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review 2013-12-30 05:29
REVIEW: A Gentleman 'Til Midnight by Alison DeLaine
A Gentleman 'Til Midnight (Hqn) - Alison DeLaine

Swashbuckling good fun is to be had when a woman captains a ship that is rumored to be involved in less than legal behavior, and then she is forced to act as a lady to retain her inheritance. London has never seen the likes of this or the line-up of men ready to wed her for the value of her land.

Review Courtesy of Romance Junkies and reposted at TBR Mountain Range.

From the waters of the Strait of Gibraltar to a London masquerade and then off to Scotland, this historical romance novel is a romp with pirate panache. It begins in 1767 upon a ship captained by Corsair Kate, the notorious Lady Katherine Kinloch, heir to the Scottish Dunscore, her childhood home. She's not the only female on board her ship, each one with an opinion of what to do about the man they've found almost drowned. Should they rescue him or leave him to his fate?

Once pulled aboard, Naval Captain James Warre realizes that telling anyone who he really is would only result in his death or injury. He becomes known as Midshipman Thomas Barclay, the only survivor of Warre's ship that sank. James will wait until they arrive in London to admit who he really is, then formulate a plan to assist Lady Katherine in retaining her family home. After all, it's James' brother who has brought Katherine's inheritance into question, plus it's the least he can do for the captain who saved his life and for the woman whose life he endangered years ago.

Lady Katherine and others she's rescued create a female cast of characters who are so full of life that society gossips won't tire of them easily. Katherine's reputation arrives in London before she does and Corsair Kate is a fascination for women as much as she is for men. Will she be able to sway the vote that could give Dunscore to her cousin before she has a chance to see her family home again?

At over four hundred pages, A GENTLEMAN 'TIL MIDNIGHT by Alison DeLaine is an intricate story. Those who love a historical with substance should really enjoy this book. I'm especially fond of the premise for this fictional tale which held my attention from the very beginning. The opening scene on the ship when they try to decide what to do about Captain Warre, who is an unknown, almost-drowned man to them at that point, possibly diseased and dangerous to all aboard, is very entertaining. Captain Warre can't control his lust for Corsair Kate and her very formidable reputation, and the women on the ship recognize their sizzle immediately.

Even though Captain Kinloch demands respect, her friends are not afraid to try her with their humor. In fact, they seem bound to annoy her every chance they get.

Katherine is smart and resourceful, yet still feminine when necessary, even though it pains her to dress like a lady. She's also vulnerable enough to abandon control in the heat of the moment, then becomes uncomfortable, wafting back and forth between what she thinks she should do and what her heart wants her to do. All in all, Katherine is an engaging female lead with strength and heart beyond what you'd expect from someone who has been held in captivity.

James is the perfect hero for Katherine in that he tests her at every turn. He brings out her anger and her passion. I found James to be just as compelling as Katherine and his interaction with other male characters in regards to Katherine was oftentimes very funny. Page 235 says it all when he describes what he should be looking for in a wife and what is keeping him from doing just that. It contains one of the funniest lines in the book in my opinion and made me laugh out loud.

I thoroughly enjoyed the moments when the characters were ensconced within London society, visiting friends and going to the theatre or parties. The male characters' reaction to Lady Katherine, all of them gobsmacked by her allure which is enhanced by her reputation, while James is trying to reduce his own attraction is so amusing. Every time one of his male friends barely mentions their desire for Katherine, it sets James off inside his head and yet, he cannot say exactly what he is thinking without giving away his own feelings. It's a laugh-out-loud tug-of-war between what he's thinking and how he must appear that makes his struggles so charming.

Even though this book is filled with a well-developed story, I still wanted more. There was so much that I loved about this novel but there were also particulars that I either missed, or that weren't detailed enough, leaving me to wonder about them. I have so many questions about Katherine's past and the past of the women who traveled with her. I'm guessing that those details will be revealed in future books and it's probably a good thing that I'm still curious because I'll want to read those too.

A GENTLEMAN 'TIL MIDNIGHT is a classic romantic adventure with an unusual plot. The attraction between Katherine and James is immediate and yet, they fight their fate until the very end. Their combative nature is engaging and their conflict kept me reading, knowing full well that they'll figure it out eventually, but neither will go along quietly. And, you won't really want them to, either. It's that explosive fire between them that can't be extinguished that draws you forward, hoping for a happy-ever-after and then some.

