2017 Book #87 – First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

51ssKKGyVGLTitle: First Frost
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Date finished: 10/15/17
Genre: Fiction, magical realism
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Pages in book: 291
Stand alone or series: Seems to be a sequel to Garden Spells
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Two magical sisters.
One cranky apple tree.

It’s October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly.  As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree…and the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.

Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies.  Though her handcrafted confections — rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds — are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.

Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby — a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.

Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?

When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before.  And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells, lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen’s enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (October). This book has been on my “to read” list for a long time, one of the girl sin my Mom’s quilt guild has been recommending this author to me for years and with my reading schedule in recent years I haven’t had time to pick it up. I’m so glad that someone picked it for book club though and I got to read it this month! This book tells the story of the Waverly women, each of whom have some sort of special ability. Sydney is really good with hair, Claire is good with food and Bay knows where things belong. But knowing where things belong doesn’t help a teenage girl trying to find her way through high school. Nor does it help Bay navigate her suddenly emotional relationship with her mother. This book tells the story of the Waverly women leading up to the First Frost, when the apple tree in the back suddenly blooms. There was so much interesting about this book and I loved the magical realism and how seamlessly the author tied it into the story and made it seem real. This book reminded me a lot of The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert and The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee. I would definitely read more by this author in the future!

The bottom line: This book was very good, I love magical realism and this author did a great job of it. I can’t wait to read more by this author and I would recommend giving this one a read!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

Advertisements

2017 Book #86 – The Highlander Is All That by Sabrina York

51muLUDvxqL._SY346_Title: The Highlander Is All That
Author: Sabrina York
Date finished: 10/10/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Swerve
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Pages in book: 257
Stand alone or series: #4 in the Untamed Highlanders series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Elizabeth St. Claire has always been hard to please. Dreaming solely of Highlander men her whole life, no prancing London Lord can stand a chance at winning her heart…

… But perhaps a Scotsman can.

Elizabeth watches intrigued as the Highlander of her dreams, a Scotsman named Hamish Robb, arrives to oversee her season at the behest of her cousin, the Duke of Caithness. Elizabeth doesn’t hide her feelings for the striking Scot. But Hamish, determined to obey his order to protect the St. Claire sisters, steadfastly rejects her every seducing lure.

Believing that the debutante Elizabeth deserves a better, wealthier man, Hamish continues to turn away from her affection, even though he doesn’t exactly want to. Can this Highlander Scot resist the tempting seductress’ attempts to win his heart?

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Elizabeth St. Claire and Hamish Robb. Hamish has arrived in London at the bequest of his friend and business partner, Lachlan Sinclair (a duke). Sinclair’s wife is pregnant and can’t travel, and so he sends his friends Hamish and Ranald to watch over his four female cousins as they fight for husbands this Season. Elizabeth and her three sisters, Anne, Mary, and Victoria, are all very charming and lovely women. Elizabeth has always had a fondness for Scotsmen, even though she’s lived her whole life in London. She did visit Scotland once and found it to be entrancing, as she has also found the brawny men of Scotland as well. So when an especially handsome one shows up on her doorstep, she isn’t about to let this opportunity pass her by. And even though Elizabeth’s sister Anne doesn’t particularly care for Scotsmen (dislikes them in fact), she can’t seem to help herself when it comes to Ranald.

Overall I enjoyed this book a lot. It was definitely a quick read and so of the plot pieces were a tad unclear (like the timing once we got to the last couple chapters, it sounded like months went by but then we were talking as if weeks went by or days and it was a little confusing). I really liked that this story line incorporated the lives and romances of all four St. Claire sisters, it added an extra layer of interest. This was definitely a quick and easy read but still kept the reader interested. The story had a sweet ending and I thought this was a good addition to the series! I would recommend it.

Also make sure to check out my Blog Tour post on this book here!

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot. I loved how well the story lines were woven together. This was a quick, fun and sweet read and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

The Highlander Is All That BLOG TOUR!!

Highlander Banner

The Highlander Is All That was released TODAY Tuesday, October 10th, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book under Book Reviews on my site (hopefully later tonight!). See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt! This was a good read and I would recommend checking it out!

