Laird of the Black Isle by Paula Quinn

Laird of the Black Isle (The MacGregors: Highland Heirs, #7)Laird of the Black Isle by Paula Quinn

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The MacGregors: Highland Heirs #7
Publication Date: 5/29/18

Mailie is the kind of heroine I like – strong, feisty, undaunted, smart, complex, loving and can totally take care of herself. Add a flawed, wounded, scarred, braw, huge, yet caring and tender hero and you have an outstanding read! The prose is excellently written, the plot well thought out and presented and the characters are very relatable and likable. The children, Will and Lily, were delightful and you just wanted to hug them. Then there is Ruth – we all need a Ruth in our lives. The MacGregor clan are all just sigh-worthy and we do get to see a fair amount of Tristan, our heroine’s father, and Adam, future laird of Camlochlin, who is featured in the next book. Lest I forget, one of my favorite characters is, Ettarre, a devilish-looking hound with the most wonderful disposition.

I started out being sure that there was no way I was going to like Lachlan MacKenzie, Dragon Laird of Black Isle, Earl of Cromartie. His is a tragic tale of loss, suffering, and pain and when he was offered a deal with the devil, he agreed to inflict that same pain, suffering, and loss on another family. So, why would I ever decide to like him? Well, Ms. Quinn handles it wonderfully. She doesn’t white-wash what he did and doesn’t make it like it never happened – she makes it a tale of redemption, forgiveness, and love. He was always a sweet and wonderful man and when you hear his story, you will see why he shut himself away from the world with almost no human contact.

Mailie MacGregor is the much-loved daughter of Tristan and Isobel MacGregor. She is sweetness and light itself and always sees the best side of everyone and everything. She is also strong and smart and can usually take care of herself. As Mailie and her cousin Nichola are shopping in a village square they have no worries because they are surrounded by five MacGregor men who are twice the size of anyone else around. There is a distraction, one of the MacGregor’s has been accused of theft – everyone charges over to protest – and – in a flash – Mailie is gone without a trace.

Mailie does all she can to get away. She kicks him, screams at him, flings herself away – you name it – and it doesn’t even phase him. He puts her across his shoulders and takes off running – and he runs for what seems like forever. Then, he flings her over a horse and they are off again to a boat where he rows her for an interminable amount of time. He is huge, strong and inexhaustible! She has no idea where she is or how she will escape – but escape she will. She knows her kin will be looking for her and won’t ever give up until they find her, then Lord help the man who has kidnapped her because her kin will kill him without a question asked.

Within a day Mailie is taking over his castle and him. She bores into him with question after question and demand after demand. She is slowly but surely cracking the shell he has built around his heart and his life. She is relentless. She won’t let him shut her out – and the more she learns, the more she cares and the less she blames.

It is wonderful to watch these two find their way to their HEA. It takes a lot of work – on Mailie’s part especially – but it is absolutely wonderful to see. I just know you’ll love this book. There is also an excerpt from the next book, Highlander Ever After, in the back and now I can hardly wait for that one!

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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

A Mistress for Penndrake by Tammy L. Bailey

A Mistress for PenndrakeA Mistress for Penndrake by Tammy L. Bailey

Barbara’s rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: Stand Alone
Publication Date: 5/28/18

I really, really wanted to LOVE this book, but I just couldn’t get there. I am sure it would appeal to the majority of historical romance readers, it just didn’t appeal to me and left me puzzled and with many unanswered questions – so many things that just didn’t make sense to me.

I read the premise, it sounded wonderful and I couldn’t wait to get started on it. Then, I learned that the hero, The Marquess of Wesley, is going to take revenge on Garrett, the man who won – fair and square, no cheating – Wesley’s estate from his gambling father. Wesley’s father is now deceased and Garrett will either claim the property from Wesley or Wesley can marry Garret’s cousin, Kate Holden. So, what is our hero’s first thought? He’ll ruin Kate and somehow that is going to be revenge on Garrett and it will get his property back. Right – that is both honorable and intelligent and surely Garrett is unintelligent enough to give Wesley his property back after he ruins Garrett’s favorite cousin.