More reviews by Dorine and contests at TBR Mountain Range.

Source: romancejunkiesreviews.com/artman/publish/historical/A_Gentleman_Til_Midnight.shtml
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review 2013-12-30 00:23
REVIEW: Somewhere to Dream by Genevieve Graham
Somewhere to Dream - Genevieve Graham

A young women is taken in by the Cherokee with her sister, after a terrible tragedy. A young man is captured by the Cherokee and embraced as the soul of one of their lost warriors. Can two people with painful pasts find peace in a new way of life?

Review Courtesy of Romance Junkies and reposted at TBR Mountain Range, with a photo taken by me.

This is the third book in THE MACDONNELLS trilogy. I did not read the first two books, so my review may be completely different from someone who knows the back-story. We meet Adelaide, called Shadow Girl by the Cherokee, who tells her story for several chapters before we meet Jesse Black, a captive. This book mixes early American history with the paranormal in the form of visions.

Adelaide and her sister Maggie were abducted and abused by five men. The Cherokee attacked the men, killed them and took the two sisters to their tribe's village where they comforted them and healed their physical wounds. Healing their memories and their hearts is more difficult. The tribe grandmother helps the sisters with their gift as seers. Maggie readily accepts her gift of visions, while Adelaide has fought them since the beginning.

In a previous book, Maggie met her love and married, so Adelaide elects to stay with the tribe, letting her sister leave to be with her husband and his family. Adelaide is trying to be less afraid and work with her Cherokee grandmother on accepting her visions, but her past has been locked away out of fear. She knows a great white warrior is coming to the tribe before anyone else and keeps this knowledge to herself, afraid to let her vision go further because of mistakes she's made previously when misinterpreting her visions.

Jesse Black is captured by the Cherokee and all he can think about is how to escape. Jesse is curious about Adelaide from the first moment he sees her. He can't help but wonder why a blonde, young woman is with the Cherokee and acts as if she belongs with them. Jesse needs Adelaide as a translator but she is so shy and skittish that he can't stop wondering who hurt her. Jesse expects to be killed but Adelaide explains that the warrior who captured him thinks that Jesse has a fallen warrior's soul and has adopted him as his brother.

SOMEWHERE TO DREAM follows the developing love between two people with very painful pasts. Will their love help them overcome their fears and learn to love each other beyond what's in their history?

The beginning of the book is a bit choppy because we don't get to see everything while Adelaide represses her past out of fear. I'm guessing that I would have understood it better by reading the other books. Eventually, all is revealed so this book can be read as a standalone, but would probably be enjoyed more if read in order as a trilogy.

Adelaide and Jesse both give an interesting perspective in regards to the Cherokee customs and how they react to them, accept them or are appalled by them. Parts of the story depict the violence of the times in raw detail. Also, Adelaide eventually describes what happened to her and her family so if violence against men or women is something that disturbs you, you might want to avoid this book. It's realistic and it's all for valid reasons, giving insight into the characters' past, but it might be overwhelming to a sensitive reader.

I enjoyed the Cherokee characters as much as I enjoyed Adelaide and Jesse. Even one particular Cherokee troublemaker, who has a grudge against Jesse, becomes an excellent part of the story. We also get to know some of the whites in town, as well as have a couple visits with Maggie, so those who have read the previous books will enjoy a catch-up with the characters.

I enjoyed Adelaide and Jesse's interactions with the tribe grandmother the most. She's a wizened old woman who sees into their connection more than they see for themselves. Jesse was very angry at first so he acted out in ways that made me dislike him. Adelaide always showed a reserved front that was likeable, even when she experienced the most fear. Jesse does redeem himself later as he matures into a strong warrior and as a safe haven for Adelaide.

The tribe life really intrigued me and it was the part that I enjoyed the most. The Cherokee friendships were well-drawn and believable. I could sense the urgency of this couple's future and how their relationship might heal them both. There are some really heartbreaking moments that make this book hard to describe, as well as hard to rate. I enjoyed the relationships but the main characters faced so much violence in their past and present that I wasn't ready to let go by the end. I guess I needed a “vision” of more of their future. A book four about one of the Cherokee, perhaps?

