Sunday, March 27, 2016

Early Review of Because of Miss Bridgerton (Rokesbys #1) by Julia Quinn

Title: Because of Miss Bridgerton
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Bridgertons/Rokesbys
Format: Hardcover; 304 pages
Publisher: Avon (March 29, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0062465821
ISBN-13: 978-0062465825
Author's Website: http://juliaquinn.com/
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher for reviewing purposes.



Billie Bridgerton was not raised as a proper Miss should be. She was well educated, raised as though she was the heir of her father's estate, and spoon-fed on the belief she could do anything. A regular tomboy, she ran around with the sons of their nearest neighbor who became her dearest friends. Billie never worried about her future until now. She always thought she'd marry one of the neighbor boys, but she never knew just how wrong or right she might be...

George Rokesby is the eldest of the three Rokesby boys and, therefore, heir to his father's estate and title. He's always taken his position seriously, and of the three brothers is considered to be the most serious. While his younger brothers and sister ran around the family estate, he studied and learned how to run it. While his brothers sought adventure, he sought knowledge. To say the man grew into a bore is most likely how Billie Bridgerton would see it, but a roof, an ungrateful cat, a sprained ankle, and a ladder are about to change everything.
The other day I was reading this book on a plane when the women next to me inquired as to what I was reading. I told her about about the book and the Bridgeton series and she asked me why I liked it so much. I've been reading Ms. Quinn's books for years and the Bridgerton family, which she created, is exactly the kind everyone would want to marry into. They're a close-knit bunch who love ferociously and are are fiercely loyal. If you're family, they would always have your back regardless of your innocence. The women of the family are they kind you'd want for your best friends while the men are the kind you'd want to marry. Some having just enough bad boy mixed in to make even a bad girl swoon. If I had to boil it down to one element it would be family. They are the epitome of what a family should be. In fact, at one point in the book Billie states during a conversation about women and war, "If someone I loved was in danger, I'm quite certain I could be moved to violence." I feel that statement kind of says it all.

This is the first of a new series called the Rokesbys. According to Julia Quinn's website, "Sybilla (Billie) Bridgerton is the older sister of Edmund Bridgerton. She is mentioned (although not by name) in  'Violet in Bloom,' which can be found in The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After." We’re going back a generation for 'Because of Miss Bridgerton'. " While the Bridgertons aren't the focus of this series, I'm sure we'll get some glimpses of Georgiana and her parents who will still resides next door to Billie and George.

This is the type of romance where a couple falls in love after knowing each other their entire lives. One is slightly older, but not by too much--just enough to make the age gap when they were younger seem huge. Slowly, however, they start to see each other in a new, romantic way. Billie is a bona fide tomboy and while she is a strong and confident woman on the home front, dealing with polite society is not her forte. When dealing with the ton, she feels like a fish out of water. Plus, an "incident" involving fire when she was presented at court led to her never having had a first season. While Billie can take care of herself in almost any situation, a verbal lashing by the ton, who don't easily forgive or forget, is not something she would know how to endure. She dreads making her debut.

George, on the other hand, is a much more serious than Billie. Raised as the heir, he didn't share in the adventures of Billie and his siblings. Until recently, he wouldn't have considered her a friend but rather someone he didn't really get along with. Truth be told, he's always been a bit envious of Billie and his siblings. They are all very close and he felt a bit left out growing up. Where as Billy could get away with just about anything--including acting like a boy--he felt restrained by his position. He, as you can imagine, has never had a problem fitting in with proper English society. An incident with a cat combined with Billie's confession about her fear of entering society will play a hand in bringing out his protective nature towards her. It allows him to see her not as the annoying spoiled girl of his youth, but as something more. Something much, much more.

This such a charming and delightful tale that I couldn't help but give it 5 out of 5 roses. I loved seeing these two slowly fall in love. It was a fun and sexy love story and after years of reading the Bridgerton series, it felt a bit like coming home. I simply adore Ms. Quinn's novels. They leave me feeling warm, toasty, and as though all is right with the world. If only real life played out like one of her books, life would be good. While this would be considered more of a prequel to the Bridgerton series, it had the feel of some of her earlier works--the ones before the Smythe-Smith Quartet spin-off, which I confess to also loving. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I highly recommend this one.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Early Review of The Study of Seduction (Sinful Suitors #2) by Sabrina Jeffries

Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Sinful Suitors (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books (March 22, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1476786070
ISBN-13: 978-1476786070
Notes: I was given and eARC loan for review purposes.


Lady Clarissa Lindsey is charming, witty, beautiful, and independently wealthy. She appears to have it all--including her own personal stalker...

