior who stood glaring down at her was only too real… and too dangerously arousing.¬†Irresistibly handsome he might be, but Lisa had no intention of remaining in this savage land torn by treachery and war. How could she know that her seductive captor had other plans for her… plans that would save her from a tragic fate? Or that this man who had long ago forsaken love would defy time itself to claim her for his own.

This book has me a little confused. I typically love Ms Moning and her work, but I have mixed feeling about this one. It was going really well. I was enjoying it up until the last three or four chapters, and then everything sort of fell apart. I actually feel a little bit cheated, and that’s why I’m not giving The Highlander’s Touch a higher rating.

The Highlander’s Touch tells us the story of Lisa Stone, a modern twenty-first century woman, and Circenn Brodie, a fourteenth century man. How could these two possibly meet, you ask? Well, you can blame a certain nefarious fairy by the name of Adam Black. You might remember him from Beyond the Highland Mist. Anyhow, through Adam’s scheming, Lisa finds herself smack bang in fourteenth century Scotland and at the mercy of a mightily annoyed highland laird. Circenn had made a promise to kill the person who returned with a lost artefact. However, upon making that oath, he never imagined that a¬†woman¬†might find said object, let alone a woman like Lisa. See, our highland lord finds himself in a bit of a quandary: the interfering fairy, Adam Black, made him immortal, and it is Circenn’s biggest fear that he may end up being just like Adam. So he’s come up with a few rules, basics like always honouring his vows and never lying. When Lisa shows up, all those rules go flying out the window. Despite himself, the stern, serious laird finds himself intrigued by the strangely dressed young woman.¬†Lisa Stone has had a rough time of it the past few years. She lost her father in a car accident when she was eighteen and that same accident put her mother in a wheelchair. Gone were any aspirations to go to university. Now Lisa had to worry about paying hospital bills and making enough money to take care of her mother, who they later found out had cervical cancer.

The story progresses in a fairly predictable manner from here onward. This isn’t a bad thing; I mean, cliches become cliche because they work, right? So I was enjoying this book, and then Ms Moning cheated. I hate saying this, but I honestly felt like Moning just completely copped-out with the ending. The whole idea of using magic to just, well… magically¬†fix all of Lisa’s problems just didn’t sit well with me. I don’t normally mind having an element of the paranormal in my historicals but this was too much. I was really¬†disappointed with how The Highlander’s Touch ended.

My faith was a little bit shaken with how this book ended, but I still mostly trust Ms Moning. I just hope she doesn’t do something like this again…

I looked around and the cheapest place to buy The Highlander’s Touch will be on Kobo.

McCabe: In Bed With A Highlander

In Bed With A Highlander

In Bed With A Highlander

Ewan McCabe, the eldest, is a warrior determined to vanquish his enemy. Now, with the time ripe for battle, his men are ready and Ewan is poised to take back what is his-until a blue-eyed, raven-haired temptress is thrust upon him. Mairin may be the salvation of Ewan’s clan, but for a man who dreams only of revenge, matters of the heart are strange territory to conquer.

Though the illegitimate daughter of the king, Mairin possesses prized property that makes her a pawn-and wary of love. Her worst fears are realized when she is rescued from peril, only to be forced into marriage by her charismatic and commanding savior, Ewan McCabe. But her attraction to her ruggedly powerful new husband finds her craving his surprisingly tender touch; her body comes alive under his sensual mastery. And as war draws near, Mairin’s strength, spirit and passion challenge Ewan to conquer his demons-and embrace a love that means more than revenge and land.

In Bed With A Highlander is the first book of Maya Banks’ that I’ve read. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. This book had been sitting in my to-be-read pile for quite a while, and I’d sort of forgotten about it. When I got around to it and saw the title and the cover, I was like, “Oh, boy. It’s going to be one of¬†those.” You know the ones I’m talking about: those types of romance novels that make some of us embarrassed to be caught reading the genre. Luckily, this was not the case.

The story is set in the Highland’s of Scotland. Our leading lady is Mairin Stuart, the Scottish king’s illegitimate daughter. Traditionally, illegitimate children get diddly squat from their father. However, Mairin is an exception to this rule: her father has given her one huge ass dowry, and it’s made her a hot commodity for Scotland’s eligible bachelors. I was a little bit… dubious when Mairin first came onto the scene, She seemed a little to damsel-in-distressy for me. The fact that we first find her hiding in an abbey until she could decide on Mr Right just had me a little, “Meh”. Unfortunately for Mairin, though, she doesn’t actually get the chance to make the decision because she’s kidnapped by the dastardly Duncan Cameron’s men. I find that sometimes authors go out of their way to make the villain as obviously evil as they can in all the cliche-ridden ways they can think of. Thankfully, Ms Banks refrained from doing this. Still, Duncan Cameron was¬†evil and I wanted to stab him.

