2017 Book #36 – Highland Barbarian by Hannah Howell

51IxrMFU04L._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Highland Barbarian
Author: Hannah Howell
Date finished: 4/21/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: March 28, 2017 (Reprint)
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: The Murrays series book #13
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:

Sir Artan Murray was right when he decided that the dying old man who bid him collect his niece didn’t know her at all. The furious woman facing him is neither “sweet” nor “biddable.” She demands the brawny Highlander return her to the wedding party from which he took her. But Artan has no intention of allowing so spirited and bewitching a creature to endure a loveless marriage to a ruthless lord for her clan’s sake. He aims to woo the lass and to show her that true love also yields unforgettable pleasure. . .
Cecily Donaldson knows a bond forged by danger and desperation cannot endure. But Artan’s touch leaves her breathless, and she knows this to be her one chance to experience true passion before an arranged marriage seals her fate. Yet once begun, passion cannot be denied. . .nor can a love with the promise to change everything. . .

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 Sir Artan Murray and Miss Cecily Donaldson. Artan’s foster father, Angus, who is as healthy as they come, takes to his bed and claims to be near death. His dying wish is that Artus go to the Lowlands and bring his niece Cecily to see him. With no other heirs, Angus also hopes that Artus will marry Cecily and inherit his estate. Cecily’s parents and brother died when she was young, leaving her under the care of her guardians, who are cousins of her father. Raised her whole life thinking she was a burden to her cousin’s family, Cecily is set to wed Sir Fergus Ogilvey at their request. But when Artus shows up two weeks before her wedding she starts to wake up and realize that this may not be the path she wants. And as she spends more time with Artus, she sees how little respect she’s been treated with over the years. Artus has been doing some observing of his own and he sees how abominably everyone seems to treat Cecily, who is the sweetest woman he’s ever met. And when he learns that Cecily’s guardians might have had a hand in her father and brother’s death, he knows that he has to get her back to Glascreag in order to keep her safe, whether she’s willing to come with him or not.
Overall I really liked this book. The plot was interesting and I loved the tension and the drama of the story. I especially liked Cecily’s character, she was fierce but also feminine and I just loved how fearless she was. And I loved the community that surrounded Cecily once she made it to the Highlands, it was touching to see that she had finally found the family she had always looked for. This was a sweet but fierce story and I liked it very much, I’d be interested to read other books by this author and in this series.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, it was a good story and the heroine was fierce and amazing. I would love to read more in this series!

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #32 – Hannah’s Moon by John A. Heldt

51bRO8XaIOLTitle: Hannah’s Moon
Author: John A. Heldt
Date finished: 4/12/17
Genre: Fiction, Time travel
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: February 8, 2017
Pages in book: 298
Stand alone or series: #5 in American Journey series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher 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:

After struggling for years to have a child, Claire Rasmussen, 34, turns to adoption, only to find new obstacles on the path to motherhood. Then she gets an unlikely phone call and soon learns that a distant uncle possesses the secrets of time travel. Within weeks, Claire, husband Ron, and brother David find themselves on a train to Tennessee and 1945, where adoptable infants are plentiful and red tape is short. For a time, they find what they seek. Then a beautiful stranger enters their lives, the Navy calls, and a simple, straightforward mission becomes a race for survival. Filled with suspense, romance, and heartbreak, HANNAH’S MOON, the epic conclusion of the American Journey series, follows the lives of four spirited adults as they confront danger, choices, and change in the tense final months of World War II.

My rating: 3.5 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 Claire Rasmussen, who along with her husband, Ron, and brother, David, travel back in time to 1945 in order to adopt a baby. Claire and David’s uncle, Geoffrey Bell, guides them through the process and then, with his wife Jeanette, leaves them to their mission in 1945 while they go off to South America. Ron and Claire easily find a daughter available for adoption but they have to wait 3 months for the adoption to be final. During that time they befriend the woman living across the street, Margaret. David develops a particular attachment to her even though she is engaged to a Navy man. The plan is for Claire, Ron, their daughter Hannah, and David to head back through the portal as soon as the adoption goes through. But unfortunately fate is not that kind and there are not one but three major kinks thrown into their plans, all of which could keep them from returning at all.
Overall I liked this book. The plot line was really interesting for this one and had multiple things going on at once, which I liked. There were many points in this book that were moving and I thought the author did a great job of capturing the characters’ strength of emotions in those moments. Especially the pieces about Ron towards the end, there was a lot of tension and emotion in those moments that jumped out at me. The ending was interesting too because although it is the “finale” of the series I feel like it opens the door for a related series for future time travelers.

