Tuesday, March 3, 2015

New Review: Jennifer Roberson’s THE IRISHMAN –Superbly Told Story of an Irish Chieftain’s Love for Ireland and a Highborn Sassenach

I knew when I read LADY OF THE GLEN, Roberson’s poignant love story set in the time of the Glencoe Massacre in the Highlands of Scotland that her earlier work, THE IRISHMAN would be a treat. And it was. Oh, my.

Set in England in 1617, this is the story of Elizabeth Stafford, a baron’s daughter raised in Kent, who through her father’s wrangling, is given an appointment in King James’ court as one of Queen Anne’s ladies. Before she ever gets to court, however, a carriage accident puts her in the clutches of Kieran O’Neill, last of the royal Irish family of the O’Neills, who has come to England on a secret mission he hopes will win his country’s freedom.

What can I say about a proud, dark Irish hero, descended from the Earls of Tyrone, who only wants to see Ireland free? And a high-spirited young Englishwoman, one of Queen Anne’s ladies-in-waiting, who rejects all her noble suitors for the love of such a man? The story is well-written, wringing with emotion and angst, and steeped in the history of the times. This one will keep you turning pages, I promise.

Roberson has done much research for this story and understands the feelings of the Catholic Irish, persecuted and suppressed by a Protestant England. I applaud her for that. King James I is a character who would have Elizabeth for his mistress and we see the debauched lifestyle of his court as Elizabeth tries to preserve her virtue. 

Roberson's dialog is often brilliant, her storytelling compelling. Her characters vividly portrayed. I recommend it.


The book was first published in 1986 under the title of ROYAL CAPTIVE and under the name Jennifer O'Green, but the author now has her rights back and decided the title she had in mind and her own name were more appropriate. I agree.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

It's Irish Month!

It's Irish month on Historical Romance Review and I've lots in store to put you in the mood to celebrate the wearin' of the Green. There will be reviews, of course, and a special guest, Kimberly Cates, author of some wonderful Irish romances. But first, I thought I'd start with a beautiful picture of the O'Brien tower in County Clare:

And and Irish blessing...

May you always walk in sunshine.
May you never want for more.
May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.

And a video of The Wild Atlantic Way, the longest coastal drive in the world from Donegal to Cork-- Ireland's western coast. This is from the sky and it's beautiful!

And then here's a poem by James Orr, Irish poet (1770-1816) that speaks to the beauty of the land he loved:

  The savage loves his native shore,
  Though rude the soil and chill the air;
  Well then may Erin's sons adore
  Their isle, which nature formed so fair!
  What flood reflects a shore so sweet,
  As Shannon great, or past'ral Bann?
  Or who a friend or foe can meet,
  As generous as an Irishman?

So stay with me for a great celebration of all things Irish!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Best Pirate, Privateer & High Seas Romances!