SOMEWHERE TO DREAM will satisfy those who enjoy an American historical journey with a paranormal twist.

More reviews by Dorine and contests at TBR Mountain Range.

Source: romancejunkiesreviews.com/artman/publish/historical/Somewhere_to_Dream.shtml
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review 2013-11-16 05:01
Review: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Signature of All Things - Elizabeth Gilbert

A historical, fictional saga of epic proportions, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS will fascinate those who have an interest in botanical or scientific exploration, featuring an imperfect heroine who discovers her life's passion.

Review Courtesy of Romance Junkies and reposted at TBR Mountain Range.

This novel is an impressive creation, filled with adventure across the globe as we follow several characters in their travels for botanical research.  Alma and her father are the main characters throughout the book but there are many significant secondary characters who add interest, drama, humor and sadness, including real historical figures you'll recognize.

In 1770, Henry Whittaker is ambitious and has no respect for his father who is honest, yet poor. Ashamed of his father's lack of ambition, Henry makes his own way by stealing.  With his father working at Kew gardens for Sir Joseph Banks, a rare plant hoarder in Henry's estimation, he feels obliged to share with those whom Banks refuses.  So, Henry works with his father during the day, then steals and propagates plants at night to export to numerous clients.  Unbeknownst to Henry, his father discovers and reports his crimes to Banks, hoping to preserve his family's integrity.  Banks confronts Henry and is completely enamored by his bold unrepentant nature, laughing (as did I) at Henry's audacity, which works in his favor.  He decides to use Henry's "talents" by sending him off to sea with Captain Cook as an assistant to another botanist, essentially becoming Banks' informant.  Henry's nickname for himself made me laugh because it describes him perfectly as a thorn of power in everyone's side.  He eventually seeks a wife like he does everything else and marries Beatrix, an intelligent Dutch woman anxious to get away from her family.

Henry Whittaker becomes the richest man in Philadelphia, with Beatrix at his side, by the time Alma is born in 1800.  We really can't truly understand Alma until we understand her father, who is instrumental in much of Alma's life.  Alma isn't pretty but her mind is exceptional, just like her mother's.  Beatrix teaches Alma several languages at a very young age, just as she was taught by her family.  Both her parents believe in pushing Alma intellectually, encouraging her to use her mind to debate with their guests at dinner.  Avoiding children because she prefers adult conversation, Alma never really learns how to socialize other than with her peers.  She spends her childhood exploring their estate, eventually focusing on botany like her father.

When Alma's parents decide to adopt Prudence, Alma is well acclimated to being the center of attention.  Accepting a sister, especially one who isn't as well educated as herself, isn't easy, but they learn to tolerate one another.  What will become of these two women in an age when being an intelligent woman may not equal a happy life?  Will their wealth be a hindrance or the common ground that binds them?

Alma is far from a perfect heroine.  Some of her faults take her a lifetime to recognize.  Above everything, Alma is a thinker and it is her self-evaluation throughout the novel that gives balance to her life.  But will she be able to forgive herself for her worst moments?

Having a horticulture background, botany was the reason I chose this book for review.  I thoroughly enjoyed how the story unfolded and couldn't read fast enough.  Normally when I read a book this intricate with a high page count, I need to take breaks in-between and read other books.  Not with this one.  It held my attention and called me back to it when I was away.  I can't tell you if it is all historically accurate or not, but it sure is believable in the way it is presented.  The botanical descriptions are absorbing and the fact that the majority of the book is about a female botanist added to the intrigue.  There were a few paragraphs where my eyes glazed over from the elaborate detail describing the variances of moss, but for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed every word.  Having been enamored by moss enough myself over the years, enough to obsessively photograph it, I feel as if my inner geek has been vindicated.

But it is not all about botany as it's also about art, science, philosophy and religion.  It's about assimilating research and proving theories while debating the entire process with colleagues.  It's about human emotion and how singular devotion to the study of science can isolate any man or woman.  I think anyone who loves research and knowledge will appreciate the volume included in this novel, as well as how it was organized to be such a beautiful, cohesive story.  It might be overwhelming to someone who isn't interested in the thinkers of this era, but I think everyone should try it as it encompasses such a wide variety of historical topics.

This fascinating historical novel can be considered romantic, in part, as well as sensually explicit, but it won't meet your expectations if you're expecting a traditional romance.  It's a fictional novel containing life's surprises, focusing on the life and survival of an intelligent, well-educated woman in a man's world.  I did have moments where I wondered why some of Alma's personal habits were focused on, but by the end of the book it all became clear.  Alma is a complicated character and by following her life, you also follow history in the making.

A rare historical exploration into the science of plants, filled with interesting characters and theories, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS is brilliantly rendered.  Historical enthusiasts will find Alma's story riveting as a woman before her time.  Author Elizabeth Gilbert's talent is recognized in the enormity of the research involved to create a novel with such historical ambiance, but it was her deft hand at characterization that made me sob when all hope seems lost, then sigh with contentment when all is as it should be.  An extraordinary historical journey, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS is riveting from beginning to end.  Highly recommended!

More reviews by Dorine and contests at TBR Mountain Range.

Source: romancejunkiesreviews.com/artman/publish/historical/The_Signature_of_All_Things.shtml
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review 2013-11-16 04:53
Review: Dark Witch by Nora Roberts
Dark Witch - Nora Roberts

The magick begins with the first book in a new trilogy set in Ireland.  It's a pure joy to read and sets the bar high for the next two books that follow in 2014.  Don't miss this very fun, engaging adventure when an evil entity fights against the power of three.  Recommended Read!

Review Courtesy of Romance Junkies and reposted at TBR Mountain Range.

DARK WITCH casts its spell at the beginning with Sorcha, the original Dark Witch, and her three children in the year 1263 when they face the malevolent Cabhan, a sorcerer.  With her husband away at war, Sorcha tends her children by herself as well as fights the evil that wants her power.  Her legacy reaches into the future, into the year of 2013, to those who are descended from her.  Now is the time when three shall join as one against the sorcerer that Sorcha believed she banished but is still an evil entity to defeat...

Iona Sheehan has felt unsettled most of her life until she moves to Ireland.  Her grandmother's stories of County Mayo and the gift of magick they all hold dear intrigues Iona.  Barely trained in her craft, she knows that if her cousins in Ireland accept her, she can learn much from them.  As a descendant of Teagan, one of Sorcha's children, Iona believes that her destiny in Ireland is much more than it would be in the U.S.

I have been anxiously waiting for this book since I first heard about it.  In my early years of romance reading, I devoured as many of Nora Roberts' books as were available at that time.  The most memorable and influential of these books, which opened my eyes to other genres, was the GALLAGHERS OF ARDMORE trilogy.  That trilogy made me fall in love with Ireland and the magick of its folklore, often thinking of them as parallel.  Now that I've experienced Ireland in person, I can't resist going back to that mystical setting, with an aura all its own, in my reading.  Nora Roberts' ability to bring the mystique of Ireland alive is incomparable.

Many years have passed since I have read a Nora Roberts' novel and, at first, her writing style in this book made my internal editor go crazy.  Her style of combining thoughts with commas, without using "and" at all, jarred me at first and I couldn't concentrate on the story unfolding.  But, my fond memories of the GALLAGHERS OF ARDMORE trilogy kept pushing me forward and, eventually, the mechanics no longer mattered because I was having such a good time experiencing the storytelling.

At the core, DARK WITCH has a very specific rhythm, like the ebb and flow of a soft rippling wave along a shoreline.  It takes a bit to roll with it and just let it be.  It's almost singsong or poetic, the swaying rhythm soothes and mystifies until I felt wrapped up within the words, drawing pure joy from them.  I laughed out loud, I cried for joy and sorrow and I couldn't read fast enough to satisfy the craving for more.  I felt like a kid reading my first fairytale.  Even now that I'm done with the book, I ache for more.  It was just so darn much fun!

