Short Story Review: Under the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis

There's no place like home for the holidays. And the Lucky Harbor Bed & Breakfast is bursting with festive lights and good cheer. But for Mia, Christmas is turning out to be anything other than merry and bright. Her recent break-up with her boyfriend Nick has made her return bittersweet. But then a surprise arrives, when Nick follows her to town bearing gifts-and asking for forgiveness.

Nick grew up without a family of his own so he's overwhelmed by the love that Mia receives from all her relatives, gathered together to celebrate the season. Under their watchful eyes, Nick finds earning back her trust the hardest thing he's ever had to do. If he succeeds, he will receive the greatest gift of all, Mia's love for a lifetime.

Mia didn’t grow up in Lucky Harbor but she has an attachment to it in the form of her birth parents, Tara and Ford (from book 2 in the series The Sweetest Thing).  She’s now in New York going to school and has been dating Nick for 6 months.  She’s pretty sure that he’s “The One” but he’s never mentioned anything involving their future together so she’s not positive he feels the same way.  For Christmas she invites him to Lucky Harbor for her aunt Chloe’s wedding and Nick not only doesn’t accept but positively balks at the idea.

Once in his own apartment and lost in his own memories Nick realizes what a complete idiot his is a what a mess he’s made of things with Mia.  He rushes to her apartment first thing the next morning only to find out that she’s already left for Lucky Harbor.  Nick’s determined to make things right but how can he do that when she’s all the way across the country?

This was such a sweet little short story.  The story takes place 5 years after Chloe & Sawyer got together in Head Over Heels and now Mia is 22 years old.  She’s living on her own in New York and she knows what she wants.  I loved that she was confident in who she was and what she wanted even though she wasn’t positive about Nick’s feelings.  I thought she handled the situation as best she could and with an admirable maturity.

Nick when it came down to it was a pretty great guy.  He was confused by his feelings for Mia and her love for him.  He had grown up with nothing even resembling love and when faced with the chance to meet Mia’s family he turned into a complete bonehead.  He made up for it in a really great way though and I loved his initiative. When he figured out what needed fixing he took the bull by the horns and didn’t let go. 

If you’ve been reading the Lucky Harbor series then I think this short story is a must.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review: How to Deceive a Duke by Lecia Cornwall

When her sister runs off to avoid an arranged marriage, Meg Lynton takes her place at the altar, since marriage to Nicholas Hartley, the infamous Devil Duke of Temblerlay is the only way to save her family from penury. By the time her wealthy groom discovers he's married the wrong sister, it will be too late to annul their vows. And how difficult can it be to marry a rake and a rogue like Temberlay? All she needs to do is give him an heir and move on with her own life...but deception comes at a higher cost than Meg may be prepared to pay.

When Nicholas Hartley inherits the family title after his brother's untimely death, an arranged marriage to a woman he's never met is the last thing he wants. But when his bride raises her veil at the altar, Nicholas realizes that his wedding night might prove to be a pleasure after all. After a bedding that leaves them both breathless, Nicholas discovers Meg's deception, and decides to teach his scheming bride how to be a proper duchess, kiss by devastating kiss...


Meg Lynton's father died and left his family destitute. They are selling off their belongings and down to their last items when they are approached by a Dowager Duchess asking if Meg's sister Rose to marry her son. The man is notorious and is in all the scandal sheets and Rose is not happy about the prospect. So not happy that when everyone wakes up the next morning they find that Rose has disappeared. The Lynton family is desperate for money so they head to London without Rose and send their uncle off to try and find Rose . Meg stands in for Rose at the modiste and the fittings but when Rose still isn't found by the time the wedding day comes Meg stands in for her sister there as well. With a heavy veil on her face she gets married to a Duke.

Nicholas is in no way ready to get married but he figures he'll consummate the marriage and then send his wife off to the country to live. When he sees Meg, however, he decides that maybe marriage won't be as bad as he thinks as he finds her beautiful and quite desirable. But Meg isn't willing to see that Nicholas has changed his womanizing ways. Even though she loves how they are in bed together she's not willing to let the relationship grow.

Then there's the issue of Nicholas's brothers death – that he finds out wasn't just an accident. He finds out the facts and then finds out that Meg's father was involved as well. The story is about dealing with the fall out from the deaths as well, Nicholas's barracuda mother and of course their romance.

This is a hard review to write because of a couple of different reasons. The main reason being that while I was completely engrossed in the book, I think because of the writing style, I didn't love the story or the characters and that always makes for difficult review writing – at least it does for me.

I really liked Meg at first. She knew what she had to do for her family and was the strength behind them after her father died. She was intrigued by Nicholas because of what she had read in the scandal sheets so that pushed her in his direction for sure. My problems came up later when she was so distrustful of him. At one point it was said by someone that her sister Rose had gone to London, finally, and had met Nicholas. Meg automatically assumed that the scandal sheets were correct and that Rose was involved with Nicholas. That was a bit disturbing as she knew her sister well and knew that she would never do something like that. Whether she trusted Nick or not she should have thought things through and at least trusted her sister. Letting her emotions get the best of her wasn't very pretty. Now that being said Nick never actually came out and denied anything when asked and that made things more difficult for her. Then there were her insecurities that stemmed from her father calling her his ugly duck all her life. She had 3 or 4 beautiful blond sisters and as she had red hair and wasn't classically beautiful she was thought to be not pretty at all. The insecurities got to be a bit much after a while and really had me disliking Meg.

Nicholas was part ass, part nice guy. I think he had had such a bad reputation before he went off to war but after he came back he had changed. Not completely but enough that his previous reputation kind of pissed him off. He was surprisingly compliant with his mother and the whole marriage thing which was a bit shocking as he didn't seem the type to let his mother make those kinds of decisions. He was very determined in finding the answers behind his brothers death and I admired his fortitude in finding answers. Then there was the end of the book. When it seems that the couple has reconciled Nick does something incredibly unexpected (and kind of stupid, imho) and I just hated that added part. It seemed to be a bit superfluous and though it showed more strength on Meg's part it didn't do much for me with Nick.

The one thing that REALLY bothered me throughout the story was the fact that Nick kept calling Meg by the name Maggie. Her real name was Marguerite but went by Meg. When Nick first finds out that he married Meg and not Rose he's more than pissed off. He calls her Maggie and...
“Don’t call me that!” she snapped.
“Why not? It suits you. Maggie has the sound of the gutter to it, perfect for a sneak thief and a harlot.”
After telling her that that's how he sees a "Maggie" he continues to call her that throughout the book. OMG I wanted to reach into the pages and skin the man alive whenever he said it. It made me doubt his love for her when he was still calling her a name that he feels has the sound of a gutter to it. Oy

As for secondary characters I didn't care for Nick's mother or actually Meg's either. The former was a hard, hard woman and the latter was WAY too emotional – neither endeared themselves to me at all.

