Genre: Historical

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The Night Mark – Tiffany Reisz – 4 stars

March 27, 2017 Mira, NetGalley, Read in 2017 1

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Night Mark – Tiffany Reisz – 4 starsThe Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz
Published by Mira Books on March 28th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Literary, Romance, 20th Century
Pages: 400
Source: NetGalley.com
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four-stars

From the bestselling author of The Bourbon Thief comes a sweeping tale of loss and courage, where one woman discovers that her destiny is written in sand, not carved in stone.

Faye Barlow is drowning. After the death of her beloved husband, Will, she cannot escape her grief and most days can barely get out of bed. But when she's offered a job photographing South Carolina's storied coast, she accepts. Photography, after all, is the only passion she has left.

In the quaint beach town, Faye falls in love again when she sees the crumbling yet beautiful Bride Island lighthouse and becomes obsessed with the legend surrounding The Lady of the Light—the keeper's daughter who died in a mysterious drowning in 1921. Like a moth to a flame, Faye is drawn to the lighthouse for reasons she can't explain. While visiting it one night, she is struck by a rogue wave and a force impossible to resist drags Faye into the past—and into a love story that is not her own.

Fate is changeable. Broken hearts can mend. But can she love two men separated by a lifetime?

I find myself a bit torn with this book.  I quite enjoyed it but I am struggling with explaining why it resonated with me.  This is definitely a different style of writing by an author who I have enjoyed getting to read and meet but it still resonates as a Tiffany Reisz story even without the sexual content.

We get to see a woman who hasn’t been herself in years.  She’s at a huge crossroads where life is not really something she cares to embrace but at the same time she does have a very strong spirit that pulls her forward no matter how much another part of her wants to let go.  I felt for her as we are introduced to her at a moment where she finally lets some things go.  I found myself intrigued by the idea of having someone that meant so much to you in such a short time.  I also felt for the fact that the man she married out of grief? obligation? comfort?  had to suffer as well.  Neither of them deserved what happened but I will say that the reader can rest assured as the story is told and resolved for them.

The time travel aspect was something I wasn’t certain that I’d enjoy but I found myself comfortably following the story line as we moved from now to then and back again.  There was a sense of continuity in both timelines that wouldn’t exist had we not done the jumps.  I also loved the priest who made me laugh with his humor and candor.  I think the underlying theme is one of hope in the face of adversity and that having the love of your life stolen from you way too soon does not mean life is over.  I think that this story highlights that love can happen again if one is very lucky and open to the chance.

I’m rambling and I know I am but this underscores why I am struggling with explaining this book.  I can just say that I quite enjoyed it and hope that others will give this a chance.  I hope you are drawn in to the story and want to know how it all works out.

four-stars

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The Bourbon Thief – Tiffany Reisz – 4 stars

June 29, 2016 NetGalley, Read in 2016 1

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Bourbon Thief – Tiffany Reisz – 4 starsThe Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz
Published by Mira on June 28, 2016
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Women, Family Life, Literary, General, Romance, Historical
Pages: 400
Source: NetGalley.com
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four-stars

From the internationally celebrated author of the Original Sinners series comes a brand-new tale of betrayal, revenge and a family scandal that bore a 150-year-old mystery

When Cooper McQueen wakes up from a night with a beautiful stranger, it's to discover he's been robbed. The only item stolen—a million-dollar bottle of bourbon. The thief, a mysterious woman named Paris, claims the bottle is rightfully hers. After all, the label itself says it's property of the Maddox family who owned and operated Red Thread Bourbon distillery since the last days of the Civil War until the company went out of business for reasons no one knows… No one except Paris.

In the small hours of a Louisville morning, Paris unspools the lurid tale of Tamara Maddox, heiress to the distillery that became an empire. But the family tree is rooted in tainted soil and has borne rotten fruit. Theirs is a legacy of wealth and power, but also of lies, secrets and sins of omission. The Maddoxes have bourbon in their blood—and blood in their bourbon. Why Paris wants the bottle of Red Thread remains a secret until the truth of her identity is at last revealed, and the century-old vengeance Tamara vowed against her family can finally be completed.

I struggle with how to explain this one without giving away secrets but here we go any way…

There are two time periods (actually sort of 3… hmmmm….) that are presented in this book but you won’t be thrown back and forth like crazy between the periods so if your afraid of it because of that…  worry no more.

