Monday, June 1, 2020

Shirlee Busbee’s LOVE A DARK RIDER – Murder and Love in Old Texas

June is Western Historical Romance month on the blog and I’m starting with a great one. I promise Love a Dark Rider, a tale of ambition, betrayal and murder, will put you in the Old West.

The story begins in 1860 in Texas where Sara Rawlings, left alone and destitute by her father’s death, goes to live with a cousin, Sam Cantrell, a man her father’s age. Sam has a son, Yancy, by his first wife—a woman of noble Spanish linage—and he has a young wife, Margaret—the woman he stole from Yancy.

As might be suspected, Margaret is threatened by the younger, 16-year-old Sara. And Sara is captivated by Yancy, a man Margaret was once engaged to and now thinks to seduce. The one thing Margaret wants for her unborn child is Casa Paloma, a thousand-acre parcel in the middle of the land Yancy’s Spanish ancestors have owned for generations. Yancy vows he will kill her before she can have his land. And then Margaret turns up with a Spanish dagger in her chest.

Much of the book is taken up with the machinations of the family and its history that has led to the distrust, if not dislike, between its members, all of which Sara must suffer through. In the midst of it, Sara and Yancy find love, albeit like two prickly people coming together.

Busbee’s descriptions of Texas and the hacienda are superb. You will feel you are in the old West. Yancy is a drool worthy hero and Sara finds him so. Oh yes, the murder mystery remains unsolved until the end. Busbee will keep you guessing. Very well done.

For Busbee fans, it will not disappoint.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Best Scottish Historical Romances!

Geddes MacGregor once wrote, “No one in Scotland can escape from the past. It is everywhere, haunting like a ghost.” Scotland’s past is the subject of this list, romance novels set in Scotland, most in that magical part of Scotland called the Highlands. Some have a Scot as hero or heroine. The best are set deep in Scotland’s history. All are rated 4 or 5 stars. Enjoy!

