Friday, January 18, 2019

Review - New Year's Eve Murder

Author:  Leslie Meier 
Series:  Lucy Stone Mystery #12
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington Books
Format:  Kindle
No. of pages:  304
Published:  2005; 2006
My Rating:  4.5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

After the annual parade of Christmas presents in Tinker's Cove has ended, Lucy Stone and her daughter Elizabeth are ready to ring in the new year in style. Elizabeth has won mother/daughter winter makeovers in Manhattan from Jolie magazine! But the all-expenses-paid trip is bound to have some hidden costs--and one of them is murder. . .

After finally arriving at the offices of Jolie, meeting their fellow makeover candidates, and being treated to a fashion show, Elizabeth is enamored of the extreme outfits and stick-thin models--while Lucy's having some misgivings. The pampering is nice and the glitz and glamour of haute couture is bizarrely fascinating, but bitterness and aggression lurk behind Jolie's hipper-than-thou fa├žade. And things turn downright ugly when self-absorbed fashion editor Nadine Nelson falls mysteriously ill and then dies. . .

Lucy saw first-hand some of the backstabbing going on at Jolie. And the red-hot rumor mill soon reveals that the cliquish connection among the magazine's cabal of high-style executives has stirred up plenty of bad blood over the years. But this Manhattan murder mystery hits too close to home when Elizabeth gets rushed to the hospital with symptoms that are disturbingly similar to Nadine's. Now, it's up to Lucy to dress down a killer before the ball drops in Times Square. . .

MY THOUGHTS:

It is New Year’s Eve and Lucy Stone is excited to be able to spend it in New York with her oldest daughter Elizabeth. They are part of a team of mothers and daughters after Elizabeth won a winter makeover contest. The grand prize winners will win $10,000. As Lucy and husband Bill have gotten a letter informing them that they will be that much short for Elizabeth’s next year of college, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. 

Aside from looking forward to spending some one-on-one time with Elizabeth, Lucy hopes to visit with her long-time friend Samantha. However, they have a very full agenda, including fittings, photo shoots and the like. 

As all of the pairs are working hard at the activities, suddenly Nadine Nelson, the fashion editor, falls ill and dies. Nadine wasn’t always well-liked, and the rumor mill was very much at work, so foul play is definitely suspected. What’s worse is that Elizabeth falls seriously ill and is hospitalized with very similar symptoms that affected Nadine before her death. 

Lucy is an amateur detective, and she jumps right in to track down the killer. Most definitely time is of the essence. As always, this cozy mystery was a quick read it had just enough bite and intrigue to engage me in one sitting. Usually Lucy solves these crimes in her hometown of Tinker’s Cove. She has her work cut out for her in the Big Apple. New Year's Eve Murder was a very enjoyable story and had a delightful conclusion. I have been enjoying these stories and this is book 12 of 26. I look forward to continuing with the series. 

These are all delightful reads and I look forward to continuing. I encourage readers of this review to look at my other reviews from this series on this blog. Also, here is a link to her series in order:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/m/leslie-meier/.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I started writing in the late ‘80s when I was attending graduate classes at Bridgewater State College. I wanted to become certified to teach high school English and one of the required courses was Writing and the Teaching of Writing. My professor suggested that one of the papers I wrote for that course was good enough to be published and I sent it off to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’s Department of First Stories. I got $100 for the story and I’ve been writing ever since. The teaching, however, didn’t work out.

My books draw heavily on my experience as a mother of three and my work as a reporter for various weekly newspapers on Cape  . My heroine, Lucy Stone, is a reporter in the fictional town of Tinker’s Cove, Maine, where she lives in an old farmhouse (quite similar to mine on Cape Cod!) with her restoration carpenter husband Bill and four children. As the series has progressed the kids have grown older, roughly paralleling my own family. We seem to have reached a point beyond which Lucy cannot age–my editor seems to want her to remain forty-something forever, though I have to admit I personally am dying to write “Menopause is Murder!”

I usually write one Lucy Stone mystery every year and as you can tell, my editor likes me to feature the holidays in my books. Of course Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year and my newest mystery “Eggnog Murder,” is included in an anthology with two other Christmas novellas by Barbara Ross and Lee Hollis. I’ve long been a fan of the classic English country house mystery, and was a faithful watcher of “Downton Abbey,” so I couldn’t resist trying to write one. I think I succeeded rather well, if I do say so myself, with “British Manor Murder,” which came out in October, 2016.

