Sunday, March 9, 2014
Set in Ireland in 1747, THE REBEL tells of Captain Padraic (Paddy) Rafferty, aka Lord Dunlanoe, an Irish patriot masquerading as a fop so he can act the Robin Hood at night. From the deck of his ship, the Rebel’s Pride, he fights the English. Then he comes home to his castle in Ireland to become the Rebel by night and Lord Dunlanoe by day.
On his last homecoming, Padraic discovers that his father, who he’d left a fortnight ago, is dead and has left behind a widow, Lilianne Rafferty, of whom Padraic knew nothing. Lily, who is 4 years Padraic’s junior, poses a problem for him in maintaining his disguise for when he learns her father is Robert, Lord Tinsley, he cannot allow her to return home.
Lily has a unique healing gift that makes many people shy from her and others seek her out. She claims no mystical powers, just a God-given ability that sometimes works and sometimes does not. Padraic, who suffers from a leg wound received at Culloden, doubts she can heal anyone and will not let her touch his leg. But a neighboring lord, who hates the Rebel, would have her as his wife for her money and her healing power.
The book is well written and the characters well developed. Paddy is a charmer. The story becomes more exciting as it progresses, though perhaps it did not quite achieve the excitement that her first in the trilogy did. Still, I recommend it and the three in the series. They are all related.
THE RENEGADE (first published as THE RENEGADE AND THE ROSE)
Thursday, March 6, 2014
New Review: Nancy Richards-Akers’ THE HEART AND THE HOLLY – Wonderful Irish Medieval, an Exciting Story!
Set in 14th century Ireland, this is the story of Lady Johanna Elizabeth, or as she prefers to be called, Aislinn, the wild daughter of an English knight, Sir Roger Clare, and his Irish wife, now dead. Aislinn has grown up at her father’s estate in Ireland and resists her father’s recent attempts to turn her into an English lady and marry her off in England. When she first meets the fierce Bran O'Connor, an Irish chieftain, he was acting the spy for his Irish clan. He kisses her to further his disguise but is caught by her enticing ways, realizing what they say about Clare’s daughter is true—she is a temptress.
When Aislinn learns her father is planning to send her to England, she sets her sights on Bran’s younger brother Niall, thinking to marry him so she can stay in Ireland rather than marry a man of her father’s choosing. But Bran is wise to her manipulation and will tolerate no half English woman in the blood of his clan. So, he interrupts the plan and sends her back to her father. Little does Bran know the terrible fate that awaits her there.
This is an exciting, well-written story with an alpha male hero and a worthy heroine. The author brings out the hatred the Irish clans had for the English and shows how badly the English treated the Irish, banning their Irish names, their worship, their customs. She also shows the Irish dislike of the English.
The epilogue does a particularly nice job of letting you know what happens after the happily ever after.
It’s a great romance and there are two others that come before it, both with Scots heroes.
THE HEART AND THE HEATHER, 1994
THE HEART AND THE ROSE, 1995
THE HEART AND THE HOLLY, 1996
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Set in Ireland, beginning in 1784, this is the story of Caitlyn O’Malley who, at 15, has lived on the streets of Dublin disguised as a lad for so long, she no longer sees herself as a girl. When she tries to pick the pocket of Connor d’Arcy, Earl of Iveagh, an Irish nobleman, believing him to be English, she is caught. Connor, having great sympathy for homeless lads, offers her a job on his farm with “three square meals a day.” Hungry, she accepts, traveling with him to Donoughmore Castle where Connor and his younger brothers farm sheep in the shadow of the burned out castle that was once their home. Caitlyn never considers her feminine gender will be discovered. However, she is wrong.
This is very well written and had me on the edge of my seat wondering what the feisty Caitlyn would do next. But there’s a turn in the middle that takes Caitlyn to London, which had me a bit disappointed. All comes right in the end (of course) but one could have wished they stayed in Ireland.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Jeremy, betrayed into indentured servitude in the colonies, was a man admired by the women of London, “able to smile and wheedle his was with them or take them as his right, whichever suited his purpose and mood.” When he first sees Meredith and the beautiful mistress of her stepfather, Jeremy determines to have them both, no matter his lowly status at Bittlerleaf where he’s been consigned to the stables.