Enter our hero, Ewan McCabe, a man fully capable of making Cameron a bad memory. Ewan is the dashing laird of his keep and he has a major¬†ax to grind with Cameron. So when Cameron’s would-be bride ends up on McCabe property after escaping from being forced into marriage, Ewan can see the merits in marrying the young lady himself. His way of giving Cameron the finger, I suppose. I know this makes it sound like Mairin was this passive lump just going along with whatever the men decided, but this was not the case. Granted, she didn’t have much control over the circumstances that were turning her life upside down but at least she was smart about how she reacted. She could have put up more of a fuss about marrying Ewan, but she knew that, at that stage, he was her best bet. But after the I-do’s are said, Mairin does not hesitate to give her new husband the what-for. An example of Mairin speaking her mind? The consummation of their marriage was quite a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am affair, one that Mairin has absolutely no desire to repeat. When Ewan broaches the subject of doing it again, Mairin very firmly puts him in his place:

¬†” ‘Tis a well-known fact that a man is either skilled in matters of loving or matters of war. ‘Tis obvious that fighting is your skill.”

Ouch! All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It took me by surprise a couple of times and reminded me that the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” really is true.

The Smythe-Smith Quartet: A Night Like This

A Night Like This

A Night Like This

Anne Wynter may not be who she says she is…

But she’s managing quite well as a governess to three highborn young ladies. Her job can be a challenge-in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play that might be a tragedy (or might be a comedy-no one is sure), and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead. After years of dodging unwanted advances, he’s the first man who has truly tempted her, and it’s getting harder and harder to remind herself that a governess has no business flirting with a nobleman.

Daniel Smythe-Smith might be in mortal danger…

But that’s not going to stop the young earl from falling in love. And when he spies a mysterious woman at his family’s annual musicale, he vows to pursue her, even if it means spending his days with a ten-year-old who thinks she’s a unicorn. But Daniel has an enemy, one who has vowed to see him dead. And when Anne is thrown into peril, he will stop at nothing to ensure their happy ending…

A Night Like This is the second book in Julia Quinn’s Smythe-Smith series, and it was just as sweet and funny as the first. The story overlaps with Just Like Heaven and follows the trials and tribulations of the nutty Pleinsworth family and their long suffering governess, Miss Anne Wynter.

We’d heard quite a bit about the exiled Earl of Winstead in Just Like Heaven, but we didn’t really get the full low down on what Daniel actually did to get himself exiled from London.¬†That is exactly where the story begins. We see the usually sensible and amicable Daniel Smythe Smith drunk off his ass. He’s stupid drunk, and so are most of his companions. It was during an inebriated game of cards that Daniel was accused of cheating, and was subsequently called out. Of course, we know Daniel didn’t cheat. The man could barely walk in a straight line at that point; cheating would require far too much brain power. Unfortunately for Daniel and his accuser, things devolve to the point where they call each other out and, due to piss poor aim, Daniel almost shoots the guy’s leg off. The dude’s dad (sorry, can’t for the life of me remember his name) is furious and tells Daniel that he’s going to need to sleep woith one eye open from now on. Fearing for his life, Daniel flees London and travels the continent, hoping to avoid the crazy dad’s goons.

Three years later, Daniel’s back in London. He’s ready to put the whole sordid mess behind him and carry on with his life. And what better way to remind himself of home and all the things he’s missed than to attend one of his family’s horrendous musicales? It’s there that he spots someone who is most definitely not¬†a member of his family playing the piano. The lady in question is Anne Wynter and she has a Past. Not that anyone else knows that. As far as everyone else is concerned, she is a proper and respectable governess who has been given the unenviable task of seeing to the Pleinsworth girls’ education. She needs her job and does not have the time or, in this case, the willpower to convince the extremely¬†persistent Earl of Winstead that this thing between them just isn’t going to happen.