My books are classified as “cozies” but a good friend insists they are really “comedies of manners” and I do enjoy expressing my view of contemporary American life.

Now that the kids are grown — we have five fabulous grandchildren — my husband and I are enjoying dividing our time between Braintree and Cape Cod, along with our cat, Sylvester.

Find Her:  Goodreads / Twitter / Web 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Review - The Perfect Liar

Title:   The Perfect Liar
Author:  Thomas Christopher Greene
Genre:   Psychological Thriller
Publisher:   St. Martin's Press
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:  288
Date of Publication:  January 15, 2019
My Rating:  2.5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:
A seemingly perfect marriage is threatened by the deadly secrets husband and wife keep from each other, for fans of B.A. Paris and Paula Hawkins.

Susannah, a young widow and single mother, has remarried well: to Max, a charismatic artist and popular speaker whose career took her and her fifteen-year-old son out of New York City and to a quiet Vermont university town. Strong-willed and attractive, Susannah expects that her life is perfectly in place again. Then one quiet morning she finds a note on her door: I KNOW WHO YOU ARE. 

Max dismisses the note as a prank. But days after a neighborhood couple comes to dinner, the husband mysteriously dies in a tragic accident while on a run with Max. Soon thereafter, a second note appears on their door: DID YOU GET AWAY WITH IT?

Both Susannah and Max are keeping secrets from the world and from each other —secrets that could destroy their family and everything they have built. The Perfect Liar is a thrilling novel told through the alternating perspectives of Susannah and Max with a shocking climax that no one will expect, from the bestselling author of The Headmaster’s Wife.

Link to purchase the book

MY THOUGHTS:

Max took on a new persona  A new life. When Susannah, a young widow and single mother, meets Max, she thinks she has done well by marrying Max. He is an accomplished artist and terrific speaker, so Susannah is sure that she and her son will be happy. Life will be perfect.

However, she finds a note on her door saying: I know who you are. And another note, Did you get away with it. Susannah begins to seriously worry about Max. Then his new friend mysteriously dies while on a run with Max. Susannah really doubts that it was an accident. She strongly senses things are not right with him.

Meanwhile, Susannah has secrets of her own. There are things she talks about with her therapist that could easily unravel their marriage and even their entire life. Will either of their secrets be exposed? More importantly, will Max's identity ever be exposed?

Admittedly I was intrigued and did keep on reading. Dual points of view help readers really get into the minds of both Max and Susannah. As if this story isn't chilling enough, the ending just might throw you. Oh, I just have to mention Susannah's therapist Joseph. He really was something! I just cannot believe any therapist could go to the extremes that he did. Those that read this book just might remember "the white bear". I quit when it comes to my rating. Then I cannot believe Max could take on a new life and get away with it for years.

On a positive note I will will say that Thomas Christopher Greene is indeed the the bestselling author of The Headmaster's Wife, which I have not yet had the opportunity to read.

Many thanks to St. Martins Press and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for an honest review.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Thomas Christopher Greene was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, to Richard and Dolores Greene, the sixth of seven children. He was educated in Worcester public schools and then Suffield Academy in Suffield, Connecticut. He earned his BA in English from Hobart College in Geneva, New York, where he was the Milton Haight Turk Scholar. His MFA in Writing is from the former Vermont College.

Tom has worked as an oyster shucker, delivered pizza, on the line in a staple factory, as a deputy press secretary for a presidential campaign, the director of public affairs for two universities and as a professor of writing and literature. Since 1993, Tom has resided in central Vermont. In 2003, his first novel, MIRROR LAKE, was published to critical acclaim. His second, I’LL NEVER BE LONG GONE, followed two years later and his third, ENVIOUS MOON, was published in 2007. His fiction has been translated into 11 languages and has found a worldwide following. His writing has been called incandescent and poetic and has been nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His first novel was named by Waterstone’s in the UK one of the 30 books to be rediscovered, alongside books by authors Kurt Vonnegut, Jose Saramango, Alice Hoffmann and others.