·               A Dangerous Love, The Border Lord's Bride, The Captive Heart, The Border Lord And The Lady, The Border Vixen and Bond Of Passion (from The Border Chronicles) by Bertrice Small
·               A Gentle Feuding by Johanna Lindsey
·               A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
·               A Year and a Day by Virginia Henley
·               Abducted Heiress by Amanda Scott
·               Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught
·               Beloved Rogue by Penelope Williamson
·               Blood Feud by Jayne Castel
·               Border Lord by Arnette Lamb
·               Bound to the Highlander by Kate Robbins
·               Bride of the MacHugh by Jan Cox Speas
·               Charming the Shrew and Daring the Highlander (MacLeod duology) by Laurin Wittig
·               Children of the Mist by Aleen Malcolm
·               Claimed by Tarah Scott
·               Clandara by Evelyn Anthony
·               Come The Morning, Conquer the Night, Seize the Dawn, Knight Triumphant, The Lion in Glory, When We Touch and The Queen’s Lady (the Graham series) by Heather Graham Pozzessere
·               Davy’s Last Ride by Brit Darby
·               Desiring the Highlander by Michele Sinclair
·               Devil of Kilmartin by Laurin Wittig
·               Devil’s Mistress by Heather Graham
·               Emerald Embrace by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
·               Forever My Love by Rebecca Brandewyne
·               Gather the Stars by Kimberly Cates
·               Heartstorm by Elizabeth Stuart
·               Heather House: Witch of the Moors by Carmen Caine
·               Highland Deception by Meggan Connors
·               Highland Moon by Judith E. French
·               Highland Rebel by Judith James
·               Highland Warrior, Highland Outlaw and Highland Scoundrel (the Campbell trilogy) by Monica McCarty
·               Highlander’s Hope by Collette Cameron
·               If You Dare, If You Desire and If You Deceive (the MacCarrick Brothers trilogy) by Kresley Cole
·               In From the Cold by Nora Roberts
·               His Stolen Bride by Shelly Thacker
·               Kilgannon and The Wild Rose of Kilgannon by Kathleen Givens
·               Knight of Fire by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
·               Lady of the Glen by Jennifer Roberson
·               Laird of the Mist by Paula Quinn (and all six in her MacGregor/Children of the Mist Series)
·               Lord of a Thousand Nights by Madeline Hunter
·               Lord of Fire by Emma Merritt
·               Moonstruck Madness by Laurie McBain
·               My Lord Monleigh by Jan Cox Speas
·               My Wicked Enchantress by Meagan McKinney
·               On a Highland Shore and Rivals for the Crown by Kathleen Givens
·               Oriana by Valerie Vayle
·               Rebellion by Nora Roberts
·               Rosamund by Bertrice Small
·               Silk and Steel by Cordia Byers
·               Sound of the Heart by Genevieve Graham
·               Snow Raven by Patricia McAllister
·               Tempted and The Border Hostage, duology by Virginia Henley
·               The Bedeviled Heart, The Daring Heart and The Bold Heart by Carmen Caine
·               The Border Bride by Elizabeth English
·               The Border Lord by Jan Westcott
·               The Captive by Parris Afton Bonds
·               The Chieftain’s Curse by Francis Housden
·               The Daughters of Cameron by Aleen Malcolm
·               The Guardian by Genevieve Graham
·               The Highlander’s Reluctant Bride by Cathy MacRae
·               The Lady and the Laird by Nicola Cornick
·               The Lady’s Protector by Emma Prince
·               The Legend and The Destiny by Kathleen Givens
·               The Magnificent Rogue by Iris Johansen
·               The Passionate One, The Reckless One and The Ravishing One (the McClairen’s Isle trilogy) by Connie Brockway
·               The Pride of Lions, The Blood of Roses and Midnight Honor by Marsha Canham
·               The Renegade (first released as The Renegade and The Rose) by Christine Dorsey
·               The Queen’s Lady by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
·               The Taming, Ride Out the Storm and The Daughters of Cameron by Aleen
·               The Scotsman by Juliana Garnett (aka Virginia Brown)
·               The Scottish Bride by Catherine Coulter
·               The Spider and the Stone by Glen Craney
·               Threads of Destiny by Arnette Lamb
·               To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt (one of the Four Soldiers series)
·               To Conquer a Highlander, Highland Hellcat and Highland Heat by Mary Wine
·               White Knight by Jaclyn Reding
·               Without Honor by Elizabeth Stuart

I hope you will consider my own novels set in Scotland’s past: Rebel Warrior, part of the award-winning Medieval Warriors series, the award-winning stand-alone, The Refuge, an Inspirational Novel of Scotland, my Agents of the Crown Regency set in Scotland: A Secret Scottish Christmas, and my Regency novella, The Holly & The Thistle, featuring a Highlander hero.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Elizabeth Stuart’s HEARTSTORM – A Classic and a Keeper Love Story set in Scotland!

Set in late 17th century Scotland during the reign of King James II, it tells the story of Anne Randall, the beautiful daughter of Robert Randall, the evil earl of Glenkennon and representative of King James' government in Scotland. Randall has come to the Highlands to subdue the clans, and particularly Sir Francis MacLean, laird of the MacLean clan. When Randall uses treachery to imprison friends of the MacLean, the Scottish laird captures Randall's daughter to hold her for exchange of the prisoners.

Anne was on her way from England to join her father upon the death of her mother, who was a MacDonnell, allies of the MacLeans. But Francis sweeps Anne away to his home, Camereigh Castle, on the coast of Western Scotland, where they find themselves drawn to each other and Anne experiences the joy of a warm family.

This is superb historical romance and storytelling at its best. Stuart captivates from the first page as she weaves an intriguing tale of love and treachery in the Highlands. The rich historic details show considerable research. The dialog draws you in and the characters are well-drawn. The hero is drool-worthy.

I promise it will keep you turning pages.

As far as I can tell, Stuart only wrote five books before setting aside her writing career to raise her family. But those she has given us are worth holding dear.