Wesley’s problem never really made sense to me. Was he totally broke with nothing at all left? His father lost tens of thousands of pounds and Penndrake. Was Penndrake the only estate of the Marquessate? His mother lives in London – do they own a house there? If Penndrake was the only estate, then why in the world wasn’t it entailed? I know it is just barely possible for that to happen, but it seems highly unlikely. I understand that the father was a dastardly old jacka**, but – well, I just had a hard time with that whole entailment thing. For someone whose whole future, including his home and income, is at stake, Wesley never seems desperate to me. Not like someone who had lost everything and had no other means to live and support himself.

Miss Kate Holden fell in love at fifteen and the object of her affections was a shallow, selfish, self-centered young man named Rourke – who is Wesley’s distant cousin. Rourke married someone else and she decided to never lose her heart again. That is the set-up of the yin-yang between Wesley and Kate – she doesn’t want to marry, but she’s attracted to him – he wants to ruin her, but he’s attracted to her. That whole ‘I’m going to ruin her’ from Wesley and ‘I’ll never give my heart away’ thing from Kate went on way, way, way too long.

The characters – well – there wasn’t a worthwhile one in the lot – except the Vicar and his family. None of them would be someone you’d want to sit down to dinner with.  I couldn’t really identify with either of the main characters. You have what is basically the equivalent of Cinderella’s wicked stepmother and step-sisters – but it was Kate’s distant aunt and cousins. Then there is Wesley’s stupid cousin and Kate’s cousin who is blackmailing Wesley. . . . Not a keeper in the bunch as far as I can see.

Here are a few of the things that seemed a bit odd to me. Not a whole list – just a few and I’m trying not to give too much of the plot away.

  • The Marquess delivers babies?
  • Wesley says he’s going to entail Penndrake to Kate’s father. . . Say what
  • When Wesley took his house guests to the village to shop, they gave him the receipts/bills for their purchases and he complained about the cost of the fabric Kate’s sister purchased. Why would he be responsible for paying? It didn’t say he offered to pay – it was just written as if that were the normal way of doing things. These were well-to-do folks and could certainly afford their own.

As I said in the beginning, I REALLY wanted to love this book, but just couldn’t get there.  I could buy that there was insta-lust between them, but I didn’t see the love growing because they never actually spoke.  They spoke in riddles and circles, but nothing in the way of actually getting to know each other.  Don’t let my experience keep you from trying it — you might love it — it has a number of 4 and 5-star reviews.

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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

Seductive Surrender by Collette Cameron

Seductive Surrender (Highland Heather Romancing a Scot, #6)Seductive Surrender by Collette Cameron
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Highland Heather Romancing a Scot, #6

Release Date: May 23, 2018

Gwendolyn McClintock meets Dugall Ferguson when her carriage runs him down. Injured by highwaymen, Dugall had stumbled out of the woods into the carriage’s path. Gwen insists on caring for him.

Gwen is aunt and guardian to Jeremiah, the new Laird McClintock, she has traveled from their home in South Carolina to Scotland. She has no idea what to expect in Scotland, but she is intent on seeing Jeremiah claim his birthright. She sold their plantation, packed up her niece, nephew, aunt and nanny and is anxious to see what the future holds for them.

When Dugall wakes, he is surprised to find himself bound and the fiery angel who found him on the road riding his horse! He convinces Gwen he is not a threat and offers to help her oversee the estate – until he hears back from the diplomatic corps – his lifelong dream is to be an agent for the corps and nothing, not even a gorgeous red head with a charming accent and hysterical sayings will stop him from leaving.

They arrive at the estate and Gwen immediately takes charge, she tends Dugall’s wounds and shares a kiss with him, letting it slip that she had been betrothed before – four times to be exact. As she is coming to terms with the kiss, she meets some of the other residents of the house. From Aunt Dolina, she learns that her grandparents eloped. Her grandfather was the younger brother of the previous Laird and caused quite a stir when he eloped with his brother’s intended bride.