In 2006, after years of writing full time, Tom was asked to lead one of the MFA programs at Vermont College where he had graduated from and had previously served as a senior administrator. Shortly thereafter the university that owned the campus announced that the historic 1868 campus was for sale to developers and the three nationally acclaimed MFA programs (MFA in Writing; MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults; and MFA in Visual Art) were in danger of closing. Tom mobilized the college community and the larger community in central Vermont to create a nonprofit that could buy the campus and the three academic programs. In two years, with his business partner, Bill Kaplan, Tom raised $13.5M in capital, built a national board of trustees and developed a strategic plan and an infrastructure to manage and run a new academic entity. On June 23, 2008, Vermont College of Fine Arts became the first new college in Vermont in over 30 years. It was the fastest college in the 125-year history of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges to achieve accreditation. Tom was named the college’s founding President, a position he still serves in today.

In the seven years since its inception, Tom has led Vermont College of Fine Arts on a mission to become a national center for education in the arts. Its writing programs enjoy top national rankings, and he has started new programs in graphic design, music composition, film, writing and publishing, and an MA in art and design education. Today, under his leadership, Vermont College of Fine Arts has arguably a greater influence on American Arts and letters than any small school since the heyday of Black Mountain College almost a century ago.

Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Press published Tom’s fourth novel, THE HEADMASTER’S WIFE, March 2014,  followed by IF I FORGET YOU  in June 2016. His sixth novel, THE PERFECT LIAR, will be published in January 2019, also by Thomas Dunne Books.




Review - She Lies in Wait

Title:   She Lies in Wait
Author:  Gytha Lodge
Series:  DCI Jonah Sheens #1
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Publisher:   Random House
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:  368
Date of Publication:  January 8, 2019
My Rating:  4 Stars

DESCRIPTION:
On a scorching July night in 1983, a group of teenagers goes camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and the youngest of the group—Aurora Jackson—is delighted to be allowed to tag along. The evening starts like any other—they drink, they dance, they fight, they kiss. Some of them slip off into the woods in pairs, others are left jealous and heartbroken. But by morning, Aurora has disappeared. Her friends claim that she was safe the last time they saw her, right before she went to sleep. An exhaustive investigation is launched, but no trace of the teenager is ever found.

Thirty years later, Aurora’s body is unearthed in a hideaway that only the six friends knew about, and Jonah Sheens is put in charge of solving the long-cold case. Back in 1983, as a young cop in their small town, he had known the teenagers—including Aurora—personally, even before taking part in the search. Now he’s determined to finally get to the truth of what happened that night. Sheens’s investigation brings the members of the camping party back to the forest, where they will be confronted once again with the events that left one of them dead, and all of them profoundly changed forever.


MY THOUGHTS:

She Lies in Wait is one terrifying novel. Seven teenagers go camping. One of the teens, Aurora is dead. Six come back alive. It is more than obvious that one of the remaining teens is a murderer. This was in 1983 and the case remained unsolved. It is now thirty years later and Aurora's bones are discovered. 

It is apparent that only one of the six knew about this place and DCI Jonah Sheens is now in charge of solving this cold case. When Jonah was a young cop back then he knew the teens. Now he must interview each of the five remaining, all now in different walks of life. As this story is told, it is relayed in the past and present, and Jonah excels in ferreting out the correct facts.

It certainly is not black and white. Each of them was profoundly affected by the murder. So, which of them could have done this terrible deed? After all, at the time they were all aged 14-18. As Aurora is the girl that was killed, quite a bit of the story is told from her point of view in the time leading up to her awful death. 

Jonah is no-nonsense. He might be just a bit too close to the facts, but he carefully checks out each recollection and any clues that come his way. What Jonah discovers is that pretty much everyone is a liar and that they are all holding secrets very close to the vest. Hopefully, Aurora can truly be laid to rest. It was a complete accident that her bones were discovered. Now all of the other adult lives are called into question.

When the actual interview questions and their corresponding answers, as well as the eye contact and body language Jonah witnesses after he brings the six friends together, he realizes that it is evident that someone is most certainly lying. Also, there must be a cover-up. While it may be true that only one of them is a killer, it is more than clear that someone else knows more than they are saying. 

How intriguing! I was kept engaged throughout this story and was right there right along with Jonah as he was investigating this case. I enjoyed the twists and turns and most certainly the shocking conclusion. As a debut author, Gytha Lodge has done a fine job delivering this story. I look forward to her next thriller as I cannot wait to read more cases that Jonah gets to solve.

Many thanks to Random House and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gytha Lodge is a multi-award-winning playwright, novelist and writer for video games and screen. She is also a single parent who blogs about the ridiculousness of bringing up a mega-nerd small boy.

She has a profound addiction to tea, crosswords and awful puns. When not writing, she heads up a copywriting team at a global translation firm, where she generally tries to keep all the video-game writing to herself.

She studied English at Cambridge, where she became known quite quickly for her brand of twisty, dark yet entertaining drama. She later took the Creative Writing MA at UEA.

She has signed with Penguin Random House worldwide for the first three books in her crime series featuring DCI Jonah Sheens. She Lies in Wait will be released in January 2019.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Review - A Duke in the Night

Author:  Kelly Bowen
Series:  The Devils of Dover #1
Genre:   Historical Romance
Publisher:   Forever
Format:  Kindle
No. of Pages:  368
Date of Publication:  February 20, 2018
My Rating:  4 Stars

DESCRIPTION:
Duke. Scoundrel. Titan of business. August Faulkner is a man of many talents, not the least of which is enticing women into his bedchamber. He's known-and reviled-for buying and selling companies, accumulating scads of money, and breaking hearts. It's a reputation he wears like a badge of honor, and one he intends to keep.

Clara Hayward, the headmistress of the Haverhall School for Young Ladies, on the other hand, is above reproach. Yet when she's reunited with August all she can think of is the way she felt in his arms as they danced a scandalous waltz ten long years ago. Even though her head knows that he is only back in her life to take over her family's business, her heart can't help but open to the very duke who could destroy it for good.
 


MY THOUGHTS:

August Faulker is a scoundrel and a consummate businessman. He is not ashamed of either. When he meets Clara Hayward, headmistress of the Haverhall School for Young Ladies, he has to redirect his personal life and even his business. His protective nature towards his sister is also tested.

Clara's memories of August are definitely unpleasant. During a waltz ten years ago he attempted to proposition her, causing her to lose respect for him and to become rather jaded. With him back in her life again, and threatening her family business, well, her thoughts remain unpleasant. She must question herself as to why her heart feels involved when her whole life, including her family and students, could be completely unraveled.

August is both pleased and disturbed by his current involvement with Clara. On the one hand, he is in the position to take over her school and other aspects of her family business. On the other hand, his attraction to her is beyond his comprehension. As a Duke, his role is excelled, but it his role as a businessman that is directing his life. Also, as a big brother, his sister's experience in the school, as well as her future prospects are of huge concern to August as well.

A Duke in the Night is a terrific historical romance. It is very well balanced with the strong chemistry between August and Clara. In addition, their individual businesses and families are key in this story. I also loved the fact that both Clara and August's sister were so business-minded. It was a pleasant benefit to a terrific story, especially as it was set in the early 19th century. Kelly Bowen has made a fine start in this new series. It is followed by Last Night with the Earl and A Rogue by Night, which will be out on May 28, 2019. 



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I spent a lot of time early in life reading romance novels and riding a chubby buckskin gelding named —unimaginatively if eponymously—Buck. In college, while still voraciously reading romance, I supported myself by teaching piano and accompanying ballet classes. I became a technical writer and an editor after graduation, a demanding job that nonetheless left enough time to read many, many romance novels—and grab a law degree through an evening program.

Then I became a mom—much to my surprise—and small town lawyering seemed like a better fit with a single parent’s priorities. Through all of my ups and downs, detours and speedbumps, I’d been a relentless reader of romance. Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Judith Ivory, Mary Balogh, Loretta Chase, Eloisa James… I could fill this page with the authors I’ve read and enjoyed. I consider them the fairy godmothers who’ve guarded my single-working-mom sanity.

Late one night, I was cramming on a lawyer-deadline, drafting some Motion to Do Something Or Other Right Now Please Your Honor, when I recalled that in my briefcase was a book I’d been saving to read on a hard day.

“One chapter,” I muttered. “I’ll read just one chapter, and then knock out this motion…” But another thought kept intruding as I read that one chapter, “I bet I could…”

So… I wrote a romance novel. That book became Gareth: Lord of Rakes, and opened the door to the sheer bliss of writing historical romance. I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote… my writing chair became my happy place, though I still had no thought that I might someday become a published author. My Beloved Offspring flew the coop, and the writing only picked up speed.

I am the sixth out of seven children, and from all sides (my four brothers in particular), I heard, “When are you going to get that stuff published?” As if publishing contracts droppeth from the heavens like the gentle rain? And yet… I’m a child welfare attorney. That’s a tough gig, and I could see the day when I might want an alternative.

I joined RWA, like dipping a casual toe in the waters of authordom when nobody was looking. I went to a chapter conference and felt completely out of place. Nonetheless, I bumped into an editor there, and the query letter resulting from that encounter began: “I am the buffoon in the bar at the RWA retreat who could not keep her heroines straight, could not look you in the eye, and could not stop blushing—and if that doesn’t narrow down the possibilities, your job is even harder than I thought.” (The dear lady bought the book anyway.)

We started with the Windham family, eventually doubled back and picked up Gareth and his successors in the Lonely Lords series, scooted over to the Victorian Highlands for the MacGregor quartet… whole lotta authordom going on!

Somewhere along the way, I realized that I am a writer. That chair before my computer is still very much my happy place, and the professional version of “once upon a time,” is every bit as alluring and enjoyable as the childhood version. I owe my reader so many hours of joy, and the only way I can think to repay that gift is by writing more stories!

Please feel free to contact me. I love reader mail!



Review - The Liar's Room

Title:   The Liar's Room
Author:  Simon Lelic
Genre:   Psychological Thriller
Publisher:   Berkley Books
Format:  Ebook ARC
No. of Pages:  352
Date of Publication:  January 15, 2019
My Rating:  4 Stars

DESCRIPTION:
A new spine-tingling thriller from the author of The New Neighbors that takes place over the course of a therapy session, in which neither patient nor therapist are who they claim to be.

Two liars. One room. No way out.

Susanna Fenton has a secret. Fourteen years ago she left her identity behind, reinventing herself as a therapist and starting a new life. It was the only way to keep her daughter safe.

But when a young man, Adam Geraghty, walks into her office, claiming he needs Susanna's help but asking unsettling questions, she begins to fear that her secret has been discovered.

Who is Adam, really? What does he intend to do to Susanna?

And what has he done to her daughter?


MY THOUGHTS:

Susanna Fenton has done very well for herself. Fourteen years ago started a new life. She is now a therapist and also has a teenaged daughter, Emily. Reinventing herself was an absolute necessity if she planned on keeping Emily safe. Is it all about to come crashing down?

Adam Geraghty is a man with an agenda. When he meets his new therapist Susanna for the first time he has some bombs to drop. He is certainly not there for a listening ear. Adam has a series of questions that he poses to Susanna. The deeper the questions, the more unnerved Susanna becomes. At first glance, Adam seemed oddly familiar to Susan, although she had never seen him before. As they talk, Susanna's carefully-crafted life apparently falls apart right in front of her very eyes.

The crux of the matter? Eventually Emily's picture and her voice on a cell phone destroy the very fiber of Susanna's being. Susanna doesn't know where Emily is. Adam does. And he is not about to make anything easy for her. 

The Liar's Room is a drama-filled story that is slowly unfolded by bringing the past and the present together. All Susanna wants to know is whether or not Emily is safe. She will do anything to do what she can to protect Susan, but she quickly realizes that she must ask Adam precisely the right questions. We learn quite a bit about Susanna, Adam and Emily, and how the latter two met. What is revealed is utterly shocking and extremely disconcerting. 

This was a very tense read! Where was Emily??? What would the end result be? Why did Susanna start a life over again, keeping her past a secret? All of this was revealed and I was definitely kept guessing throughout. The conclusion came rather fast and was a bit surprising, if not a bit fantastical. However, the fact that I could not put it all together. What made this book work for me was that not only had Adam completely unnerved Susanna, I was as well. It goes without saying that it ended up being questionable who was the biggest liar, Susanna or Adam.

I am glad to say that I enjoyed this book. I am definitely interested in reading Simon Lelic again in the future.