Here they are:

Reckless Angel (1988, under the pen name Elizabeth Awbrey)
Heartstorm (1989)
Where Love Dwells (1990, RITA award winner for Best Historical, 1991)
Without Honor (1994)
Bride of the Lion (1995)

Monday, May 25, 2020

Madeline Hunter’s LORD OF A THOUSAND NIGHTS – Love and Adventure in the 14th century on the Scottish Border

Set on the Scottish border in 1357, this is the story of an English knight, Ian of Guilford, dubbed “Lord of a Thousand Nights” for his prowess with women, and Lady Reyna Graham, a widow who is desperate to save her people and her home, Black Lyne Keep, from Ian’s assault. One night, she sneaks out and into his tent, posing as a prostitute. She thinks to kill him, however, Ian knows women and he knows this one is not an experienced woman.

Following her retreat back into the keep, he finds the passage that allows his men to take the keep without a siege. Once captured, she and her people are under his control. There is a fair amount of suspense, witty banter, and sex, as well as some good secondary characters to keep you entertained.

Ian turns out to be nobler that one might think initially. And Reyna is a well-loved noble heroine of good intentions gone awry. There’s mystery in their backgrounds and Hunter does a great job of revealing those at the end.

This is the last of Hunter’s 14th Century London Medieval series and some of the couples in the other stories are characters in this one. All are highly recommended:

By Possession
By Design
Stealing Heaven
By Arrangement
The Protector
Lord of a Thousand Nights

Friday, May 22, 2020

Catherine Coulter’s THE SCOTTISH BRIDE – Utterly Charming Regency Love Story of an English Vicar and Scottish Lass

Set in 1815 in England and Scotland, this is the story of Rev. Tysen Sherbrooke, an English vicar and a widower with 3 young children, who at 31 is told he has inherited a title in Scotland. His 10-year-old daughter, Meggie, decides she must go with him so she sneaks on the carriage dressed as a boy.

In Scotland, Tysen encounters Mary Rose, a courageous young woman whose uncle would give her to an unworthy man. And Tysen is not about to let that happen.

Tysen and his 10-year-old daughter Meggie (who is going on 30) are both charming. I loved their dialog, his thinking and Meggie knowing it all. Mary Rose is illegitimate, which seems to matter to those in Scotland but not at all to Tysen.

It’s a well-told tale, cleverly written and utterly charming. It will keep you turning pages.

The Bride Series (Sherbrooke)

The Sherbrooke Bride
The Hellion Bride
The Heiress Bride 
Mad Jack
The Courtship 
The Scottish Bride
The Sherbrooke Twins
Lyon's Gate
Wizards Daughter
The Prince of Ravenscar

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Kathleen Givens’ THE LEGEND - A Wonderful Scottish Historical!

I am a devoted fan of Kathleen Givens's stories. I loved the Torridon duology about twin brothers from the Clan MacCurrie living on the Northwestern shore of Scotland at their family seat, Torridon.

Set in 17th century Scotland (and England), while perhaps not as good as On A Highland Shore or Rivals For The Crown or the Kilgannon duology, I did really enjoy it. Givens has a real talent for weaving true history into a story that captures the reader’s mind as well as the heart. Always her tales tug at my heartstrings.

This two book series (The Legend and The Destiny) present the Clan MacCurrie and a legend told by the Seer about two brothers, twins Neil and Jamie, and their family. Their father, grandfather and great grandfather all died on their birthday--just as the Seer predicted. The twins were conceived the night the great oak tree that is the clan symbol was split in two by lightning. Yet each half of the tree lived. And the legend tells of the brothers going to war and then of 50 years of peace. The two brothers are very close, even communicating without speaking.

This first story is Jamie's and Ellen's and it begins as the Highland clans are gathering to consider if they will go to war to fight for King James' right to rule or accept William and Mary who have been declared co-regents. It is decided that Jamie must attend the gathering in Neil's place and they believe since they are twins, no one will know.

Ellen is the youngest daughter of a family in turmoil. While her two older sisters have married for love and are happy, her stepfather brought deceit and treachery to her mother's life and her own. Ellen learns of a plot on the life of her cousin, Dundee, who has become the champion of the Highlanders, and she feels she must go to the clan gathering to warn him. On the way, Jamie will save Ellen from brigands.

