The Scot Beds His Wife BLOG TOUR!!

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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.

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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.

 

2015 Book #70 – How To Marry a Royal Highlander by Vanessa Kelly

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Title: How To Marry a Royal Highlander
Author: Vanessa Kelly
Date finished: 7/11/15
Genre:  Historical romance
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: June 30, 2015
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: #4 in the Renegade Royals 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:

At sixteen, Alasdair Gilbride, heir to a Scottish earldom, fled the Highlands and an arranged betrothal. Ten years later, Alasdair must travel home to face his responsibilities. It’s a task that would be much easier without the distracting presence of the most enticing woman he’s ever met…
After one escapade too many, Eden Whitney has been snubbed by the ton. The solution: rusticating in the Scottish wilderness, miles from all temptation. Except, of course, for brawny, charming Alasdair. The man is so exasperating she’d likely kill him before they reach the border—if someone else weren’t trying to do just that. Now Eden and Alasdair are plunging into a scandalous affair with his life and her reputation at stake—and their hearts already irreparably lost…

My rating: 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit” check box since I can not think of anything more amazing than going to Scotland (or Ireland) and touring the old castles there. You can even stay at some of them, they have been converted into like hotels. Can you think of anything more awesome for a vacation? Staying in a freaking CASTLE?!
So this book was about Eden Whitney, twin to Evelyn Whitney who I believe was the heroine in book #3 in the Renegade Royals series. Eden is tired of sitting around waiting for her Prince Charming so she decides she’s going to make some moves and see if she can find him on her own. Unfortunately she does this by making out with one of the ton’s well-known rogues and even worse she gets caught by the ton’s worst gossiping matron. This recipe for disaster leads to her being shunned by the ton and having to go somewhere for the winter until some of the scandal dies down. Luckily her twin’s husband’s best friend owns a castle in Scotland that he’s finally returning to after 10 years of running away from his duties to his family.
While overall I did like the plot line of this story and I didn’t 100% know who the bad guy was going to be at the end (though I did suspect quite a bit), I did have a couple small issues. The part where the hero (Alasdair Gilbride) decides that he wants Eden for his wife (the first time he realizes it I mean) happened so quickly that I think I missed it, I even went back looking through trying to figure out when he all of a sudden decided this. And Eden seemed a little slow to catch on that she actually liked Alasdair. But Alasdair’s crazy family (while somewhat annoying for their extreme persistence) was actually really entertaining and kept me on the edge of my seat trying to find out what awful thing they were going to do next. I also thought that Edie’s mother was a very interesting character, I was continually alternating being annoyed with her and admiring her throughout the book. While it did become frustrating at times that no one was listening to the “younger folk” (Alasdair, Eden, and Donella) its definitely realistic that something like that would happen during the time period in which the book was set, when arranged marriages were prevalent. The conversations between the family members though was quite well done, there was evident tension but it was not at all stilted or awkward and did not feel rehearsed.
I loved the descriptions of Scotland since I’ve always wanted to go to Scotland/Ireland and look at the castles and just the general landscape. I’ve heard nothing but how beautiful it is and all the pictures I see online just make me want to go so much more!
The bottom line: I thought this was a very good book, definitely a great read if you are a historical romance fan! I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #49 – The Tempting of Thomas Carrick by Stephanie Laurens

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Title: The Tempting of Thomas Carrick
Author: Stephanie Laurens
Date finished: 5/26/15
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Pages in book: 456
Stand alone or series: Cynster family series #21, 2nd in Cynster Next Generation series

Blurb from the cover:

