Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Laurie McBain’s MOONSTRUCK MADNESS – A Classic Keeper with a Scottish Heroine Masquerading as a Highwayman and a Scarred English Duke!

April is Classics month (and Bodice Rippers, too). I’m beginning with a truly wonderful Classic by a great author. Written in 1977, it sold a million copies. Moonstruck Madness is a worthy read—and the first in a great trilogy!

Set in 1746 in Scotland (prologue), and 1751 in England, this is the story of Sabrina Verrick, the Scottish noblewoman, who along with her sister and brother survive after their grandfather, Laird of the MacElden clan, is brutally slain by the English at Culloden Moor. They escape to England where they live in the country at the rundown estate of their father, an English marquis who abandoned them as children. To feed her family, Sabrina becomes the highwayman “Bonnie Charlie,” robbing the rich to feed the poor, including her family.

One man she robs, Lucien, Duke of Camareigh, a gambler and a rogue, is no English fop as are most of Sabrina’s victims. A self-made man, he decides to trap the wily bandit and have his revenge. Once he captures “Charlie,” the duke realizes the highwayman who has been plaguing him and his friends is a beautiful young woman. When she won’t reveal who she is, he decides to try seduction.

Superbly written, you’ll find this one hard to put down. I love the logic of McBain’s intricate plot…no improbable moments here. No contrived black moments. Just great storytelling and suspenseful action. The dialog is clever and the characters wonderfully developed. Sabrina is courageous, good-hearted and rebellious to the end and Camareigh is a tough alpha male, just the kind we like to see fall to love’s power.

McBain paints vivid pictures of Culloden (to start with) and then the English countryside thereafter, putting you right in the scene. It is so well done. Reading this just reminded me that a 5-star classic never goes out of style.

This is the first in McBain’s Dominick trilogy:

Moonstruck Madness
Chance The Winds Of Fortune
Dark Before The Rising Sun

I highly recommend all of them!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Jill Marie Landis’ HEART OF LIES – An Irish Girl in the Louisiana Bayou Finds Love

Set in New Orleans in 1875, this is the story of Maddie Grande, raised in a “tribe” of street urchins, taught to be thieves by Dexter Grande, the  man who reigned over them all. Maddie doesn’t recall a time before Grande and doesn’t know her real name or where she came from. Once on the streets, she now lives in the bayou with her twin tribe “brothers” where she has learned to fish and trap muskrats. She longs for another life but despairs of ever having enough money to escape.

When the twins kidnap the daughter of a wealthy man and force Maddie to hide the eight-year-old, involving Maddie in their crime, she thinks to return the girl and claim the reward, but Pinkerton agent Tom Abbott, sent to New Orleans to find a missing woman, begins to work the kidnapping case, too. He believes Maddie is one of the kidnappers. But now the child has escaped.

In a journey that takes them to Baton Rouge, a mutual attraction develops, but Tom and Maddie do not trust each other. She knows he wants to send her to prison and he thinks she is a consummate actress.

This is a well-told story that brings you into the bayou and then the streets of New Orleans. The tension between Maddie and Tom grows as both search for the lost child who has run away. But the child, an intelligent girl, sees their growing chemistry between the two and tells them they like each other. Penelope is a great character and adds much to the story.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Best Irish Historical Romances!

Rock of Cashel Tipperary, Ireland

I first developed this list for a friend of Irish descent who loves Irish historical romances. Since then, I have updated this list each year as I have come to love stories that feature Ireland and/or Irish heroes and heroines. The books on this list cover all time periods. Some transcend typical historical romance as they bring to life heartrending tales of the wonderful Irish people who survived much hardship to help make great their adoptive countries.

If you’re looking for stories of the Emerald Isle or handsome Irish hunks, or worthy Irish heroines, you will find them here. All these have been rated 4 or 5 stars by me:

