Friday, June 18, 2021

Candice Proctor’s THE BEQUEST - Unusual Western Historical Worth the Read!

Set in Central City, Colorado in 1874, this story of the post-Civil War west makes for a most interesting romance. Proctor writes well and the story will hold your attention.

 

Gabrielle Antoine has been raised in a New Orleans convent, believing she is an orphan. Her dream is to someday have a school for girls. Then one day, as a young woman, she finds out her mother only recently died and has left her a house and a business in Colorado. Gabrielle is most curious and decides to go there to learn more about her mother. It turns out the house and business are the same—a brothel—and her mother was the madam who, while still a beautiful woman at 40, was murdered.

 

Once in Colorado, Gabrielle meets her mother’s business partner, a tough ex-Southern officer named Jordan Hays, whose pregnant wife was raped and murdered by Northern soldiers leaving him (understandably) one cold guy. But he can be charming, and he charms Gabrielle. An innocent virgin, Jordan tells her he will take her innocence and leave her with less than she had when he leaves, as he intends to do. He has no desire to marry again. He thinks it will be easy to take her and ruin her. It is and he does. Gee, what a good guy. Gabrielle’s one fear is becoming like her mother…and it seems Jordan is willing to help her down that path. Then comes a bad guy who wants the brothel to add to his kingdom, and he wants Gabrielle, too.

 

Of course, there are wonderful secondary characters, the prostitutes in the bordello, their children and the villains (more than one!). As Gabrielle develops a heart for the women and their children, so will you. We are all a product of our past and these women had very difficult pasts.

 

Proctor writes about Colorado as if she had been a long time resident. She is a master storyteller. Her descriptions of the natural beauty of the place are quite accurate and well done. She will take you back to the west of the 19th century when people were trying to carve a life for themselves out of the rugged terrain and difficult circumstances.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Shirl Henke’s BROKEN VOWS – Superb Storytelling and an Irish Hunk to Love!

Set in Nevada in the late 19th century (beginning in 1870) during the silver boom on the Comstock Lode, Henke delivers a superb tale of young love, prejudice (against the Irish among others), deception, treachery and love’s second chances. I highly recommend it.

 

Rebekah Sinclair, a small town preacher’s daughter, and Rory Madigan, an impoverished Irish immigrant who worked his way West as a prizefighter, meet and quickly fall in love. In a night of passion, they vow to love each other forever and Rory asks Rebekah to marry him assuring her he will find a way to make enough money to win her parents’ respect. However, an evil rich man who wants Rebekah on his arm as he rises in politics conspires to keep Rory from her; his efforts are aided by the bigotry of Rebekah’s family. As a result Rory and Rebekah are separated, each believing they were betrayed by the other. Rory and Rebekah meet again years later when Rory is rich and influential and bent on revenge. But true love will have its day….

I know I’m reading a 5 star novel when I cannot put it down and my emotions are truly engaged. In this case, I also ended up reading it through much of the night, it was that good. Her wonderful characters are richly drawn and her plot weaves an intriguing story.

 

Henke gives us a taste of the West when it was still wild enough that murder and corruption went without retribution, when powerful men used others for their own greed and lust. Then, too, living in America now, we forget the Irish were not just persecuted by the English in Ireland; they were persecuted here as well. Though Rebekah was poor, her family would never consider an Irish Catholic an acceptable husband, no matter how much she loved him. Thank God it’s a romance and all comes right in the end.

 

You won’t regret getting this one!

Monday, June 14, 2021

Nigel Tranter’s THE WALLACE – Excellent Portrayal of a True Scottish Hero of Renown

This is the story of a true patriot well told. The son of a knight, William Wallace rose to move the hearts of the Scots to fight for their freedom from England at a time when Scottish heroes were in short supply. At the end of the 13th century, Scotland was a blood-torn country suffering under the harsh domination of King Edward of England, a tyrant usurper, who was bent on subjugating the Scots as he did the Welsh.


Motivated at first by revenge for the slaughter of his father, Wallace vowed to cleanse his country of the English and set the rightful king, Robert the Bruce, upon the Scottish throne. Wallace, as portrayed by Tranter in this brilliant novel, was a strategic leader with a commanding presence, yet humble when it came to his own skills and achievements. He drew men to him and they came by the thousands. Of course, King Edward could not stand for that and would have an end to Wallace.

 

Tranter’s descriptions of the hidden locations where Wallace and his men hid from the English are excellent and his command of the players exceptional. He brings to life the difficult years and the contribution of one man who stood alone and became a national hero. His treatment of Wallace’s death is sensitive and well done. Yes, there are battles and violence but well worth the read.


