Jacobean/Stuart Era (1603-1714)

The Highland Guardian by Amy Jarecki

The Highland Guardian (Lords of the Highlands, #3)The Highland Guardian by Amy Jarecki

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Lords of the Highlands #3
Publication Date: 12/19/17

Romantic! Exciting! Suspenseful! This book reached out, grabbed me by the heart and dragged me back in time to Scotland during the early stages of the Jacobite movement. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. While this is the third book in the lords of the Highlands series, you can easily read it as a stand-alone. However, all of the other books are so good I know you’ll want to go back and read them as well.

Amy Jarecki has captured the feel of the time superbly. The English are riding roughshod over the Scots. They consider the Scots to be barbarians and see no reason not to mistreat and maim at every opportunity. You feel the tension in the air and feel the cruelty of the English. Is it any wonder that the Scots rebelled? The characters are fully developed, the writing outstanding and the story is well planned, well-written and very exciting. You’ll fall in love with both Audrey and Reid.

Reid MacKenzie, Earl of Seaforth is a Highlander through-and-through. He’s also a Jacobite. Not because he’s a religious zealot, but because he is concerned about the sovereignty of Great Britain and doesn’t want to be ruled by ‘outsiders’ upon the death of Queen Anne. He wants Anne’s brother, James, from the Stuart line to become king. He’s the leader of the Highlanders support of ‘the cause’ and has little time for other things in his life – especially NOT a young ward. When he and his crew are returning to England from a visit to James in France, their ship is fired upon and sunk off the coast. His whole crew escapes unharmed – except for Nicholas Kinnet. As Kennet lays dying, he extracts a promise from Reid. Reid promises that he will see to the care and well-being of Kinnet’s daughter. Reid has no time to care for a child, but he’s a man of his word and will see to her care. How long can it take to find a good boarding school for her?

Audrey Kennet has always been excruciatingly shy and awkward. She’s a wallflower of the first order – or so she thinks. So, what is she to do when an unkempt stranger shows up at her door and announces that her father is dead and he is her new guardian? Well – she certainly isn’t going to trust him! Then, he announces that he will be marrying her off as soon as possible. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! She has no intention of marrying just to suit her new guardian. She finds she has strength and courage she never existed within her and manages to keep Reid off-kilter at every turn.

There is a first-class villain, of course. He sets many bad things in motion – just so he can have Audrey and her estate. I won’t mention all of the treacheries he sets off, but it takes us on a wild ride of a story. It is fast-paced, chilling, heart-wrenching and – yes – romantic. What a ride! You wonder right up to the end if they’ll survive and get their HEA! Great read!

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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.”

Enchanted by the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall

Enchanted by the Highlander (A Highland Fairytale, #4)Enchanted by the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall

Series: A Highland Fairy Tale, #4

Release date: November 14, 2017

Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was a very cute story. Very, very loosely based on the Cinderella fairy tale, Gillian MacLeod has always been considered the quiet, biddable sister. But shy Gilly longs for adventure and for true love. She meets John Erly while visiting her sister Fia and is immediately smitten. She is warned by her sister to stay away from “English John”, but at a masked ball, Gilly takes a chance and boldly kisses the man and runs away.

John is bewitched by the masked woman and thinks about her constantly. He has no idea who she is until 10 months later Gilly returns and immediately John knows who his masked lady is. But Gilly is not for the likes of him, a disowned, disgraced, self proclaimed rogue and rascal. So why does it hurt so much to learn she is only staying for a few days before heading off to marry? John lets her know that he knows who she is and what she did, but he keeps her secret safe. Not that anyone would believe him anyway, Gillian is too shy, too timid and too innocent to do such a thing!

When Fia asks John to escort Gilly to her intended and to stand in for her father and give away the bride, John desperately wants to refuse, but Fia will not take no for an answer. Determined to keep his distance and to ignore the temptation she presents, John tries to keep her at an arm’s length. But having tasted boldness, Gillian is not willing to walk away from what could be the adventure of a lifetime.

And an adventure she will have! Within days of setting out, their party is attacked and Gillian is taken captive along with John. They barely escape with their lives and finally give in to the pull between them. John sees a side of Gillian that no one has ever seen and he shares things with her that no other living soul knows. Gillian believes that she has found her true love, but John is not as convinced, he knows he loves her, but has nothing to offer. He is sure she will be fine without him and will soon forget him.

When they are found the next morning, John begins to back away and as the story of Gilly’s escape grows, so does their traveling party making any chance to talk privately impossible. But Gilly knows what she wants and what has to be done, but can she get John to agree?

This was a fast paced story with a lot of action, some laughs, some tears, villains that will not stay vanquished, great secondary characters, a couple of steamy love scenes and finally a very hard won HEA.

This book is part of the Highland Fair Tale series, but could easily be read as a stand alone. FYI – if you read this book and liked her sister Meggie, her story is already available in the Christmas in Kilts Anthology!

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

Highland Ruse by Madeline Martin

Highland RuseHighland Ruse by Madeline Martin

Series: Mercenary Maidens, #2

Release Date: November 14, 2017

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great follow up to Highland Spy!

Delilah is the middle child of fifteen and was sent to work for a relative in the English court. Soon after arriving and losing her virtue, Delilah is approached by a woman named Sylvi and offered the opportunity of a lifetime. With no options, Delilah agrees to work with Sylvi.

