Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review for "Extreme Exposure" by Pamela Clare

This is my debut review for a romantic suspense set in contemporary times. I must say, I was very leery about delving into a new time period, since I usually read historicals. However, having already read several books by this author, I had a feeling I wouldn't be disappointed. And I was right.

Kara McMillan is a damn good investigative reporter. She's extremely dedicated, hard working, smart and relentless. She is also a single mom. Like many women who juggle a career and motherhood, Kara has put her own needs on the back burner. She hasn't had a date in five years, brushing aside her own wants in order to fulfill those of her young son. But there is more to it than that. Although she won't readily admit to it, it is easier to be busy all the time than to face her fear of intimacy with men.

Along comes Reece Sheridan, an extremely attractive senator, who unbelievably, is one of the good guys. Prior to entering politics, Reece was a school teacher, dedicated to teaching the future generation that one can make a difference in the world. So, to prove his point, he ran for political office and won.

Naturally, politics and journalism are two professions that feed one another. So, when Reece walks into a bar one night, Kara recognizes his face, and introduces herself. What she wasn't prepared for was the Senator's charm and astonishing good looks. What Reece wasn't prepared for was Kara's natural beauty, nothing like her picture in the column of her paper. He is thrown by her drunken inquisition of his sexual preferences, knowing that she will be appalled when she realizes the next day how rude and flirtatious she was upon their first meeting. But Reece isn't appalled. He's intrigued. For some reason, he finds himself drawn to this attractive journalist. But Kara knows that she is treading on shaky ground. She cannot cross that line between her profession and her personal life. A state Senator and an investigative just can't be done. But she can't stop thinking about him....about his deep kisses...about his hands burning a trail upon her skin.... and she can't seem to say no when he calls her. But when their careers collide in scandal, Kara is left wondering if she has been betrayed once again by the man in her life. Can she trust Reece and fight for a love she thought she could never have? Will they both lose their lives or will they fight....fight for their lives, for each other and for a love that neither can truly deny.

Pamela Clare delivers with a punch in this tale. There is everything from action, suspense, love, political intrigue, romance and some deadly hot sex. I was involved from the first chapter. Pamela Clare's knowledge of investigative journalism is evident in the realism she brings to the plot as well as the actions of her characters. I loved the idea of our heroine being a single mom with a demanding career, trying to "have it all". Even though our hero might seem a bit too perfect, his idealism fits with that of his character, a truly dedicated teacher. As Reece's and Kara's relationship heats up, the reader is brought to a gripping climax filled with action and intrigue. This is a story with several underlying messages, responsible journalism being but one. I really enjoyed this first installment in the I-Team series and I will definitely reach for #2.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review for "On A Highland Shore" by Kathleen Givens

I have often wondered if there is such a thing as fate. Are we set upon a predetermined path? Is destiny at work throughout our lives, determining who we fall in love with, our purpose in life, our partner or soul mate, and the manner and time of our death? The hands of fate are but one of the underlying themes in this great tale written by Kathleen Givens.

Gannon MacMagnus is a beautiful, strapping man, half Irish and half Norseman....a proud man, a decent man, an honourable man. He has left his home in Ireland to accompany his uncle to Scotland to help those who have been raided by a band of vicious Vikings. It is here that he encounters Margaret MacDonald...his destiny. Margaret MacDonald is the eldest daughter of a prominent laird in Scotland. She is betrothed to a powerful man, Lachlan, a cousin to the King. But when Lachlan betrays Margaret with her best friend, she is determined to end the betrothal. But as the times dictate, Margaret is to wed Lachlan for the good of her clan. But this becomes the least of her worries, when upon her return home from court, Margaret and her brother and sister discover their village in ruins, every man and women brutally murdered and the carnage left for them to see. Margaret must somehow rebuild her life and help her people. She is told her destiny is to be with "the golden one" and that she will "fight dragons". Is Gannon her golden one? Will she choose the right path and be forever happy or die a tragic death?

I was totally engrossed with this story. I have never read a book set in the early 13th century, or one that deals with Norsemen in Scotland. I was intrigued by the history of this time period, including the battles for land and the raids by the Vikings on the people living on the Western shores of Scotland. But what truly held me were the characters created by this author. I was immediately taken with Gannon. His strength of will and commitment to his family and people were remarkable. But I feel that it was the heroine, Margaret, that took center stage. She was one strong-willed, loving, smart and determined woman. She was not one to be easily bullied by men, something rare for a female of the time. She knew what she wanted....a safe land for her people, a place to call home, and true love with a partner who would honestly listen to her. I could feel her emotions so often in the story...I felt her outrage at her betrayal, her overwhelming grief at the loss of her family, and the soaring of her heart when she looked at Gannon. Although this is a historical romance, it is so much more. There isn't the usual happy fluff. This is an intense tale filled with the political and social realities of the time. There are suspenseful and sometimes graphic battle scenes that kept me on the edge of my seat. Woven within all of this is the emotionally satisfying love story of Margaret and Gannon. I could not put this book down and I highly recommend it to all readers. You will gasp, cringe, cry and laugh. You will become immersed in a time and place that could be both brutally harsh and epically beautiful. And you will want to read more...just as I do.