SUMMARY

Elizabeth St. Claire has always been hard to please. Dreaming solely of Highlander men her whole life, no prancing London Lord can stand a chance at winning her heart…

… But perhaps a Scotsman can.

Elizabeth watches intrigued as the Highlander of her dreams, a Scotsman named Hamish Robb, arrives to oversee her season at the behest of her cousin, the Duke of Caithness. Elizabeth doesn’t hide her feelings for the striking Scot. But Hamish, determined to obey his order to protect the St. Claire sisters, steadfastly rejects her every seducing lure.

Believing that the debutante Elizabeth deserves a better, wealthier man, Hamish continues to turn away from her affection, even though he doesn’t exactly want to. Can this Highlander Scot resist the tempting seductress’ attempts to win his heart?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sabrina York is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of more than twenty hot, humorous written works. Her stories range from sweet and sexy to scorching erotic romance. Visit her webpage to check out her books, excerpts and contests, and download a free teaser book filled with excerpts and reviews for her work.

BUY IT HERE! 

http://smpromance.com/historical/the-highlander-is-all-that/

EXCERPT

51muLUDvxqL._SY346_Ach. This was going to be difficult, Hamish thought as the disgruntled butler and young footman—who carried their bags—led them up the sprawling staircase to their rooms, which, for some reason, were at the far end of the east wing, a portion of the mansion that was apparently very rarely used.

And by difficult, he did not refer to the mission the duke had given them. Not even to an unwanted visit to London.

But her.

He hadn’t expected to be this attracted to one of his charges, and it had hit him like an anvil.

It had been all he could do to maintain a placid demeanor. To not stare.

But damn, she was beautiful.

They all were, the St. Claire sisters. Anne was tall and willowy with serene brown eyes, and Victoria sparkled like a diamond. Even wee Mary was a beauty.

But Elizabeth?

She took his breath away.

Small and elegant with a spritely smile and bouncing black curls, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes on.

It was a damn shame he was here to help find her a husband.

It was a damn shame she was the duke’s cousin.

It was a damn shame he wasn’t rich.

He had nothing to offer a girl like her. He had no business even thinking about her like that.

But damn, she was beautiful.

“Well, what do you think?” Ranald asked after the butler had unceremoniously shown them to their rooms. They stood by his window and stared out at the gray London sky.

“Hmm?”

“How long do you think it will be before we can go back home?”

Hamish made a face. “The season is three months.”

“But if we get them all married off, our work is done. I say, having had a look at them, it shouldna take long.” He fingered the hem of the curtain. “That one is quite a stunner.”

Something in Hamish’s gut clenched. He had nothing to offer Elizabeth, but Ranald did. His friend had a title and the majority share in the business they ran with some of their friends. While the duke might balk at having Hamish wed his cousin, Ranald would be welcomed with open arms.

The thought made him want to pummel something.

Probably Ranald.

“They’re all lovely,” he grumbled.

“Aye. But Anne is exquisite.”

Anne?

Anne?

Relief gushed through him. He had no idea why. “Och. Aye. That she is.”

“Of course, they are all verra lovely.”

“Aye.”

“We’ll probably have to be beating off suitors with a bat.”

They grinned at each other. Whacking Englishmen was always a pleasant proposition.

2017 Book #85 – The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

61KeAE7JDlLTitle: The Rules of Magic
Author: Alice Hoffman
Date finished: 10/8/17
Genre: Fiction, magical realism
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: Prequel to Practical Magic
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Find your magic.

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is a story about the power of love reminding us that the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Sally and Gillian’s aunts, Bridget (Jet) and Frances (Franny). We first met these two when Sally and Gillian were newly orphaned and went to live with their aunts they’ve never met after the death of their parents. In this book though we get to hear about the lives of Jet and Franny before we meet them in Practical Magic, when they were still young and full of hope. They also were affected by a curse that caused anyone the Owen’s women love to die, and it changed they’re lives in a dramatic way. We also learn about their brother Vincent, who we don’t really hear about in Practical Magic. We learn about these three as they grow from adolescence into adulthood and beyond. As they learn about their powers and the curse, and as they fall in love and as they learn about loss and grief. We learn about their family’s history and all the things that led up to where Practical Magic begins.