When Jeremy, who is good with horses and an expert rider, offers to teach Meredith to ride (she does not ride well), her stepfather thinks it’s a grand idea and asks also Jeremy to ride their spirited stallion in an upcoming race. Her stepfather has a plan and Jeremy is a part of it.
It’s a story of what happens when a man who has enjoyed pleasure with beauties is surprised to find himself enthralled with a plain woman with low self-esteem who has more passion and more intelligence than any other woman he’s known. And it’s a story of learning to trust.
Lisa Gregory (pen name for Candace Camp) and author of the classic THE RAINBOW SEASON, can certainly spin a tale. In this detailed story, she brings to life the world of the Southern plantation in 18th century America, before the Revolutionary War. Most of the story takes place at Bitterleaf and in Charleston. Some richly drawn characters add a wonderful depth to the story. However, you may find the pace is a bit leisurely, and I have to say some of their misunderstandings that persisted did bother me.
Oh, and while I love the cover, I should note that Jeremy has golden hair, not dark brown.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
New Review: Cordia Byers’ THE BLACK ANGEL – Irish Privateer and an English Girl Find Love During the Revolutionary War
Brianna fled England after stabbing her stepfather when he tried to rape her. Hiding her deep secret by taking a different last name, she hopes for a new life in the West Indies. Since Roarke is headed to Eustatia Island, she decides that will do just fine.
When the Black Angel docks, Roarke’s first mate thinks to seduce Brianna by taking her to a certain tavern where aphrodisiac herbs come with the rum--which he does--but Roarke intervenes to save her. Alas, he does not save her from himself. Brianna, who is already half in love with Roarke, then becomes the object of jealousy from Roarke’s mistress and Roarke must save Brianna once again.
It’s a fast-moving, well-written tale of adventure and peril with some exciting twists and turns as Brianna tries to make her own way in a hostile world. And when the English lord she thought she murdered? It turns out he wasn't dead after all.
There’s a lot of action and shipboard scenes to please the lover of high seas romance. I recommend it and it’s going on my Best Irish, Pirate/Privateer and American Patriotic lists.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
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 rated 4 or 5 stars. Some have pirates, some 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, pen name for John Toombs)
• 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 Mistress by Judith French
• Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey
• Island Flame and the sequel Sea Fire by Karen Robards
• 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
• 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
• 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 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
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
New Review: Lynna Lawton’s UNDER CRIMSON SAILS – A Captivating Bodice Ripper with a Sea Captain from the Old South…ah yes!
Set in the late 18th century after the American Revolutionary War (which ended in 1783), this is a story of Ryan Deverel, the bastard son of a wealthy plantation owner. Ryan is also a former privateer, a successful sea captain and landowner. He is also a man of many women. So when he first encounters the beautiful flaxen haired Janielle Patterson, thinking her a servant, he ties her to his bed and then later, rapes her (more a forced seduction). In Ryan’s own words, “when it came to women, he had no conscience.”
When Ryan learns that Janielle is not a servant, as he had thought, but the only surviving daughter of a fellow plantation owner and that she is betrothed to one of his friends, does he apologize or even care? Not at all. He takes advantage of the woman that he has made her and continues to make love to Janielle without a word about love or the future. The natural consequence is, of course, that she becomes pregnant. I don’t want to give away the plot, or the many developments which follow, as they are intricate and there are some surprises, but let me just say that Janielle makes some bad judgments, one involving Ryan’s estate overseer, who would have Janelle for his own. Of course, she was not alone. Other women made bad judgments where Ryan was concerned. It seemed women just couldn’t resist him.
Ryan knew everything about seducing women but he knew nothing about love. Janielle knew she loved Ryan but when Ryan scorned her, she tried to find happiness with others—and failed.
This romance will not appeal to all because the heroine, a very likeable courageous woman, makes mistakes we don’t like our heroines to make. And the year Ryan spent as a pirate (the way he treated Janielle) made me hope the authorities hanged him. But it will hold you captive, I promise. The author tells the tale well, letting us experience the emotions, the conflicting desires, the agony of lost love and the frustrations. She also adds meaningful history that brings the story to life. And, to my great delight, her ship scenes are well drawn and her terminology right!
