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A History Nut's Romantic State of Mind

"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train." - Oscar Wilde

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The Bedeviled Heart

The Bedeviled Heart - Carmen Caine I read this book a while ago but for whatever reason did not review it. Maybe it was part of a bundle. I don't do very well with bundles.

Cameron was cursed, or so he believed. He had been a widower again and again and again, well, sort of. Because he never really was married to any of those poor souls who died their untimely demise. Women drop dead around him, whoever became betrothed to him, died. So he somehow resolved that he would never marry because at this point, no one would betroth their daughter to him.

Enters Kate, a peasant girl, poor as dirt. She worked in taverns, selling useless charms for a living to support her sick father. OK at this point I already lost interest in Kate. I cannot connect with a heroine who isn't.....well....somehow educated. Kate was portrayed in a rather unflattering light. She seemed rather unsophisticated and was able to charm Cameron because of her...well, ruggedness. Not exactly what I aspire to be so I found her hard to connect with.

The relationship is lukewarm at best. Cameron was a rather "soft" highlander. He was not brooding, not a tall dark stranger. He was just.....unlucky. That gave him kind of a comedy flair. That made his relationship with peasant girl Kate kind of funny. Then I had to roll my eyes when Kate was hired to be the maid for Cameron's intended. I did not know how the story could progress from there. So Cameron's evil intended was going to make Kate's life miserable? Cameron already kind of fell in love with Kate but he was to travel with his future wife home with Kate in tow? The plots are distracting. I do not know what happened to the main relationship, because nothing happened. They met, they liked each other, they kind of flirted, they kind of kissed, they kind of could not be together but they kind of were trapped together somehow. Where is the romance?

As a story, the book might not be too bad. The romance is however, sorely lacking.

A Lady of Persuasion

A Lady of Persuasion - Tessa Dare Don't like self-righteous people, men or women. There is standing up for a belief and then there is self-righteousness.

The Marriage Prize

The Marriage Prize - Virginia Henley I read this book way back in my youth. I recalled the book right away after reading the blurb. I remember that I liked it. It is a well-written old-fashioned medieval story. I liked Rodger but was not so impressed with Rosamond (surprise surprise). I just dont like willful heroines and Rosamond was exactly that. She supported Simon de Montfort and was willing to betray her husband, who she came to love. I dont get this decision. I think it is ok to have different opinions. But your loyalty must be clear. Either you support your husband or you support your guardian. Doing the latter meaning you sacrifice your marriage so dont freak out when he wouldnt change his allegiance for you because you did not do that for him either. Accept it and move on.

OK I think it is quite enough with my heroine hating. lol I have such a hard time with willful women who do what they do and expect no consequences. There are always consequences to every action we take. These old-timer romance stories from the 80s have a lot of such heroines (think Johanna Lindsey, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and our Virginia Henley here). They go against their husbands and get pissed when the men have a different opinion or are not willing to back down. Why should they? It is not that these heroines are exactly accommodating either.

I would probably not reread this story because of Rosamond. I recall vividly how she defied Rodger because of her political inclination. I am not a fan.

Irish Hope

Irish Hope - Donna Fletcher I should have listened to myself and stuck with my original verdict: not interested.

But since I have been on some kind of an Irish kick, I read this book which seems to be rather a staple item if one is interested in an Irish setting in the genre. I removed it from my not_interested shelf and started reading.

Where do I start? I could recommend nothing in this book. The prose dragged. Endless internal dialogues, and stupid ones too, mind you. Nothing that would crack you up. Just a lot of a stupid heroine's fantasy. So now we are on the heroine, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS WOMAN?

Hope grew up in the care of her loving uncle and aunt. When she came of age, naturally the said uncle arranged for a match for her, all done in love and with much thought. Hope, the idiotic girl, oh I am sorry, the "responsible", "mature" and "smart" woman that she is, decided to run away. For what purpose?

"To experience life", and I am still quoting: "to find true love."

Is this a Shrek movie or what?

So this woman who was supposed to be very responsible and someone who did her duties ran away from her loving uncle and aunt, completely disregarded how worried her uncle and aunt would be, to experience life and find true love? And Donna Fletcher is trying to hoist her off on us as some heroine who was "wise" and "responsible"?