Overall I really liked this book. I loved returning to this magical world where anything is possible. I loved hearing Franny and Jet and especially Vincent’s story. I loved hearing about the history that brought us to Sally and Gillian and all the magic that was to come. And I really liked that some of my long burning questions (about how Gillian and Sally were related to Franny and Jet) were answered. This book was heart-wrenchingly sad and honestly I sobbed for like the last 5% of the book at least.  There were also some pretty dry parts to the story and some of it was a little hard to get through. I still really enjoyed it though and I would definitely recommend it, especially to anyone who was in love with the Practical Magic story already.

The bottom line: I liked this book a LOT. Although it was slow in parts, it was so wonderful to return to the world of Practical Magic and also it was so heart-wrenchingly sad/beautiful. I loved hearing the back story to Sally & Gillian. I would recommend this to fans of Practical Magic.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Monthly Status Update: September

UPDATE IMAGE

Ugh. I can’t believe September is over. There were some great highlights this month. It was my birthday, and lots of celebrations ensued. There was also a LOT of work going on for me so there wasn’t as much time as I might have liked for reading. Luckily, at the beginning of the month I was still on vacation in Maine so I got a lot of reading done there. So below is my progress for September:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 10
# pages read this month: 3,005
# books read year-to-date: 83
# pages read year-to-date: 24,761

Favorite Books I Read:

51EoaKhZDyL

The Other Girl by Erica Spindler – 4.5 stars

Other Posts this month:

The Scot Beds His Wife BLOG TOUR!!

Status of 2017 Reading Challenges:

  1. Finish 2016 ARC’s from NetGalley that I missed – Woot I read another one from the backlog so now I only have 26 to go! Slow but making progress. Unfortunately based on the way this year has gone I’m going to have another 30ish books to read from 2017 too.
  2. Participate in 2 reading challenges – During May I participated in the Bout of Books challenge and during August I participated in ARC August so this Goal is checked!
  3. Other goals:
    1. Write shorter reviews – I think I’m doing better at this, this past month I was able to get out a few shorter ones
    2. Continue establishing relationships – I think I’m doing it, we’ll see how it goes I guess!

Next Month TBR List:

I honestly can’t even think about my October to read list right now but it is going to make me anxious. Between all the hours I’ve been working and actually wanting to see my husband, family and friends, there hasn’t been too much time for reading. I do have some blog tour posts scheduled for October though, so those I’ll definitely be reading and then I’ll see where I might be able to fit in any additional ones. Some good reads coming up in the next month though!

2017 Book #83 – The Scot Beds His Wife by Kerrigan Byrne

51PMluAPISLTitle: The Scot Beds His Wife
Author: Kerrigan Byrne
Date finished: 9/27/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Pages in book: 416
Stand alone or series: #5 in the Victorian Rebels series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster.

Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, is a notorious Highlander and an unrelenting Lothario who uses his slightly menacing charm to get what he wants—including too many women married to other men. But now, Gavin wants to put his shady past behind him…more or less. When a fiery lass who is the heiress to the land he wishes to possess drops into his lap, he sees a perfectly delicious opportunity…

A marriage most convenient

Samantha Masters has come back to Scotland, in a pair of trousers, and with a whole world of dangerous secrets from her time spent in the Wild West trailing behind her. Her only hope of protection is to marry—and to do so quickly. Gavin is only too willing to provide that service for someone he finds so disturbingly irresistible. But even as danger approaches, what begins as a scandalous proposition slowly turns into an all-consuming passion. And Gavin discovers that he will do whatever is necessary to keep the woman he has claimed as his own…

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Sam Masters and Gavin St. James. Sam is not your traditional heroine since at the beginning of the book she was married to, well a villain. When we first meet Sam she is in fact helping her husband rob a train, up until she shoots him in the head. Which is especially unfortunate as one of her brother-in-laws sees her do it and now she is on the run not only from the law but also from her husband’s family, who are looking for revenge. Luckily on that train she meets Alison Ross, a woman from Scotland who happens to need a stand in on location in order to claim her family’s land. Works out well for Sam, who needs a place to hide out for awhile. Gavin is looking to use that same piece of land in order to get out from under his brother’s thumb however, so Gavin and Sam battle it out over this land dispute. But when Sam’s troubles follow her to Scotland, Gavin vows to protect her.