Before I actually talk about Anne and Daniel together, I have to give mention to the Pleinsworth sisters. These young ladies are Daniel’s cousins, and they are just as bonkers as the rest of the Smythe-Smith clan. I think I enjoyed reading about their antics more than I did reading about the romance between our leads. This isn’t to say that the chemistry between Anne and Daniel was lacking, it was just… those kids were so funny. But on to the actual romance. Anne and Daniel were really sweet together. Anne was just such a gem. She was so patient with those crazy kids, and her willingness to take Sarah’s place in the musical when she was “sick” totally endeared her to me. And Daniel? It was so¬†refreshing¬†to have a hero who didn’t hate himself. These gents are few and far between, and I treasure them every time I find one. Granted, Daniel has his moments of epic stupidity but that made him¬†normal,¬†not this perfect god-like figure who doesn’t make any mistakes. I like that about Ms Quinn’s books: her heroes are human and you can relate to them.

I really enjoyed this book, although not quite as much as I did Just Like Heaven. It was a little more serious than I was expecting. Also, there was not enough of the Smythe-Smith Quartet for me. I missed having them around to make a noise. Still definitely a worthwhile read.

The Smythe-Smith Quartet: Just Like Heaven

Just Like Heaven

Just Like Heaven

Honoria Smythe-Smith, the youngest daughter of the eldest son of the Earl of Winstead, plays the violin in the annual musicale performed by the Smythe-Smith quartet. She’s well aware that they are dreadful but she’s the sort who figures that nothing good will come of being mortified, so she puts on a good show and laughs about it.

Marcus Holroyd is the best friend of Honoria’s brother Daniel, who lives in exile. Marcus has promised to watch out for Honoria, but he faces a challenge when she sets off for Cambridge determined to marry by the end of the season. She’s got her eye on the only unmarried Bridgerton, who’s a bit wet behind the ears. When her advances are spurned, can Marcus swoop in and steal her heart in time for the musicale?

Just Like Heaven was my first book by Julia Quinn. The first thing I did when I finished with it was ask myself why the hell I had waited so long to give this author a try. This lady is funny! Three chapters into the book and I was giggling like an idiot.

Just Like Heaven is the first book in the Smythe-Smith series. The Smythe-Smiths are ginormous family who under the misapprehension that their young ladies are musically gifted. Any unmarried member of the Smythe-Smith family is drafted into performing in the family’s annual musicale. Despite the inexplicably high attendance of said musicale, these ladies are really, super¬†bad. They should not be allowed to do what they do. Unfortunately, most of the family is blissfully unaware of the musical carnage the wreak every year.

However, Honoria Smythe-Smith’s ears are in perfect working order and she knows¬†exactly¬†how bad they are. Honoria plays the violin although, from the way it is described, the word “play” might be a little too optimistic for what it is Honoria does. I loved Honoria to bits. She was so funny, and she never let herself be put off by the fact that the music created by the Smythe-Smith quartet could easily be used as an instrument of torture. See, for Honoria, it’s not about the music; it’s about family and upholding family traditions.¬†Our hero is only child, Marcus. He and Daniel, Honoria’s older brother, have been friends since they were children and so Marcus has always been considered a member of the Smythe-Smith family. So when Daniel is exiled from London after a moment of epic stupidity, it’s up to Marcus to pick up the slack on the whole “concerned big brother” gig.

The events of this book border on the ridiculous. Honoria and her friends/cousins are on a mission: find a husband before the season’s end or be forced to perform in yet another Smythe-Smith musicale. Some, like Honoria’s cousin Sarah, just want to find a husband in order to avoid the ordeal that is the musicale. Honoria’s motives are far more noble: she just wants a family of her own. Since Daniel was forced to leave London, things at home haven’t been the same and she misses the chaos of having a big family. Though, I have to say at this point that I’m glad I’m not living back in the day. The level of planning and creativity it takes to attract a husband would be completely beyond me. These ladies were not screwing around.

But even the best laid plans have a tendency to go horrendously wrong. Just ask Honoria and Marcus, who fell victim to Honoria’s mad scheming. Marcus was really such a gem. He was so completely into Honoria, even after her antics left him bedridden for a week. While there obviously wasn’t any malice behind her actions, I still would’ve thought that he might feel the need to approach Honoria with some caution.

I loved all the characters in this book, especially Honoria’s cousins. These chicks were completely batty, but every one of them added something to the story. Daisy was one of those misguided family members who believes in the Smythe-Smith family’s musical prowess; Sarah knows full well that they suck and she’s willing to resort to extreme measures in order to get out of performing; Iris is actually pretty good, not that you can tell with the racket her cousins make. This story was just so sweet and fluffy! Kinda like candyfloss, only without the nausea afterwards.