OK suffice it to say: I thought Hope stupid, immature and selfish. As a woman I dislike her intensely. All her courageous deeds......I don't know what to say. She is prideful, I guess. I could not say that she did any of the courageous acts because she was a mature person.

Then there is the plot. Hope pretended to be a lad of 12 for more than 50% of the book. I honestly do not understand why writers use this for their heroines. I mean, unless this is a M/M book, which would make it hot, where is the appeal of a woman pretending to be a man and then the hero finds himself oddly attracted to said pretend man? I was so bored out of my freaking skull turning the pages, wondering when would Hope become Hope? It is enough with the "I am pretending to be a lad and no one can tell" act. For one, I never bought that "she fooled us all" thing.

Maybe I just have a really hard time connecting with tomboy/mannish heroines. I am a girly girl myself. I wouldn't know how to act like a man even if I tried. Nor do I ever want do. If other women choose to adopt the tomboy style, I have absolutely no problems with it. But I cannot pull it off and I see not appeal in doing that. I really struggled with Hope's "pretending to be a lad" thing. And I was rather annoyed whenever Hope "got annoyed" (Donna Fletscher's own words) because Colin was popular among the ladies. When Hope started "haunting" Colin and this other lady who Colin was "involved" with were trying to "get it on", I completely lost my patience with Hope. Seriously, what right do you have in trying to keep Colin away from other women? It is not exactly you are up for a tupping, dressing as a lad. Single that he was and not knowing that you were a woman, what was he supposed to do? To be celibate because he felt oddly attracted to a skinny boy? I mean, come on, get real, woman.

I wanted to give the book 2 stars but having written this review, I am so annoyed with Hope. I am giving it a one star rating. There is no story, no sexual tension, no romance, no plots, no humor, not even suspense. What we have is a runaway heiress who was too selfish to consider her uncle and aunt's feelings, who wanted to experience life and find her true love before she became a boring wife (and what are you going to do if you find your true love? dump your poor betrothed?), who got jealous because her hero was a lady's man and tried to keep him away from other women while dressing as a boy herself. I don't know what else I can say. Hope is a pathetic female character.

Within a Captain's Hold

Within a Captain's Hold - Lisa A. Olech it's not a bad book for someone who is just starting to read the historical romance genre. I found it interesting but after 3 chapters I was rather bored. I don't know why, it's just there is no pull in the story, even though the writing itself is not too bad. the flow too forced the passion too bland. I won't give it a rating because I decided to stop at 28%.

Some Like it Scot (Scandalous Highlanders)

Some Like it Scot (Scandalous Highlanders) - Suzanne Enoch I wish the heroine was not a tomboy. I cannot connect with mannish heroines.

Fortress Besieged

Fortress Besieged - Qian Zhongshu, Nathan K. Mao a fantastic literary gem depicting a turbulent time of Chinese history. The original is much better than the translation but I guess this is unavoidable. There is much essence lost in the attempt to fit intricate Asian subtleties into western concepts.

Her Warrior King (MacEgan Brothers #2)

Her Warrior King (MacEgan Brothers #2) - Michelle Willingham Honestly, this book has everything that I dig in a romance story: forbidden love, denied passion, torn between mind and heart, but no, I did not love it.

A book by Monica McCarty from her Highland Guard series has a very similar story line (there are few new things under the sun) and I LOVED it to pieces. Michelle Willingham's Her Warrior King has a very similar plot and characters, and I wonder why while I "loved" Monica McCarty's book and could only say that I "liked" Michelle Willingham's Her Warrior King.

In this book Patrick, King to his tribe, was forced to wed Isabel, A Norman lady. The story is about how the Irish and the Normans despised each other but were forced to reconcile. Isabel became a pawn in the political game. She was forced to marry Patrick but quickly resolved to do right by what was expected of her.

Patrick had something else in mind. He never intended to make Isabel his Queen and was planning on annulling the marriage as soon his tribe was ready to defeat the Normans. The book's focus is on how Isabel tried to become part of a tribe which did not want her and how Patrick repeatedly turned down Isabel and refused to give them a chance.