If you love Scottish history and Highlander romance, you will find both in this tale.  And for Neil's story, get The Destiny!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Aleen Malcolm’s THE DAUGHTERS OF CAMERON – A Splendid Finish in the Highlands for a Great Trilogy… A Keeper!

You’ll have to buy is used but it’s worth it. This is a brilliant finish to the Cameron trilogy of stories set in the Highlands and the wilderness of America… all highly recommended. This one features the two daughters of Cameron, a feisty lass whose daughters are much like her.

It begins in 1782 in the Great Lakes region of the American wilderness after the war. Golden-haired Kestrel and her sister, the raven-haired Rue have experienced hardship and the brutality of evil men. Thus, they have walled off their hearts and trust no one.

Dr. Nick Mackay, fresh from the battlefield, promises Cameron he will wed Kestrel and care for her. Very soon, he realizes what Cameron must have seen—that he loves the wild girl. Meanwhile, the pirate Hawk captures the ship the two sisters are sailing on to Scotland and decides to make Rue his wife.

I love Aleen Malcolm’s writing. She is historically detailed; her stories reflect much research and they are emotionally moving. I can forgive her the frequent head-hopping as she jumps from one character’s mind to another because her characters are so well developed, so endearing. Simply wonderful.

Malcolm holds back nothing as she reveals the savagery young women faced on the frontier but she brings into the sisters’ lives wonderful men to love and care for them and tame their wild spirits. They can be read as stand alones but get the trilogy. You will love it.

The Cameron trilogy:

The Taming (Sir Alex Sinclair and Cameron, set in the Highlands)
Ride Out the Storm (Alex and Cameron in the New World)
The Daughters of Cameron (Rue Sinclair and Torquin MacKay and Kestral Sinclair and Alex MacKay

Friday, May 15, 2020

Jayne Castel’s THE BEAST’S BRIDE - Great first in the Brides of Skye trilogy!

Set in 1346, this is the story of Rhona MacLeod, the headstrong daughter of a clan chief on the Isle of Skye. She has no wish to wed and so refuses all the suitors her father offers her. Finally fed up, her father decides to hold two days of games, the winner to get Rhona’s hand.

Taran MacKinnon is known to all as “the Beast of Dunvegan” because of his facial scars but he is the best warrior of the MacLeod. Taran is secretly in love with Rhona and never thinks to have her until the games. When he wins, he knows he faces an uphill battle for her love as she did not want to marry him or anyone.

The story is well-written and is guaranteed to hold your interest. Historical details add to its authenticity, and there are some exciting scenes. I did find the wedding night’s “we must consummate” or face your father’s wrath a bit unbelievable. (All Taran needed was a knife to cut his finger and voila! He’d have blood on the sheet.) But no matter. He is a hero you can love and Rhona comes to do just that. It’s a good story and a great start to the trilogy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Bertrice Small’s THE BORDER LORD AND THE LADY – Captivating and Unique!

Once I got past the realization that Bertrice Small historical romances are very different than others, the things that at first distracted (long narratives, repeated scenes told through different characters’ eyes, and “head hopping” from one character’s perspective to another in rapid succession) became a rich background for a captivating story. Then, too, one has to love the historical part of historical romance as Small gives you a lot of what was going on at the time, including the food they ate. Finally, her stories do not all have one hero and one heroine who live happily ever after. The Border Lord and the Lady is just such a book. Oh, there is a happy ending, don't get me wrong, but it won’t be what you expect. Nevertheless, it is very realistic for the time (15th century) and the place (the border between Scotland and England). And it's a wonderful story.