The bottom line: Overall I have enjoyed this series, and the time travel aspect in general is very interesting. There was some really good tension in this plot line, and there were some very emotionally touching parts as well. I would recommend, especially if you’ve enjoyed the other books in the series.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #28 – Stormswept by Sabrina Jeffries

51r+upTVeTLTitle: Stormswept
Author: Sabrina Jeffries (Originally published under pen name Deborah Martin)
Date finished: 3/30/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: June 28, 2016 (Reprint, originally published July 1995)
Pages in book: 401
Stand alone or series: #1 in (Reworked) Wales 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:

New York Times bestseller Sabrina Jeffries reignites a daring love affair in this intriguing tale of desire and deception—originally written as Deborah Martin and newly revised for today’s audience.
The first wedding night that Lady Juliana St. Albans spent with the dark and daring Rhys Vaughan was intoxicating, the heady culmination of her new husband’s driving hunger and her own awakened sensuality. When he mysteriously disappeared the next morning, she waited for him in hope and desperation. And when he was finally proclaimed dead in a shipwreck, she bitterly mourned the loss of her love.
The second wedding night that Juliana spent with Rhys Vaughan was six years later, after he returned to claim her just as she was about to wed another. This Rhys was different—bolder, harder, and convinced that she’d betrayed him. Only their blazing passion remains from their years apart. But is it enough to light their way through the maze of mystery, menace, and mistrust—to the love they once shared and would have to find again?

My rating:  3.25 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 Juliana St. Albans, who falls in love with Rhys Vaughan. Juliana is the daughter of an earl and Rhys is the son of a squire, and their match is an unusual one. It is made even more unusual due to the fact that Juliana’s father recently took ownership of Rhys’s father’s estate after winning it in a game of cards. Nothing can keep these two apart though, so despite the evidence that they should be enemies they decide to run away together and get married. Only on the night of their wedding (after it though) Juliana’s brothers kidnap Rhys and force him (through impressment which apparently was an actual thing) to join the Navy. After 7 long years, Juliana decides that its time to give up hope and re-marry, and that’s when Rhys comes waltzing back in. Not to save the day though! To punish Juliana for “her part” in his impressment. But still despite the odds, neither Juliana nor Rhys can deny the attraction between them. Can they resolve the issues of their past in order to move forward though?
Overall I liked this book ok. Juliana was such a lovable character and I really admired how patient and forgiving she was. At the same time I thought Rhys was pretty pig-headed and not as appealing as I’d hoped. And the plot line, while riveting, was slightly horrifying. I can’t believe that impressment was something that was actually allowed to happen. And while they are still her brothers, I can’t believe that after her brother had her husband literally banished and then lied to her about it that she could even say that a relationship could attempt to be repaired. I would’ve just been like “Bye have a nice life you suck.” If you can get past those couple pieces though and overlook the glaring awfulness that happened to Rhys, this book was pretty good.

The bottom line: I liked this book, Juliana was an immensely sweet, patient, and generous heroine. I wasn’t a huge fan of Rhys or the plot for the most part (impressment sounds barbaric) but I still found the book to be engaging and heartfelt. I would recommend it but with a caution that you will be frustrated/saddened by certain points in the book.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book # 15 – Last Night with the Duke by Amelia Grey

51kTVBj0gSLTitle: Last Night with the Duke
Author: Amelia Grey
Date finished: 3/5/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Rakes of St. James 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:

Could finding love be his greatest scandal of all?
The Duke of Griffin has never lived down his reputation as one of the Rakes of St. James. Now rumors are swirling around London that his twin sisters may bear the brunt of his past follies. Hiring a competent chaperone is the only thing Griffin has on his mind–until he meets the lovely and intriguing Miss Esmeralda Swift. In ways he could never have expected, she arouses more than just his curiosity.
Esmeralda Swift considered herself too sensible to ever fall for a scoundrel, but that was before she met the irresistibly seductive Duke of Griffin. His employment offer proves too tempting for her to resist. She can’t afford to be distracted by his devilish charms because the stakes are so high for his sisters’ debut Season. . .unless one of London’s most notorious rakes has had a change of heart and is ready to make Esmeralda his bride in Last Night with the Duke, the first novel in the brand-new Regency Rakes of St. James series by New York Times bestselling author Amelia Grey.