I think the major difference between McCarty's book and this book is that in the former, I could almost taste the desperation of the lead characters. They despaired of the hopeless feelings they had for each other and the denied love became that much better because of its hopelessness. In this book, it was more rejection than desperation. Patrick rejected Isabel repeatedly and I never really did feel that he wanted Isabel more than anything. Naturally he was written to be torn between his duties and personal feelings. I just wasn't convinced. I had the impression that for Patrick, it was his tribe that mattered more and while not a decision he enjoyed making, it was never a difficult decision. And when he finally changed his mind, I was surprised because I couldn't see what would resulted in the change. The story of course tried to make sense of Patrick's 180 turnabout. But it was just not as convincing and heart-wrenching as Monica McCarty's book.

I am sorry that I keep comparing this book to another author's work. Because of the similarities in the plot line and characterization, I expected to love this book as much as I did McCarty's book. But this is not the case. The comparison is only done for me to analyze what was different in this story. And I conclude it is because in this book all the hopelessness seemed fabricated while in McCarty's book, I felt the despair of the lead characters and their wish of things being different.

But all this being said, I liked this book well enough. For me it rather pales in comparison to my favorite book of 2015 (said McCarty book) but is a good read nonetheless.

Half a Lifelong Romance

Half a Lifelong Romance - Chang Eileen A fantastic female writer. It is her poignancy that I love so much. This is a woman who had loved and lost, in a turbulent time in history. War, love, a wait of half a lifetime, holding on and letting go. Eileen Chang is one of my favorite writers. A woman who knew about women.

Lord of Temptation

Lord of Temptation  - Paula Quinn Ugh a TSTL heroine, I hate.

Dante (What a name, I have always associated this name with Inferno) the hero was a rake and a warrior serving under King William after William the Conqueror was made King. His brother Brand was the hero in the first book of the series and I have read about Dante in Brand's book. Dante appeared to be a light-hearted, friendly, charming character who had women falling all over for him everywhere he went.

I should have known that with such a rakish character, of course his match would have to be a woman who did not care about him at all. This is not very original and I found the idea rather boring. But like I said before, I like Paula Quinn and medieval is one of my favorite period setting. I decided to read Dante's book anyways. Dante is paired with Gia, a servant in another Lord's home. I do not mind that she was a servant. But I certainly mind her hypocrisy and childishness.

I read another reviewer's observation that Gia was playing hard to get. Such an acute observation. Gia was totally playing hard to get. She was just unnecessarily mean to Dante, who had been nothing but nice to her. I don't know why "women of her own mind" always have to act like an idiot in a fiction. Can you not tell that this man is kind to you? Gia treated Dante like crap because she was distrustful of nobility and afraid of being abandoned again (her father left her). I got tired of her idiotic behaviors very early on and wanted to slap her. Everything about her screams insecurity and low self-esteem.

But I read on, because Paula Quinn always paints a vivid historical picture and I love it. I could almost like the book. Dante is sweet and the writing is good. Then Gia did something. I snapped.

So Dante was obvious in his interest. He told Gia that if she wasn't interested in a liaison with him, she could go to another holding of his or go to his brother's home. If it was Gia's wish to not be involved with him, he did not want Gia to stay in the same place as he was because understandably, out of sight out of mind.

I thought that was reasonable, no? He did not owe Gia anything but he was offering her freedom and safe passage to a new home and a secure future, if she turned him down. I mean, how much more reasonable can a noble man be?

So our dear wonderfully rebellious Gia (you hear the sarcastic tone in my voice?), who listened to nobody and was so very tough, pulled out all the wicks in the candles during the night. Why? Because she was angry, of course! How dare Dante told her to go!

I mean how is that cute? You told the guy you didn't want him. Guy said ok, that is fine but I will keep my distance. I am the Lord of the castle so unfortunately I cannot leave. I will send you to another holding where I rarely visit. Then you get pissed because he is sending you away? I mean I thought you didn't want him. Why do you care if he is indeed sending you away? And how is pulling all the wicks out of the candles supposed to help? This is what children do. They throw a tantrum when they do not get what they want. But wait, I thought you got what you wanted? Guy is leaving you alone, as you have demanded. So you got what you wanted and that is why you pulled all the wicks out of the candles?


