The Legendary Lord (Playful Brides #6) by Valerie Bowman

This is the sixth entry in Valerie Bowman’s “Playful Brides” series, in which each book is based on a famous play. This one is very loosely based on Pygmalion, and features everyone’s best friend, Christian, Viscount Berkley. (Check out other entries on the “Playful Brides” books throughout my blog.)

The Legendary Lord Front Cover (St. Martin's Paperback)

The Legendary Lord front cover (St. Martin’s Paperback)

THE PLOT: Christian is tired of playing the part of “helpful friend” to all his female acquaintances, who have gone on to their happily-ever-afters with other men. He retreats to his estate in Scotland, hoping for some solitude, only to find a runaway lady hiding in his house.

Lady Sarah freaked out at the idea of marrying a marquess who is mostly in love with himself. She’s run away to Scotland to what she thought was her father’s hunting lodge, but she picked the wrong house, her chaperone has been injured, and now she’s stuck in a snowstorm alone with a man she doesn’t know and on the verge of ruination. After bonding over some stew and biscuits, Christian opens up to Lady Sarah about his women problems and makes her a deal: he’ll help hide the fact that she ran away and save her reputation if she helps mold him into society’s most eligible bachelor.

There’s an obvious solution to both their problems —marry each other. But immediate chemistry aside, Sarah is obedient to her parents, who want this match with the marquess; Christian may have more holding him back from marriage than just the wrong tailor. It will take all their combined friends beating these two over the head to get them together.

MY TWO CENTS: I have pretty much loved all the “Playful Brides” books, but this one was not my favorite. The first problem for me was that Christian and Sarah are just both too darn nice. Their trapped-in-the-snowstorm-getting-to-know-you scenes went on too long for my taste and were just too bland. Christian has been getting friend-zoned for five books now, and I feel like he needed someone more his opposite to pull him out of the rut. Like a female pirate, or a partially reformed prostitute, or something. Not an equally nice but independence-challenged young lady who knits and cooks.

The pace picks up once Lucy, Cass, Jane, and other characters from previous books get in on the act. Everyone can see that these two are perfect for each other, so they’re going to do everything they can to make the match happen. They all owe Christian and want to see him happy. Too bad his soul mate has the backbone of a dishrag.

Okay, I’m being unfair. By the end of the book, Sarah has figured out that she needs to start standing up for herself…but it’s the last 20 pages of the book. I’d rather see a heroine who learns at least halfway through the book that she has decision-making power. Telling the reader that from now on she’s going to put herself first is nice, but I would have liked to have seen that growth.

There are some exceptionally fiery love scenes when they finally do get together (I guess it’s the quiet ones you have to watch), but it also feels slightly out of character for Sarah. She won’t say no to her parents, but she’ll indulge in sexual exploration? Hmmm.

COVER NOTES: This cover is a slight transition from the first five books, which were often headless/more closeup on the couple. The execution is similar, with one dominant color (in this case, white), but we see more of the couple. From the newly released cover for the next book, I’d say this is the new direction for the series. Bonus points for showing Sarah wearing a dress described in the book.

BOTTOM LINE: Readers of the series will want to read this one, too, but I wouldn’t recommend it as the book to read to get someone hooked on the series. The story picks up in the second half, but I find Sarah’s best friend more interesting than her. I just feel like Christian deserved better.

TEACUP RATING: Three out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available November 1, 2016, in paperback and eformats.

NEXT UP IN THE SERIES: Never Trust a Pirate, book 7 in the series, will be published in May 2017. It will feature Cade Cavendish, twin of Rafe Cavendish from book 4, The Irresistible Rogue. I’m always up for a good pirate story. Afterward, I’d bet we’re heading toward the story of Sarah’s brother and best friend.

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

 

Viking Warrior Rebel (Viking Warriors #2) by Asa Maria Bradley

This is second book in this series, following Viking Warrior Rising (previously reviewed here). In this installment, Valkyrie Astrid finds her soul mate…and fights it all the way through the book.

Viking Warrior Rebel Front Cover (Sourcebooks Casablanca)

Viking Warrior Rebel Front Cover (Sourcebooks Casablanca)

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

THE PLOT: Astrid’s human life ended a thousand years ago, but Odin and Freya sent her back as part of a group of warriors that fight Loki’s minions on Earth. Astrid feels that she failed her Viking brothers and sisters before, when her berserker, her inner battle warrior, got out of control. Now she’s on a lone mission to bring Queen Naya’s brother Scott back from a remote medical facility to the Viking’s base.

But things start to go wrong almost from the start. First, she runs into nightclub owner Luke Holden, with whom she had a one-night-stand. Then she finds out that Scott has already checked himself out of the facility and left. Before she can even get on his trail, she’s attacked by Loki’s wolverines, who in 2.0 version are faster, stronger, and less easily dispatched.

It may be lucky, then, that Luke was tailing Astrid and helps save her life. Luke has his own secrets, some of which involve being undercover for the FBI. He also may not be as shocked by the supernatural as Astrid would fear.

Even as they resume their affair, Astrid has no thoughts of Luke being her official soul mate. After all, they already had a fling and her serpent tattoo didn’t complete (it’s a magical Viking thing). But the more they’re together, the more Astrid’s berserker starts acting all possessive of Luke, and also gets harder to control. That’s something Astrid doesn’t need when King Leif is already annoyed at her past behavior.

MY TWO CENTS: I’m not normally a big fan of modern romance, but sometimes a paranormal twist will add enough intrigue for me to enjoy it. That’s what I’ve found with this series. I’m intrigued by the Norse mythology, and I’m happy that this volume’s viking hero was a woman. Not just any woman, but one who fought her way out of slavery during her mortal life. That’s a pretty good setup for “hero.”

The romance between Astrid and Luke is a nice follow-up to the first book, where we first met Luke working with Naya. He was definitely intriguing enough to need his own book, and he fulfilled the male lead role nicely. This is one where up until the last 10% of the book, you’re wondering HOW the couple is going to end up together (maybe instead of killing each other).

Do you need to read the first book before reading this one? In this case, yes, I’d recommend it. First of all, it sets up all the activity of this book. You meet the main characters in Viking Warrior Rising, as well as all the supporting characters. And since this one leads up to Leif and Naya’s wedding, you’re going to want to read about them anyway. So start with book one, then follow up with this.

COVER NOTES: I freely admit that I chose the first book for the hot guy on the cover (heh heh), but I’m glad this one features the female Viking hero. She looks pretty badass! Also, I’m always grateful when series covers look like they belong together (hint to publisher: please don’t change it for book three. A series should look like a series.) The color is striking, too.

BOTTOM LINE: Really enjoying this series, and had no problem buying Astrid as a kick-ass Viking warrior. Luke was a good match for her.

WARNING: Strong language and pretty graphic sensuality.

TEACUP RATING: Four out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available October 4, 2016, in paperback and eformats.

NEXT UP IN THE SERIES: As-yet-untitled Book 3 will be published Fall 2017. I think this volume will finally feature Naya’s brother Scott, along with the medical officer, Irja. I hope the series doesn’t end with book 3…jerky Ulf needs his own book, and a heroine to straighten him out! and Irja’s twin, Pekka, needs a book too.

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

 

%d bloggers like this: