Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: 9/11/18
I decided to read this anthology because there were several new-to-me authors in it as well as a couple of authors that I love. It is almost 700 pages (according to Amazon), so it is a pretty long read – but you can read a story and take a break if you like 🙂 Madeline Martin’s contribution was my favorite, but they were all good — well-written books — even those that I don’t normally read – like shapeshifters and lots of supernatural beings, magic, etc.
Her Highland Beast by Madeline Martin
This lovely tale of curses, sacrifice, and love is a cross between Beauty and the Beast and Princess and the Pea – with just a smidgen of the supernatural thrown in. As with all of Madeline Martin’s work, the writing was superb, the plot was flawless and the characters were so very likable.
As a boy of fifteen, Duncan wanted to be a hero. So, when he heard a scream off in the distance, he left his mother and her lady’s maid alone in the forest to go to the rescue. When he gets there, he finds a man who is dead and a young girl, perhaps ten-years-old, almost at death’s door. He scoops up the girl and takes her to a monastery so they can care for her. When he gets back to his mother both she and her lady’s maid are dying. The lady’s maid is a sorceress and she curses Duncan before she dies.
Evina is a warrior. She’s been earning her way as a mercenary since she was about thirteen and she is so very, very lonely. She always walks away from every battle, unscathed, when all of those around her are dying. She has no memory of her past – she doesn’t know who her family is – there is absolutely no clue. So, after the last battle, when all around her have died, she is walking toward – what? It is bitter cold and she hasn’t eaten for days – it would be so very easy to just lie down in one of the huge snow drifts and stay there. Then she smells the most mouthwatering aroma – food – and she heads toward it.
She is amazed at what she finds when she gets there. A castle with a garden completely filled with sunshine and warmth – and in the middle a huge Rowan tree with very few leaves left on it. As she is reaching toward a leaf, the most handsome man she’s ever seen tackles her – literally.
It is so lovely to read this story of what true love is really all about.
Rescued by a Sea Nymph by Rebekah Lewis
I haven’t read anything by Rebekah Lewis before, but this was a really well written and well plotted and I liked the characters. It is based on the Little Mermaid story. Now, there is a lot more of the paranormal in this story than I like, but that didn’t keep it from being a well-done tale. It did leave me with an unanswered question since Demeter’s grandson’s identity was constantly mentioned – yet we never learned who he was.
James is attacked by the seventeen-year-old James Paxton, the Earl of Underwood and a gang of his young friends. They put him in a skiff and row out – then, they cut off his hand. Because Underwood doesn’t want James to die right away – they then cauterize the stump – and then push him overboard. James knows he is going to die, it is just a matter of how quickly.
Ione is a sea nymph and she is very lonely and very bored. She’s just swimming around – not even sure where she is – when she sees humans in a rowboat. Humans can be real trouble for her kind. Then, she sees one of them being thrown overboard. She can’t let him die, so she grabs him and tows him toward shore. As she gets closer to shore, it is harder to manage to drag him because her fins and tail interfere. She has to transform into a human form to actually get him onto the shore.
James is only half conscious at the time, but he witnesses Ione’s transformation. Ione has called her cousin, Poseidon, to her in order to get him to heal James – all of the bruises, broken bones – and re-grow his hand. Poseidon agrees to all but the hand. Instead, he puts a hook there. If James turns out to be all Ione hopes he will be, then Poseidon will replace the hand.
Ione has three days to decide if she wants to go back to the sea or if she wants to stay in her human form. She wants James and he wants her – but is it enough for her to give up her humanity for?
Scandalous Liaison by Amanda Mariel
This was a lovely second-chance romance with older main characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.
Grace and Lewis were in love when they were young, but Grace was forced to marry a Duke who was rich in order to save her family from ruin. The duke loved her, treated her well and gave her two daughters. She came to love him, but she was always in love with Lewis. Over twenty years later, she is a widow and Lewis has never married when they meet along the road on their way to the christening of their godchild. It is lovely to see their passion even after all those years and to see if they can make a life together when his life is in America and hers is in England.
Infinitely My Marquess by Dawn Brower
I think this was a takeoff on a mixture of several fairy tales – Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, etc. It had multiple wickeds in it – step-mothers, step-sisters, step-fathers, grandfathers, fathers – goodness, there were a pile of them. There were an awful lot of characters in such a short story, so you had to pay attention to keep them all straight.
Ryan Simms was a happy, loving child until his father remarried and brought a miserable step-mother and two equally miserable step-sisters into their home. Then, just a few years later, his father died and he belonged, body and soul, to his very wicked step-mother. She let all of the servants go and made Ryan do all of their work while she spent money on herself and her daughters. Finally, when Ryan was about twelve, his grandfather, the Duke of Ashthorne, came and removed him from Lady Penelope’s custody. Although his grandfather was a cold and forbidding man, at least he would prepare Ryan for a future.
Annalise, the daughter of the Duke of Wolfton, had a miserable life. Her father was cold, cruel and controlling. She couldn’t even choose her own gowns – he chose them for her. Somehow, Annalise managed to be a sweet and caring person despite her father’s cruel punishments. Her poor brother, Marrock, was just as much under the control of the duke as Annalise was.
When Annalise met Ryan Simms, Marquess of Cinderbury while visiting her step-sister, Estella, there was an instant attraction. The pull was strong, but Ryan didn’t trust love and Annalise knew that her father would never permit her to marry or have any sort of caring relationship. These two were fated to be together, but how were they going to manage it? Well – add in a fairy godmother in the form of a grandmother and a brother, and you have your answer.
It was a lovely read and I enjoyed it.
It Must by Magic by Sandra Sookoo
I’m not a fan of shape-shifters, but I can still appreciate a well-written, well-plotted story with characters that are very likable. You have an evil queen, a loving father, curses, shape-shifters, centaurs, and fairies – something for everyone.
Averell Woode is thirty years old and lives in an enchanted tree. She’s lived there since she was an infant with her father who is a huntsman for Queen Grimhilde, the ruler of Sarringden. Her father tells her that they live there for her protection and that there are many evils in the world, but she’ll be safe as long as she stays near home. One day, while her father is away in the village, she gets restless and wants to see more of the wood that she has ever seen before. As she is moving along, she hears voices in the distance and stealthily moves closer to see who is there. It is a group of men, hunters, who should not be hunting in these woods. One of them draws her attention and she can’t draw her eyes away from him.
Prince Devon James Quinn Lansdowne – Quinn – and his brother Henry were cursed as children by a disgruntled witch disguised as a fairy. They were in their human form by day but would be wolves by night. Quinn quietly snuck up on the woman hiding in the tree line and was struck by her beauty and pure innocence. He was drawn to her, and that night, in his wolf form, he went back and trailed her to where she lived – and it really was in an enchanted tree – just as she had said.
Quinn and Averell have a lot to overcome and many battles to win before they can finally get their HEA, but it was lovely to see them get theirs.
Luring a Lord’s Love by Tammy Andresen
Lots of magical happenings in this book! I’m not usually a fan of that much magic, but this one was well written and handled it well. The only thing I didn’t like was that I didn’t see a real resolution to the villain. She was routed for a time, but I was left with a blurb that said I’d have to read the next book to see the resolution. That is fine, series do that all the time and I usually like an overarching theme or quest, etc. in a series. But – since I’m not a fan of ‘magical’ books, I won’t be reading the next one, so I’ll miss out on the resolution.
Arianna is on her way to her grandmother’s house (a la Red Riding Hood) to take her grandmother a basket of food when she is set upon by a bunch of men in wolf costumes. There has been a lot of crime in her village lately – girls even disappearing. So, Arianna has been skittish and fearful during the entire walk to her grandmothers. When the wolfmen appear, she runs and manages to hide until she hears their dogs, and she knows she can’t hide from them. Being an intelligent young woman, she knows that the only way to escape the dogs is to hide in water. So, she makes for the estuary, enters the freezing water and clings to a log. The dogs and men hang around so long that the tide starts to go out and take her and her log with it. She is sure that it is safer to stay with the log than it is to face the wolfmen. The water is frigid and she’s moving further and further out to sea. When she comes to for a moment, she can’t believe what she sees. There is a ship beside her and a man is diving into the frigid water and swimming toward her.
Nicholas Fairfield is part of a magical family and all of his brothers have been drawn to magical women and have all just recently married. Nick has laughed at them and tells them that certainly won’t happen to him. Then, through his spyglass, he sees something floating in the sea – and as he gets closer, he can tell that it is a person. He has to rescue the person. That person turns out to be a beautiful young woman with bright auburn hair and he is drawn to save her and help her rescue her village.
Arianna’s grandmother has predicted the marriage of Nick and Arianna and at first, both of them are skeptical, but as the story moves on they both realize that the other is the only one for them.
Lots of magic and excitement.
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