**REVIEW** ~ Into the Unknown, by Lorna Peel

Historical Romance, Second World War

Into the Unknowm

Book Blurb

London on 3 September 1939 is in upheaval. War is inevitable. Into this turmoil steps Kate Sheridan newly arrived from Ireland to live with her aunt and uncle and look for work. When she meets Flight Lieutenant Charlie Butler sparks fly, but he is a notorious womaniser. Should she ignore all the warnings and get involved with a ladies man whose life will be in daily danger?

Charlie Butler has no intention of getting involved with a woman. But when he meets Kate his resolve is shattered. Should he allow his heart to rule his head and fall for a nineteen-year-old Irish girl while there is a war to fight?

Private conflicts and personal doubts are soon overshadowed. Will the horrors of total war bring Kate and Charlie together or tear them apart?

My Review

An Emotional and Poignant Romance – Beautifully Done *****  

Into the Unknown is a real page-turner, where the plot and the central romance takes place against the backdrop of one of the most traumatic times in what is still, for many, in living memory. It is first and foremost a beautiful romance between the young and headstrong Kate, who comes to England from Ireland against her Catholic father’s wishes, and Charlie, a Flight Lieutenant who is, shall we say, a bit of a ‘ladies man!’

Sparks fly between Kate and Charlie, mirroring their sizzling mutual attraction, and the pair soon embark on a love affair which they fit around their respective duties in the RAF and WAAF. There are some sensual scenes between the couple as they snatch precious moments, conscious that their time together could be curtailed by the vagaries of war at any moment. Charlie, despite caring for Kate very deeply, vows not to consider marriage until the war is over. Throughout I wondered at his real motives for this stance – was it really due to him having witnessed the death of many of his RAF colleagues and their grieving widows as he stated, or does his fear of commitment go deeper?

Kate is a strong character and deals with what life throws at her with a great deal of strength and dignity. Her role in the WAAF reflects how important the role of women was during the war. However, there are limits to what even a strong person can survive with what life has in store for her. Indeed, the war is not kind to Kate or Charlie and they both experience their own personal tragedies, some which pull them together and others which tear them apart. It is touch and go as to whether their love will survive what war throws at them.

I am no expert on this period of history, but to me the novel did a fantastic job of reflecting the political and military realities of the time without detracting from the central plot and romance. I particularly liked how the heroine was Irish, as this gave the author the opportunity to introduce the dynamic of Anglo-Irish relations to the story.

The descriptions of Charlie and his RAF colleagues engaging in conflicts in the air, their friendly banter on the ground and life on the home front is all brought vividly to life by the author. She also does not shy away from the horrors of wartime bombing raids and the physical and psychological injuries suffered by survivors. Some scenes were real tear-jerkers and I reached for a tissue on more than one occasion after my eyes filled up. I’m pleased to say though that I was very happy with the novel’s resolution!

To sum up, Lorna Peel’s Into The Unknown is definitely a read that I’d recommend to readers of historical romance, especially those who like a hefty dose of realism.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of the book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

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**REVIEW** ~ Knight’s Captive, by Samantha Holt

Elizabethan Historical Romance

Blurb

Samantha-Holt_Knight_ConQueen Elizabeth sits on England’s throne. A once Catholic country is now ruled by a Protestant queen. In a time of fear, turmoil and bold deeds, many heroes are seldom written into history…

After aiding in the capture of the flagship Rosario and helping to defeat the Spanish Armada, Sir Henry Bainbridge is set to make his mark on the world and strengthen his position as a man of authority. Now in charge of the Spanish prisoners, Henry must negotiate their return to Spain and manage the care of his people.

However, when he comes across a woman amongst the survivors, his future plans are put on hold. The exotic beauty draws him in and his honour will not let him doing anything other than protect her. Henry takes her into his home and places her under house arrest. He can only hope his principles are enough to protect her from his desires…

In a time when small differences spark fear into the heart of many, Antonia finds herself drawn into a battle between a zealous priest, a discontented population and the most honourable man she’s ever met. Nothing can ever come of their attraction, not while he’s holding her father prisoner and not when so many differences divide them.

Or can it?