It's going on my Best Pirate/Privateer Romances and Best Bodice Rippers lists.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
New Review: Kathleen Woodiwiss’ THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER – Captivating Tale of a Sea Captain and the Woman he mistook for a Doxy—a Keeper!
Set in 1799, it tells the story of the beautiful young Heather Simmons who was raised a nobleman's daughter. When her father, grieving at his wife’s death, gambled away the family’s money and then died himself, the young Heather was sent off to live with poor relations who abuse her (think Cinderella). She believes she is given a chance to escape when her older cousin, a successful merchant, comes to call, claiming he can get her a job at a girl's school in London.
Heather soon discovers that the lecherous old man has something entirely different in mind. When he dresses her up as a whore, Heather flees only to find herself on the docks of London. There, seamen from Capt. Brandon Birmingham's ship, looking for a doxy for their captain's pleasure, seize her. Brandon, an American merchant sea captain from the Carolinas, is delighted with what he believes is a gorgeous young prostitute. Before he hears her story, he has his way with her only to realize he has just deflowered a virgin. He tells her she needs to be resigned to becoming his paramour, but she will have none of it and escapes. (I just loved that part…a courageous heroine who cleverly escapes the hero’s bad intention). And so the tale begins.
It's an amazing story that will take you from a poor farm in England, to London, to a merchant ship sailing across the Atlantic, and finally to the American south of wealthy plantations.
Woodiwiss paints vivid word pictures of life on the farm and the adventure at sea. It is a tale of great love coming from a rude beginning. I liked Woodiwiss’ prose and masterfully drawn characters. If you read historical romance, you MUST read this one. It’s a keeper!
Friday, February 21, 2014
Isabeau lives for revenge on Beauchart. With King Edward’s blessing, she becomes the pirate known as the Lioness of Brittany, sailing the English Channel, preying on the French. Her two ships, one captained by Sir Guy, attack at night, painted black with red sails. Sir Guy is drawn to Isabeau’s courage and her determination to succeed. He knows she hides a secret and has vowed to learn the truth.
Sawyer has done well bringing to life a period when England and France were grudging allies, when a real “Lioness of Brittany” roamed the English Channel. And she has brought us an independent, unusual heroine—a willing pirate to bring a villain low. Both Isabeau and Sir Guy bear scars from their past and both must trust to find happiness with each other.
If you like lots of action and sword fights and battles galore, including those aboard ship, you’ll find it in this romance.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I don’t typically read time travels as they are often a bit light on the historical side, but this one has enough of the real setting to satisfy. Grant has blended a sort of pirate saga set in the late Regency era with a modern heroine who is sophisticated in technical things and carries a modern weapon. It was Grant’s debut novel and reflects her knowledge as a former Air Force pilot (later an airline pilot).
The story begins as F-18 Navy fighter pilot Lt. Carly Callahan, flying in weather off the coast of Spain, is forced to eject when she loses her instruments and her engine flames out—only to find she has landed in the ocean just after a battle in 1821. Sir Andrew Spencer, captain of the Merryweather, and a sometimes pirate, fishes her out of the ocean, believing her to be Lady Amanda Paxton, the only survivor of the destroyed ship and the betrothed of a duke. A duke who is bent on destroying Andrew. Andrew decides to hold Carly for ransom, but he begins to care for her. Still, while he desires her, he can never marry Lady Amanda.
Most of the story takes place on Andrew’s ship and his island where we learn about his family and his proclivities toward inventing rotor machines (think helicopters). Grant did an excellent job of weaving in the historical and the modern, all except for the hero whose reactions to learning about Carly’s sexual experience are very 21st century. The ending is sweet and worth waiting for. Of course, you have to suspend belief completely but still, it was heartwarming.
Monday, February 17, 2014
The story begins in Paris where a young boy, Gabriel, is left at a brothel, raised to pleasure both men and women. We learn in backstory that he was sold to a sick aristocrat, who educated the handsome boy and taught him music at which he excels. But when Gabriel tried to escape he was "disciplined" and returned to the brothel.