Count Geraud Durand is the first secretary to the French ambassador, and since the ambassador's return to France, Durand is running the embassy as the charge d'affaires. The position gives the man a great deal of power and certain immunity. Upon meeting Clarissa, he's become obsessed with making her his wife--something both Clarissa and her family have made very clear is not an alliance they wish to pursue. Since her refusal of his proposal, however, he's become increasingly daring and crafty in his attempts to get her into a compromising position with the intent of forcing her hand. So when Clarissa's guardian needs to leave the country on another urgent family matter, he asks his good friend, Edwin Barlow, the Earl of Blakesborough, to be Clarissa's stand-in guardian and keep Clarissa safe from Durand's unsavory pursuits. It's a position that becomes increasingly complicated as Edwin finds himself falling for the beautiful young heiress.
One of the things I love about Sabrina Jeffries' books is watching her grow as an author. While even her first books are good, she's really come into her own, matured as a writer, and honed her craft over the years. With each new series, she seems to kick it up a notch in both heat and storylines to the point I feel I'm guaranteed a story that's more than worthy my time.

I personally adore stories where the hero and heroine seem like total opposites only to find when the two are forced to endure each others company that they have more in common then they ever could have imagined. This is such a story. Clarissa is the Regency version of a modern day party girl. She loves to socialize, dance, drink campaign, and have a good time. Yet underneath her party girl facade she's a very intelligent woman who is a tad bit lonely even though she doesn't realize it. Edwin, on the other hand, would be considered by all to be a stick in the mud. He's much too serious and really needs someone to shake him up and teach him how to enjoy life. We were first introduced to him in the fourth book of The Duke's Men series, If the Viscount Falls, and ever since I've been eagerly awaiting his story. Thankfully, Ms. Jeffries didn't disappoint.

The situation with Count Durand is rather twisted and scary. It makes one realize just how vulnerable women of the Regency time period were. Can you imagine being forced to marry your attacker because society dictates it or being shunned for being a victim of someone's unsavory advances that you never encouraged? Women and their rights have come a long way and while Ms. Jeffries may use such things to her advantage in her books, she never lets the story go completely dark. She tends to use these types of situations to add a touch of drama and suspense to her tales which I thoroughly enjoy.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I enjoyed the story and the engaging characters. I loved how this book has a true hero, and while Clarissa is a strong, smart, and capable of taking care of herself, sometimes even the most self sufficient among us needs a little help when dealing with a seemingly unbalanced individual. Additionally, there were a lot of secrets and backstories that needed to be uncovered before all the pieces of what was going on fell into place which added a nice amount of suspense and a dash of intrigue. Plus, there was a major plot twist that I really liked. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Notes to keep you in the know:
There were some really ingenious automatons in existence during the Regency time period. Ms. Jeffries incorporated some of them into this story by letting Edwin be a admirer, collector, and tinkerer of the art. Check out this article about seven early robots and automatons. I found it very interesting that such things existed all those many years ago:
http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/7-early-robots-and-automatons

Also, you may wish to take a look at the pinterest page Sabrina Jeffries has created filled with things associated with 'The Study of Seduction':
https://www.pinterest.com/sabrinajeffries/the-study-of-seduction/

Videos of Automatons found on Youtube:

Pierre Jaquet-Droz's 'The Writer' Automaton:
(Video by BBC and lesterfontayne)

Order of the series:

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Early review of Marked in Flesh (The Others #4) by Anne Bishop

Title: Marked In Flesh: A Novel of the Others
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Series: A Novel of the Others (Book 4)
Format: Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Roc (March 8, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0451474473
ISBN-13: 978-0451474476
Author's Website: http://www.annebishop.com/
    Notes: Received an eARC loan from the publisher. Contains some gruesome and disturbing moments.
Warning: This review contains spoilers for 'Written in Red' and 'Murder of Crows'  and 'Visions in Silver' so if you haven't read the first books, you may wish to look at my review of 'Written in Red' instead: http://www.seducedbyabook.com/2014/04/written-in-red-others-1-by-anne-bishop_30.html

The Others own the continent known as Thaisia and the humans who live there are, for all intents and purposes, their tolerated guests. When guests overstay their welcome or abuse the hospitality extended to them, heads literally roll as well as other bodily appendages. In this case if you bite the hand that feeds you they'll bite back, for the Others view humans as the other dark meat.

For the past year, tensions between humans and the terra indigene have been rising. A movement known as the Humans First and Last (HFL), under the leadership of Nicholas Scratch, has been getting more and more aggressive with its pursuit to provoke discord in Thaisia. Promising humans they can overtake the Others and claim what they feel should be rightfully theirs--namely the land, houses, etc. that they've been allowed to lease/build. What they don't realize is that the terra indigene that humans have so far encountered aren't the worst of their race. The Others that populate the Courtyards were strategically placed where they are to protect humans from the real Big Bad that roam the continent. Boundaries were not just established to keep the humans out, but to keep the truly terrifying of their species in.

The HFL truly has no idea of the Pandora's box their actions are about to unleash upon the world, but soon they and everyone else will...
This is a series that I HIGHLY recommend you read the previous books first. Each book builds upon the last, and you won't get the full effect of the series unless you read it from beginning to end in order. In my humble opinion, it is well worth your time.

If you haven't already guessed, I love this series. A portion of the story (and, yes, I'm trying not to reveal any spoilers) had an almost biblical feel to it. Not in a preachy, spiritual, or religious way, but rather in a destructive/vengeful large scale way--think Noah's Ark and Sodom & Gomorrah type of chaos. The Others show why they're not ones to be reckoned with, and why the ancestors of those presently living in Thiasia strictly observed the Others' rules.

