The Soldier’s Rebel Lover (Comrades in Arms #2) by Marguerite Kaye

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When Major Finlay Urquhart was last on the battlefield, he shared a sizzling moment with daring Isabella Romero. Two years later, Finlay has one final duty to perform for his country, one that reunites him with this rebellious senorita! Except Isabella has her own mission, which means that no matter how much she craves Finlay’s touch, she can never tell him the truth. But she’s underestimated Finlay’s determination to protect her, and soon she finds herself letting her guard down, one scorching kiss at a time!


Publisher and Release Date: Mills & Boon, October 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Basque Country, Spain – 1813/1815
Heat Level: 2
Genre: Historical Romance
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Wendy

This, the second in Marguerite Kaye’s Comrades in Arms duo, is set during the aftermath of the Peninsular campaign or what the Spanish preferred to call the War of Independence. It has at its centre, dashing and honourable Major Finlay Urquhart and bold, beautiful Isabella Romero.

Finlay is at a loose end after the bloody war that has seen so many of his comrades killed and injured; however, he is a career soldier, so when his friend and army colleague, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Trestain (Wellington’s code breaker from The Soldier’s Dark Secret) requests his help on a delicate matter, he eagerly complies. He is to mount a covert mission in which he will attempt to find and repatriate the elusive Spanish partisan, El Fantasma (The Ghost). El Fantasma is still very much operational in post-war Spain and has become an embarrassment to both governments. In Spain, he is surreptitiously printing and circulating propaganda leaflets proclaiming the rights of the common man: Spain has returned to a feudal culture, the Inquisition has returned, freedom of the press has been lost, and poverty and injustice is rife. From being a respected ‘soldier’ for the cause he has now become a dangerous traitor and must be removed. The threat to Wellington is also keenly felt; the duke and his coterie do not wish for certain, less savoury aspects of his leadership during the war to become known, either to the Spanish or the British public, especially as he makes his bid to become Prime Minister. So the race is on, who can get to El Fantasma first? Whomsoever catches The Ghost, will almost surely dispose of him, as what can be safely done with him? Finlay and Jack have their own agenda – they don’t feel that El Fantasma deserves death when he was responsible for saving hundreds of lives.

Finlay has a very weak lead in his search for El Fantasma; he has never forgotten his meeting with the bold, dark eyed beauty he encountered one dangerous night two years previously whilst Britain and Spain were allies in fighting the French. She has stayed vividly in his mind and he remembers that she told him she had direct contact with the partisan he seeks. He therefore sets out – with the cover story of being a wealthy wine merchant – to find the lovely, brave young warrior from the little information she gave him on that night. He finds her, not working on the estate she had mentioned, but very much to his surprise, living as a high born lady, sister of the wealthy owner of that estate, the largest vineyard in the area.

I find it difficult to explain why I did not immediately connect with Isabella. Marguerite Kaye normally excels at creating strong, likeable female characters, but I did not whole-heartedly take to Isabella. She did not seem to me to be the type of woman who would appeal to the pragmatic and discerning Scottish born Major Urquhart, a man with bucket loads of integrity and who is also by the way, utterly gorgeous! This is a man who has dragged himself up against the odds, through the ranks of the British army, without benefit of a wealthy and influential family and been so successful in his career that he is brought to the notice of Wellington himself. Sarcastically the Iron Duke dubs him ‘The Jock Upstart’, even while using his considerable talents to his own ends. Isabella makes some very thoughtless decisions based on her ideals, and although – with the help of Finlay – she eventually sees the error of her ways, I found it hard to credit that an intelligent woman in her position would think in such a way, without thought to the cause and effect of her actions. She isn’t lacking in courage – but perhaps in sense. In spite of this, however, I did eventually warm to Isabella (thanks to Finlay’s view of her) and by the end of the story I was happy enough with her.

That’s my only biggish niggle though, because as usual Ms. Kaye has crafted a thoughtful and beautiful love story with impeccable historical research. The sensuality and attraction between the protagonists is sparkling and when they eventually get together, which is way down the story line, the scene is beautiful and tastefully done.

What I particularly like is the way this author always draws parallels between history and life today. Whether she does it intentionally or not, it shows her to be a thoughtful and caring person. Nothing much has changed in the way our returning soldiers are treated after fighting for their country. Through her careful research, Marguerite Kaye has shown Wellington – the great hero – as a vain and egotistical man, deeply and unfairly critical to the soldiers who had no choice but to follow HIS orders. Comrades in Arms is a serious and thought provoking duo of stories about the dark and sordid side of war and the effect on the people left to pick up the pieces; the glorified side is definitely played down. Ms. Kaye never disappoints in her content and it is rare for me to be unhappy with one of her characters. All in all, The Soldier’s Rebel Lover is a highly recommended, excellent historical romance.

Ella’s Choice by Ruby Merritt

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When Ella Hastings is captured by the Blackfeet Indians at age nine, then adopted by the Lakota Indians, she is thrust into a new way of life and transformed into Little Brave, adopted daughter of their revered and peaceful chief, Grey Owl. Ten years later the white man returns. Their soldiers storm her tribe’s village and bring reminders of a world she’d almost forgotten. Suddenly, she is confronted by the question: To which world does she now belong? Her only hope in discovering who she really is lies with the enigmatic army scout, Beech Richoux.

