2017 Book #83 – The Scot Beds His Wife by Kerrigan Byrne

51PMluAPISLTitle: The Scot Beds His Wife
Author: Kerrigan Byrne
Date finished: 9/27/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Pages in book: 416
Stand alone or series: #5 in the Victorian Rebels series
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:

They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster.

Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, is a notorious Highlander and an unrelenting Lothario who uses his slightly menacing charm to get what he wants—including too many women married to other men. But now, Gavin wants to put his shady past behind him…more or less. When a fiery lass who is the heiress to the land he wishes to possess drops into his lap, he sees a perfectly delicious opportunity…

A marriage most convenient

Samantha Masters has come back to Scotland, in a pair of trousers, and with a whole world of dangerous secrets from her time spent in the Wild West trailing behind her. Her only hope of protection is to marry—and to do so quickly. Gavin is only too willing to provide that service for someone he finds so disturbingly irresistible. But even as danger approaches, what begins as a scandalous proposition slowly turns into an all-consuming passion. And Gavin discovers that he will do whatever is necessary to keep the woman he has claimed as his own…

My rating:  3.75 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 Sam Masters and Gavin St. James. Sam is not your traditional heroine since at the beginning of the book she was married to, well a villain. When we first meet Sam she is in fact helping her husband rob a train, up until she shoots him in the head. Which is especially unfortunate as one of her brother-in-laws sees her do it and now she is on the run not only from the law but also from her husband’s family, who are looking for revenge. Luckily on that train she meets Alison Ross, a woman from Scotland who happens to need a stand in on location in order to claim her family’s land. Works out well for Sam, who needs a place to hide out for awhile. Gavin is looking to use that same piece of land in order to get out from under his brother’s thumb however, so Gavin and Sam battle it out over this land dispute. But when Sam’s troubles follow her to Scotland, Gavin vows to protect her.

Overall I liked this book. The plot line, while a little far-fetched in certain parts, was certainly intriguing. And while Sam was most definitely a flawed heroine, she had spirit and was pretty fierce. I tend to appreciate honesty over all else so some pieces of the story line (towards the end) kind of rubbed me the wrong way but it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. There was a hell of a lot of flowery language in this book, especially considering how much of a rogue the hero supposedly was, I was surprised how poetic he could be. There was a good amount of swearing in this book, lots of f-bombs, so if you don’t like swearing just be warned. I didn’t mind it though, the characters in this story were fierce and it was fitting with their characters. I would be interested in reading some of the other books in the series.

Also make sure to check out my Blog Tour post on this book here!

The bottom line: I liked this book a good amount. There were a couple pieces of the plot that didn’t jive with me personally but I still thought it was a good story. There was a good build up of tension, I was on the edge of my seat by the end of the book. Lots of flowery language though.

Link to author website

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

The Scot Beds His Wife BLOG TOUR!!

Blog Tour Banner

The Scot Beds His Wife will be released this coming Tuesday, October 3rd, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book under Book Reviews on my site. See below for more information about the book, an excerpt, a short author bio, and an author interview! This was a good read and I would recommend checking it out!

SUMMARY

The Scot Beds His Wife is the next lush, captivating Victorian romance in the Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne.

 They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster.

 Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, is a notorious Highlander and an unrelenting Lothario who uses his slightly menacing charm to get what he wants—including too many women married to other men. But now, Gavin wants to put his shady past behind him…more or less. When a fiery lass who is the heiress to the land he wishes to possess drops into his lap, he sees a perfectly delicious opportunity…

A marriage most convenient

 Samantha Masters has come back to Scotland, in a pair of trousers, and with a whole world of dangerous secrets from her time spent in the Wild West trailing behind her. Her only hope of protection is to marry—and to do so quickly. Gavin is only too willing to provide that service for someone he finds so disturbingly irresistible. But even as danger approaches, what begins as a scandalous proposition slowly turns into an all-consuming passion. And Gavin discovers that he will do whatever is necessary to keep the woman he has claimed as his own…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kerrigan ByrneWhether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan Byrne uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in every book. She lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, but dreams of settling on the Pacific Coast. Her Victorian Rebels novels include The Highwayman and The Highlander.

