Losing the plantation as well as her family and worldly goods left Amelia Carson little reason to remain in Georgia with the deluge of carpetbaggers and scalawags. Plucking her courage Amelia accepted Dallas Leigh’s contract for a mail order bride and looked toward Texas for a new life with him. But a riding accident forced Dallas to send his younger brother Houston in his stead to meet Amelia.
Houston saw a careworn Amelia across the platform and thought how lucky his overbearing older brother was. Dallas didn’t carry visual reminders of the war and had a pretty wife in the godforsaken hindmost part of Texas. Gruff to the point of rudeness was all Houston could manage as he tamped his attraction to Amelia and annoyance at Dallas for not properly preparing her for the harsh life ahead.
During a time when getting to know someone meant spending time together or sending letters to stay in touch the healing journey to the ranch provided intimacy with shared discoveries, protecting and relying on each other as Amelia saw the tortured man beyond the physical scars Houston carried and wanted to share his dreams and his life as they realized their mutual attraction had become love.
***A complimentary copy of this read was furnished by Sourcebooks Casablanca through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review***
When Houston Legend’s bride was killed at the altar before their vows, he wallowed in agony. As painful rumors and truths came to light, he wallowed in anger moving to adrift as his heart hardened. Unfortunate circumstances left Lara Boone, a damaged mother to a small daughter with no husband and no desire for a man in her life, wallowing in her own anguish.
Over late night cards and too many drinks, Stoker Legend loses half the family holdings to new neighbor Till Boone. The only negotiation Till will entertain is how soon Stoker can convince his son to marry Till’s daughter. An angry Houston’s obliged to do anything to secure his family’s legacy, even if it means marrying a woman he’s never met and claim her babe as his own.
Standing in front of a preacher with a tad of resentment for their fathers neither bride nor groom wanted to celebrate their somber, funeral-like wedding. Afterward, Houston realized the depth of Lara’s personal nightmare and vowed no force on earth would keep him from avenging his new bride or claiming his new daughter as he and Stoker greeted Lara as the new Legend matriarch.
Yuma, the well written villain of the piece was a threat on the page or looming in the distance. The remaining personable and distinct secondary characters supported the story and other characters well. Houston was quite the standout as the swoon-worthy hero women wanted and men wanted to be. Lara was no slouch displaying the type of clarity, grit and steel spine that built a nation.
The broken, damaged leads managed to fall in love as they traversed adventure, danger, deceit, heartbreak, shame and a madman’s revenge to find their way out of the dark to joyful new dreams and a new future as a family. This new to me author pandered to my innate penchant for stoic, protective heroes and weakness for cowboys. It’s a great rainy day read but a tad too intense for the beach.
***A complimentary copy of this read was furnished by Fleming H. Revell Company through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review***
Willow Rose’s dreams are small but right now they seem to be pipe dreams. A trip outside Mercy Falls, to be the youth pastor, to be part of a traditional family and realize her crush on Deputy Sam Brooks doesn’t seem too much to ask. But Sam’s eyes are only for her sister Sierra.
Sierra liked Sam but he could never be her billionaire ex-boss Ian and she needed to get Ian out of her system, though she wouldn’t initiate or stop a break-up with Sam, if that’s what he wanted. Sam wanted his casual dates with Sierra to turn into something more serious but he rescuing a couple of wayward teens cancelled the dinner when he’d planned to ask.
The rescue was a turning point. Sam’s brother Pete was a hero, Sam was almost killed by a bear sow protecting her cubs, workmates Pete and Jessi’s relationship took on the possibility of romance and amid an adrenaline crush Willow kissed Sam and he kissed back after accidently baring his soul to her. Guilt takes the driver’s seat as they all work around their feelings.
