Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Review for "It Happened One Autumn" by Lisa Kleypas

They say that opposites attract. I'm not sure. Are these individuals truly opposites, or do they see in the other what lies beneath the surface of their own selves? Is the brazenly out-spoken female just saying what we all wish we had the guts to say? Is it this bravery that makes her so endearing and desirable to a man who plays by the rules? I believe this is the case when Marcus, Lord Westcliffe, finds himself desiring the unfathomable Lillian Bowman.

Marcus is a serene, straight-laced, proper English gentleman, not to mention the most eligible and wealthy man of the peerage. A true blue-blood. Along comes Lillian Bowman, an American girl, the daughter of a self-made millionaire. Having already read book one in this series, I knew that there was a tension growing between Marcus and Lillian. They made it quite clear to one another that each did not like the other. The verbal battles between the two were numerous. Yet these arguments masked a mountain of sexual tension between the two. The reader knows it is just a matter of time before one breaks down and gives in to these desires. But who will it be? How can this distinguished man align himself for life with such a boisterous woman when he is expected to marry a truly elegant, proper English lady in order to carry on the bloodline? These opposites do attract....but can it last a lifetime? Can they ignore their obligations and follow their hearts?

I loved the heroine in this book. She was no least not a properly behaved lady of the 1800's. Lillian didn't wait for a man to ask her opinion....she gave her thoughts freely at every turn. She didn't accept what everyone told her was best....she questioned all of the rules of propriety. She was brazen, bold, stubborn, sharp-tongued, and very, very funny. A wonderfully head-strong woman. A gal I would love to hang out with. As for Marcus, he was a hero that I came to love. In book one, I thought he was a pompous a__! But this talented author reveals Marcus' history and the torment he went through as a child, and soon enough, I too was falling for this straight-laced gentleman who is really crying for a reason to let loose.... to reveal some of the rebellious boy within. I couldn't help but melt when he finally uttered what lay in his heart for Lillian:
"Rest. You'll need to regain your strength.....because once we're married, I won't be able to leave you alone. I'll want to love you every hour, every minute of the day." He nestled her more closely against him. "There is nothing on earth more beautiful to me than your sound sweeter than your pleasure greater than holding you in my arms. I realized today that I could never live without you, stubborn little hellion that you are. In this life and the next, you're my only hope of happiness. Tell me, Lillian, dearest can you have reached so far inside my heart?"
Lisa Kleypas has an uncanny ability to create believable characters. They are humourous, lifelike, even human! They become people you want to have tea with....gossip with. The reader connects with them easily. They make us laugh and cry; we feel empathy for them and we identify with them. We fall in love with them and cheer for them when they reach their happily ever after. I thoroughly enjoyed this second installment of the Wallflowers series, so much so that number three is already awaiting me on my E-Reader. With the click of a button, I will be once again immersed into history and immersed into a romance that will sweep me away with a sigh.
"It Happened One Autumn" is book #10 in the 2011 Historical Romance Challenge.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Review for "On the Way to the Wedding" by Julia Quinn

A man who believes in love? A man who believes in romance? A man who awaits the "one"....the one who will knock him off his feet the moment he lays eyes upon her? I didn't know such a man existed....until I met Gregory Bridgerton in Julia Quinn's final installment of the Bridgerton series.

Gregory is the youngest male in the Bridgerton clan and he is the most genuine when it comes to his feelings...a true romantic at heart. While attending a party at his eldest brother's house, Gregory is struck down by the sight of the most beautiful blonde he has ever laid eyes upon. He must have her....this must be love, for he cannot breathe, cannot fathom life without the awe-inspiring Hermione. He lavishes her with attention, only to receive nothing in response, for Hermione's heart has been given to another. But there is hope for Gregory in the form of Hermione's best friend, Lady Lucinda. Lucy thinks that the youngest Bridgerton male is a very suitable match for her best friend and thus sets out to help Gregory woo Hermione. But of course, Lucy soon falls for the witty young Bridgerton herself. But she cannot......for she is to be married soon, an arrangement made long ago. But what will happen when Gregory realizes that he is falling for Hermione's best friend? How can he marry a woman who is about to marry someone else?