My rating:  3.5 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. And make sure to check out my BLOG TOUR post on this book here! This book tells the story of Esmeralda Swift, the grand daughter of a viscount who was cut off from their family after he mother eloped with an Irish poet. After her mother dies, Esmeralda becomes a governess to support herself and her younger sister, Josephine. And then she takes over the administration of Miss Fortescue’s agency, struggling to make ends meet after being taken advantage of by Miss Fortescue’s son. So when the Duke of Griffin walks through her door looking for a chaperone for his twin sisters, the last thing Esmeralda expects is that she’ll be the one chaperoning them. Especially given how attractive she finds the Duke, she knows she should stay far away from this particular Rake. But as circumstances throw these two together again and again, Esmeralda sees beyond the Duke’s title to the compassionate man beneath. And when Griffin finds out that Esmeralda is not in fact a commoner but the grand daughter of a viscount, he can’t stop himself from wanting to make her a more permanent fixture in his life.
Overall I liked this book ok. The story line was interesting and had all the makings of a great historical romance novel. There was a good amount of tension between the main characters, and I liked all the supporting characters.But while there was a lot of potential, there were some pieces of the story that I didn’t love. Griffin was a little flat as a character for me. I didn’t feel like the reader learned enough of his real thoughts and feelings to get into his head and connect to him as a character. And the ending for me didn’t make a ton of sense. The Duke acts like an ass and then he shows up, they do it, and then Esmeralda decides she wants to talk about the fight after. And then after that they were just married and that was it. There were a lot of pieces of the ending I thought were missing, like a confrontation with Miss Fortescue’s nephew and her cousin the current Viscount and anyone else who was a jerk to Esmeralda. And I didn’t think the person responsible for the intrigue with Griffin’s sister made sense, why did he even get involved? What was the motivation there? Anyways other than those things it was a quick and easy read and I enjoyed it but not a lot to the plot I guess.

The bottom line: I liked this book ok. It was a quick and light read and was a perfect read timing wise for me right now. Some pieces of the story line fell a little flat for me but I’m interested to see where this series will go in the future. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #12 – Close Enough To Touch by Colleen Oakley

51lo2h0fvjl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: Close Enough To Touch
Author: Colleen Oakley
Date finished: 2/16/17
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

From the author of Before I Go comes an evocative, poignant, and heartrending exploration of the power and possibilities of the human heart, perfect for fans of the emotional novels of Jojo Moyes and Jodi Picoult.
Love has no boundaries…
Jubilee Jenkins has a rare condition: she’s allergic to human touch. After a nearly fatal accident, she became reclusive, living in the confines of her home for nine years. But after her mother dies, Jubilee is forced to face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.
Jubilee finds safe haven at her local library where she gets a job. It’s there she meets Eric Keegan, a divorced man who recently moved to town with his brilliant, troubled, adopted son. Eric is struggling to figure out how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Jubilee is unlike anyone he has ever met, yet he can’t understand why she keeps him at arm’s length. So Eric sets out to convince Jubilee to open herself and her heart to everything life can offer, setting into motion the most unlikely love story of the year.

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 Jubilee Jenkins. Jubilee is hard to describe as she is a complicated woman. Jubilee has a very rare condition that causes her to have an allergic reaction to other people. And it is so severe that a simple touch leaves her skin with large angry welts, and a short touch of the lips makes her throat close up, literally. And when she almost dies two weeks before her high school graduation from kissing a boy, Jubilee hides herself away in her house, out of what seems to be a combination of hopelessness, depression, and fear. And there she stays for the next nine years. She figures out how to survive without ever leaving her house (thank goodness for the internet and delivery services). But at 26 she runs out of money and she gets a job at the library where she meets Eric and his adopted son Aja. And as she develops feelings for Eric, is it really feasible for her to be in a relationship when she can’t touch anyone?
Overall I liked this book a lot. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending. The book did a great job of building up the relationship between the characters and really drawing the reader in and engaging them. The ending just fell a little short for me and it was a little sad. A second “love interest” was introduced within the last few pages and it just didn’t feel like it fit and I couldn’t ascertain a reason for it being added into the story line. And I think the reader misses too much between the end of the story and the epilogue, there is a large amount of time that passes. While the ending wasn’t a good fit for me personally, I thought this was a great read full of hope, laughter and love, and I would definitely recommend it!

The bottom line: This was an engaging and touching read. While the ending wasn’t appealing to me personally I still really enjoyed the book. I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #8 – Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia

514djmp1kl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: Everything You Want Me to Be
Author: Mindy Mejia
Date finished: 1/29/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense/thriller
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

Full of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront…and she inches closer and closer to her death.
High school senior Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good citizen. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death on the opening night of her high school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of her small town community. Local sheriff Del Goodman, a family friend of the Hoffmans, vows to find her killer, but trying to solve her murder yields more questions than answers. It seems that Hattie’s acting talents ran far beyond the stage. Told from three points of view—Del, Hattie, and the new English teacher whose marriage is crumbling—Everything You Want Me to Be weaves the story of Hattie’s last school year and the events that drew her ever closer to her death.
Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?