Meg and Simon's relationship is complicated, but it's kind of fun to see Simon who is usually so confident and sure of himself feel totally out of his element. Simon, for those not up-to-date with the series, is terra indigene. His other form is a wolf. Meg is a Blood Prophet, aka cassandra sangue. When her blood is exposed to the elements, whether accidentally through wounds or scrapes or via controlled cuts, she predicts the future. Her predictions and those by others like her are extremely reliable. She came to the Lakeside Courtyard seeking escape from the people who used and abused her. To say she has trust issues is putting it mildly, but Meg is slowly warming up to Simon and takes a big step (for her) towards furthering their relationship in this one. I love how she seems to win the Others over with her innocent charm and by just being herself. One of my favorite part of the book is when she asks, "Was it...were they laughing at us?" 

I couldn't help but rate this one 5 out of 5 roses. I'm loving the series, but I'm not overly sure where the author, Ms. Bishop, will take this series next. I'm sure she has something up her sleeve because there is at least (and I stress at least) one more book forthcoming. I'm not sure when it is due out, so I may need to try one of her other works to fill the void like her Black Jewels series, her Ephemera series, or her Tir Alainn trilogy. I am so enjoying the characters and world Ms. Bishop has created in her Others series.  I HIGHLY recommend this series. Just be warned, there are some gruesome and disturbing moments in these books and they are not for the faint of heart.

Order of The Others series:

Friday, February 26, 2016

Burning Glass (Burning Glass, #1) by Kathryn Purdie

Title: Burning Glass
Classification: Young Adult Fiction
Genre: High Fantasy
Series: Burning Glass (Book 1)
Format: Hardcover; 512 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (March 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0062412361
ISBN-13: 978-0062412362
Author's Website: http://kathrynpurdie.com/
Notes: I received an ARC from the publisher in return for an honest review.



Two brothers raised apart.
One declared dead to ensure his survival. 
One raised believing he would rule the kingdom.
One yearns for power.
One strives for peace.
Only one can be emperor.
One girl has the power to change everything...

Sonya Petrova is the emperor's new Auraseer. She is the first line of defense against those who seek to hurt or kill the emperor. Auraseers can see people's auras and sense their emotions to the point that if they aren't properly trained they can't distinguish other people's feelings and desires from their own. Auraseers are usually trained from birth at the Auraseer convent, but Sonya's isn't like other Auraseers. Her parents put her into hiding and she wasn't discovered until eight months ago. She isn't properly trained. She doesn't want the position and power thrust upon her. By all rights she shouldn't be the emperor's Auraseer, but fate had other plans as a terrible fire took the lives of all the Auraseers who stood between Sonya and the position of emperor's Auraseer.

One girl will be able to tip the balance of power. 
Who will gain her loyalty? 
Who will she betray?  
Dare she trust herself to make such a decision? 

“Do you never take responsibility for your own emotions?” he asked.
“They far too often belong to someone else.”
This novel grabbed my attention from the very start and never let go. The beginning reminded me a touch of Maria V. Snyder's book 'Poison Study' and Robin LaFevers'  'Grave Mercy' although the two books are very different from this one. The world building was well done and I was able to create a clear picture in my mind of the kingdom. I am hoping in one of the next books we'll learn more about the fiefdoms surrounding Riaznin. I also wonder if any other supernatural powers exist in this world. I feel we've only scratched the surface as we've only seen a tiny sliver of it.

Sonya is a character that needs to find herself. She's never really fit in or belonged anywhere, and she is finally coming into her power. While we know from the beginning she is different from other Auraseers, we don't know the full extent of what she is capable of until late into the novel. I can't help but wonder if there is something more to the story of why her parents decided to hide her from the convent. Did they know she would be different? Is there something in her background that made her so?  I also wonder where these powers come from. No history, at least not yet, is given as to how or why children inherit the Auraseer abilities. From what we're told, it sounded rather unpredictable and random.

The two brothers. Valko, the emperor, and Anton appear to be as different as night and day. Valko's attentions toward Sonya disturbed me. He is a dark character carried away by his own power. Anton seems to love his brother and appears to have a good heart, but is conflicted about his brother's rule. He tries to help Sonya adjust to court life and ease her maneuvering of it and his brother, but I have to wonder...what if???? Throughout the book we see quotes like:
“Do you never take responsibility for your own emotions?” he asked.
“They far too often belong to someone else.”
~ and ~
“I'm not a mirror.”
Could all the seemingly random events that led to Sonya's rise to Sovereign Auraseer be due to some huge plan that has yet to be revealed? Could she have been an unwilling pawn in someone's (most likely Anton's) personal game of thrones that has yet gone undetected? Let's face it, she was knocked unconscious during the fire. The fact that she emerged from it seemingly unscathed despite being at the center of the flaming inferno was never really explained and leads me to two possibilities--either she has a power that hasn't been identified or someone may have manipulated things. Add in that we know she can easily be manipulated and has no loyalty to the Emperor after doing her best to avoid his service and she has the makings of someone who could easily be taken advantage of. Plus, would she notice someone else hijacking her emotions or gifts? Yes, I am probably over thinking things as as I didn't immediately have these thoughts upon finishing the book, but wouldn't it make for an interesting twist if by chance that is the author's plan? Even if that is not the case, there were plenty of other smaller storylines that I'm looking forward to finding out how the author will handle.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses.  It contained plenty of twists, turns, and surprises. This is one of those series where I feel the first book was extremely interesting and hints that the series will be something special, but the second book will be the one that makes or breaks it. I'm crossing my fingers that the author can pull off something special. Meanwhile, I'll have to patiently wait and see.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Giveaway, Review, and Sneak Peek at The Groom Wore Plaid (Highland Weddings #2) by Gayle Callen