Now the writing in the story was compelling and interesting. Not overly descriptive, not too much inner thought and was a quick read. In the end it was an interesting story but I just had a hard time clicking with the characters.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Lecia Cornwall 

What I Read Last Week

Good morning!

Last week was a short work week but it seemed like a really long week in the end as I had so many days off right in a row – YAY! lol My boss closed the office at noon on Wednesday and then I had the next 4 days off. So. Nice. Thanksgiving was with my parents at my house and it was wonderful. I wish we could have had more family present but they were scattered far and wide. The rest of the weekend was spent reading a little (and I do mean a little) and mostly hanging out with my kids and watching movies. LOTS of movies. :)

On Wednesday my youngest came to work with me and while she was in the car on the way to work she was already bored. lol She made this video on my camera and it has nothing to do with anything but it was just so strangely funny I had to share. She’s saying something about different types of lamas and then fish, turtle, unicorn and peacock. She added the last part herself. That’s my wonderful yet odd child. lol

video

I didn’t end up reading that much this past week. I thought I would but it just didn’t work out that way in the end.

My first book for the week was Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville and was my Tracy’s TBR Challenge book for the week as well as the book I read for my TRB Challenge 2012 review. You can read my review here. The story is about a hit man falling in love with the man he has a contract out on. 4 out of 5 

How to Deceive a Duke by Lecia Cornwall was next. The story is about an impoverished family who is approached by a dowager duchess who wants one of their daughters to marry her son – a duke. The girl is reluctant and takes off leaving her sister to take her place. I’ll be posting my review of this one this week.

Then I read Romancing the Holiday by Jaci Burton, HelenKay Dimon and Christi Barth. This is an anthology with 3 Christmastime romances. I really liked all of them and recommend this one for a fun holiday read. 4 out of 5

Last for the week was The Bridegroom Wore Plaid by Grace Burrowes. This is the first in the new MacGregor series and tells the tale of a Scottish Earl who is hosting a family from England. He is considering marrying one of the daughters because of her dowry and the money will help his clan. The story has more than one romance and was quite good. 3.75 out of 5


My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Lord’s Fall by Thea Harrison

Happy reading!

Saturday Song

50 Ways to Say Goodbye by Train is a song that's been the latest "let's play it and dance around the house" song this week in Tracyland.  Besides the fact that I love Train's music I think the lyrics and video are pretty damned humorous on this one.  Enjoy!

 

Here are the lyrics - too funny.  Just like a guy!

My heart is paralyzed
My head was oversized
I'll take the high road like I should
You said it's meant to be
That it's not you, it's me
You're leaving now for my own good

That's cool, but if my friends ask where you are I'm gonna say

She went down in an airplane
Fried getting suntanned
Fell in a cement mixer full of quicksand
Help me, help me, I'm no good at goodbyes!
She met a shark under water
Fell and no one caught her
I returned everything I ever bought her
Help me, help me, I'm all out of lies
And ways to say you died

My pride still feels the sting
You were my everything
Some day I'll find a love like yours (a love like yours)
She'll think I'm Superman
Not super minivan
How could you leave on Yom Kippur?

That's cool, but if my friends ask where you are I'm gonna say

She was caught in a mudslide
Eaten by a lion
Got run over by a crappy purple Scion
Help me, help me, I'm no good at goodbyes!
She dried up in the desert
Drowned in a hot tub
Danced to death at an east side night club
Help me, help me, I'm all out of lies
And ways to say you died

I wanna live a thousand lives with you
I wanna be the one you're dying to love...
But you don't want to

That's cool, but if my friends ask where you are I'm gonna say
That's cool, but if my friends ask where you are I'm gonna say

She went down in an airplane
Fried getting suntanned
Fell in a cement mixer full of quicksand
Help me, help me, I'm no good at goodbyes!
She met a shark under water
Fell and no one caught her
I returned everything I ever bought her
Help me, help me, I'm all out of lies

She was caught in a mudslide
Eaten by a lion
Got run over by a crappy purple Scion
Help me, help me, I'm no good at goodbyes!
She dried up in the desert
Drowned in a hot tub
Danced to death at an east side night club
Help me, help me, I'm all out of lies
And ways to say you died

Review: Men of Smithfield: Adam and Holden by LB Gregg

Holden Worthington's globetrotting days are over. Once the host of a popular adventure show, he hasn't ventured past his own front door in more than a year. Then the arrival of a sexy new gardener sparks something Holden hasn't felt in a very long time—an interest in the world outside his window.

Holden tries to resist the attraction. But painfully shy yet definitely interested Adam Morgan has Holden longing to conquer his debilitating anxiety and live again. After a grisly discovery on the grounds of the estate, the town of Smithfield turns a suspicious eye on the reclusive Holden—and the two men must trust in each other to bring the truth out in the open.


Holden used to be an adventurer and now he’s an agoraphobic, go figure. He’s home, of course, when his new gardener shows up and Holden is more than happy to watch his beautiful new landscaper do his thing. Unfortunately his viewing gets interrupted when the gardener, Adam, knocks on his door and tells him that he just found a body behind the shed.

Holden is freaked out, especially when the police come and start asking him and Adam questions like they had something to do with the death. What this DOES do is put Holden and Adam together and gets them talking and that’s a very good thing in Holden’s mind.

The story is told from Holden’s point of view and revolves around the relationship between Holden and Adam but also relationships that Holden has with others. At the time of the body being discovered Holden’s brother, Porter is visiting and staying at the house and is with his friend who lives in town, Kurt. Then there’s Porter’s soon to be ex-wife, Mitzi, and Holden’s bastard ex-boyfriend who comes to visit. The guests seem to come and go at their leisure and Holden really never knows when someone is home or not. He just wants the murderer found so that neither he nor Adam will be suspect any longer, the damned media will get out of his face and he can spend some time with Adam because he wants that relationship to go farther than he originally thought.

I think what I love about this book so much, besides Holden’s snark (which is always in play) is the fact that Holden and Adam are so very different from each other. Yes, there’s the obvious that Adam loves the outdoors and Holden can’t leave the house without fainting. But it’s the fact that Holden seems so jaded (but not unredeemable) and Adam is so very innocent in his own way. The pair together forms this new little unit that’s both lovable and hot as hell at the same time and I loved their relationship.

I do wish we could have gotten a little bit more info on Adam and his background but since the story was told in first per from Holden’s point of view, and Adam was on the quieter side I could understand the lack of information.

Overall a wonderful book, once again. I originally read In and Out when it first came out but it was great rereading the newer version of Adam and Holden and I loved the book just as much.

