2015 Book #49 – The Tempting of Thomas Carrick by Stephanie Laurens

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Title: The Tempting of Thomas Carrick
Author: Stephanie Laurens
Date finished: 5/26/15
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Pages in book: 456
Stand alone or series: Cynster family series #21, 2nd in Cynster Next Generation series

Blurb from the cover:

Thomas Carrick is driven to control all aspects of his life. The wealthy owner of Carrick Enterprises, located in bustling Glasgow, he is one of that city’s most eligible bachelors and intends to select a wife from the many young ladies paraded before him. He wants to take that next step along his self-determined path, yet no one captures his eye, nor his attention…not the way Lucilla Cynster did.
Thomas has avoided his clan’s estate because it borders Lucilla’s home, but disturbing reports from his clansmen force him to return. His uncle, the laird, is ailing, a family is desperately ill, and the healer is unconscious and dying. Duty leaves Thomas no choice but to seek help from the last woman he wants to face.
Strong-willed and passionate, Lucilla has been waiting for Thomas to return and claim his place by her side. She knows he is her fated lover, husband, protector, and mate just as she is his one true love. Though his return wasn’t on her account, Lucilla is willing to seize whatever chance Fate hands her.
Thomas can never forget Lucilla, or the connection that seethes between them, but to marry her would mean embracing a life he does not want.
Lucilla sees that Thomas has yet to accept the inevitability of their union. But how can he ignore a bond such as theirs—one so much stronger than reason? Lucilla is as determined as only a Cynster can be to fight for the future she knows can be theirs. And while she cannot command him, she has powerful enticements she’s willing to wield in the tempting of Thomas Carrick.

My rating: 4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book published this year” check box since it was published in February of this year. I have been eagerly awaiting this novel as it is a continuation of one of my favorite series I started reading in the last couple years, the Cynster series. This book marks the first of the Cynster Next Generation series which will chronicle the stories of the children from the characters in the past 20 books of the series. The overall Cynster family tree can be found here, Lucilla is the oldest offspring of Richard & Catriona (from book #3 in the Cynster series).
Lucilla is destined to be the next Lady of the Vale, her childhood home. This is highly unusual for this time as the estate would usually pass to the oldest son. However, this estate in particular is governed by the Lady (a deity) and so the oldest daughter of the current Lady of the Vale is to inherit the lands. Lucilla has always known this to be her destiny and saw no reason to fight against what would ultimately fulfill her purpose in life. For the past 10 years she has known that Thomas would be her consort (we saw the preview for this in By Winter’s Light) but the Lady instructed Lucilla to be patient and so she has waited and waited for Thomas to re-enter her life in a more permanent way. Circumstances throw them together at last and they team up to try and solve a mystery of sorts.
The ending leaves some issues open for me. Whatever happened to Nigel? Where did he go? I’m not sure if these are meant to remain open or if they will be addressed in Marcus’s novel (released TODAY! And FYI Marcus is Lucilla’s twin). I am very much looking forward to reading his story as the heroine was also introduced to us in this novel.
Overall I liked this book a lot. I was intrigued throughout and honestly once I started it I couldn’t seem to put it down. The ending felt a tad anti-climactic but I’m hoping that there is some follow-up in the next book. And it was a bit too steamy for me but I muddled through that part because I really loved the plot and the story. Lucilla is such a strong character and I really just adored her. It did end up being a tad bit wordy, hard to avoid at over 450 pages, but it wasn’t so wordy that I lost interest in the story, just that a couple points i was like “Alright let’s get on with it already, they both think the other is hot I get it.” Overall though I was immensely pleased at this continuation in an already very long series.

The bottom line: I would recommend this book, it was intriguing throughout. I love the Cynster series and I am excited that it is continuing with the Next Generation.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

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Gretna Green

Unfortunately, this was supposed to have posted on St. Patrick’s Day but was mistakenly saved as a draft instead of posting. Definitely a user error! Hopefully all you readers will keep in mind that this was posted with Ireland in mind on St. Patrick’s Day. Happy reading!

