2017 Book #36 – Highland Barbarian by Hannah Howell

51IxrMFU04L._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Highland Barbarian
Author: Hannah Howell
Date finished: 4/21/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: March 28, 2017 (Reprint)
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: The Murrays series book #13
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Sir Artan Murray was right when he decided that the dying old man who bid him collect his niece didn’t know her at all. The furious woman facing him is neither “sweet” nor “biddable.” She demands the brawny Highlander return her to the wedding party from which he took her. But Artan has no intention of allowing so spirited and bewitching a creature to endure a loveless marriage to a ruthless lord for her clan’s sake. He aims to woo the lass and to show her that true love also yields unforgettable pleasure. . .
Cecily Donaldson knows a bond forged by danger and desperation cannot endure. But Artan’s touch leaves her breathless, and she knows this to be her one chance to experience true passion before an arranged marriage seals her fate. Yet once begun, passion cannot be denied. . .nor can a love with the promise to change everything. . .

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Sir Artan Murray and Miss Cecily Donaldson. Artan’s foster father, Angus, who is as healthy as they come, takes to his bed and claims to be near death. His dying wish is that Artus go to the Lowlands and bring his niece Cecily to see him. With no other heirs, Angus also hopes that Artus will marry Cecily and inherit his estate. Cecily’s parents and brother died when she was young, leaving her under the care of her guardians, who are cousins of her father. Raised her whole life thinking she was a burden to her cousin’s family, Cecily is set to wed Sir Fergus Ogilvey at their request. But when Artus shows up two weeks before her wedding she starts to wake up and realize that this may not be the path she wants. And as she spends more time with Artus, she sees how little respect she’s been treated with over the years. Artus has been doing some observing of his own and he sees how abominably everyone seems to treat Cecily, who is the sweetest woman he’s ever met. And when he learns that Cecily’s guardians might have had a hand in her father and brother’s death, he knows that he has to get her back to Glascreag in order to keep her safe, whether she’s willing to come with him or not.
Overall I really liked this book. The plot was interesting and I loved the tension and the drama of the story. I especially liked Cecily’s character, she was fierce but also feminine and I just loved how fearless she was. And I loved the community that surrounded Cecily once she made it to the Highlands, it was touching to see that she had finally found the family she had always looked for. This was a sweet but fierce story and I liked it very much, I’d be interested to read other books by this author and in this series.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, it was a good story and the heroine was fierce and amazing. I would love to read more in this series!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #35 – The Young Widower’s Handbook by Tom McAllister

51kxyLgkYMLTitle: The Young Widower’s Handbook
Author: Tom McAllister
Date finished: 4/19/17
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Pages in book: 282
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: LibraryThing NOTE: I received this book for free from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

For Hunter Cady, meeting Kaitlyn is the greatest thing that has ever happened to him. Whereas he had spent most of his days accomplishing very little, now his life has a purpose. Smart, funny, and one of a kind, Kait is somehow charmed by Hunter’s awkwardness and droll humor, and her love gives him reason to want to be a better man.
And then, suddenly, Kait is gone, her death as unexpected as the happiness she had brought to Hunter. Numb with grief, he stumbles forward in the only way he knows how: by running away. He heads due west from his Philadelphia home, taking Kait’s ashes with him.
Kait and Hunter had always meant to travel. Now, with no real plan in mind, Hunter is swept into the adventures of fellow travelers on the road, among them a renegade Renaissance Faire worker; a boisterous yet sympathetic troop of bachelorettes; a Midwest couple and Elvis, their pet parrot; and an older man on an endless cross-country journey in search of a wife who walked out on him many years before. Along the way readers get glimpses of Hunter and Kait’s lovely, flawed, and very real marriage, and the strength Hunter draws from it, even when contemplating a future without it. And each encounter, in its own peculiar way, teaches him what it means to be a husband and what it takes to be a man.
Written in the spirit of Jonathan Tropper and Matthew Quick, with poignant insight and wry humor, The Young Widower’s Handbook is a testament to the enduring power of love.

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Hunter Cody, whose wife dies suddenly and tragically at a very young age (I can’t remember exact age but it was 25-ish I think). Hunter has always been an oddball and an anti-social person, and Kait is the only one he felt has ever understood him and loved him for who he really is. He loves her immensely, and while their marriage has the same ups and downs of a normal marriage, they are truly happy together. When Kait dies suddenly, Hunter is grief stricken and lost. He decides to travel from Philidelphia to California with Kait’s ashes, trying to give Kait the vacation they had always talked about but never taken. Along the way he discovers some things he never knew about himself and he starts to learn how he will manage to continue to live after Kait.
Overall I didn’t end up being a huge fan of this book. I wanted to like this book SO BADLY!! It started out with such promise, and I have so many quotes (listed below) from the book that really spoke to me and that I really loved. The story line was just too repetitive for me and I just could not connect to Hunter’s character. At first I found the prose enchanting but in the end it was just too selfish/whiny/repetitive. I really wanted to love this book but I just couldn’t. I would still reommend it, I thought it had some really great commentary for married couples.

The bottom line: I wanted to like this book so much but it got to be too repetitive and whiny for me.

Favorite Quotes:
“Romance is temporary, predicated on countless variables working synchronously to create something memorable that vaguely recalls a scene from a familiar movie… Love, it’s this other thing, a thing that manifests itself in the most unremarkable moments.”

“It’s the arguments that breathed life into the relationship. It’s in the arguments that you ultimately felt the love.”

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page