After years of training and working to prove herself, Delilah is finally embarking on her first solo mission. Her job is to act a decoy and apprehend the people who are trying to abduct Lady Elizabeth and to ensure that Lady Elizabeth reaches her betrothed without incident.

All goes according to plan and Delilah is taken captive by Kaid MacLeod, Laird of the MacLeod’s. Kaid mean Elizabeth no harm, but her betrothed, Seamus MacKenzie is another story. Haunted by the savage attack that left many in his village, including his father dead, Kaid needs a bargaining chip. He plans to ransom Elizabeth back to MacKenzie in exchange for his father’s sword and the hope of peace.

Delilah employs several tactics to delay their journey and tries to harden her heart against Kaid. But when one of her plans goes awry and Kaid cares for them and then later she witnesses his nightmares and learns the truth, she begins to have doubts about Elizabeth’s safety. Kaid tries to comfort Delilah and things start to heat up, but Kaid refuses to go any further. Kaid decides to leave the coach and travel on horseback, forcing Delilah to leave most of her possessions.

Worried that they will arrive too soon and ruin the plan, Delilah takes action and turns the tables on Kaid. Delilah tells Kaid who she is and proceeds to take him to Sylvi, but soon they cross onto Kaid’s lands and Delilah realizes she has lost her advantage.

Kaid approaches Delilah with a new plan, asking her to impersonate Lady Elizabeth and help him find the lost MacKenzie heir, Torra. He feels that if Torra is restored to her rightful position, there can be peace between the clans. At first Delilah refuses, but when she meets a young orphan girl named Claire and learns the horrors the MacKenzie brought to the MacLeod’s, she knows what she must do.

When things start to go bad, Kaid rushes to rescue the woman he loves. And Delilah turns to Sylvi for help. Things go from bad to worse and just when it seems all hope is lost, Ms. Martin is able to work a miracle and give Delilah and Kaid the HEA they deserve.

This book was well written, flowed non-stop from the first page until the last, there was action, sword fights, steamy love scenes, secrets, betrayals, heartache and moments when it seemed there was no way this was going to end well. There are cameos with Sylvi, Percy, Liv & Isabel as well as the introduction of several secondary characters that add so much depth to this story. This is the second book in the series, but it could easily be read as a standalone title. I am happy to recommend this book and look forward to the next book in the series Highland Wrath (Sylvi’s book!!!!)

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

The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki

The Highland Commander (Lords of the Highlands #2)The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki

Release Date: 6/27/17
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Magdalen aka Maddie is the illegitimate daughter of the Earl Marischal of Scotland, she meets Lord Aiden, the second son of the Duke of Atholl at a masked ball hosted by her father. Aiden is a first lieutenant in the navy and he, along with his shipmates are in port for one night. He is immediately drawn to Maddie. They share a kiss and part ways. Neither knows who the other is, as they only exchanged first names, but neither forgets the other.

Three months later, Maddie’s estranged stepmother comes to her with news that her father has been arrested and is being held in London. The countess is heavy with child and cannot make the trip – she insists that Maddie goes in her place. Aiden is also in London, he has been granted a two week leave for the first time in almost two years and he has big plans for his time. They meet again when Aiden comes to Maddie’s aid. They quickly realize their prior connection and Aiden offers to help Maddie. They work together to free her father and become much better “acquainted” but their blossoming love will be tested when Aiden is recalled to his ship early. Maddie remains in London and is able to have her father released – but there are conditions to the release and those conditions mean Maddie must stay in London too. The queen has “requested” that Maddie stay and play the harp for her and Maddie’s father has “requested” that she spy on the queen for him. She is not happy with either scenario, but feels duty bound to comply.

Over a year has passed when Maddie learns that Aiden’s ship was attacked and that they are in Portsmouth for repairs. She offers to go to Portsmouth to show the crown’s support and to tend the wounded. When they meet on the ship, she is overjoyed that he is safe and he is stunned and elated to see her. They barely have any time together when Aiden is summoned to London by his father. His brother was killed in battle and Aiden is now the Marquis of Tullibardine and his father’s sole heir. On the journey back to London, Maddie tries to offer Aiden comfort, but he is lost in his own grief. When he meets with his father, he is told that he needs to find a bride and his father forbids him to consider Maddie. Aiden at first refuses, but his father uses his mother’s grief to bring him to heel. Maddie is hurt and confused by Aiden’s dismissal – Aiden feels awful about the way he has been treating Maddie and tries to make amends – but Maddie isn’t having it.

Aiden has another chance at redemption when Maddie is falsely accused of trying to assassinate the queen. He rescues her from certain death and they flee together. Maddie is still hurt and makes it perfectly clear that while she is grateful for his rescue – she will not be his whore. Aiden has a lot of groveling to do before these two can have a HEA.

Just when it seems like they have overcome the past and are committed to a future together – Ms. Jarecki throws in another twist and all hope for a swift HEA is shattered.

I loved this book, it has an epic feel to it and the love story is never lost, no matter how long they are parted or by the many obstacles thrown in their path. When they finally get their HEA it is beautiful and will stay with me for a long time. The book is well written, flows wonderfully, has some very well done warm love scenes, a lot of tense moments, a lot of surprising twists and turns and finally a spectacular ending with a very believable soul-mate type of love.

It is the second book in the series, but it is very loosely tied to the first and could easily be read as a stand alone title. I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to Reid’s book, Highland Guardian!

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

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