How to Ensnare a Highlander by Michele McLean

How to Ensnare a Highlander (The MacGregor Lairds, #2)How to Ensnare a Highlander by Michelle McLean
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The MacGregor Lairds, #2

Release Date: February 12, 2018

I loved this book right up until the last few chapters and then I couldn’t believe how it ended.

Lady Elizabet Harding is distraught, she had just learned that her father has betrothed her to a man that she cannot stand, Fergus Ramsay. In an effort to collect her thoughts, she goes out for a ride, but when a storm blows up and her horse is spooked, she is sure she is going to die, but she is plucked from the runaway horse by a masked man. At first she is scared, but he is kind and sees that she is sheltered from the storm. She knows who he is, the infamous Highland Highwayman. They talk and just as it seems he will kiss her, Fergus arrives.

John MacGregor hates Fergus Campbell or Ramsay as he is calling himself these days. John has one purpose and that is to destroy the men responsible for his brother’s death. He knows Fergus and Lord Dawsey (Elizabet’s father) are responsible and just as soon as he has enough evidence, he will see them pay for their crimes. He cannot imagine someone as lovely as Elizabet with Fergus, but he can’t be detracted from his goal.

Later that night, Elizabet’s parents return to London, they want to stop any gossip regarding her “escapade” so Fergus will not call off the marriage. On the way their coach is held up by John, who didn’t expect to see Elizabet. He robs her father and easily disarms her when she pulls a dagger on him. He asks for a kiss and doesn’t take it, instead he returns one bag of coins and kisses her hand before leaving. As he is riding away, she goes to pick up her dagger and one of John’s men shoots her. The horses are spooked and take off, leaving her laying in the road bleeding. John rushes back to her side. He takes her to his hideout and then to his home in Scotland. In all the time they are together, he is careful to disguise his voice and wear his mask. He nurses her back to health and falls a little more in love with her each day, but he knows that he has to return her to her family. They return to England and stop for the night in his hideout. He tells her he has a meeting and to stay in the cottage. She of course doesn’t, and ends up in danger, after observing her “betrothed” digging in the ruins of her dowry property. When she confronts John (whom she knows as Jack), he tells her that he is trying to stop him, but soldiers arrive and they are all in danger. She races back to the cottage and John follows her. He hides in the tub while she tries to get rid of the soldiers – but when one gets a little too friendly, she shoots at him, which brings more soldiers. When the soldiers finally leave, she learns the true reason John hate Fergus and her father. She doesn’t want to leave him, but she cannot help him destroy her father.

She returns home and it seems like the wedding will take place. She misses Jack and when she sees John at a ball – unmasked, she asks her friend Alice who he is, she puts two and two together and decides to try her hand at blackmail. She threatens to expose him as the highwayman if he doesn’t marry her. He agrees, but the King refuses to break her betrothal. He returns to his rooms and finds Elizabet waiting for him. He tells her of the King’s decision and kisses her. She knows it is hopeless, unless she is willing to turn on her father, there is no way they can be together. She asks him to make love to her, so she will at least have a happy memory. He can’t say no to her, when she is getting ready to leave, he asks her again if she would bear witness to her father’s crimes and she refuses. At that moment, her father bangs on John’s door and when he tries to slip her out through the courtyard, Fergus is there. From this moment on everything goes to hell. John is named as the highwayman and while trying to flee is shot.

Elizabet is inconsolable, until she learns he did not die. But John will have to make decisions that will change his life, a life he can’t ask Elizabeth to share.

I loved this book until the final chapters and then I was shocked at the twists and turns. I didn’t hate it, but I was not happy with the ending. The book is well written, flows nicely, has lots of action, angst and wonderful characters. There is one love scene, but it is not graphic and is barely lukewarm, the villain(s) are especially vile and the ending leaves a lot to be desired (IMO), but the epilogue was sweet and hinted that this story is not necessarily over, so I will definitely be reading the next book with high hopes for a more satisfactory outcome!