Overall I liked this book. The plot line, while a little far-fetched in certain parts, was certainly intriguing. And while Sam was most definitely a flawed heroine, she had spirit and was pretty fierce. I tend to appreciate honesty over all else so some pieces of the story line (towards the end) kind of rubbed me the wrong way but it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. There was a hell of a lot of flowery language in this book, especially considering how much of a rogue the hero supposedly was, I was surprised how poetic he could be. There was a good amount of swearing in this book, lots of f-bombs, so if you don’t like swearing just be warned. I didn’t mind it though, the characters in this story were fierce and it was fitting with their characters. I would be interested in reading some of the other books in the series.

Also make sure to check out my Blog Tour post on this book here!

The bottom line: I liked this book a good amount. There were a couple pieces of the plot that didn’t jive with me personally but I still thought it was a good story. There was a good build up of tension, I was on the edge of my seat by the end of the book. Lots of flowery language though.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

The Scot Beds His Wife BLOG TOUR!!

Blog Tour Banner

The Scot Beds His Wife will be released this coming Tuesday, October 3rd, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book under Book Reviews on my site. See below for more information about the book, an excerpt, a short author bio, and an author interview! This was a good read and I would recommend checking it out!

SUMMARY

The Scot Beds His Wife is the next lush, captivating Victorian romance in the Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne.

 They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster.

 Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, is a notorious Highlander and an unrelenting Lothario who uses his slightly menacing charm to get what he wants—including too many women married to other men. But now, Gavin wants to put his shady past behind him…more or less. When a fiery lass who is the heiress to the land he wishes to possess drops into his lap, he sees a perfectly delicious opportunity…

A marriage most convenient

 Samantha Masters has come back to Scotland, in a pair of trousers, and with a whole world of dangerous secrets from her time spent in the Wild West trailing behind her. Her only hope of protection is to marry—and to do so quickly. Gavin is only too willing to provide that service for someone he finds so disturbingly irresistible. But even as danger approaches, what begins as a scandalous proposition slowly turns into an all-consuming passion. And Gavin discovers that he will do whatever is necessary to keep the woman he has claimed as his own…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kerrigan ByrneWhether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan Byrne uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in every book. She lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, but dreams of settling on the Pacific Coast. Her Victorian Rebels novels include The Highwayman and The Highlander.

BUY THE BOOK HERE

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books a Million
Indie Bound
Powells