"On A Highland Shore" is my second book in the Highlander Reading Challenge for 2011.
It also counts as book #6 in the 2011 Historical Romance Challenge.

Check out the book trailer!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Review for "Voices on the Waves" by Jessica Chambers

Imagine it. You have won a two week getaway at a peaceful paradise in Cornwall. The beauty of nature surrounds you and serenity is there for the taking. This is where the tale unfolds in Jessica Chambers' debut novel "Voices on the Waves".

An unlikely group of people are brought together for this holiday at a remote farmhouse. Little do they know that their "lucky" win was not so random. Although they all come from very different backgrounds and from different professions, in some ways, they are very much the same. As the story unfolds, it becomes evident that these men and women all seem to be running from a past and searching for a promising future.

This is a novel deeply embedded in its characters. Secrets are revealed, friendships are made and true love sings. At one point, I found myself cheering for a young women, on the brink of finding real love with an honest man; and in another moment, I was weeping for an Irishman lost in his grief. There is a free-flowing, calm style to this author's writing. I truly enjoyed the intertwined stories of each and every character and the ending was truly bitter-sweet. This book is a great beginning to a very promising writing career.
This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given for this review.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Blog Hop Feb.4 to 7

This week's question is "What are you reading now and why are you reading it?"

Right now I am reading Untamed by Pamela Clare. I am reading it for two reasons. One, it fits the criteria for the Highlander Challenge I'm undertaking. And two, it is one hot book with some hot Scottish men! I just finished Pamela's first book in the series, Surrender (you can read my review here) and it blew my socks off! I just had to read the second book and I am loving it! Romance, action, heartache and passion! You have got to read it. So...what are you reading?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Review for "Surrender" by Pamela Clare

The MacKinnons are a group of brothers whose family fled Scotland after the bitter loss at Culloden. They begin anew in the American colonies, dreaming of a prosperous life tilling the earth and reaping its bounties. Partly raised by the native Muheconneok Indians, they become great hunters and learn the way of the land. But the brothers are framed for a murder they did not commit and are forced to fight for the British in the French and Indian War. They despise the British regime and hold fast to their Scottish roots and Highland beliefs even as Iain, the oldest of the three, enlists a band of Rangers, which include his native adopted brothers. Annie Burns Campbell, once a noble lady, has been betrayed by her ruthlessly vile uncle. He sells Annie into indentureship and sends her far from her beloved Scotland, over the ocean to the Americas. When Iain defies orders and saves her from a band of Abenaki Indians, her life begins anew and she becomes a brave frontier woman fighting for survival. Thus begins a historical romance that will be scorched upon your memory.

Our hero, Iain MacKinnon, is a powerful warrior who possesses a body filled with brute force, muscles flexing, protecting all that is his. Yet, he is also a beautiful man filled with a tenderness that makes you weep when he caresses his lover, every bit of emotion filled within his eyes and pouring forth upon her. What woman could possibly resist this combination of strength and tenderness, savagery and gentleness? I surely could not, and neither can our heroine, Anne Campbell.
"She loved his strength, his courage. She loved his fairness, the protective way in which he led his men - a true son of Highland lairds. She loved his gentleness, the way his big hands, so fierce with rifle and blade, moved tenderly over her skin. She loved the deep blue of his eyes, the velvet of his voice, the exotic markings on his sun-browned skin. She loved his manly smell, the hardness of his body, the way his kisses set her aflame."
I absolutely loved this book. Pamela Clare has managed to build a heart-gripping love story set upon the backdrop of the American frontier, in a time filled with the ravages of war. Who would think that a Highlander in upstate New York during the 1700's would be the basis for a tale filled with turmoil, adventure and unrelenting passion. One cannot help but see the resemblances between this book and the great movie "The Last of the Mohicans". I was also reminded of other historical tales, including Sara Donati's Into the Wilderness series and my all-time favourite, Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, of which the later books involve the hero and heroine arriving in the colonies of America. The history in Surrender is intriguing and the battles are vividly described, making me feel the bitter loss of lives on the battle field. There were many times in the book when I felt so deeply touched and deeply aroused. The intimate scenes between Iain and Annie involved both tender lovemaking and hot, erotic sex. The surprise ending made my heart swell and my tears fall, for it was here that Iain learned just how revered he was by his men. Underlying this whole tale is that sense of hope....hope for a new life in a new land with a new family with new-found happiness. I love these words uttered by Iain to his new wife. They reveal, for me, what love and committment are all about....sadness and joy...the price we must pay for true love:
Annie turned to her husband, lifted her gaze to his. "Since I met you, Iain MacKinnon, I seem always to be feelin' both sadness and great joy at once." "Aye, lass, 'tis much the same for me." He kissed the top of her head, wiped the tears from her cheeks, his blue eyes filled with tenderness. "But my Muhheconneok grannies would say you cannae open your heart to one wi'out riskin' the other, and I would rather chance the deepest sorrows of hell, Annie, than surrender the joy you and little Iain bring me each day."

"Surrender" is my first book in the Highlander Reading Challenge for 2011.
It also counts as book #5 in the 2011 Historical Romance Challenge.

Blog Design by Use Your Imagination Designs All Images from MagicalReality Designs