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.*

Chicken Culprit by Vikki Walton

Chicken Culprit (A Backyard Farming Mystery #1)Chicken Culprit by Vikki Walton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.75 Stars
Series: A Backyard Farming Mystery #1
Publication Date: 2/12/18

This was my first time reading Vikki Walton and I enjoyed it. I’m not sure if the series will continue with characters from this book or if there will be new characters and locations with each new book. I hope that it will be the same characters because I like them very much and because I like a nice romance to go with my mysteries, and this book didn’t have any romance at all. It would be nice to see the main character grow into a nice romance rather than this being the only book containing this particular set of characters.

Anne Freemont is in her forties and is now divorced from an abusive spouse. She is beginning a new life in a lovely, small Colorado town. Anne begins meeting her new neighbors almost immediately when she hears a loud argument and screaming near her new home. When she goes out to check on what is happening, she finds an older gentleman holding a chicken and an ax, and a young woman crying and begging him not to harm her chicken. What an introduction to a new town and a new neighborhood!

Days later Anne is disturbed again, by screaming coming from the same neighbor’s yard. This time, the older man is lying on his compost heap – dead – and the young woman is crouching over him screaming. Could this lovely, lively, and very likable young woman have murdered the crotchety older man? Anne is sure she could not have done it, but all of the evidence points toward her.

There is more than one mystery in the book. There is the haunted and beautiful African-American woman, Kandi’s husband Jeff and, of course, who killed Ralph Rogers. You’ll find the answers to all of those mysteries if you choose to read this lovely book. You will also see the possibility for romance between Anne and the local sheriff and/or Sam, the paramedic and assistant-coroner.

While the resolution to the murder mystery was satisfactory, I felt the ending of the book was a bit lame and contrived. There was no point to it and it only made me scratch my head in what was otherwise a nicely written, well plotted and satisfying mystery.

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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.”

Lord Hathaway’s New Bride by Suzanna Medeiros

Lord Hathaway's New Bride (Hathaway Heirs Book 2)Lord Hathaway’s New Bride by Suzanna Medeiros
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Hathaway Heirs, #2

Release Date: April 28, 2018

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I am amazed by the depth of this novella – it is a very emotional and well written story that encompasses the wedding and the first year of marriage between Sarah Mapleton and James, Viscount Hathaway.

Sarah doesn’t want to marry James, but to save her mother and brother, she agrees. She has been burned by love and vows to keep her heart safe.

James has wanted Sarah since the first time he saw her, he knows that she was (and may still be) in love, but he hopes to win her for himself. He also knows that she didn’t want to marry him, but he paid off her father’s debts and she really had no choice. But he has hope that he can win her heart.

This is such an incredible book, it has a lot going on, but it always stays on point and reads like a full length novel. For a short book, it has a little of everything – insecurity, misunderstanding, jealousy, really steamy love scenes, family and finally soulmate type love. There is no way for me to write an in-depth review without spoilers, so just lets leave it at this – READ THE BOOK!!

This is the second book in the series, but it can easily be read as a stand alone title with no problems.

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

The Murmur of Masks by Catherine Kullmann

The Murmur of MasksThe Murmur of Masks by Catherine Kullmann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Star Rating: 3.5 rounded up to 4
Publication Date: 7/28/16

I loved this author’s word choices and sentence structure. This was her first book and the first I have read of hers. I believe she has only written one other book. This was a nice, sweet romance with an HEA that was a long time in coming. The writing style and word choices actually made me feel as if I were in that time period eavesdropping on their conversations.

Miss Olivia Frobisher is the daughter of a career naval officer and her brother is also a naval officer. They are a loving family, but it is often lonely with both her father and brother out on sea voyages all the time. It is just Olivia and her mother and they are very close. Then, with her brother and father at sea, her mother passes away and Olivia is all alone. Luckily, she has her mother’s brother to rely on – but he is older and a confirmed bachelor with no place for a young marriageable girl. He loves her though and will do his very best by her. So, when an offer of marriage comes, her uncle doesn’t force her into it – the decision is hers. However, he does like the man though he is twice Olivia’s age. Olivia accepts the offer with the hope that they can come to care for each other, maybe even love each other, over the course of their marriage. However – he is a cold fish with absolutely no interest in Olivia other than visiting her bed – very quickly – in order to procreate. She doesn’t discover why he is that way until after his death.