I really could have liked this book and given the book 3 stars. But I cannot abide such idiocy from a woman. I never could tolerate childish behaviors. An insecure woman not knowing her mind and acting childishly while being in denial, this could kill any great books for me.

Her Irish Warrior (MacEgan Brothers #3)

Her Irish Warrior (MacEgan Brothers #3) - Michelle Willingham I really want to give this book a one star rating, because the more I read on, the more I disliked the lead characters Bevan and Genevieve.

The book itself is not bad. The tension held on well for the first 60%. Bevan, a widower, was frustrating as the hero. His obsession over his first wife Fiona really bothered me. I am rarely bothered by assholey or boorish behaviors of men in romance stories. Most of the time their actions speak louder than words. As long as I can be convinced of their true feelings, it matters not to me what they say, even if they say really outrageous things.

But Bevan oh Bevan I wanted to kick him. I don't know why Michelle Willingham wrote him this way. This guy is so obviously not over his first wife. If you want to have a widower as a hero, he has to be at least like Sir Ross Cannon in [b: Lady Sophia's Lover|197743|Lady Sophia's Lover (Bow Street Runners, #2)|Lisa Kleypas|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348288082s/197743.jpg|2417332]. He doesn't need to have an unhappy first marriage, but I find it distasteful how Bevan held on to Fiona's memories and held them against Genevieve.

And Genevieve, I have nothing against her character. But I also wanted to kick her because, woman, can you not see that this man is still grieving his wife? Why would you want to "win his heart"? If you have to "win" him, you are the loser. Matters of the heart are like this. It either happens or does not happen. As I read on I became more and more furious at Genevieve. Can you not think of other people's pains except for your desires and longings? If he chose to live in the past, what right do you have to tell him otherwise? Genevieve married Bevan, promising that they would live separate lives. Then she changed her mind, all of a sudden. No no why wouldn't Bevan love her? She was jealous but at the same time oh she could not help but want him. I don't know how to describe my disgust. Take it or leave it, woman. You made your bed, now lie in it. All the useless whining is humiliating.

And the plots. Man I did not see that coming. It turned out Fiona was not dead. Nor was Bevan's daughter dead. They were both alive. Fiona fell in love with another man and ran away from Bevan. She staged her death and her daughter's death, which did not really make sense in terms of timeline. Once this secret was revealed the book took an downturn rapidly. Bevan became even more obsessed with his first wife, wanting to "bring her home even if she did not want to come back". And Genevieve wanting to go with him to find Fiona, claiming that he was still her husband until Fiona was proven to be alive.......At this point I was angry at both of them. What is wrong with you people? Your wife left you, man. She went to the length of staging her own death and you wanted to bring her home because you loved her?? And Genevieve, this man was so blind that he let you go right away, telling you that the marriage was over, and you still held on to him until you were so close to finding out whether Fiona was alive and you flipped out??

I mean their actions just don't make sense to me. Why would Genevieve tolerate Bevan's obsession over Fiona and why would Bevan held on to Fiona for as long as he did? It was infuriating to say the least.

I really must mention another fact that bothered me about Genevieve. Bevan refused to consummate the marriage because he vowed to remain faithful to Fiona. So what does our Genevieve do? She went around holding babies and looking at them longing for one for her own. I mean the sentiment is easily understood, but woman, have you not chosen this yourself? What is the point of lamenting something of your own doing? If anything, Bevan did not bring this on you. You did this to yourself, to want love from a man who cannot love you.

Ah I wanted to give this book 3 stars. But after writing this review I despised the lead characters too much. It really is a shame because the story was interesting itself. Alas, I find Bevan and Genevieve 2 outrageously unlikable characters. I truly dislike both of them. Bevan's brothers though seem much more tolerable. I shall move on from Bevan and Genevieve. Rarely do I encounter a couple like them in romance stories. I had a mind to break their fictional necks.

The Irish Warrior

The Irish Warrior - Kris Kennedy I read this book in one sitting, 6 hours back to back.

It's a gripping tale. My second book by Kris Kennedy and I loved how she tells a story. Her characters (especially the male characters) have such charms. They do not exactly say things that melt your heart. It's their actions that do the magic. I love her characters so far. But they could use more depth and consistency.