AUTHOR Q&A

  1. Are there any books or authors that have really influenced you and made you want to write? What about those authors inspired or influenced you?
    1. There are more authors than I can name who’ve influenced and inspired me, but I’d say that I rely heavily on Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic when I need inspiration to write. It reminds me to make my own art, to rely on the magic of story. The necessity of in my life and the lives of others. I do always love to read Christopher Moore, Lisa Kleypas, Lindsay Faye, and Rhys Bowen.
  2. Do you have any special rituals that you find yourself following when you’re writing? OR Take us through your typical work day.
    1. I couldn’t say I have typical work days. I do try to keep banker’s hours. But it’s best for me to write when I’m alone because I do have a rather embarrassing ritual. I tend to try out my character’s dialogue (terrible accents and all) out loud. I’d die of mortification if anyone heard!
  3. Do you usually work off of an outline while writing or do you tend to just start writing and see where the story takes you?
    1. I tend to know how a book is going to begin and end, but I’m not always certain of the road from point A to point B. That journey I love to discover as I go.
  4. Have you read anything lately that you loved?
    1. I recently read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, and it’s something I’ve read again and again because it is both hilarious and helpful!
  5. What (if any) research did you have to do for this novel? What was your favorite piece of research you did for this novel?
    1. I’d say for The Scot Beds His Wife, my favorite research was for Samantha because, while I’ve done extensive research on the UK for other stories, I know very little about cattle ranching, cowgirls, or shooting pistols! It was the most fun I’d had in a while and was an interesting change of pace.
  6. What do you do to cure writer’s block? Do you have issues with this often or hardly at all?
    1. I’ve come to learn recently that stress is the enemy to creativity. I was hit with several crises at once in a short period, and it wasn’t like my drive to write was lessened, it was as though my ability to write totally deserted me. After struggling with this for a while, I’ve learned that gutting through the hard days can still be successful. Even if what I put on the paper isn’t my best work, it’s something, and that keeps me moving forward.
  7. Who is your favorite character in this story and why?
    1. I’d say I had two favorite characters! Locryn and Calybrid, the two old cowhands who can’t live with or without each other. Their relationship provided me with many much-needed giggles in a sometimes-dark story.
  8. We’d love to hear more about you! Give us 3 “good to know” facts about you?
    1. I am a video game nerd. On my days off, I love to play Assassin’s Creed, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Horizon: Zero Dawn, etc. It’s what I call “active rest,” where my mind is resting but my hands are active.
    2. I’m pretty much prejudiced against all things “80’s.” I’m not a fan of the music, the dress, or the pop culture. Though I’m a child of the 90’s, my husband and friends are mostly children of the 80’s and we have many spirited debates!
    3. I’m only second-generation American, and I’d always been told my family is from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. However, I’ve recently taken a DNA test, and found out I’m 50% Scandanavian and only 30% Irish. I’m mostly a Danish and Norwegian!
  9. What drew you to historical romance in the first place? 
    1. I started pilfering my grandma’s harlequins back when I was too young to be reading them, and I enjoyed the contemporaries enormously. However, the moment I picked up my first Victoria Holt novel, I was lost to the romance of the past.
  10. Have you ever been to Scotland or Ireland?
    1. I’ve never been out of the US! I’m terrified of flying, but I’m going on my first plane trip in 15 years next month. So that’s one step closer to international travel.
  11. Would you say that your Celtic ancestry provides a source of inspiration for your characters and settings?
    1. I remember the stories my grandparents told in their accented voices. I saw their paintings and their pictures of home. I love the mythology of the old gods, the old ways, and the traditional music. There’s always been something wild and romantic about the Celts, and I believe that calls to me on a personal level.
  12. Similar to your other series the Victorian Rebels Series as a whole has seen great reviews. What do you think appeals most to the readers?
    1. I’m so grateful to have been blessed with incredible fans and readers who have often become friends. I would say that not only do we women love to fall for a tortured hero, but we also like to read about other women who share the same hardships and triumphs that we do. I like to write about women who are employed, who know adversity, and work hard for their successes, they are both wise, capable, flawed, and feminine. These ladies can fight their own demons and those of the men they love. They are not damsels who need to be saved by their heroes. They become partners who save each other. To me, that is true romance.
  13. If you could describe the main characters Gavin and Samantha’s relationship in 3 words, what would they be?
    1. Contentious. Forgiving.
  14. What do you love most about this story?
    1. I love that a Highlander who considers himself the most wild, willful, and independent man of his acquaintance, meets a woman who possibly has him outgunned, in every sense of the word!
  15. As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans?
    1. I would love to keep writing historical romances for as long as people would keep reading them! Eventually, I’d love to sprinkle some paranormal historicals in there. Since I’m so enamored of Celtic myth, I’d like to bring the romance of some of those myths to passionate life.
  16. This book is all about Gavin St. James, the Earl of Thorne. What would you say is his greatest weakness? What is his greatest strength?
    1. I would say that Gavin’s greatest weakness is his vendetta against his family. He often lets his anger blind him to logic, and can make enemies of those who love him because he won’t let go of his past. I am certain that his greatest strength is his protectiveness of those he feels responsible for. His mother, his employees, the strays and outcasts he tends to collect. He cares for them more than he likes to admit. He has such a large heart beneath all of that rippling muscle. 😉
  1. The heroine, Samantha Masters, has quite the predicament on her hands. What was your favorite part about writing her character?
    1. I sort of loved her struggle with her secrets and lies. She’s an outlaw who really desires to be a good person and doesn’t quite know how. That was a great deal of fun to write.
  2. Your books tend to be a little darker than the usual historical romance. What is about writing about these characters that draws you in?
    1. Life has its darker moments for all of us. I think sometimes people go through darkness and feel that they are ruined by it. I like to write about people who go through that darkness, and are redeemed from it. Made stronger by it. It gives me hope to write about it, I hope it give hope to others to read about it, as well.
  3. What did you have the most fun with while writing THE SCOT BEDS HIS WIFE?
    1. I had the most fun using Samantha to humble a Scot as arrogant and handsome as Gavin. I loved that she had a wit just as scathing and a mouth just a foul as his. She refuses to be impressed by him, and that only makes him try harder to get everything he wants.
  4. If you had to describe this book in three words, what would it be?
    1. Rapid fire romance.