Dugall takes her and the family to meet his brother, Laird Ewan, on the way there, someone takes a shot at Gwen. Terrified for her, Dugall insists on guards and when she learns the shooter escaped, she agrees and begins to think coming to Scotland was a mistake.

Weeks pass with no further incidents until the solicitor, Mr. Christie shows up with the will – Gwen is stunned by not only the revelations, but by the conditions. Dugall promises to look into it – but has received his acceptance to the corps and needs to leave. Gwen is a more than a little heartbroken, but she will not stand in his way. She cannot stay at Suttford House and accepts a position at Craiglocky Keep. Dugall leaves for his meeting with the corps and Gwen and the children settle in at the keep. Gwen misses Dugall and when he returns a week later, she is overjoyed to see him, until she is shot! Dugall is beside himself – his Gwenny has been shot and it makes him realize how he feels about her.

When news arrives from their investigation, it changes everything and Dugall will have to decide if he will give up his dream or keep the woman he loves.

This was a sweet, quick read with likable leads and cameos from previous characters, there is a decent mystery, entertain banter, some kisses, some shocking twists/turns and a sweet epilogue.

This is the sixth book in the series, but it could easily be read as a stand alone title with no problems.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me*

The Lady Loves Scandal by Christina McKnight

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Can Gideon Lyndon win back the heart of Lady Sybil Anson after a year of silence?

Releasing May 22nd – Regency Romance, The Lady Loves a Scandal by Christina McKnight.
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Title: The Lady Loves a Scandal
Author: Christina McKnight
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency
Release Date: May 22, 2018

Lady Sybil Anson thought she had it all. Even a match of the heart, despite so many London elite marrying for convenience. But the night before their betrothal was to become official, the love of her life vanished–with a hastily scrawled note and little more. She feared the worst as her heart ached for Gideon, and the scandal sheets simply made matters worse with their preposterous musings on the hows and whys of Viscount Galway’s disappearance. Now, more than a year later, he’s unexpectedly back, and Sybil will have her answers.

Many, many years ago, Gideon Lyndon made a grave mistake. One he’s spent most of his adult life trying to rectify. And despite the progress made, the sacrifices were extensive and damaging. On the verge of repairing one misdeed, he finds himself faced with his greatest challenge yet: winning back the woman he has loved since the moment he met her. But after a year of silence, convincing his headstrong paramour to take him back will not be easy. Especially since he can’t even explain why he left–not if he wants to keep her safe.

Originally published in IT STARTED WITH A WHISPER Anthology

Available at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay

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    Author Bio:

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Christina McKnight writes emotional and intricate Regency Romance with rebellious women and maverick heroes.

Her books combine romance and mystery, exploring themes of redemption and forgiveness. When not writing she enjoys coffee, wine, traveling the world, and watching television.

You can visit her online at the following places: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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Tracy’s Review:

The Lady Loves A ScandalThe Lady Loves A Scandal by Christina McKnight
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Previously Released in the It Started With A Whisper Anthology

Release Date: May 22, 2018

Lady Sybil Anson and Gideon Lyndon, Viscount Galway are in love and soon to be betrothed. The night before the contracts are to be signed, Sybil visits Gideon and they share a passionate kiss and whispers of their hopes an dreams. They are interrupted by a late night visitor for Gideon. He kisses her goodbye and tells her he will see her tomorrow. But he never shows.

A year later, Sybil is on the verge of becoming betrothed again. She loved Gideon, but hasn’t heard from him since that night, save a cryptic note saying he would see her as soon as he could. She assumed he was dead, because nothing short of death would have kept them apart. But on the very night she is to accept the Duke of Garwood, Gideon returns to her. She wants answers before she will give him her heart again, but answers are the one thing Gideon cannot give her.

Will Gideon be able to win back the only woman he has ever loved, or will his secrets destroy any hope of a HEA?

Great story, loved Sybil and Gideon, no steam, secrets, angry brothers and bounty hunters and finally a very sweet HEA.