Son of a French trapper and Lakota mother, Beech Richoux was raised in a white man’s world after his mother’s death. Acting as an army scout to raise money for his horse ranch, he’s unaware of the Army’s true intent to annihilate his mother’s people until it’s too late. And the white woman he finds living among the Lakota only adds to his desperation to save his people. Now the narrow path he has created to balance himself between these two worlds is tipped by the mysterious white woman known to the Lakota as Little Brave.

Can two people robbed of their own childhood learn to live together in such differing worlds? Can Little Brave and Beech forge a new path into a life where they both are finally set free?


Publisher and Release Date: Ruby Merritt, September 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: 1876, Wyoming Territory
Heat Level: 2
Genre: American Historical Romance
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Jill

In the Wyoming Territory of 1866, nine year-old Ella Hastings is abducted by Blackfeet Indians and her father killed. For two years she lives as their captive, until she is traded to the Lakota and is adopted by their chief, Grey Owl, who makes her his daughter, naming her Little Brave.

Ten years later in 1876, Beech Richoux leads a group of soldiers into the Lakota village. Here he comes across Little Brave. Beech, half-Lakota, half-white, is a tracker for the US Army. He has lived in two cultures, having grown up with his Lakota mother and French trapper father, before being brought to live with his white relations when he was twelve. Beech is unaware that the army is under orders to remove the Native Americans to the nearest reservation.

As a fan of western historical romances. I’m always on the lookout for new authors, and particularly Native American romances. This is a very good story, and is I believe, Ruby Merritt’s début, which makes it all the more impressive. The strength here is in Ms Merritt’s ability to tell a truly captivating story.

Both Beech and Ella are of two worlds. She has been born white, raised Lakota. He has been born Lakota, and raised in his formative teenage and adult years in the white world. They have both had to adopt another culture to survive. As she travels with Beech, Ella struggles to recall some of the language and traditions of her white parents. Beech struggles with his growing feelings for Ella, knowing that as a white woman she must be returned to her family and the white world. And despite his white upbringing and English language, he is still considered Lakota and therefore unsuitable for Ella.

I had some minor quibbles and feel there are some scenes that could have been more detailed; and I was at times unsure who was talking as the dialogue wasn’t tagged. But all-in-all this is a really enjoyable, well-written story, which reads realistically with great historical detail.

Ella’s Choice is an engrossing read, and I’m looking forward to the next title in this series, Lena’s Courage. Recommended for readers who enjoy western historical romances, and particularly Native American HRs.

The Mackenzie’s Stolen Bride (Mackenzies & McBrides #8) by Jennifer Ashley

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1745, Scotland: The youngest son of the scandalous Mackenzie family, Malcolm is considered too wild to tame…until he meets a woman who is too unattainable to resist.

Lady Mary Lennox is English, her father highly loyal to the king, and promised to another Englishman. But despite it being forbidden to speak to Malcolm, Lady Mary is fascinated by the Scotsman, and stolen moments together lead to a passion greater than she’d ever dreamed of finding.

When fighting breaks out between the Highlanders and the King’s army, their plans to elope are thwarted, and it will take all of Malcolm’s daring as a Scottish warrior to survive the battle and steal a wife out from under the noses of the English.


Publisher and Release Date: Berkley, October 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Scotland, 1745
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Lady Blue

Malcolm (Mal) Mackenzie is the ancestor of all the Mackenzies we’ve come to know and love in Jennifer Ashley’s books set in the Victorian era. He was the first Duke of Kilmorgan, having received the title after it had been stripped from his family after the Jacobite uprising. Before the uprising, Mal, his father and four brothers have differing opinions as to who they should be backing, and how they should show their public support. Mal does his best to keep all his options open and not show favor to either side.

When Mal first sees Mary Lennox, he is smitten. The fact that she is English and engaged to a high ranking supporter of the English king doesn’t deter him, and he decides she’s the one for him forever. Mary is resigned to her fate, and plans to marry the man her father has chosen for her. Though intrigued by Mal, she has no thought to changing her marriage plans, until Mal arranges to help Mary’s younger sister elope. Mary would never have been able to provide assistance on her own, so she’s very grateful to Mal, and becomes more attracted to him.

As tension between the English and the Scots escalates and more skirmishes ensue, circumstances put Mary, her father, and her fiancé in the hands of the Mackenzie family. Soon Mal and Mary have pledged themselves married, with plans to formalize it with a binding legal union as soon as it can be arranged. As the battle of Culloden rages, all the Mackenzies find themselves forced to take part. Mal and Mary are separated, neither knowing if the other is alive. Mal appears to lead a charmed life, as time after time, he is able to escape seemingly impossible circumstances.

This book is somewhat of a departure from the others in the Mackenzie family series. The story is very heavy on the history, with much of the politics and battles described in detail. Some of the fighting is graphic, and the losses to the family quite heartbreaking. The romance seems to take second place and I never got the sense of a deep love between the central couple, although their feelings do grow over time. If you’re a follower of this series, this is a must read, and I look forward to upcoming books which will fill in the generations between here and the Victorian era. History buffs, especially those with an interest in this time period are bound to find this story compelling.