Who doesn’t love a good pirate or privateer saga? All that capturing, swashbuckling and romancing on the high seas—oh yes! Gets my blood boiling just thinking about it. While there are lots of pirate and privateer romances out there, not all are great ones. Here’s my list of those I have read and rated 4 or 5 stars. Some do not have pirates as such, but may have a swashbuckling sea captain or a privateer. In almost every case, part of the story takes place on the high seas.
·       A Kiss in the Wind by Jennifer Bray-Weber
·       A Pirate’s Love by Johanna Lindsey
·       A Pirate’s Pleasure from the North American Women trilogy by Heather Graham
·       Across a Moonlit Sea, The Iron Rose and Following Sea, Pirate Wolf trilogy by Marsha Canham
·       Bound by the Heart by Marsha Canham
·       Bride of the Baja by Jane Toombs (original author Jocelyn Wilde)
·       Broken Wing by Judith James
·       Call of the Sea by Rebecca Hart
·       Captain of My Heart by Danelle Harmon
·       Chance the Winds of Fortune by Laurie McBain
·       Crimson Rapture by Jennifer Horsman
·       Desire in Disguise by Rebecca Brandewyne
·       Desire in the Sun by Karen Robards
·       Devil's Embrace and Devil's Daughter by Catherine Coulter
·       Embrace and Conquer by Jennifer Blake
·       Fields of the Sun by Nadine Crenshaw
·       Fortune’s Flames by Janelle Taylor
·       Fortune’s Mistress and Fortune’s Bride by Judith E. French
·       Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey
·       Island Flame and the sequel Sea Fire by Karen Robards
·       Lady of Fire by Valerie Vayle
·       Lady Vixen by Shirlee Busbee
·       Lord of the Sea by Danelle Harmon
·       Love of a Lioness by Sawyer Belle
·       Magic Embrace by Jennifer Horsman
·       Master of My Dreams by Danelle Harmon
·       Master of Seduction by Kinley MacGregor
·       My Wicked Pirate by Rona Sharon
·       Passion’s Joy and the sequel, Virgin Star by Jennifer Horsman
·       Passion’s Ransom by Betina Krahn
·       Perfume of Paradise by Jennifer Blake
·       Pirate’s Angel by Marsha Bauer
·       Pirate Royale by Cordia Byers
·       Sea Raven by Patricia McAllister
·       Sea Mistress by Candace McCarthy
·       Sea Mistress by Nancy Morse
·       Shadowheart by Laura Kinsale
·       Silver Storm by Cynthia Wright
·       Tainted Lilies by Becky Lee Weyrich
·       The Black Angel by Cordia Byers
·       The Captain of All Pleasures by Kresley Cole
·       The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss
·       The Game by Brenda Joyce
·       The Hawk and the Dove by Virginia Henley
·       The Hidden Heart by Laura Kinsale
·       The Pirate and the Pagan by Virginia Henley
·       The Pirate Lord by Sabrina Jeffries
·       The Pirate’s Widow by Sandra Du Bay
·       The Pride of the King by Amanda Hughes
·       The Rogue Pirate’s Bride by Shana Galen
·       The Storm and the Splendor by Jennifer Blake
·       The Wind and the Sea by Marsha Canham
·       The Windflower by Laura London (aka Sharon and Tom Curtis)
·       Till Dawn Tames the Night by Megan McKinney
·       Treasured Embrace by Marsha Bauer
·       Under Crimson Sails by Lynna Lawton
·       Velvet Chains by Constance O’Banyan
·       Wild Bells to the Wild Sky by Laurie McBain
·       With One Look by Jennifer Horsman

And, if you want to read a seafaring adventure with a handsome British privateer, a feisty American heroine and a real pirate, you might enjoy my own novel, Wind Raven!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Review: Sandra Du Bay’s THE PIRATE’S WIDOW – Superb Tale of Life after the Pirate

The story begins in 1721 as Caroline Llewellyn is widowed when her pirate husband is hung for his past deeds. Though she was also condemned for piracy, Callie was freed when gunpowder exploded causing a distraction and her bonds were cut—something her husband had arranged. She flees to Cornwall with 10-year-old Jem, her husband’s cabin boy, where they take up life in the village of St. Swithin near Penzance as “Caroline Jenkins, the widow of a missionary, and her son, Jem.”

In Cornwall, Callie meets Sir Thomas Sedgewyck, the richest man in the area, who is taken with her and thinks to make her his wife. He buys her a wardrobe of clothes, which Callie is forced to accept. And there is another man she met on the beach—Finn Blount, the smuggler—and his dog Cyrus. Callie rather likes the man Finn, who is rough but honorable. She wanted to lie low, but it seems her beauty, an arrogant man’s desires and the jealousy of other women won’t allow it.

This is a well-told story of second chances, of life after a great love, and of staying true to who you are. Du Bay gives us a wonderful glimpse of small town life in 18th century Cornwall with many wonderful details and at a time when pirates were active and smugglers dotted the coast. The characters are vividly portrayed and the heroine a worthy one. The love scene is very abbreviated but fits the story.