Rating: 5 out of 5

LB Gregg

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all of you who are celebrating today, Happy Thanksgiving!!



I know I have a lot to be thankful for today and I count my many blessings daily.  I hope you, your family and your friends have a wonderful holiday.

TBR Challenge Review: Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville

This month's TBR Challenge book suggestion was "All About the Hype" - a book that created so much chatter it was inescapable.   Now if I remember correctly this book did create a bit of hype in the m/m reading world when it first came out in 2009, didn't it? lol  I'm not sure, but it was definitely worth the read.

After witnessing a mob hit, surgeon Jack Francisco is put into protective custody to keep him safe until he can testify. A hit man known only as D is blackmailed into killing Jack, but when he tracks him down, his weary conscience won't allow him to murder an innocent man. Finding in each other an unlikely ally, Jack and D are soon on the run from shadowy enemies. Forced to work together to survive, the two men forge a bond that ripens into unexpected passion. Jack sees the wounded soul beneath D's cold, detached exterior, and D finds in Jack the person who can help him reclaim the man he once was. As the day of Jack's testimony approaches, he and D find themselves not only fighting for their lives... but also fighting for their future. A future together.

Jack is a surgeon leaving the hospital and minding his own business when he witnesses a murder. He agrees to testify but that means he leaves his life and his career behind in order to hide while waiting to testify – and then into the Witness Protection program. He’s not thrilled about any of it but he knows this is the right thing to do so he goes for it.

D is a contract killer who is blackmailed into taking the contract to kill Jack. D is very particular about who he kills and feels that the contracts he does take are people who deserve it. Obviously that’s up for debate but it’s how he lives with himself and what he does. He’s more than upset about the whole Jack sitch but he heads to Vegas to take care of it. Only when it comes down to it, he just can’t do it. Does he just walk away though? No, he doesn’t. He packs Jack up and takes him with him. D knows that the people who are after Jack aren’t gonna let sleeping dogs lie just because Jack didn’t do the killing and D needs to find out who’s out to get him and is willing to resort to blackmail to get to him.

With both men with their lives at stake they take off to try to hide themselves. They end up at a pretty secure location where Jack tries to get to know D and mostly hits a brick wall – but not entirely. Jack doesn’t quite know what to make of his growing feelings for someone who kills others for a living and D’s pretty sure he shouldn’t let Jack in but he seems to be telling him things (eventually) that he’s never told another.

The story takes us through Jack’s basic desire but D’s struggle to find out who he really is in the world. It took us through trials and errors of the couple as not everything was hunky dory just cuz they were sleeping together; it took us to the actual trial that Jack had to testify for and of course many other unexpected avenues. The book at times was incredibly exciting and other times it dragged for me but I loved seeing D and Jack finally moving toward each other. The ins and outs of D’s life, who he was connected to and who he knew was incredibly detailed which was wonderful as the author didn’t try to allude to things and make us figure it all out. We had enough of a time trying to figure out who was behind it all.

I really loved D. in this story. Yes, it was Jack and D.’s love story but I felt it was more D’s story than Jack’s. Yes, Jack has reservations at times about who he was involved with but at that point it almost seemed a little too late to be worrying about certain things. I was also pretty shocked at how well Jack accepted the fact that he couldn’t be a surgeon again after 14 years of schooling and training. If it was me, I woulda been raging mad. I was quite happy at the end of the last chapter and would have been thrilled had the books stopped there. The epilogue, imho, added almost nothing to the story and actually made me doubt the balance and longevity of their relationship when I hadn’t before.

In the end it was a very enjoyable book with a few hitches for me. I would definitely recommend it to anyone and hope to read more about D and Jack in the future.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Jane Seville

What I Read Last Week

Salvete (supposedly that’s Latin for Hello but my friend may have been pulling my leg. :))

So another week has gone by and life is still a bit strange. There’s only 3 working days this week for me because of the Thanksgiving holiday so that’ll be nice.

I didn’t mention this in last weeks post because it just seemed a bit too much but there was another death – this time my aunt Marilyn. With my friend Rey dying and then his funeral and then finding out about Marilyn I just couldn’t write about it. Though I didn’t know her extremely well she was always more than kind to me and was a wonderful 1st grade teacher for many years. I’m not sure where this picture is from, and it’s obviously an old one as she was 82 when she died, but when I found it online today I just knew I had to post it to show you what a beauty she was. She will be missed.


Anyway, on to happier things…I’m sure there are some. :) Not much happened this week in Tracyland but that was MORE than welcome.

So on to what I read…

I started off the week with What an Earl Wants by Kasey Michaels. This was the story of an Earl and his eventual wife trying to solve a mystery about a hellfire club and falling in love at the same time. You can read my full review here. 3.5/3.75 out of 5

Next up was Lord’s Fall by Thea Harrison. This is book 5 in the Elder Races series (if you don’t include the in-between novellas) and it was a good one. The story takes us back to the romance between Dragos and Pia and has them in separate states dealing with different issues – until war brings them together. It was an excellent read and a great addition to the series. You can read my review on Book Binge on Wed. of this week. 5 out of 5

Men of Smithfield: Adam and Holden by LB Gregg is the revised version of her book In and Out. The story was just as good and definitely made me happy I read it again. I’ll post my review for this one on Friday.

My Tracy’s TBR Challenge read for the week was Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas. This is book 3 in the Friday Harbor series and has us reading about Alex who is the third Nolan brother. He’s married and getting a divorce, he’s a miserable man and thinks he unlovable and of course therefore cannot love anyone else. He’s an alcoholic and drinking himself into the grave. He is visited – in a roundabout way - by a ghost who has no idea why he’s attached to Alex but slowly starts to remember stuff. Then there’s Zoe Hoffman who hires Alex to do construction on a house for her and her grandmother who has dementia. The story was unexpectedly good. I know I should expect it from Kleypas but I as these contemporaries have a paranormal bend to them I wasn’t sure how the ghost story would work out. I’m glad I read it as it was definitely worth it. 4 out of 5

Last for the week was When the Duke Found Love by Isabella Bradford. This story was about the 3rd Wylder sister and I liked the book and hated it in almost equal parts. The sister is engaged without her knowledge to a man who is respectable and supposedly a “good man” to save Diana from scandal (which wasn’t that bad and certainly didn’t require marriage in my mind) and to “tame” her a bit. He’s horrid and Diana ends up falling in love with her sisters’ cousin the Duke of Sheffield who is supposedly a rake. The couple carry on behind their families backs as well as their fiancé’s backs and end up falling in love. Diana’s family really pushed me over the edge in this one. I guess I can understand the mother wanting a good match but her sister – who from the first book when she was a wild tree climbing woman turned into a starchy fuddy duddy – I expected better. I think this is one of those that you just have to read and see if it works for you. 3 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Wolfishly Yours by Lydia Dare

Happy Reading!