Highlander Undone by Connie Brockway

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While recovering at his uncle’s estate from wounds sustained in the Sudan, Jack Cameron—a loyal Scottish captain in the British army—is haunted by the words of a dying officer: one of Her Majesty’s Black Dragoons is aiding the slavers they were sent to suppress. But how will he find the traitor without sending the culprit to ground? He finds a way while listening to the voices beneath his open window—particularly those of Addie Hoodless, a beautiful widow, and her brother, Ted, a famed artist commissioned to paint portraits of the Black Dragoons’ senior officers.
Posing as an artist, Jack decides to infiltrate the close circle of friends at Ted’s studio to listen in on the unguarded conversations of the officers. But first, he must win Addie’s trust despite the emotional wounds of her past. Will Jack dupe the only woman he has ever loved or stand down from hunting the traitor? If his real identity is exposed, Addie’s life will be in terrible danger.


Publisher and Release Date: Montlake Romance, September 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: London, 1880s
Genre: Victorian Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Lady Wesley

In Highlander Undone, Connie Brockway creates a complicated hero, a heroine with hidden scars, and a tangled plot involving deception, treachery, and romantic yearning. Yet although I enjoyed the book, I could not help but think that the plot got away from the author at times (or perhaps it just got away from me). There are moments, however, during the developing romance between Jack and Addie where their unexpressed attraction to one another is so stirring, so passionate, and yet so chaste that heartstrings are tugged and a little tear may appear in the reader’s eye.

The main characters are likable and compelling. Captain Jack Cameron, handsome and brave, is a career soldier in the Cormack Highlanders. (The book’s title is a bit misleading: aside from Jack’s being in a Highland regiment, don’t expect anything else distinctively “Highlander-ish” in this story.) Although he was grievously wounded and sent home from the Sudan to die, he recovers with the assistance of Wheatcroft, his “factotum-cum-nursemaid-cum-valet.” Perhaps his recovery is related to his obsession, for he is determined to discover the identity of a traitor who is aiding the slavers that the army was sent to fight. His decision to masquerade as an artist is rather audacious, given that he has no artistic skills and knows virtually nothing about art. He manages to fake things by posing as a dilettante and “fribble,” although Addie’s brother Ted suspects that there is something bogus about him.

Ted, by the way, is the kind of brother any girl would love to have. He is very protective of Addie, to the point that he was crippled by her sadistic husband when trying to protect her. He is the only person who knows the extent of Addie’s suffering during her five-year marriage to Lieutenant Charles Hoodless, whose only saving grace was that he “punished” Addie by withholding sex. Actually, Jack learns of Hoodless’s cruelty during his weeks of bedridden eavesdropping on Addie’s and Ted’s conversations, but he can never reveal his awareness.

Addie is a heart-breaking character, beaten literally and figuratively into a shell of her former self. The daughter of artists, she grew up in a Bohemian household and was vivacious and self-confident. Inexplicably, she fell in love and married Charles Hoodless despite his own parents warning her of his true nature. (This extraordinary step is mentioned only in passing, and I really would have liked to know more about that!) Now, less that a year after Hoodless’s death, she is still withdrawn and has an extreme dislike of all military men. Nevertheless, she agrees to emerge from mourning early and travel to London with Ted to act as his hostess and to chaperone any ladies who are sitting for portraits.

When Jack is introduced into Ted’s circle, he and Addie immediately begin to form a friendship, which grows as Jack becomes protective of Addie. This is tricky, given that Jack must conceal his soldier’s bearing, occasionally playing the fool and resorting to his sharp wit. When the Black Dragoons who visit Ted’s studio belittle Jack, Addie is surprised to find herself wading into the fray to protect him. It’s quite wonderful to watch Addie emerging from her defensive cocoon.

As Addie and Jack grow closer, Jack discovers evidence suggesting that Charles Hoodless could have been the traitor Jack is seeking, yet he knows that he could never expose Addie to the shame that would accompany the revelation of Hoodless’s crimes. Jack also realizes that he must confess his own deceit to Addie, even knowing that this will probably doom their budding romance. Personally, I was not bothered by the depths of Jack’s deception, but some readers may find it unforgivable. I did, however, become impatient with Addie’s inflexible rejection of him once the truth emerged. It took a bit too long for her to set aside her prejudices and decide to trust the man she knew so well.

Overall, Highlander Undone is a beautiful romance with some distracting, unlikely plot elements involving Jack’s search for the traitor.

SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: A Kiss in the Shadows by Marie Patrick


Danger lurks in the mountains of New Mexico when sheriff-turned-bounty-hunter Brock MacDermott goes on the prowl for infamous outlaw Zeb Logan. Logan killed Brock’s brother and his family in an ambush, and Brock has never forgiven himself for failing to keep them safe.

Driven by his single-minded mission to make Logan pay, he rides from town to town on a lonely quest, careful to keep emotional attachments at arm’s length—until young, beautiful Stevie Rae Buchanan insists on joining his hunt. Stevie Rae’s father was also brutally murdered by Logan, and she won’t rest until the outlaw is either behind bars or dead.

