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
Though it’s freezing cold and 4am, intrepid detective Eve Dallas can cope with the gruesome murder of an affianced couple from a high profile accounting firm better than the birthing coach class she and her multimillionaire husband Roarke attended the evening before for Eve’s friend Mavis or the images of birthing that were Eve’s nightmares aterward.
Emotionally traumatized with childhood familial issues, Eve and Roarke are completely out of their element supporting Mavis through the final stages of her pregnancy in easily the most hilarious read of this long running series despite the grisly murders. Things become more complicated for them after Mavis pulls the friendship thread when a single expectant mother doesn’t show up for her baby shower.
The international and financial implications and insinuations of the murder case bring distress to the Dallas/Roarke household but doesn’t lack for suspects as Eve begins to work the possible kidnap Mavis’ friend and persistently searches to find a common thread to see if the cases overlap. All the secondary characters are onboard to help more doggedly than ever in this fast paced suspense tale.
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.
Elusive thief feline shifter Dreya Clark is back in DC and up to her old tricks now that the fallout from the Thorn theft is clear. Straight arrow Detective Braden Hayes is determined Dreya’s luck has run out. And this time, he was right. But Danica and Clayne swept in and snatched Dreya away, leaving Braden more upset about it than he’d like. Soon Braden’s scooped into the DCO whirlwind as well.
Secondarily, DCO coyote Agent Trevor went undercover at an asylum where the maniacal Dr. Kamal Mahsood is rumored to be falling into his habit of creating hybrids. Meanwhile, surprising no one Dreya and Braden were shaping up to be an effortless team, Thorn and Coleman spun webs, each confident they could wipe DCO and control the shifters on a whim and the new team went on their first mission.
Secondary character Brooklyn was a treasure this reader hopes to see more of. Thorn appeared to lose faith in the team when he doubled his bet and let his henchman, Fraiser take a few swings at the shifters in his stead. Not to be outdone and obviously thrilled to be made flesh and out of his usual rumored to be bad role was the formidable and insidious Coleman, virtuoso of manipulation techniques, dirty tricks and underhanded plays. A powerful installment with inconceivable moments that left this reader panting!
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.
When human Seth Lawrence began showing signs of mating heat for cougar breed, Dawn Daniels ten years ago, her male friends made sure Seth understood her past. They stressed Dawn’s trust issues especially with men since she’d been a favorite target for cruelty and rape in the labs and intimidation by Dayan, a pride brother before Callan killed him. Cassie said Dawn wasn’t ready, Seth walked away.
In the ten year span, Dawn’s avoided Seth when he was at Sanctuary but a visit from Cassie lets Dawn know she can’t hide anymore. Seth’s life is in danger and requests a breed detail but when Dawn’s assigned to lead the detail Seth withdraws the request. Realizing Seth’s her mate, Dawn reaches to touch him and is shocked to discover she can’t sense signs of mating heat arousal from Seth.
Seeing Dawn confused Seth since she knew he couldn’t commit to another. Callan, Jonas and Dash told Dawn Seth had moved on. That she was too fragile for a mate and should let go. Dawn felt fury and betrayal toward her breed brothers, especially when she learned they’d shared her past and warned Seth away. But Dawn was determined, Seth was her mate and she was unwilling to give him up.
Spirituality, salvation, sexuality, survival and second chances were huge themes in this emotional roller coaster of a read. For my taste, the secrets revealed and the tantalizing new mystery alone is worth the price of admission on this outing. Seth’s in the understandable but not forgiven slot (maybe later, he’s made a valiant effort with soaps and stuff), intentionally or not Dawn came into her own, a vibrant woman to be reckoned with not so accepting of fate because her breed brethren overstepped their bounds.
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.