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

Dark In Death by J. D. Robb

Dark in Death (In Death, #46)Dark in Death by J.D. Robb

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: In Death #46
Publication Date: 1/30/18

I can’t believe we’re at the forty-sixth book in the series and it hasn’t begun to be repetitive or stale. Each new book is as interesting and exciting as all those that came before it! As each new release approaches, I promise myself I’ll read it in stages and savor each section – but – when the release occurs – I devour it – in one sitting. I’m so ashamed ….

I always purchase these books with the Whispersync option because I absolutely LOVE Susan Eriksen as the narrator. Her range is phenomenal and she makes you believe whatever emotion she’s conveying. It is worth listening just to hear her say “Darlin’ Eve” as Roarke. Goodness, she does them well!

Each mystery is new and interesting. They are well plotted and excellently written. The suspense builds and builds until the final climactic moment when the killer is caught. Eve Dallas is a no-nonsense cop who always ‘Stands for the Dead’. When someone is murdered, no matter how despicable they are, they belong to Eve and she will stand for them and find their murderer.

Then, there is Roarke. He’s a reformed thief, a gazillionaire and Eve’s husband. Then, you add drop-dead gorgeous with a lilting Irish accent and you definitely have a drool factor. I just love how much Eve and Roarke love each other and I am so happy I’ve gotten to watch that love grow and mature since the first book.

Someone is killing people in New York in New York City. This time, they are following the murders in a set of police procedural novels – but – they are slightly re-writing them. The changes are small and subtle, but they are different none-the-less. The murderer is changing the mistakes that the book murderer made that allowed him/her to be caught. Can Eve catch them before they go through the entire series and begin writing their own plots? It will take Eve, Roarke, Peabody, McNab and the rest of the crew to figure it out and solve the crime(s).

If you want a want a wonderful series to read, this one should be at the top of your list! It is filled with humor – Eve can really butcher some of those ‘old sayings’ we all hear every day. You’ll be intrigued by all of the gadgets and lifestyles in the book – there are some really cool things there – like an AutoChef that you program for the meals you want.

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Worth of a Lady by Tarah Scott & Sue-Ellen Welfonder

Worth of a Lady (The Marriage Maker Book 1)Worth of a Lady by Tarah Scott
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Marriage Maker, #1)

Release Date: April 30, 2017

The Duke of Roxburgh has had enough, he has no male heir and his daughter Chastity will inherit, but he wants her to marry and have an heir before he dies, to date, she has managed to evade marriage for herself and her three sisters. So the duke threatens to marry her off to an old man if she doesn’t marry within two months. Chastity is angry, but knows her father is not bluffing, so she makes a deal, if her father can find a man who can find matches for her three sisters within a month, she will marry him.

Enter Sir James Stirling, he will find husbands for the sisters and then marry Lady Chastity, the reader is not privy to how the duke and Stirling meet, but Stirling is serious about marrying Chastity. He visits his friend and surrogate brother Quinn Ramsey, Baron Denly aka the Devil of Denly and reminds him of his promise to his dying father to marry. Quinn is a rake and happy to remain so, he tells Stirling he will marry when Stirling does. Stirling then announces that he will be marrying in five weeks and tells Quinn to prepare to meet his bride.

Lucy is the youngest daughter of the duke and the prettiest, she wants to marry, but is not sure that her father’s plan will work. She meets Quinn and is not overly impressed, but he is attractive and seems nice, until she learns he didn’t know about the plan with the duke and Stirling, she tells him and he laughs, he doesn’t plan to marry any time soon. But when he sees Lucy dancing with other men, he admits to being jealous and when another man claims her for a waltz, he announces to all that they are betrothed.

They marry days later and seem to be a perfect match. Chastity isn’t willing to concede defeat to Stirling and tells him that Lucy was the easiest to marry off, he baits her and she calls him a rogue, he says that just makes him interesting and that she will have the rest of her life to find out how interesting.

This was a very short story, but is was surprisingly good and fleshed out. I am now eager to find out who Stirling will pair the other sisters with and how he will win over Chastity.