Years later, having become most attractive to both men and women, and one of the brothel's most prized possessions, Gabriel so hates himself he cuts his arms to remind himself he is alive. He has only one thing keeping him there...he saves another boy from ending up like him, protecting young Jamie against any who would rob the child of his innocence. As it turns out, Jamie is the young brother of an English nobleman who learns where the boy is and comes for him. With the nobleman comes his sister, Sarah, Lady Munroe, known as "the Gypsy Countess."
Sarah is a most unusual woman who thinks more like a man and often dresses like one. Thankful for Gabriel's protection of the boy, she and her brother contract with Gabriel to return with them to England for a year to help settle Jamie. During that time, the family comes to appreciate Gabriel's honorable nature, his intelligence and his character. Sarah, who can see into Gabriel's soul, longs to heal his many hurts. In the process, she and Gabriel share a love for the night sky, music and the ocean. And Sarah and Gabriel fall deeply in love.
Gabriel, who has trained as a seaman and a swordsman, decides to go with Sarah's cousin, Davey, a privateer captain, to the Mediterranean in order to earn enough money to one day support Sarah. And here a real adventure begins.
James is meticulous in detail and the historical setting is rich, accurate and absorbing. She tells the tale through many perspectives and I found that refreshing. I loved knowing what all the characters were thinking and she did it very well. The characters are well developed and varied. You will love Davey the pirate/privateer, Ross the older brother who is a pirate at heart...and so many others along the way.
I highly recommend this one. It’s a keeper.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
New Review: Cordia Byers’s PIRATE ROYALE – Absorbing 17th Century Pirate Story—one of my all time favorites!
She was John Carrington’s daughter, and as such, Royale Carrington commanded the respect of the seamen who served under her when she dressed as a man and wielded a sword with fierce expertise. As captain of her own ship, she was prepared to fight King Charles II’s wardship and his refusal to grant her a letter of marque, taking to the sea as a pirate robbing the Spanish of their gold.
On the night before Royale is to sail, she is kidnapped by men who sail under the pirate El Diablo, thinking she’d make a fine offering for their mysterious captain. El Diablo asks for a kiss to release her, but then takes her innocence instead. Though he would keep her, she has other plans.
One of the things I loved about this story was that Royale got away from the pirate who captured her. I just love it when the feisty heroine outsmarts the arrogant male who thinks he will have his way. El Diablo (who is really Sir Bran Langston on a mission for King Charles) soon realizes that the young virgin he has deflowered is the ward of the King, the woman he has been sent to protect.
This is a well-written tale with lots of action—a classic story of pirates and love in the Caribbean as the British fight the Spanish for control. Byers does a wonderful job of integrating the real history of Henry Morgan’s escapades and his personality. I loved the heroine who was strong, smart yet very feminine. And the hero, while certainly not perfect, was at least consistent in his pursuit of the elusive female pirate who takes her revenge by seizing ships in El Diablo’s name.
If you like pirate romance and tales in the Caribbean, I recommend this one, though you’ll have to buy it in paperback until Byers gets it into eBook format.
Friday, February 14, 2014
It’s that time of year again…the time for Valentines, flowers, chocolate and the music of love. I just couldn’t let it pass without sharing some of my favorite love songs. These will definitely put you in the mood for love, I promise!
Click on the song to hear it on You Tube.
Besame Mucho, Andrea Bocelli
Someone Like You, Van Morrison
Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? Van Morrison
I saw Rod Stewart perform the next three songs live dressed in his tux, white waistcoat and his trademark red rose in his lapel. Oh yes, and his deep scratchy voice. It was this romantic’s idea of the way to deliver those love songs.
They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Rod Stewart
It Had to Be You, Rod Stewart
The Very Thought of You, Rod Stewart
The Lady in My Life, Michael Jackson
The First Time Ever I saw Your Face, George Michael (Live in London)
To Where You Are, Josh Groban (Scenes from P.S. I Love You)
If I Didn’t Care (my favorite version from the movie Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day; listen for Lee Pace’s voice to join Amy Adams when her voice breaks at 2.03. You have to see the movie to experience the poignancy of the scene.)