The characters are rich and well-drawn—a delectable lot, each with their own individuality and idiosyncrasies, making each character come alive as if you've always known them.  Iona is the main character but she has a supporting cast who breathe life into her journey.  There are Iona's cousins, Connor and Branna O'Dwyer, brother and sister as well as witches, who take Iona into their home and their lives with open arms.  Connor and Branna are so very different from one another, yet they couldn't be closer.  Then there's Boyle McGrath, the handsome and irresistible co-owner of the stables where Iona is employed.  Boyle and Iona's passion for each other is immediate and transforming for both of them.  Let's not forget Finbar "Fin," the other stable co-owner and Branna's long ago sweetheart.  He's very intriguing.  Then there's Meara, a dear friend and co-worker who adds to the laughs as she introduces Iona to Ireland and Irish ways.  Combine these good friends with a few more characters, horses, a dog and some hawks, all with personalities of their own, and you have a well-rounded story full of comradeship, promising a trilogy filled with adventure.

Iona is often very funny in her bold as brass demeanor.  She says exactly what she thinks, honest to the core, often throwing the steadfast and serious Boyle completely off-kilter.  Several times I experienced sentimental tears for how sweet and passionate the love between Iona and Boyle becomes.  Their journey is beautiful, sometimes uproariously funny, heartrending and unbearable, coming full circle to tenderness.  Their love is honest and Iona needs it as much as Boyle, even if it takes him a while to realize he should risk everything to get it.  Will it be enough to want their relationship to succeed when evil is determined to ruin their hope before they even begin?

Besides the writing and the story, the paperback packaging begs the reader to own this book in print.  I love the artistic look of the cover front, as well as the scalloped edges of the inside flaps.  It's a trade size paperback worth holding within your hands.  I even love the jagged edges of the pages that make it feel like an ancient mystery about to unfold.  So happy to have it reside on my keeper shelves.

DARK WITCH is evocative storytelling that comforts like a well worn quilt.  The story, the place or the characters may seem familiar, but it's the characters' camaraderie that makes you so happy to go along for the adventure.  If you love the magick of good against evil in an engaging novel—buy it, cherish it and then buy one for a friend.  DARK WITCH begs to be shared, discussed and relished for the satisfying and joyful experience it is—highly recommended!

More reviews by Dorine and contests at TBR Mountain Range.

Source: romancejunkiesreviews.com/artman/publish/paranormal/Dark_Witch.shtml
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review 2013-11-02 16:56
REVIEW: Safe Harbor by Hope White
Safe Harbor - Hope White

This inspirational novel explores how faith can renew confidence after a traumatic experience, giving hope that a normal life is earned once you've forgiven yourself.

Rated 3.5 Stars, review courtesy of the TBR Mountain Range.

Nicole Harris has recurring episodes of fear related to her father's abuse of her and her two siblings. When her boss is threatened and consequently murdered, it's not unexpected that her repressed fear forces her into a closet, acting on impulse. It's what saves her life this time but she's in danger as the only witness to a crime. Nicole didn't see the killer but is sure she can recognize his voice, if she's brave enough to fight her demons of past and present.

Alex Donovan is a good detective but meeting Nicole Harris makes him think of more than protection and crime solving. Alex hopes that he can protect Nicole from whoever killed her boss because Alex is much more attracted to her than he should be which inevitably means his attention will be divided. When the FBI threatens to take over the case as well as take Nicole into protective custody, Alex does everything he can to keep Nicole within his jurisdiction. But will his efforts be enough when the killer seems determined to remove all evidence of his crime?

Nicole's childhood abuse added an interesting twist to how she reacted as a murder witness. Her reflexes to hide from a threat put her in a closet when she could have been killed right along with her boss. Alex helps Nicole gain confidence by teaching her how to defend herself, but does that give her too much confidence? As Nicole becomes more determined to help Alex track down the killer, will she put herself in harm's way?

Even though Alex wants to help Nicole, he can't stop his past from interfering with his focus. He still blames himself for a tragedy in his past and that may be too much for either of them to overcome.

Although SAFE HARBOR is labeled inspirational suspense, it's not overly religious. Instead, the story centers on the suspense and the growing attraction between the characters, while they gain confidence with their renewal of faith as the catalyst to their strength. SAFE HARBOR will satisfy those who prefer a sweet romance.

Book pulled from my Print TBR Mountain Range, purchased by me.

More reviews by Dorine and contests at TBR Mountain Range.

Source: www.tbrmountainrange.com/2013/10/31/review-safe-harbor-by-hope-white
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