·      A Love by Any Measure by Killian McRae
·      Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry by Amanda Hughes
·      Black Falcon’s Lady by Kimberly Cates (originally released as Nightwylde by Kimberleigh Caitlin)
·      Black Sword by Kathryn Le Veque
·      Briar’s Rose by Kimberly Cates
·      Bride of the Baja by Jane Toombs (original author name Jocelyn Wilde)
·      Broken Vows by Shirl Henke
·      Brotherly Love by Lorna Peel
·      Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare
·      Countess of Scandal, Duchess Of Sin and Lady of Seduction, the Daughters of Erin trilogy by Laurel McKee
·      Crown Of Mist by Kimberly Cates
·      Dark of the Moon by Karen Robards
·      Dark Torment by Karen Robards
·      Dream Lover by Virginia Henley
·      Embrace and Conquer by Jennifer Blake
·      Emerald Ecstasy by Emma Merritt
·      Emerald Prince by Brit Darby
·      Enticed by Virginia Henley (first published as The Irish Gypsy)
·      Eyes of the Seer by Ashley York
·      Forbidden Love by Karen Robards
·      Forbidden Passion by Theresa Scott
·      Golden Surrender, The Viking’s Woman and Lord of the Wolves, the Viking/Irish trilogy by Heather Graham
·      Heart of Stone and Heart of Lies by Jill Marie Landis
·      Her Warrior Slave and Her Warrior King, from the MacEgan Brothers Series by Michelle Willingham
·      In From the Cold by Nora Roberts
·      Lady of Conquest by Teresa Medeiros
·      Lily Fair by Kimberly Cates
·      Lions and Lace by Meagan McKinney
·      Lord of Hawkfell Island by Catherine Coulter
·      Maid of Killarney by Ana Seymour
·      Moonlit by Emma Jensen (3rd in her Regency spy series; the only one set in Ireland)
·      Maidensong by Diana Groe
·      Master of My Dreams by Danelle Harmon
·      No Gentle Love by Rebecca Brandewyne
·      Odin’s Shadow by Erin Riley
·      O’er The River Liffey by Heidi Ashworth
·      Only Forever by Kimberly Cates
·      Passion’s Joy and the sequel Virgin’s Star by Jennifer Horsman
·      Raeliksen and Mac Liam (from the Emerald Isle trilogy) by Renee Vincent
·      Rose in the Mist and Irish Gypsy (from the Riordan trilogy) by Ana Seymour
·      Rose of the Mists, A Rose in Splendor and A Secret Rose, trilogy by Laura Parker
·      Scarlett: The Sequel to Gone With the Wind by Alexandra Ripley
·      Scattered Seeds by Julie Doherty
·      Sea Raven by Patricia McAllister
·      Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small
·      Stealing Heaven by Kimberly Cates
·      Stormfire by Christine Monson
·      Storm Maiden by Mary Gillgannon
·      Surrender the Stars by Cynthia Wright
·      Tears of Gold by Laurie McBain
·      The Black Angel by Cordia Byers
·      The Divided Heart by Beppie Harrison
·      The Game by Brenda Joyce
·      The Ground She Walks Upon by Meagan McKinney
·      The Hawk and the Dove by Virginia Henley
·      The Heart and the Holly by Nancy Richards-Akers
·      The Highwayman by Anne Kelleher
·      The Irishman by Jennifer Roberson (first published as Royal Captive)
·      The Irish Devil by Donna Fletcher
·      The Irish Duke by Virginia Henley
·      The Irish Princess, The Irish Enchantress and The Irish Knight by Amy Fetzer
·      The Irish Rogue by Emma Jensen
·      The Irish Rogue by Judith E. French
·      The Irish Sisters Trilogy by Debra Holland
·      The Legend of the Green Man by Sara Hely
·      The Linnet by Elizabeth English
·      The Passions Of Emma by Penelope Williamson
·      The Prize by Brenda Joyce
·      The Rebel by Christine Dorsey
·      The Seventh Son by Ashley York
·      The Sword of the Banshee by Amanda Hughes
·      The Wayward One by Danelle Harmon
·      To Ride a White Horse by Pamela Ford
·      Touch of Lace by Elizabeth DeLancey
·      Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale
·      Whispers of Heaven by Candice Proctor
·      Wild Angel by Miriam Minger
·      Windsong by Judith E. French
·      Wolf’s Embrace by Gail Link

And I hope you’ll read my Regency novella, The Shamrock & The Rose with an Irish hero!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Jill Marie Landis’ HEART OF STONE – Brilliant Story of an Irish lass Set in Old Texas

Set in the 1870s, this is the story of Laura Foster, an Irish girl who was sold into prostitution as a child. Having escaped New Orleans and a life she didn’t choose, Laura is finally living her dream of running a boarding house decked out in grand style. But even after four years of acting the respectable widow in Glory, Texas, she is always fearful that someone from her past might reveal her true identity.

One man falls in love with her: Reverend Brand McCormick, a man with everything to lose if he marries her. Believing it would only hurt him if he married her, Laura tries to resist Brand’s attentions. But the man loves her and will not be thwarted.

This is very well written and kept me turning pages. I loved the deep character development, the historical details that put the story in the right period and the charming children and side characters that provided a rich tapestry. The faith elements are very well done, too.

I highly recommend this tale, the first in the Irish Angel trilogy.

Irish Angel trilogy:

Heart of Stone
Heart of Lies
Heart of Glass

Monday, March 23, 2020

Pamela Clare’s CARNAL GIFT: Wonderful Irish Love Story

This is the second in Clare’s Blakewell/Kenleigh Family trilogy and it’s a good one.

Set in Ireland (and some in England) in 1751 (prologue), 1754 and 1756 (epilogue), it tells the story of Jamie Blakewell (brother to Cassie in SWEET RELEASE), an Englishman with a tobacco plantation in the Colony of Virginia, who has returned to England to try and persuade Parliament to provide money for ships to defeat the French and their Indian allies in the war that has just begun.

To help Jamie with the House of Lords, he seeks the aid of a friend from Oxford days, Sheffield, Lord Byerly, whose lands lay in Ireland. On a hunt in Ireland, they come across some Irish Catholics illegally observing their faith while conducting a child’s funeral. Among them is 18-year-old Brighid whose beauty catches Jamie’s eye. While debauched Sheff would kill the priest and throw the rest in prison, Jamie argues for their lives. Without his knowing it, while Sheff appears to release them, he actually plans to kill the priest and take Brighid as a gift for Jamie. But Jamie is of noble heart and when Brighid is brought to him against her will, he only pretends to have his way with her.