Lady Cicely Bowen was the much-loved daughter of her widowed father, the Earl of Leighton. But when he remarries, his new wife is so jealous that the earl has to send Cicely away to foster at court to ensure her safety. There, living in Queen Joan’s household, she becomes a lady and the best friend of the king's cousin, Lady Joan Beaufort. When her cousin marries the young James Stewart, King of Scots, Cicely follows her to Scotland. There Cicely expects to have her choice of husbands, as promised by her father and agreed to by King James. But one of the border lords, Ian Douglas, laird of Glengorm, is smitten with her and decides she is the only one for him. Tired of fighting her other suitors for access to her, he engages in a bit of bride stealing, practically a tradition in Scotland.

To say this is the love story of Cicely and Ian is only part of the story. This tale goes on for several years and much happens in the lives of all those in Scotland who are a part of Cicely's life. I won’t spoil it for you but I will say I was a bit shocked when certain events happened. But I did recognize it as reality and got over it very quickly as the story continued to intrigue me. I highly recommend this one.

Also, I recommend reading Small’s Betrayed with or before this romance. It is the story of Fiona Hay, introduced in The Border Lord and The Lady, and it’s a worthy read.

Here’s the Border Chronicles series:

A Dangerous Love
The Border Lord's Bride
The Captive Heart
The Border Lord and the Lady
The Border Vixen
Bond of Passion

Monday, May 11, 2020

Monica McCarty’s HIGHLAND WARRIOR – First in the Wonderful Campbell Trilogy!

I have read all three in this series (Highland Warrior, Highland Outlaw and Highland Scoundrel) and loved them all. I prefer this trilogy to the MacLeod Trilogy. All three of these are strong Highlander reads.

Set in the early 17th century Scotland, this first story is that of Jamie Campbell, who is cousin the Earl of Argyll and his “enforcer” strong arm of the law. Jamie's all about bringing criminals to justice and his current assignment is to hunt down the MacGregor outlaws. So, he travels to Ascog Castle on the Isle of Bute where the Laird Lamont is believed to be harboring MacGregor fugitives. Jamie intends to pose as a suitor to the Laird’s famously beautiful, willful and outspoken daughter, Caitrina, while he searches for the MacGregors. He did not plan on falling for the girl when he claimed a kiss as a boon to rescuing her from a tree where she is stuck in her underwear (long story).

Caitrina has no plans to marry at all, preferring to stay with her father and brothers where she is happy. But the ravages of the war between the Argyll and the MacGregors will change her life and, to save Ascog and her people, it seems the only option for her will be Jamie Campbell.

This is a great story of how love can come from tragedy and resentment for wrongs can be forgiven. McCarty develops the characters and backstories well and has great sexual tension between the characters. My only negative on the three books in this series is that her love scenes all seem the same, well described but a bit too measured when one might like to see passion overtake control once in a while. Still, it's an enthralling Highlander romance. I recommend this one and all three in this trilogy!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Shannon Drake’s THE QUEEN’S LADY – Get Swept Away to 16th century Scotland!

This Scottish historical by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham) is set in 16th century Scotland and England during the rise of Mary Queen of Scots and her clash with her cousin, Elizabeth, reigning as Queen of England.

Lady Gwenyth MacLeod is one of Mary's ladies in waiting. Gwenyth’s Scottish background and knowledge allow her to provide unique insights to her new Queen, who is returning from France after the death of her husband, King Francis.

Very soon into her time with Mary in Scotland, Gwenyth encounters Lord Rowan Graham, laird of Lockraven, who is also serving Queen Mary. The attraction is mutual and strong though there is an initial clash of wills. Still, once he realizes he loves her, his love for her never fails. I think that's what distinguishes this romance for me from so many of Drake's (Graham's) other historicals. The hero never treated the heroine badly and never stopped loving her. How novel, eh?

I loved the hero's consistency and his faithfulness to his woman. Here is a man worth the wait. Their times were tumultuous and they faced many challenges including the inconsistency of the Queen they both served. You can imagine how difficult it would be in such times to find real love. This is a wonderful trip through the history of Scotland and England, too. I so appreciate Heather’s research. It’s a tale of two Queens and a story of a great romance between two people trying to do what is right. Along with the history is Heather’s usual good job of storytelling, great character development and a true love fought for and won. I loved it.