This new to me author presented a clean romance with likeable characters and a complex but easy to invest in story line where clear morals, ethics and responsibility sometimes failed under the mantle of human interference. Those same characters shucked the guilt, accepted the responsibility, learned to forgive others as well as themselves and move forward
Goal oriented Dodge Henley doesn’t let rules, limits or other people’s concerns alter his plans. Unless that other person is Caroline King the one that got away. It’s been 30 years but Caroline knows if anyone can and will help her daughter, Berry, it’s her father, Dodge. Since the one and only time, Dodge saw Berry was the day she was born, he argued with himself about it and the guilt won.
Berry’s case is anything but simple, unwanted attention at work became stalking became attempted murder and a threat to her life. Meanwhile Berry’s not sure how Dodge fits in the picture and she can’t figure out Detective Ski Nyland and the circumstances of the assault are complicating her work life. Plus, it’s not that Ski doesn’t believe Berry, but…he doubted until Oren turned into a murderer.
With the murder, Ski began to realize his interest in the case was more than just catching Oren. As the villain of the piece, Oren Starks had a lot of ground to cover and plenty of people to terrify. For my taste he alternated levels of insane and psychotic, he was also intimidating but not necessarily frightening in his scenes. Oren’s essence was on the page even when he wasn’t.
This outing was very much an emotional soup. There was Caroline and Dodge with decades of baggage to work through, Berry with the secrets she kept and the secrets kept from her as she fell in love there was also Ski on a very fine line to getting involved with a principal on an open case and unable to disguise his feelings anymore. Quite the engrossing medium fast read.
Major Ember Wyldestarrin is mad. Personally, her sister, Alura slept with Em’s latest boyfriend and professionally she’s assigned recently demoted royal celebrity playboy Captain Bastien Cabarro as her new wingman. As Em got her second wind to rant about Bas’ many flaws, a bomb hits critical areas in and near the facility. Em rushes into the rubble to find Alura and sees her being rescued by Cabarro.
While Bas’ mother dotes on him, his father and siblings would trade him for a hairpin. Alura flirts but Bas only wants Em. Knowing Bas will propose, his father warns Em if she accepts, Bas will be disinherited and disowned if he survives a series of near death assignments. Em harshly breaks both their hearts and ends their personal and professional relationships. Alura was there with comfort and tricks.
Alura was almost the only one happy at her wedding to Bas and when he escaped their reception for air he inadvertently caught part of a transmission about a plot against his family with details about the military. As it was reported by Bas, his father dismissed it. When the attack happened, Alura testified that she’d overheard Bas plotting his family’s deaths and relating military secrets. Bas was convicted.
Em fought tears at Bas’ sentencing, knowing Bas was innocent, Alura lied and was involved in the conspiracy and everyone should worry for their way of life with Bas’ uncle on the throne and in charge of the military. A disgraced Bas is sentenced to 15 years as a Ravin, a live target for League training with a tracking device embedded in his body and a life expectancy of eight weeks or less.
Bas beat the odds daily, living a solitary life in the Oksanan desert except it wasn’t solitary (cue flashbacks to Born of Fury & Born of Legend), visits from the Tavali and Sentella, not to mention random bounty hunters. After the tracker’s removed, a few good meals and re-acquaintances with family Bas is ready to settle accounts. Next thing he knows, Em is back.
This outing was a fangirl’s delight complete with the Sentella, the DR, the League steeped in political intrigue and just damn outlaws. No thread is left un-spun as this full outing gave desirable Bas a hero’s background and complicated romance. The pieces lifted from earlier reads fit and flow well here and shed light more light on their impact. The fairly good bonus read featuring Thia makes way for a spinoff.
Almost as soon as the despicable commander Lord William Wentworth’s niece Lady Sarah Woodville set foot on future American soil in Albany than she’s kidnapped by Shawnee warrior, Katakwa. After five years Wentworth emptied his pocket of no fail McKinnon brothers when he assigned youngest brother Major Connor MacKinnon and his Indian blood brother Joseph to rescue her.
