Middle Ages / Medieval (476-1300)

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.”

A Knight’s Temptation by Lana Williams

A Knight's Temptation (Falling For A Knight Book 2)A Knight’s Temptation by Lana Williams

Series: Falling for a Knight, #2

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I was thrilled to learn that Ms. Williams was finally writing the follow up to A Knight’s Quest and could wait to delve right back into her medieval world of knights and ladies!

This story begins about two weeks after the end of A Knight’s Quest, Ilisa Douglas is the sister of Sophia (the heroine from A Knight’s Quest) and sister of the former governor of Berwick is in hiding with her younger brother Alec and Braden. She has a serious aversion to English knights and wants nothing more than to see Braden healed and on his way, so she can take her vows and retire to St. Mary’s. She feels honor bound to stay with Braden until he heals and her sister returns to take Alec with her to England.

Braden is the cousin of Garrick (the hero of A Knight’s Quest) and son of William and Christiana (Believe In Me – a fact that I remembered while I was reading this book!). Braden was injured while saving Ilisa and Sophia from an assassination attempt. Now that he is recovering, he wants to learn why Lord Graham is trying to kill the Douglas’ and who else might be involved. Little by little he regains his strength and tries to fight his attraction to Ilisa. Braden possesses the same gift of healing as his mother, a secret he guards closely, but a secret that may already be out, as he had used his gift in front of Alec. Using his gift drains him and in his weaken state could kill him, but Braden cannot let anyone suffer if he is able to help them. He is truly a good and honorable man.
When Ilisa and Braden learn that Lord Graham is having a tournament to celebrate his daughter’s birthday, Braden decides to go and see what he can learn. Ilisa and Alec also want to go and after meeting with the Prioress of St. Mary’s, Braden grudgingly agrees to let them accompany him. The Prioress helps them by giving them an invitation and new identities, but in turn she demands that they marry before they leave, assuring them that it will be easy to annul later. Doubtful, but needing to gain entry to the keep, they agree.

They travel to Lord Graham’s estate and along the way, Ilisa begins to realize her assumptions about Braden where wrong and that even though his is an English knight, he is a good man. The more she is with him, the more she begins to rethink her plans to take vows. She wonders if there could be a future with the man she is coming to admire.

When they reach the estate, they learn that Lord Graham is part of the Sentinels (the group of Scots looking to place their own man on the throne), but they still don’t know why he wants the Douglas siblings dead. They each play their role, trying to glean more information and the identities of Graham’s conspirators. When Ilisa befriends Arabela (Lord Graham’s daughter) they get too close to the truth and someone tries to kill Ilisa, Braden is forced to use his gift to save her. But too many people saw her injured and suspicion begins to take root.

When Chanse (Braden’s brother) shows up uninvited, Braden is overjoyed. Chanse enters the competition and tries to help Braden and Ilisa find out who Lord Graham is working with and to divert attention from Braden.

Braden knows he loves Ilisa, but is not sure about her feelings and with the danger they are in, he decides to wait until they are back in Berwick before he talks to her. But Ilisa has figured out Braden’s secret and is humbled that he risked his life to save her. She now knows that she loves him and would like to have a real marriage – but first they have to finish their mission. When they attend the final feast, Ilisa learns who tried to kill her. She tells Braden and they decide to leave the next morning. But when they are confronted by the villain and he uses Alec to force Braden to use his gift to save him and things go from bad to worse. Braden and Ilisa go to the keep to meet with Lord Graham and discover that Alec escaped. They leave to search for him and finally decide to leave and look for him on the road. When they find him and Braden heals him, he is drained and they are forced to stop so he can rest. But Lord Graham is not done with them yet and Braden is forced to make a choice to which there is no happy ending.

I loved this book, it was well written, flowed nicely, had plenty of action and intrigue and while it was not as steamy as I like, the love scenes were well done and appropriate for the story. Braden is a wonderful hero and is truly the shining star of this book.

This book is part of a series, but it could easily be read as a standalone title with no confusion to the reader. I was also excited to learn that Chanse’s story will be next and is scheduled to publish next spring!!

The Scot’s Bride by Paula Quinn

The Scot's Bride (The MacGregors: Highland Heirs Book #6)The Scot’s Bride by Paula Quinn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Macgregors: Highland Heirs #6
Publication Date: 10/31/17

Endearing, well-developed and relatable characters populate this book. It is definitely a nice read. I did notice a couple of what I guess I’d call ‘plot holes’, but, if those had been done differently, I would have been reading a different book – and I liked this one.

Charlotte (Charlie) Cunningham is an enchanting, lovely young woman who has absolutely no use for men whatsoever. She has learned a hard lesson from her father and brothers. You can’t trust any man – not even those who are supposed to love and care for you. She had loved Kendrick forever and her father and brothers murdered him (he was barely 15) to keep her from marrying him. Five years later she still passionately hates them and is just biding her time before she leaves for good. First, however, she must find a treatment and/or cure for her sister’s asthma. To do that, she sneaks out at night and visits taverns and other locations seeking out visiting physicians.

Patrick MacGregor is a charming rogue whose smile and charming words can get him out of almost any situation. If the smile and words aren’t enough he is a strong, quick almost invincible warrior. He has always avoided responsibility because he loved being able to go when and where he wanted with no entanglements. Currently, he is on his way to visit with his uncles (Ferguson’s) when he stops in a tavern for a meal and a drink and sees a shadowy figure move through the tavern – and their eyes lock.

Charlie’s family have long been enemies with the Ferguson’s and that feud renewed when Charlie’s father ordered Kendrick to be murdered. The Ferguson’s retaliated by attacking the Cunningham’s and Charlie’s mother was one of the casualties.

When Patrick is captured by the Cunningham’s he claims to be a Campbell and is welcomed into the fold. Charlie’s greedy, arrogant father hopes for a marriage match between her and the powerful Campbell’s. As Patrick and Charlie spend time together, more and more of their shields drop. Can they drop those shields and find their HEA or will an unexpected twist tear them apart? You’ll just have to read the story to see what happens.

Now – to me, one of the biggest holes has to do with Elsie’s illness. The Fergusons and Cunningham’s were friends before Kendrick was murdered – or at least the mothers were. So, why wouldn’t they have known of her illness (she’d had it since early childhood) and they could have offered the cure? She was also secretly seeing their son and surely he would have known. Just doesn’t make sense to me.

I hate that Robbie Dunbar died and I saw absolutely no reason for it.

We saw little of Charlie’s father. I think he would have been better featured as an antagonist. He was just sort of there and very dull. You would have thought he would have been a bigger villain. You have to wonder what he thought of Kendrick being found alive and what he would have done about it.

I liked Duff, but some reviewers didn’t. He is a tortured, very tortured, young man. He’s lost the love of his sister. He is guilty of a sin by omission rather than by commission. That doesn’t make him any less guilty, but it does make him at least a tad more sympathetic. Maybe he’ll get his redemption in the next book.

I would have liked to see more of Patrick’s parents toward the end of the book. The reception back on Skye was just a little too vague.

“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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