American Historical

The Gunslinger’s Vow by Amy Sandas

The Gunslinger's Vow (Runaway Brides)The Gunslinger’s Vow by Amy Sandas

Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Runaway Brides, #1

Release Date: June 5, 2018

Alexandra Brighton has just accepted a marriage proposal from Peter Shaw, a member of one of the most prominent families in Boston. This proposal is everything her aunt has hoped for her since she came to live with her 5 years ago. But the instead of being overjoyed, she feels like she has made a horrible mistake and suddenly longs to go home to Montana. She askes her two dearest friends for help and sets out alone.

Malcolm Kincaid is a bounty hunter, but he has only one true goal in life – to hunt down and kill the man that murdered his younger brother. So when a fancy dressed woman enters the saloon in Wyoming asking for help – he has no problem saying no.

But fate isn’t done with these two, when Alex is robbed and abandoned in the wilderness, she happens upon Malcolm. He agrees to take her as far as the next town – period. She uses their time together to try and change his mind and eventually succeeds.

As they travel together, their mutual attraction builds and Alex knows that she cannot marry Peter and plans to send him a letter once she reaches her father’s home. When men hunting Malcolm attack, Alex saves him, but not before he is shot. She tends his wounds and nurses him back to health. He is shocked at how resourceful and competent she is and askes about her past. Slowly they learn each other’s secrets (well most of them) and Malcolm makes it clear that he has no place in his life for a wife until he avenges his brother. Finally their attraction can no longer be denied and Alex pushes when Malcolm tries to be honorable. They both acknowledge their feelings to themselves and know that their time together is ending.

When they finally reach her father’s home – Alex is shocked and hurt to learn how much her father has kept from her the last five years and Malcolm learns that he and Alex have more in common than he thought. On their last night together, he tells her he loves her, because if he doesn’t make it back from his quest, he wants her to know. Alex is fuming when she learns that Malcolm left and refuses to be left behind. But will she arrive in time??

This was an entertaining read, the book is well written and is chocked full of action, adventure, gun fights, sexual tension and lots and lots of secrets. I did feel like it dragged a bit in the middle and the ending felt a little rushed, but overall I enjoyed the book and would be happy to recommend!

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

Settling the Wind by Kari August

Settling the WindSettling the Wind by Kari August
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a wonderful American Frontier Historical about the settling of Estes Park Colorado and set in 1875. The story primarily focuses on Henrietta “Etta” Schodde and Collan Wallace, but there are MANY other characters that are both fictional and actual persons that contribute to the story.

Etta is living with her sister’s family after the sudden death of her husband Charles, she loves her family, but wants some time alone. She sees an ad about Estes Park and decides to go for a visit. Once there, she falls in love with the area and makes friends, days before she is scheduled to leave, she is given the opportunity to buy an established claim share and jumps at the chance. Much to her family’s dismay. But Etta longs for independence and feels like this is her way to achieve that. Her first days alone are a reality check, but she doesn’t give up.

Collan Wallace is a life long friend of Etta’s family and has been wandering for years, when he travels to Denver, he meets Abner and learns about an opportunity in Estes Park, he decides to give it a try, he writes to Etta’s brother Herman and tells him of his plans and askes to buy some cattle. Herm writes back quickly, yes he will send cattle to him and while he is in Estes Park, will he please look in on his sister Henrietta? Etta was his childhood friend and there is no one in the world he likes to tease more than her. He realized too late that Etta was the girl for him years ago when she met her husband Charles. Back then he didn’t acknowledge what he felt for her, but seeing her now, all those feeling come rushing back. But it is clear that her feelings are still engaged with her late husband. He tries to stay away from her and establish himself.

These two will have to face many trials and tribulations before they finally get their HEA – there will be a surprise pregnancy, greedy Englishmen, fire, abductions, good friends, some laughs, some tears, feelings of guilt and a lot of baking. But in the end, these two will finally realize they are meant to be together.

I thought this was a great story, but it was really more of a historical fiction novel vs a historical romance. The romance in this book is very understated and the steam level is nil. Added to that is the fact that there are a lot of historical facts interspersed in the novel, sometimes to the detriment to the story. The facts are interesting, but in most cases, don’t really add to the story and make the book seem a bit wordy.

