Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kinley MacGregor - The Warrior


His father had trained him for the job, to be a warrior, to trust no one, to show no mercy, to lead his clan heartless and to never ever love anyone, they all suffered under his father’s reign and he vowed to himself to never ever become like his father...

Now as laird, Lochlan MacAllister has devoted his life to his clan, he takes care of his people and his land and expects nothing in return. But when he discovers proof that his younger brother Kieran might still be alive, while they all thought he was dead, he sets out on a journey to find the truth. His eye is fixed upon his quest until he runs across Catarina, she is in trouble and honourable as he is, he helps her out. Against his better judgement he lets her travel with him to keep her safe, so now he is stuck with her for the rest of his journey, he thinks her a hellion and that her middle name is trouble and of course they have absolutely nothing in comment, but is it really such a burden to be around Cat when it is so obvious that opposites do attract ...

All Catarina desires is to be free to live her life the way she wants, but as an illegitimate child of the King of France she is not free to choose anything, not even the colour of her dress. To avoid a forced marriage she runs away, straight into the arms of the one man she can’t stand, Lochlan MacAllister. To stay beyond the reach of her father and his men she has to join forces with Lochlan and she offers her help and connections to find his brother Kieran. The more time they spend in each other’s company the more Catarina realises that he is nothing like any man she has ever met before, he treats her with respect, he is gentle and kind and even quite handsome when he smiles...

I was anxiously awaiting this final part in the MacAllister series, I wanted to know if Kinley MacGregor would end this series with a bang, but it soon became clear that she had other plans for Lochlan’s story, she convenient interlaced the MacAllisters with the Brotherhood of the Sword series and therefore needed no grand finale for the MacAllisters. So curious if she could pen down another great part in this series I started to read and devour page after page.

It felt like coming home, MacGregor’s writing skill certainly provides you with enough historical details to picture a vivid medieval scenery and this story certainly has the same vibe as the other parts in this series. As always the story sparkles with wit, humour and sensual passion, MacGregor always uses these features in her own characteristic manner, the wit and humour are so unmistakable MacGregor’s and this never fails to make me smile.

The hero and heroine are as always divine. Catarina is a pleasingly, spirited woman who speaks her mind, she is rebellious, self-willed and she wants to enjoy her life as much as possible. Lochlan is this great tormented warrior who has to deal with his inner turmoil thanks to his father, all he wants is to find happiness and start a family. Their encounters are so dynamic, so sensual and full of passion that they make you feel all warm and fuzzy. The supporting cast of family and friends is charming and contributes to the wit and humour in this story. We also meet Stryder again, the hero of A Dark Champion, and that is as always a pleasure!

But the one thing in this story that is vexing is the plot, it is just to meagre. The quest to find out what has happened to Kieran is way to simple, it is even predictable. MacGregor’s effort to interlace the two series together appears to be at the expense of Lochlan’s story. Even the surprise at the very end cannot change that, it is a funny twist but it doesn’t add anything to the story, moreover, it only raises more questions, questions that most likely will not be answered and that is frustrating.

Nevertheless, The Warrior is another fast paced medieval story that you will enjoy reading and it will make you smile! It is a nice blend of sensual romance, trust, loyalty, humour and a quest for the truth in more ways then one. Lochlan is most definitely worthy of your time and I am readily looking forward to read the next story in the Brotherhood of the Sword series!

3 stars

Kathryne Kennedy - Enchanting The Lady - Relics of Merlin 1


It is the year 1882, where magic rules Victorian London, where the amount of magic you possess is linked to your title, where commoners don’t own any magic, where shape-shifters are immune to magic and considered as vermin by all but the Crown. For shape-shifters protect the Crown against evil relic-magic, the only magic that can defeat any other magic, but even shape-shifters have their weak moments...

At a young age Felicity Seymour, Duchess of Honor Stonehaven lost her parents, now she lives with her aunt and uncle. She has a hard time living in a world full of magic as she hardly possess any magic of her own, if she cannot prove at her testing that she inherited her parents magic she will lose her duchy and then she is in real trouble for she also lacks a dowry. What man would want her then when scarcely any man notice her now? But Felicity does attract the attention of a handsome and intriguing man, a man that makes her heart beat faster every time she sees him, a man looked down upon by society, a shape-shifter...

Sir Terence Blackwell knows the moment he sees her that she is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, but she also means danger as his were-lion senses pick up the dark smell of evil relic-magic on her. Since Terence is also a relic-hunter, he is determined to find out if Felicity uses this evil magic herself or if she is an innocent victim. He decides to court her but he soon is trapped in his own deceit for she takes his breath away and she is genuinely in love with him, but he has a job to do. He has to find the evil relic but at the same time he wants to protect Felicity and that is not easy in a world where nothing is what it seems and danger is always on the lookout of lurking...