EXCERPT

51PMluAPISLChapter Two

Union Pacific Railway, Wyoming Territory, Fall, 1880

Samantha Masters squeezed the trigger, planting a bullet between her husband’s beautiful brown eyes.

She whispered his name. Bennett. Then screamed it.

But it was the woman in his grasp she reached for as he fell to the ground.

Though they’d known each other all of twenty minutes, she clung to Alison Ross as though the younger woman were the most precious soul in the entire world, and they sank to their knees as their strength gave out.

Alison’s hold was just as tight around her, and their sobs burst against each other’s in a symphony of terror, shock, and abject relief.

What in the hell just happened?

Not twenty minutes ago, Samantha and Alison had been no more to each other than amiable fellow passengers on an eastbound train, chugging across the wintry landscape of the Wyoming Territory.

What were they now? Enemies? Survivors?

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Samantha repeated the words with every short, sobbing exhale. Though she couldn’t have said who the apology was to, exactly. To Alison? To Bennett? To whoever had been shot on the other railcars?

To God?

This morning she’d been the irate, disillusioned wife of a charming and dangerous man. An insignificant and unwilling member of the outlaw Masters Gang.

This afternoon, she’d been the new acquaintance and confidant to Alison Ross, commiserating over childhoods spent on secluded cattle ranches.

This evening, because of what she’d just done, of what they’d all just done . . . chances were good that she’d be hanged.

This train job was supposed to be like any other. Each of the Masters boarded on the last platform for miles and miles. To avoid detection or suspicion, Bennett, Boyd, and Bradley Masters would each take a seat in separate passenger cars.

Samantha would be placed in the least populated car, usually first class, as it was also the least dangerous. Once civilization completely fell away, the signal was given, and the men would strike, rounding up all passengers into one car.

This was done for the safety of the passengers as much as the Masters, themselves, as the gang didn’t generally rob people. Cash, jewelry, and personal items were never as valuable as actual cargo. The Union Pacific Railway didn’t only deliver citizens across the vast American continent. It delivered goods, sundries, and often . . . federal funds.

Even in these modern times, when it seemed all the gold had been mined from the rich hills of California, American currency was still minted in the east. Which meant everything from company payrolls, to government bonds, to cash and precious metals were transported by transcontinental railways.

And the Masters brothers, aspiring entrepreneurs, had decided that if the government wouldn’t allow them land, nor the banks grant them loans . . .

Then they’d take what they needed.

This was supposed to have been their fifth and final train job. It was supposed to have gone like the others.

No one harmed or robbed. Merely a bit inconvenienced and perhaps a little shaken. The Masters would escape with a few bags of money that the government could simply print again, a “frightened” female hostage as played by Samantha herself, and the papers would have an exciting story to publish in the morning.

The signal, both to each other and to the passengers, was one shot, fired at the ceiling, and then a command to disarm, get moving, and a gentle promise that all this would be over before they knew it. Samantha’s job was to act like any other passenger, and incite them to obey. Then, if necessary, act as the hostage to force compliance.

“People are sheep,” Boyd had always said. “They’ll follow a sweet thing like you to their doom.”

On this job, Samantha had been more comfortable than any other. At this time in October, with winter settling in but Christmas still a ways off, travel wasn’t foremost on the mind of the average American.

Her railcar had only two occupants other than herself. Alison Ross, a lively, bright-eyed San Franciscan socialite, and a well-dressed businessman more interested in his paper than conversation.

At first, Alison’s friendly overtures had vexed Samantha, as she found it hard to concentrate on responses when her blood sang with equal parts anticipation and anxiety. But, she realized, to not engage would be suspicious, and before long she’d found herself enjoying Alison’s company.