I did enjoy the book and would be happy to recommend it, but be warned, if you are looking for a romance novel, this isn’t it. However, if you are looking for an interesting, well written historical fiction novel with wonderful characters and an engaging story – read this book!!!

When You Love a Scotsman by Hannah Howell

When You Love a Scotsman (Seven Brides for Seven Scotsmen #2)When You Love a Scotsman by Hannah Howell

Series: Seven Brides for Seven Scotsmen, #2

Release Date: December 26, 2017

Tracy’s rating: 3.5/4 of 5 stars

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it and I probably wouldn’t read it again.

The story opens with Matthew MacEnroy and his men staking shelter from Rebel forces at a farmhouse. The house is the home of Abigail Jenson and her parents. When the Rebels arrive, Abbie races inside to warn her mother and father.

Weeks earlier her family was attacked, her brother was “pressed” into service, her father beaten and her mother violated, Abbie was spared because she had hidden. Her father is near death and her mother is mentally unstable. When she enters the house, Matt and his men are there, but she soon realizes that they are going to help her. Abbie tries to warn her mother, but the woman will not listen. Abbie is a crack shot and impresses Matt with her ability. When one of his men is wounded, she cares for him, but is not able to save her parents. The Rebels set the house afire and there is nothing Abbie can do to save them or her home.

Matt offers to take her to the town where his company is stationed and will no other options, Abbie agrees. When they arrive at the town, Abbie is taken to the “Benton House” which houses various war widows and orphans. Abbie settles in and even begins to assist the doctor. She and Matt do not have a lot of interaction at this point in the book – but they are both attracted to the other. This part of the book focuses more on Abbie’s relationship with the women and children in the house, especially her roommate Julia. Julia is in love with Robert, one of the soldiers stationed at the camp and they plan to marry. When it becomes obvious that Julia is expecting a child, Abbie tells her she must marry now. Robert and Julia marry and then tragedy strikes.

Matt and Abbie have been spending time together, Matt knows he is interested in her, but is not sure if he is ready to marry or if what he feels for her is more than lust. When they are alone, the passion between them is undeniable, and they become intimate but they are constantly interrupted. When they slip away together a few days after the wedding, they spot a band of men sneaking up the river. They rush back to town to warn the others and then a battle ensues, in which Robert is mortally wounded. Julia is brought to his side and is inconsolable when he dies. Her grief is consuming and causes her to go into labor. When her son is born, Abbie hopes it will be enough to drag her out of her grief – but it isn’t and when the town is attacked again, Abbie finds Julia near death on her husband’s grave. She takes Julia home and goes for the doctor. At the medical tent, she asks the doctor to check on Julia and then learns that Matt has been wounded. She tends Matt while the doctor takes care of Julia. Sadly, Julia is dying and she begs Abbie to take care of her son. Abbie agrees and when Julia passes, she has her buried next to her beloved Robert.

Soon after, the company of soldiers is commanded to move south, Matt is told to go home, his commission is almost up and Abbie is recruited to take him home. There is a heart wrenching moment when Abbie must say goodbye to Noah, one of the orphaned children. She promises she will come back for him, but with no home or husband and a newborn baby, she is not able to take him at this moment. Noah is upset and refuses to see her off.

They journey back to Matt’s family and he again wonders what his intentions towards Abbie are and she wonders as well. They are attacked by marauders but manage to reach his home unscathed.

Matt’s family welcomes Abbie with open arms and they too question Matt’s intentions. Matt and Abbie are perfect for one another, but Matt can’t seem to decide what he feels for her.

The book was good, but it was a little boring and repetitious. There is no real conflict and nothing keeping Abbie and Matt apart, except Matt’s inability to decide what he wants to do with her. I honestly was not very happy with him, he took her virginity and took no precautions to keep her from getting pregnant, but didn’t plan to marry her – it seemed dishonorable to me. The story drags a bit due to the lack of conflict and Matt’s indecision becomes a little tiresome. But the secondary characters were good and the love scenes were steamy, there are a couple of heart breaking moments and a few surprises as well as a lovely reunion scene for Abbie. All in all not a bad book, but I had hoped for more.