Many thanks to Berkley Publishing Group and to First to Read for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I was born in Brighton in 1976 and, after a decade or so living in London and trying to convince myself that the tube was fine, really, because it gave me a chance to read, my wife and I moved back to Brighton with our three young children. That Barnaby, Joseph and Anja’s grandparents happened to live close enough by to be able to offer their babysitting services was, of course, entirely coincidental.

As well as writing, I run an import/export business. I say this, when people ask, with a wink but I fool no one: I am more Del Trotter than Howard Marks. My hobbies (when I have time for them) include reading (for which I make time, because I can just about get away with claiming this is also work), golf, tennis, snowboarding and karate. My weekends belong to my family (or so my wife tells me), as does my heart.

I studied history at the University of Exeter. After graduating I was qualified, I discovered . . . to do an MA. After that I figured I had better learn something useful, so took a post-grad course in journalism. I know, I know: so much for learning something useful. After working freelance and then in business-to-business publishing, I now write novels. Not useful either, necessarily, but fun and, in its own way, important.

In half a page, then, that’s me. My wife wanted me to add that I am not as mean as I look in my author pic. That was the publisher’s doing: they wanted austere. But now I’ve gone and ruined it.



Monday, January 14, 2019

Review - Highlander Ever After

Author:  Paula Quinn
Series:  Highland Heirs #4
Genre:   Historical Romance
Publisher:   Forever
Format:  Print ARC
No. of Pages:  400
Date of Publication:  December 18, 2018
My Rating:  4.5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:
From New York Times bestselling author Paula Quinn comes a sweeping Scottish historical romance between a dashing MacGregor highlander and his English bride. 

They tried to resist a marriage of convenience...

As the clan chief's son, Adam MacGregor is duty-bound to marry a royal heir. Yet when he meets his bride—a beautiful but haughty young lass who thinks he is nothing more than a common savage—he realizes she's more than he bargained for. But the more Adam gets to know his new wife, the more intent he is on proving her wrong about him.

But can they resist each other?

Sina de Arenberg wants nothing to do with the unsavory MacGregors, especially the fierce Highlander she now calls husband. But the more time she spends with the man she married, the more she sees his honor and courage. Just when she thinks there might be a future for her and Adam, Sina is called back to court. England isn't the place she remembers, though, and soon she'll be forced to choose between the life she once knew, and the Highlander who has captured her heart.

Link to purchase the book

MY THOUGHTS:

Neither of them wanted what was being thrust upon them. However, in order to save his clan, as the chief's son, Adam MacGregor is forced to marry a royal heir. The woman is none other than Sina de Arenberg, who has but no choice than to follow the queen's order and marry the Highlander. However, she is in love with a man from England named William, and cries her way through the whole ceremony.

Sina has always believed the Highlanders to be savages, and now she is married to one. However, despite keeping Adam at arms' length, she reluctantly begins to see how wonderfully civilized the clan is. A true family. Something she was denied most of her life. Could there possibly be a future between her and her hunky Highlander? What of William? Sina gets the chance to find out when circumstances change and she is called back to England.

There was so much to be enjoyed in this story. How can a woman torn from her home and her love find joy while in an entirely new, and definitely untenable situation? What about Adam? How in the world can a man work both at being future clan chief and a husband who can love a wife who is a total stranger?

I love how this story was developed. It was a pleasure watch these two grow on one another only to be torn apart due to a serious change that ultimately affected Sina. What would they do? Watching their actions were enjoyable. Furthermore, the hounds that accompanied the Highlanders, especially, Adam's, Goliath, found a warm place in my heart as well. 

Having gone a long spell without reading historical romances then reading about a dozen in rather quick succession, including these four Paula Quinn novels, tested my merit as a lover of romance. I keep my ear to the ground, so to speak, and know some people see the formulas done in these books as "tropes". The formulas may indeed be repeated, but what brings satisfaction to me as a reader is when the author is exceptional. Paula Quinn is just that. She writes with flair, shifts the plot lines at just the right times, and brings in characters that we cannot help but love and respect.

I am saddened that this is likely the last book in the delightful Highlander Heirs series. However, Adam has a pair of twin brothers, so one can always hope. As a matter of fact, their portion of the included family tree is not filled in. The other books in the Highland Heirs series are A Highlander's Christmas Kiss, The Scot's Bride and Laird of the Black Isle. The previous two series, MacGregegors and MacGregors Highland Heirs, all all connected.