Review: What An Earl Wants by Kasey Michaels

Gideon Redgrave, eldest child of the late Earl of Saltwood, refuses to be humbled by the scandal that once tore his family apart. He's built his life in London society around one rule: trust no one. So the last thing he wants is to play guardian and role model to a headstrong boy . . . or to engage in a battle of wills with the boy's spirited half sister, who is fighting Gideon for custody.

Beautiful and bold, young widow Jessica Linden proves to be a formidable and passionate adversary. But the more they lock horns, the more Gideon realizes he'd prefer to have Jessica on his side . . . and in his arms. Especially now that a new threat—sprung from his father's supposedly defunct secret society—is poised to destroy the Redgraves once and for all


Jessica Linden is running an illegal gaming hell and doing quite well. Jessica and her friend Richard plan to run it until they have enough money to one day open an Inn with their proceeds. Jessica’s father dies though and her half brother’s guardian turns out to be the Earl of Saltwood, Gideon Redgrave. She writes to him to request an audience but he ignores the request for almost a month before he shows up to her home. Jessica is prepared to offer anything – including her body - to get Gideon to agree to relinquish guardianship.

Gideon is tempted by what he sees in Jessica but doesn’t take her up on her offer. Instead he invites her to his home to see her half brother that she hasn’t seen in 5 years. When she does meet him again she finds she’s quite happy to leave his upbringing to Gideon! But Gideon isn’t willing to let Jessica get away quite that easily. When they find that they are both in some way involved in a secret society that Gideon’s grandfather started and has continued on, they work together to find out as much as they can about the past. Gideon and Jessica marry and they have great times in the bedroom, but the marriage is more for gaining info on the society and to ease Gideon’s conscience than anything else – at least that’s what Gideon’s telling himself.

When I first read about Gideon I thought to myself, “pompous ass” and almost dismissed him without getting to know him. I’ve read other Kasey Michaels books however and know that her heroes are always pretty great so I kept on. In this case it’s said that Gideon is formidable and he’s actually more of a hard ass than a pompous ass. He gets what he wants and he knows it, enjoys it, expects it. He’s amused by Jessica but extremely attracted to her as well. He knows that marrying her probably isn’t the brightest idea for the long term but he’s enthralled and he definitely wants her in his bed. Jessica is wonderful. She’s a bit brash and in your face and not afraid to tell him what she thinks and frankly something Gideon’s not had in his life as he’s been an Earl since he was 9. The pair play off each other so well and I loved reading their conversations.

The romance, though consistently running throughout the story, really took a back seat in this book, at least imho. The story of the society, who was in it, what it had done and all the other small details that were coming to light really took up the majority of the story. While I found the mystery interesting I do wish that the romance and mystery would have been better balanced. Unfortunately we really get no answers in this book as the next brother will take the reins and continue on in the next book in the series. I was definitely disappointed that we didn’t get closer to getting the mystery solved in this book.

The other characters in the book were interesting for the most part. Gideon’s brothers Val and Max each played a small role as did his sister, Kate. They were all great characters and I very much want to read more about them. The other person who played prominently in this story was Gideon’s grandmother, Trixie. I think I was supposed to like her from the get go but honestly when she started talking I kind of glazed over and had to force myself to go back and read those parts as I was sure they were crucial to the story. Crucial yes, but interesting, not to me. As the book went on though I started to like her a bit better and was actually laughing at some of her scenes.

In the end I liked the book. It wasn’t my favorite book of Michaels but the story has me interested enough that I will most definitely be reading the next book in the series.

Rating: 3.5/3.75 out of 5

Kasey Michaels

Review: Mr. Real by Carolyn Crane

Alix Gordon is a woman who doesn’t take life too seriously. What’s the fun in that? So when she stumbles across occult software that can bring any computer image to life, she conjures up lots of awesome outfits and accessories. And then, on one drunken, horny night, she conjures up Sir Kendall, the sexy TV ad spy . . . who looks exactly like Paul Reinhardt, the super-sexy martial arts teacher who kicked her out of class three years ago.

Fighter Paul Reinhardt has good reason to hate Sir Kendall, the character he brought to life to land a part in a TV ad; he’d do anything to forget him. A cross country road trip seems just the thing . . . until Paul finds himself inexplicably drawn to Minnesota and is shocked to discover Sir Kendall - in the flesh - with the girl he’d once loved from afar. He barges into Alix and Sir Kendall’s love nest, determined to stop the madness - somehow.

But is superspy Sir Kendall transforming into something more dangerous anyone can imagine? And what will Sir Kendall do when Paul and Alix finally give into their mad lust for each other?


Alix Gordon has inherited her aunt's house but that's not all she's inherited. She apparently found an old floppy and while trying to discover what it contained she added a spell to her laptop that takes things from a picture and makes them real. She freaks at first but it's kind of cool. After creating a ruby necklace – which started the whole thing – she makes some vinyl boots with matching belt and purse, a barrel – just to verify – and then...a man.

Four years prior she had taken a martial arts class and had practically fallen in love with the instructor but he kicked her out of class and she never saw him again. When she finds him in a commercial for a liqueur she's thrilled. When she decides who to bring to life and be her sex toy she figures that Sir Kendall Nicholas the Third would be perfect. In the commercial's he is a spy, an international man of mystery. He comes in to a bar, seduces the woman, has a drink of the liqueur, walks out the door and disappears. Alix thinks she can bring him to life, use him as her human sex toy and then he'll walk out the door and disappear. Yeah, it didn't exactly work out that way.

Sir Kendall thinks that Alix is working for his arch enemy and plans to kill her after he gets his information and has his way with her. Alix is completely in the dark but is enjoying Sir Kendall – mostly because he looks like her old MA instructor. When that MA instructor, Paul, comes barrelling through her door she's shocked but not as shocked as Paul when he sees his clone in Alix's living room.

Alix doesn't come forth with info right away to Paul but eventually she does because he won't leave. He was devastated almost immediately when he kicked Alix out of his class because it was nothing she did that forced him to do that. It was his own demons he was trying to fight because Alix was making him feel happy and apparently that was ruining his MA focus. Now he doesn't want to leave Alix with his worst nightmare come to life. But can he save her from something from another dimension when all he wants to do is send it back or kill it and Alix wants to help it integrate into society?

I have to say, right up front, that this is one of the most strangely bizarre books I think I've read this year...maybe ever. The story was very frenetic and as I write this I'm not sure who to rate it.