Present day is a man meets a woman at the bar, they play a bit in bed, she tries to steal from him and then he gets told a story.  The present day piece is not the main story you want to hear even though I’d almost like to know more about Cooper as he might have his own story to tell but I digress.  Paris is the woman who has attempted to steal a very valuable bottle of bourbon from him and while he’s pissed she makes a deal with him that he can’t refuse.  She’ll tell him a story and at the end of it he’ll be compelled to give her the bottle as it is rightfully hers.  This is the real story you are wanting to read and it isn’t the most beautiful or happy story.

We get to see the dark underbelly of a Kentucky bourbon dynasty where anything will go in order to keep the family line intact.  We have murder, incest, rape and all sort of other secrets that come to light as Paris reveals the story of the last of the great Maddox family.

Tamara is the golden Maddox princess but her life isn’t all sunshine and love.  Is she spoiled?  Yes….  but not all is right in the Maddox household.  There are so many secrets that start to unravel on her birthday and they come to light slowly over the course of a few years and the reader is taken along for the ride.  We get glimpses of the founding of the distillery and the madness that started it all.  We also see that this latest behavior by the scion of the Maddox line is not the only time where darkness has entered it but that the line has had issues all along.

I enjoyed this story but I will warn you that this isn’t for everyone.  There are things that come to light as Paris reveals the history which might make (honestly should make) one uncomfortable but I found myself drawn to the characters and wanted to know more.  I’d like to see more of Paris in the future as she intrigued me but this doesn’t read like a start of a series so perhaps that will never happen.  If you don’t mind darker tones to a story then I’d say go grab this one but if even the idea of rape or incest makes you extremely uncomfortable then you might not like this.  I will note that I did like what happened to the person who attempted the rape so… there’s that…  Once again Tiffany has given us a story that isn’t pretty in tone but keeps you interested in knowing more about the characters and wanting to know how it all plays out.

four-stars

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The Pages of the Mind – Jeffe Kennedy – 4.5 stars

June 2, 2016 Kensington, NetGalley, Read in 2016 1

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Pages of the Mind – Jeffe Kennedy – 4.5 starsThe Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy
Published by Kensington on May 31, 2016
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Romantic, Romance, Action & Adventure, Historical, Science Fiction
Pages: 432
Source: NetGalley.com
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four-half-stars

An Orphan's Throne

Magic has broken free over the Twelve Kingdoms. The population is beset by shapeshifters and portents, landscapes that migrate, uncanny allies who are not quite human…and enemies eager to take advantage of the chaos.

Dafne Mailloux is no adventurer--she's a librarian. But the High Queen trusts Dafne's ability with languages, her way of winnowing the useful facts from a dusty scroll, and even more important, the subtlety and guile that three decades under the thumb of a tyrant taught her.

Dafne never thought to need those skills again. But she accepts her duty. Until her journey drops her into the arms of a barbarian king. He speaks no tongue she knows but that of power, yet he recognizes his captive as a valuable pawn. Dafne must submit to a wedding of alliance, becoming a prisoner-queen in a court she does not understand. If she is to save herself and her country, she will have to learn to read the heart of a wild stranger. And there are more secrets written there than even Dafne could suspect…

I love this world.  There I said it.  This world makes me so happy and I was extremely excited to see that we would have more stories about it with new people to fall in love with.

Dafne spoke to me with her tendency to be hidden in the background and comfort in books.  She’s not much of a people person but those she allows close mean the world to her.  She takes her word very seriously but yearns to have something of her own that she convinces herself she will never have.  As she finally gets out on an adventure we get to see exactly who she is and what she is made of as she is faced with the chance to have more.  I loved seeing her struggle to understand what was happening to her but mainly loved her finally owning who she is and what she deserves.  She’s going on such a journey in this story so sit back and enjoy the ride.

Nakoa is just amazing.  I have to say he might beat Harlan in sigh-worthy moves but both of them have a special place in my book boyfriend heart.  He can’t speak her language but he still manages to show her how much she means to him and that they were always meant for one another even though she had never met him.  There is something about a man that is so powerful being so soft for his lady that just does it for me.  There is something else about him that does it for me and that I will leave to you to discover but suffice it to say he’s incredibly sweet and sensual but that isn’t even what I am referring to.  If you want to know what it is just message me and I will spoil for you but only if you seek me out.  I loved reading that moment and knowing what it means to them made it so much more than a simple moment.

This story continues from where we left the Kingdoms with more of the world to explore and find out.  I look forward to our next pair because that will be incendiary to say the least.  The way that we get to see so many people from the other stories made me very happy.

four-half-stars

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The Talon of the Hawk – Jeffe Kennedy – 5 stars

May 4, 2015 Kensington, NetGalley, Read in 2015 1

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Talon of the Hawk – Jeffe Kennedy – 5 starsThe Twelve Kingdoms: The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation on 2015-05-26
Genres: Epic, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical
Pages: 352
Source: NetGalley.com
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five-stars

A HEAVY CROWN

Three daughters were born to High King Uorsin, in place of the son he wanted. The youngest, lovely and sweet. The middle, pretty and subtle, with an air of magic. And the eldest, the Heir. A girl grudgingly honed to leadership, not beauty, to bear the sword and honor of the king.

