Middle Ages / Medieval (476-1300)

Forbidden Vow by Diana Cosby

Forbidden Vow (Forbidden, #3)Forbidden Vow by Diana Cosby
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Forbidden, #3

Release Date: May 15, 2018

Sir Aiden MacConnell, former Templar Knight and loyal warrior to King Robert is sent to take Latharn Castle from Lord Comyn’s control. On the way to the castle, he finds Broccin Macraith, Earl of Balfour, dying from battle wounds. Broccin remembers Aiden from his youth and asks him to take a missive to his betrothed at Latharn Castle. The missive is a Godsend to Aiden, it will gain him entry to the castle. He will assume Broccin’s identity, learn the secrets of the castle and when he leaves, he will send a message saying Broccin died in battle.

Lady Gwendolyn Murphy is not happy, she does not want to marry again. She married years ago to strengthen alliances for her father, but when she was widowed, her father assured her, she would be able to live her own life. But with his death, Lord Comyn has taken guardianship of her and is insisting she marry the Earl of Balfour, a man with a reputation of coldness and ruthlessness.

Aiden and Gwendolyn meet when her prized mare is struggling to birth her foal – Aiden steps in and saves both the mare and the foal. Gwendolyn is grateful, until she learns who he is. She bristles at his commands and informs him in no uncertain terms that until they marry – Latharn is HER castle and she does not answer to him!

Aiden is attracted to Gwendolyn, but he is on a mission, he must gain her trust to learn the secrets of the castle for King Robert. He plans to stay for only a few days and then he will ask the king to make sure Gwendolyn is taken care of. But when a missive from Rome arrives, calling the priest back to the Vatican, all his plans are destroyed! Lord Comyn was adamant that their wedding take place within a fortnight AND by the priest. With no other priest available, Aiden must marry Gwendolyn. He is not happy, but he will make it work – he will get the information he needs and then send a missive that he died.

Gwendolyn is confused, this warrior is not what she expected and when he refuses to consummate the marriage but feigns proof of her innocence, she begins to admire him. Before he shows the “proof” to her retainers, she tells him the truth, she was married before. As they are disposing of the “evidence” they see a fleet of English ships dropping anchor. It seems that Comyn has joined forces with the English to fight King Robert.

Aiden needs to get this information to the king and sends Sir Ronan and Sir Cailin out with the news. But when the Duke of Northbyrn double crosses Comyn, Aiden and Gwendolyn must run for their lives.

Aiden still hasn’t told Gwendolyn who he is and when things between them become heated, he tries to put her off, he will not dishonor her. He will take her to the king and ask him to she her settled.

When Aiden is injured and Gwendolyn learns the truth, she is beyond livid. And when she meets with the king, she gets several more shocks – she is angry with herself for falling for Aiden. When the king offers to restore her as mistress of Latharn, she agrees to swear fealty to him. Then he makes another demand – she will marry Aiden, again, immediately.

Aiden tries to make things right with Gwendolyn, he promises to restore her castle to her and leave. Gwendolyn agrees to his terms, but isn’t sure that is what she really wants. Yes, she is angry with him for deceiving her, but she also admires him. But after learning the truth of who he is and what he was, she won’t press him to stay with her.

It seems like these two are destined to part, but when Sir Cailin intervenes and a near death experience forces Aiden to examine his heart, a HEA might just be possible.

This is a well written, fast paced novel with lots of action, secrets and betrayal. The chemistry between Aiden and Gwendolyn is apparent, but the love scenes are mild and few and far between. I enjoyed the book, but a couple of things seemed “off”, first Aiden is a Templar Knight and has been since he was little more than a boy, but he seems very knowledgeable about intimate relations and second, the cover of this book is decidedly not medieval – normally I don’t really care about the covers, but if someone was to look at this cover, there is no way they would know this book was a medieval, the gown the lovely model is wearing makes the book appear to be a regency era story.

I did enjoy this story and would recommend it, it is the third book in the series, but it could be read as a stand alone title with no problem.