Falling in love means tempting fate in this passionate new novel in USA Today bestselling author Gayle Callen’s Highland Wedding series.

Maggie McCallum’s dreams about her new fiancé aren’t the romantic sort. It’s not just that she was bartered to Owen Duff like a piece of property to end a clan feud. She’s also haunted by premonitions of his death on their upcoming wedding day. Yet the exasperating Highlander won’t let her call it off, even though his life and his clan are both in jeopardy.

Owen has wanted Maggie in his bed since he first glimpsed her years ago. If their union restores peace between their clans, so much the better. But while lusting after another chief’s sister had its risks, growing to trust Maggie is far more dangerous. Owen is falling deeply in love with the one woman he cannot hope to claim…and survive.

~ Excerpt of The Groom Wore Plaid ~

Scotland, 1717

Maggie McCallum was only sixteen and Owen Duff eighteen the autumn their families spent in Edinburgh. Her mother had said she was too young for courtship, but Maggie secretly scoffed at that. Men looked at her now, and she was finally allowing herself to give a flirtatious look back.

And then at a dancing assembly, she saw Owen, Viscount Duncraggan, heir to the earldom of Aberfoyle. She’d met him only once before, at a dinner with their parents. She’d been twelve, he fourteen, and he’d ignored her. Now a friend giggled and pointed him out.

“He’s from the Duff clan,” the girl said. “Even I ken that the McCallums and the Duffs have always despised each other.”

Maggie nodded without really listening. She was staring at Owen with wide, curious eyes. He did not wear a belted plaid as so many of her family did, but an expensive tailored coat and waistcoat over knee breeches, and the polished sword at his hip sparkled in the candlelight when he strode across the dance floor to bow to a blushing girl. He had a thin face and bony shoulders that hinted at the broad strength of the man he would become. His sandy hair was gathered in a haphazard queue on his neck, loose strands brushing his cheeks as if he were too busy to be bothered fastening it more securely.

“Isn’t your brother to marry his sister? Ye’ll be practically family.”

Family or not, Maggie knew better than to be the McCallum who approached a Duff in public, right in front of her mother. She thought of her brother’s misery at marrying a woman he didn’t know or love, the way he’d done foolish, reckless things in anger when he’d first discovered his fate at thirteen. Maggie had pitied him, and felt guilty that she was secretly glad it wasn’t she forced to marry a Duff.

Her next meeting with Owen wasn’t auspicious—she merely passed him on the stairs outside her flat on High Street, as dusk settled in dark waves on Edinburgh. The tall building with a dozen floors housed all manner of people, from the chimney sweep in the cellar to the dancing master in the garret. The best floors were reserved for noblemen, and though her father didn’t have a title, he was the chief of the Clan McCallum. Her mother had leased the flat to be near the earl’s family, since her son was marrying into them, but she did not want her daughter involved beyond what civility expected.

Upon seeing Maggie, Owen came to a stop on the stairs and grinned that grin that lived in her dreams for many years to come. His warm brown eyes made her think of the chocolate English ladies favored for their morning drink, and as they took her in, skimming her form, she felt as suitably overheated as that cup she’d only once clutched in her hands on a cold winter morning in the Highlands.

She wanted to scold him for his bold gaze but then she saw the round tube he carried.

“Is that a telescope?” she demanded.

Those eyes now brightened with more than warmth. “Aye, I’m heading out to gaze upon the stars. Have ye looked through one before?”

She shook her head. She’d done nothing more intellectual than read passages from the Bible—she hadn’t been allowed more, had no access to other books. Knowing there was a whole world of knowledge out there made her ache with regret and frustration.

He held out a hand. “I’m Owen. Do ye want to come?”

She hesitated, realizing he didn’t recognize her. In that long moment she thought of her grandparents already preparing for bed, the fact that she’d just seen her mother into a sedan chair to meet with friends, and that her brother lived in his own flat near the university. She was alone.

Owen stood a couple stairs below her, and that put them at just about the same height. She stared into his eyes again, and the admiration and curiosity made her unfurl like a blossom in springtime.

But she had to be honest. Taking a deep breath, she said, “I’m Maggie McCallum. ’Tis my brother who’s to marry your sister.”

He looked at her for a long moment, and the first feelings of regret and resignation washed through her.

But Owen didn’t rush away, only extended his hand closer to her. “Nice to meet ye, Maggie. Do ye still want to come with a dreaded Duff?”

