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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

An American in Scotland by Karen Ranney

Karen Ranney
ISBN# 978-0-06-233752-8
March 2016
Historical Romance

Set during the time of the American Civil War, Rose MacIain travels to Scotland to ask for help. She is desperate to sell their cotton so the people on her family's plantation can survive. When Duncan and the MacIain family assume she is a widow who was married to his cousin, they immediately decide to help her. Not correcting them, Rose continues the charade in order to get back to Charleston where she will sell their cotton to Duncan.

Duncan feels she is hiding something, but he never imagined the secret she was withholding. Once he discovers who she really is, they are already enroute to America. Learning about the injustices and horrific conditions with what she faced, he feels more than obligation to her; he is in love with her. However, the threat that Rose faces is more than starvation - it may cost her life.

Ranney does an excellent job of writing about a New York born woman living in the South and what daily life was like for her at this time. Great historical research on her part also imparted new knowledge for me in how Scotland's involvement kept the Civil War going on longer than a few years. Rose's ordeal is very well portrayed and even though I loved Duncan for who he was, Rose was the star in this romance. The romance is steamy, although it wasn't the major player in this book, which reads more like a historical fact story.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4 1/2

Caught by You by Jennifer Bernard

Love Between the Bases Series - Book 2
Jennifer Bernard
ISBN# 978-0-06-237219-2
January 2016
Contemporary Romance

Just in time for baseball season, book two in this series features the sexy catcher of the Kilby Catfish, Mike Solo. With sparks already started in the first book, ALL OF ME, Donna MacIntyre and Mike Solo are headed for an epic romance, plus a few complications. Mike has a vow of celibacy that he begins every year at the start of the season. So at the end of the season, he's thrilled when the feisty red-head finally agrees to hook up with him. Yet he's disappointed and taken aback when she shuts him down without an explanation.

Fast forward to the beginning of the next season - Mike and Donna run into each other again, only this time she looks worse for wear. Delving into the problem, he discovers that her ex is trying to gain custody of her son. Mike has his own issues he's dealing with, too. A marriage proposal seems to be the answer to her prayers, but it may not be the wisest answer considering that their hearts may end up paying the cost.

I enjoyed the first book and definitely feel this one is right there with it or maybe even a little better. Mike and Donna are two sizzling characters that have plenty of attraction, but also good hearts. Mike's vow of celibacy makes for some great scenes and the drama with the custody battle keep the pages turning. Settle in for a major league romance!

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4

One-Eyed Dukes are Wild by

Dukes Behaving Badly Novel
Megan Frampton
ISBN# 978-0-06-241278-2
January 2016
Historical Romance

Lady Margaret Sawford is a bit scandalous, doing what she wants (within reason) and living with her sister who is married to a Duke. She is very skilled at cards and uses her skills to win money in order to help the less fortunate women in need. So when she happens upon a sinfully handsome Duke with an eye patch, she thinks he is just the sort of adventure she would like. Imagine her disappointment when the Duke of Lasham turns out to be very proper, very staid and very UN-adventurous. After they meet a again, they form a friendship of sorts; she will introduce him to new adventures and he will be her bodyguard as she goes to seedier places. Margaret is attracted to Lasham but she doesn't want to trap him into marriage, so being scandalously adventurous might just be a bit precarious as well.

The Duke of Lasham has always done the right thing - it's was he was trained and educated to do. On account of his eye-patch, he hates being the object of stares and talk. So he avoids it whenever possible. Then along comes Lady Margaret who makes him want to be adventurous, want something more and yes, want her. However, will he be able to let his guard down long enough to embrace life and a chance for love?

This was a very unusual hero. Lasham had a very strict upbringing, being molded and formed into a Duke at a young age, so he was never allowed to be anything but proper. Then we have Lady Margaret who goes against the rules and her parents in order to live her life as she wants. These two shouldn't be anywhere near right for each other, or should they? They both wage war against their attraction to each other. It was fun to read how these two eventually worked out a way to see each other for who they really are. The secondary characters were an added bonus, with Lasham's friend Jamie giving timely advice to his unadventurous friend, and Margaret's sister Isabella and maid Annie. There is also a wonderful little serial story of Georgiana and the Dragon that was a delight to read as well.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Rock by McCarty is one you won't want to put down!

Highland Guard Series Book 11
Monica McCarty
Pocket Books
ISBN# 978-1-5011-0878-5
December 2015
Historical Romance

The eleventh book in this series follows Robert the Bruce's elite Highland Guard from the time of William Wallace's death to when The Bruce takes Scotland. Each book has dealt with each of his Guard's, their battles, exploits and loyalty to Bruce. With the series almost complete, it is not exactly necessary to read each book in order, but altogether they give a complete picture.

The Rock is Thomas MacGowan's story. The son of the castle blacksmith, he is just a commoner. Yet as a child, he formed friendships with the family in the castle, including Lady Elizabeth Douglas and her brother. He loved Ella from the first moment he laid eyes on her. Everyone, including his father, told him that she could never be his. Thom loved her anyway and when he finally told her, she broke his heart by not returning his feelings as she thought they were just friends. Leaving her and his life as a smithy behind, he had better plans for himself and set out to make them happen.

Lady Elizabeth doesn't understand why Thom can't just go back to being friends. Seeing him again after five years makes her see him in a new light. He's grown into a powerful man and one she can't live without, even if she only wants to be friends. She can't afford to let her confused feelings get in the way because with their stations in life, they could never be together. Even as her brother arranges for her to marry the new Earl of Moray, Thom elicits feelings within her that she can't understand.

Thom has tried to stay away from Ella ever since she broke his heart. Knowing that she is to marry another, he holds out hope that she will admit that there is something more between them than friendship. Time is running out and Elizabeth's brother will do anything to make sure she marries.

I found myself completely absorbed in this book. I have read previous titles in this series, but none captured my attention quite like this one. Thom loves Ella but she doesn't love him, or so she thinks. It takes quite a bit of growing up for Ella to understand what her feelings toward Thom really are. Bound by society's rules, she cannot marry Thom because he's a commoner. Even if they do get together, there are serious repercussions that will happen, so in the event that they can get together, it cannot end well. MacCarty does a great job of historical research, making the reader understand that while Thom makes a great man, warrior and friend, he cannot have Elizabeth. I felt Thom's pain, his anger and resentment towards Elizabeth, but then you also can understand where Ella is coming from. There were a few times I wanted to smack her, but overall, MacCarty leads you down this angst and passion filled labyrinth of romance you don't want to put down.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4 1/2