Tag Archive | Amanda Forester

VIRTUAL TOUR: My Highland Rebel (Highland Trouble #2) by Amanda Forester

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A conquering hero
Cormac Maclean would rather read than rampage, but his fearsome warlord father demands that he prove himself in war. Cormac chooses what he thinks is an easy target, only to encounter a fiery Highland lass leading a doomed rebellion and swearing revenge on him.

Meets an unconquerable heroine
Jyne Cambell is not about to give up her castle without a fight, even though her forces are far outnumbered. She’s proud, hot-blooded and hot-tempered, and Cormac falls for her hard.

It’s going to take all of Cormac’s ingenuity to get Jyne to surrender gracefully—both to his sword and to his heart…

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EXCERPT

They sat at an old oak table and broke bread together. Cormac found goblets of wine for both of them and some food for a meal. It had been long since he had filled his belly, so he ate hungrily of the bread and the hearty stew before him. Jyne must have been reassured by his confidence, for the little crease on her forehead disappeared, and she began to eat and drink with him.

He liked this, sharing a meal with her. He could almost block out the sound of his men carousing in the great room next to them. She was a beautiful lass. She must have been thinking of other things when she’d gotten herself dressed this morn, for her veil was not securely fastened, causing her long, straight blond hair to fall out before her. The color of those errant strands was like gold. He longed to reach out and touch it. She absently brushed a lock of hair behind her ear with a careless finger, causing him to pause in his eating. Her blue eyes sparkled at him, and he noticed those blue eyes had flecks of hazel green.

A disturbance erupted in the dining hall, and one of the elderly matrons ran back into the kitchen.

“What is the matter?” cried Jyne, rising to her feet. “Are they no’ getting tired?”

The woman placed a hand over her bosom, her eyes wide. “Nay, they’re getting randy!”

“Pardon?”

“I had two o’ the men say they thought I was a vision o’ loveliness. Three done laughed so hard, they fell from their benches, and four others started a brawl o’er the right way to eat stew. They’ve gone mad, they have!” The matron threw her hands up in the air.

Before Core could make any sense of this, another elderly clanswoman, with thinning gray hair and a large goiter, shrieked as she scrambled back into the kitchen.

“What happened to ye?” asked Jyne. She ran to the elderly woman and helped her to sit on the bench she had just vacated.

“I dinna ken they’re about. One man dropped to his knees and began to recite poetry, or at least some¬thing like it. A few others started dancing, wi’ no music—wi’ each other! Another one demanded my hand in marriage. To me! What sort o’ mean-spirited shenanigans are these hooligans up to?”

Jyne’s face was one of complete loss. “Is this some sort o’ game?” she asked Core.

“If it is, ’tis unknown to me.” Cormac had seen quite a bit of rough play from his father’s men, but he had never heard of anything like that.

Core and Jyne peeked inside the great hall and were astounded at what they saw. Several of the men were having a heated argument as to which of the elderly servers was more beautiful. Some were dancing to no music. Some were running around the room, batting at the air, as if trying to catch invisible fairies. Others were fighting while laughing hysterically. Jyne and Core stared at each other.

“Why are they acting this way?” Jyne met his eye. He realized they were standing very close as they peeked into the hall. Her beautiful blue eyes widened, and she flushed, her cheeks a rosy hue. Her lips were the color of pale pink rose petals and appeared so soft and inviting, he wished to lean in for just one taste. She was beautiful. Truly beautiful.

“I dinna ken.” He had to remind himself to answer her question. It was the truth. He had never seen the men act in such a manner.

“Oh!” Jyne suddenly gasped. “The potion. It must have made them mad.”

Core couldn’t help but laugh. “Ye made them all act like fools? Och, I wish my father was here to see it!”

“Who is yer father?” she asked, turning her innocent blue eyes to him.

He realized in a flash he had made a slip. “No one. Just he would think it amusing, is all,” he said hastily. “Will the potion make them tired or just mad as imps?”

Jyne slapped a hand to her forehead. “Och, I’m a dunderhead, I am. Too much ale wi’ it can make a man lose his senses.”

“Ye gave my men something to make them witless?”