My Review

Sweet Captor/Captive Romance ***** (FIVE STARS)

Samantha Holt’s latest release, Knight’s Captive, is a lovely romantic read. The narrative takes place in 1588 against the backdrop of the attempted invasion of England by the formidable Spanish Armada. The safety of the country is in doubt and the Protestant queen Elizabeth is keen to put down any possibility of Papist plots, which may aid the enemy.

The hero Sir Henry is stunned to find a young woman aboard the Spanish flagship that has been captured. Antonia is the daughter of the captain and whilst the captured Spanish crew are taken into custody and sequestered in the local village, she is taken to Henry’s ancestral home under house arrest, her fate, like that of her compatriots dependent on diplomatic negotiations between the two warring countries.

Henry is immediately drawn to the young woman admiring her spirit, bravery and beauty. He is perplexed at what would prompt someone of the fair sex to risk their life aboard the ship. There is clearly a lot more to Antonia than meets the eye and as the days pass and the couple spend time together, they begin to mean a lot more to each other than captor and captive. Yet what chance of a HEA do they have, when Antonia is effectively an enemy and a pawn in the ensuing diplomatic relations? She is a Catholic reviled by his queen and those like the local zealot priest, who would see the Catholic faith and their followers destroyed. Moreover Antonia has her own personal demons to contend with.

I immediately rooted for the heroine and admired her for her spirit, strength and compassion. A young widow she has a dark past which is revealed as the plot unfolds. Henry is an honourable man and determined that no harm will befall Antonia whilst she is under his protection, even from his own desires….. The romance is overall a sweet one, although it does have some sensual scenes. I particularly liked the sexual tension between the couple as they both seek to deny their growing feelings for each other, in the belief that nothing can come of a liaison which could end in tragedy. It is a page turning read as the themes woven into the novel come together the couple must fight more than their own feelings before their fates are decided.

I loved reading a novel set in this time period and the descriptions of the devastation of the Spanish flagship at sea, village life and Henry’s household evoked the period beautifully. It was all the more fascinating as instead of being set at court, it focused on the countryside, where the impact of the attempted invasion and its aftermath on the local populace and the plight of those who still practice the Catholic faith is explored.

A super read for lovers of historical romance.

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UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01054FDEI

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*BOOK BLITZ* ~ KISMET by A.E. Woodward

Contemporary Romance

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Synopsis

Katie’s world came crashing down in an instant. Her husband, daughter, and unborn baby. . . all gone in a flash. The life that she’d come to know, gone before she ever really got to live it. With a broken heart, she deals the only way she knows how, by shutting it all off. No communicating, no feelings, just pure nothingness. Alone with nothing but her own thoughts and a well meaning family, she moves back to her childhood home, a horse farm. It’s there that she finds herself healing along with the horses her family rehabilitates. But when Parker McKenzie comes back into her life she’s reminded of all that went wrong, and all that she lost. Will Katie ever begin to heal? Or will her secrets and loss be too much for her to overcome? Perhaps, this is her kismet.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18801880-kismet

Excerpt  

Turning the corner from the hallway into the kitchen, I find my family talking to someone. It doesn’t matter that his back is turned to me because I would recognize that frame anywhere. Frozen in my space in the doorway, my breath hitches and my heart jumps to my throat, causing me to choke. I know without a doubt that the person standing there is Tommy’s lifelong best friend, Parker McKenzie.

“Hey, sis, look who came by to say hi!” Tommy smiles. It’s not a genuine smile, it’s his smug smile—the one he uses when he’s done something sneaky. In an instant, I know, without a doubt, that he’s done this on purpose and I want nothing more than to punch him in the face for it. I consider jumping across the kitchen and grabbing him by the throat, but I decide that the action would be too full of emotion. So instead I stew on my anger, filing it deep down within me for some other time.

Parker turns his attention toward me, looking over his shoulder in my direction. The minute his eyes catch mine my heart stops beating. I wasn’t ready to see him. Not yet, probably not ever in fact. He’s already smiling, the same earth shattering grin that I’ve seen a million times before. He looks just like I remember him, only older. He was a kid the last time I saw him, but now that boy had turned into a man, a five o’clock shadow in place of his previous baby face.

“Hey, Katie.” He stands from the kitchen table and with two easy strides he’s hugging me, his arms enveloping me just as though no time has passed.

My own arms hang at my sides, my heart palpating from the sudden contact. My breath hitches with unease. If I could claw at my skin, I would, but my arms are still pinned to my sides, Parker holding them firmly into place. I watch helplessly as Tommy taps him on the back, indicating that it’s too much.