My rating:  4.75 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 is about the murder of Hattie Hoffman, a high school senior less than two months from graduation who is found murdered in an abandoned barn near a lake in her very small town. The whole town is rocked by this grisly murder, and fearing that there is now a psychotic murder somewhere in their midst the town is demanding answers. Del is the sheriff, and although the mayor is putting a lot of pressure on him to find out what happened Del’s real motivation is his best friend Bud, Hattie’s father. Del is desperate to find out what happened to his friend’s sweet daughter, who he thought he knew well. But it turns out everyone can hide secrets if they’re dark enough, and Hattie’s secret is a doozy. The reader knows that it somehow involves Peter Lund, a teacher from Hattie’s school, before the book even gets going since he has such an important role in the book. And Peter is in fact somehow involved, but the ending, and the murderer, is something that the reader won’t see coming.
Overall this book rocked. I loved the way that the story was presented, with the three separate points of view. The story line itself was riveting and I loved the way the author wrote this book, there were so many passages that stood out to me and really just made me stop and think about how wonderfully this book was written. Hattie as a character jumps off the page and really just comes so alive for the reader. And the murderer really is just not someone that I would have expected at all, I loved the way the ending was done because it keeps the reader guessing until the last minute. The whole thing was just overwhelmingly sad but I loved that the author didn’t shy away from this either. The book includes not only the suspense of what happened and trying to resolve the mystery but also deals with the raw grief that comes from losing a child and of the community that is left to deal with the aftermath of the murder. I loved this book and I would highly recommend it!

Favorite quotes: 
“I took a step closer, compelled beyond reason toward this girl who kept shedding masks like a matryoshka doll, each one more audacious that the last, a psychological striptease that rached me with the need to tear her apart until I found out who or what was inside.” (Peter)

“It wouldn’t matter if I never saw her again, never hugged her. I would cut off my hands and feet just to know her heart was beating.” (Mona, Hattie’s Mom)

The bottom line: This book was awesome, I loved the plot and the way the story was presented with the three points of view. Though jumping back and forth between past and present can be hard to follow at times, I think it was absolutely the best way to present the story. This was a great thriller and I would highly recommend!

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #4 – Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

51frawx0hul-_sx328_bo1204203200_-1Title: Victoria
Author: Daisy Goodwin
Date finished: 1/14/17
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Pages in book: 416
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse NOTE:I received this book for free from BookBrowse 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:

Drawing on Queen Victoria’s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin―creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria and author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter―brings the young nineteenth-century monarch, who would go on to reign for 63 years, richly to life in this magnificent novel.
Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world.
Despite her age, however, the young queen is no puppet. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.
“I do not like the name Alexandrina,” she proclaims. “From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria.”
Next, people say she must choose a husband. Everyone keeps telling her she’s destined to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert, but Victoria found him dull and priggish when they met three years ago. She is quite happy being queen with the help of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who may be old enough to be her father but is the first person to take her seriously.
On June 19th, 1837, she was a teenager. On June 20th, 1837, she was a queen. Daisy Goodwin’s impeccably researched and vividly imagined new book brings readers Queen Victoria as they have never seen her before.

My rating:  3.5 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. I received this book from Book Browse in order to participate in an online book discussion on the book. If you’ve read it please come join the discussion! This book tells the story of Victoria, Queen of England in the mid 1800’s. The book begins before Victoria is queen, when she was still Alexandrina, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. Controlled for her whole childhood by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend/advisor (Conroy), Victoria becomes Queen when she’s barely 18 and relishes the freedom this provides. This book chronicles her Victoria’s life between the ages of around eighteen and twenty as Victoria comes into her place in the regency. As a young woman she has a lot to prove though, and with so many people who’d like to control her or use her power to their advantage, she has to be careful who she trusts. As Victoria navigates through her first couple years as Queen, she makes mistakes and falls in love and causes some scandal but all in all she stands her ground, makes her own decisions, and follows her heart.
Overall I did enjoy this book. Victoria was very interesting as a main character and the story line was interesting. There were parts of the story line that I thought could have been dug into more, like the discussions of  the poor people in London and how Victoria was spoiled with riches while there were children starving in the streets.And if I’m being completely honest, I didn’t like the way the story ended. I didn’t like Victoria’s second love interest, I wanted her to end up with Melbourne despite the age difference. That probably was the thing that bothered me most about the book. Also it seemed like everyone wanted something from Victoria, which I’m sure is normal for a book about a Queen but I have to say is kind of depressing for a book about a young woman. This was a good and interesting book though and I would recommend it.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot. Victoria was extremely interesting as a character and the book included a good deal of dramatic tension, conflict, and romance as well as political intrigue. I didn’t really like the ending but overall I thought the book was very well written. I would recommend, especially for fans of books about royalty.

Link to author website

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