This is the second book in the series, but it could easily 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*

Deirdre’s True Desire by Heather McCorkle

Deirdre's True Desire (Emerald Belles, #3)Deirdre’s True Desire by Heather McCorkle

Series: Emerald Belles, #3

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Deirdre and Sadie arrive in California eager to reunite with fellow widow Cat (Courting the Corporal) and begin building the winery they envisioned.

However the news is not good, Ainsworth, a local landowner wants the widows lands and has already tried to stop Cat from arriving in time to claim their land. Upon failing to kill Cat, Ainsworth employs other means to steal their land. If they do not have houses on all three lots by Spring, they will have to forfeit their claims. Ainsworth convinces everyone to refuse to sell the widows lumber and will not let them cross his land to bring any in. Desperate the widows must come up with another plan to get lumber and keep their land.

Deirdre comes up with a plan, under the guise of planning a wedding for Cat and Rick, she means to lull Ainsworth into a sense of ease, all while they sneak lumber right under his nose and begin to build their houses.

To make things more interesting, Deirdre meets two men, both to whom she is attracted, but she is not sure either is what she is looking for in a husband. After the fiasco of her first marriage, she is firm in what she is looking for in a man, she wants nothing to do with a man with ties to high society, she would prefer a working man, someone who would accept her as a partner and not treat her like a child that needs protecting. She is also looking for a man who is not afraid of passion, she was stifled in her first marriage and has no desire to relive that nightmare. Two men seem to have potential, Dylan the ranch hand working for Rick and Kinan the owner of the inn she is staying at. But while she finds both men attractive, only Kinan shares her interests, too bad he is so proper!

Kinan has a secret and he is sure that Deirdre will be disgusted when she learns of it, but what he doesn’t know is Deirdre has secrets of her own.

As Deirdre and Kinan work together to build her home, she becomes more attracted to him and wonders if he is really as proper as she first thought, maybe he would accept her once he knew the truth, but too much is at stake for her and her friends to risk letting him know.

When Dylan makes his interest known, Deirdre has to admit that she has feelings for Kinan and tries to discourage Dylan’s attentions. During Cat’s engagement ball, after dancing with Kinan and getting a surprise proposal from Ainsworth, Deirdre escapes the ball to get some air and in doing so learns Kinan’s secret. Instead of being disgusted, Deirdre is relieved, because she knows now that Kinan can be trusted with her secret. When he finds her, she shares the truth with him and it seems that these two are well on their way to a HEA.

But before they can act on their feelings, Dylan arrives with the terrible news – the widow’s houses are all afire. By the time they arrive, Deirdre’s house is almost gone and to make matters worse, Dylan is injured fighting the fire. Deirdre is heartbroken, with winter setting in, there is no way to get more lumber and it seems that her dreams will be shattered.

But help comes from a surprising source and again Kinan shows Deirdre that he will do anything to support her dreams and things between them progress. But their budding relationship will be tested again when Dylan heals and confronts Deirdre. That confrontation leads to a final confrontation with Ainsworth and Dylan’s secrets will be revealed.

I thought the story was well written, but I would not recommend reading this book without having read Courting the Corporal first, I also had mixed feelings about Deirdre, I have nothing against a strong, independent woman, but for most of the book Deirdre came across as indecisive and wanton – she is practically drooling over the men and seems more like a cat in heat than the modern no-nonsense woman she claims to be. I would also agree with another reviewer who said that the graphic love scene came out of nowhere – because while I have no problem with a graphic love scene, there was no real build up to it – they don’t even kiss until well past the 3/4 point of the book and then BAM! they are having sex. The scene was well done, but the timing didn’t seem right. I also found the final confrontation with Ainsworth completely anti-climatic. But many of the lingering questions I had at the end of Courting the Corporal were answered in this book and I loved the relationship between Deirdre, Sadie and Cat.

I really enjoyed the book and having read the previous book I was thrilled to see Cat, Rick and Sadie again and very happy to see Ainsworth get his comeuppance – I would happily recommend this book but would highly recommend reading at least Courting the Corporal before starting this book.