The Duke of Hearts by Jess Michaels

The Duke of Hearts (The 1797 Club)The Duke of Hearts by Jess Michaels

Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The 1797 Club, #7

Release Date: May 22, 2018

I really enjoyed this installment of the 1797 Club – I will admit, second love romance is not my favorite trope and I am rarely satisfied with the “love” between the hero and heroine, but I am pleased to say, I did finish this book feeling like Matthew and Isabel were soulmates and were “meant to be”.

Matthew Cornwallis, Duke of Tyndale has been mourning his late fiancée for the last three years, he has watched his friends find love and is convinced his chance for love died with Angelica. His friend Robert, the Duke of Roseford tells him he needs to start living again and badgers him into accompanying him to the Donville Masquerade – a pleasure club. He agrees to go, but plans to slip out once Robert is occupied. But when he notices a woman being harassed, he steps in and is shocked to feel an immediate attraction – more intense than he has ever had for ANY woman.

Isabel Hayes, is a widow living with her uncle, she has snuck out to the club to feel passion – she is not indulging, just watching. When Matthew saves her from unwanted advances, she is grateful and surprised to admit ~ aroused. They dance and share a kiss, shaken by the feelings, she bolts.

Days later, they both return to the club, neither can forget the connection they felt. This time, they take things further and make love, but when Isabel sees Matthew’s face while he is readjusting his mask, she is horrified and again runs. Isabel is stunned, Matthew is her late cousin Angelica’s fiancée and the man her uncle is convinced murdered her! She is torn, she cannot believe the gentle, considerate lover she met is capable of murder and decides to return to the club – to investigate him (that’s her story and she is sticking to it!). When they meet again and spend another night of passion, she begins to probe him for information. She leaves not sure if he is grieving or guilty. She sneaks back into her uncle’s house and is confronted by him, Her uncle Fenton says it is time for her to remarry and they will begin looking for a new husband at the Callis’ ball.

At the ball, Isabel’s uncle pairs her with a friend of his, a man 25+ years her senior, she is dishearten, she was already married to one older man and was unhappy, she certainly doesn’t want to marry another.

Matthew is at the ball and sees Fenton, he is going to leave to avoid an ugly confrontation, but then he sees his mystery lover speaking to him and learns who she is – he confronts her and asks if their meeting was a trap – she swears she didn’t know who he was when they met – he kisses her and leaves – angry and aroused. He goes home and tells himself to stay away from her, but his base self urges him to chase her and catch her. Her uncle is out for blood and tells Isabel. She decides that she must warn him and then will stay away.

When they meet again, she tells him to be wary of her uncle, he brushes off her warning, Fenton has been harassing him for years and nothing has ever come from it. When things become heated, they are caught together by her uncle and several other people. Isabel stands up to her uncle in his defense, but Matthew says they will marry.

Her uncle is thrilled that Tyndale is involved in a scandal, he tells Isabel that he had to sacrifice her in order to make everyone see that Matthew is a villain. She is sure her uncle has gone mad from the grief of losing his daughter, but she will not be a party to hurting Matthew, she tells her uncle Matthew is innocent of murder. She will marry Matthew, to protect him.

Matthew’s friends are sure Isabel is in cahoots with her uncle and beg Matthew to reconsider marriage, but he is not sure, he knows that he wants her and has never felt anything like the feelings she invokes in him with any other woman, including Angelica. His friends meet her and make it clear that they do not trust her. Personally, I felt that Helena was especially cruel, I understand protecting a friend, but her interaction with Isabel went beyond warning her and charged into just plain mean and hurtful, without true cause.

They marry and at the wedding feast, Fenton becomes unhinged and makes hateful accusations, Isabel again defends Matthew and tells her uncle he is no longer welcome. Over the next few days, Isabel and Matthew forge a relationship, not just hot sex (although, there is plenty of that). Matthew begins to think they could have a true marriage and maybe love. When they are called to Ewan’s home for the birth of his child, things change for them. His friends seem to welcome her into their set, Helena apologizes to her and Matthew knows that he wants her with him always.

It seems like they are well on their way to their HEA, when Fenton finally makes his move and Matthew realizes that he loves Isabel and it might just be too late to tell her.