“Well I… It wasn’t what I intended… Wait, yer men?” She raised an eyebrow at him, and he knew he was in trouble.

“My men? I…I have no men.” He attempted nonchalance. It was not a natural state.

The little furrow between her brows reappeared. “But I thought I heard ye say—”

He kissed her.

It was the only thing he could think to do. The only thing he wanted to do. He was drawn to her by a power he could not deny. He embraced her and allowed his lips to melt onto hers. Nothing he had ever experienced before compared, but he pulled her closer and deepened the kiss, waiting for the inevitable slap. Instead, she wrapped her arms around his neck, press¬ing herself against him and returning his ardor with a passion that lit an explosion within him. He did not care that his men were making fools of themselves next door. He did not care if the entire kitchen staff could see them. He had to kiss her.

OUR REVIEW

Publisher and Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, January 2017

Time and Setting: Highlands 1362
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Wendy

When I first began reading My Highland Rebel, I had my doubts. It appeared rather flippant and also, having just had a run of Highland adventures, I wasn’t really in the mood for another. However, I persevered and I’m glad I did, because I wasn’t far into it before I realised that the light, witty style isn’t really flippant at all but is the author’s quite unique style which is easy to read and an enjoyable departure from my normal reading choices.

When Cormac Maclean happens across a beautiful damsel in distress one damp, foggy morning, literally up to her waist in a smelly bog, he little realises that he has met his destiny. Lady Jyne Campbell had always wanted adventure; as the second youngest of the large Campbell clan she was always considered the runt of the litter being tiny and more fragile than her hale, hearty and statuesque siblings – and consequently had been over-protected and smothered. Therefore she is very excited when her eldest brother, David, the Laird of the powerful Campbell clan decides to allow her to visit her dower lands at Kinoch Abbey which he has purchased from the monks who had inhabited it. Wandering off from their camp to carry out her early morning ablutions she had become lost in the thick fog. Cormac arrives in the nick of time and saves her from almost certain death and as is the way when a beautiful young woman and an attractive, personable young man meet – especially in such circumstances – each is smitten.

Cormac has been raised by monks after being abandoned by his father. Red Rex is a notorious war lord and in the absence of another, more acceptable heir, has decided that he wants to own his connection to his son after all and sets out to mould him into a mirror image of himself. Cormac is more like his deceased mother in countenance and manner than his tyrannical father; he is an educated dreamer and scholar with a love of books which his father only sees as a weakness.

Cormac sets out to extricate himself from the tangle of lies he tells after stealing two scrolls from a nearby monastery. He only succeeds in tying himself up in knots as he tries to protect not only himself but also the monk who had doggedly followed him back to Red Rex’s lair, and there follows a farcical comedy of errors, after which, and much to Cormac’s consternation, they end up on their way to Lady Jyne’s Abbey in search of a mystical – and mythical – Templar Knight’s treasure.

And so Cormac and Jyne are destined to meet again, but in less than auspicious circumstances. Jyne has travelled to her Abbey and dower lands with a small contingent of men whilst her brother, David, has gone off in search of Red Rex whom he has heard is on the rampage somewhere on his lands. On Jyne’s arrival she finds she has a collection of rag-bag squatters, a party of elderly and young folk abandoned by their own people who have set up home in the keep. Being the tender hearted girl that she is, Jyne embraces them in return for them swearing fealty to the Campbell clan; and then relishes her chance to finally become chatelaine of her own keep. When Red Rex’s son arrives with his father’s men in tow, she is determined to protect her people and property with a fierceness that her clan will be proud of. Cormac – or The Fire Lord – as he has named himself, dons a large helm with demonic horns to make him appear tough and strong but also to hide his identity from the Lady Jyne. Jyne is eventually forced to tolerate Red Rex’s son and men in her keep, meanwhile hoping that the man she sent off secretly to her brother will return with help. Cormac manages to keep his identity a secret with the help of the horned helmet but keeps popping up as himself, allowing Jyne to believe that he is living in the shadows somewhere and has arrived to help her. His double identity has hilarious results as he keeps forgetting who he is and nearly trips himself up upon numerous occasions.