BUY THE BOOK HERE

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AUTHOR Q&A

  1. Are there any books or authors that have really influenced you and made you want to write? What about those authors inspired or influenced you?
    1. There are more authors than I can name who’ve influenced and inspired me, but I’d say that I rely heavily on Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic when I need inspiration to write. It reminds me to make my own art, to rely on the magic of story. The necessity of in my life and the lives of others. I do always love to read Christopher Moore, Lisa Kleypas, Lindsay Faye, and Rhys Bowen.
  2. Do you have any special rituals that you find yourself following when you’re writing? OR Take us through your typical work day.
    1. I couldn’t say I have typical work days. I do try to keep banker’s hours. But it’s best for me to write when I’m alone because I do have a rather embarrassing ritual. I tend to try out my character’s dialogue (terrible accents and all) out loud. I’d die of mortification if anyone heard!
  3. Do you usually work off of an outline while writing or do you tend to just start writing and see where the story takes you?
    1. I tend to know how a book is going to begin and end, but I’m not always certain of the road from point A to point B. That journey I love to discover as I go.
  4. Have you read anything lately that you loved?
    1. I recently read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, and it’s something I’ve read again and again because it is both hilarious and helpful!
  5. What (if any) research did you have to do for this novel? What was your favorite piece of research you did for this novel?
    1. I’d say for The Scot Beds His Wife, my favorite research was for Samantha because, while I’ve done extensive research on the UK for other stories, I know very little about cattle ranching, cowgirls, or shooting pistols! It was the most fun I’d had in a while and was an interesting change of pace.
  6. What do you do to cure writer’s block? Do you have issues with this often or hardly at all?
    1. I’ve come to learn recently that stress is the enemy to creativity. I was hit with several crises at once in a short period, and it wasn’t like my drive to write was lessened, it was as though my ability to write totally deserted me. After struggling with this for a while, I’ve learned that gutting through the hard days can still be successful. Even if what I put on the paper isn’t my best work, it’s something, and that keeps me moving forward.
  7. Who is your favorite character in this story and why?
    1. I’d say I had two favorite characters! Locryn and Calybrid, the two old cowhands who can’t live with or without each other. Their relationship provided me with many much-needed giggles in a sometimes-dark story.
  8. We’d love to hear more about you! Give us 3 “good to know” facts about you?
    1. I am a video game nerd. On my days off, I love to play Assassin’s Creed, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Horizon: Zero Dawn, etc. It’s what I call “active rest,” where my mind is resting but my hands are active.
    2. I’m pretty much prejudiced against all things “80’s.” I’m not a fan of the music, the dress, or the pop culture. Though I’m a child of the 90’s, my husband and friends are mostly children of the 80’s and we have many spirited debates!
    3. I’m only second-generation American, and I’d always been told my family is from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. However, I’ve recently taken a DNA test, and found out I’m 50% Scandanavian and only 30% Irish. I’m mostly a Danish and Norwegian!
  9. What drew you to historical romance in the first place? 
    1. I started pilfering my grandma’s harlequins back when I was too young to be reading them, and I enjoyed the contemporaries enormously. However, the moment I picked up my first Victoria Holt novel, I was lost to the romance of the past.
  10. Have you ever been to Scotland or Ireland?
    1. I’ve never been out of the US! I’m terrified of flying, but I’m going on my first plane trip in 15 years next month. So that’s one step closer to international travel.
  11. Would you say that your Celtic ancestry provides a source of inspiration for your characters and settings?
    1. I remember the stories my grandparents told in their accented voices. I saw their paintings and their pictures of home. I love the mythology of the old gods, the old ways, and the traditional music. There’s always been something wild and romantic about the Celts, and I believe that calls to me on a personal level.
  12. Similar to your other series the Victorian Rebels Series as a whole has seen great reviews. What do you think appeals most to the readers?
    1. I’m so grateful to have been blessed with incredible fans and readers who have often become friends. I would say that not only do we women love to fall for a tortured hero, but we also like to read about other women who share the same hardships and triumphs that we do. I like to write about women who are employed, who know adversity, and work hard for their successes, they are both wise, capable, flawed, and feminine. These ladies can fight their own demons and those of the men they love. They are not damsels who need to be saved by their heroes. They become partners who save each other. To me, that is true romance.
  13. If you could describe the main characters Gavin and Samantha’s relationship in 3 words, what would they be?
    1. Contentious. Forgiving.
  14. What do you love most about this story?
    1. I love that a Highlander who considers himself the most wild, willful, and independent man of his acquaintance, meets a woman who possibly has him outgunned, in every sense of the word!
  15. As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans?
    1. I would love to keep writing historical romances for as long as people would keep reading them! Eventually, I’d love to sprinkle some paranormal historicals in there. Since I’m so enamored of Celtic myth, I’d like to bring the romance of some of those myths to passionate life.
  16. This book is all about Gavin St. James, the Earl of Thorne. What would you say is his greatest weakness? What is his greatest strength?
    1. I would say that Gavin’s greatest weakness is his vendetta against his family. He often lets his anger blind him to logic, and can make enemies of those who love him because he won’t let go of his past. I am certain that his greatest strength is his protectiveness of those he feels responsible for. His mother, his employees, the strays and outcasts he tends to collect. He cares for them more than he likes to admit. He has such a large heart beneath all of that rippling muscle. 😉
  1. The heroine, Samantha Masters, has quite the predicament on her hands. What was your favorite part about writing her character?
    1. I sort of loved her struggle with her secrets and lies. She’s an outlaw who really desires to be a good person and doesn’t quite know how. That was a great deal of fun to write.
  2. Your books tend to be a little darker than the usual historical romance. What is about writing about these characters that draws you in?
    1. Life has its darker moments for all of us. I think sometimes people go through darkness and feel that they are ruined by it. I like to write about people who go through that darkness, and are redeemed from it. Made stronger by it. It gives me hope to write about it, I hope it give hope to others to read about it, as well.
  3. What did you have the most fun with while writing THE SCOT BEDS HIS WIFE?
    1. I had the most fun using Samantha to humble a Scot as arrogant and handsome as Gavin. I loved that she had a wit just as scathing and a mouth just a foul as his. She refuses to be impressed by him, and that only makes him try harder to get everything he wants.
  4. If you had to describe this book in three words, what would it be?
    1. Rapid fire romance.