*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*

More or Less A Marchioness by Anna Bradley

More or Less a Marchioness (The Somerset Sisters, #1)More or Less a Marchioness by Anna Bradley

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Somerset Sisters #1
Publication Date: 2/6/18

This is a delightful beginning to the Somerset Sisters series. We met the older two Somerset sisters in the Sutherland Scandals series and now we get excellent introductions to the younger sisters (Iris, Violet, and Hyacinth) in this book. It was also nice to re-visit Charlotte and her Captain West and to learn how happy they are ‘rusticating’ in the country. We also get a re-visit with Lady Annabel from Charlotte’s book – I don’t know if it will happen, but I’d really like to see her get her own HEA.

I believe this book is as much about two people discovering and embracing who they really are as it is about their love story. Phineas Knight (Finn), Marquess of Huntington and Iris Somerset both live behind masks – maybe they’ve lost who they really are because they constantly present a different fact to the world. Iris gets her grand epiphany first and gives Finn a run for his money after that!

High spirited, stubborn, outspoken, fun-loving Iris Somerset had buried all of those traits deep within her when she came to London for her season. Mostly to please her grandmother and to give her sisters a scandal-free chance at marriage. She presented herself as quiet, demure and biddable and became the most desirable lady of the season. She was courted by the very proper Marquess of Huntington and accepted his proposal though they hardly spoke when they were together and certainly didn’t know a thing about each other. She was actually okay with that – until …..

Very prim, proper and oh so aristocratic Phineas Knight, Marquess of Huntington needed a wife. He thought the debutants were all pretty much interchangeable and he didn’t really care which one he got as long as she was quiet, proper and biddable. His first choice was Lady Honora, but he was perfectly fine with Iris. Finn’s family had a scandal and he had become the Marquess at eight years old. Then, he was raised by indifferent guardians who shipped him off to school and left him there. He never knew love or family – nor was he ever allowed to be a child. Because of the scandal, he was constantly taunted, teased and bullied. It is a wonder that he turned out as well as he did. That childhood shaped Finn into the man who abhorred anything improper or scandalous.

After overhearing a scene between Finn and his former mistress, Iris finally realized she could NOT be the person she was pretending to be. In a pique, she broke off the engagement. She hadn’t really thought through the implications of doing that – so she didn’t tell anyone but Finn. There is a villain in the picture and Finn wants to protect her from him. She won’t have it – and becomes more and more the person he just knows he doesn’t want for a wife – but – he wants Iris more and more. He’ll have a devil of a time wooing her – can he win her? You’ll just have to read the book and see.

This book is well plotted and well written with fully developed and interesting characters. I will be excited to read Violet’s book next.

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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.”

The Taste of Temptation by Julia Kelly

The Taste of Temptation (The Matchmaker of Edinburgh, #2)The Taste of Temptation by Julia Kelly
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Matchmaker of Edinburgh, #2

Release Date: February 5, 2018

Caroline Burkett is traveling to Scotland to live with her brother Michael and his wife Elise, and hopefully to begin anew, she hopes to be taken on by Moira Sullivan, the Matchmaker of Edinburgh. Two years ago she was jilted and sued her ex for breach of contract. She won her suit, but destroyed her chances for marriage in the process. Hounded by the press and humiliated in court, Caroline just wants to find a husband and fade into obscurity.

Jonathan Moray is the founder and owner of two papers in Edinburgh, he would love to start a third paper, but refuses to borrow money to do so, he tells his staff that they need to sell more papers. When he learns that Caroline Burkett, the “Lovelorn Lady” has come to town. He wants to get an exclusive interview with her and has a plan.

They “accidentally” meet when he is in her seat at the theater. She is immediately attracted to him and is delighted when he asks to talk to her during intermission. When they meet up, she learns who he is and what he wants and she is disgusted. The press was relentless in their pursuit of her story and made her life a living hell. She has no love for newspapermen and tells Moray so. He makes a counter offer, tell him her story or he will begin to dog her every step in his scandal sheet. She refuses and makes the acquaintance of Robert Trevlan, a friend of her brother. Trevlan immediately makes his interest known and Caroline feels a little bubble of hope that her dream to marry might actually happen.