Before Katakwa forced Sarah into moccasins as they marched through the forest and hit her in the face for not responding quickly enough, Sarah’s greatest fear had been she’d have to either live in shame as a spinster or be forced into marriage with a man she couldn’t abide. Either way her family’s wealth and breeding would more hindrance than help. Now she knew fear for her life.
Sarah subtly left clues and trinkets for the warriors to find but was discovered. Connor and Joseph followed the clues until they were sure of the destination and rushed ahead to the village. Before Katakwa arrived with Sarah in tow, Joseph and Connor had been welcomed as friendly visitors as the pair related their mission.
Though the chief held no love for Connor, she held Joseph in great esteem but held off on a decision. Seeing Sarah adorned as a warrior bride, Connor re-iterated his pleas but was denied and only had two options left to him for Sarah. One was to challenge the war chief, Katakwa for Sarah’s hand in marriage or leave her to her fate as Katakwa’s bride. Connor chose to challenge him.
As premier villain in the tale, Wentworth went to new heights (or depths) in cruelty and evil-idity as he strove to keep the couple apart. The McKinnon brothers, their brides and the recurring characters all appeared for the bittersweet series farewell and this reader suspects some may be fond memories longer than others. This reader’s only regret is there wasn’t enough about Joseph for his own HEA.
Each fast paced installment of this exciting series was fraught with danger, suspense, drool-worthy heroes, despicable villains and heroines with backbone as it slanted toward English, French and Indian views in turn. Connor and Sarah were no exception as their bravery, ingenuity and strength were put to the test more often than not.
Young Lady Gillian suffered a lot of loss in a short time. Her mother died giving birth to a son that died shortly after. Separated from her sister Christen as they fled to safety and seeing her father murdered by his friend Baron Alford over a jeweled box. Alford wanted the land and appointed himself her guardian. In shock, Gillian refused to speak, told she killed Christen then banished from her home.
Gillian had found refuge with her Uncle Morgan Chapman who raised her but was unable to find Christen. Alford continued to search for the box to no avail and summoned Gillian. In an escape attempt, when Gillian stopped to help young Alec Maitland from life-threatening danger by Alton’s men they were re-captured. As Alec chattered, Gillian realized the villains had unwittingly captured the wrong boy.
While drunk, Alford boasted about knowing Christen and the box’s locations. He threatened to kill Gillian’s Uncle Morgan if she didn’t return both of them to him. Ignoring Gillian’s presence the men continued to discuss their secret plan. This time Gillian and Alec escaped and located Alec’s protector, Brodick, Lord Buchanan in Scotland. Gillian immediately fell in love with the highlands and Brodick.
By the time they reached Alec’s home and related their adventure, Gillian not only had the devotion of Brodick and his men but Ramsey and Iain as well. An in love Brodick led the laird’s vows to both avenge her and assist in her quest. Gillian finds a friend in town beauty, Bridgid, besotted with Ramsey. When the women accidently discover the traitor, they’re in need of Brodick and Ramsey’s swords.
This enjoyable middle outing continued the tradition of highland lairds and their clans loving English beauties on a mission, charming them with wit and humor. Though the installment began slowly for my taste, the mystery of separated sisters, a royal artifact, traitors, strained truces between clans and countries plus the lure of two romances quickly gained and held this reader’s interest.
Amalie Chauvenet was more terrified for her life and her father’s than ever and couldn’t just wait as the battle raged outside. Things seemed hopeless for the French with the deadly, legendary McKinnon Rangers militia against them and the British forces outnumbered their own. Helping at the hospital provided distraction until her father’s aide’s solemn face spoke o her as his body was brought in.
Exiled from Scotland and forced to serve the British in the French-Indian war, level headed, middle brother, Morgan McKinnon has inherited command of the Rangers. French spirits are raised with the heavy British losses during the battle and Morgan wounded and captured. They would be able to try him as a traitor before handing him over to their allies for more punishment and death.