Clare weaves a complex tale that puts us in the heart of the Irish-English conflict in Ireland and the persecution the Catholics faced. She creates some wonderful characters who will live long in our hearts. She also gives us a picture of what brought people to America and the blending of the classes in the New World.

It’s a wonderful love story and I highly recommend it.

Blakewell/Kenleigh family trilogy:

Sweet Release, set in 1730, Cassie Blakewell and Alec Kenleigh
Carnal Gift, set in 1754, Jamie Blakewell
Ride the Fire, set in 1763, Nicholas Kenleigh

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Debra Holland’s THE IRISH SISTERS TRILOGY of Novellas: A VALENTINE’S CHOICE, AN IRISH BLESSING, and A ROLLING STONE

This is a well-written set of novellas that, together, make up a sweet story of three sisters from Ireland and their new home in Montana at the end of the 19th century. The author brings you into life on the frontier so that these are truly historically authentic. Because the stories are short, the love between the hero and heroine comes very quickly. I would love to read a full-length novel by this author. I think you will enjoy these short reads!

Book #1-  A Valentine’s Choice

Set in 1895, this is the story of Bridget O’Donnell who left Ireland along with her twin sister, Alana, to create a better life. The sisters travel to Sweetwater Springs, Montana, and their uncle’s family. Because of their aunt’s sickness, they are diverted to the nearby Thompson ranch.

James Whitson, a cowboy on the Thompson ranch, is in town to drop off a letter at the train station when he meets the twins. He’s immediately smitten with Bridget and decides to court her. Also visiting the Thompson ranch is horse breeder Patrick Gallagher, owner of a magnificent black Thoroughbred. He, too, thinks to snag Bridget. She will have to choose between them.

 
Book #2 – An Irish Blessing

Bridget’s twin sister, Alana, a healer, leaves her sister for her uncle’s home on the prairie outside of Sweetwater Springs where she is needed to nurse her ailing aunt. After Bridget rejected Patrick Gallagher’s marriage proposal, he visits Alana, thinking one twin would probably be as good as the other. But Alana rejects his suit and Patrick retreats, realizing he really likes Alana. An attack by outlaws on his way to town gives them a second chance at love.


 
Book#3 – A Rolling Stone

Meanwhile, back in Ireland, Bridget and Alana’s sister, Catriona, has been abandoned by the father of her illegitimate baby. Pretending to be a widow, she leaves Ireland to find her twin sisters in America, intending to put her wild past behind her. Once united with her sisters, she wants to establish roots and make a home for her child.

Moss Callahan has a bad case of wanderlust, drifting from job to job on a quest for new horizons and interesting adventures. On the point of moving on from Sweetwater Springs, he encounters Catriona, who faints into his arms, forcing him to return to the Thompson ranch where the doctor is attending the wedding of the twins.

Moss feels responsible for the beautiful widow and her baby, and his attraction to her grows. But Catriona is bitter and wants nothing to do with men, especially someone like Moss who won’t settle down.


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Bertrice Small’s SKYE O’MALLEY – Unusual Irish Love Story!

This story is classic Bertrice Small. Set in Ireland, Algiers and London in the mid 16th century, it is the first in the O’Malley series, and tells of the Irish noble families and the loves of an amazing heroine. Though her wealthy Irish sea captain father, famous for his merchant piracy, had 6 daughters, the O’Malley had only one like himself: Skye, strong and intelligent in business—and in her case, also beautiful.

When she is 15, though betrothed to another man (a man she hates), Skye falls in love with the dashing Niall Burke, heir to the MacWilliam, the O’Malley’s overlord. But their families deny them the marriage they want. Instead, Skye is wed to the brutal, lecherous man, and Niall is wed to a highborn woman who would prefer to be a nun. It will be years before they can get together.

You know, if you’ve read Bertrice Small before, her romances are…well, let’s just say, unusual. Perhaps they are more realistic of life in the times, but one should be aware. Typically, there is not just one couple nor is the heroine with just one “hero.” So, be prepared if you pick up this one. To be sure it’s a good story and will hold you captive as the scene moves from Ireland to Algiers and then to England; but what happens can be disconcerting at times. For example, using the vehicle of amnesia, at one point Small has the heroine adopting a lifestyle that is inconsistent with who she is and her life in Ireland. There were other instances where I lost my admiration for the heroine but in the end she triumphs, and so does Niall, though for a long while, he had one piece of bad luck after another.

The whole thing, though a bit farfetched, was very well done. Small’s descriptions of people, places and even dress and food really put you in the scene and make you feel like you are there. And the real life characters of young Queen Elizabeth’s court, including Elizabeth herself, were very believable.

Should you want to read more in the series, here’s the list:

The O'Malley Saga:

Skye O’Malley
All The Sweet Tomorrows
A Love For All Time
This Heart of Mine
Lost Love Found
Wild Jasmine

Skye’s Legacy:

Darling Jasmine
Bedazzled
Besieged