This is the first part in the Relics of Merlin Series and all I can say is that Kathryne Kennedy kicked off her new series with a bang! The moment I started to read this magical and dazzling story it grabbed me and did not let go, the further I got in this fast paced story the more I devoured the pages until I reached the very last sentence on the very last page. I closed the book with a big smile on my face and it left me in awe and utterly spellbound.

Kathryne Kennedy created a whole new world that is inventive as well as resourceful by interweaving the stiff Victorian period with magic, magical creatures and a paranormal touch. It is refreshing, it sparkles and is very cleverly done. She gradually pulls you into the story with bits of information of this new world and paints a scenery so rich in detail that you wish you were a part of the story.

So the couple that takes you on a magical and enthralling journey are Felicity and Terence. Two heroes to die for, with Terence Kathryne Kennedy created a noble and honourable man, one who has always been scorn by society simply because he is a shape-shifter. A man tormented by the death of his brother, a man with a mission, namely to destroy all evil relic-magic, the same magic that destroyed his brother. The were-lion in him wants to claim Felicity as his mate the moment they meet but he tries to fight his feelings for her.

Felicity is a charming young lady from the country who has to manage in the big city without having any magic of her own, she is a bit gullible, she does not mince matters and all she wants is to be loved by someone special. So when Terence enters her life and courts her, she takes her chance and finds out there is so much more to this handsome man then meets the eye. The dialogues between them sizzle of the pages and are interlaced with a deep passion. Felicity and Terence will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride, their romance leap off the pages with such passion and flair that it will give you goose bumps!

Terence to Felicity and vice versa:

“How can I resist you? How much longer can I fight the impulses of my lion-self?” “Why must you fight it?” “Don’t you want to know what would happen if I gave in? Shall I give you a glimpse, Felicity? Just a taste of what would happen if I allowed myself to make love to you?” “Oh yes.”

An engaging cast of supporting characters flesh out the rest of the story, there are many well-drawn figures that enrich this story. But the main focus of the story is as it should be on Felicity and Terence. The plot is masterly, rich and stunning and it will keep you on your toes right till the very end! At the same time the plot does not have the upperhand, Kathryne Kennedy made sure that there were enough pages to interlace this exciting plot with the perfect classic love-story and that makes this story so versatile.

So with a cast of characters you will adore, a passionate romance that overflows each page and a thrilling, dangerous and dark plot you can truly say that every page of this story is a lyrical masterpiece! This refreshing and dazzling story will sweep you of your feet and take your breath away for it is a perfect read and most definitely a keeper!

Kathryne Kennedy has written a gem of a story!

5 stars

Sabrina Jeffries - The Pirate Lord


Some say he is the devil himself, some say that horns grow out of his head, but one thing is sure, Captain Gideon Horn of the Satyr, also known as the Pirate Lord, is the most notorious pirate of the seven seas. He loathes the nobility and they are his favourite target at sea to loot and humiliate. But through the years he and his crew have collected enough loot to last them a lifetime and they want to retire with wives on this beautiful virginal island they have discovered. There is just one problem, they don’t have wives, so when they come across a ship full of convicted women they decide to rescue them from a harsh life in a penal colony and take them to their island. What woman in her right mind would not be grateful? Yet this bold, feisty redhead fights Gideon with all she got, but all she achieves is to get under Gideon’s skin and now he is more determined then ever to make her his own...

Lady Sara Willis is a reformer, she is always looking for new ways to make the world a better place, especially for the poor. She has boarded a convict ship full of women to write about the condition on board these ships. But things are not going as planned for they are abducted by pirates and now she is at the mercy of the disreputable Pirate Lord, Gideon. She has to negotiate with this handsome pirate to protect the women on board the ship, but the more Sara demands for the women the more Gideon asks of her in return. Now she has a hard time convincing herself that she is fighting for her freedom, because every time she looks at him she craves for his touch and his passionate kisses...

This is the first part of the Lord trilogy and it certainly is not your average pirate story, it is a pirate story with a twist! The first few chapters I had trouble getting into the story, but then the story pulled me in and kept me reading into the wee hours of the morning. Sabrina Jeffries ingeniously created an original plot by using a historical fact, namely that of convicted women getting transported to penal colonies, and interlaced it with a lush and passionate romance.