Once again, Julia Quinn does not let her readers down in this final book in a wonderful series. Reading about the heroine was like looking in the mirror at a young version of myself. Lucy is eager to please, always reliable....expected to do the right thing, always wanting things to be in order, for everyone to be happy, even at the cost of her own desires. Things are supposed to be a certain way and that gives our Lucy peace and comfort. But then along comes chaos in the form of a dark-haired, blue-eyed man with a sparkle in his gaze and the ability to make her laugh...make her feel safe...make her feel like herself. I rejoiced when Lucy decided that she was going to satisfy her own wants, her own desires....put herself first, even if it was for one night. A night she would cherish for the rest of her life, even if she was married to another man, a man she could never love like she loves Gregory. Our hero is a lover of love. He wants to be in love, to find his soul mate, and he fights to the bitter end for her, even after being rejected in the most public way. One's own heart cannot help but soar when Gregory professes his love for Lucy in front of hundreds. I melted. I encourage you to read this book. Join this cast of characters on their journey of discovery into the true meaning of love. You will laugh, you will cry, you will sigh, and you too will want what everyone everlasting love."On the Way to the Wedding" is book #9 in the 2011 Historical Romance Challenge.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Book Review for "Ride the Fire" by Pamela Clare

Torture beyond the human imagination....Nicholas Kenleigh endured it. Strength beyond human capabilities....Nicholas Kenleigh possesses it. A deep sense of what is right and wrong....Nicholas Kenleigh is endowed with it.

Nicholas is on a mission....a mission of self-destruction. Torn by grief and self-hatred, he is a man who no longer feels, the essence of his spirit torn from him by war and torture. He seeks his death on the wild frontier, perhaps at the jaws of a wild cougar, perhaps at the hands of thieving frontiersmen. He doesn't care...either way, he believes death will give him the relief and quiet he seeks from the raging nightmares and voices that haunt him. But on a fateful day, having been gravely wounded on his trails by would-be thieves, Nicholas is searching for shelter and aid. As he approaches a cabin on horseback, he comes upon a beautiful young woman, Bethie Stewart, a pregnant widow, alone on the dangerous frontier. Nicholas needs Bethie to nurse him back to health, something she does with the greatest of trepidation, for Bethie too has a sordid past. She has never trusted a man, for all they have brought her is pain and fear. Little does Bethie know that this strapping, hulk of a man, this fearsome, long-haired man named Nicholas will be the only man she will ever trust.

I absolutely loved this book! It had me experiencing a gauntlet of emotions. I couldn't help but be appalled at the torture endured by Alex which was described in detail, a description needed in order to understand our hero's emotions and actions. I couldn't help but weep for Bethie as she finally revealed to Nicholas her tale of pain. I couldn't help but fall in love with Nicholas Kenleigh and his beauty, strength and dedication to those he loves. And finally, I couldn't help but cry at the reunion between Nicholas and his loving family.
Nicholas stared at them in disbelief, found he could not speak. A part of him cried out that he was not ready for this, that he needed more time. But then his father stood, strode toward him, embraced him in a crushing bear hug, and Nicholas knew he had waited far, far too long. "Nicholas!" His father's voice was rough with emotion. "My God, Nicholas!" Nicholas dropped his packages, answered his father's embrace with his own fierce hug, held the man he'd never thought he'd see again, the man he'd thought had surely disowned him by now. There were no words, no room for anything but feelings.
This third book in Pamela Clare's historical trilogy is a magnificent story of two people whose souls are deeply scarred. Travel with them as they cross the Ohio River and ride over frontier land, pushing onward to Fort Pitt, all the while facing death, destruction and their own past as they journey to a place of personal freedom, a freedom gained only when each puts their trust and love in the other. I cannot say enough about this great historical tale. I believe it will leave you as overwhelmed as I.
"Ride the Fire" is book #8 in the 2011 Historical Romance Challenge.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Book Review for "Carnal Gift" by Pamela Clare