EXCERPT

51PMluAPISLChapter Two

Union Pacific Railway, Wyoming Territory, Fall, 1880

Samantha Masters squeezed the trigger, planting a bullet between her husband’s beautiful brown eyes.

She whispered his name. Bennett. Then screamed it.

But it was the woman in his grasp she reached for as he fell to the ground.

Though they’d known each other all of twenty minutes, she clung to Alison Ross as though the younger woman were the most precious soul in the entire world, and they sank to their knees as their strength gave out.

Alison’s hold was just as tight around her, and their sobs burst against each other’s in a symphony of terror, shock, and abject relief.

What in the hell just happened?

Not twenty minutes ago, Samantha and Alison had been no more to each other than amiable fellow passengers on an eastbound train, chugging across the wintry landscape of the Wyoming Territory.

What were they now? Enemies? Survivors?

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Samantha repeated the words with every short, sobbing exhale. Though she couldn’t have said who the apology was to, exactly. To Alison? To Bennett? To whoever had been shot on the other railcars?

To God?

This morning she’d been the irate, disillusioned wife of a charming and dangerous man. An insignificant and unwilling member of the outlaw Masters Gang.

This afternoon, she’d been the new acquaintance and confidant to Alison Ross, commiserating over childhoods spent on secluded cattle ranches.

This evening, because of what she’d just done, of what they’d all just done . . . chances were good that she’d be hanged.

This train job was supposed to be like any other. Each of the Masters boarded on the last platform for miles and miles. To avoid detection or suspicion, Bennett, Boyd, and Bradley Masters would each take a seat in separate passenger cars.

Samantha would be placed in the least populated car, usually first class, as it was also the least dangerous. Once civilization completely fell away, the signal was given, and the men would strike, rounding up all passengers into one car.

This was done for the safety of the passengers as much as the Masters, themselves, as the gang didn’t generally rob people. Cash, jewelry, and personal items were never as valuable as actual cargo. The Union Pacific Railway didn’t only deliver citizens across the vast American continent. It delivered goods, sundries, and often . . . federal funds.

Even in these modern times, when it seemed all the gold had been mined from the rich hills of California, American currency was still minted in the east. Which meant everything from company payrolls, to government bonds, to cash and precious metals were transported by transcontinental railways.

And the Masters brothers, aspiring entrepreneurs, had decided that if the government wouldn’t allow them land, nor the banks grant them loans . . .

Then they’d take what they needed.

This was supposed to have been their fifth and final train job. It was supposed to have gone like the others.

No one harmed or robbed. Merely a bit inconvenienced and perhaps a little shaken. The Masters would escape with a few bags of money that the government could simply print again, a “frightened” female hostage as played by Samantha herself, and the papers would have an exciting story to publish in the morning.

The signal, both to each other and to the passengers, was one shot, fired at the ceiling, and then a command to disarm, get moving, and a gentle promise that all this would be over before they knew it. Samantha’s job was to act like any other passenger, and incite them to obey. Then, if necessary, act as the hostage to force compliance.

“People are sheep,” Boyd had always said. “They’ll follow a sweet thing like you to their doom.”

On this job, Samantha had been more comfortable than any other. At this time in October, with winter settling in but Christmas still a ways off, travel wasn’t foremost on the mind of the average American.

Her railcar had only two occupants other than herself. Alison Ross, a lively, bright-eyed San Franciscan socialite, and a well-dressed businessman more interested in his paper than conversation.

At first, Alison’s friendly overtures had vexed Samantha, as she found it hard to concentrate on responses when her blood sang with equal parts anticipation and anxiety. But, she realized, to not engage would be suspicious, and before long she’d found herself enjoying Alison’s company.

She’d not known many women her age, least of all friendly ones.

Samantha imagined that in another life, she and Alison could have, indeed, been friends.

Had she not been about to rob the train.

Had there not been more gunshots than were agreed upon . . .

Had Boyd and Bradley not bailed with the money, leaving Bennett to come after his wife, his white shirt and dark vest splattered with blood.

Oh God. What had they done?

Over the deafening beat of her heart, she’d heard Bennett say something about federal marshals. About someone taking a bullet in the shoulder. Boyd? And then a shootout.

Through vision blurred with tears, Samantha glanced at the businessman, dead-eyed and bleeding.

Her fault. All her fault.

Bennett had shot him without a word or warning. Then he’d grabbed Alison and put his pistol to her temple, because he’d known.

He’d known the second he’d seen the horror and denial on Samantha’s face at the blood on his shirt, that she wouldn’t have gone with him. That, while she’d have stayed married to an outlaw, she could never love a murderer.

