Review: Christmas in Kilts

Review: Christmas in KiltsChristmas in Kilts by Bronwen Evans, Lavinia Kent, Lecia Cornwall, May McGoldrick, Terri Brisbin
Series: MacKendimen #2.5, Pennington Family #0.5
Published by Swerve on October 3rd 2017
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-stars

This is a collection of five novellas with a Scottish theme.

A HIGHLANDER’S HOPE by Terri Brisbin — Iain MacKillop is a widower who yearns for marriage and children, but intends on making his own choices this time. The one woman he can’t stop thinking about is completely inappropriate. Robena MacKendimen is the village whore and while she too thinks about Iain, she knows that her status makes anything else between them impossible. This was a lot of story packed into a short novel. I really enjoyed the fact that this book doesn’t flinch from the difficulties of a man falling in love with a whore. The story has a sweet aspect but also a serious one and there is no magic wand that resolves these issues which I really like. There are compromises and a will to make happiness happen. This is a novalla in the MacKendimen series. Rating: 3.5 stars.

A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS WAGER by Lecia Cornwall — Meggie MacLeod is forced to take refuge at a castle where there are three lairds. One of the lairds is the man that Meggie fell in love with at the age of eighteen before he broke her heart by marrying another. A wager between the men as to who will be able to gain her kisses ignites a competition between the men. Hugh MacAuley needs an heiress in order to satisfy the elders of his clan. He has come to ask the sister of his host, but Meggie tempts him with her fire and her sweetness. I enjoyed this story as Hugh is a shyer hero than I expected and this book really deals with Meggie having lost her virtue and yet Hugh choosing her despite all the cultural reasons he shouldn’t. The story is really sweet between Meggie and Hugh. Rating: 3.5 stars.

A SCOT FOR CHRISTMAS by Bronwen Evans — Dougray knows he must marry again to have an heir, but his love for his deceased wife means that he never intends to love a woman again. Instead, he will marry for companionship and children. Emma has loved Dougray since she was a child. At a houseparty, she challenges him to teach her about passion before she accepts her spinster existence. He is tempted to succumb to passion before choosing a life without deep emotions. I really enjoyed this story. Dougray and Emma are such nice people. Life and love has treated each of them with some difficulties. I liked how Dougray allows himself to be “convinced” by Emma but quickly realizes that there is more at work here than merely a spinster who wants to learn about physical love. This is one of the highlights of the set and a story I would read again. Rating: 4.5 stars.

LEFTOVER MISTLETOE by Lavinia Kent — English Emma Spencer finds herself in a coach with James Barran. James is on his way to stop a wedding, but machinations leave him and Emma stranded at Christmas time at a cabin. I enjoyed this story which is focused intensely on the couple. The two being stranded allows them time to get to know one another even though the actual time period covered by the story. I liked the characters who are decent people who are trying their best to do the right thing. The story has a hot little element which I also enjoyed. Rating: 4 stars.

SWEET HOME HIGHLANDS by May McGoldrick — Captain Gregory Pennington encounters a precocious child and her desperate aunt while waiting for travelers he is to accompany home. Freya Sutherland needs to marry someone immediately in order to keep her niece. I loved this story primarily because of the depiction of Freya’s niece. She is adorable and really tied the story together. Penn and Freya are such nice, well meaning people that the niece is necessary to put some spice into the story. I was surprised at how much development was able to be done considering how few pages the authors had to work with. Penn is a gentleman who is looking for his purpose in life and finds it in a gentle woman and her strong willed, determined niece. Rating: 4.5 stars.

four-stars

Review: Deck the Halls

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Deck the HallsDeck the Halls (Darling, VT) by Donna Alward
Series: Darling VT #3.5
Published by Swerve on October 3rd 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I loved this story. It was sweet and mature and full of heart. There is still more for George and Amy and I hope we see more of them or I will be mad that we didn’t get an epilogue!

THE STORY: George Reilly has spent a year rebuilding his life after years of homelessness. Just when he has a job he values and friends in the town of Darling, VT, someone from his past reemerges. Amy Merck has come to George because the death of her brother has left her with questions and she wants George’s help. During the Christmas season George and Amy rediscover hope and begin mending hearts that have been bruised and damaged.

OPINION: I made the mistake of starting this novella late at night. I usually can read a little of these stories and then pick them up the next day. Not this one. Despite the fact that this story isn’t a suspense or a mystery or a great angsty drama, I was compelled to read every page before I slept.

The characters had such heart and depth for such a short story. I loved everything about it except for one minor quibble.

I thought this novella was incredibly brave for having a hero with PTSD who was also homeless for a long period of time. The story doesn’t flinch from these aspects of George’s reality. The shame, the fear, the daily struggles and the small successes. I loved the depth to this character who feels real and someone I would be happy to know.