There’s no room for romance when you’re chasing down a dangerous criminal, but when undeniable feelings develop between them, Stevie Rae and Brock must decide whether capturing Logan is worth sacrificing everything else.

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Chapter 1: New Mexico 1885

Stephanie Raelene Buchanan, Stevie Rae to those who knew and loved her, slouched in her chair in the corner of Hagan’s Saloon and watched the room darken as Brock MacDermott opened the batwing doors, his broad shoulders blocking the sunlight. A hush settled over the occupants as all eyes turned toward him. Even the piano player missed a few keystrokes in his rendition of “Camptown Races,” which didn’t seem to make much difference.

“Brock, honey!” A woman straightened against the long mahogany bar running the length of the room, feathers fluttering from a twist in her flaming red hair. She pulled the strap of her maroon and black gown back up her shoulder, patting the attached silk flower for good measure, then directed her attention to the man behind the bar.

“Winston, whiskey for Mr. MacDermott.”

No smile graced Brock’s face as he took careful measure of each and every person in the room. Stevie Rae held her breath as his gray glare fell upon her then released it when his gaze drifted on to the next person. Seemingly satisfied, he sauntered into the saloon as if he hadn’t a care in the world and yet, she knew better. He had a loose-hipped gait, but she could see the tension in him—his eyes darted from one side of the room to the other.

Did he expect trouble? Here in Little River? In Hagan’s Saloon?

Well, of course, he does. He probably expects trouble everywhere he goes.

“Pepper,” he said, acknowledging the woman now rushing across the floor, a glass of whiskey in one hand, the bottle in the other. He pulled his hat from his head, revealing a wealth of dark hair with just a touch of gray at the temples. He removed his dark brown duster and laid it across an empty chair, then took a seat at a small table with a long, drawn-out sigh. Pepper placed his glass as well as the bottle in front of him. “Thanks.”

Stevie Rae continued to watch from beneath the brim of her hat, fascinated by everything about him—the way he moved, the dark stubble on his face, and the tightness of the black shirt stretched across his wide chest. He was more handsome than she’d remembered him to be and his voice…well, his voice was something straight out of heaven.

She shook herself and clamped her lips together tighter to ignore the heat bubbling in her stomach.

He took a drink, tipping the glass back until all the liquid was gone, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed. He slid the glass onto the table, then ran his fingers through his hair before pouring himself another shot of Pepper’s whiskey.

She didn’t know him personally, had never met him, but she’d seen him before and knew of him. From Denver, Colorado, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and all places in between, everyone knew of the bounty hunter Brock MacDermott. His reputation, at least. No one could claim to know the man behind the reputation. Speculation abounded.

Some said he was a former military man. Others said he’d been a lawman in Texas. Or it could have been Colorado. Maybe Arizona.

No one in Little River seemed to know. He’d shown up one day a little over a year ago, bringing three outlaws to Sheriff Hardy, and had been back a few times since, but he never stayed long…only long enough to collect his money, send a couple of telegrams, have a drink, and perhaps a little tumble with one of Ruby’s girls, before he left again.

Rumor had it he always got his man…except for one…the same man Stevie Rae hunted. Zeb Logan. Thief. Cattle rustler. Bank robber. Murderer. No, cold-blooded murderer. Thinking about the man who had changed her life made her heart hurt all over again.

Stevie Rae took a sip of the whiskey in front of her and turned her attention back to Brock MacDermott. She hadn’t seen him in over six months, not until earlier today when she saw him ride into town with Hank “The Gun” Simms tied to the saddle of the horse behind him just moments after she had arrived in town empty-handed once again. Zeb Logan proved to be elusive prey, though she’d searched for him throughout the mountains and valleys of northern New Mexico—heading out several times in the four months since he’d killed her father.

She decided then and there she’d offer to ride along with him in his pursuit of Logan.

Two heads were bound to be better than one when it came to the outlaw. She didn’t even want the bounty on the man. She just wanted her revenge for the senseless killing of her father. Now, all she had to do was work up the nerve.



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marie patrickAs with most writers, Marie has had a love affair with words for as long as she can remember. One of her fondest memories is of sitting in a rocking chair with her grandmother, reading “Little Golden” books. As she grew up, Marie read everything she could get her hands on – bookstores and libraries became her favorite places. In Marie’s opinion, there is nothing better than curling up in a comfortable chair and reading about far away places, history and ROMANCE and letting her imagination take flight. She will admit to being a romance junkie – from the moment she scoped out her first historical novel, saved up her babysitting money, and bought it, she wanted to be those women and live in those times and experience every ounce of romance she could.

The love affair has not stopped – in fact, it has grown over the years. On a trip to Arizona, where she now makes her home, Marie became inspired by the sometimes desolate yet beautiful landscape. She began to envision what it would be like to live in the past, when the west was untamed, when the good guys wore white hats, and the saloon girls always had hearts of gold. Marie says her romance with the west began with her first sunset over a sea of saguaro cacti but her inspiration doesn’t just come from the wild west. It comes from history itself. She is fascinated with pirates. Sailing ships. Trains. Men in uniform (or out of uniform). And lawmen with shiny badges.