Plot development is another thing that needs work. All my observations on her debut novel [b: The Conqueror|6062802|The Conqueror|Kris Kennedy|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348548360s/6062802.jpg|6239077] apply to this one too. Characters lack something to be truly exceptional, plots are interesting at best. A lot of loose ends in the book which were left hanging. But I see much potential in Kris Kennedy.

Despite all the flaws I observed in the plots and characters, I read the book with much enthusiasm. It is a complicated tale featuring an English lady Senna, a capable wool merchant forced into trade because of her "irresponsible" parents (who turned out to be not irresponsible at all). Senna set out on a venture to locate an "investor" for her wool business, only to find upon her arrival that the man wanted to force her to marry him and produce a special dye for him. An Irishman, Finian, imprisoned by said evil man, attempted to save Senna but was not able to due to his captivity. Senna then in turn, released him from prison and asked him to take her to safety.

I also want to make a point in saying that the steam level of this book is rather high. I find her intimate scenes well done. This book however, features something that is more on the risque side. Maybe I am too much of a prude. I didn't dislike it. I just was not sure what I should think about it. Suffice it to say that I still find the physical part of the book satisfactory, with something extra to wonder about.

Senna and Finian are both very complex characters with very interesting family history. Kris Kennedy successfully created these 2 characters with depth and multi facets. I found them extremely intriguing. The relationship development could have been better, so is the plot. But as I said, this is Kris Kennedy's second book and I have seen progress since her first book, which I also liked a lot. I remain hopeful that she would grow as a writer. She weaves a compelling tale. She just needs to smooth the romantic relationship and trim down unnecessary plots and characters so that the story appears more focused.

I also find the Irish elements enchanting. I love the medieval/Irish/Gaelic atmosphere. This book captured me from almost page one and I was not able to let it go until I finished it at 4am. My heart was in my throat for the romance, the sexual tension, the danger of their journey, and the political intrigue. Ms. Kennerdy, you have a new fan in me.

Never Love a Highlander

Never Love a Highlander  - Maya Banks I gave the 3 stars easily. It's been a while since I was able to rate a book 3 stars and felt: yeah this is right. The past 3 months I have had a lot of 2 stars books and the occasional 3 stars. Maya Banks' Never love a Highlander, however, is exactly what I would call a 3 stars read: the book flows and is not sluggish. With likable characters and a reasonably crafted plot line. No emotional connection. Just a good story which one does not have to try to like.

I have originally marked this book as "Not Interested", because of Rionna, the warrior princess. I read the first 2 books in the series and was rather fed up with with all the flowery words from Ewan and Alaric, the 2 older brothers of the McCabe. What men talk like that? I wondered. When I got to this book, I decided to give Maya Banks' books a rest. I never could tolerate a warrior princess, or a woman trying to be a man.

Much to my surprise, I liked this book. Rionna was indeed a warrior princess. But Maya Banks managed to make her likable in my eyes. She was a fighter and a fierce one too. I think Maya Banks toned down her "mannish behaviors", without sacrificing her warrior-worthy abilities. Naturally her femininity was one of the conflicts in this book, but it was done rather well. Her fighting stems from a desire to protect herself and those she loved, not as a mean to self-fulfillment or identity. This sets Rionna apart from those warrior princesses that we see in the books, who needed the fighting to feel self-worth, prided themselves in their fighting skills because being able to fight somehow elevated them to the level of men, as if being a mere woman and feminine is not enough. I have huge problems with that. Low self-esteem is a deal breaker for me, in men and women.

Caelen was your usual highlander, not much to say. :D Thankfully Maya Banks chose to gloss over his "tragic" past in love, when his relationship with an evil woman brought down destruction to his clan. It was there in the background but did not affect Caelen and Rionna too much.

The plot line is the usual highland clan feuds. Poor Cameron served as the villain for the entire McCabe series, he was allowed to finally die when the last McCabe brother found love, how considerate. I thought it kind of lazy of the writer to use one villain over and over again. But well, it worked alright so why not?