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

The Knight’s Scarred Maiden by Nicole Locke

The Knight's Scarred Maiden (Lovers and Legends)The Knight’s Scarred Maiden by Nicole Locke
Tracy’s rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Lovers and Legends, #5

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Helissent is the sole survivor of a fire that killed her entire family, an event that left her scarred, both inside and out. She was taken in by the local innkeepers and after she healed, she worked hard to pay back their kindness, first at the inn and then later as their caregiver until they passed away. Now their son Rudd has come to claim his inheritance and considers Helissent part of his due.

Rhain of Gwalchdu has secrets, five years ago he learned everything he believed about his life was a lie, he left his home and became a mercenary, traveling and looking for answers. But after a moment of recklessness in which he killed Guy of Warstone, he is on the run for his life. Because now, Guy’s brother Reynold is hunting him and he knows his time is almost up. He wants to save his men from Reynold and is making his way to King Edward’s camp outside York, he will leave his men there and then deal with Reynold. Taking the road less traveled, he comes upon Helissent’s village and stays longer than he should – because of his fascination with her.

When he and his friend Nicholas save Helissent from Rudd’s plans for her, he unknowingly sparks something to life in her. She decides to leave the village and will start a new life in York. So when she shows up at his camp the next morning with honey cakes and all her possessions, Rhain grudgingly agrees to take her with them.

Helissent is surprised by the treatment she receives, the men do not ignore her, nor do they treat her differently because of her scars. For so long she has used her scars for penance, she lets people look at her in horror, she believes she deserves this for failing to save her family. But Rhain refuses to let her be shamed. He cares for her but knows nothing can come of it, as he will soon be dead. But he desperately wants to help her. They travel to Tickhill castle, where he shares some of his past with her and she with him. He agreed to take her to York, but he needs to keep her safe from Reynold and tries to leave her at Tickhill castle, but she refuses to stay and he is unable to say no to her.

The threat of Reynold looms and when then reach York, he becomes almost frantic wanting to ensure Helissent is not harmed by Reynold. He tries to keep his distance from her, but they are drawn to each other and when they share a kiss, Helissent knows her heart is lost to him. Rhain berates himself for giving into his desire for her, he knows he needs to stay away, but he can’t let her go thinking her scars are the reason for his withdrawal. He finds her and they share a moment of passion, but afterwards, he is cruel and tries to sever their bond, he is not worthy of her and with Reynold so close, he will do anything, even hurt her feelings, if it means he can keep her safe.

But Helissent is not willing to be cast aside and she will save the man she loves, from Reynold and from himself.

I thought this was a very sweet story of healing, forgiveness and learning to move on from ones past. The writing was very good and the story moves quickly. However, I felt like there were a lot of unanswered questions and the ending was a bit anti-climatic. I really would have enjoyed an epilogue set a few years later that perhaps wrapped up the loose ends. But overall, this was a good read with wonderfully flawed characters, great secondary characters, very mild love scenes, a few too many baking references and a lovely declaration scene.

My Lady Captor by Hannah Howell

My Lady CaptorMy Lady Captor by Hannah Howell

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release Date: March 27, 2018 (Re-issue)

Someway, somehow I missed this gem when it originally released in 1996 AND when it was re-issued in 2009 – This book is classic Hannah Howell and I am so glad I finally got to read it!

Lady Sorcha Hay finds Sir Ruari Kerr injured on the battlefield while she is searching for her brother Dougal. She learns from Ruari that Dougal was taken by the English and will be ransomed back. While she is talking to him, her cousin Margaret finds another survivor, who turns out to be Ruari’s cousin Beatham.

Sorcha is dismayed, her clan has no coin to pay the ransom and her brother is Laird, they need him! So being the smart, resourceful girl she is, Sorcha hatches a plan, she will raise the ransom by holding Ruari and Beatham for ransom! She takes them back to her keep and hopes she can keep them from learning the secrets of the Hay clan. She tends Ruari’s wounds and tells him that he is her prisoner, Ruari is beyond angry and vows revenge.

Once they are back at her keep, Sorcha waits for the ransom demand from the English and tries to ignore the attraction she feels towards Ruari all while attempting to keep him from learning that most of the Hay clan are women, that she has the power to see and speak to spirits, that her cousin Euphemia is transitioning into womanhood and all the trouble that comes with that for a Hay woman. Not to mention trying to keep her cousin Margaret and Beatham from forming an impossible attachment and thwarting Ruari’s escape attempts.

Sorcha meets with the English and becomes the object of Sir Simon Treacher’s unwanted attention, she manages to negotiate a ransom and hopes to never see Sir Simon again. She sends the ransom demand to the Kerrs and informs Ruari. Ruari is still angry, but he wants Sorcha with a desire stronger than any he has ever felt. He proposes that they become lovers, no promises, no commitments. At first Sorcha is opposed, but she is attracted to him and will probably never marry, so she agrees. They share three incredible nights together before his family comes for him. They part and words are exchanged. But as he rides away, Sorcha knows that he is taking her heart with him.

She gets her brother back and is again subjected to Sir Simon, the man is obsessed! They manage to evade him and make it back to their keep. Six months pass and it finally seems like he has given up, so when Dougal suggests they attend the market fair, she looks forward to the chance to get out of the keep, she is still nursing a broken heart, but is not nearly as dramatic about it as Margaret is. She convinces Margaret to attend and even with a warning of trouble given by Effie, they set out.

Trouble finds them almost as soon as they reach the fair, Ruari is there and when he sees her, he is ready to take his revenge.

This book is great, there is a lot going on, but it never seems busy and all the various characters and story lines all tie neatly together in the end. The love scenes are steamy, the dialogue is amusing, the villain is vile, the problems keeping them apart seem unsurmountable, the declaration scene is very sweet and the epilogue is completely delightful.

I have no idea how I missed this book years ago, but I am so delighted to have found it! I would highly recommend this book and will be looking to see if there are any other books I missed!

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

Highland Conquest by Alyson McLayne

Highland Conquest (The Sons of Gregor MacLeod)Highland Conquest by Alyson McLayne
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Sons of Gregor MacLeod

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Amber MacPhearson is desperate, years ago Machar Murray took over her clan and has been pursuing her ever since. It was not so bad when her father and grandmother were alive, but since their deaths, Murray has escalated his attacks, going as far as to break into her cottage, she has kept him at bay by pretending to be a witch, but now even that is not working. So with the help of a clansman, she cuts her hair, dresses as a boy and escapes. Only to be captured by Laird Lachlan MacKay.

Lachlan has spent the last five years hunting the man who killed his brother and tried to kill him and he has finally found him, Machar Murray is finally in his sights and he will finally have his justice. He is scouting the castle, when he sees a boy go over the wall and head straight for them, he grabs the boy and takes him back to his camp. Once there he learns his young cousin Adaira has stowed away in one of the supply wagons, so he ties up the “boy” and deals with Adaira. He and his foster brother Callum then leave to take the castle and kill Murray.

Amber is glad that Lachlan is going to kill Murray, but she is worried for her clan and as a healer, she wants to be there to take care of the injured. She tricks Adaira into releasing her and then overpowers her guard and returns to the castle.

Murray bolts, but not before he takes aim at Amber, she runs from him, right into Lachlan. Lachlan is floored to realize the “boy” is actually a woman, the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Desire flares between them, but before they can act on it, Earc (the guard) shows up with Adaira, she was stabbed by Murray and left for dead. Amber uses the situation to her advantage, she promises to heal her, if Lachlan will take over the clan. He agrees and Amber immediately takes over, she tends Adaira and all the injured. Lachlan is both impressed and annoyed by her and worries for her health and does little things to ensure she is taken care of, including diverting the castle priest, who hates her and calls her a witch.

Once all the injured are tended, Amber rests and then goes up to a chamber to bathe. Lachlan walks in and they realize that Niall, the castle steward is trying to compromise them, there is an amusing scene with Lachlan trying to hide from him, so he doesn’t end up wed to Amber.

Lachlan is frustrated that Murray escaped and they find several tunnels and bolt-holes, they have had no sightings of him. Callum speculates that he will not have gone far, he is obsessed with Amber and won’t leave until he has her. Callum suggests setting a trap, with Amber as bait.

When Amber is injured during an ambush by Murray, the clan decides that she must marry, Amber agrees, but has rules, she chooses Lachlan, thinking he will refuse and is shocked when he agrees to marry her.