Saturday, June 12, 2021

Sally Platt’s ANNIE’S AUTUMN – Unique Western Historical Romance is Delightful

Set in Sweetwater Springs, Montana, presumably in the last quarter of the 19th century, this is the story of Annie Fitzgerald, one of three Fitzgerald daughters orphaned and raised on a ranch by a good woman. When Annie is just a kid, she has an encounter with 10-year-old Luke Barstow, who tries to help her land a fish and ends up being scolded by Annie. So he puts a frog down her dress.

 

Ten years later, after living in South Carolina with her sisters, Annie returns to Sweetwater Springs to run the ranch that is now hers. Luke has become a respected and wealthy man and when he encounters Annie, he sees a feisty gal, but one who has grown into a beauty with a lady’s manners.

 

The first thing I noticed about this story was the author unique “voice”. She repeats names and “head hops” between characters in rapid succession to give you a sense for all that is happening. Flitting through everyone’s head was confusing at first. And the failure to have any paragraph breaks between dialog or different characters’ thoughts made reading the story a challenge. But once I overcame all that, I quite liked the story and it held my interest. I would even say I have become a fan of Ms. Platt.

 

The back and forth between Luke and Annie is priceless and, at times, funny. Both are strong characters. And there are many exciting passages as bad guys, who want Annie’s ranch, use various methods to try and take it from her. But Luke is her constant protector, always there in the background, helping her. The chemistry is very subtle.

 

Some of the author’s comparisons made me laugh out loud. I particularly liked the one where she said the slow-moving coach traveled at the pace of a sick snail. Ha!

 

Now that I’ve adjusted to her style, I would look forward to reading another by this author. There are two more in the Fitzgerald series: Elaine’s Escape and Louisa’s Letter.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Jennifer Blake’s GOLDEN FANCY – An Absorbing Bodice Ripper from the Old West!

I am a fan of Jennifer Blake and love her “Love and Adventure” stories (she has two boxed sets of them—all eBooks). This one is a bodice ripper from the Old West and very well told.

Set in 1893, it tells of 19-year-old Serena Walsh who has lost her parents to typhoid and is forced to travel with a Mormon wagon train heading through Colorado where her father had planned to mine for gold. But the crazed Mormon Elder Greer has eyes for Serena and decides she will become his wife whether she is willing or no. When he thinks to take her by force, she stabs him with a fork and flees to the prairie. There, she is rescued by Ward Dunbar, owner of the Eldorado saloon, who sees her safely to Colorado and thinking she is a loose woman forcibly takes her innocence (yes, indeedy, this is a bodice ripper).

 

Ward, a lawyer turned gambler, wasn’t looking too good when he took Serena’s innocence and, making it worse, forced her to become his kept woman, holding her prisoner in a room above his saloon. Then, too, Ward’s partner, Pearlie, is jealous of Serena and resents her presence. But all is not lost; millionaire Nathan Benedict discovers Serena and wants her for his own, offering a fortune to Ward to leave her alone. And, oh yes, someone is killing ladies of the night.

 

It’s a tightly woven plot with lots of tension and very well written. Based on thorough research, Blake brings to life the gold mining town of Cripple Creek in the late 19th century with all its colorful characters and more than one villain. The story is told through the heroine’s perspective so you’ll be wondering what Ward is thinking much of the time, as I did, at least until he tells us what’s been on his mind. This is one story that will keep you turning pages.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Catherine Hart’s NIGHT FLAME – Enthralling Saga of a White Woman’s Love for a Cheyenne Warrior

Set in the mid 19th century in Wyoming, this is the story of Sarah Wise, the spoiled Southern belle daughter of General Wise, who indulged his only child. So when she asked to go into the West with him and his men, he finally agreed. And so begins the tale of Sarah’s new life.

 

As they move deeper into the frontier, Sarah begins to change, as she must accept hardships of the road. She dare not complain, as it was she who insisted on coming along.

 

At Fort Laramie, the young Cheyenne chief Night Hawk sees Sarah and knows instantly the redhead he calls “Flame” is his soul mate. Sarah recognizes him from a dream she has had, one of many dreams that tell of future events, and is frightened. Little does she know that she is about to become his captive.

 

Night Hawk steals her away and soon makes her his wife, giving Sarah no choice in the matter. Having taken his dead brother’s wife Little Rabbit into his tipi. Sarah mistakenly assumes the pregnant squaw is his wife in truth, but Night Hawk merely shelters his dead brother’s pregnant wife. Little Rabbit resents Sarah and is jealous of the love Night Hawk shows the white woman.