This book is well written, flows nicely, has really HOT love scenes (YES!!) wonderful characters, a lot of emotion, a truly demented villain, an almost too good to be true heroine, cameos with the other dukes and their wives and a truly lovely ending with an epilogue. While I did feel that Matthew loved Isabel completely, I can’t like some of the story points involving Angelica.

I would be happy to recommend this book and while I would suggest reading the series in order, this book could be read as a stand alone title.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*

Lady of Desire by Darcy Burke

Lady of Desire (Legendary Rogues, #1)Lady of Desire by Darcy Burke

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Legendary Rogues #1
Publication Date: 8/18/14

I read the third book in this series, Lord of Fortune, and absolutely loved it so I just had to read the earlier books in the series. This one didn’t reach out and grab me by the ears and pull me into it like the third one did, but it was a good story and it had another job to do. It did an excellent job of setting up several recurring series characters and the overarching story of the thirteen treasures and the secret organization, The Order of the Round Table, who will stop at nothing to achieve their aims. The H/h in this book are the parents of the main characters in the next two books. I think I liked our MC’s of this book much better in the third book.

I noticed a lot of Americanisms in the book and sometimes felt like I was reading something from 2018 rather than 1794. Another thing I never got a handle on was Mr. Digby. Was he a Mister, a Lord, a peer of the realm? He’s referred to in all of those ways in the book – in Chapter 18, he is even referred to as a baron.

Mr. Digby stood. “Good morning Mr. Bowen.” Rhys scrutinized the baron thoroughly.”

I never really bought into the chemistry between the two main characters. Yes, the lust was there and I understand that, but given the side most often shown to the reader, I couldn’t see what would make either of them fall in love with the other. That seems true for the heroine much more than the hero. The author tried to give an explanation for her mistrustfulness, but if she was that fragile, she really had a problem! She was just a piece-of-work – she didn’t trust Rhys yet she suddenly decides to get into bed with him. Say what. She actually initiates intimate encounters twice – then gets up, acts very cold and walks out – leaving him to wonder what just happened.

I absolutely LOVED the action/adventure portion of the story. Sort of Indiana Jones(ish) or National Treasure, etc. Discovering the missing books, finding the code and then finding the treasure while trying to outwit the villains (yes, more than one) is an adventure to keep you flipping those pages!

Miss Margery Derrington and her dear aunts are on the verge of being totally impoverished. If they can’t find something of value stored somewhere in their townhome, they’ll have to sell the townhome and try to survive on the proceeds. Margery wants to avoid that at all costs because that is all her aunts have left and they’ve lived there for a great many years. They took Margery in when she was just ten years old and had just lost both of her parents. She loved her aunts beyond measure. If she can’t find something to sell, she’ll either have to enter into a loveless marriage (if she can find a groom who will marry her without a dowry) or she’ll have to become a mistress. Neither option is appealing to her. So, she and her aunts are plowing through all of the trunks in the attic when they finally uncover a very old manuscript. Is it valuable? It is beautifully illustrated and the tales are wonderful. Margery becomes immediately attached to it, its beauty and its history. They will just have to contact a renowned antiquarian to get a valuation on it.

Rhys Bowen lost his father just a couple of years ago and he’s still mourning for him. His father was the only person in the world that Rhys loved and now he is gone. His father, Alexander Bowen, is a renowned antiquarian as is Rhys. However, Rhys wants to break out from his father’s shadow. Rhys is tall, handsome, very intelligent and not so comfortable around ladies and children. Now, he has a young ward named Penn (hero in 3rd book) and he’s feeling his way through how to handle that. Rhys never had any female influence in his life because his mother died within a day of his birth, so he’s not particularly comfortable with hugs. I think he was doing a great job of handling Penn, but they definitely needed a woman’s touch.