She bit her lip to keep from giggling like a foolish girl. She was sixteen, a woman now. He obviously didn’t remember her from four years before. Maybe that was for the best. Putting her hand in his, she let him lead her out into the twilight.

During the next few weeks, Owen was the excitement in days that were once dreary and repetitive. Sneaking away to ride down to the shore at the Firth of Forth, boating, exploring the grounds of Edinburgh Castle, or even meandering through shops seemed like wild adventures when she was at Owen’s side.

Rather than deter her, the very forbiddance of a friendship between them caused her to be far too reckless. He was so very different from the men she knew. He discussed physics and chemistry and astronomy as if she was as smart as he. She saw his wonder in the world, but when she asked if he would be a scientist, his expression turned hard as he said his father had forbidden it. He was the heir to an earldom, and would be educated as such. If he didn’t study the classics, his father would refuse him attendance at university next year.

Maggie sympathized, and distracted him from his sad and angry thoughts, but she could not stop dwelling on her own confusion. Every moment she spent in his company, Owen seemed more and more familiar to her, as if they’d met much earlier in their childhood, though he swore they had not. Sometimes it was as if a ghost of a dream teased her from just beyond the shadows, and she shivered.

Her dreams were nothing to make light of. More than once, she’d dreamed something that eventually came true. The family of a little boy in her clan had thought him drowned and were about to give up the search, when a dream led her to the bedraggled boy huddled beneath a cliff. Another dream foretold the suicide of a young woman whom Maggie’s father had abused. Maggie hadn’t understood what she was seeing until it had actually come true, which was often the case. And then it had been too late to help the girl. Maggie’s mother had taken her away from Larig Castle and back to Edinburgh, to keep her safe from her father.

But Owen? Could he have been part of a dream she couldn’t remember? The puzzle of it flooded her mind when she was separated from him, but the hours they were together were full of happy laughter, insightful discussion, and endless moments where she stared into his face when he wasn’t looking and imagined herself married to him. Maybe her mind was simply trying to tell her that he was her destiny, that they were meant to be together. She wanted him to kiss her, but he was ever the gentleman—or maybe he assumed that the centuries-old feud between their clans meant they could never share a more intimate relationship. It seemed to be a forbidden topic between them.

But he touched her, and each time she could have surely melted with delight. He would take her hand running across a field, guide her by grasping her elbow, put his hand gently on her waist when they stood watching the sun set amid beautiful orange and pink clouds adorning it like trailing scarves.

Two weeks into their friendship, they were carrying a luncheon basket along the river, Water of Leith, on a particularly sunny autumn day, when Owen suggested they look for mussels and Scottish pearls. This was no mere meandering in ankle-deep water, and soon they were both dripping wet, pearl-less, shivering as they crawled back up the grassy bank, laughing.

Owen lay down in the sun, and feeling reckless, she did the same, eyeing him boldly since his own eyes were closed. His queue had come undone, and long strands of his hair, dark brown with water, covered his cheeks. Without thinking, she came up on her elbow and used a trembling finger to move the locks away from his face.

His eyes snapped open, and she expected him to laugh up at her, but he seemed to concentrate intently on her face just above his. Everything external seemed to go silent as they shared a hot, meaningful gaze. She was focused on the rough sound of her breathing, the moisture beaded on his skin, the way she could feel his heart pounding in his chest when she rested her trembling hand there.

And then he cupped her head and brought her down for a kiss. His lips were cool from the water, yet softer than she imagined a man’s would be. Such boldness made her dizzy—or was it simply nearness to Owen? Her hand still on his chest, she lifted her head and stared down at him uncertainly, but he only brought their mouths together again. He parted his lips, and the shock of his tongue sliding between hers made her start with surprise and wonder. Her cool, wet skin seemed to heat, the warmth spreading out from her mouth and down her chest. Her trembling was no longer from the cold, but she didn’t know why her limbs seemed so restless. She wanted to be touched—needed it with a desperation new to her. But she was afraid to do more than brace herself against his chest as he explored her mouth and taught her to explore his.

The world shifted as he rolled her onto her back. It was his turn to rise above her, his intense face framed by blue sky and towering autumn-hued trees. She had no time to think as he kissed her again and began to touch her. His hand on her body was a hot, welcome presence, and with each touch she felt more and more as if she couldn’t lie still. His caresses journeyed across her wet clothes from her hip and upward. And when at last he touched her breast, pushed upward by her stays, she moaned against his lips and shuddered with each delicate strum across her nipple, as if he made her an instrument of desire.

Their shared world of passion was suddenly overwhelming, and she pushed against him before it was too late to stop. Owen lifted his head and stared down at her, his breathing as erratic as hers.

“We cannot do this,” she said with a trembling voice. Not that she regretted any of it, she realized, staring at his mouth and wishing to feel again the pleasure he’d given her.

Owen was looking at her mouth, too, and he practically growled, “I knew ye’d find out. Forgive me. I didn’t ken how to tell ye.”

“Find out what?” she demanded.

He grimaced.

“Owen Duff, ye have to tell me now.”