It's not a long tale but it's a good one.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

New Review: Jennifer Blake’s PERFUME OF PARADISE – Exciting Adventure with a Privateer Hero to Love!

Well-written and well-researched, this is a story set in 1803 beginning on the island of Sanit-Dominque in the Caribbean (today modern Haiti) in the time of violent slave uprisings. Elene Larpent returns from school in France to find her papa has betrothed her to Durant Gambier, a man she thinks is harsh. Worried about whether he’ll be kind and gentle, her maid comes to her with a solution…a perfume that will enthrall any man and keep him her slave.

Before Elene can be wed, the island’s slaves attack and she and her maid flee into the sugar cane field where she is rescued by the privateer Ryan Bayard.

To escape the violence, a mulatto friend of Ryan’s hides them in a pit under his dining room…only 4’ x 7’…for 3 days—and of course, Elene’s perfume drives Ryan wild. You can guess the result. Since she has lost everything, when they escape the island, Ryan persuades her to come with him to New Orleans where much is happening in the change of countries ruling Louisiana. He asks Elene to marry him, but she thinks it’s only due to the perfume and refuses—but is it?
New Cover

Blake sets her story in a time of great upheaval in the island and in Louisiana and did the hard research to make the background and historic details authentic as indicated in her “Author’s Note” at the end.

The descriptions are rich, the dialog clever and there are some wonderful characters. There is also a mystery as people keep dying of arsenic poisoning and Elene is determined to find the culprit.

I recommend it.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

New Review: Amanda Hughes’s THE PRIDE OF THE KING – Absorbing Tale From 18th Century America—a Heroine to Love and a Ship of Pirates!

Set in French New Orleans in 1748, this is the story of Lauren De Beauville, daughter of French aristocrats who died leaving her and her sister orphans to be raised by nuns. When she is 15, her sister joins the order and Lauren is forced to marry an old man from the English colonies who doesn’t speak French. She is rescued from that marriage before it’s begun by a hurricane that sweeps her away on her wedding day to another life. Eventually she is forced to leave that other life, too, and ends up in New England, where she joins with con artists who use her as bait to lure aristocrats into business ventures.

There are many twists and turns in this complex story that finally sees Lauren onboard a ship of pirates and misfits who serve a master criminal, their captain, who smuggles guns and other goods, selling them to both the French and the English. Captain James St. Clare wants Lauren to be his contact with the French, but it’s a very dangerous assignment and she will have to sell herself to accomplish it. But St. Clare, an enigmatic figure, watches over her.

Most of the story is told through the heroine’s point of view with the exception of short snippets in the minds of other characters. And there is a huge cast of characters as you can imagine from the different “lives” Lauren experiences. You feel for Lauren as a young innocent with an adventurer’s heart who faces one crisis after another and yet always manages to triumph. When the black moment comes—and there is a black moment—it is very real and very believable. I loved Lauren’s courage and her determination—and her kindness. No wonder the hero will not give her up.

I can’t say enough good things about this book or about Hughes’ writing. Just take my word for it and get it and you’ll understand. I don’t want to give away the mystery by saying more about the story except that she peels back the layers like an onion—expertly. I have become one of Hughes’ committed fans.

Buy on Amazon.

Friday, February 20, 2015

New Review: Johanna Lindsey’s GENTLE ROGUE: A Rogue Pirate and a Viscount--another Malory Man!

By special request from one of my Facebook friends…

Set in 1818, the Regency period, this 3rd in Lindsey’s Malory series is a worthy read. After all, it’s got a handsome hunk, a pirate and love on the high seas (some of my favorite stuff!).