Ursula’s loyalty is as ingrained as her straight warrior’s spine. She protects the peace of the Twelve Kingdoms with sweat and blood, her sisters from threats far and near. And she protects her father to prove her worth. But she never imagined her loyalty would become an open question on palace grounds. That her father would receive her with a foreign witch at one side and a hireling captain at the other—that soldiers would look on her as a woman, not as a warrior. She also never expected to decide the destiny of her sisters, of her people, of the Twelve Kingdoms and the Thirteenth. Not with her father still on the throne and war in the air. But the choice is before her. And the Heir must lead…

Pssstttt…  go here before noon on 5/10 to try to win a paper copy of this….  now…  yeah…  you want it…

This was my favorite of the series…  I adored the hero in this and also loved seeing the full picture finally be visible.  We have a chance to see the other sisters but this is definitely a story about a woman who NEVER really got to be herself.  Watching this strong woman be broken apart and then finally allowed to come in to her own was worth every minute it took to read the book.

This story opens with Ursula finally heading back home to report to her father and the news she has isn’t going to be something he wants to hear.  What she doesn’t realize is there is more going on at home and it isn’t good.  She’s unsettled when she arrives and notes that the surrounding area is quiet plus strangers are at the gates.  She’s confronted by these soldiers and realizing they are hired mercenaries does not put her at ease.  She also sees the area bursting at the seams with a populace that seems to be not only frightened but seemingly lacking hope that anything good is coming.  She’s even more unsettled as she sees a strange man standing by her father as he gives her a very public dressing down.  The man unsettles her but she’s still hopeful there is something good still in her father even as he cavorts with a new woman.  As she starts to try to get back in her father’s good graces we get to see her struggle with his increasing madness and obvious corruption.  It takes others pushing her to run for her life to get her to open her eyes about the real peril she is in.  I enjoyed her but truly loved what she becomes as our hero pushes her to lance the deep wounds she has carried since childhood.  This poison was killing her and by finally finding someone that was there for her…  only her… she finally gets to have a partner to carry her burdens.

Harlan… *fans self* dear stubborn yet sweet Harlan….  only you could reach her even as she tried her damnedest to push you away.  I hated the final fight but knew you would stick by her side until the end unless she definitively said leave but my bet is you would still find a way to help her from afar.  I enjoyed the way you worked past her defenses while still pushing her to be all that she could be.  You don’t want her to completely change but you wanted her to finally be honest with herself and see things without being clouded by blind loyalty.  I adored your ways of showing her your strength but mainly enjoyed how you acknowledged her strength and just held her without judgement when she finally allowed you to know her worst secret.  I loved how you let her get it out and then worked hard to show her nothing of it was her fault.  You didn’t coddle her like a victim (which she was) but you made sure to clearly state who was at fault.  She is a lucky lucky woman to have your devotion.

I will be nice and warn Jeffe now….  I WILL BE GIVING YOU A BIG OLD HUG AT RT.  While I am still not a huge fan of Ami I adored Ursula and Harlan.  This was a perfect end to the tale and while I will always want more…  I am happy with the way this trilogy played out.

five-stars

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The Tears of the Rose – Jeffe Kennedy – 4 stars

May 4, 2015 Kensington, Read in 2015, Sent 0

I received this book for free from the Author . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Tears of the Rose – Jeffe Kennedy – 4 starsThe Twelve Kingdoms: The Tears of the Rose by Jeffe Kennedy
Published by Kensington Books on 2014-11-25
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Historical
Pages: 336
Source: the Author
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four-stars

Three sisters. Motherless daughters of the high king. The eldest is the warrior-woman heir; the middle child is shy and full of witchy intuition; and the youngest, Princess Amelia, she is as beautiful as the sun and just as generous.

Ami met her Prince Charming and went away to his castle on the stormy sea-cliffs--and that should have been her happily ever after. Instead, her husband lies dead and a war rages. Her middle sister has been taken into a demon land, turned into a stranger. The priests and her father are revealing secrets and telling lies. And a power is rising in Ami, too, a power she hardly recognizes, to wield her beauty as a weapon, and her charm as a tool to deceive. . .