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

The Scotsman Who Saved Me by Hannah Howell

The Scotsman Who Saved Me (Seven Brides for Seven Scotsmen #1)The Scotsman Who Saved Me by Hannah Howell
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Seven Brides for Seven Scotsmen, #1

Release Date: September 26, 2017

This was a good start to a new series, it has all the elements needed to make it an exciting and interesting read. It has likable characters combined with an unusual setting and a steamy love story – what’s not to like?

Iain MacEnroy is the oldest of the seven MacEnroy brothers, they are a family of displaced Scots that moved to America when their Laird’s wife threw them off their land. The incident has given the brothers a deep hatred/distrust for the gentry. They fled to America hoping to start a new life, but on the way to Arkansas Territory, their parents where killed and Iain was left to raise the brothers. Through hard work and sheer determination, they have succeeded in building a home and establishing themselves. Iain meets Emily Stanton when he comes upon her burning home and finds the bodies of her sister and brother in law. They bury the dead and realize that there were others in the house and follow the trail of blood to Emily and her young nephew.

Emily Stanton is on the run for her life and the life of her three year old nephew – she is the granddaughter of a Duke and by an unusual condition bestowed by Queen Elizabeth, the dukedom may be passed the son of daughter, making Neddy (the nephew) the heir to the duke. However, a distant cousin is determined to get rid of Emily and her nephew to ensure he inherits – he has already killed her parents and several other family members that tried to protect Emily and her sister, forcing them to flee England. But it seems that Albert has found them. Emily’s sister begged her to take Neddy and run when the attack began, the attack that killed them and left Emily grievously wounded. When Iain finds her, she knows that her family is dead and she has no place to go. When she passes out, Iain makes the decision to take them back to his home, even knowing that she is English.

Emily slowly heals and is grateful to the MacEnroy’s, she is not sure what will become of her and Neddy, but she feels safe for the first time in years. Iain knows there is more to Emily’s story than she is telling and he is torn between his growing attraction and admiration of her with his distain for the English/gentry. As they grow closer, Iain runs hot and cold with her, but when her life is threaten again, he does not hesitate to protect her.

The story is non-stop from the first page to the last, but it is on the violent side (the villain is relentless) and personally I found the final confrontation with the villain a bit underwhelming. I loved all the characters, the love scenes where steamy, the story flowed well and it focused entirely on Iain and Emily (vs. using this book to set up the series). It is an action-packed, emotional read that will have you laughing one minute and crying the next.

I would happily recommend this book and look forward to reading the other brother’s stories.

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

Once a Rebel by Mary Jo Putney

Once a Rebel (Rogues Redeemed)Once a Rebel by Mary Jo Putney
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Rogues Redeemed, #2

Release Date: August 29, 2017

If you like friends to lovers stories – you will love this book.

Catherine Callista Brooke (aka Callie) and Lord George Gordon Richard Augustus Audley (aka Richard aka Gordon) have been the best of friends since they were children. So when Callie’s father tells her that he has arranged her marriage to a much older widowed plantation owner and that she will be married immediately and go with him to Jamaica, she is frantic and turns to Richard for help running away. Richard is the rebellious third son of the Marquess of Kingston, when Callie comes to him for help, he doesn’t hesitate, he suggests that they go to Scotland to marry. When they are caught by their fathers, Callie agrees to marry the man her father has chosen if he will spare Richard’s life. Her father agrees, but trumps up charges and has Richard transported to New South Wales.

Fifteen years later, Richard is back in London (if you read the Lost Lords series, you might remember him as Gordon – a classmate and minor character in those books) and Lord Kirkwood has an assignment for him. He needs him to go to America and find the widow Audley and either return her to her family in England or ensure her wellbeing in America. This task will be dangerous as England is at war with America – but helping people is what Richard does best and he accepts the mission.

Callie is now widowed and has moved her “family” to Washington and assumed the identity of the widow Audley to escape her vile step-son Henry. When her husband died, he made no final provisions for his two illegitimate children with his mistress. His children are quadroons and Henry considers them slaves and wanted to sell them, Callie has grown to love the children and fled to America rather than let Henry sell them. She has worked hard and established herself as seamstress, all is going well until the British invade Washington. Fearing for her family, she sends them to Baltimore and stays behind to protect the house. She is inadvertently caught up in skirmish, her house is burned to the ground and she is in grave danger when Richard arrives and claims that she is his wife.