“Come with me, Sam,” he’d ordered tersely. “Come with me now, and we will go to Oregon.”

It was in that moment Samantha had known he lied to her.

They’d fought about it the night before, when he’d said Boyd wanted to go south to Texas or the New Mexico Territory instead of north to Oregon like they’d planned. That oil towns were the new gold rush.

She’d railed at him. It wasn’t the life he’d promised her. They were supposed to go to the sea to make their fortune in lumber. He was going to build her a grand house on a cliff and make love to her while serenaded by thunderstorms. They’d only just escaped their desolate life on a cattle ranch in the high desert. She didn’t want to go back to bleak sweaty days beneath the harsh, unrelenting sunshine. She wanted pretty green hills, trees, and meadows. She wanted to live somewhere she could wrap a shawl about her and listen to sea storms toss rain against her windows.

Last night, she’d been shrill, and Bennett had been cruel.

But he’d awoken his charming self, randy as he ever was before a dangerous job. And she’d lain beneath his thrusting body, unable to relinquish the churning of her resentments and worries enough to appreciate his affections.

Then it was time to wash, and dress, and commit a crime.

Bennett had promised to revisit the issue. To make her smile again, to fulfill her dreams.

Problem was, Samantha had already lost faith in Bennett Masters’s charming promises. A part of her had begun to accept what she’d long feared. Bennett would never go against his brothers, brutal and backward as they were. If Boyd decreed the family was going south to work in stinking, desolate oil towns, then there was no other option but to do exactly that.

Boyd had once whispered to her in secret that, while Bennett might love her, he feared him more, and fear was always more powerful than love.

“He’d let me fuck you, if I wanted,” Boyd had threatened once when she’d been mouthy. He’d grabbed her through her trousers, his fingers digging painfully against her sex. “You’d best keep that in mind.”

She’d never forgotten that night five months ago. Because she’d told Bennett of Boyd’s behavior.

And, as Boyd predicted, he’d done nothing.

Now, when Bennett held his pistol to this helpless woman’s head, and ordered Samantha to open the door to the railcar, she’d looked into the eyes of her husband of four years.

And seen a stranger.

“You’ll let her go,” she’d reasoned evenly. “You’ll let her go, and we’ll get out of here.”

She’d opened the door. Bradley had the horses keeping pace with the train as it slowed around the McCreary Pass bend. She motioned to him, and he spurred his ride faster. They’d get off the train, and she’d figure out just what the hell had happened before making any hasty decisions.

“She’s seen us.”

Bennett’s words had frozen her blood as she realized that he wasn’t wearing his bandana.

“People have seen us before,” she’d said over her shoulder.

“Not like this, Sam. We can’t leave witnesses. She has to die—”

Samantha had reached across her body, drawn her Colt single-action, turned, and shot him between the eyes in the time it took him to pull back the hammer of his highercaliber, slower-action Smith & Wesson.

Only now, while clinging to a stranger on her knees, did she have time to think about what she’d just done.

She’d killed a man. Not just any man.

Her husband.

“Thank you,” Alison said ardently against her ear.  “Thank you. I know he was your man, but I wasn’t ready to die.”

Pulling away from Alison, Samantha noted the mark that Bennett’s recently used gun left on her pale temple. He had to have killed before, hadn’t he? He just . . . murdered that innocent man like it was nothing to him. He didn’t even hesitate. And then to even consider executing a slight and lovely girl like Alison?

Her husband of four years.

God, had she ever known him at all? Wood paneling splintered above them as a bullet pierced the wall, and Alison screamed, lifting her arms to cover the green silk hat perched above a wealth of mahogany curls.

Bradley.

Samantha’s head whipped around to see that he’d gained on their car, and had witnessed the entire thing. Luckily, of the four of them, Bradley was the weakest shot and only the second-best rider.

The distinction as the best, of course, belonged to her. Boyd was the gunslinger.

Samantha dimly remembered Bennett saying that Boyd had been wounded, and with any luck, those wounds would be fatal.

Bradley’s mount galloped closer, and Samantha realized that if he gained on the train, he’d be coming for her, and only one of them would survive the encounter.

She’d found her gun where she’d dropped it, but Alison stayed her hand. “I know a way to keep your neck out of a noose,” she said, her blueberry gaze surprisingly steady through the tears. “But we’ll have to . . . to get rid of the body.”

Samantha’s racing heart shriveled, but she and Alison stayed low as they rolled Bennett’s limp body the few feet to the door.

“You’re dead, Sam!” Bradley, unable to reload his pistol on horseback, was reaching across his saddle for his rifle. Which gave the women no time to pause. No time to hesitate.

Together, they pushed Bennett through the door, and the force of the train, the wind, and momentum pulled him sideways down the iron steps. The broken sounds his body made when he hit the earth nearly killed Samantha, but Alison slammed the door just as Bradley’s rifle had found purchase on his shoulder.

Samantha could tell his shot went wild, and waited a few eternal seconds for another.

Alison gathered her wealth of skirts and knelt on a seat, peeking through the window. “He’s stopped.” She breathed in obvious relief. “He’s stopped for your—for the body.”