The next morning, she receives an invitation to meet Mrs. Sullivan. The woman agrees to help Caroline, but tries to convince Caroline to want more than just security. Caroline is firm, she just wants a husband and almost any man will do. After her experience in London, she doesn’t trust her own judgement and wants no part of a “love match” as love only brings pain.

At her first dinner party, Mrs. Sullivan invites Moray and seats Caroline between him and Trevlan. Caroline is at first annoyed, especially since she enjoys talking to Moray. For his part, Moray is attracted to Caroline, but he has secrets that could ruin everything he has worked so hard to build. He knows that Caroline is looking for a husband, but he could never be that man. He tries to refocus on his goal and ignore his attraction to her.

These two are thrown together several more times and a friendship of sorts blossoms. When they share a kiss and some personal confidences, Caroline knows that she wants him. He desperately wants to see her, but she is being watched by the press and he doesn’t want to give them anything to gossip about, he knows Trevlan is staking a claim and learns disturbing information about him. There is no opportunity to see her alone, so he sneaks in her room.

They embark on a heated affair and they both share their deepest, darkest secrets. But when Moray’s secrets are revealed, he turns on the only woman he has ever loved and pushes her in to the arms of his rival.

This was a very well written, well paced story that was surprisingly steamy (much to my delight), I really became invested in these two characters and found myself shaking my head and chastising them both at times, while still rooting for their HEA.

This is the second book in the Matchmaker of Edinburgh series, but I did not read the first book and had no problems at all following this story. I would happily recommend this book and look forward to reading more by this author in the future!

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

The Gate Keeper by Charles Todd

The Gate Keeper (Inspector Ian Rutledge #20)The Gate Keeper by Charles Todd

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge #20
Publication Date: 2/6/18

How in the world did I manage to miss this series until it was up to the twentieth book in the series? I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with our damaged WWI hero. It is two years after the war is over and he’s still struggling with his shell shock and has to constantly fight to stay in control. You have to admire him for his valiant fight and his way of dealing with his issues. I’m not sure how Hamish was explained in earlier books, so my explanation probably isn’t a good one – but – I think Hamish is Ian’s way of dealing with the shell shock. Ian carries on a constant dialogue with Hamish – in his head – and Hamish’s comments often save Ian from injury. It wouldn’t take much, even two years later, to push Ian over the edge.

I love mysteries, but usually only like them long-term if there is a romance involved, so I’m not sure if it is a series I’d stick with for very long. The series is twenty books in, and there is no love interest and doesn’t appear to be headed in that direction. This book also made me sad because the victims were genuinely nice people whose lives were cut short.

The writer’s descriptions of the time and people just transports you to that era – lovely cottages still heated with wood fires, motor cars that had to be hand cranked, telephones were almost non-existent, ladies wearing lovely feathered hats – just a gentler time in a country that had been devastated by war.

Ian Rutledge’s much-adored sister has just married and Ian is having a bit of a panic attack, so he flees London. No destination in mind – just mindless driving – somewhat lost and reliving scenes from the war – he ends up much farther afield than he had intended. He doesn’t actually even know where he is and then he spots a car stopped in the middle of the road and a woman, covered in blood, standing over the lifeless body of a man.

Knowing that he can’t face returning to London at the moment, he finagles around to take over the investigation. As he learns more and more about the young man who has died, Ian comes to like and respect him and can’t imagine that he’d have an enemy in the world. He was a very nice, generous and caring young man – who in the world could have wanted him dead. As he investigates, he finds some intriguing clues, but can’t find anything to which they actually relate.

Then – a few days later – a second murder committed in the same way and with the same intriguing clues left behind. Again, the victim is a war hero, widower, nice, generous and not an enemy in the world. Again, as Ian investigates and gets to know the man, he comes to like and respect him.

As the investigation continues there is no link that Ian can find between the two men – yet they had the same enemy. Then – Ian hears of another death, assigned to another investigator, that sounds the same as Ian’s case.

Ian does good solid police work and continues to investigate until he has all the answers. You won’t like some of those answers, but I’d say that it is probably a very true-to-life investigation and case. The writing is excellent, the plot well laid out, the pacing was good and you come to like and be invested in the characters.

I recommend the book.

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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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