Callie and Richard are shocked to see one another again, Callie had been told that Richard died en route to New South Wales. Richard is overjoyed to find Callie and again offers to marry her. Callie politely declines but agrees to act the part of his wife to get to Baltimore. Richard decides that Callie is the woman for him and plans to use the time to woo her. They risk life and limb to get to Baltimore and arrive to find that Callie’s extended family is safe and sound – however Baltimore is preparing for the British to attack – so there will be no easy escape for them. As they spend more time together, the more they begin to fallback into their easy friendship and Callie begins to realize that everything is changing, she is no longer quintessential to her “family” and she begins to think that marrying Richard and returning to England might be exactly what she needs. Just when it seems that her life might finally be looking up, she is faced with yet another challenge – her stepson Henry has found them. After a horrifying encounter with Henry and surviving the Battle of Baltimore – Callie agrees to marry Richard and return to England.

Once they return to England, there are more shocks in store for our lovers, such as the identity of the sister that betrayed them 15 years and the discovery that both their fathers have passed and through the fickle hand of fate – Richard is now the Marquess of Kingston. Determined to make the best of their newly rewritten future, Callie and Richard venture to the Kingston family estate to confront Richard’s younger brothers. All seems to be falling into place, when another tragedy strikes them and secrets are revealed and Richard is forced to do the unthinkable to save the woman he loves more than life itself.

This book was really well done, it has an almost epic feel to it and flows perfectly. It has a lot of history, surprising cameos, steamy love scenes, life and death moments, lighthearted moments and a truly lovely soulmate type of love. My only complaint is this book really needed an epilogue – I was left wondering what happened to her family in America and what became of her unresolved feelings with her sister. Other than that, which admittedly is very minor – I enjoyed this book and would happily recommend it. It is the second book in the series, but they are very loosely connected and there would be no reason this book could not be read as a stand alone title.

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

Courting the Corporal by Heather McCorkle

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Courting the Corporal by Heather McCorkle

Release Date: 06/27/17
Series: Emerald Belles, Book 2

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

I read the previous book in this series, Honor Before Heart and I liked it – but this book, blows the first book away. This book is about Catriona O’Brian aka Cat (Ashlinn’s (from HBH) sister in law) and Corporal Patrick Fergusson aka Rick (Sean’s (from HBH) best friend).

The story starts in New York, Cat has learned the truth about Michael’s death and about the property he purchased in California. Cat has decided to go an stake her claim on the land and start a new life. Her marriage to Michael, though envied by many, was nothing short of a nightmare. She tells her dearest friends of the claims and they decide that since there are three claims, they will all go together. Deciding to celebrate, Cat goes to buy a bottle of wine and literally runs into Rick. She doesn’t know who he is and she gives him a set down.

Sean asks Rick to act as the ladies guide to California – he agrees because he feels that he owes Sean, but he dreads having to accompany “society ladies”, his past experience tells him that this will be an excruciating journey and doubts the ladies will be able to make the journey. He is shocked and delighted when he goes to visit Sean and finds Cat, the rather rude woman from the spirit shop – now he dreads the journey even more, because she is exactly the type of pampered princess he cannot abide.

They plan to leave in a week with an escort of armed men and the ladies belongings, but news comes that Ainsworth (the man that sold them the claim) has petitioned to reclaim the land as no one has claimed it, Cat is given until the middle of August to stake her claim or lose it. That means that they have less than two months to make the journey and there is no way it can be done with a wagon train. It is decided that Cat and Rick will go immediately by horseback and the others will follow.

These two set out, both with preconceived notions about the other and secrets from their past that have caused said notions. As they travel, they begin to realize how wrong they were and a friendship forms. They survive much together on this trek and their friendship and mutual respect blossom into love – but before they can start a future together – they must survive the cross country journey that is brimming with danger.

This book started out a little slow, but once Rick and Cat set out, the story takes off at a gallop and doesn’t slow down until the final page. The book has a bit of everything, social prejudice, a hero with PTSD, a heroine who has been abused, Indian attacks, bison, a crazy villain set on preventing Cat from staking her claim, tornadoes, some steamy love scenes and finally healing and acceptance.

I really loved this story and would highly recommend the book – it is the second in the series, but can easily be read as a stand alone title.

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