It was only then that Samantha began to shake. Great, bone-rattling tremors coursed through her. All warmth leached out of her, and she slumped into a seat knowing her freezing limbs wouldn’t hold her weight for much longer.

Resolutely, Alison Ross claimed the seat across from her. A bone structure as sharp and perfect as hers was only accentuated by pink blush and rouged, full lips. Emeralds swayed and twinkled in her ears, catching the light as she leaned toward Samantha.

“He called you Sam,” she noted in a sweet voice that contrasted with her sharp tone. “That’s your name?”

“S-S-Samantha,” she managed through rattling teeth. “H-his brothers. T-they’re going to kill me. I’d rather hang.”

“You told me you grew up on a cattle ranch. Was this the truth?”

Samantha nodded, wondering if she’d ever be able to breathe again. Assaulted by the picture of Bennett’s handsome face marred by a perfectly round hole between his eyes.

“You can shoot, obviously. Can you ride, herd cattle, work figures?”

She nodded again, before the absurdity of Alison’s question registered. “W-why are you being kind to me? My—my husband almost—” She couldn’t bring herself to say it. It was too horrible.

In spite of everything, a corner of Alison’s painted mouth lifted at Samantha’s expression. “Where I come from, in my country, saving a life is no small debt. Also, in my savage part of the world, from the time we’re very, very young one law is paramount to all others. Tha an lagh comraich.”

Comraich?” Samantha blinked rapidly at the lovely, obviously wealthy woman. Either she’d gone mad, or Alison was speaking in tongues.

“It means sanctuary.”

Shaking her head, Samantha tried to understand the woman. That word had no meaning to her. What was Alison talking about, her country? She didn’t look or sound at all like an immigrant. Was she not American? Had she not said she had a fiancé in San Francisco? That her family had been wealthy ranchers and she was forced to travel east to settle a land dispute?

“I don’t know what you’ve been through, or what has happened to bring us to this place, but I think we can help each other,” the elegant woman was saying.

“I’m lost,” were the only words Samantha could conjure. Hopelessly, incredibly lost. Adrift. Misplaced. In every conceivable way.

Alison’s gaze gentled. “Tell me, Samantha, have you ever been to Scotland?”

 

Copyright © 2017 by Kerrigan Byrne and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

 

2017 Book #82 – The Visitors by Catherine Burns

51QVQtl5CMLTitle: The Visitors
Author: Catherine Burns
Date finished: 9/22/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

With the smart suspense of Emma Donoghue’s Room and the atmospheric claustrophobia of Grey Gardens, Catherine Burns’s debut novel explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.

Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother John in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to live by John’s rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door…and turning a blind eye to the women’s laundry in the hamper that isn’t hers. For years, she’s buried the signs of John’s devastating secret into the deep recesses of her mind—until the day John is crippled by a heart attack, and Marion becomes the only one whose shoulders are fit to bear his secret. Forced to go down to the cellar and face what her brother has kept hidden, Marion discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible. As the truth is slowly unraveled, we finally begin to understand: maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side….

My rating:  2.75 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 Marion Zetland, an old maid who lives with her brother in their deteriorating house left to them by their mother. Marion seems to be mentally challenged, having had a lot of trouble with her schooling and while she dreams of having a family she never seems to develop beyond adolescence. Having been raised by her pervert of a father and her nut of a mother, its no wonder that she ends up a little worse for the wear. She spends all her time at home, mostly daydreaming, while her brother spends most of his time in the cellar with “the visitors.” Marion tries not to think too much about the women who live downstairs, but when her brother John ends up in the hospital she has to become involved with these women for the first time. And as Marion is forced to come to terms with what her life has become, she questions how her devotion to her brother has led her down the wrong path.
Overall I liked this book ok. It was interesting and there were some good plot twists in the story. There were some wordier parts to the story that I found quite dry but past those the story was good. I just felt so bad for everyone involved, even including Marion who I probably shouldn’t have felt so bad for. Her childhood sounded awful though and its no wonder she developed so poorly as a person. She was a bad person if you think about it though, its hard to sympathize with her and yet she was able to go out and start a new life for herself. The story, while suspenseful, was just very sad. Other than that it was ok though. It was interesting enough that I would recommend it but eh it wasn’t my favorite.

The bottom line: I thought this book was fairly good. There were some pretty good plot twists in the story. Overall it was just very sad and pretty wordy in some parts. Was an interesting story overall but not my favorite.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #81 – Every Boy’s Got One by Meg Cabot

31z6jE0DtYLThis book was a re-read for me as part of the Terryville Public Library‘s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group. This book was the (my) pick for September. I had originally thought about changing my pick to something more discussion worthy but we’d been reading a lot of heavier stuff so far this year so I thought some levity might help brighten our spirits. I’m not going to re-post my normal review since I’ve technically already reviewed the book on the blog here. I will say though that I did not enjoy it quite as much as I remember, probably partially due to rushing through to finish for book club and also it felt a bit wordier than last time. Still would recommend though, love her writing.