Thomas Carrick is driven to control all aspects of his life. The wealthy owner of Carrick Enterprises, located in bustling Glasgow, he is one of that city’s most eligible bachelors and intends to select a wife from the many young ladies paraded before him. He wants to take that next step along his self-determined path, yet no one captures his eye, nor his attention…not the way Lucilla Cynster did.
Thomas has avoided his clan’s estate because it borders Lucilla’s home, but disturbing reports from his clansmen force him to return. His uncle, the laird, is ailing, a family is desperately ill, and the healer is unconscious and dying. Duty leaves Thomas no choice but to seek help from the last woman he wants to face.
Strong-willed and passionate, Lucilla has been waiting for Thomas to return and claim his place by her side. She knows he is her fated lover, husband, protector, and mate just as she is his one true love. Though his return wasn’t on her account, Lucilla is willing to seize whatever chance Fate hands her.
Thomas can never forget Lucilla, or the connection that seethes between them, but to marry her would mean embracing a life he does not want.
Lucilla sees that Thomas has yet to accept the inevitability of their union. But how can he ignore a bond such as theirs—one so much stronger than reason? Lucilla is as determined as only a Cynster can be to fight for the future she knows can be theirs. And while she cannot command him, she has powerful enticements she’s willing to wield in the tempting of Thomas Carrick.

My rating: 4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book published this year” check box since it was published in February of this year. I have been eagerly awaiting this novel as it is a continuation of one of my favorite series I started reading in the last couple years, the Cynster series. This book marks the first of the Cynster Next Generation series which will chronicle the stories of the children from the characters in the past 20 books of the series. The overall Cynster family tree can be found here, Lucilla is the oldest offspring of Richard & Catriona (from book #3 in the Cynster series).
Lucilla is destined to be the next Lady of the Vale, her childhood home. This is highly unusual for this time as the estate would usually pass to the oldest son. However, this estate in particular is governed by the Lady (a deity) and so the oldest daughter of the current Lady of the Vale is to inherit the lands. Lucilla has always known this to be her destiny and saw no reason to fight against what would ultimately fulfill her purpose in life. For the past 10 years she has known that Thomas would be her consort (we saw the preview for this in By Winter’s Light) but the Lady instructed Lucilla to be patient and so she has waited and waited for Thomas to re-enter her life in a more permanent way. Circumstances throw them together at last and they team up to try and solve a mystery of sorts.
The ending leaves some issues open for me. Whatever happened to Nigel? Where did he go? I’m not sure if these are meant to remain open or if they will be addressed in Marcus’s novel (released TODAY! And FYI Marcus is Lucilla’s twin). I am very much looking forward to reading his story as the heroine was also introduced to us in this novel.
Overall I liked this book a lot. I was intrigued throughout and honestly once I started it I couldn’t seem to put it down. The ending felt a tad anti-climactic but I’m hoping that there is some follow-up in the next book. And it was a bit too steamy for me but I muddled through that part because I really loved the plot and the story. Lucilla is such a strong character and I really just adored her. It did end up being a tad bit wordy, hard to avoid at over 450 pages, but it wasn’t so wordy that I lost interest in the story, just that a couple points i was like “Alright let’s get on with it already, they both think the other is hot I get it.” Overall though I was immensely pleased at this continuation in an already very long series.

The bottom line: I would recommend this book, it was intriguing throughout. I love the Cynster series and I am excited that it is continuing with the Next Generation.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

Gretna Green

Unfortunately, this was supposed to have posted on St. Patrick’s Day but was mistakenly saved as a draft instead of posting. Definitely a user error! Hopefully all you readers will keep in mind that this was posted with Ireland in mind on St. Patrick’s Day. Happy reading!

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If you read historical romance novels, odds are you have read one from the Georgian or Regency era. And odds are there’s been some mention of Gretna Green. But for those of you who aren’t aware (and in connection-ish with today’s holiday, St Patrick’s Day!) Gretna Green is part of Dumfries and is a town just over the border of Scotland traveling from England. It is on what was a main coaching route from England to Scotland and is located at the junction of five old coaching roads, the junction being known as “Headless Cross.” And because of its location, Gretna Green became well known for runaway marriages. This tradition began about halfway through the 18th century when Lord Hardwiske’s Marriage Act was signed into law in England. Under this Act, no minor (under the age of 21) was allowed to get married without parental consent. However, in Scotland, boys were able to marry by age 14 and girls able to marry at age 12 with or without the consent of their parents.

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This difference in laws created a large influx of young men and women who would flock to Scotland to get married against their parents wishes. And given Gretna Green’s convenient location (right over the border and on the main route from London to Scotland in the 1750’s) many couples would immediately stop here to get hitched as soon as possible. And luckily, in Scotland it was easy to find someone to marry you since, as long as your had two witnesses, almost anyone really could perform a “handfasting” ceremony or a “marriage by declaration.” Since the blacksmith shop was a central hub of towns at this time, most of these runaway marriages were performed over the blacksmith’s anvil, and blacksmiths in Gretna Green became known as “anvil priests.” As noted from the Gretna Green Wedding website “the hammering of the anvil soon became a notorious sound; romantically it is said that like the meals he forged, the Blacksmith would join couples together in the heat of the moment but bind them for eternity.”

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To this day, people still flock to Gretna Green to get married, I’m sure some find the concept and tradition romantic (I do). It is mentioned in a lot of books and was even mentioned on the well-known TV Show Downtown Abbey. Even further, Gretna Green marriages have come to represent a general term for marriages that are entered into in a different location than where they live so that they can avoid certain laws or restrictions imposed on them in their home town/country. These “runaway marriage” locations in the United States have included at certain points Elkton, Maryland, Reno, and Las Vegas.

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If you’d like further information on getting married at Gretna Green, there is a website you can visit here.

Friday Finds (Feb 27)

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FRIDAY FINDS is hosted by Should Be Reading and showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list.  Whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

My finds this week include a twist on Sherlock Holmes, a fiction book about a bookseller (with an interesting alternate life), a YA thriller, and of course a romance:

1. Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

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One of my absolute favorite movies lately is the Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows that came out in 2011. I have wished for the past 4 years though that they would just make the next damn movie because I am dying to know what happened to Sherlock after he dove off the cliff with Moriarty and how he could have  possibly survived. Well guess what? THAT IS WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT!!!! I can’t wait to read it!

2. The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

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This book looks absolutely fantastic! One bookseller narrating two lives, one of which she lives by day, the other she seemingly lives while dreaming. What’s real and what’s not? Which life really exemplifies what she wants? It sounds fascinating to me! (To be released March 3)

3. The Fever by Megan Abbott

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I read the description for this book and was immediately interested. An unexplainable seizure epidemic that causes panic within a small town? That sounds like a good thriller. I recently read another of Megan Abbott’s books, Dare Me, and while I wasn’t amazed with the book, I definitely want to give The Fever a try.

4. In Your Wildest Scottish Dreams by Karen Ranney

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I haven’t read anything by this author yet but when I saw the cover and that it was featured so prominently in The Ultimate Romance Drinking Game recently discussed on Huff Post, I decided that I would give it a try and added it to my TBR list. The book also sounds good – woman is rejected by man she loves, goes to live in America for 7 years, and comes back to Scotland ready to kick butt.

So those are my finds this week! Please feel free to share your finds or leave a link to your own “Friday Finds” blog posting below! Happy Friday!

2015 Book #3 – By Winter’s Light by Stephanie Laurens

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Title: By Winter’s Light
Author: Stephanie Laurens
Date finished: 1/14/15
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Pages in book: 347
Stand alone or series: Series – Cynster family series Holiday special, 1st book in Cynster Next Generation series

Blurb from the cover:

It’s frosty December and six Cynster families come together at snowbound Casphairn Manor with members of their households to celebrate the season in true Cynster fashion—and where Cynsters gather, love is never far behind.
The festive occasion brings together Daniel Crosbie, tutor to Lucifer Cynster’s sons, and Claire Meadows, widow and governess to Gabriel Cynster’s daughter. Daniel and Claire have met before and the embers of an unexpected passion smolder between them.
However, Claire, once bitten, twice shy, believes a second marriage is not in her stars. Yet Daniel is determined. He’s seen the kind of love the Cynsters share, and Claire is the lady with whom he dreams of sharing his life. Assisted by a bevy of Cynsters—innate matchmakers every one—Daniel strives to persuade Claire that trusting him with her hand and her heart is her right path to happiness.
Claire is increasingly drawn to Daniel and despite her misgivings, their relationship deepens. But then catastrophe strikes, and by winter’s light, she learns that love—true love—is worth any risk, any price.

My rating: 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will count towards my “Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “2014 Release You Missed” square. I have read all the other books in the Cynster series up to this point (many for which a review is posted on my blog, see link above) and I am very much looking forward to reading Lucilla’s story (to be released February 24). By Winter’s Light is the 23rd (technically) book in this series, with a seemingly never-ending listing of possible novels to come in the future. Laurens is just about to begin writing about the “next generation” with Lucilla’s story, and since Lucilla is one of about 70 cousins and extended cousins, we could see another 69 books from this generation (Jeez Louise that’s a lot). Anyways, its hard to keep who’s who straight sometimes. Luckily, Laurens has developed an extensive family tree that can show you all the children in each family (scroll over the couples to see the children’s names) that can help us make sense of where we are in the Cynster world.
I have to be completely honest. I went into this book expecting not to like it. I read about the whole Cynster family thus far and I’ve been so excited to get into reading about the next generation that I couldn’t help but think, who cares about the damned tutors?? But Laurens managed to surprise me yet again but making this a fun and interesting read. I found myself becoming involved in Claire’s story and rooting for her to open herself up to love. I also loved the back and forth between all the different P(s)OV. It made the overall story very well rounded and fun to see from all sides. Lucilla and Thomas’s interactions make me that much more excited to read her story on Feb 24.

The bottom line:  I would recommend this book both as part of the series and also based on the merits of the book itself.

Author website
: http://www.stephanielaurens.com/
Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Winters-Light-Cynster-Stephanie-Laurens/dp/0778317471/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1421331366&sr=8-1

2014 – Book #84

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The eighty-fourth book I read in 2014 was Scandal and the Duchess by Jennifer Ashley. This is book 6.5 in the Highland Pleasures/Mackenzie family series. I rated this book 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5. I finished this book on 9/17/14 (my birthday! :-)). This book tells the story of Steven McBride, brother to Ainsley McBride from book #3 in the series and Elliot McBride from book #5 in the series. Steven is home on leave from the military and spends his first night home getting sloshed in a bar. When he tries to head back to his lodgings, he can’t seem to remember exactly where he’s booked a room for this trip. While trying to figure it out he stumbles (literally) into Rose Barclay, young widow of the Duke of Southdown.

Scandal seems to find Rose wherever she goes, even if most of the supposed scandals are complete falsities made up by the members of the press. When Steven collapses into Rose in the street, she takes him home thinking him a poor homeless veteran. She lets him sleep it off in her guest room and then brings him some breakfast. In return for her kindness, Steven decides to help Rose in her unfortunate situation. It seems that the new Duke (that inherited the title when Rose’s husband died) is contesting the marriage and refuses to pay Rose a widow’s settlement or let her stay in any of the estate’s houses. Steven decides to help her and hires a lawyer to argue her case and also stands up to Albert for her.

Overall I like this book (really more of a short story). I liked the characters a lot, Rose was very compassionate and Steven very alpha male. The plot was interesting if fast paced as one would expect in a novella. I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to the next book in the series, Rules for a Proper Governess, due to come out on October 7.

Link to author website: http://www.jenniferashley.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Scandal-Duchess-Mackenzies-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00DGZKJ5C/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1411046652&sr=1-1&keywords=scandal+and+the+duchess