Here’s a quote from Marcus, which I think very neatly sums up how bad the Smythe-Smith quartet actually is:

Marcus could not possibly have described the sound that came forth from the four instruments in the Smythe-Smith rehearsal room. He was not sure that there were words that would be accurate, at least not in polite company. He was loath to call it music; in all honesty, it was more of a weapon than anything else. 

Highlander: To Tame a Highland Warrior

To Tame a Highland Warrior

To Tame a Highland Warrior

A woman’s tender touch

He was born to a clan of warriors of supernatural strength, but Gavreal McIllioch abandoned his name and his Highland castle, determined to escape the dark fate of his ancestors. Hiding his identity from the relentless rival clan that hunted him, he called himself Grimm to protect the people he cared for, vowing never to acknowledge the love his love for the ravishing Jillian St. Clair. Yet even from afar he watched over her, and when her father sent an urgent summons, “Come for Jillian”, he raced to her side-into a competition to win her hand in marriage.

A warrior’s steely heart

Why had he run from her so many years before? And why return now to see her offered as a prize in her father’s manipulative game? Furious, Jillian vowed never to wed. But Grimm was the man she loved, the one who urged her to marry another. He tried to pretend indifference as she tempted him, but he could not deny the fierce desires that compelled him to abduct her from the altar. She was the only woman who could tame the beast that raged within him-even as deadly enemies plotted to destroy them both…

To Tame a Highland Warrior is book two in the Highlander series and, man, was it good! I really, really,¬†enjoyed this book. I won’t lie, I was a little nervous about it because I didn’t particularly enjoy the first installment of the series. But, thankfully, that was just an anomaly. KMM is still awesome (there wasn’t ever any real doubt) and I haven’t lost my marbles. Everything is okay.

We met Grimm in Beyond the Highland Mist. He’s Hawk’s best friend, and he’s just a little bit of a loner. His past is shrouded in mystery with no one having any real idea what his story is, and he sees no reason to change that. Grimm’s pretty content with his lot in life. Granted, he doesn’t see a HEA in his future, but things are going well. Until he gets a letter from Jillian’s scheming father. Three words, no explanation. Needless to say, Grimm is thrown into a bit of a tailspin. “Come for Jillian”? What does that mean? Is she okay? What’s going on?¬†¬†Once upon a time, Grimm and Jillian were thick as thieves. Until Jillian started growing up, and Grimm began experiencing what he deemed “inappropriate” feelings for her. Then he started acting like an ass and he eventually bailed. But he never forgot about her which is why, when that letter came through, he didn’t hesitate; he rushed to get to her.

Jillian has ¬†a bit of a reputation of being a paragon in her community. Seriously, as far as those people are concerned, she borders on the divine. The only problem? Jillian is dead set against getting married. Her status as a single lady has been the subject of many a family argument, but Jillian doesn’t care. She’ll get married when she finds a love like that shared by her parents. So Jillian has no idea what her father is planning. Her parents just told her that they were going to visit one of her older siblings and their new grandchild. They’d be back in a few months (this was back in the day, remember) and left on their merry way. Jillian was a little surprised by their departure, especially considering all the arguments that she and her father have been having. Part of Jillian’s father’s frustration stems from the fact that she has gone to great lengths to remain unattached, even going so far as to profess a desire to become a nun. Pretty much a surefire way of scaring off potential husbands, to be sure. So, when her parents decides to take their little trip, Jillian thinks that maybe she’s won the war, after all. You can imagine her surprise when Grimm and two other guys show up, telling her that her father sent them to “look after” the keep while he’s away. Jillian would have been annoyed with having to deal with the other two, but Grimm’s presence infuriates her. She swore the day he left that she would hate his guts forever. Now, here he is, as gorgeous as ever, and he’s still ignoring her!

I adored Grimm, I really did. I don’t normally like the whole “I have to act like a douche to protect you” schlep, but this was done really well. At no point did I want to smack him upside the head. And Jillian was pretty cool, too. I think that it can be quite hard in historicals for woman to really make any impact because the author has to keep the setting in mind. And while Jillian wasn’t over the top kick ass, she wasn’t a push over either. She knew she wanted Grimm, and she wasn’t afraid to go after him. Considering that Grimm was the biggest obstacle to their relationship, I totally commend her for her patience.