A letter asking for a consultation arrived – addressed to his father. Some ladies were asking for a consult about an item they had found. He expected older ladies and his mouth dropped open when the person who arrived was a beautiful young woman and her companion. She shows Rhys the book and he is stunned. It is a medieval manuscript with beautiful illustrations. Rhys recognizes it immediately and can’t wait to verify that it is real. His cousin already owns the companion piece to the book and Rhys knows that there is supposed to be a code contained in the book that should lead to a treasure. Rhys isn’t interested in the treasure for monetary reasons – he’s interested in the historical value. That is – if the tales are even true – and he sees nothing in the book that would indicate that they are true. So, Rhys offers Margery thirty-five pounds which is the full value of the book itself. Margery can’t believe it – only thirty-five pounds. They can’t live on that for any time at all.

Things go back and forth between them and he tells her about the treasure. They end up taking off on a quest to see the other book only to find it has been stolen. Then, they are off on an adventure to find and see the other book, solve the code, and find the treasure. Margery is attacked multiple times by someone wanting to steal her book. Being an independent, adventurous, resourceful lady, she manages to fend off the attacker. During the adventure – she doesn’t trust Rhys because he didn’t tell her about the treasure right away – and then – Rhys doesn’t trust Margery because she really does do a betrayal of him. The adventure is exciting and fun.

As I said above, I just never bought into the chemistry between the two. I can see why Margery would be attracted to Rhys but I can’t see it from his side. She was mad at him for lying to her, but then she betrayed him and took every opportunity throughout the rest of the book to lie to him and deceive him – yet he just keeps coming back for more. Then, there is Digby. Margery didn’t like him from the first, yet when she runs into him she immediately puts her trust in him rather than Rhys and tells him all – including the solution to the code to Anarawd. Say what!

I did absolutely love the King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table aspect to the story (and the series). It is exciting and keeps you interested from beginning to end.

It is definitely a good read and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Please check out my reviews at:
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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

Let Sleeping Dukes Lie by Emily Windsor

Let Sleeping Dukes Lie (Rules of the Rogue, #2).Let Sleeping Dukes Lie (Rules of the Rogue, #2). by Emily Windsor

Series: Rules of the Rogue, #2

Release Date: May 22, 2018

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alexander Westhide, Duke of Rakecombe and Aideen Quinlan met in the previous book, when Alex saved her from a French kidnapper – they shared a kiss and he walked away.

Now almost a year later, they meet again and the passion is still simmering. Alex does not have time for a relationship, with Napoleon on the loose and possible traitors in the home office, he can’t lose his focus. And even if he could – he won’t. Aileen is a firebrand and not at all suitable for the position of duchess, even if he did want to marry, which he doesn’t!

Aileen cannot forget the priggish duke that saved her, kissed her and then left without a backward glance. He is pompous, arrogant, priggish and not at all her type. But she wouldn’t mind another kiss or two. When he sneaks up on her in the gardens of the ball she is attending, they trade taunts and she leaves.

The next day, she learns her dear friend Cordelia is being blackmailed and hatches a plan. Alex and Aideen meet again at the Gibbon’s ball – in Lady Gibbon’s bedchamber – they are each searching for information and share another kiss while hiding from Lady Gibbon. Alex leaves her again – but has forgotten his cane. Aideen holds it hostage and forces another meeting.

When they are caught in a compromising situation, Alex informs his mother that he came to the musicale to select his wife – Aideen.

They marry, but events in Alex’s past prevent him from letting Aideen get too close – he tries to push her away, but she is no delicate flower and refuses to let him. She loves him and will find a way to win his heart. But when Alex becomes over protective and shuts down, she realizes, he doesn’t need her and decides maybe it is time to go home to Ireland.

Alex will have to have to conquer his demons and make a grand gesture to win back his duchess. But old fears are holding him tight and his hesitation may cost him the love of his life.

This was another fabulous book by Ms. Windsor, the writing is wonderful, the characters entertaining, the love scenes steamy-ish, there is witty banter, incredible secondary characters (his mother and Jack are flat out hilarious), a secondary romance that in no way interferes or detracts from Alex & Aideen, some action, some heartache and finally an absolutely amazing ending complete with an epilogue.

This is the second book in the series and reading them in order would be best, but not necessary to enjoy this story.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me*

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