Miss Jeffries sure writes convincingly because when she paints a picture of a damp and rainy London, you immediately get the inclination to grab your umbrella, and when the story moves on to a more tropical setting you want to grab your parasol and drink your own tropical cocktail! The supporting cast of characters is very various, all the characters are very different from one another but they all have a turbulent past and they all have their own story to tell, they are charming and necessary for the story.

But in principle this story is all about the relationship between Captain Gideon and Sara, the reformer. Gideon is emotionally scarred by his past, both his parents did not want him and they both betrayed him. He now has a hard time trusting others, still he is an honourable man but a lonely one. Up to now Sara has had a comfortable and sheltered life, as an innocent girl she got scorned by love and after that she has resigned herself in becoming an old spinster and dedicated her life to reform the world.

Gradually you see their relationship change and before they realise it, their affections for one another blossom into something so much more. They want to believe in each other, but in the thick of the fight doubt and trust issues always pop up again. Their interactions are witty and are interlaced with passion and emotions.

Sara to Gideon and vice versa:

“Stop that,” she whispered, and gasped when he stroked one finger along her neck. “It’s not ... proper.” That made him smile. “Proper? You’re on a pirate ship, remember? You’re alone in a cabin with a notorious pirate captain... and I’m about to kiss you.”

The Pirate Lord is a delightful story, it is a witty and fast-paced read, sprinkled with a charming cast of supporting characters and a hero and heroine who heat up the story with their lush and passionate romance. I truly enjoyed the journey, so if you are looking for a pirate story with a twist, this is the one to read!

3,5 stars

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Paula Quinn - Laird of the Mist


He never showed mercy to a Campbell, until he met her...

Scotland, seventeenth century, a long standing feud between the MacGregor clan and the Campbell clan is tearing up the land and divides its people. After he has suffered great injustice by the Campbell's laird, Callum MacGregor has vowed to avenge his clan and spare no Campbell lives. He is called the Devil because he shows no mercy, the mere sight of him has most of his enemies run for their lives, but not Kate Campbell. This spirited and bonny lass defies him, speaks her mind and shows him no fear though she is his hostage. He finds himself intrigued and attracted to her, but he can never love her without betraying his clan or himself, for she is a Campbell and he is the MacGregor...

She hated him all her life, until she caught sight of him ...

Kate Campbell finds herself in a delicate situation, for she is captured by her clan's most hated enemy, the Devil MacGregor himself. She is determined not to give in to this so-called madman, the man who has taken many Campbell lives. She was taught to hate him, but the madman turns out to be a feral handsome warrior with a fierce gaze and he has every reason to hate her and her clan. His gentle touch sets her on fire and the more she gets to know Callum the more she realises that he is not the madman she thought he was, she finds herself very attracted to him. Still, to him she is only a means to an end and she can never ever love him for they are sworn enemies...

If time-travelling by means of a book would be possible then this book would be the way to do so! From the moment you read the first line of this story you fancy yourself in medieval Scotland and you don't return to the here and now till you have finished the very last sentence on the very last page. So make you sure you have plenty of time to read this story because once you start you won't be able to put it down, this story will keep you spellbound!

The hero of this story is Callum MacGregor, he is this fierce, tormented warrior who protects his people against the gruesome deeds of the Campbell clan, but in doing so he cannot make peace with his own past and he cannot let go of his hatred. Kate Campbell is the heroine, she is very bold, outspoken and independent. She always sees the good in people and knows how to defend herself, nonetheless she is also a bit too trusting for her own good. The second the two meet you can feel their hatred for one another but you can also feel the chemistry that starts to burn between them, it sizzles of the pages. Their interaction and bickering heats up your skin like a hot summer's day.

Callum to Kate and vice versa:

"If I cared naught fer yer safety, ye would no' be standing there." "Where would I be then?" "Ye would be spread across that bed, beneath me." "Your threats are empty." "As would be your eye sockets if you dared touch me uninvited."

The plot is basically simple, it speaks of trust, survival, chivalry, the power of forgiveness and healing, but it still keeps you devouring the pages. The reason for this is that Paula Quinn is not only capable of creating a divine hero and heroine but she also creates a secondary cast of family and friends who come alive due to her sublime writing skill and that makes you crave for more. Who would not like to know more of Graham or young Jamie who made me smile with his immature remarks, or the ever honourable Robert and there is definitely so much more to Maggie, Callum's sister, then meets the eye!

With characters you will cherish forever and a passion that is blazing through the pages Paula Quinn has written once more a classic medieval love story that sweeps you away and keeps you captivated until the very end and I cannot wait to read the sequel so I can return to the wonderful medieval world she has created. This heart rendering story has certainly earned its place on my keepers shelves!

Paula Quinn never fails to deliver!

5 stars