Many thanks to Forever for this ARC to review. This is my honest opinion.

Review Links


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I made it! I'm finally here! My first book, Lord Of Desire, will hit the bookshelves August, 2005.

It's been a long road.

I've always loved stories. I was fortunate to have a mother who not only read to me, but made up tales of her own. My luck continued as I grew up. Fourth grade was one of my favorite years as a student. Some things you just never forget, like Sister Joseph Anne and her original stories about the adventures of Jane and Fifi at Avocado Green. I could have sat at my desk for the next ten years and listened to her.

When I was eleven I had the supreme audacity (and confidence) to submit my own masterpiece, a short story, to a science fiction house. To my disbelief and dismay, my story was rejected. Not one to be disillusioned by a mere, We're sorry, but this is CRAP, I submitted yet another manuscript, this one a full length paranormal. Rejected again. What did they know, anyway?

It didn't stop me from writing. I wrote poems, plays, and short stories. But I never submitted any of them again. They were the children of my loins! (Sure I thrived on the dramatic, but doesn't every pre-teen?) I couldn't bear having someone critique them.

An avid reader, I read The Exorcist and Jaws before the movies came out. After all, what could a producer show me on screen that could compare with my imagination?)

My favorite genre in reading was science fiction, but something was always missing. Enter my other first love. When I was fourteen I met the boy who would become my husband. By then, I was already a hopeless romantic, (I just didn't know it yet) so the poor guy didn't stand a chance. Then one day he kissed me. Aha! That's what had been missing from my library! A knee-melting, heart-accelerating kiss! I bought myself a black and white composition notebook and poured my heart out into sonnets, which I read to my sweetheart while he yawned. But who cares if I brought him close to unconsciousness? I had found my niche! Romance, ah, sweet, scintillating romance! Life made sense. I finally understood why I always had to have a Ken doll to go along with my Barbie.

Happiness. Bliss.

Then reality came a' knocking. I wrote because I loved writing. The thought of making it my career hadn't crossed my mind. (And those rejection letters tucked deep beneath my stack of journals, calling out, remember me? Remember me? Well, they didn't help either.) I had to get a job. One that paid real money. My life took a different turn, one that I affectionately call, The Joys And Why Can't You Just Put The Toilet Paper On The Roll Thingie Of Motherhood. Yes, I married my knee-melting kisser of a boyfriend and had three beautiful children and a zoo, complete with a Lhasa Apso, a Chihuahua, a brand new beautiful Cockatoo named Marley, and lots of finches, keets, and fish.

I still wrote. I happily clicked away at my keyboard, page after page, content to share my stories with my mom and my best friend before sealing each manuscript in a colorful plastic envelope and retiring it to my file cabinet. Fortunately, I took them out every so often and read them to my husband late at night, after the kids went to sleep. He never yawned, but he did fall asleep on several occasions.

But he was always my champion. (Would a romance writer marry anything less?) And he convinced me to submit my work.



Review - Laird of the Black Isle

Author:  Paula Quinn
Series:  Highland Heirs #3
Genre:   Historical Romance
Publisher:   Forever
Format:  Kindle
No. of Pages:  400 
Date of Publication:  May 29, 2018
My Rating:  5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:
This Highlander will risk everything to find his daughter...

Lachlan MacKenzie has nothing left to lose since his wife and daughter were killed. But when a shadowy figure reveals his little girl might still be alive, Lachlan will do whatever it takes to find her—even abduct a lass from the MacGregor clan for an exchange. Being caught would mean certain death. But the laird of the Black Isle won't let anything—or anyone—interfere with his mission...not even his beautiful, stubborn captive.

Even his heart

All Mailie MacGregor wants is to return home to her family. And the Highland beast who captured her can go to the devil. Her plan: to thwart him at any cost and win her freedom. But she never expected to be so drawn to the fierce warrior and the desire in his eyes. 


MY THOUGHTS:

Lachlan MacKenzie is a man forced to live a dark life. He lost his wife and daughter two years ago and his world all but ended. Imagine his shock when someone reveals that his daughter may yet be alive. So the action Lachlan takes is something he can indeed live with. He kidnaps Mailie MacGregor. He is promised information about his daughter if he is willing to trade Mailie. She is not a quiet little mouse who simply accepts capture, even if it means that Lachlan might never get news about his daughter - good or bad.