Ah yes.....picture it. A man who isn't afraid of hard work, back-breaking, long-into-the-night kind of work. His body is tanned and toned, every muscle and chord stark proof of the hours spent toiling in the fields. Yet, put him in a gentleman's dress....expensive tailoured waistcoat and breeches, hair tied back in a tight cue, and he fits right in. His manner is charming, witty and extremely intelligent. Brawn and enticing mixture in a man, one each and every female would be happy to have. At least, I would. And so does our heroine, Brighid, in Pamela's Clare's second historical entitled "Carnal Gift".

Jamie is visiting his friend Sheffield Tate on his estate in Ireland. Quite quickly, Jamie realizes that his friend has changed, and not for the better. While hunting, they come upon a group of Irish Catholic peasants gathered to bury a baby. It is the mid 1700's and the English are notorious for their cruelty to the Irish and Catholicism was banned. Sheff, in his villainous way, decides this group of "filthy Irish" need to be punished for disobeying the laws of the land. But wait.....Jamie spies the lovely Brighid and cannot help but be instantly drawn to her. Of course, he is not looking for companionship or that illustrious notion called "love". Jamie is there to sway many political figures into supporting the need for troops in the colonies in order to fight the French and their native allies. It is when Brighid's hot-tempered brother takes a stand against Sheff that he knows he must put a stop to Sheff killing these poor people. But Sheff, knowing Jamie well, realizes that his friend has taken a liking to the Irish beauty and insists on capturing her and "giving" her to Jamie as a gift. Being the honourable man that he is, Jamie will not force himself upon any woman. But Jamie knows that Sheff wants Brighid for use her, defile her body, and possibly kill her. Jamie will never let this happen.

I really enjoyed this book. Having read "Sweet Release", the first book of the trilogy, I already knew our hero Jamie, although he was just a child in that book. I already had the backstory and thus I was more connected to the characters. I liked how the setting moved from picturesque Ireland to the bustle of England. The other characters in the story were also well developed to the point where I wished for their happy ending as well. In true Pamela Clare fashion, the love scenes are HOT and the romance is touching. Although I enjoyed "Sweet Release" more, "Carnal Gift" is a great tale on its own...a tale of love, commitment and trust...the basis for all unions, even today.

"Carnal Gift" is book number seven in the 2011 Historical Romance Challenge.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Blog Hop March 4 to 7

Book Blogger Hop
It is Friday and this week's question for the Blog Hop at Crazy for Books is:

"Who's your all-time favorite book villain?"

This is a tough question. There are so many books I've read where the villain was superbly evil, superbly mean-hearted, superbly villainous! One of my favourites has to be Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall from Outlander. He was so awful, his actions so appalling that I often was open-mouthed and gasping throughout the text. But the author, being so very talented, manages to make me feel just a smidgen of sympathy for this character later on in the series. So....who do you love to hate?

By the way, make sure you enter my giveaway here for a copy of Diana Gabaldon's great historical novel "Outlander".

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Review and Giveaway for "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an "outlander"—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser....what's in a name, you might ask. Everything. Honour, passion, strength, intellect, bravery, sex, love, excitement, playfulness, friendship and courage. All of this in one man? Yes...and more! Those of us who are Outlander fans know that there is no other man for any woman other than Jamie.

As soon as I discovered Outlander and the Scottish Highlander named Jamie, there was nothing and no one else for me. I ate, slept, breathed and dreamt only of Jamie. Obsession to the max. I spoke of Jamie to co-workers to the point where they either had to read the book or listen to me. Needless to say, they have joined me in my obsession. I discovered Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series of seven books in October and lived with her characters until February. Five months of little... yet so much. I even re-read Outlander 3 times, most recently for this review. Jamie is the standard by which I measure all others. And thus far in my journey, no one can compare. Even Sarah Donati's Nathanial and Paullina Simons' Alexander don't quite fill the shoes of this great highland hunk. Close...but not quite. What is it about him? Is it his wit, his charm, his sensuality or his raw manliness that draws every reader to him. I believe it's all of this and more.