I just want to share two moments from this book that had me laughing out loud. Both of these scenes involve Grimm’s uncle, Balder. This guy was a complete and utter rock star, and my favourite peripheral character in To Tame A Highland Warrior…

“Gavrael.”
The voice so like his own whipped his head around. He stared up at the two men, uncertain which one has spoken.
“Grim,” he corrected instantly.
The man on the right erupted into an immediate bluster. “What the bletherin’ kind of name is Grim? Why not be namin’ yourself Depressed, or Melancholy? Nay, I have it-Woebegone.” He cast a disgusted glance at Grimm and snorted.

“Lad?” The way Grimm uttered the single word made his threat clear.
But Balder was unruffled. His mouth twisted with a sneer. “Listen up, son of the McIllioch, you doona frighten me. I’m far too old to be put off by a young pup’s growl. You won’t let me call you by your God-given name, and I refuse to call you that ridiculous appellation you’ve chosen, so it’s either goin’ to be ‘lad’ or it’s goin’ to be ‘arsehole’. Which do you prefer?”

Read that last bit without laughing. I bet that you can’t, because as well as being able to write epic romances and amazing stories, KMM is one funny lady.¬†

Highlander: Beyond the Highland Mist

Beyond the Highland Mist

Beyond the Highland Mist

An alluring laird

He was known throughout the kingdom as Hawk, legendary predator of the battlefield and boudoir. No woman could refuse his touch, but no woman ever stirred his heart-until a vengeful fairy tumbled Adrienne de Simone out of modern-day Seattle into medieval Scotland. Captive in a century not her own, entirely too bold, too outspoken, she was an¬†irresistible challenge to the sixteenth-century rogue. Coerced into a marriage with Hawk, Adrienne vowed to keep him at arm’s length-but his sweet seduction played havoc with her resolve.

A prisoner in time

She had a perfect “no” on her perfect lips for the notorious laird, but Hawk swore she would whisper his name with desire, begging for the passion he longed to ignite within her. Not even the barriers of time and space would keep him from winning her love. Despite her uncertainties about following the promptings of her own passionate heart, Adrienne’s reservations were no match for Hawk’s determination to keep her by his side.

As you guys may have picked up, I really enjoyed KMM’s Fever series. I tried to be subtle, but I think that some of my enthusiasm may have come through. So, I was pretty psyched to read Ms Moning’s earlier Highlander series. I mean, it’s KMM. It will be nothing short of awesome. Sadly, I was a little let down. I can hear your gasps of horror already. It wasn’t the story or the writing. I just had a problem with the leading lady. In short, I wanted to slap her.

Before I tell you why our heroine grated my cheese so bad, let me give you the basic gist of the story. We start off meeting Hawk. He is a Scottish laird living in the 1500s, and he is a complete and utter manwhore. He loves the ladies, but not nearly as much as they love him. His sexual prowess is the stuff of legend and his conquests aren’t limited to women from the human realm. Rumour has it, he’s even gone there with the Seelie queen and managed to leave one hell of an impression. Grimm, the best friend, finds Hawk’s success with the ladies both really funny and totally unfair. One night, the two guys are outside chatting when, as a joke, Grimm makes a wish on a falling star. Grimm wishes that Hawk would meet a woman who is the embodiment of physical perfection, but who has zero interest in Hawk. The guys laugh it off (har, har, like that’ll ever happen). And Grimm’s wish would have remained the idle banter between two friends had a jealous fae not been listening in on the conversation. The fae decides that this is¬†exactly¬†what Hawk needs and sets out to find such a woman.

This is where Adrienne comes in. She’s been badly burned in the past by a beautiful man. So, she swears that she’s going to avoid beautiful men like the plague. Never again will she experience such hurt at the hands of a gorgeous man.¬†Ding! Ding! Ding!¬†Ladies and gents, we have a winner. Small problem, though: Adrienne lives in Seattle in the year 1997. The likelihood of her running into Hawk is… well, minimal. Until the fae hurls Adrienne back to a time where men rock kilts (sans underpants) and live in castles. Circumstances beyond Adrienne’s control see her being forced to marry Hawk. Neither party is particularly thrilled about the prospect… until they get their first look at each other. Hawk is gobsmacked; Adrienne is horrified. Not another bloody beautiful man!