Suddenly realizing that he’s made a mistake he mutters, “Sorry,” and he lets me go. I close my eyes and rub my arms, attempting to cleanse my skin from his touch. It isn’t right. It isn’t fair. That hug wasn’t his to take.

Seething, I look up at him. I know Parker means well, he always means well, but he never did have much sense when it came to personal boundaries. And what was he sorry for? Sorry for hugging me? Sorry for my loss? Sorry for coming here? He should be sorry, sorry for it all. I fight the urge to reach out and slap him for being such an inconsiderate bastard. But I don’t.

I fume silently to myself. He has no right to show up here today, let alone be the first one to touch me like that. My own family haven’t felt comfortable enough to hug me yet. The most contact I’ve had is holding Tommy’s hand, and he’s my brother.

The room fills with uncomfortable silence. I know that everyone is waiting to see my next move, but there won’t be one. I refuse to react.

 

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*BOOK BLAST* ~ TO DREAM OF A HIGHLANDER (Highland Fae Chronicles), by Samantha Holt ~ Book Blurb and Personal Review

1010856_689421744447989_5886160877122772037_nA Passionate and Magical Highland Romance!

Book Blurb

Scotland, 1230 Sent on a rescue mission, Finn Mac Chaluim is prepared to do his duty, hand over the lass and return home. But fate has other ideas.

In the midst of a Norse invasion, Catriona barely escapes with her life. Masquerading as her sister, she finds herself in the hands of Finn who intends to hand her over to her sister’s betrothed, Laird Gillean. In the interests of bringing peace to her home, Catriona is determined to continue the ruse—even if it means going along with the marriage and denying her growing attraction to a man who keeps his hurts hidden behind a quick grin. If the green faery, Tèile, has anything to do with it, Catriona and Finn will come together—but only at the right time. Thanks to her last attempt at matchmaking, many paths were changed and now it’s up to her to put it right. Can she help Finn— who learned the hard way that sharing your life with someone only leads to heartache—get past his doubts? And will the battle-scarred Catriona even accept him into her heart? When Laird Gillean’s attentions toward Catriona become dangerous, both Finn and Tèile will find they have an uphill battle on their hands.

My Review

Passion combines with danger, faery magic and subterfuge in To Dream of a Highlander, another sensual Highland romance from Samantha Holt. I found it to be another super read from an author who never fails to deliver in whatever genre she is writing in.

Finn, who appears in the previous novel, To Steal A Highlander’s Heart, is a hero whom I very quickly fell in love with. Despite his jovial manner, this handsome warrior is still mourning the loss of his first love, his wife who died in childbirth. When Finn first casts eyes on Catriona, he feels that she is familiar to him somehow, and comes to realise that she is the very woman who has been haunting his dreams…..

Finn believes that Catriona, who unbeknown to him, is masquerading as her twin Katelyn, is destined for another. He is constantly at war with himself over his wild attraction to her and his fear that he cannot let himself love again, being convinced that he failed his first love. However, when he realises that Catriona is in danger he will do his utmost to protect her, laying his life on the line. I just loved how the author portrayed Finn’s inner struggle and really felt for him throughout.

Catriona is both a strong yet vulnerable heroine and I immediately admired her bravery in coping with the bloody and brutal Viking attack on her father’s keep. Although in the initial confusion she at first fears that Finn is  another Viking, she is drawn to him, due to his thoughtful behaviour, easy humour and the care he takes of her. Once she realises that he is her saviour she finds it difficult not to succumb to her attraction. It is Finn she turns to for support as she strives to cope with the memories of the attack on her childhood home and person, a traumatic experience that plagues her.

The scenes between the couple are both tender and passionate as they both struggle with their own inner demons, but neither can deny their mutual attraction for too long! Sexual tension is high and passion refuses to be denied between them, and they come together in a number of scorching swoonworthy scenes which I LOVED!

Catriona is determined to put the safety of the people of Bute first and continues to masquerade as her sister, even as she places herself in danger, for it seems she cannot escape the impending marriage to Laird Guillem. Will Finn put his fears aside and realise Catriona is destined for him alone or will she belong to another who may not have her best interests at heart? Also how will he and her prospective bridegroom react to Catriona’s deceit?