 

Hart kept me on the edge of my seat reading all that happens to Sarah and the Cheyenne over the next few years. There are many twists and turns as Sarah makes a new life among the Cheyenne, tries to escape, discovers her gift of dreams makes her a “Dreamer” to the Cheyenne and greatly prized. She grows up and falls in love with her respected Cheyenne warrior husband. And Night Hawk never flags in his love for her, save for when she tries to escape and he believes she has betrayed him.

 

Hart’s deep research into the Cheyenne people comes through as we experience all that it means to live among them. She brings the era to life and adventure to the page. And she has given us some splendid characters. I highly recommend this story!

 

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Shirl Henke’s A FIRE IN THE BLOOD – Enthralling Classic from Wyoming Cattle Baron Days

Not many romance authors would start their story with a black moment but Henke does it here and does it well. This is an absorbing story, very well told, of a hero who thought he’d never belong and a heroine who had everything but him. Meticulously researched, Henke serves up a worthy love story from the days of the cattle barons, the powerful cattlemen of the Cheyenne Club who ruled over Wyoming Territory in the late 1800s.

Jess Robbins and his father, though Texans, fought with the Union in the Civil War. Jess also did a stint with the French Foreign Legion. By the spring of 1881, he had a fast gun and a talent for spying out cattle thieves. So it was no surprise Wyoming rancher Marcus Jacobson hired Jess as a stock detective to find out who was stealing hundreds of his cattle from the sprawling J Bar ranch.

 

The first time Jacobson’s only daughter and heir, Lissa, caught sight of Jess Robbins, she was drawn to the man. A mixture of white man, Mexican and Indian, Jess was exotically handsome, virile and very sure of himself. Lissa had many suitors, including an older man her father wanted her to marry, but she wanted Jess. Though each was forbidden to the other, they could not stay away.

Henke captures the nuances of a relationship that was forged in passion but held something deeper, a lasting bond that would not be denied. Lissa grows up and her strength comes to the foreground as Jess realizes he cannot live without this woman. How it all comes together is fascinating and held my attention right to the sweet ending.

You’ll like this one. It’s a keeper!


 

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Charlene Raddon’s TENDER TOUCH – A great read from the Old West, a Wagon Train on the Oregon Trail

The story begins in 1849 in St. Louis where Brianna Wight, fleeing an abusive husband, joins a wagon train heading west to Oregon Territory. To ensure she gets there, she hires a mountain man, Columbus (“Col”) Nigh. Soon they discover her husband is in pursuit and wants revenge. Meanwhile, Col, whose Indian wife died sometime ago, finds himself attracted to the very proper woman who initially told him she was a widow.

 

Raddon brings to life the struggles and hardships of the pioneers heading west along the Oregon Trail: cholera, bad water, torrential rains, a tornado, hail, grasshoppers, tainted water and insects. (Amazingly, there were no Indian attacks.) Her meticulous research provides a solid foundation for the budding love between Brianna and Col. Alas, while she includes three maps, they are way too small to see in the ebook (and I love maps!). The ebook also doesn’t open at the beginning, but in the middle of the table of contents, so just be aware.

 

Col is a worthy hero and a complex man, much like the real fur trappers and mountain men who infiltrated the far west in the early days of America. And Brianna is a woman who cares for the hurts of others having lost so many she loves.

 

It's a story of second chances and finding the courage to leave an abusing relationship.


 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Peggy Henderson’s TETON SUNRISE – Adventure and Love on the American Frontier

June is Western and American set romances and I am starting with a great story of love in the American wilderness of the early 19th century.

Set in 1828, this is the story of Evelyn Lewis, who follows her brother into the wilderness to capture the man they believe killed their parents, a man Evelyn has loved since she was a young girl.

Alexander Walker had a cruel father who abused Alex’s mother. After his mother died, he became a fur trapper and mountain man, known for his stealth (“Shadow Walker”) and his ability to fight the Blackfeet. In the Teton wilderness, circumstances lead to a frontier marriage between Alex and Evie and she must now trust him to survive. Alex’s memories of her are of his best friend’s young sister but now he finds he has growing feelings for the grown woman, his new wife.

The story is well written with some exciting scenes and will definitely take you into the American frontier. A worthy hero and heroine come together for a touching love story and Alex learns he is (thankfully) not his father.

Friday, May 28, 2021

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

·               Tempest Heart by Paula Quinn

·               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

            Malcolm

·               The Scotsman by Juliana Garnett (aka Virginia Brown)

·               The Scottish Bride by Catherine Coulter

·               The Spider and the Stone by Glen Craney

·               The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

·               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 Refuge, an Inspirational Novel of Scotland, winner of the Illumination Awards' Gold Medal

A Secret Scottish Christmas, book 5 in the Agents of the Crown series

The Holly & The Thistle, a Regency novella featuring a Scottish hero

Summer Warrior, the award-winning first in my new Clan Donald Saga


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

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