Lachlan cares for Amber and despite his best efforts, he has not been able to run Murray to ground or keep her safe. Murray is an incredibly intelligent villain, so Lachlan hopes with the aid of Gregor and his foster brothers, they will be able to outwit him and finally be free of his reign of terror.

This is a very well written book and is filled with non-stop action from the first page until the last, there are steamy love scenes, wonderful secondary characters, amusing moments that keep the book from being too dark, an amazingly brilliant and supremely evil villain and finally a very touching and sweet HEA.

I really enjoyed this book and while it is not necessary, I am glad I read the first book in the series before reading this one. This book can be read as a stand alone, but if you want to learn more about Gregor and how he ended up with his foster sons, I would recommend reading Highland Promise.

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

The Most Eligible Highlander in Scotland by Michele Sinclair

The Most Eligible Highlander in Scotland (The McTiernays, #7)The Most Eligible Highlander in Scotland by Michele Sinclair
Tracy’s rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: The McTiernay’s, #7

Release Date: January 30, 2018

This was not a bad book, but personally, I found it a little boring.

The book opens with Conan McTiernay, the second to youngest McTiernay son and indisputably the most brilliant and the rudest of the bunch, being held at sword point while bathing in a loch near his brother Cole’s castle. He is on his way to Cole’s at Laurel’s bidding to help Father Laneghly and assist in moving items from the burned out priory to the McTiernay holding, when two men accost him and seek to take him captive. Conan has no time for this, even naked and wet, he knows these two men are no match for him. He quickly dispatches the first man and the other man runs off.

Mhairi Mayboill is the younger daughter of a traveling merchant, she has been residing with her sister (who is a nun) for the last several years, but since the priory burned and the church has moved them, Mhairi is no longer welcome with them unless she is willing to take vows. Mhairi has no desire to commit to the church or to marry – she wants her freedom and will not be tied down.

When she and Conan meet, sparks fly, I think they both realize that they have met their match – but neither wants marriage or commitment of any kind.

After this start, I expected this book to be action packed and filled with intrigue and adventure. But, nope – it is two incredibly stubborn people falling in love but refusing to change their plans to accommodate that love.

The story would have been a total bust for me if not for the secondary romance of Seamus and Maegen and the antics of Conor and Laurel’s daughters Brenna and Bonny.

The story ends with a HEA, but it is a long and torturous road (for the reader), there are some steamy love scenes, some laugh out loud moments (thanks to Brenna & Bonny), cameos from ALL the McTiernays, a little heartbreak and I am sorry to say a lot of modern verbiage and cliffhanger epilogue.

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

When a Warrior Woos A Lass by Julie Johnstone

When a Warrior Woos a Lass (Highlander Vows: Entangled Hearts Book 6)When a Warrior Woos a Lass by Julie Johnstone

Series: Highland Vows: Entangled Hearts, #6

Release Date: December 18, 2017

Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first Julie Johnstone book, but it certainly won’t be my last.

Lena MacLeod is the widow of an evil man and has the scars to prove it – inside and out, she feels broken and cannot abide being touched. She returned to her brother’s home in hopes of healing, but now two years later, she is no closer than she was when she first arrived.

Alex MacLean has known Lena for years and cares for her, but he too has scars and knows the darkness in him would destroy her. They meet again at her brother’s wedding and are both shocked when the king arrives and commands them to wed. The king also has a mission for Alex, but it will involve keeping more secrets from Lena.

The king and Alex come to an agreement, but in doing so, it makes Alex appear to be a traitor. Lena is confused, Alex is kind and gentle with her, he praises her strength and urges her to let go of the pain holding her prisoner. In his care, Lena begins to heal and is on her way to being the woman she was before she married Findlay Campbell. But she knows that Alex is keeping secrets and knows those secrets could kill any love blossoming between them. Repeatedly she asks him to trust her and share with her – but Alex feels intense guilt and shame from his past and refuses.