James Mallory was a pirate for some time. Though now reformed and a Viscount, he still sails the seas when he gets the urge. And, he is still a rake. Seducing women, even virgins, is fair game for him. So, when he realizes that the enticing girl he encountered in a tavern dressed as a lad has just boarded his ship disguised as a boy named Georgie, he decides to make her his cabin boy with the idea of getting her into his bed. No concern she might be an innocent (and there is much evidence of that), or that having seduced her, he might hurt her or worse--get her pregnant (we're talking months at sea...). No, that wouldn't bother him. After all, he already has one bastard he knows of, his 17-year-old son Jeremy, and he routinely seduces married women. In fact, he has a very low opinion of women just because they are so easy to seduce. At that point, I just wanted to flatten the cad. And, make no mistake he is a cad.

When James' ship arrives in Jamaica, and Georgie goes to her brother's ship, docked in the next berth, she acknowledges to herself she is in love with the rake and that she is also pregnant. But she is realistic enough, even at 22, to know the confirmed bachelor means it when he says he'll not marry. So when her brother's ship sails away to New England, leaving her no time to tell James good-bye, she resigns herself to going home alone. Now, if this were real life, she'd never hear from James again, right? Ah, but this is a Johanna Lindsey romance. Sooooo, there will be more story and a happy ending. Call that fantasy perhaps, but it works well here.

A great installment in the Mallory series, even if you do have to suspend belief to accept that Georgie could be that naïve and that a jaded reprobate like James could actually have a heart. The book reads well and keeps up a fast pace. And I love the Malory banter. At least half of the story occurs at sea on James' ship. The rest takes place in London and New England. I recommend it.

The Malory Series:

1. Love Only Once (Reggie and Nick)
2. Tender Rebel (Roslyn and Anthony)
3. Gentle Rogue (James and Georgina)
4. The Magic of You (Amy and Warren)
5. Say You Love Me (Kelsey and Derek)
6. The Present: The Malory Holiday Novel
7. A Loving Scoundrel (Danny and Jeremy, James' son)
8. Captive of My Desires (Gabrielle and Drew)
9. No Choice But Seduction (Boyd and Katey)
10. That Perfect Someone (Richard and Julia)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Review: Johanna Lindsey’s A PIRATE’S LOVE – a Privateer and the Woman He Seized and Would Not Let Go

Set in the 17th century beginning in France in 1667, this is the story of Tristan Matisse whose family was brutally slain by a Spaniard who plundered the coastal towns of France, and Bettina Verlaine, who was betrothed by her father to a wealthy count living in St. Martin. On her way to meet her betrothed, who she does not know, Bettina’s ship is seized by the privateer Tristan who sails for England plundering Spanish ships.

From the beginning, it is clear that Tristan intends to have Bettina in his bed. He considers her spoils, no matter she is an innocent. And high-spirited Bettina will have none of it, so he rapes her. Though he told her he was taking her to St. Martin for ransom by her wealthy betrothed, he decides instead to take her to his island hideout and keep her some months until he “tires of her.” What quickly becomes apparent is that he has no intention of letting her go. While he holds Bettina, he searches for the man who killed his family, Don Miguel Bastida.

Lindsey does a superb job of describing the emotions experienced by Bettina—she could not give in to the pleasure she might experience with Tristan because to do so would be to betray her betrothed. She was feisty and courageous and I loved her. While it was a bit difficult to understand Tristan’s comfort with his own actions given his childhood, somehow Lindsey made us believe it was possible. And I came to like Tristan in spite of his treatment of Bettina, for he genuinely cared for her. Eventually, his more noble side comes out, and even Bettina, who has suffered his “ruining her life,” comes to see it.
1978 Avon cover

There are many well drawn characters along the way, including Jules, the man who watches Tristan’s back, and Bettina’s mother who confesses to Bettina the cold man she thought was her father actually is not. Lindsey makes this an exciting tale with subplots and twists and turns—and the visits to many ports in the Caribbean. She had me turning pages late into the night.

I recommend it and it’s going on both my Best Bodice Rippers and my Best Pirate and Privateer Romances lists.