The antics and magic of the faerie Tiele, tasked by the Sidhe Council to bring Finn and Catriona together, are pivotal to the plot and are often amusing in the effect that they have on the couple, particularly Finn! Once again Tiele finds that the hearts of humans are far from easy to control. The supporting characters were well portrayed, in particular the widow Lorna, Finn’s sister, and her brother-in-law, Lord Guilleam who is her overlord and Catriona’s betrothed.

To Dream of A Highlander is another awesome read from this author and I recommend it to lovers of sensual  historical romances, especially those who love tales featuring hot Highland warriors and feisty heroines!

Reviewed by Tina Williams

A copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

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My Brother, My Rival – All out of love (book 1) and My Brother, My Rival – How can I not love you? (Book 2, by Eve Rabi

18405661[1]18323152[1]Torn Between Two Brothers!

Warning – contains sex scenes, violence, racial themes and coarse language.

My Brother, My Rival, comprising two books, is a modern day love story with larger than life, no holds barred characters and plot lines, told in the author Eve Rabi’s indomitable style. Both the reader and the characters are put through their paces in an emotional boot camp, examining the tensions between romantic love and familial love when two brothers fall for the same woman. It is yet another addictive read!

In My Brother My Rival, Bridie, a young woman meets the man of her dreams, a charming and handsome man called Scott, who serves in the military. Cupid seems to be smiling as Bridie and Scott go on a date and are equally smitten. However, afterwards, to Bridie’s disappointment, he does not call. Our heroine then catches the eye of a cheeky bad boy, Cody, a love’em and leave’em type, who frequents the bar where she works. Cody won’t take no for an answer and Bridie agrees to date him, resolving to guard her heart. However, it’s not long before both fall for each other. Imagine Bridie’s (not to mention everyone else’s) surprise when on her first visit to Cody’s parents, it transpires that Cody’s brother is none other than Scott, the man she met at the bar. Scott had big plans to marry Bridie and did not return her call as he had been sent abroad on a mission and could not get a signal on his cell phone.

The tale that transpires is a fast paced, roller coaster ride containing humour, heartbreak, fun times, sad times, jealousy, deception, misunderstandings and violence, but also a heavy dose of romance and passion, before the tale resolves itself. The story is told in a plot which will have you laughing one minute and crying the next. How will this complex love triangle resolve itself? Who will Bridie choose? Will it be the right choice? How will the brothers and their family react as Bridie has come between the brothers? Will the war in Iraq affect her relationships with the brothers? I had no idea where the plot was going next or how it would conclude as it had so many twists and turns. I will not reveal any more as further revelations will spoil the plot. Suffice to say that as usual this is no tame boy meets girl romance. Eve’s larger than life characters deal with big issues, many of them topical in today’s society.

The three central characters, Bridie, Cody and Scott are fantastically well drawn. Bridie is hard working and devoted to her family, who are from the Hood, in contrast with Scott and Cody, who have middle class origins. This dichotomy makes for some hilarious scenes when the two families meet throughout the novel. Bridie is shocked when she realises that Cody and Scott are brothers and I really felt for her as she tries to do her best in an increasingly impossible and complex situation. Bridie likes to be in control, but she is anything but as the plot unfolds.

The brothers are so different to each other. Cody is the archetypal loveable bad boy who up until now likes to play the field and have a good time. He is attracted to Bridie big time, as she is like no girl he has ever met before, and has a lot of growing up to do in the course of the novel which spans five years plus. Scott is a much more responsible individual and is equally attracted to Bridie. He is very protective of her and wants to do right by her. Both brothers want Bridie for themselves, which provides the main tension in the plot.

There is a great supporting cast, the main ones being Scott and Cody’s parents, in particular their socialite mother, Stephanie and their sister Jenna and Bridie’s family, a collection of loveable and kooky individuals, who, as Bridie was, were all adopted. These characters all add depth to the plot and help drive it forward. The fact that the tale is told in chapters which alternate between Bridie and Cody’s POV also adds a lot more intensity to the novel. There are many love making scenes, some humorous, some passionate and sexy and others  poignant.

I recommend My Brother My Rival to adult readers who like to read intense, sexy and entertaining contemporary romance/chick lit novels which examine the full range of human emotions.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

A copy of this book was given to me by the author for a fair and honest review.