Lena’s half-sister Marsaili has agreed to go with Lena to her new home, but Lena knows there is something Marsaili is keeping from her. When Lena learns Marsaili’s secret, she is shocked and not sure who to turn to, she wants to tell Alex, but Marsaili has sown seeds of doubt and while she longs to trust him, his refusal to share his past makes it impossible for her to do so. So she writes to her brother. When Alex intercepts her letter, he knows it is time to enact the king’s plan. He plans to take Marsaili and confront the Stewart, but he has no intention of letting Lena join them.

Lena learns they are planning to leave and is heartbroken, but when she learns his true mission, she insists on joining them. They arrive at the Stewart’s castle and Alex’s past comes rushing back. Alex must seemingly betray Lena’s brother Lachlan and take him prisoner. He leave to do the Stewarts bidding and Lena is left at the castle. Lena learns much about Alex’s past and is used to punish Alex – but Lena has grown strong and she will not break. When Alex saves her, she begs him to share his past, telling him that the secrets will destroy the love they share. But even after he does so, they are not done yet, they still have to complete their mission and save Marsaili and Lachlan.

This was a very well written story, it flowed well and was almost impossible to put down. It had secrets, shame, heartache, steamy love scenes, healing, acceptance, action and some very evil villains. But it also had sweet, tender moments as well as a truly beautiful love story and a very hard won HEA.

This is the sixth book in the series and I will admit feeling a little lost at times, events in the past are eluded to, but not having read the previous books, I wasn’t really sure what happened – but those past events played a significant role in this book and while I can imagine what happened, I was not given enough backstory to know for sure. Which is why I gave this book 4 stars vs 5 stars. I am sure if you have been following the series, you will have a much better understanding of the past events and LOVE this book.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC*

Highland Redemption by Lori Ann Bailey

Highland RedemptionHighland Redemption by Lori Ann Bailey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Highland Pride #2
Publication Date: 11/27/17

This is the second novel by Lori Ann Bailey and I think she has great promise as an author. This series is set in 1640’s Scotland during a time of great turmoil between the Royalists and the Covenanters. I have not read the first book in the series and I think that may be what caused some of my questions about people in this book. There are some things that, to me, just aren’t plain and it makes me question their plausibility. I enjoyed the story, I just didn’t understand some of the character backgrounds and standing within the clan.

Skye MacDonald (or is it, Cameron, because her father was a Cameron farmer) is the niece of the MacDonald Laird. Skye was named for the Isle of Skye where her mother’s family lived. Skye’s mother was the daughter of the previous MacDonald Laird and the sister of the current one. Skye and Brodie were childhood friends and Brodie looked up to Skye’s father very much. The two spent most of their time together and friendship turned to love. Skye loved Brodie with all of her heart, but when Brodie began spending more and more time away, she began to wonder at his commitment to her. Then, when he disappeared during the worst time of her life, she was bereft and when her uncle came to take her back to Isle of Skye with him – she went.

Brodie Cameron is the cousin of the Cameron Laird. I’m not sure what his family ‘job’ as part of the Cameron clan is, but it sounds as if they are farmers. Brodie spent as much of his time as possible with Skye and her family. He loved Skye and felt as if her father was a second father to him. He wanted to marry Skye and make a life with her, but he didn’t feel worthy of her – especially after overhearing a conversation between Skye’s father and her uncle. So, when an opportunity to better himself arose, he took it. He became “The Raven” a spy for the Royalists. Sadly, that caused him to have to be away from home for long periods of time and didn’t allow him to explain those absences to Skye. When he returned from an important mission to find Skye’s father had died and Skye had left, he was inconsolable.

Five years later, Brodie rescues a young woman who is being abducted, only to discover that the woman is Skye. Both of them realize their love has never died and they also realize that neither of them is free to act on that. Argyle, a staunch Covenanter, has put a price on the head of The Raven and Brodie would never expose Skye to that and Skye’s uncle has betrothed her to the third son of another Laird in order to form a political alliance.

Brodie is taking Skye to safety when he discovers that Argyle has also placed a bounty on Skye’s head – dead or alive. He cannot understand why Argyle has placed the bounty, but he will do all in his power to keep her safe. How will they manage to get through that time and keep their hearts intact and not betray their clans and alliances?

This is a lovely story of love and redemption. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

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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.”

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