“My father betrothed me some years ago to the daughter of a Lowland clan. Even now, they journey here for us to meet.”

The last warmth from their kiss deserted Maggie. Shivering, she sat up and scooted away from him, covering her chest as if it was bared to him.

“Why did ye never tell me this?” she demanded. She’d let herself get lost in the fairy tale of their friendship, and the romance she’d thought had been blossoming. Now she knew she was simply a fool.

Owen tucked his hair back into the queue, as if he needed something to do with his hands. He didn’t look at her, and his face was as red as hers felt, but she didn’t feel any sympathy for him.

His words came out slowly at first, before tumbling over each other as fast as the rippling water behind him. “At first, I thought we were simply friends, and to know ye were a McCallum made it daring. But the need to kiss ye has been dominating my thoughts more and more.”

He met her gaze at last, and she felt like she’d never forget the heat she saw there, the passion he was showing just for her. But he was betrothed, and a lump rose high up into her throat, shutting off any words. She scrambled to her feet and backed away from him before she would embarrass herself more by crying. “I—I have to go.”

(Excerpt used with permission by the publisher.)

~ My Review ~

Title: The Groom Wore Plaid: Highland Weddings
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Highland Weddings
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (February 23, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0062268007
ISBN-13: 978-0062268006
Author's Webstie: http://www.gaylecallen.com/
Notes: I received an eARC loan for review purposes.


Maggie McCallum is engaged to be married to the Laird of her clan's enemy. The arranged marriage is an attempt to end the centuries long feud between their two clans. Not everyone is happy about the marriage, however, and Maggie soon finds herself the target of someone's vicious hatred. To complicate matters more, she has a dream about her soon to be husband, and her dreams have a tendency to come true. If the dream is correct, shortly after saying their 'I dos' her husband will be killed. Now, in order to save the life of the man she's slowly falling in love with she'll have to convince him the wedding can't take place.

Owen Duff, Earl of Aberfoyle and Laird of clan Duff, always insisted he'd only marry a woman of his own choice. When his father tried to weasel his way out of the marriage contract between his sister and the Laird of clan McCallum, he stepped in before things could escalate to a full fledged war and offered to marry Maggie. Years ago the two had been romantically involved, but things hadn't ended well when Owen revealed he was engaged. Shortly thereafter, Maggie had a dream that Owen's fiance would die a tragic death by drowning. When she told Owen what was to come, instead of believing her, he dismissed her warning as a childish attempt to get back at him for not revealing he was engaged sooner. When she reveals her latest dream to him, he again dismisses it as childish antics, this time assuming it's her feeble attempt to get out of marrying him. Determined the wedding will go on, he'll pull out all the stops to prove to Maggie she'll like being married to him by showing her just how enjoyable the relationship will be.
This is the second book in the Highland Weddings series, and I'd recommend reading the first book, 'The Wrong Bride', before reading this one. While the author does a good job of letting you know the essential information of what happened in the first book, I feel you'd get a better understanding of what is going on and what is stake in this book by reading 'The Wrong Bride' first.

One of the things I love about Gayle Callen's romances is that things are never easy between the hero and heroine. Things are always complicated, or at least they appear to be. Some barrier or obstacle must be overcome before a happily-ever-after can be achieved. Plus, the men are often eager to show just how good things can be between the two which makes for a lot of fun reading, and usually leaves me grinning from ear to ear.

Owen and Maggie are a bit like Romeo and Juliet, but with a much happier outcome. From feuding clans they manage to see past the image years of hatred have painted to the individual who truly stands before them, untainted by that hate. They are multifaceted characters with doubts, vulnerabilities, and insecurities which make them easy to relate to and like. Add in that Maggie (due to her dream) is trying to deny her feelings for Owen while he (due to his disbelief that her dream will come true) is trying to seduce her into thinking otherwise, and you've got the trappings of a very fun, delightful, and sexy read.

I immediately liked Maggie while Owen took a while to grow on me. Despite his being an honorable decent man, he is by no means perfect. Being the new Laird of his clan he is taking on a lot of new responsibilities, and at first appeared to be a bit full of himself. It's later, as we learn more about his family and his upbringing that we get a better understanding of who the man is and why is is the way he is. Owen is a man of science who has trouble believing that Maggie's dreams can foretell future events despite having witnessed one coming to fruition in the past. To me that is the biggest hurdle between these two because if he can't believe in her ability it will create a wedge between them. Maggie's attempt to end their engagement leads Owen on a merry chase which, in my opinion, is just what a man like him needs. The threats to both Maggie's and Owen's lives are what solidify their relationship by making them realize and admit their feelings for one another.  

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. The combination of drama, romance, sexual tension, and suspense are what make this a very enjoyable read. On the Lisarenee Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM  rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

~ About the Author ~

Gayle Callen
Visit her Website - www.gaylecallen.com
Follow her on Twitter – https://twitter.com/GayleCallen
'Like' her on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GayleCallen
Follow her on Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/46974.Gayle_Callen

After a detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, GAYLE CALLEN found the life she’d always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than twenty historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, and been translated into eleven different languages. The mother of three grown children, an avid crafter, singer, and outdoor enthusiast, Gayle lives in Central New York with her dog Uma and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero. She also writes contemporary romances as Emma Cane.