This is quite a busy book with a lot going on. Cormac uses his education in the sciences to cause several explosions (hence his name of The Fire Lord). Along with the search for the treasure, Jyne managing to drug Red Rex’s men, the burgeoning romance between Jyne and Cormac and his forever switching between characters etc etc – I felt there was just a little too much going on. There is also a rather modern feel to the story in language and tone; and certainly little or no historic content even though it’s set in 1362. In spite of that however, My Highland Rebel is a light, witty read, with many genuinely funny moments and extremely likeable characters. I liked this author’s style and shall certainly look for more of her work.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

amanda-foresterAmanda Forester holds a PhD in psychology and worked many years in academia before discovering that writing historical romance was way more fun. A Publishers Weekly Top Ten author, her books have been given starred reviews from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews. Whether in the rugged Highlands of medieval Scotland or the decadent ballrooms of Regency England, her novels offer fast-paced adventures filled with wit, intrigue, and romance. She lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest outside Tacoma, Washington.

You can connect with Amanda at her website * ~ * Facebook * ~ * Twitter * ~ * Goodreads.

VIRTUAL TOUR: If the Earl Only Knew (Daring Marriages #1) by Amanda Forester

if the earl only knew

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Orphaned at a young age, Lady Katherine Ashton and her brother have spent most of their lives on the high seas, seeking to restore their family fortune through somewhat dubious means. After that kind of adventure, Kate knows she won’t ever be accepted as a proper society lady.

To the annoyingly clever, temptingly handsome, and altogether troublesome Earl of Wynbrook, society ladies are a dead bore. Kate, on the other hand, is scandalous, alluring, and altogether fascinating. And Kate can’t decide which she relishes more, the thrill of chasing fearsome pirates, or having Wynbrook chase after her…

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EXCERPT

“Are you ready for this?” asked her brother, pulling on his worn wool greatcoat.

“Quite.” Lady Kate chose to misinterpret his meaning. “I have prepared an accounting for each one of our investors, providing details of their original investment and return.”

Robert Ashton, Earl of Darington, took the large ledgers from her hands. “Not what I meant.”

“I shall never be ready. But let us do it anyway,” she said crisply. She had developed a keen accounting for each one of their investors, but such a meeting brought the prospect of seeing one particular investor. A man she never wanted to see again.

Ever.

Would he be there? Would he dare come?

Lady Katherine has no beauty, no fashion, no conversation, and no accomplishments save being the sister to an earl, and an impoverished one at that. Years later, his voice still rang in her head.

It had begun innocently enough. While at university, Robert had become acquainted with Tristan Arlington, the second son of the Earl of Wynbrook, who had invited them to spend the Christmas holidays with his family. Tristan’s mother had been particularly kind, and for a brief moment Kate had thought she had finally been accepted. But it was not to last.

Kate closed her eyes and remembered her fateful visit. She had heard voices coming from the open library door and stopped. She knew she ought not to eavesdrop, but she could not help pausing outside the door and listening to the conversation between Tristan and his elder brother.

“Darington might not be so bad—one can forgive lack of conversation in a gentleman—but you must admit the sister is poor company indeed,” drawled Tristan’s elder brother.

“Dash it, John! What a gudgeon you are,” exclaimed Tristan. “Kate’s not had the advantages of feminine company is all. Their mother died bringing them into the world.”

“Perhaps, but is that any reason for Mother to sponsor her coming out with Jane this spring?”

“Why should Mother not bring out Kate with our sister?” cried Tristan. “Quite kind of her.”

“Because it may prove an embarrassment to Mother. I do not mean to offend, but your friend’s earldom was only recently created. Darington’s father must have done something quite heroic in his naval career to rise from a baronet to an earl. You know how society disdains social climbers.”

Social climbers!

Six years later, the words still ground like grit in her teeth. How she had hated him!

They came to a stop with a jolt and Kate opened her eyes to the intimidating sight of rising colonnades of the Bank of London. Her pulse pounded in her temples as they were led to a sitting room designed for meetings of the rich and the even richer. Dark mahogany paneling lined the hall, and all the furnishings from the curtains to the chairs were resplendent in rich jewel tones. Everything around her spoke of wealth and power.