Marie Patrick lives in beautiful, sunny Arizona, where inspiration to write historical romance is in every amazing sunset. Find her at and on Facebook.

Some Like it Scot (Scandalous Highlanders #4) by Suzanne Enoch

some like it scot

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When a mad lass in trousers shoots at him, Munro “Bear” MacLawry isn’t sure what impresses him more-the girl’s sure aim or her irresistibly tempting curves. Catriona MacColl has fled to the Highlands with her half-sister to escape an unwanted wedding, and wants no part of him, nor any man. But he can’t abandon the flame-haired, sharp-tongued wildcat now that he’s discovered her-not when she fits so perfectly in his arms…


Munro has more than earned his nickname-he’s a well-muscled, well-favored mountain of a man with an engaging bad-boy grin and a string of well-satisfied lasses behind him. Bringing Catriona food, blankets, candles, everything she needs to survive a winter in an abandoned abbey, Munro is an unexpected gift in her reckless bid for freedom-and an unexpected complication. Clan MacDonald has plans for her, and they don’t include her falling for a MacLawry. But this man makes her feel like a woman-and he may be her one chance to live a life about which she’s only dared dream…

Publisher and Release Date: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, October 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency era, Scottish Highlands
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Sara

Clan MacLawry is known in both Scotland and England as a clan who has fiercely protected the Highlander way of life against even their own countrymen. This desire to remain loyal to the ways of true Scotsmen is a point of pride for the youngest MacLawry sibling Lord Munro. Known as Bear to his family and friends, Munro eschews the English way of dress and manners to live his life embracing the bawdier and more unrefined sides of his culture.

Never going long without a willing woman in his bed, Munro bristles against the domesticated lives his family has found through marriage and children. This sense of watching his brothers and sister fall more in line with the Sassannach ways pushes Bear to venture away from his brother’s home to escape the inevitable pressure from his laird to marry and settle down. Following a stag into the backwoods of MacLawry lands, Munro is surprised to be outmaneuvered in his hunt by a petite woman wearing trousers with a surer aim than he has. Intrigued, he watches her backtrack through the woods to an abandoned ruin where she again outflanks him. To Munro, a mystery woman of this caliber is a puzzle that must be solved.

Catriona MacDonald doesn’t take the presence of a braw highland man skulking around her shelter very kindly, especially as she is trying to keep herself and her younger sister out of sight of anyone possibly connected to the MacLawry. Having left her home on the Isle of Islay, Cat is risking much to keep her independence and an intruder will only lead to complications Cat would much rather leave in the hands of her kinsmen. When her cold demeanor does nothing to discourage her visitor from returning the next day, Cat and her sister Elizabeth reluctantly accept Bear into their circle. Catriona herself is a Highlander through and through, with little appreciation for all the frippery her sister has been raised with in England. Finding a man who doesn’t ridicule her immediately for her appearance and idiosyncrasies surprises her to the point she slowly begins to trust this stranger. As his actions towards her move past just a general concern and into realms of physical pleasure, Cat begins her own awakening to desires and needs she has never had the freedom to pursue.

From almost the moment of their unconventional introduction, Catriona and Munro jumped off the page to me as a great couple. I loved so much of their courtship, from Munro calmly handling her skittishness to Catriona appreciating his forcefulness. They are perfectly matched and neither one tries to hide their burgeoning attraction and feelings. Once Catriona learns that her visitor is one of the MacLawrys it may have complicated their relationship but it couldn’t completely extinguish it. They arechallenged to find ways to be together, even if it’s behind the backs of their clansmen and against the wishes of their families.

I enjoyed Catriona’s being different to the classic romance heroine, which is a major component of her character. Cat was raised by a father who expected sons from his wives rather than the daughters he got. Thus Cat was never allowed to be a girl in the sense of wearing dresses or learning the behaviors found useful by the men of her clan in a potential wife. She was raised to excel at hunting, academic and more masculine pursuits. As she got older and understood just how differently she was perceived by her kinsmen, Cat’s self-image was hurt further when she couldn’t break from that mould. The story is easily at its best in those moments when Munro sees through to the real Catriona. He doesn’t care much that she wears trousers or can out shoot him, being more attracted to the woman who is strong enough in spirit to stand toe-to-toe against him even at his most blustering and still win. I love a romance where I feel both characters really know and appreciate all aspects of their partner, not just the physical side of a relationship. Munro and Catriona can be themselves unapologetically with one another and they are still loved.

While I adored every moment that involved Munro and Cat’s relationship, there are a few things that kept me from rating the Some Like it Scot higher than 4-stars. I don’t read many Scottish Highlander stories, so for me the main conflict of an inter-clan feud and Highland politics came across as frustrating rather than a true impediment to romance. This frustration only grew as Munro’s brother Ranulf was used as the “villain” of the story. Having read book one of this series and met Ranulf as a previous hero (who managed to put aside clan politics for his own happy ever after), his perceived personality shift and hypocrisy just put a damper on the joy I normally have when a story revisits previous couples. The MacLawry family, with one exception, came across as very selfish in the end, and not very supportive of their younger brother.