She’d not known many women her age, least of all friendly ones.

Samantha imagined that in another life, she and Alison could have, indeed, been friends.

Had she not been about to rob the train.

Had there not been more gunshots than were agreed upon . . .

Had Boyd and Bradley not bailed with the money, leaving Bennett to come after his wife, his white shirt and dark vest splattered with blood.

Oh God. What had they done?

Over the deafening beat of her heart, she’d heard Bennett say something about federal marshals. About someone taking a bullet in the shoulder. Boyd? And then a shootout.

Through vision blurred with tears, Samantha glanced at the businessman, dead-eyed and bleeding.

Her fault. All her fault.

Bennett had shot him without a word or warning. Then he’d grabbed Alison and put his pistol to her temple, because he’d known.

He’d known the second he’d seen the horror and denial on Samantha’s face at the blood on his shirt, that she wouldn’t have gone with him. That, while she’d have stayed married to an outlaw, she could never love a murderer.

“Come with me, Sam,” he’d ordered tersely. “Come with me now, and we will go to Oregon.”

It was in that moment Samantha had known he lied to her.

They’d fought about it the night before, when he’d said Boyd wanted to go south to Texas or the New Mexico Territory instead of north to Oregon like they’d planned. That oil towns were the new gold rush.

She’d railed at him. It wasn’t the life he’d promised her. They were supposed to go to the sea to make their fortune in lumber. He was going to build her a grand house on a cliff and make love to her while serenaded by thunderstorms. They’d only just escaped their desolate life on a cattle ranch in the high desert. She didn’t want to go back to bleak sweaty days beneath the harsh, unrelenting sunshine. She wanted pretty green hills, trees, and meadows. She wanted to live somewhere she could wrap a shawl about her and listen to sea storms toss rain against her windows.

Last night, she’d been shrill, and Bennett had been cruel.

But he’d awoken his charming self, randy as he ever was before a dangerous job. And she’d lain beneath his thrusting body, unable to relinquish the churning of her resentments and worries enough to appreciate his affections.

Then it was time to wash, and dress, and commit a crime.

Bennett had promised to revisit the issue. To make her smile again, to fulfill her dreams.

Problem was, Samantha had already lost faith in Bennett Masters’s charming promises. A part of her had begun to accept what she’d long feared. Bennett would never go against his brothers, brutal and backward as they were. If Boyd decreed the family was going south to work in stinking, desolate oil towns, then there was no other option but to do exactly that.

Boyd had once whispered to her in secret that, while Bennett might love her, he feared him more, and fear was always more powerful than love.

“He’d let me fuck you, if I wanted,” Boyd had threatened once when she’d been mouthy. He’d grabbed her through her trousers, his fingers digging painfully against her sex. “You’d best keep that in mind.”

She’d never forgotten that night five months ago. Because she’d told Bennett of Boyd’s behavior.

And, as Boyd predicted, he’d done nothing.

Now, when Bennett held his pistol to this helpless woman’s head, and ordered Samantha to open the door to the railcar, she’d looked into the eyes of her husband of four years.

And seen a stranger.

“You’ll let her go,” she’d reasoned evenly. “You’ll let her go, and we’ll get out of here.”

She’d opened the door. Bradley had the horses keeping pace with the train as it slowed around the McCreary Pass bend. She motioned to him, and he spurred his ride faster. They’d get off the train, and she’d figure out just what the hell had happened before making any hasty decisions.

“She’s seen us.”

Bennett’s words had frozen her blood as she realized that he wasn’t wearing his bandana.

“People have seen us before,” she’d said over her shoulder.

“Not like this, Sam. We can’t leave witnesses. She has to die—”

Samantha had reached across her body, drawn her Colt single-action, turned, and shot him between the eyes in the time it took him to pull back the hammer of his highercaliber, slower-action Smith & Wesson.

Only now, while clinging to a stranger on her knees, did she have time to think about what she’d just done.

She’d killed a man. Not just any man.

Her husband.

“Thank you,” Alison said ardently against her ear.  “Thank you. I know he was your man, but I wasn’t ready to die.”