Lachlan is more than shocked at his reaction to his captive. Mailie appeals to him on a level that is beyond his understanding. By the same token, Mailie is enthralled by Lachlan, despite him being her captor. As a reader, for a moment I was just wondering if I was going to "enjoy" reading a book where the heroine might fall in love with the hero. With an excellent plot and superb writing, the believability factor was extremely high. There is no doubt in my mind that the author excels in this genre. I was rooting for these two to fall in love. Of course, this is a historical romance - romance being the key word - so we know the conflict must be resolved.

What I will leave for the reader of this review that might want to get a copy of this book or series is to see for themselves how marvelously this is done. Therefore, I almost don't know what to say in this review at this point. What didn’t I like about this book? Not much. What did I like? I loved Mailie - her strength, compassion and capacity for love was beyond beautiful. Lachlan and his broken heart just melted my very own. Seeing his transformation was gratifying. Lily and Will really added a wonderful layer to a formula that was already beyond exceptional. Needless to say, of the four Paula Quinn books I've read so far, Laird of the Black Isle is certainly my favorite.

I have just read the first two books and this series, A Highlander's Christmas Gift and The Scot's Bride, and before writing this review, I devoured the following book in this series, Highland Ever After. All I can say at this point is that I will be reading the entire MacGregor and MacGregor Heirs series, which is several books in all. 

Review Links



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I made it! I'm finally here! My first book, Lord Of Desire, will hit the bookshelves August, 2005.

It's been a long road.

I've always loved stories. I was fortunate to have a mother who not only read to me, but made up tales of her own. My luck continued as I grew up. Fourth grade was one of my favorite years as a student. Some things you just never forget, like Sister Joseph Anne and her original stories about the adventures of Jane and Fifi at Avocado Green. I could have sat at my desk for the next ten years and listened to her.

When I was eleven I had the supreme audacity (and confidence) to submit my own masterpiece, a short story, to a science fiction house. To my disbelief and dismay, my story was rejected. Not one to be disillusioned by a mere, We're sorry, but this is CRAP, I submitted yet another manuscript, this one a full length paranormal. Rejected again. What did they know, anyway?

It didn't stop me from writing. I wrote poems, plays, and short stories. But I never submitted any of them again. They were the children of my loins! (Sure I thrived on the dramatic, but doesn't every pre-teen?) I couldn't bear having someone critique them.

An avid reader, I read The Exorcist and Jaws before the movies came out. After all, what could a producer show me on screen that could compare with my imagination?)

My favorite genre in reading was science fiction, but something was always missing. Enter my other first love. When I was fourteen I met the boy who would become my husband. By then, I was already a hopeless romantic, (I just didn't know it yet) so the poor guy didn't stand a chance. Then one day he kissed me. Aha! That's what had been missing from my library! A knee-melting, heart-accelerating kiss! I bought myself a black and white composition notebook and poured my heart out into sonnets, which I read to my sweetheart while he yawned. But who cares if I brought him close to unconsciousness? I had found my niche! Romance, ah, sweet, scintillating romance! Life made sense. I finally understood why I always had to have a Ken doll to go along with my Barbie.

Happiness. Bliss.

Then reality came a' knocking. I wrote because I loved writing. The thought of making it my career hadn't crossed my mind. (And those rejection letters tucked deep beneath my stack of journals, calling out, remember me? Remember me? Well, they didn't help either.) I had to get a job. One that paid real money. My life took a different turn, one that I affectionately call, The Joys And Why Can't You Just Put The Toilet Paper On The Roll Thingie Of Motherhood. Yes, I married my knee-melting kisser of a boyfriend and had three beautiful children and a zoo, complete with a Lhasa Apso, a Chihuahua, a brand new beautiful Cockatoo named Marley, and lots of finches, keets, and fish.

I still wrote. I happily clicked away at my keyboard, page after page, content to share my stories with my mom and my best friend before sealing each manuscript in a colorful plastic envelope and retiring it to my file cabinet. Fortunately, I took them out every so often and read them to my husband late at night, after the kids went to sleep. He never yawned, but he did fall asleep on several occasions.

But he was always my champion. (Would a romance writer marry anything less?) And he convinced me to submit my work.