The Highlander (Victorian Rebels #3) by Kerrigan Byrne

The Highlander is the third book in the “Victorian Rebels” series, following The Highwayman (reviewed here) and The Hunter (reviewed here). I found The Hunter a little too dark for my taste; how did The Highlander stack up?

The Highlander Front Cover ()

The Highlander Front Cover (St. Martin’s Paperbacks)

SPOILER WARNING: There will be some spoilers for the first two books in the series.

THE PLOT: The last time we saw Lady Philomena St. Vincent, she was helping Christopher Argent save Millie LeCour from her husband’s family. Unfortunately, Millie is paying a high price for her kindness. She was already a battered wife; now she’s been dumped in an insane asylum and tortured. She’s rescued at almost the last moment by the people who owe her one. Millie and Farah Blackwell conspire to send Mena away to Scotland in disguise, to become the governess for Farah’s brother-in-law’s two children.

Liam Mackenzie, Marquess Ravencroft, is better known as the Demon Highlander. The same man who fathered Dorian Blackwell warped his own legitimate heir as well, forcing him to whip women for fun. To his credit, Liam did NOT find it fun and did his best to save the women from his father. But he’s convinced that everyone who comes into contact with him is doomed. He’s immediately smitten with his children’s new governess, but he knows she’s hiding a big secret. Despite showing clear signs of abuse, Mena still manages to stand up to him. He doesn’t know it, but he’s captivated by all the things Mena’s husband hates about her.

Even as the attraction flares between them, both know it could never work…Liam because he’s cursed and someone is trying to kill him, and Mena because she’s hiding from her husband, who’s trying to kill her. Will they find out who’s trying to kill Liam? Will Mena’s husband get what he deserves? Will Christopher Argent ever stop killing people? (Easy answer there…no.)

MY TWO CENTS: I’m aware that I’m, like, the ONE person on earth who didn’t love The Hunter. I’m sorry, but I hold to that…especially when the first time we see Argent in this book, he’s snapping someone’s neck. Okay, the person had it coming big time, but Dorian and Inspector Morely both kind of give off this exasperated “Not AGAIN…I totally didn’t see that happen, not listening, la la la…” vibe. (Am I the only one who hopes Morely gets his own book someday?)

Anyway, despite the beginning (which features the whipping and then the asylum scene), this book is a lot lighter in tone than The Hunter. Liam may believe he’s beyond redemption, but he’s actually a good man. He’s got a bit of a rocky relationship with his teenage children, which is pretty normal. He has a very earthy lust for Mena, yet never hurts her.

Mena’s character is a fine line between battered yet spunky. She’s emotionally frail, but still hasn’t given up on herself. And despite everything she’s been through, she can’t quite give up on love, either.

I love the description of the Samhain festival. If you’re not familiar, Samhain is pronounced “SAH-win,” so don’t internally read it as “sam-HANE.” The celebration really makes Liam’s culture come to life and provides some neat details about pagan rituals. Also, it gives people the opportunity to behave badly.

COVER NOTES: The previous two covers have been fairly monochromatic, so this one is a slight break in style, I’m assuming to play off the plaid. Mena is wearing the dress she wears to the Samhain celebration. I love when the cover actually reflects elements of the book. The author posted a photo of the Mackenzie plaid on her facebook page; what do you think, fairly good representation on the cover?

mackenzie tartan

Mackenzie plaid, posted by Kerrigan Byrne

BOTTOM LINE: This is one of those romances where you KNOW the couple will end up together, you just can’t imagine HOW. The majority of this book is lighter in tone than the previous book, but the opening scenes are still very dark like the rest of the series.

WARNING: Like Elizabeth Hoyt, Kerrigan Byrne uses strong language and very graphic sensuality in her love scenes.

TEACUP RATING: Four out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available August 2, 2016, in paperback and eformats.

NEXT UP IN THE SERIES: Book 4, The Duke, will be published February 7, 2017. I think the Duke of Trenwyth was just introduced in The Highlander; I don’t think we’d heard of him before…but I could be wrong. He’s lost a hand, so you know he comes with tons of juicy baggage.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Virgin’s War (Tudor Legacy #6) by Laura Andersen

It would seem that the “Tudor Legacy” series wraps up in this final book of the second trilogy. How much more is history skewed in this alternate realty?

****SPOILER WARNING:**** This review will include spoilers for the first trilogy books, The Boleyn King, The Boleyn Deceit (reviewed here), and The Boleyn Reckoning (reviewed here); and the first and second books of this trilogy, The Virgin’s Daughter (reviewed here) and The Virgin’s Spy (reviewed here).

The Virgin's War Front Cover (Ballantine/Random House)

The Virgin’s War Front Cover (Ballantine/Random House)

THE PLOT: Princess of Wales Anne Isabella, also known as Anabel, moves front and center in this book. She’s created her own court in the north of England, including her best friend Philippa Courtenay and Pippa’s twin, Anabel’s true love Christopher (known as Kit). The twins’ older brother, Stephen, has been disinherited and banished after his actions in book 2.