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Book 1 of My Brother, My Rival is currently avaiable at a special price on Amazon, 77p in the UK and $1.20 in the US.

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Eve Rabi’s book You Will Pay for Leaving Me is currently available FREE on Amazon.

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The Proposal, The Survivors’ Club #1, by Mary Balogh

proposalrevises-191x300[1]I am an avid reader of historical romances encompassing all time periods.  Regency romances feature high on my reading list as there are a huge number of authors who choose to set their novels at this time, following in the footsteps of the great Jane Austin and more recently Georgette Heyer, whose novels I devoured as a teenager.

Mary Balogh is one author I go to when I want to be guaranteed a great romantic read, which conjures up the Regency period perfectly and has engaging characters that often differ from the usual lord or lady. Her Huxtable Quintet, and her Bedwyn, Simply and Mistress series being amongst my favourites. The Proposal, the first book in her new series, The Survivors’ Club, deals with the romantic entanglements of seven individuals who have been injured in or by the horrors of the Napoleonic wars. Five of them are officers who have been wounded, one is a woman, who witnessed her husband, a Surveillance Officer, tortured and finally shot by the enemy and the other the Duke of Stanbrook. The Duke, who lost his son in the war and his grieving wife to suicide soon afterwards, opened up his home Penderris Hall to aid their convalescence and recovery and return to civilian life. They formed a strong bond during their time at Penderris and meet at there for a few weeks each year to enjoy each others’ company and offer mutual support, each of them having sustained physical and mental wounds of varying natures. I love reading about heroes and heroines who have had a difficult past, where they come together to find happiness and I have been looking forward to this series for a while.

In The Proposal the hero is Hugo Emes, Lord Trentham, a title he was awarded due to his bravery in the Peninsular. Hugo does not bear any physical scars from the war. Instead he harbours the mental scars of survivor’s guilt at having led so many men to their deaths for the greater good. After his initial convalescence at Penderris, Hugo has found solace in retiring to the country and working the land for a year or so. However, he now decides that he must honour his deceased father’s wishes and marry and produce an heir to inherit the family business. What he wants is a solid middle class woman who is best placed to understand and support him. Shortly after arriving at Penderris, Hugo decides to take a walk on the adjacent beach, joking with his friends that he will perhaps find a bride there. He comes across a woman with a badly sprained ankle.

Lady Gwendoline Muir has survived a number of tragedies in her life. Her husband died in a sudden accident and she has a limp, the result of a fall from a horse. Gwen and Hugo, from different worlds, clash immediately – she is a respected member of the aristocracy and the ton and he is an outspoken middle class ex-army officer who does not mince his words. However, as Gwen is compelled to remain at Penderris to recuperate, a strong physical attraction develops between them, which they cannot resist. They also begin to find out the truth about each other and form a deep attachment. However, is it love or lust? What will happen when Gwen returns to her aristocratic roots? Will she be happy to reprise her role as sister and aunt after tasting such passion? Also will Hugo be able to take up the reins of his family business and find a suitable middle class wife as he wishes? Is there a future for a couple with lives so disparate and with prejudices on either side?

What follows is a touching romantic tale examining if two people from two different classes can find some middle ground on which to live the rest of their lives together. There is also the added question of whether Gwen feels that she can afford to love a man as mentally scarred as Hugo after experiences she had in her first marriage. I found that the novel was beautifully written and sensitively examined the unseen wounds which individuals can bear after traumatic experiences in their lives.

I loved the characters of both Hugh and Gwen. Hugh is a taciturn and outspoken member of the middle class, uncomfortable around the aristocracy, many of whom resented his rise up through the ranks in his army days. When it comes to broaching the physical attraction that exists between him and Gwen he is outspoken, often shocking Gwen with his words. I also sympathised with him as he had clearly suffered from Post Traumatic Stress, as well as survivor’s guilt. Gwen never thought that she could find love again and is taken completely by surprise at the attraction she feels for Hugo. I love how despite their initial misgivings about a permanent relationship they came together.

I recommend this novel to readers of romance who are seeking a truly romantic and heart warming read. I am very much looking forward to the next in the series, The Arrangement, which tells the tale of another member of The Survivors’ Club, Viscount Darleigh, who we met in this book.

Reviewed by Tina 🙂

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