This is a fantasy set in contemporary times and I actually enjoyed the appearance of Sir Kendall and his whole back story – and yes, there is one despite the fact that he's a tv commercial. He was a little whack but I understood it to a point.

Then there was Paul. He had had a messed up childhood and his step brothers had bullied, picked on and tortured him nonstop. Despite that he had gotten away, made something of himself and was ok – except when it came to Sir Kendall. You would have to read the story to figure out all the nuances of the relationship between Sir Kendall and Paul and even after reading the story I'm not sure I understand them all. Suffice it to say that Paul hated Kendall with a passion. Paul had some issues, sure, but overall he was a really great guy and definitely the best part of the book for me.

Then there was Alix. *Sigh* What to make of her? She was always the black sheep of the family – not the conservative types the rest of her family was but they still loved her. She always felt, however, that they considered her stupid because she made some really bad and sometimes really crazy decisions and yes, from time to time, fucked up royally. At this time she would screw up and then fix it and then screw up and then fix it and on and on it would go. She would get her feelings hurt but bounce back and be happy again almost immediately. I found that it made her seem emotionally shallow and made me wonder, when she was falling for Paul again, if she could sustain the relationship because it seemed her emotions had ADD.

I've very much enjoyed Crane's writing in the past and the Dissillusionist series was great. This story, however, was kind of all over the place and that certainly didn't endear it to me. I see that this is book 1 in a series and for the life of me I can't quite figure out where there is to go from here, but I guess I'll have to wait and see.

Rating: 2.5/3 out of 5 

Carolyn Crane

Review: Heart of Danger by Lisa Marie Rice

Ghost Ops. A small unit of super-elite soldiers so secret only two men know of their existence. Betrayed by their commanding officer while on an antiterrorist mission, the team is massacred. Only three survive—and find themselves framed and disgraced. But en route to the court martial, they escape . . . and disappear.

Beautiful, brilliant, and determined, Dr. Catherine Young is on a mission to find a man who has vanished into thin air. Walking into a high-tech hideaway bearing an essential message to Tom "Mac" McEnroe, Team Leader of the betrayed Ghost Ops force, is the most dangerous thing she has ever done. The soldier she encounters is frightening and suspicious, but her senses reveal the man underneath: tough, honorable, and so breathtakingly masculine Catherine feels weak in his presence . . . But to surrender to Mac's passionate desires would put her life in dire jeopardy. Catherine has a gift that enables her to see into the heart of others—and looking into Mac's is like staring into the very heart of danger itself.


Catherine Young is a scientist. She does research on patients with dementia and she loves her work. She thinks she's getting extremely close to finding a cure – which would be incredible. One of her patients, however, isn't a typical dementia patient. She takes his function MRI and finds that what's making him “demented” doesn't actually seem biological. Catherine decides to “read” him. Catherine has the ability to touch someone and read their emotions but when she touches this patient she see images and what she finds is quite disturbing. The man is actually a soldier and wants Catherine to find one of the other men in his unit to let him know he's there and alive and that he needs to be rescued.

Tom McEnroe is the man Catherine is to find but he's in hiding. Despite that Catherine receives images from her patient as to how she might find him and she does. Tom can't quite figure out how Catherine found him and he wants to know who sent her because he's pretty sure that she's not on his side. It's important to Tom, who goes by “Mac”, to protect not only the surviving members of his team but also others. Eventually Mac decides that Catherine is trustworthy enough to the others in his ragtag group but there's still something strange about her – he's attracted to her but it goes way farther than just attraction and it's freaking him out. Catherine feels the same way and when they let themselves explore that attraction they find that it's much more than that.

This story is set in the unspecified future. They have eCars and there are few gas stations. They have hologram card and lots of other cool stuff. Apparently, however, having a pychic ability is seen as being a freak. Because of this Catherine Young has always kept her “gift”, something she feels is more a curse, under wraps. When her dementia patient grabbed her her gift practically explodes in her brain and is more intense than ever. She has this strange compulsion to do as the patient bids and goes to find Mac and just from the patients info on Mac is practically in love with him. I found this, almost immediately a bit much. The patient is sending images and feelings but it made me think she. When she finds Mac she's scared but more intrigued and attracted. She feels so much for him based on what her patient mentally shared with her. Now Mac is not an attractive man but she seems to see what's on the inside. He describes himself as born ugly and it just got worse with a knife scar and burn marks. I do love a scarred hero but in this story once they have sex it's the best sex they'd ever had are in love almost from moment one. - I just need a little bit more romance in my stories than insta-love. When it came down to it these two people knew virtually nothing about the other yet they plan, in 3 days, to spend forever together. Wow, I need to think longer and harder when purchasing a new ereader. Both characters showed great qualities throughout the book. But it all just happened too fast for me.

While the story was entertaining I just that it was too much. As I said, the characters had great qualities but it seemed they could do no wrong and that's just not human to me. They weren't robots but flesh and blood and a lot of the scenes in the book didn't sit right in my brain. Despite that I enjoyed the book enough to keep reading and that's always a good thing. I may have to pick the next one up when it comes out to see what happens next.

Rating: 3 out of 5 

Lisa Marie Rice 

HelenKay Dimon Book Giveaway Winner

I can’t believe I completely forgot to post the winner of Lean on Me by HelenKay Dimon! 

I meant to do it this weekend and got distracted and then again in yesterday’s post. They say the memory’s the first thing to go right? Ug. :) So sorry for the delay!

The winner is:

Mariana

Congratulations! I’ll forward your email address to the appropriate people and you should get your digital copy in a flash.

What I Read Last Week

Hey there,

Another week has gone by and wow - they're going so fast.  Yesterday the fam headed down to Anaheim to have an early family Thanksgiving dinner with my hubby's family which was really fun.  The girls were apparently having fun with mom's phone in the back seat while on the way down there.  Here's just 2 of the MANY photos that were on it lol  Who would know that just 2 hours earlier they were at each others throats?  Ah, the joy of childhood. lol




So on to what I read last week:

I started off the week with The Sergeant's Lady by Susanna Fraser.  This story was about Anna who was following the drum with her soldier husband but he was a complete ass.  She is on her own and trying to get home when her convoy is detained by the French.  When one of the French commanding officers decides that Anna would make a tasty treat in bed.  She's saved by Sergeant Will Atkins.  They escape and while traveling start a sexual relationship that turns into so much more.  But they can't be together because she's a lady and was an officer's wife and he's just a  sergeant.  This was a really great book of love and trying to maintain that love while trying to deal with class differences.  It was emotionally charge and oh so good. 4.25 out of 5

Next up was An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser.  The story follows Elizabeth and Jack's marriage after he's been gone in Canada for 5 years and been cheating on her.  But now he's back and wants to make a go of the marriage.  You can read my full review here. 3 out of 5

My next read was All He Ever Desired by Shannon Stacey.  This is the 5th book in the Kowalski series and it was the story of Ryan Kowalski and Lauren who was once the wife of his best friend. They finally get together after many years but it's not an easy road  You can read my full review here.  4.25 out of 5

Under the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis is a short story in the Lucky Harbor series that comes out next month.  This story is one about Tara and Ford's daughter Mia and her relationship with Nick who hasn't known love his entire life.  It was a good one and definitely one that shouldn't be missed.  4 out of 5

Wolfishly Yours by Lydia Dare was the story of a girl, Livi, who is sent by her father from New Orleans to England to her grandfather to learn how to be a lady.  She's pissed off and wants nothing more than to be home running wild with her brothers in the swamps.  She meets Grayson who is besotted with her and ends up offering for her hand. When he doesn't show up for his own wedding though things get a bit hairy.  Cute story but there certainly wasn't enough shapeshifting with the shapeshifters for my liking.  lol  3.75 out of 5

Heart of Danger by Lisa Marie Rice was my next read.  Fugitive soldiers, psychic scientists and hidden fortresses.  You can read my review on Wednesday.

What Binds Us by Larry Benjamin was an m/m story about friends who meet at college, become lovers but then just friends again.  Dondi is a total playboy and sleeps with any and every man.  He's definitely in it for the fun.  Thomas-Edward is a black student who loves Dondi but after a year of a relationship Dondi breaks it off in their sophomore year.  Still friends T spends a summer at Dondi's family home and ends up falling in love with Dondi's brother, Matthew, but neither make a move.  The story is about friendship, love, the horror of AIDS and the strange ties that bind people together.  It was a really good book and highly emotional especially at the end.  I cried more in this book than any other that I can remember.  The epilogue threw me off a bit and some things throughout the story did as well but overall very good.  4.25 out of 5


Last for the week was Mr. Real by Carolyn Crane.  The story is about a woman who brings a man to life through a spell on her computer and things are not exactly how she expects them to be.  You can read my review on Thursday.




My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Charmed by His Love by Janet Chapman
Rescue My Heart by Jill Shalvis

Happy Reading!

Saturday Song

Such a good song, but oh so very sad. Here's Kate Voegele with Forever and Almost Always.

Review: All He Ever Desired by Shannon Stacey

A second shot at first love

After college, Ryan Kowalski decided to leave Whitford, Maine, rather than watch Lauren Carpenter marry another man. Now his siblings need his help to refurbish the family-owned Northern Star Lodge and he's forced to face the past sooner rather than later when he collars a vandal—and learns the boy is Lauren's son…

The last person Lauren needs back in her life is Ryan Kowalski. With a bitter ex-husband and a moody teenage son, she has enough man trouble already. But her son needs to learn a few lessons about right and wrong, even if Lauren has to escort him to Ryan's door every day to work off his crime.

With all this close contact, Ryan and Lauren can't deny the chemistry between them is as powerful as ever. But can a few searing kisses erase their past and pave the way for a second chance at true love?

Lauren Carpenter is a single mother of a 16 year old boy.  She’s been divorced for 8 years when she meets up with Ryan Kowalski again.  Even though she lives in his hometown in Maine, he now lives in Massachusetts so he’s been able to avoid him for the most part whenever he’s in town.  When Ryan comes home for a month to help fix up the family lodge she finds she can’t avoid him any longer, nor does she want to.

Ryan has had a thing for Lauren as far back as he could remember.  He tried to tell himself over the years that he didn’t but truths eventually come out.  Things are awkward at first when he sees Lauren because of a plea he made to her many years before – leave your husband, come away with me and I’ll make you the happiest woman on earth.  Unfortunately Lauren had turned him down and he’d headed out of town alone.  Once Lauren and Ryan get that awkward monkey off their back they have to deal with Ryan’s nosey family, Lauren’s ex-husband and her 16 year old son – all of whom seem to be in the way in one way or another.  The biggest obstacle they come across is that Ryan is really a visitor in Maine and eventually he’ll go home…without Lauren and her son Nick.

I always enjoy a good Kowalski book and this one was no different. 

Ryan was a great hero.  He was kind, thoughtful, caring, hot, sexy…I’m sure I could go on but you get the picture.  He probably made a huge mistake when he went to Lauren all those years ago and asked her to run away with him - he saw how unhappy she was and he didn’t want her to suffer – that kind of made him look bad – but he did it for the right reasons and his heart was in the right place so I had to give him kudos for that.

Lauren was the typical mom – working and trying to make ends meet, making sure she’s there for her son and making a good home for the two of them.  Nick screws up in the book and we never get a good reason why he does it but he takes responsibility for his actions and doesn’t try to blame someone else.  I had to admire Lauren for that since obviously she had raised the kid right.  When she finally made her move on Ryan, after he acted kind of like an ass to her at her friends wedding, I was so happy with her.  Sure she was a little intoxicated but it gave her just enough liquid aggression that she could tell him that she was disappointed in the how he had acted.  Go Lauren! lol 

In the end I loved that the story was filled with humor and love, a wonderful family feel and a great romance, but was so very normal.  These were normal people with normal problems and though this is fiction it could have happened to anyone.  Shannon Stacey has a fabulous way of making the ordinary seem extraordinary and that’s why I enjoy reading her books so much. 

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Review: An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser

Northumberland, 1815

At long last, Britain is at peace, and General Jack Armstrong is coming home to the wife he barely knows. Wed for mutual convenience, their union unconsummated, the couple has exchanged only cold, dutiful letters. With no more wars to fight, Jack is ready to attempt a peace treaty of his own.

Elizabeth Armstrong is on the warpath. She never expected fidelity from the husband she knew for only a week, but his scandalous exploits have made her the object of pity for years. Now that he's back, she has no intention of sharing her bed with him—or providing him with an heir—unless he can earn her forgiveness. No matter what feelings he ignites within her…

Jack is not expecting a spirited, confident woman in place of the meek girl he left behind. As his desire intensifies, he wants much more than a marriage in name only. But winning his wife's love may be the greatest battle he's faced yet.

Jack Armstrong comes back to England from Canada where he’s spent years and finds his childhood best friend, Giles, on his deathbed.  Giles had just married a mere 10 days earlier so when Jack comes to visit, Giles is determined to have his new wife taken care of.  Giles makes both Jack and Elizabeth promise that they will get married after Giles dies – which they reluctantly do.  Elizabeth is mourning Giles but must marry Jack in just a few days time as his leave is almost over and he must head back to Canada.  Jack promised Giles but he’s more than pissed off about it.  Elizabeth is not the type of women he normally goes for – what he sees is a shy, mousy girl with no backbone and he's pretty happy to be heading back to Canada.

Jack and Elizabeth try to do as well as they can the first two years together, despite their strange marriage, via letters.  Jack finds himself liking Elizabeth’s letters and looking forward to them.  Elizabeth starts to fall in love with her husband a bit as his letters show him to be quite a character.  Then a woman in Elizabeth’s village who like to cause trouble comes to visit with nothing but vile intentions and lets Elizabeth know what Jack is up to with all his many women in Canada.  Elizabeth is hurt and for the next 3 years their letters are cold and terse, with Jack not knowing why the change has occurred..

Jack finally comes home when the threat of war ends and finds a completely different woman than the one he left 5 years earlier.  She’s strong willed, confident and he is more attracted to her as each day passes.  Elizabeth makes no bones about why she’s pissed off and isn’t sure she can forgive Jack.  They eventually come together and fall in love but the past has a way of jumping up and biting you in the ass when you least expect it and this is exactly what happens to Jack.

Let me start by saying that I normally don’t read books that deal with infidelity. They're just not my cuppa and I try to steer clear of them.  Despite that I picked this one up because I had liked the first two books by this author so very much and was pretty sure she could write the story so that I didn’t hate the hero.  She definitely did that but unfortunately the book didn’t speak to me the way her other two did.

After Jack and Elizabeth get married Jack leaves for Canada almost immediately.  The marriage is unconsummated and as the blurb said Elizabeth didn’t necessarily expect fidelity but Jack should have shown some decency and discretion in his sexual exploits.  For him to think that what he did in Canada wouldn’t reach Elizabeth’s ears in England was just ridiculous and showed that for all Jack’s days in the military he still hadn’t grown up emotionally.

I was quite happy that Elizabeth gave him the what-for when he got back to England but I have to say that she capitulated way before I thought she should.  She definitely should have made him suffer longer.  When Jack’s past came back to haunt him later in the book I wasn’t surprised at all as the story was set up in such a way that I couldn’t help but know what was coming by the way he thought to himself – yeah, she’ll never know about that.  You know when men say that to themselves in a book that they’re going to be proven completely wrong. lol

I did enjoy Elizabeth’s personality in this book and also the battle scenes having to do with the Battle of Waterloo – those were both huge pluses for me.  I didn’t, however, feel the emotional union between Elizabeth and Jack.  It wasn’t his past…I just wasn’t feeling the love.  Yes they were close but for some reason I just wasn’t getting the emotional connection that I think I was supposed to feel.  I know that this author can make me feel that closeness because I just finished her previous book, The Sergeant’s Lady, which was excellent.  So in the end while I found this book good and entertaining it just didn’t knock my socks off.

Rating: 3 out of 5

What I Read Last Week

Hey there!

This was an all around quiet week at home once Halloween passed.  I did attend my friends funeral on Saturday which was really difficult but that was ok too.  We have a memorial garden here at the church I work at and he was buried there and that was nice. I told his sister I can now go bug him whenever I want. :) Here’s my favorite picture of the garden – its very serene.


So on to what I read:

I started off the week with Never Seduce a Scot by MayaBanks.  As you’ll see if you read my full review I saw this on Nath’s blog and just HAD to read it.  It was really good and I’m so glad I did.  Warring clans, a deaf mute heroine, hot highlanders – what’s not to love?  You can read my full review here.  4.25 out of 5

Next up was My Regelence Rake by JL Langley.  This is the newest in the Sci-Regency series and while I didn’t find it quite as good as books 1 & 2 I still really liked it.  This is Colton’s story and has him pining after the Captain of the Guard at the palace, Sebastian.  Sebastian is also a Lord in his own right and though Colton has made no secret of the fact that he wants Sebastian, Seb has pretty much brushed him off.  When Colton finally decides to move on as he feels he’ll never get the man, Seb finally notices him.  Now this was a good story but there were a few things that bothered me.  The main one was the fact that Colton and Seb had to get married to avoid scandal.  While this always adds a bit of angst, this is the 3rd book in this series that’s had that happen.  Really?  Three boys married from the Royal family and all of them had to get married to avoid scandal?  I’d like to see just a plain ole romance with some other angst involved.  Not that this one didn’t have “other” angst.  We also got a bit of Raleigh/Steven page time and I enjoyed that immensely.  3.75 out of 5

Some Like it Wicked by Carole Mortimer was my next read.  This is the story of a Pandora who is a widow and is being cut by the ton after she gets out of mourning because her husband supposedly died in a duel with her lover.  She is saved from being attacked at a ball by a man the ton calls Devil and has a horrid reputation himself but yet never gets cut.  He saves Pandora and then won’t go away and eventually ends up asking Pandora to marry him for his own reasons.  This was a cute book and was pretty entertaining.  You can read my full review here. 3 out of 5

Next was a re-read called Kiss and Kin by Kinsey W.Holley.  I wanted to read book 2 in the series but couldn’t really remember book 1 so I dragged it out again.  I remembered what happened almost immediately after I started reading but re-read the whole thing anyway.  The story is about a wolf shifter, Taran, who is in love with his brother’s cousin by marriage, Lark, but she’s a woman who was basically raised by his parents so it’s a bit weird for him, and her.  Lark’s in love with Taran but has no idea that she’s his mate.  He’s a cop and investigating the disappearance of some women in town and when Lark is almost abducted he has to protect her and one thing leads to another, etc.  I gave this book a 3.75 after the first read and a 3.5 after the second.  The ending wasn’t quite as satisfying this time around.  Yes, the “bad” guy was caught but he wasn’t the only bad guy out there so the fact that everything seemed A-ok was a bit annoying.  3.5 out of 5

Next in the series was Yours, Mine and Howls by Kinsey W.Holley.  This story is pretty unrelated to the people in book 1.  The characters are vaguely connected but it can definitely be read on its own.  The story is about a 30 year old woman who is bringing the son she raised from the age of 5 to his uncle’s house to meet him for the first time.  Ally and Cade, the Uncle, don’t get along but yet their mates.  Ally actually died and was brought back to life by a deity of sorts.  The story is about Ally and Cade’s romance as well as several other things.  While a good book I thought there was way too much packed in to just one story.  Too many bad guys for sure, and when they started getting into the history of Cade’s family it was nuts.  Good, but a lot to take in.  3.5 out of 5

My Tracy’s TBR Challenge read and last for the week was The Rebuilding Year by KajeHarper. This is the story of 2 basically straight men, John and Ryan who become friends, then roommates, then lovers.  The story centers around their romance and the way they deal with their feelings toward someone of the same sex, as well as issues that come up with John’s ex-wife, her husband and his kids.  There’s also something funky going on at the college that Ryan attends and John works at that causes angst as well.  I really liked the story a lot.  I thought that the issue of the problems on campus pulled me away from the romance a bit too much but it all tied in nicely in the end.  I really liked how Harper set this up so that Ryan was 30 but just starting med school and John 37 and starting over without his former family.  It added a depth that wouldn’t necessarily have been there had the men been younger and not “lived” yet.  I liked the writing and will be reading more from Harper in the future. 4 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted since last week:

Happy Reading!