Surely he would not be here. He would send his solicitor, not come in person. There was no need. She had almost convinced herself of his certain absence when they entered the room.

He was there.

The bastion of society stood warming himself by the fire, dressed impeccably in a dark blue, double-breasted suit that was tailored to perfection. She could not help but drink in his form. His broad, square shoulders revealed a powerful build, yet he had a trim waist and muscular thighs that were on the edge of indecent in his skintight buckskin breeches. With his chestnut hair, green eyes, and square jaw he was the very definition of a handsome man.

It was him.

John Arlington, the Earl of Wynbrook.

The only man she had ever kissed.

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OUR REVIEW

Publication and Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, July 2016

Time and Setting: London, 1810
Heat Level: 1
Genre: Historical Romance
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Sara

Lady Katherine Ashton and her twin brother the Earl of Darington have returned to London to settle accounts with their investors. Left with his father’s debts at a very young age, the earl has been on the high seas for years as a privateer for England, raiding enemy ships and taking the spoils to rebuild the family fortunes. With no other family to take her in, Kate went to sea with her brother and kept his books, investing where she could and building up wealth for those who supported them. Frugality has been the discipline Kate has lived by, sometimes to the frustration of her brother, yet they are now ready to close out any lingering debts and make a triumphant return to England. Unfortunately the years away from society make for an awkward homecoming, especially for Kate who has been hoping to avoid a reunion with their major investor, Lord Wynbrook.

John Arlington is also apprehensive about seeing Katherine again. The last time he saw her five years earlier was one of the lowest points of his life and his behavior towards her was less than gentlemanly. The meeting with Darington and Lady Kate goes surprisingly well and John and his brother are delighted to know their investments have borne fruit. Just as they are all ready to leave, the meeting is interrupted by the arrival of a crewmember from Darington’s ship alerting them that someone has tried to break into his quarters. After another break-in at the townhouse they are leasing it becomes clear to John that someone is targeting the Ashton siblings. Hoping to protect his friend, and by extension show a more gallant side of himself to Katherine, John opens his home in London to the pair until they discover who has been trying to hurt them.

If the Earl Only Knew has a little bit of everything to entice a reader, with the conspiracy against the Darington earldom that stretches generations and a relationship born from conflict that unfolds into the truest love. I enjoyed Kate’s development over the course of the story and found her to be a great example of an independent woman but far from the typical spiky bluestocking. Kate begins her story very closed off and her frumpy appearance and severe behavior are her shields. Her dislike of John comes from memories of his unflattering comments about her and her brother but also her confusion about what he makes her feel. When they are forced into close company at his home and later, while trying to save her brother, Kate has to reconcile those memories with the charming, caring man John has become and all the new emotions he brings out in her. She grows as a woman, lowering some of her defences to find friendship with John’s sisters and slowly embracing the feminine side of herself that was suppressed due to living among sailors and other men for too long.

The intrigue portion of the story is a good way of showcasing both John and Kate’s strengths while still moving their relationship forward. John’s consistent support of Kate allows her to investigate her past without fear and find the roots of the danger to her family. I was a bit put off by some of the spiritual undertones to the story; however the message characters relay by quoting scripture or talking about God does tie in well to the idea of Kate having to have trust in John and have faith that he will not turn from her for all of her secrets. I would have liked a little more intimacy in their relationship or that their closeness was expressed with more than just discussions on kissing. Fortunately the sense of love the characters share for each other is palpable even if the bedroom door is only open a crack.

The Daring Marriages series is off to a wonderful start with If the Earl Only Knew. The sweet romance for Kate and John was quite satisfying yet there are enough unanswered questions left to keep a reader eager for the next instalment.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

amanda foresterAmanda Forester holds a PhD in psychology and worked many years in academia before discovering that writing historical romance was way more fun. A Publishers Weekly Top Ten author, her books have been given starred reviews from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews. Whether in the rugged Highlands of medieval Scotland or the decadent ballrooms of Regency England, her novels offer fast-paced adventures filled with wit, intrigue, and romance. You can visit her at www.amandaforester.com.