This book is a typical highland romance but written with fluid proses and a moderately gripping story. I felt at ease the entire time reading this book. It kind of flowed over me and was just a pleasant reading journey. Now if Maya Banks could cut down all the sweetness on the male side, that would be grand. I seriously have trouble picturing any men saying those things Maya Banks has her heros say in the books. I much prefer men showing their love in actions, not words. I tend to doubt men who are eloquent in professing their so-called loves.

Lord of Desire

Lord of Desire  - Paula Quinn I imagine this is one of Paula Quinn's earlier books. I cannot be sure. It is a a good medieval story with 2 good characters. The conversations are a bit silly because they are just so......pretty. But I have found that a lot of the medieval stories are like that. It is as if all the warriors back then had a poetic nature, too.

Brynna was a little melodramatic for my taste. She was a Saxon lady who was forced to marry a Norman knight, Brand. William the Conqueror also played a pivotal role in the book, which I thought was utterly unnecessary. It is a typical medieval story of the fateful year 1066, when William, Duke of Normandy, worked his way to the English throne. The story took place before 1066 and ended with the Battle of Hastings, when Brand and William were readying themselves for the battle that would mark history.

I thought the characters of Brynna and Brand were likable. The love story was sweet at best, not the kind of story that would rock your world. I think the problem was that the conflict did not give the story enough tension. Brand had been betrayed before by Colette, a woman who he loved. He therefore, had a hard time trusting his heart with another woman. Brynna was furious that she had to surrender her home to Brand and marry him. But thankfully she did not play the indignant lady of the keep whose pride turned her into an idiot. They quickly resolved to the fact that they were to marry and affections grew. At 60% they were already half in love with each other, even though Brand still had trouble admitting his feelings.

Then Colette returned, to give the story a much needed conflict. A woman who had no heart, she was the villain of the story. An evil woman plus some political schemes through which Brand learned that he loved Brynna, the End.

I loved the medieval atmosphere Paula Quinn created in this book. It reminds me Kathryn le Veque's medieval stories: knights on the white horses, ladies in kirtles. gallantry, battles, honor, and proclamations of blinding beauty and undying love. It was all grand, maybe a little too grand and too little angst for my taste.

The Conqueror

The Conqueror - Kris Kennedy Oh I loved Griffyn and Gwen. I cannot explain why. I just do.

The story itself could use some improvement. When the Holy Grail made its appearance late in the book I literally rolled my eyes. I have to say the plots are not worthy of Griffyn and Gwen, who are wonderful characters and I loved them individually and together as a couple.

I honestly cannot recommend this book. The plots are messy. The characterization as well, especially Gwen's character. She was introduced as a very interesting character, but in the second half all the lies weighed her down. Griffyn captured my heart very early on and stayed the wonderful hero to me. Don't ask me why. I do not understand it myself. Not that he wasn't great. I could list all the holes in the characters but I still loved them. I just liked Griffyn a lot, my medieval warrior (giggling).

I hope to see Ms. Kennedy improve as a writer. She has created 2 lovable characters in this book for me and I would love to see more such characters from her and them with a story worthy of them.

The Highlander

The Highlander - Heather Grothaus I am not sure how I finished the book because it was a really silly story. The writing was not so great with repeated usage of the same phrases over and over again. The hero and heroine crying out of nowhere m, abrupt actions of the characters make the book almost funny.

But I read on. It was not a chore to continue like most 2 stars books for me. Conrall and Eve both lied to each other. Their relationship started in a hut where they were isolated for a long time. Cone all decided to marry Eve because of a curse (yeah you heard me right). And he believed that it would lift the curse for his clan, who cares about the woman and her wishes? Let me beget a son by her. He was supposed to be an alpha male I suppose? (Aren't all highlanders supposed to be?) But he wasn't. He was superstitious and kind of weak in mind. I thought wow that's some caveman thinking.

Eve was a weird heroine too. She had a weird character, sometimes strong sometimes quite a ninny. She had her outbursts but she wasn't crazy mad, which saved her in my eyes. But her fears about birthing seemed really childish, the way it was portrayed. Her reactions to certain situations were TSTL. Overall, not a great heroine.

The whole who is the Buchanan child from Minerva thing was not well done. The old clam feud resulted from a forbidden love didn't really work for me. I lost track and interests in whatever the mystery was supposed to be resolved. Somehow Conrall and Eve could be together, that was the end.