Mr. Luke Fitzmaurice dotes on his family, especially his younger sister. He has always wanted to join the military, but his parents wouldn’t allow it because he had been very ill with rheumatic fever and the doctors were very afraid that it had damaged his heart.

Luke is smitten with Olivia from the first time he sees her – and she is with him as well, but they know nothing can come of it because Olivia is married. Over the ten-year period of the story, there is one interlude with the two of them at a masquerade ball. She knew it was him, but he didn’t know it was Olivia.

Napoleon escapes and the war starts up again. Luke is injured along with a close friend whose sister is also a good friend to Olivia. When Olivia escorts her friend to Brussels to nurse her friend’s brother, Olivia discovers that Luke is there as well. Luke and Olivia (now a widow) spend a lot of time together.

I would normally never choose to read a book that includes infidelity – and this one does. Infidelity on Olivia’s side and infidelity on her husband’s side. I would love to explain his infidelity, but that would be a spoiler and if you choose to read this book, I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.

As I said above, I liked the author’s word choices and the fact that it really felt as if the conversations were taking place during that time rather than the modern turn-of-phrase we usually read in our historical romances. What I didn’t like was that there were just so very many of those words. Maybe there weren’t that many actual words, but it certainly felt as if there were. The book was slow and plodding. You certainly didn’t find any exciting passages in there – even the interminable descriptions of Waterloo weren’t exciting. I guess, the bottom line is – I wouldn’t read the book a second time.

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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.

Deceiving the Earl by Kirsten S. Blacketer

Deceiving the EarlDeceiving the Earl by Kirsten S. Blacketer

Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: N/A

Release Date: May 10, 2018

Adele Prescott is the sole survivor of a fire that claimed her entire family, rescued and nursed back to health by loyal servants, she is now on a quest to find out who was responsible for the death of her loved ones. Disguised as her maid, Anna, who sadly perished in the blaze, Adele takes a position as housemaid to Christopher Underwood, the Earl of Dorrington, her father’s friend, partner and her prime suspect.

Christopher rues the day he ever found the mysterious piece of metal that has destroyed his life. He has tried to make amends by hiring all of the Prescotts displaced servants, but he wants to do more – he wants to know who set the fire that destroyed their research and the metal itself. When he hires a new maid, who was scarred by the fire, he is even more determined to find the truth.

Adele wants to hate Christopher, but as she gets to know him, she becomes convinced that he is not her enemy. There is an undeniable connection between them, but neither is in a position to explore it, instead they dance around each other, trying to learn the others secrets without revealing their own.

When Christopher asks the maid “Anna” to impersonate Adele to draw out the killer – she agrees, but has conditions. Christopher proceeds to give her “lessons” on being a lady and is surprised how quickly “Anna” learns. After a dance lesson that turns heated, Adele decides that she must tell him the truth and worries how he will react. Christopher takes the news well, but becomes worried for her safety. They decide to proceed with their plan, but Christopher has reasons to change the conditions he agreed to, Adele is not happy, but when she learns the reason, she reluctantly agrees.

But before these two can have their HEA, they must reveal all their secrets, deal with murder, kidnapping and betrayal.

This is a well written, fast paced story with wonderful characters, steamy love scenes, lots of secrets, heartache and finally a soulmate type love. I did think the story could have benefited from an epilogue because the story ended quite abruptly.

I would happily recommend this book and look forward to reading more of this author’s work!

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me*

The Earl’s Forsaken Bride by Tammy Andresen

The Earl's Forsaken Bride (A Laird to Love, #5)The Earl’s Forsaken Bride by Tammy Andresen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: A Laird to Love #5
Publication Date: 5/15/18

What a perfectly delicious pairing of two perfectly lovely, perfectly delectable, perfectly flawed and perfectly perfect for each other people. This is a very short, but very sweet novella.

He has returned from the wars in India. He is scarred both inside and outside and doesn’t think he can ever give anyone love. He wants an amiable wife who is mature enough to understand his dark moods without swooning. He can’t abide the idea of the empty-headed swooning debutants he’s seen. He needs a wife who understands pain and suffering.

She is a ruined woman. Her father, an earl, took his own life rather than going to debtors prison. That left his daughter at the mercy of the world. She ended up living up with a very poor spinster aunt and taking in laundry in order for them to survive. Now, her aunt is ill and she doesn’t have the funds to see to her care. What will she do?