Amelia has never had to be anything but good and sweet and kind and lovely. But the chess game for the Twelve Kingdoms has swept her up in it, and she must make a gambit of her own. Can the prettiest princess become a pawn--or a queen?

For a chance to win a paper copy of The Talon of the Hawk please go here.

I am going to admit something…  This is my least favorite sister of the series but her book is well done.  I didn’t dislike her as strongly after this as I did by the end of the last book but she still isn’t the favorite one of the trio.  I also found the way this story unfolds to be intriguing and it left me ready for MORE.

We know Ami as the spoiled one… the favorite daughter of the High King who has always gotten what she wanted.  She’s managed to find a man who adores her but then has her perfect life ruined by his death.  She’s driven to find out who killed her precious true love and when she finds out it was her sister…  well then her sister is evil.  I got why she was upset but her refusal to even listen to those around her trying to get her to understand what happened just served to enforce the spoiled rotten view of her.  Her adoration and devotion to being the spoiled princess devoted only to her Goddess and her now-deceased love takes a bit of a beating as she starts to be intrigued by a monk in white that seems to push her to be more than just a pretty face.  As she finally starts to open her eyes to the world around her we finally get to see a woman emerge that may prove to be a formidable foe for the challenges that lie ahead.  I enjoyed seeing her finally realize that her actions have true consequences and that she needs to make her own mind up in order to truly see what is waiting for her in her future.  She’s stronger than I expected once the worst of the bratty child goes away.

Ash…  I enjoyed this scarred man who wasn’t swayed by the bratty princess but pushed her to be something more.  He’s such a sweet man under the scars and attitude but mainly his heart shines thru to show a man driven by duty and love.  His strength and unique talents serve this tale well plus set up some action we see in the next book.  I loved how he didn’t accept her originally and actually wasn’t afraid to show her how badly she has acted over the years.  He shows her that life didn’t end when Hugh was killed but that she not only could live again… she could find a love that in most respects is truer than the one she thought was perfect.  He wants her not the avatar… not the beautiful princess..  not a woman to be spoiled and worshipped but…  a woman with flaws and all that is true to herself and not a puppet on a string.  His sacrifices for her were amazing and beautiful.

Overall this is a good story with a few surprises but mainly I found this to be a big redemption for a character I wasn’t fond of in any way, shape, or form from the last book.  I liked how she was changing and was very glad to see her come out of her spoiled background.

four-stars

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This Gun for Hire – Jo Goodman – 5 stars

April 8, 2015 Berkley Trade, Read in 2015, Sent 1

I received this book for free from the publisher . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This Gun for Hire – Jo Goodman – 5 starsThis Gun for Hire by Jo Goodman
Published by Penguin on 2015-04-07
Genres: Fiction, General, Historical, Romance, Western
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: the publisher
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five-stars

"Perfectly crafted"—PW (starred review)

Jo Goodman, a premier writer of western romance and the author of In Want of a Wife, is back with a sensational new novel for fans of Linda Lael Miller and Joan Johnston

He’s got a job to do…

Former army cavalryman Quill McKenna takes pride in protecting the most powerful man in Stonechurch, Colorado: Mr. Ramsey Stonechurch himself. But the mine owner has enemies, and after several threats on his life, mines, and family, Quill decides to hire someone to help guard the boss’s daughter. Only problem is the uncontrollable attraction he feels toward the fiery-haired woman who takes the job.

…but she’s a piece of work.

Calico Nash has more knowledge of scouting and shooting than cross-stitching, but she agrees to pose as Ann’s private tutor while protecting her. But between her growing attraction to Quill and the escalating threats against the Stonechurches, Calico will soon have a choice to make—hang on to her hard-won independence or put her faith in Quill to create the kind of happy ending she never imagined…

I have to say I grabbed a copy of this on a bit of a whim but I am very happy I did.  This one made me laugh and fall for the main pair as there is something honest and unique about them.  The side characters were also well done but the times we see our main pair interact made the book for me.

Calico Nash is infamous…  People don’t know exactly who Calico really is but the exploits are talked about far and wide.  What we get is a woman *gasp* who isn’t traditional for the times.  She’s brash, outspoken, a great shot and above all else INDEPENDENT!  *faints*  I mean for the times she is definitely NOT a typical woman but I enjoyed that about her.  She was raised by her father and learned her bounty-hunting skills from him but honestly she doesn’t hunt just for the money.  She has very clear ideals and is willing to work to right things that aren’t taken seriously by most law enforcement.  She’s also very smart which serves her well when she takes a job pretending to be a teacher for a well-to-do young lady.  I enjoyed her wit and her willingness to own up to mistakes if the times warrant it but I mainly loved her ability to keep our hero on his toes.  She wants someone to love her but doesn’t understand this as it isn’t something she ever thought would be hers.  She is off her game at times with our hero but she recovers well and I think you’ll like her ways of getting him off-kilter.