2017 Book #80 – Pretend You’re Safe by Alexandra Ivy

514EgbkGzQLTitle: Pretend You’re Safe
Author: Alexandra Ivy
Date finished: 9/14/17
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Part of a series
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:

HE SEES YOU
First came the floods. Then came the bodies. The victims—strangled, then buried along the shores of the Mississippi—have finally been unearthed, years after they disappeared. He remembers every satisfying kill . . . each woman’s terror and agony. But there’s only one he truly wanted. And fate has brought her within reach again . . .

HE KNOWS YOU
Jaci Patterson was sixteen when she found the first golden locket on her porch. Inside were a few strands of hair wrapped around a scrap of bloodstained ribbon. Though the “gifts” kept arriving, no one believed her hunch that a serial killer was at work. Now Jaci has returned home . . . and the nightmare is starting once more.

AND HE’LL NEVER LET YOU GO
Back then, Rylan Cooper was an arrogant deputy sheriff convinced that Jaci was just an attention—seeking teen. It was a fatal mistake. There’s a murderer in their midst, someone determined to settle old scores and keep playing a twisted game. And it won’t end until Jaci is his forever . . .

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 Jaci Patterson and Rylan Cooper. When Jaci and Rylan were younger, Rylan worked in the sheriff’s office as a deputy. It was there that he ignored Jaci’s cries for help and created this whole problem. Jaci had been receiving lockets with bloody hair attached to them when she was still in high school and she was (obviously) worried about what it meant. Rylan was a little less worried as he was convinced that Jaci is just making all of this up to get his attention. Fast forward to years later, the lockets have started arriving again. And when women she know start disappearing, it becomes obvious that her stalker is losing control. Luckily Rylan is back in town and is now ready to protect her at all costs.

Overall I liked this book, it was an ok story. The story line was interesting and the story built up but for some reason I couldn’t feel much build up of suspense from the story. Jaci as a character too was kind of annoying, and Rylan too I guess. I did like that I had trouble figuring out who the bad guy was, and I liked the way that Rylan eventually figured it out I thought it was very creative/different. Overall this was a pretty good book.

The bottom line: I thought this book was fairly good. The suspense piece of the book was a little lacking but other than that I liked the story.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #79 – The Uncertain Season by Ann Howard Creel

51PXLpnvIJLTitle: The Uncertain Season
Author: Ann Howard Creel
Date finished: 9/9/17
Genre: Historical fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

The Hurricane of 1900 devastated Galveston Island, but a storm of betrayal is still brewing.

Nineteen-year-old Grace’s golden age is just beginning. She and her mother live a privileged life. Beautiful and talented, Grace is looking forward to a pleasant summer celebrating her engagement to a wealthy young gentleman.

But when her lovely, charming, and disgraced cousin Etta arrives, Grace finds her place in society—and in her mother’s heart—threatened. Etta enchants everyone as she maneuvers to secure a station in Galveston’s upper echelons. Grace, in a reckless moment, reveals Etta’s scandalous past, and as punishment, she’s sent to work in Galveston’s back alleys, helping the poor. There, a silent waif known only as Miss Girl opens Grace’s eyes to new love and purpose. She’s determined to save this girl who lost her entire family in the hurricane and now slips along the shadows of the unfinished seawall with a mysterious resolve.

Soon, the lives of the three young women will converge as betrayal, mistaken identity, and a family secret sweep them toward a future that defies all expectations.

My rating:  3.75 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 centers around the stories of cousins Grace and Etta. Grace is a sheltered rich girl who grew up on the island of Galveston, which three years prior to this story was the site of a catastrophic hurricane that killed 6,000 people, including the family of a character we only know as “the girl.” Etta is Grace’s poor cousin who is sent to stay with Grace and her mother after she falls in love with a circus man and defies her mother. It is in Galveston that Etta learns about money and how it can improve your life, and realizes she should marry well and create an easier life for herself. Grace, through a mistake of her own, is sent to work with a local missionary in the alleys of Galveston, where she learns things about life that she never knew existed.

Overall I liked this book a lot. It was really interesting to see the character development in this book, as all the characters end up in a completely different place than where they started. I loved the setting and the history that was included, the hurricane and the devastation it caused were a true part of history and I always find that to be pretty fascinating. I found the book and the plot to be engaging and fairly fast paced, though there were a few dry parts. The ending was left a little more open than I usually like but it didn’t detract from the story for me. I liked this book a lot and I would recommend it.

The bottom line: I liked this book a good deal. I loved the development of the characters and the story line was very interesting. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #78 – Royal Affair by Marquita Valentine

51BVpnpqK6LTitle: Royal Affair
Author: Marquita Valentine
Date finished: 9/6/17
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: April 18, 2017
Pages in book: 235
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Royals in Exile series
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:

A sheltered princess goes wild—and makes the best mistake of her life—when she falls for a roguish reporter in this fun, sexy romance from the bestselling author of Royal Scandal.

Online muckraker Brooks Walker has a reputation for exposing the political elite. Now he’s set his sights on the Sinclair siblings, who’ve been embroiled in their fair share of drama ever since their exile to North Carolina. But Brooks has never been afraid to get his hands dirty—until he meets a royal wallflower at a charity ball who makes him reconsider everything. Is Brooks feeling guilty because he knows all the sordid details of her family’s history? Or because he’s putting their relationship first, before his journalistic integrity?

As the “spare” twin, Princess Charlotte has always been the responsible one. So when her sister finally agrees to fulfill her duty as queen, Charlotte gives herself permission to break a few rules by flirting with the very off-limits CEO of Walker Media. Brooks is the worst sort of man to start an affair with, but Charlotte just can’t help it. The trouble is, since she’s no good at playing games, soon she’s tiara over heels in love. And when Brooks comes clean, Charlotte must decide whether his confession is worth a royal pardon.

My rating:  3.75 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 Charlotte Sinclair, Princess of the Isle of Man, and Brooks Walker, expose journalist extraordinaire. Charlotte can’t help her attraction to Brooks even though he is the one that outed their family for being royalty in hiding. As Charlotte is not the Queen-to-be though, she has a little more freedom to make her own decisions and she decides to start an affair with Brooks. And as they spend more time together and get to know each other better, they realize how well they fit together. But when Brooks is presented with a story about Charlotte that could explode his career, can he really but his whole life on the line for love?

Overall I really liked this book. This book was Definitely WAY more steamy than the first book in the series, Charlotte and Brooks’ chemistry leaps off the page. At the same time I really liked the plot better in this book too, there was more development of the characters I thought and the intrigue and plot twists flowed a little better than in the first book. I also like how the author is continuing to develop the overall series, I’m interested to see where we go in the next book. My only confusion really with this book was why we had to jump like 5 years into the future, it felt like no time had passed at certain points and at other points it was obvious 5 years had passed. The whole idea just felt a little off and left a few holes in the story. Like has Imogen been ruling as Queen this whole time? Why was Davies just making his move now, 5 years after he was fired? There were some points of the plot that I thought could’ve been explained better or developed further but at the same time this one was a quick, easy, light read and adding more in would’ve made it longer. Either way I liked this one and I’m interested to see where the series goes next!

The bottom line: I liked the plot of this book better than the first book in the series. Just as forewarning this book is VERY STEAMY. Like super steamy. Still a good plot though, I liked it.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #77 – Royal Scandal by Marquita Valentine

51fmEkMd6gLTitle: Royal Scandal
Author: Marquita Valentine
Date finished: 9/5/17
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Pages in book: 218
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Royals in Exile series
Where I got the book from: Bought the e-book on sale awhile back

Blurb from the cover:

Fairy tales do come true–and so do tabloid scandals! New York Times Bestselling author Marquita Valentine kicks off a juicy contemporary romance series with a novel about a prince whose best-laid plans go deliciously awry when he marries the maid next door.

Forced to flee to the United States with his siblings after their parents’ assassination, Crown Prince Colin Sinclair takes it upon himself to become the caretaker of his family while hiding out near Charlotte, North Carolina. But after a decade in hiding, the secret’s out and Parliament demands that Colin wed a princess of their choosing. Unwilling to play their game, Colin decides to marry an American instead, and he has the perfect candidate in mind.

As a home-service professional, Della Hughes doesn’t believe in storybook endings. But when her best friend and secret crush reveals that he’s a flesh-and-blood prince, she doesn’t know what to think. Still, she’ll do anything for Colin, including becoming his wife–in name only, of course. But when their plans to stay purely platonic go by the wayside, their fake honeymoon turns all too real. After a week of white-hot nights, Della can no longer deny her feelings–not with a happily ever after so tantalizingly close.

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book tells the story of Colin Sinclair and Della Hughes. Colin is a crown prince of the Isle of Man, which I think is supposed to be like one of the British Isles. After Colin’s parents are killed when he is nineteen, he is exiled to America for his own safety, along with this 3 younger siblings and his two young boys. It is at his estate in America that he meets Della, the daughter of the estate’s caretaker. Colin and Della become friends over the years but never more as Colin knows he has to marry as prescribed by Parliament. But when a political grab for power forces Colin to marry quickly, the only one he wants is Della.

Overall I liked this book. The romantic scenes were a little cheesy and made me laugh a lot but I thought the plot had a lot to it. The plot was really interesting and I’m interested to see how it all develops through the rest of the series. There were some pieces of the plot that I thought could’ve been developed a little further but overall it was still good. It wasn’t my favorite or anything but I think it has a lot of potential and I’m excited to see where the author goes with it.

The bottom line: I liked this book ok, it was pretty good but I’m more interested to see how the story line is developed in the rest of the series.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #76 – Luck, Love and Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert

512ycx9OzFLTitle: Luck, Love and Lemon Pie
Author: Amy E. Reichert
Date finished: 9/2/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

When Milwaukee-area wife and mother MJ Boudreaux notices her husband Chris seems more interested in the casino than her, she’s more bothered that she isn’t upset than by her husband’s absence. She picks up poker as a way for them to spend more time together—and reignite their marital flame.