Amy is a good match for George as she demonstrates that life and pain happens to everyone. She has different problems from George, but they have left scars on her as well.

The interactions between George and Amy are sweet, but not the sugary kind. These two are gentle and kind and good people. The entire story has great heart and I just felt so good about how things developed.

My only complaint is that the length of this novella means that the story is left going in the right direction, but not a complete happy ending. I hope that we see more of Amy and George in the future or I might grow more annoyed that we didn’t get an epilogue or glimpse at the future outcome.

The heat of this novella is definitely on the sweet side.

WORTH MENTIONING: Kissing Bridge.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  DECK THE HALLS is book 3.5 in the Darling, VT series. This is a novella about a secondary character and can be read totally on its own, but fans of the series will be pleased with this revisit to Darling.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars

Review: The Playboy Prince and the Nanny

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Playboy Prince and the NannyThe Playboy Prince and the Nanny (Royal Duology #1) by Donna Alward
Published by Swerve on August 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  A sweet romance that harkens back to my days devouring category romances.  The story is pretty clean and focused on the couple. Sweet read that I enjoyed because of the characters.  This was a book I finished with a warm heart.

THE STORY:  Rose Walters comes to Marazur to take over being nanny for the two royal children whose mother just died.  While there, she ends up spending time with “the spare” Prince Diego.  Diego has been known as a playboy who flits around the world, but the family tragedy brings him back home and gives him a purpose to help his family including his brother and niece and nephew heal.  Of course, it also brings him in constant contact with the new nanny.  A woman he can’t get off his mind.

OPINION:  I found this an enjoyable read. The characters and the story was uncomplicated and really focuses on these nice people navigating external events that threaten their potential relationship.

Years before I became obsessed with dark and angst filled dramatic romances, I read just about every Silhouette, Loveswept, Harlequin, Second Chance at Love, and numerous other category romances.  The stories were mostly simple and focused on the couple overcoming plot devices that threatened their relationship.  I read hundreds, maybe thousands, of those stories and was happy with those stories.

This book is a slightly more sophisticated version of those stories.  The characters are nice and the romance is sweet.  I enjoyed the connection between the characters and the fairy tale quality of the nanny falling for the prince.  (And the playboy prince falling head over heels for the slightly wallflower nanny!!) Rose and Diego are such nice people and the real complication is their relative positions (prince versus nanny) and some external threats that I don’t want to give away.

While the story is definitely on the sweet side, I so much enjoyed the interaction between Diego and Rose which was romantic and gentle and warmed my heart.

I look forward to the companion book in this series about Diego’s brother because this book left me with good feelings.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a pretty clean romance with some kisses and one act of premarital sex off screen.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE PLAYBOY PRINCE AND THE NANNY is the first book in the Princes of Marazur series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review.  I was not required to write a review or write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: The Unforgettable Hero: A Playful Brides Story

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Unforgettable Hero: A Playful Brides StoryThe Unforgettable Hero (Playful Brides, #4.5) by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides #4.5
Published by Swerve on February 2nd 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 100
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Amusing Little Story But Honestly Little Romance

“She’d called him a hero. No one had ever done that before. No one would ever do that again. In that moment, that one unforgettable moment, she’d made him feel like a hero. Her hero. Jesus, was it wrong to wish that she’d never remember who she truly was?”

FINAL DECISION: The story was amusing but there were too many things going on and the romance suffered. This story is enjoyable but don’t expect a deep romantic connection.

THE STORY: Cecelia Harcourt is an aspiring romance writer trying to sell her book to avoid a forced marriage to her cousin. When an accident results in amnesia, Cecelia believes that she is the heroine in her novel with the man who rescued her as her betrothed. Lieutenant Adam Hunt is the youngest brother of a duke. He is at a crossroads of his life when he sees a young woman being run down by a carriage. When she awakens, she believes that he is Peter, her betrothed. While he goes along with her belief at the request of the doctor, he begins to find he likes the intelligent young woman.

OPINION: This novella has an amusing premise. Cecelia, after an accident, believes that she is heroine in her novel and that her novel is her life. Her situation is humorous. At the same time, her actual story is somewhat like her own romance novel with a different plot. She has a sister who needs medicine. An evil uncle trying to force her marriage to her greedy cousin. For me, I enjoyed the story but the romance was superficial. Adam and Cecelia don’t really get to know one another at all. This is a book where everything is the plot and the dramatic situation. A nice read, but not a compelling romance.

WORTH MENTIONING: How many of us would like to be the heroine of a romance novel?

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE UNFORGETTABLE HERO is book 4.5 in the Playful Brides series. Although there are characters from the novels, this novella can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

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three-half-stars