Those new to the series may have to take a moment to get used to the Scottish dialogue being written with a heavy burr or brogue to everything. Dinna fash yerself! I enjoyed “hearing” the characters with a rich accent, especially when talking to those who had been raised outside of the Highlands. It added just another special touch to an already great story that I would certainly recommend.

A Lady’s Guide to Skirting Scandal (Lords of Worth #2.5) by Kelly Bowen

a lady's guide to skirting scandal

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Lady Viola Hextall is bored—of the ocean, her chaperones, and the woeful lack of available dukes on the ocean voyage from London to New York. Scrambling for any diversion short of jumping overboard, Viola strikes up a conversation with the ship’s rough-hewn, blue-eyed surgeon—and discovers an immediate cure for what ails her…

To Nathaniel Shaw, Viola has the bearing of a lady and the spirit of an adventurer—an unlikely combination that he finds utterly irresistible. So he’s hoping to convince Viola to leave the stifling ballrooms of London high society behind because there is a big, wide world just waiting for them to explore—together.


Publisher and Release Date: Forever Yours, August 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Early 19th Century, Atlantic Ocean
Heat Level: 2
Genre: Historical Romance Novella
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 Stars

Review by Jenny Q

Bored out of her mind on a punitive transatlantic voyage with two stuffy old birds for chaperones, young, vivacious Viola decides to strike up a flirtation with the handsome ship’s surgeon to occupy her time. But she doesn’t count on finding his work so interesting, or on his willingness to let her assist, or on how boldly he touches her. Even more disconcerting is how responsive she is to that touch, especially since she has her mind set on marrying an English duke to bolster her family’s standing in society.

Nate is leaving the past behind and looking forward to a new life in the American West, and he’s earning his passage by serving as the ship’s surgeon for the voyage. He promised his friend he would keep an eye for on his sister and make sure she doesn’t get into trouble like she did in England; but keeping Viola out of trouble is hard to do when she is so tempting. As medical lessons give way to steamy encounters, Nate realizes Viola is just the woman to step into the wild unknown by his side. But can he convince her to choose a life of adventure with him over the life of a duchess before their time aboard ship is over?

This is a fun novella and an effective introduction to Kelly Bowen and her Lords of Worth series. I was drawn to this because of the setting aboard ship and the fact that Nate is a surgeon. I have not yet read the previous books, but I don’t not feel that it’s necessary to read the others first, though some of the people mentioned may have had more meaning if I had.

As happens often in novellas, the story and characterization are somewhat lacking in development. Everything happens rather quickly, and I could have read a full-length novel about these two and the adventures that await them. But though the story is a little light on substance, I found the author’s style to be highly enjoyable – smart, quick, witty, and sexy – and I will definitely read more from Kelly Bowen.

VIRTUAL TOUR: The Winter Crown by Elizabeth Chadwick

Winter Crown cover

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As Queen of England, Eleanor has a new cast of enemies—including the king.

Eleanor has more than fulfilled her duty as Queen of England—she has given her husband, Henry II, heirs to the throne and has proven herself as a mother and ruler. But Eleanor needs more than to be a bearer of children and a deputy; she needs command of the throne. As her children grow older, and her relationship with Henry suffers from scandal and infidelity, Eleanor realizes the power she seeks won’t be given willingly. She must take it for herself. But even a queen must face the consequences of treason…

In this long-anticipated second novel in the Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy, bestselling author Elizabeth Chadwick evokes a royal marriage where love and hatred are intertwined, and the battle over power is fought not with swords, but deception.



Three little known facts about Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Eleanor was known in her own lifetime as “Alienor” and is thought to be the first person ever to be given that name. Her mother was called Aenor and it is often thought that “Alienor” means “another Aenor.” It’s also said in another source that the name is an amalgam of “pure” and “gold.” Whichever it is, she was the first.

No one knows what Eleanor looked like. There is not a single proven description of her anywhere in any medium. She is variously described by her biographers as a brunette, a blond, and a redhead, but the truth is we don’t know.

Eleanor’s grandmother bore the nickname Dangereuse. Her lover—Eleanor’s grandfather—wrote very explicit poetry about lust and love. When a bishop ordered him to give up Dangereuse, whose real name was Amaberge, he told the bishop, who was bald, that curls would grow all over his head before he ever did such a thing.


Publisher and Release Date: Sourcebooks Landmark, October 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: London, 1154
Heat Level: 1
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars

Review by Wendy

The Winter Crown is the second instalment in Elizabeth Chadwick’s trilogy of books about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and I devoured it! Ms. Chadwick weaves a rich tapestry of life in medieval England and France under the early Plantagenets – love them or hate them, they shaped English history in a manner that is far-reaching, fascinating and shocking, starting with the large, dysfunctional family of Henry and Alienor (as she was actually known).

The story opens in Westminster Abbey in December 1154 with the coronation of the new king and queen. Already, Alienor has proven her worth in the short period of time she has been Henry’s wife, with one boy child and another in her womb at the time of her crowning – her position is secure. Alienor is Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, and has brought her young, powerful husband, wealth and additional power through their dynastical marriage. However, he has no intention of allowing her any input into the governance of their lands, and instead keeps her firmly in what he believes to be her place – carrying a child most of the time. They had eight in all, seven of whom live, which was quite a rare feat in those days of high infant mortality.