Although the game doesn’t give her the quality time with Chris that she’d hoped, MJ finds she has a knack for it. Increasingly unhappy at home, she turns to the felt top of the poker table for comfort. Intoxicated with newfound freedom, MJ begins spending more time at the gambling tables and less with her family, finally carving out for herself a place outside her role of wife and mother.

After a string of great wins, MJ finds herself in Vegas, attracting the attention of a certain magnetic poker star. But when she’s forced to choose between her family and her new exciting lifestyle, the stakes may be higher than she thought and MJ will have to play her hand carefully…or risk losing it all.

My rating:  1.5 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 MJ and her struggles with her self and her marriage to husband Chris. When we first meet her, she’s been waiting over three hours for her husband to show up for their anniversary lunch. When he finally does show up (4 hours late) he runs right back to playing poker at the casino. Deciding it may be her only chance to spend time with her husband, MJ asks him to teach her how to play. And while she does find that she’s actually pretty good at this poker thing and even manages to win a local tournament, she doesn’t find that its bringing her any closer in her marriage. In fact just the opposite, Chris and her drift even further apart while she’s off practicing her poker hand.

Overall I very much did not care for this book. I found the plot to be frustrating and even quite angering. Chris takes on absolutely no responsibility for their failing relationship and actually flat out rejects MJ’s repeated attempts to talk to him about it. And then he actually goes and tries to end a twenty year marriage without even having a discussion with her about it first. If it were me I would’ve signed the papers and said see ya round jackass. MJ was a half hour late to dinner and Chris decides that is a good reason to just not come home that night? Where did he go?! But when he is FOUR HOURS late to an anniversary lunch every thing’s perfectly fine!!?? Freaking kidding me. I’m getting mad again thinking about it like a week after reading it. Anyways, as you can tell by my venting this plot had a lot of points I just couldn’t understand or agree with. If you can see past those points I guess give it a try. I like other books by this author, and it isn’t like the writing was bad I just couldn’t identify with the plot.

The bottom line: I did not enjoy this book unfortunately, though I greatly enjoyed Reichert’s Simplicity of Cider. Go read that one instead.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #75 – Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews

41eDiHG-MLLTitle: Bad Girl Gone
Author: Temple Mathews
Date finished: 9/1/17
Genre: Fiction, young adult
Publisher: A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Pages in book: 265
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

Sixteen year-old Echo Stone awakens in a cold sweat in a dark room, having no idea where she is or how she got there. But she soon finds out she’s in Middle House, an orphanage filled with mysteriously troubled kids.

There’s just one problem: she’s not an orphan. Her parents are very much alive.

She explains this to everyone, but no one will listen. After befriending a sympathetic (and handsome) boy, Echo is able to escape Middle House and rush home, only to discover it sealed off by crime scene tape and covered in the evidence of a terrible and violent crime. As Echo grapples with this world-shattering information, she spots her parents driving by and rushes to flag them down. Standing in the middle of street, waving her arms to get their attention, her parents’ car drives right through her.

She was right. Her parents are alive—but she’s not.

She’s a ghost, just like all the other denizens of Middle House. Desperate to somehow get her life back and reconnect with her still-alive boyfriend, Echo embarks on a quest to solve her own murder. As the list of suspects grows, the quest evolves into a journey of self-discovery in which she learns she wasn’t quite the girl she thought she was. In a twist of fate, she’s presented with one last chance to reclaim her life and must make a decision which will either haunt her or bless her forever.­­­­

My rating:  2.5 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 Echo (Eileen) who wakes up in Middle House, unsure of how she got there. Middle House is an orphanage and Echo is very sure her parents are still alive. Unfortunately when she leaves to prove that, she instead discovers that she was (**SPOILER**) murdered, and Middle House is more of a halfway house where kid ghosts live until they can find and take revenge on their killers/ Echo misses her boyfriend Andy but from the stories we hear from when she was alive, Echo was a pretty shitty person. And now Echo has Cole at Middle House, another dead-o like her. Unfortunately Echo can’t decide between them so she strings both of them along for the next few days, generally making them both miserable. And all the while her new friends are helping her discover who it was that murdered her.
Overall I didn’t particularly care for this book. The premise behind it was just a little too far-fetched for me – the thought that a kid would get to Heaven (the After) only after haunting/killing someone (even if it was their murderer) seems not right to me. Also, Echo as a person/character really was just not at all likable. The plot was not my favorite and I hated how devoted Andy and Cole were considering what a shitty person Echo was. And everything really was just so sad, Echo’s parents lost their only child. And there were many pieces of the plot that just didn’t feel like they really fir to me – the stuff with Mrs. Tourney and thinking Echo is someone else wasn’t necessary in the plot at all and felt superfluous. Overall wasn’t my favorite book but there were some creative thought to it.

The bottom line: Eh this book was ok, it wasn’t my kind of story and it was super sad. If you like ghost-y stories though I would give this one a try, it was kind of interesting.

Link to author website

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