Visit her website at www.gaylecallen.com

~ Giveaway ~
Enter for a chance to win one of three print copies of 
'The Wrong Bride' and 'The Groom Wore Plaid'. 
Contest is being held by the publisher and prizes will be distributed by them.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Order of the Highland Weddings series:

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Most Anticipated New Releases for February 2016

The following list is comprised of books, short stories, and novellas my friends, family, and I are most looking forward to reading in February. It also consists of books by popular authors and other authors or books I've heard a lot of hype about. I am not flawless in my endeavors and sometimes I'll accidentally leave one or more books off the list that I shouldn't. Let me know if one of your favorites is missing. Sometimes my search techniques just don't work as well as I wish they did.

The list is divided into weekly releases. If you'd like to read a book's description, just click on the cover photo and you'll be magically transferred to Goodreads. Remember, a book a day keeps the boredom at bay! Happy reading.


February 2, 2016 - The Alchemy of Chaos (Maradaine Novels) by Marshall Ryan Maresca
February 2, 2016 - Alone in the Dark (The Cincinnati Series) by Karen Rose
February 2, 2016 - The Art of War: A Novel (Jake Grafton Novels) by Stephen Coonts
February 2, 2016 - Be Frank With Me: A Novel by Julia Claiborne Johnson
February 2, 2016 - Beauty, Beast, and Belladonna: A Fairy Tale Fatal Mystery by Maia Chance
February 2, 2016 - Blood in Her Veins: Nineteen Stories from the World of Jane Yellowrock by Faith Hunter
February 2, 2016 - Breakdown: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman
February 2, 2016 - A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly
February 2, 2016 - Darkness Fair (The Dark Cycle Book 2) by Rachel A. Marks
February 2, 2016 - Darkness Raging: An Otherworld Novel (Otherworld Series Book 18) by Yasmine Galenorn
February 2, 2016 - A Disguise to Die For by Diane Vallere
February 2, 2016 - Enchanted Warrior (Camelot Reborn) by Sharon Ashwood
February 2, 2016 - Everything's Relative by Jenna Mccarthy
February 2, 2016 - For Cheddar or Worse: A Cheese Shop Mystery by Avery Aames
February 2, 2016 - A Gathering of Shadows: A Novel by V. E. Schwab
February 2, 2016 - Grave Visions: An Alex Craft Novel (Alex Craft Series Book 4) by Kalayna Price
February 2, 2016 - The Grim Steeper: A Teapot Collector Mystery by Amanda Cooper
February 2, 2016 - A Hard, Cruel Shore: An Alan Lewrie Naval Adventure (Alan Lewrie Naval Adventures) by Dewey Lambdin
February 2, 2016 - The High Mountains of Portugal: A Novel by Yann Martel
February 2, 2016 - Highland Spitfire by Mary Wine
February 2, 2016 - In Another Life by Julie Christine Johnson
February 2, 2016 - It's a Wonderful Knife: A Comfort Food Mystery by Christine Wenger
February 2, 2016 - Jane and the Waterloo Map (Being a Jane Austen Mystery) by Stephanie Barron
February 2, 2016 - Kings Rising: Book Three of the Captive Prince Trilogy by C. S. Pacat
February 2, 2016 - Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert
February 2, 2016 - Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf
February 2, 2016 - No Ordinary Life by Suzanne Redfearn
February 2, 2016 - Not all Bastards are from Vienna: A Novel by Andrea Molesini
February 2, 2016 - Off the Books: A Novel Idea Mystery by Lucy Arlington
February 2, 2016 - Raging Sea: Undertow Trilogy Book 2 by Michael Buckley
February 2, 2016 - Remembrance: A Mediator Novel by Meg Cabot
February 2, 2016 - Revisionary: Magic Ex Libris: Book Four by Jim C. Hines
February 2, 2016 - Robert B. Parker's Blackjack (A Cole and Hitch Novel) by Robert Knott
February 2, 2016 - Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons by Christie Purifoy
February 2, 2016 - Running Wild: A Second Shot Novella by Sara Jane Stone
February 2, 2016 - SEAL Wolf In Too Deep by Terry Spear
February 2, 2016 - Seventh Son and Red Prophet by Orson Scott Card
February 2, 2016 - The Shadow (Florentine series) by Sylvain Reynard
February 2, 2016 - Starflight by Melissa Landers
February 2, 2016 - Stars Above: A Lunar Chronicles Collection (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer
February 2, 2016 - Town in a Cinnamon Toast: A Candy Holliday Murder Mystery (Candy Holliday Mystery Book 7) by B.B. Haywood
February 2, 2016 - A Turn for the Bad: A County Cork Mystery by Sheila Connolly
February 2, 2016 - Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
February 2, 2016 - Wicked Sexy Liar (Wild Seasons Book 4) by Christina Lauren
February 2, 2016 - Wickedly Powerful: A Baba Yaga Novel by Deborah Blake
February 2, 2016 - A Whisker of Trouble: A Second Chance Cat Mystery by Sofie Ryan
February 2, 2016 - Will's True Wish (True Gentlemen) by Grace Burrowes
February 2, 2016 - Winterwood (Rowankind) by Jacey Bedford