It fell to Amalie to assist in Morgan’s care and she did it with a heavy heart knowing the fate awaiting him coupled with her grief. Amalie’s dutiful feelings graduated to tender and then to loving the more she looked at Morgan as man instead of an enigma. As he heals, Morgan sees Amalie as a woman he could want forever. Meanwhile Morgan’s family and his men believe him lost to them forever.
Amalie’s soft with a steel spine as expected from every word in the read. Morgan’s definitely the stuff dreams are made of, the epitome of the sexy, indestructible and steadfast hero against a backdrop of war is perfect for his story. Bourlamaque and Rillieux were wonderful characters as they made their views about the couple known.
A comparison to Surrender would be unfair. Fans of this engaging trilogy get a more or less even view of the conflict as the reads play to the very strong characters strengths and growth arcs as grudging respect is exchanged. The outing is solidly in this reader’s indescribably good bin.
Three years ago Noah Calhoun left the bosom of his loving family for a new start while he learned to cope with his guilt over almost killing his father. With no coins to disturb the lint in his pockets, his father’s legendary bounty hunter reputation, a wish he’d had a helpful sheriff growing up and thinking he might find a way to belong here, Noah takes on the job as Chancetown’s sheriff.
In the ten years proud, feisty Rosalyn Benedict’s lived on Chancetown’s streets she learned accepting help from the women in town made her feel bad about herself and even if the handsome new sheriff made her girl parts flutter she wouldn’t be put in that position again. She’s not fluttering alone. Noah thinks he’s found his first lawbreaker and sees a violet eyed waif that tears right into his heart.
After talking with his new friend, the saloon owner, Noah decided Rosalyn Benedict’s his personal mission. Noah’s warned to stay away from an ongoing rancher’s battle. Running into Rosalyn again, Noah puts his plan in motion. Although Rosalyn distrusts men she slowly trusts Noah as he brings welcome changes to her life.
Noah quickly decides things aren’t what they seem as the rancher’s feud finds its way to his office and Rosalyn becomes a bone of contention. Some citizens believe Noah to be their personal henchman and defending Rosalyn puts Noah in a precarious position. Chancetown’s greedier, more corrupt and more prejudiced than Noah thought.
This nicely paced easy to read outing had charismatic leads in Noah and Rosalyn. Readers following the series have seen Noah’s transformation to a grown, sexy, handsome and desirable lawman from his rough beginning in [book:The Bounty|67816]. Being down on her luck gave Rosalyn a jump off point and let the reader know she was not a hand-wringing damsel in distress. Love’s inevitable as the two misfits bump against their attraction while they protect themselves and each other from the rabid townsfolk.
Cases of a dead wife abuser and the disappearance of a rival crime lord impress NOPD detective Charlotte ‘CeeCee’ Caissie to visit a notoriously unsavory mob boss and his ruggedly delectable shape-shifting enforcer, Max Savoie for answers. After an unfruitful flirt with Max and following through on a hunch, CeeCee’s assaulted. Max arrives and fatally discourages her attackers before things go further.
But the security and solace of that moment led the pair to the height of a slippery hazard strewn slope. When CeeCee gave Max a bit of encouragement, he was completely in. Her co-workers and his boss couldn’t resist voicing manipulation in caution, disapproval and reminders they were on different sides of the law being used by each other. CeeCee had a harder time ignoring the words than Max did.
The twists and layers of the romance wind around CeeCee and Max’s convoluted past as much as it does their complicated present though this reader adored tortured, manipulated, strong Max from word one and liked that CeeCee was smart, strong and independent without overcompensating but filled her with intrigue as she pondered her next moves..
This foundation tale took time to build equal depth into CeeCee and Max’s characters with a slower build to their romance but neither made the read drag and kept the pace and a smooth and rapid enough pace for enjoyment. The building blocks of the world are sliding in place and this slice of their world took the reader to unexpected places and set the stage for plenty of upheaval.