Pulling away from Alison, Samantha noted the mark that Bennett’s recently used gun left on her pale temple. He had to have killed before, hadn’t he? He just . . . murdered that innocent man like it was nothing to him. He didn’t even hesitate. And then to even consider executing a slight and lovely girl like Alison?

Her husband of four years.

God, had she ever known him at all? Wood paneling splintered above them as a bullet pierced the wall, and Alison screamed, lifting her arms to cover the green silk hat perched above a wealth of mahogany curls.

Bradley.

Samantha’s head whipped around to see that he’d gained on their car, and had witnessed the entire thing. Luckily, of the four of them, Bradley was the weakest shot and only the second-best rider.

The distinction as the best, of course, belonged to her. Boyd was the gunslinger.

Samantha dimly remembered Bennett saying that Boyd had been wounded, and with any luck, those wounds would be fatal.

Bradley’s mount galloped closer, and Samantha realized that if he gained on the train, he’d be coming for her, and only one of them would survive the encounter.

She’d found her gun where she’d dropped it, but Alison stayed her hand. “I know a way to keep your neck out of a noose,” she said, her blueberry gaze surprisingly steady through the tears. “But we’ll have to . . . to get rid of the body.”

Samantha’s racing heart shriveled, but she and Alison stayed low as they rolled Bennett’s limp body the few feet to the door.

“You’re dead, Sam!” Bradley, unable to reload his pistol on horseback, was reaching across his saddle for his rifle. Which gave the women no time to pause. No time to hesitate.

Together, they pushed Bennett through the door, and the force of the train, the wind, and momentum pulled him sideways down the iron steps. The broken sounds his body made when he hit the earth nearly killed Samantha, but Alison slammed the door just as Bradley’s rifle had found purchase on his shoulder.

Samantha could tell his shot went wild, and waited a few eternal seconds for another.

Alison gathered her wealth of skirts and knelt on a seat, peeking through the window. “He’s stopped.” She breathed in obvious relief. “He’s stopped for your—for the body.”

It was only then that Samantha began to shake. Great, bone-rattling tremors coursed through her. All warmth leached out of her, and she slumped into a seat knowing her freezing limbs wouldn’t hold her weight for much longer.

Resolutely, Alison Ross claimed the seat across from her. A bone structure as sharp and perfect as hers was only accentuated by pink blush and rouged, full lips. Emeralds swayed and twinkled in her ears, catching the light as she leaned toward Samantha.

“He called you Sam,” she noted in a sweet voice that contrasted with her sharp tone. “That’s your name?”

“S-S-Samantha,” she managed through rattling teeth. “H-his brothers. T-they’re going to kill me. I’d rather hang.”

“You told me you grew up on a cattle ranch. Was this the truth?”

Samantha nodded, wondering if she’d ever be able to breathe again. Assaulted by the picture of Bennett’s handsome face marred by a perfectly round hole between his eyes.

“You can shoot, obviously. Can you ride, herd cattle, work figures?”

She nodded again, before the absurdity of Alison’s question registered. “W-why are you being kind to me? My—my husband almost—” She couldn’t bring herself to say it. It was too horrible.

In spite of everything, a corner of Alison’s painted mouth lifted at Samantha’s expression. “Where I come from, in my country, saving a life is no small debt. Also, in my savage part of the world, from the time we’re very, very young one law is paramount to all others. Tha an lagh comraich.”

Comraich?” Samantha blinked rapidly at the lovely, obviously wealthy woman. Either she’d gone mad, or Alison was speaking in tongues.

“It means sanctuary.”

Shaking her head, Samantha tried to understand the woman. That word had no meaning to her. What was Alison talking about, her country? She didn’t look or sound at all like an immigrant. Was she not American? Had she not said she had a fiancé in San Francisco? That her family had been wealthy ranchers and she was forced to travel east to settle a land dispute?

“I don’t know what you’ve been through, or what has happened to bring us to this place, but I think we can help each other,” the elegant woman was saying.

“I’m lost,” were the only words Samantha could conjure. Hopelessly, incredibly lost. Adrift. Misplaced. In every conceivable way.

Alison’s gaze gentled. “Tell me, Samantha, have you ever been to Scotland?”

 

Copyright © 2017 by Kerrigan Byrne and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.