A Midsummer Bride by Amanda Forester

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Outspoken American heiress Harriet Redgrave is undeniably bad ton. She laughs too much, rides too fast, and tends to start fires pursuing her interest in the new science of chemistry. And despite her grandfather’s matchmaking intentions to the contrary, Harriet has no interest in being wooed for her wealth.

Duncan Maclachlan, Earl of Thornton, would never marry to repair the family fortunes. Or would he? When he saves Harriet from a science experiment about to go very, very, wrong, all bets are off.

Publisher and Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, November 2013

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: 1810 London and the Scottish Highlands
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat level: 1.5
Reviewer rating: 4 stars

Review by Maria Almaguer

This is the second book in Amanda Forester’s charming series, The Marriage Mart. I read the first book, A Wedding in Springtime, last summer and was delighted by its lighthearted combination of wit, romance, and mystery, and its strong cast of secondary characters. Though not quite as funny as the first book, I still enjoyed this story very much.

There are actually two love stories in this book, besides the main romance between Harriet and Duncan. Or rather, a love story and a half, and the first book is the same way. Penelope Rose, companion to the dowager duchess of Marchford, reappears here and I was so happy to see her again. Her hilarious (and reluctant) matchmaking schemes continue at the behest of the dowager, but here the focus is on smart and sensible Penelope – finally! I have high hopes for her with the Duke of Marchford, the dowager’s serious and ambitious grandson, and Duncan’s good friend. Penelope and Marchford exchange some very playful and bold banter as they find themselves in some humorous and near-compromising situations. Forester entices us with glimpses of their love story throughout the book and I think I might almost like them even more than the main heroes and heroines. Perhaps because I’m slowly getting to know them better during the series?

I loved Harriet, the heroine of this story. She is biding her time with her grandfather and is going along with his schemes to marry her off at a country house party in Scotland until she can return to America and her family. With her direct, unpretentious and friendly manner she is, unfortunately, a natural target for the vipers of the ton who waste no time gossiping about her and putting her down. To be plain, they bully her. As a rich American heiress and granddaughter of an earl, she is funny and eccentric in her love of alchemy – a precursor to chemistry – as a hobby, yet her love of knowledge is enthusiastic and sincere. She falls in love with Duncan’s kindness to her and the way he makes her feel welcome and special; he is protective of her in the face of society’s cruelty. She also falls in love with the beautiful landscape of the Scottish Highlands. It reminds her of her country home in Massachusetts.

Our hero, Duncan, is a real sweetheart; shy and more retiring than your usual Regency hero. He is a quiet and dutiful son and a very responsible steward of his crumbling and impoverished Highland estate, trying desperately to keep it solvent in the face of his mother’s dangerous spendthrift ways. Harriet’s sincere regard and unabashed attentions make him feel like a hero; he feels he can be completely himself with her… and she likes him that way. That this surprises him is sweet.

Why they couldn’t be together, however, I didn’t quite understand, and this is why I give the book four stars instead of five. Duncan desperately needs money to save his estate but refuses to marry for money. He loves Harriet and would marry her if she was poor he would marry her, but because she has money, it turns him off. For her part, Harriet wants a man to love her for herself, not for her fortune, and wants to return to America even though she loves Duncan and Scotland. Needless to say, all is happily resolved in the end.

In a way, Duncan and Harriet are both misfits. He is reserved and introverted and she is brash and colorful. To the ton they are oddities, yet they understand and appreciate each other for the very same qualities that make them uncomfortable in high society.

The part of the book devoted to a mystery includes a spy subplot involving the Duke of Marchford with his work for the Foreign Office – a continuing thread from book one – and a connection with a jewel thief. Harriet’s alchemy experiments actually end up helping to solve both mysteries. There are also some wonderfully animated secondary characters, including the nasty Miss Crawley, Duncan’s rather flaky mother and Harriet’s grandfather, the earl.

The humor in this book is infectious; like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, it is “light and bright and sparkling.” But even though it is a very lighthearted book, it has emotional depth and feeling. It made me laugh and smile, and it’s always wonderful when a story does that.