The story had so much to like! The whole time travel thing sounded like so much fun! I was looking forward to Hawk meeting his match in Adrienne. Plus, there wasn’t likely to be any insta-love because of her beautiful man complex. But it was that very complex that pissed me off. I understand that she has trust issues, but the least she could have done was give the guy a chance. She was like the little kid with the building blocks; she’d build him up and then knock him down. Every time Hawk thought he was making progress,¬†boom!,¬†Adrienne would pull back and crush his hopes. Even worse was how she kept flaunting Adam Black (our villain) in poor Hawk’s face. Eventually, I wanted nothing more than for the jealous fae to dump Adrienne back in Seattle, in the middle of a busy road where she’d promptly be hit by a bus. Yes, she was¬†that¬†much¬†of a bitch.

My disappointment with this book stems mainly from the fact that I didn’t like Adrienne, but I’m still really keen on reading the rest of the series. I’ll put this one down to fluke and a clash of auras. It’s Grimm’s book next, and I’m really excited about it!

The Inferno Club: My Scandalous Viscount

My Scandalous Viscount

My Scandalous Viscount

Sebastian, Viscount Beauchamp,¬†lives by a code of honor, and now honor dictates that he must marry¬†Miss Carissa Portland. He has no regrets over stealing a kiss from the adorable little busybody-a fitting punishment for putting her delectable nose where it didn’t belong. But now, caught in a compromising situation, he knows he must make her his bride. He’s faced danger before-but nothing like this!

Carissa is not a gossip-she’s a “lady of information”. All she was trying to do was warn the rakehell Beauchamp away from an irate husband. But even she can’t flaunt Society, and while her head tells her that Beau’s a notorious scoundrel, her heart-and her body-are captivated by his dangerous charm. But when Carissa next goes snooping, the secrets she uncovers about the Inferno Club may prove even more hazardous than falling in love with your own husband.

My Scandalous Viscount is book five in the Inferno Club series by Gaelen Foley. Let me give you a brief run down of who and what the Inferno Club is before I actually get to the story. The Inferno Club is actually a cover for a group of highborn English spies for the Crown. The Order of St Michael portray themselves as a bunch of hedonistic rebels while they are secretly in charge of protecting England from any foreign threats, and have been engaged in a secret war against the evil cult of Prometheus. In the previous book, My Ruthless Prince, the Prometheans got their asses handed to them in Germany by members of the Order. In My Scandalous Viscount, Beau, the only Order agent who remained in London, is unaware of the Order’s victory and is having to deal with a commission of inquiry. Some members of the British government are concerned that the Order has grown too powerful, and fears that agents are abusing their status.

Carissa and Beau’s story has been a long time coming. These two have been eyeing each other since book one, but Beau’s been warned off the nosy lady of information. His fellow agents are married to Carissa’s best friends, and these guys see Carissa as a younger sister. As such, they want the womanising Beau nowhere near her. Despite this, Beau and Carissa still feel this undeniable pull toward one another. This attraction finally manifests itself at the end of My Ruthless Prince when Beau kisses Carissa in a public place. While no one saw them, Carissa and Beau have been thinking about it ever since it happened.

In all honesty, I was a little disappointed in My Scandalous Viscount. Like I said, fans have been waiting for these two to get their HEA for ages now, and I just feel that it didn’t really live up to the hype. I liked Carissa more than I liked Beau, although I wouldn’t have blamed Beau if he’d decided to throttle her. I think that if she weren’t such a sweet and well-meaning character, she’d have been put down as too stupid to live. She was so bloody nosy! I understand her motivations, but good grief! There were points where I wanted to get into the book, shake her and tell her to¬†think.¬†But at least she was entertaining. Beau, on the other hand, was kinda… stodgy. I was hoping for more from him. In the previous books, he was all mischievous and stuff. Here, he was so serious and all he ever seemed to do was tell Carissa what to do. I know that the poor guy was a bit stressed out and all, but I think we could have done with more lighthearted moments in this book. We met both Nick and Trevor, the two Order agents who’d gone missing in Europe, although we only actually saw Trevor towards the end. I think these two are going to be pretty interesting as the series progresses.

I think this book might have been more of a filler than anything else. I seemed like Foley was just tying up the remaining loose ends with the whole Promethean thing before she moves on with the story line for Trevor and Nick. I think it’s actually quite a pity, because I was really looking forward to Beau and Carissa getting together. Now, it’s kinda… meh.