Review: Some Like it Wicked by Carole Mortimer

Rupert Stirling, Duke of Stratton, has long since acquired the nickname Devil. and with outrageous exploits both in and out of ladies’ bedchambers, my, has he earned it!

Risqué behavior is beyond Pandora Maybury, widowed Duchess of Wyndwood—although with her dark secret she’s far too well acquainted with being the subject of ribald gossip for her liking. If only the Ton knew just how innocent she really was...including Rupert who, after rescuing her from a compromising situation, seems intent on wickedly compromising her himself! 

Pandora Maybury was thought to have many lovers during the 3 years of her marriage. Then scandal really hit home when her husband fought a duel in which he and Pandora's supposed lover both died. Since she's come out of mourning she's been cut so many times she's started to think she just needs to live in solitude in the country. Pretty sad for a widow just 24 years old.

On one night, at the ball of a new friend one of the men of the ton take it upon himself to show Pandora how wonderful he is. Unfortunately Pandora wants none of it but this guy's not taking no for an answer. She is saved by Rupert Stirling who is thought to be a horrible man. But how can a man be so horrible when he's willing to save a damsel in distress.

Pandora soon finds out that Rupert is one stubborn son of a bitch. She tells him to do something – like leave her alone (he keeps visiting her!) and he just says no and continues. She tells him that she's moving out of London, he tells her she's not. Who is this guy? She soon finds out and as frustrating as he can be sometimes she finds herself liking him more and more.

Rupert doesn't take into consideration too much of what the ton says. Ok, he doesn't take ANY of it into consideration so when he decides he wants Pandora for his bride he ignores the fact that she's a walking, talking scandal. He just knows that he likes her a lot and she needs his protection. He, of course, gets something out of the deal as well and as his part of the bargain is the main reason he asks her to marry him he's a happy guy. Haughty men, however, find themselves knocked down a notch or two, I've found, and Rupert's one of the haughtiest heroes I've read in a darned long time.

Pandora and Rupert were a highly unlikely couple. Rupert was a bit of a bastard at times, always getting his way and frankly as strong as Pandora was she was quite the innocent, despite what the ton said. He was experienced and she, was not. Despite their differences though I liked them together.

Now Rupert is the hero that we're told is a bad guy, we don't actually get to see any of that. Yeah, he's an ass at times but he's really nothing but kind to Pandora. While I thought he was annoying throughout the book, for the most part, I couldn't help liking the guy. He did turn into a big ole sap at the end of the book which seemed a bit out of character but so did Pandora so they were perfect for each other. :)

In the end it was a cute book. There was an overuse of exclamation marks, imho, but overall a good read.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Carole Mortimer

Review: Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks

Eveline Armstrong is fiercely loved and protected by her powerful clan, but outsiders consider her “touched.” Beautiful, fey, with a level, intent gaze, she doesn’t speak. No one, not even her family, knows that she cannot hear. Content with her life of seclusion, Eveline has taught herself to read lips and allows the outside world to view her as daft. But when an arranged marriage into a rival clan makes Graeme Montgomery her husband, Eveline accepts her duty - unprepared for the delights to come. Graeme is a rugged warrior with a voice so deep and powerful that his new bride can hear it, and hands and kisses so tender and skilled that he stirs her deepest passions. Graeme is intrigued by the mysterious Eveline, whose silent lips are ripe with temptation and whose bright, intelligent eyes can see into his soul. As intimacy deepens, he learns her secret. But when clan rivalries and dark deeds threaten the wife he has only begun to cherish, the Scottish warrior will move heaven and earth to save the woman who has awakened his heart to the beautiful song of a rare and magical love.

King Alexander wants the two biggest clans in Scotland to form a bond. The last thing he wants is to have them at war. The problem is, they've been enemies for many decades. In the current clans the Armstrongs killed the laird of the Montgomery clan making Graeme the current laird. Graeme wants nothing more than to kill every Armstrong he comes across. When he gets word that his King wants him to take Eveline Armstrong to wife he's pissed as all hell. If he denies the request though, he and his clan will be named outlaws and killed. Graeme has heard that Eveline is daft and that means that she'll have no idea what's going on and he can't, in all honor, bed a woman who has no clue what's going on, which means no heirs for him!

The Armstrong clan is no more happy about this than the Montgomery's. They think Graeme, and all Montgomery's, an animal and fear for Eveline when she gets married. They, like Graeme, can't defy they're king so they are stuck. Eveline, however, is excited about the marriage. You see, instead of being daft as everyone, even her family believes, she's actually deaf and just seems a bit addled when there are too many people around, they're all talking at once and she can't read their lips. She feels horrible about keeping info from her parents but she has a really good reason and hopes that once she's on Montgomery land she can finally be herself.

Eveline and Graeme seem to do well together and when she confesses her affliction rather than continuing with the deception Graeme is thrilled that he will be able to have a true marriage. The biggest problem is his clan. They can't see an innocent woman who had nothing to do with the battles that were previously fought between their clans; what they see when they look at Eveline is an Armstrong and most aren't willing to let her in to their lives.

I read a review for this book over at Nath's blog and I was thrilled when I read about the book. I love heroine's or heroes that are deaf or mute because I think it adds an interesting bit of angst to the story. This was one of the better ones I've read.

I think what I liked about this one so much was that while the deaf/mute aspect of the story was a large part of things it wasn't the sole focus. There was also the huge issue of Eveline's acceptance into the Montgomery clan. Graeme, as he got to know Eveline, realized what a kind and strong person she was. She wanted to make a place for herself in the clan and instead of acceptance she found trickery and ridicule. This infuriated Graeme and added another problem of his clan thinking that he was abandoning the Montgomery's for a “dirty” Armstrong. It was just all so good!

On top of all of that there was the nasty man that brought on the circumstances that caused Eveline to go deaf in the first place, Ian McHugh. He was a nasty piece of work and Eveline was happy to be rid of him. Ian, however was a wily bastard and didn't give up on Eveline as easily as she had thought. While this part of the story was a bit much it was a means to an good end and I thought it was a great way to wrap it all up.

I loved the romance in this book as well as almost everything else. I don't think I'd read a Banks historical before but I will definitely be reading the next book in the Montgomerys and Armstrongs Series.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5