February 9, 2016 - The Bride Wore Starlight: A Seven Brides for Seven Cowboys Novel by Lizbeth Selvig
February 9, 2016 - Brotherhood in Death by J. D. Robb
February 9, 2016 - The Final Seven (The Lightkeepers Book 1) by Erica Spindler
February 9, 2016 - Find Her (D. D. Warren) by Lisa Gardner
February 9, 2016 - Fridays with the Wizards (Tuesdays at the Castle) by Jessica Day George
February 9, 2016 - Glass Sword (Red Queen) by Victoria Aveyard
February 9, 2016 - Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O'Keeffe by Dawn Tripp
February 9, 2016 - I'll See You in Paris: A Novel by Michelle Gable
February 9, 2016 - Into Oblivion: An Icelandic Thriller (An Inspector Erlendur Series) by Arnaldur Indridason
February 9, 2016 - Legend (The REAL series Book 6) by Katy Evans
February 9, 2016 - Lightning Lingers (Lightning Strikes Book 2) by Barbara Freethy
February 9, 2016 - Morning Star: Book III of The Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown
February 9, 2016 - Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan
February 9, 2016 - These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
February 9, 2016 - Violent Crimes: An Amanda Jaffe Novel (Amanda Jaffe Series) by Phillip Margolin
February 9, 2016 - The Witches of Cambridge: A Novel by Menna Van Praag
February 9, 2016 - The Wolves (A John Wells Novel) by Alex Berenson

 
February 16, 2016 - Back Blast: A Gray Man Novel by Mark Greaney
February 16, 2016 - Bluescreen (Mirador) by Dan Wells
February 16, 2016 - Calamity (The Reckoners) by Brandon Sanderson
February 16, 2016 - Cometh the Hour: A Novel (The Clifton Chronicles) by Jeffrey Archer
February 16, 2016 - Ghost Talker: The Ghost Seer Series by Robin D. Owens
February 16, 2016 - The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
February 16, 2016 - Hard Ever After: A Hard Ink Novella by Laura Kaye
February 16, 2016 - How To Be a Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Tudor Life by Ruth Goodman
February 16, 2016 - If I Run (An If I Run Novel) by Terri Blackstock
February 16, 2016 - The Immortals (Olympus Bound) by Jordanna Max Brodsky
February 16, 2016 - Midnight Sun: A novel (Blood on Snow) by Jo Nesbo
February 16, 2016 - Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body by Kate Hudson
February 16, 2016 - Riders by Veronica Rossi
February 16, 2016 - Ruler of Beasts (Dorothy Must Die Novella) by Danielle Paige
February 16, 2016 - The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine
February 16, 2016 - Switcheroo (A Gideon Oliver Mystery Book 18) by Aaron Elkins
February 16, 2016 - Unexpected Rush: A Play-by-Play Novel by Jaci Burton


February 23, 2016 - American in Scotland, An (Maciain) by Karen Ranney
February 23, 2016 - Bitter Bite (Elemental Assassin) by Jennifer Estep
February 23, 2016 - Cat Shout for Joy: A Joe Grey Mystery (Joe Grey Mystery Series) by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
February 23, 2016 - Cowgirl Bride by Susan Mallery
February 23, 2016 - Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat by Chrissy Teigen and Adeena Sussman
February 23, 2016 - Death of a Nurse (A Hamish Macbeth Mystery) by M. C. Beaton
February 23, 2016 - Doctor Who Coloring Book by Price Stern Sloan
February 23, 2016 - Fighting Dirty (Ultimate Book 4) by Lori Foster
February 23, 2016 - Firstlife (An Everlife Novel) by Gena Showalter
February 23, 2016 - The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
February 23, 2016 - The Friends We Keep (Mischief Bay) by Susan Mallery (eBook ONLY)
February 23, 2016 - A Girl's Guide to Moving On: A Novel by Debbie Macomber
February 23, 2016 - The Groom Wore Plaid: Highland Weddings by Gayle Callen
February 23, 2016 - Hidden Bodies: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes
February 23, 2016 - Lady Bridget's Diary (Keeping Up with the Cavendishes) by Maya Rodale
February 23, 2016 - No Cats Allowed: A Cat in the Stacks Mystery by Miranda James
February 23, 2016 - The Rogue: A Devil's Duke Novel by Katharine Ashe
February 23, 2016 - Runaway Vampire: An Argeneau Novel (Argeneau Vampire) by Lynsay Sands
February 23, 2016 - The Secret Language of Sisters by Luanne Rice
February 23, 2016 - Shards of Murder (A Webb's Glass Shop Mystery) by Cheryl Hollon
February 23, 2016 - She's Not There: A Novel by Joy Fielding
February 23, 2016 - Stone Cold Cowboy: A Montana Men Novel by Jennifer Ryan
February 23, 2016 - Wedding Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen) by Joanne Fluke
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