As in many other series I've read, for me, the first book is the best. It is the place where the journey begins for the characters and the reader. In Outlander, it is the place where Claire finds herself drawn to this young Scotsman, two hundred years in the past. It is the place where she fights against that burning inside her, that brewing passion that she knows will be all-encompassing. It is the place where the truth of her love overtakes her and the force of it plunges her into an emotional abyss, one she can't and won't escape.

Diana Gabaldon is an amazing writer whose talent I truly envy. She has made me fall in love with the beauty of Scotland, the heather in the fields and the mountains in the distance. She has taught me about the clans and their castles and the battle and suffering at Culloden. She has made me believe in a love that is more than physical, more than spiritual, one that transcends time and space. She has made me long for a man that can touch a woman with his eyes, his hands, his lips, but most seductively, with his words. With every turn of the page, I am plunged deeper into Scotland, deeper into battle, and deeper into love with a red-headed warrior named James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser.My thanks to Cheryl Malandrinos and Pump Up Your Book Promotions for inviting me to participate in this tour and to Random House for the review copy and giveaway copy. I was not compensated for my opinions.


Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling OUTLANDER novels, described by Salon magazine as “the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting “Scrooge McDuck” comics.”

The adventure began in 1991 with the classic OUTLANDER (“historical fiction with a Moebius twist”), has continued through six more New York Times-bestselling novels–DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, VOYAGER, DRUMS OF AUTUMN, THE FIERY CROSS, A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, and AN ECHO IN THE BONE, with nineteen million copies in print worldwide

The series is published in 26 countries and 23 languages, and includes a nonfiction (well, relatively) companion volume, THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION, which provides details on the settings, background, characters, research, and writing of the novels. Gabaldon (it’s pronounced “GAA-bull-dohn”—rhymes with “stone”) has also written several books in a sub-series featuring Lord John Grey (a major minor character from the main series): LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER, LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE, and LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS. Another Lord John book, LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, will probably be published in 2011).

Returning to her comic-book roots, she has also written a graphic novel titled THE EXILE (set within the OUTLANDER universe and featuring the main characters from OUTLANDER), but told from the viewpoint of Jamie Fraser and his godfather, Murtagh. The graphic novel is illustrated by Hoang Nguyen, published by Del-Rey.

Gabaldon is presently working on the third Lord John novel (LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER), and the eighth book in the OUTLANDER series. In addition, she is working on a contemporary mystery series, set in Phoenix, and has written Highly Scholarly Introductions (with masses of footnotes) to recent Modern Library editions of Sir Walter Scott’s IVANHOE and Thomas Paine’s COMMON SENSE.

Dr. Gabaldon holds three degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and Quantitative Behavioral Ecology, (plus an honorary degree as Doctor of Humane Letters, which entitles her to be “Diana Gabaldon, Ph.D., D.H.L.” She supposes this is better than “Diana Gabaldon, Phd.X,”) and spent a dozen years as a university professor with an expertise in scientific computation before beginning to write fiction. She has written scientific articles and textbooks, worked as a contributing editor on the MacMillan ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMPUTERS, founded the scientific-computation journal SCIENCE SOFTWARE QUARTERLY, and has written numerous comic-book scripts for Walt Disney. None of this has anything whatever to do with her novels, but there it is.

She and her husband, Douglas Watkins, have three adult children and live mostly in Scottsdale, Arizona.

You can visit Diana online at

Thanks to Random House, I have a copy of Outlander to give away! This giveaway is open to Canada and the U.S. and the only requirement is that you are a follower of this blog. Please leave a comment at the end of this post, including your name and email address so that I can contact the winner as soon as possible. The winner will be randomly chosen. This giveaway will end on March 16. Good Luck!
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