When Lady Elizabeth Chase returned to their small cottage after picking up laundry to wash, there was a very large, fine carriage at the door. Elizabeth has learned to be very wary in the last two years and there is absolutely no reason at all that there should be a carriage at her door. She hangs back where they can’t see her, but her aunt is ill within the cottage and she has to go in. Then, as she approaches, there is a man in her flower bed looking in through the windows. As he turns, she steps back and then another man walks around from behind the cottage. She’s alarmed, wary and feels trapped. The second man identifies himself as Laird Ewan McDougal a cousin from her mother’s side of the family. The first man, Lord Callum Tate, Earl of Blackwood has come to ask her to marry him.

This is a sweet and passionate story with lovely, and flawed characters. Their journey to an HEA is lovely and uplifting. If you want to read a book where you’ll be smiling and feeling very happy at the end, then this one is for you.

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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.”

Married by Moonlight by Heather Boyd

Married by Moonlight (Distinguished Rogues, #9)Married by Moonlight by Heather Boyd

Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Distinguished Rogues, #9

Release Date: May 8, 2018

The book opens with Gilbert Bowen, the Earl of Sorenson rushing into Lady Berry’s home to save his friend Price Wagstaff, the Earl of Carmichael from being officially charged with murder for the death of Angela Berry. Gilbert vows to find the killer and clear Carmichael’s name. Gilbert has a reputation of a being a brilliant investigator and before he inherited the earldom and was a simple country vicar, he helped Bow Street solve many crimes. But never has a case been more important to him, Carmichael is one of his oldest and dearest friends and only a very few people know that he was in love with Angela and had planned to announce their betrothal at the ball.

Anna Beasley is a very proper young lady, daughter of Carmichael’s godfather and good friend to Angela Berry, she is dancing with Viscount Wade at Almack’s when Carmichael enters. Carmichael is the bane of her existence, her father would love nothing more than for Carmichael and Anna to make a match, but she would rather die a spinster than marry a rake like Carmichael. He approaches her with a friend in tow – a very handsome friend and he teases her. Introductions are made and his friend, Gilbert, Lord Sorenson is charming and nothing like Carmichael. Anna asks if they have seen Angela and Carmichael seems upset and leaves, Gilbert too makes his excuses, he has promised the next set to Anna’s friend Portia. Anna is surprised that she is jealous and tries to ignore the attraction she feels for Gilbert.

The plot thickens when Gilbert’s investigation undercovers two more murdered women with ties to Carmichael, it seems Carmichael has kissed all the slain women. With no real leads, Gilbert forces Carmichael to remain in society and they keep Angela’s death secret while they investigate. They attend a ball on Friday night and Gilbert sees Anna again – Carmichael teases him about her and says he should pretend to court her, she was good friends with Angela and might have information that would help them. Gilbert refuses, he is attracted to Anna, but he won’t use her for information. He dances with her, but ignores her while they are dancing and then goes to dance with other ladies and chats with them, Anna is hurt and slips away to compose herself. But she finds more than she was bargaining for – Carmichael and Gilbert are in the room as well as the murdered body of Miss Goldwell, another friend of hers. She is understandably upset, but Gilbert asks her to keep quiet about what she has seen.

Over the course of the next few days, Anna wonders about Miss Goldwell’s death and when she runs into Gilbert, she asks about news of Miss Goldwell. Gilbert finally gives into his attraction and kisses her. When they are caught together, he announces that they are betrothed. Anna is shocked, but plays along. They say they haven’t spoken to her father yet and beg Lord Wade and Lady Winmere to not say anything.

Anna tells Gilbert he doesn’t need to marry her, but he finds that he wants her as his wife and asks for time to court her. She has doubts, but agrees.

When yet another murder is committed and this time is found out by the ton – Gilbert worries for Anna’s safety, especially when he learns Carmichael kissed her once – he insists that they marry.

This was a very fast paced murder mystery with a dash of romance. The writing is excellent and the story flows nicely, the mystery is well done and kept me guessing until almost the very end, the romance is sweet and understated, but it is not lost to the mystery.

This is the ninth book in the series, but can easily be read as a standalone title. I would happily recommend this book and look forward to more installments.

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

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