Quill cannot lie.  I mean seriously he sucks at lying….  really he does…  I enjoyed him for this reason as it causes him some difficulties when he wants to keep Calico from doing something he wants to keep her safe from.  He’s smart and is wise enough to understand he’s not going to be able to keep her from getting her way but he does still try even though he loses.  I enjoyed watching him struggle with his attraction for a woman that should be all wrong for him.  I also quite enjoyed that while he did try to protect her it didn’t come from a place where he thought she was weak.  He really does appreciate her spirit even as it drives him insane.  He also is great at managing his charges even as they battle him every step of the way.

I think the main thing that kept me engaged was this wild ride that Quill and Calico take us on as they battle each other with wit, humor and mutual dislike that evolves in to something fun to see.  They really are well-matched and definitely bring out the best/worst in one another.

five-stars

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The Mark of the Tala – Jeffe Kennedy – 5 stars

May 29, 2014 NetGalley, Read in 2014 0

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Mark of the Tala – Jeffe Kennedy – 5 starsThe Twelve Kingdoms: The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy
Published by Kensington Books on 2014-05-27
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Historical
Pages: 352
Source: NetGalley.com
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five-stars

Queen Of The UnknownThe tales tell of three sisters, daughters of the high king. The eldest, a valiant warrior-woman, heir to the kingdom. The youngest, the sweet beauty with her Prince Charming. No one says much about the middle princess, Andromeda. Andi, the other one. Andi doesn't mind being invisible. She enjoys the company of her horse more than court, and she has a way of blending into the shadows. Until the day she meets a strange man riding, who keeps company with wolves and ravens, who rules a land of shapeshifters and demons. A country she'd thought was no more than legend--until he claims her as its queen. In a moment everything changes: Her father, the wise king, becomes a warlord, suspicious and strategic. Whispers call her dead mother a traitor and a witch. Andi doesn't know if her own instincts can be trusted, as visions appear to her and her body begins to rebel. For Andi, the time to learn her true nature has come. . .

I have to say I adored this book and love that it is the first in a trilogy.  The world that was built was fascinating in its complexity and beauty yet harsh in its way of dealing with the the differences between races.  There is a lesson embedded in this story about tolerance and understanding needing to take the place of fear and the unknown.

We meet three sisters who are as different from one another as they can be but this story focuses on the middle child who has spent her life invisible to those around the throne until a fateful day when her life changes and she becomes something/someone to notice and either fear or love.  Andromeda is content in many ways to stay in the shadows but when she happens upon a man who says strange things to her about being his and more than she knows she is… her life will never be the same.  She’s surprisingly strong and while her nature is to be out exploring and in the wilds around the castle her father and sisters keep her grounded to the castle and try to make her in to something.  She never feels like she is good enough but when she does choose to actually come out of her shell the things she decides are ultimately the best course of action.  I liked her strength and the way she fought against the thoughts of others to ultimately make her own path in life even as it felt to her like she was betraying everyone in her family.  She really was being true to not only herself but to her family and those she loves with all of her heart.  Watching her come in to her own and truly embrace her unique heritage was beautiful and I look forward to seeing how this plays out in the other two stories.

Rayfe.. *sigh* such a wonderful man to get to know as slowly yet quickly as Andi gets to.  I loved seeing this strong man not only be patient with Andi but also watch him be so tender with her at times when she really didn’t seem to appreciate it.  He didn’t know when he first approached how little she actually knew about her heritage but also didn’t have all the time to make sure she didn’t feel rushed in accepting her new role in life.  He’s sexy as hell and while Andi put up a good front with others we knew she’d fallen for him the moment she met this incredible man.  He’s suffered for years in order to do what was best for his people and seeing him finally get the happiness he deserved made me smile.  He’s highly intelligent and driven to restore his people to their former strength and give them the safe haven they deserve but luckily for him he found his true mate in Andi.

My interest is piqued by how Jeffe is going to manage to get me to love the youngest spoiled brat of a sister but I trust her to open her up and let us see something other than a brat in her story.  I loved the older sister even as I scowled at her because as you’ll see she is hiding a lot from the world which means peeling back the layers will prove to be highly entertaining.

Special thanks to NetGalley.com and Kensington for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.  I loved it!!  Also thanks to Jeffe for saving me a copy at RT…  It is on my keeper shelf along with a beautiful snow globe of the title.

five-stars

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