Ms.Chadwick’s novels are richly character driven, and The Winter Crown is no exception. The intriguing relationship between Henry and Thomas Becket grows through Becket’s Chancellorship to his eventual position as the highest primate in the land – Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry wheels and deals and is eventually hoist by his own petard when his devious, self-serving plan to have Becket holding both offices simultaneously flounders, much to his chagrin. Henry’s intention to stop the church interfering in state business fails so spectacularly that far from being his ally, Becket becomes his enemy and the two men are eventually at loggerheads.

Alienor is depicted as an intelligent and discerning woman with a keen eye and quick brain, more than able to understand the workings of the politics and intrigue of the times; and more importantly, was usually one step ahead in working out her husband’s controlling machinations. A loving and caring mother to her brood, she was nevertheless pragmatic, even if she was not always happy that her children must be sold off in marriage to increase and ensure the continuing fortunes and power of the dynasty. As her family grew into young adulthood she had great influence in their lives, especially in that of her her sons – and most particularly Richard, whom she adored and was the heir to her Duchy. This influence was eventually to be the root cause of her downfall.

Henry is portrayed as being devoid of deep feeling, or at the very least unable or unwilling to show it. There was a powerful, almost animalistic passion between Henry and Alienor in the early days of their marriage, which inevitably burned out as quickly as it had begun. I can see how Elizabeth Chadwick reached her assumption that this was lust and duty as opposed to love; no tender lover would treat his wife and the mother of his children as abominably as Henry did Alienor, especially in his eventual cruel incarceration of her. It is also reasonable to assume that Henry was capable of more, if not love, then at least tenderness, as was shown in his long relationship with Rosamund Clifford.

Ms. Chadwick sets the scene for the emergence of William Marshal as a man to be watched – from his first appearance he is seen as a man of honour and unwavering loyalty. For anyone reading this who has not yet had the pleasure of reading The Greatest Knight you are in for a treat!

All in all, the author’s research into the background and real people in this richly decadent time is impressive. She captures the time and place so perfectly that the characters leap to life before our eyes. Ms. Chadwick’s careful and thorough historical investigation reveals itself in the detail, for instance:

…the tiny bone needle case, exquisitely carved out of walrus Ivory… a length of narrow red ribbon was tucked down the side of the case, and when drawn out, proved to be embroidered with tiny golden lions. It was skilled and beautiful work. One needle was threaded with gold wire mingled with strands of fine honey-brown hair.

Alienor finds this needle case in Henry’s chamber, and throws it into the fire in a fit of temper – the natural reaction of a woman scorned. It adds that touch of understanding and hurt that, despite her regal and dignified bearing, she would have felt when faced with the evidence of her husband’s paramour in his private chambers. And the seamless introduction of this historic artefact, obviously discovered during Ms. Chadwick’s extensive research, is just another way in which this author excels and delights.

If only our children could be taught history in the way that Elizabeth Chadwick tells it – we would have a generation of young people growing up with a thirst for knowledge. The Winter Crown is highly recommended.


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Susan Hicks (Elizabeth Chadwick) photographed by Charlie Hopkinson. © 2007Best selling historical novelist Elizabeth Chadwick won a Betty Trask Award for her first novel The Wild Hunt. She has been shortlisted for the UK’s mainstream Best Romantic Novel of the Year Award 4 times and longlisted twice. Her novel The Scarlet Lion about the great William Marshal and his wife Isabelle de Clare, has been selected by Richard Lee, founder of the Historical Novel Society as one of the landmark historical novels of the last ten years.

When not at her desk, she can be found taking long walks with the dog, baking cakes, reading books (of course!) exploring ruins, listening to various brands of rock and metal music, and occasionally slaving over a steaming cauldron with re-enactment society Regia Anglorum.

The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

the secret years

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When Lucy Hunter stumbles upon her grandfather, Harry’s World War 2 memorabilia, she finds a faded photograph of a stunning young woman known simply as ‘George’ and a series of heartfelt letters. They are clues about the secret years, a period of Lucy’s family history that has been kept a mystery . . . until now.

How did a cattleman from north Queensland find forbidden love with the Honourable Georgina Lenton of London and persuade her to move to his isolated outback property? And why are the effects of this encounter still reverberating in the lives of Lucy and her mother, Rose, now?

As the passions of the past trickle down the years, three generations of one family pull together. Each must learn in their own way how true love can conquer the greatest challenges of all.


Publisher and Release Date: Penguin, September 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: WW2 England/Present Day Australia
Heat Level: 1
Genre: Historical Romance
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Jill

Lucy Hunter is back home in Townsville, Australia after a six month deployment to Afghanistan. Coming home means catching up with her mother, Rose, and her grandfather, Harry, but also being reunited with her fiancé. With her mother’s recent house move and most of their belongings still packed up in boxes, Lucy comes across an old biscuit tin that contains her grandfather’s war medals, old letters and a photograph.

The photograph is of Lucy’s grandmother, Georgina Lenton. Neither Rose nor Harry have ever been keen to fill in the details of her family history. So, with time on her hands, Lucy flies off to Cornwall in England to find out more about her English ancestors and to unearth the details of her mother’s early life and her grandfather’s years during the war.

Barbara Hannay’s writing is crisp. Her love for Australia and its heritage is demonstrated by this Australian author’s vivid descriptions of city and rural life in the different eras encompassed in this story. Set in three different times – during World War 2, the 1960’s, and the present- and in various locations – Australia, England and New Guinea – Ms Hannay spins a multi-generational tale of family, life, passion and loss.

Lucy wants to know more about the grandfather she loves. When she discovers his medals, she realises she knows little about his time during the war. Why is her mother so closed-off about her own mother, Georgina? And what has caused the rift between Rose and Harry?

The Secret Years is both contemporary and historical fiction, with two romances running through it. For me, the historical story set during the war involving Harry and Georgina, is the more satisfying, with some really finely-depicted scenes, both in London and overseas. The other setting on Kalkadoon, their cattle station in outback Queensland is a delight. Ms Hannay’s descriptions of the sights and sounds of the Australian landscape is a treat.

For readers who enjoy romantic historical fiction and multi-generational family stories, The Secret Years is a recommended read.

SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: The Earl’s New Bride by Frances Fowlkes


England, 1819

The Earl of Amhurst has returned to his estate in search of a wife and, more importantly, an heir. Simon Devere isn’t interested in some comely, simpering creature. A beautiful woman only brings heartbreak and ruin, and Simon’s disfigured visage is proof enough of that. No, he wants a wife who is unattractive and undesirable—and the homelier, the better.

But nothing about Lady Henrietta Beauchamp is homely. She is lovely and sweet…and struggles to mix with polite society when she would so much rather have plants for company. And yet Simon is her only hope for keeping Plumburn Castle in her family’s possession. Even if it means marrying a man she doesn’t love.

It’s an impossible and unlikely match…unless this awkward beauty can bring hope back into a solitary beast’s life.

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He should leave. Now. His body lusted after her. He was sprung and ready to pounce should she give him the slightest inclination of her interest.

She shut the door behind her and nibbled on her lip. “I have been mulling over Miss Saxton’s symptoms. And I must confess, along with the unearthed licorice root and my missing stores, not to mention your theory—”

“My theory?” he asked.

She nodded. “I fear someone may be, as you theorized, purposefully harming your guests.”

“An interesting theory, but one I have yet to prove.”

“Have you any notion as to why someone would wish to harm them?”

“Can you think of none?” He stepped toward her and fingered one of her glossy black strands. Soft, and smooth, her hair slipped over his skin.

Her gaze caught his. “Your, your past?” she whispered.

“My past, my present, my future.” His hand fell to his side. “My insolent arse of a brother would like to inherit. Society deems me too damaged to forgive. And my injury”—he let out a low laugh—“is a continual reminder that I am not…” He let out a long sigh.

“Not what?” she breathed.

He turned away from her toward the darkness. “It is late, Lady Henrietta. Should someone find me in your room—”

“I would confess to inviting you in. It is on my invitation that you are here.”

He spun around, his gaze searching hers. “Yes. And one that ensures your selection as my bride.”

“I did not pull you into my chambers to force your hand.”

He lifted a brow. “No? You have no desire to claim Plumburn as your own?” God, he was a fool. He had actually believed she might want him here for unselfish reasons.

“Of course. My father’s memory is here. In this house.”

“Lady Henrietta—”

“But it is the current earl whom I desire.”

Simon’s heart beat fast in his ears. Impossible. She couldn’t possibly mean what her words inclined. This was a ploy. A trick to lure him into her bed. And God help him, he was her willing prey.

“You would give yourself to a maimed man? In possession of only one eye?”

“I wish to give myself to you, my lord. Your injury matters not. ”

He let out a low bark of laughter. “You say that with confidence, though I wonder if you were to see what lies beneath the patch, whether you would be so eager with your offer.”

She stepped toward him, her palm resting against his chest. “I would.”

His breathing slowed as he held her piercing gaze, seemingly daring him to do, what he’d always considered the impossible. That, however had been before Henrietta had unflinchingly offered herself to him. If she was to bare all to him, he had an obligation to do the same.

Reaching behind his head, he untied the black strings, holding them on either side of his head. With a deep breath, he lowered the patch.



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francesAfter viewing her all-time favorite love story, “Anne of Green Gables”, at the impressionable age of ten, Frances Fowlkes has been obsessed with affable boy-next door heroes, red-heads, and romance stories with lots of “highfaluting mumbo jumbo” written within their pages. It only seems natural then that she married the boy who used to pull on her curls in her high school English class, had not one, but THREE red-headed boys, and penned multiple love stories with bits of flowery prose.

When not writing, Frances loves spending time with her family, fangirling, and planning her next vacation.
Frances Fowlkes, originally a northern mid-westerner, now lives in the southeast with her ardent hero of a husband, three playful and rambunctious boys, and one spoiled standard poodle.

A self-professed Anglophile and summa cum laude graduate of LeTourneau University, Frances Fowlkes combines her passion for happily-ever-afters with her interests in both American and English histories.

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