The separate court is a ploy to make Anabel’s father, Philip of Spain, think that Anabel has become estranged from her mother, Queen Elizabeth. By pretending to be sympathetic to the Northern Catholics, Anabel lulls Philip into believing that an invasion could land successfully and be joined and assisted by Anabel’s court.

In the meantime, Anabel is being courted by the Protestant Scottish King James, whose mother Mary, Queen of Scots, who is also married to Philip, is keen to lead the Catholic invasion force. (Whew! Got all that?)

MY TWO CENTS: Although Anabel is the star of this book, all the Courtenays play fairly large roles. (Even Lucie and Julien return for a storyline of their own.) The twins’ stories both revolve around their relationship with Anabel. Pippa, her dearest friend, is a seer whose fate has been hinted at in earlier books. Kit, who loves Anabel, knows that he can never marry her. Anabel will be queen of England, and she’s destined to marry King James. Anabel loves Kit, too, but like her mother, she knows her duty. She has no intention of putting her love before her country. Even Elizabeth, though, isn’t truly sure that her daughter won’t take Philip’s bait in order to marry the man of her choice.

Stephen Courtenay is wiser and more sympathetic in this book, as he meets up again with Maisie Sinclair. Pippa has always been one of my favorite characters, and she certainly has her moment to play a pivotal role in the plot. Dominick and Minuette are still Elizabeth’s beloved, trusted friends, and they stand with her as their children stand with Anabel in the North.

I have just loved these books. For one, the fictional characters are all believable and mesh well with the “characters” that really existed: Queen Elizabeth, Walsingham, Philip of Spain, Lord Burghley, and Mary, Queen of Scots. Second, Andersen is a master of following the ripples of change across the historical events.

BOTTOM LINE: A very satisfying ending. I could definitely keep reading Andersen’s skewed reality. Maybe she can tackle a different era now? Whatever is next for this author, I’ll be checking it out.

TEACUP RATING: Four-and-a-half out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: The Virgin’s War will be available on July 12, 2016 in paperback and eformats.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Once Upon a Moonlit Night (Maiden Lane 10.5) by Elizabeth Hoyt

 

ONCE-UPON-A-MOONLIT-NIGHT-Launch-Day-Blitz

So excited to be part of the Launch Day Blitz for Elizabeth Hoyt’s e-novella, Once Upon a Moonlight Night! NOTE: This review will contain some spoilers for Duke of Sin, Maiden Lane #10 (previously reviewed here), as the heroine of this novella was one of Val’s blackmail victims in that book. And if you haven’t read it yet, enter the giveaway for a SIGNED copy of DUKE OF SIN here!

Once Upon a Moonlit Night Front Cover

Once Upon a Moonlit Night Front Cover (Grand Central Publishing)

THE PLOT: After Hippolyta Royale escapes from the Duke of Montgomery’s captivity with Bridget’s help, she doesn’t exactly look like the greatest heiress in England. She’s been kept in a stone cell, and she’s running wildly looking for help when stumbles upon Matthew Mortimer’s carriage. Matthew has just inherited the earldom of Paxton, and he believes the woman who stopped his carriage is mad, or at the very least lying. He’s sure she’s either a beggar or maybe even a prostitute. Her claims to be wealthy are obviously nonsense since she looks like she’s been living in a stable. But he agrees to take her to the next town. Eventually his protective nature takes over, and while he may not believe her, he does find that, cleaned up, she’s pretty darned attractive.

But remember, even if Matthew realizes that Hippolyta is telling the truth, and she’s the perfect match for an impoverished earl…there’s a reason Val was blackmailing her into marriage. Will that ultimately ruin their chance for happiness?

MY TWO CENTS: This novella may not be as long as a regular novel, but it finishes up a piece of the story that began in Sweetest Scoundrel…and it’s also insanely steamy. Part of that is because Matthew has no reason to believe Hippolyta is a highborn lady, so he says any number of outrageous things to her. His refusal to believe she’s who she says she is gives them time to get to know each other, as Hippolyta is freed from her “heiress” persona. She’s also freed for a while from the fear of society discovering the truth about her.

COVER NOTES: Wow! this color combo is a little out of the ordinary, but sure to grab attention! The fabric of the gown is crazy rich, and Hippolyta’s coloring looks appropriate. I LOVE these tropical colors.

BOTTOM LINE: If you’ve been reading the Maiden Lane series, you can’t miss this entry. (If you haven’t been reading it, why the heck not???)

TEACUP RATING: Four-and-a-half out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available now in e-book formats!

Buy the Book!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/25YAAUD

B&N: http://bit.ly/1XkV4F0

iBooks: http://apple.co/235O4w2

Google: http://bit.ly/1UMqq4a

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1ZMbqoe

NEXT UP IN THE SERIES: Duke of Pleasure, book 11 in the series, will be published November 29, 2016. This entry stars Hugh Fitzroy from Duke of Sin, and Alf, the girl dressed as a boy for a few books now. (How Eponine is she?)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

HoytElizabeth

Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.

 Social Media Links:

http://www.ElizabethHoyt.com

Twitter @elizabethhoyt

Facebook.com/ElizabethHoytBooks

Add Once Upon a Moonlit Night to your shelf on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1S30uww

 

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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