Love Will Lead You Back, Johnny Mathis
My Love, Paul McCartney
J’en deduis que je t’aime (I gather I love you), Charles Aznavour
L’amour c’est Comme un Jour (Love is like a day), Charles Aznavour
Until…, Sting (from the movie, Kate & Leopold, one of my favorites)
All I Ask of You, Emmy Rossum & Patrick Wilson, from the movie The Phantom of the Opera
The scene from The Phantom of the Opera on the You Tube clip for All I Ask of You (above) features one of the most romantic big screen kisses ever.
And what was it Christine said was “all she asked”? --That he promise all his words were true…and that he love her. Ah, yes….
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Set in Ireland and England in 1578, this is the story of Bryony O’Neill who was born to sail, and Slade Tanner, the English Captain of the Silver Hart to whom Queen Elizabeth has given the O’Neill lands and their home in Clandeboye.
Because her father has never publically acknowledged Bryony, calling her “Changeling” and holding her responsible for her mother’s childbed death, her twin brother Brendan (“Dan”) forces their father to allow her to sail with them. Dan wants to be a farmer but his strong Irish father, the leader of their clan, is having none of it. He refuses to see it is his daughter who was meant to one day take his place, not his son.
I love that McAllister based her story in a real province of Ireland (see map below) and uses the real family name of O’Neill. To me, it’s a sign of an author willing to do the hard research, and her book is all the more credible for it. Other historical details abound and Queen Elizabeth is a real character in this well written novel.
This is a great first in the Raven trilogy. I recommend it!
The Raven trilogy:
Monday, February 10, 2014
[Click on the movie poster to see the title on Amazon]
|KATE & LEOPOLD|
|PRIDE & PREJUDICE|
|P.S. I LOVE YOU|
|SABRINA (new version)|
|SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE|
|THE LAKE HOUSE|
|THE QUIET MAN|
|PHANTOM OF THE OPERA|
|Somewhere in Time|
|YOU'VE GOT MAIL|
|ROMEO & JULIET|
Saturday, February 8, 2014
New Review: Jane Toombs’ BRIDE OF THE BAJA – A Bodice Ripper from Old California and a very well told tale—with pirates!
Based on the real characters and events and one date late in the book of 1813, it is set in the early 19th century in Alta California, the waters off the coast and in Mexico. It begins as Alitha Bradford is traveling with her father on his ship from Boston to California with the intention of sailing on to the Sandwich Islands where she is to wed her betrothed, Thomas, who is a missionary. As they leave Valparaiso, she sees a handsome American captain standing on the deck of his ship. She will only learn later he is Jordan Quinn.
Off the coast of California, Alitha’s father’s ship, struck with cholera, goes down in a storm and Alitha ends up stranded on a coastal island with a young Indian boy who saves them both.
Meanwhile, Jordan Quinn, the Irish American captain of the Kerry Dancer out of Portsmouth, sails to Santa Barbara to wed the beautiful Margarita Mendoza. When the wedding is delayed, Jordan steals away with Margarita aboard his ship—only to be accosted by pirates, led by the Frenchman Bouchard.
Alitha, having been taken captive by a tribe of Indians, is rescued by Esteban Mendoza, Margarita’s brother, and taken to his hacienda where Jordan shows up in a trade of captives by the pirates. When Esteban and Alitha travel to Mexico, Jordan goes too, but with a hidden agenda. To round out the players, Alitha’s betrothed, Thomas will come to California, looking for her.
This is a well-told, absorbing saga of early California bringing in all the cultural elements: the Californios, the Padres, the Indians and the Americans (who have designs on the land0. And, lest I forget, there are pirates. The scenes on the ships are very well described, and the characters well developed.
I could not put this one down, wondering what next would happen next and if Alitha would wise up about her future with Mendoza and make a good choice. Still, it’s not for every reader of romance as there is violence aplenty, even rape, which for pirates would have been the norm. And the heroine, a spirited but in some ways naïve young woman, goes on a major detour with Mendoza who takes advantage of her innocence.
But I recommend it and would read more by this author.