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If you read historical romance novels, odds are you have read one from the Georgian or Regency era. And odds are there’s been some mention of Gretna Green. But for those of you who aren’t aware (and in connection-ish with today’s holiday, St Patrick’s Day!) Gretna Green is part of Dumfries and is a town just over the border of Scotland traveling from England. It is on what was a main coaching route from England to Scotland and is located at the junction of five old coaching roads, the junction being known as “Headless Cross.” And because of its location, Gretna Green became well known for runaway marriages. This tradition began about halfway through the 18th century when Lord Hardwiske’s Marriage Act was signed into law in England. Under this Act, no minor (under the age of 21) was allowed to get married without parental consent. However, in Scotland, boys were able to marry by age 14 and girls able to marry at age 12 with or without the consent of their parents.

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This difference in laws created a large influx of young men and women who would flock to Scotland to get married against their parents wishes. And given Gretna Green’s convenient location (right over the border and on the main route from London to Scotland in the 1750’s) many couples would immediately stop here to get hitched as soon as possible. And luckily, in Scotland it was easy to find someone to marry you since, as long as your had two witnesses, almost anyone really could perform a “handfasting” ceremony or a “marriage by declaration.” Since the blacksmith shop was a central hub of towns at this time, most of these runaway marriages were performed over the blacksmith’s anvil, and blacksmiths in Gretna Green became known as “anvil priests.” As noted from the Gretna Green Wedding website “the hammering of the anvil soon became a notorious sound; romantically it is said that like the meals he forged, the Blacksmith would join couples together in the heat of the moment but bind them for eternity.”

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To this day, people still flock to Gretna Green to get married, I’m sure some find the concept and tradition romantic (I do). It is mentioned in a lot of books and was even mentioned on the well-known TV Show Downtown Abbey. Even further, Gretna Green marriages have come to represent a general term for marriages that are entered into in a different location than where they live so that they can avoid certain laws or restrictions imposed on them in their home town/country. These “runaway marriage” locations in the United States have included at certain points Elkton, Maryland, Reno, and Las Vegas.

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If you’d like further information on getting married at Gretna Green, there is a website you can visit here.

Friday Finds (Feb 27)

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FRIDAY FINDS is hosted by Should Be Reading and showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list.  Whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

My finds this week include a twist on Sherlock Holmes, a fiction book about a bookseller (with an interesting alternate life), a YA thriller, and of course a romance:

1. Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

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One of my absolute favorite movies lately is the Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows that came out in 2011. I have wished for the past 4 years though that they would just make the next damn movie because I am dying to know what happened to Sherlock after he dove off the cliff with Moriarty and how he could have  possibly survived. Well guess what? THAT IS WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT!!!! I can’t wait to read it!

2. The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

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This book looks absolutely fantastic! One bookseller narrating two lives, one of which she lives by day, the other she seemingly lives while dreaming. What’s real and what’s not? Which life really exemplifies what she wants? It sounds fascinating to me! (To be released March 3)

3. The Fever by Megan Abbott

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I read the description for this book and was immediately interested. An unexplainable seizure epidemic that causes panic within a small town? That sounds like a good thriller. I recently read another of Megan Abbott’s books, Dare Me, and while I wasn’t amazed with the book, I definitely want to give The Fever a try.

4. In Your Wildest Scottish Dreams by Karen Ranney

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I haven’t read anything by this author yet but when I saw the cover and that it was featured so prominently in The Ultimate Romance Drinking Game recently discussed on Huff Post, I decided that I would give it a try and added it to my TBR list. The book also sounds good – woman is rejected by man she loves, goes to live in America for 7 years, and comes back to Scotland ready to kick butt.

So those are my finds this week! Please feel free to share your finds or leave a link to your own “Friday Finds” blog posting below! Happy Friday!

2015 Book #3 – By Winter’s Light by Stephanie Laurens

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Title: By Winter’s Light
Author: Stephanie Laurens
Date finished: 1/14/15
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Pages in book: 347
Stand alone or series: Series – Cynster family series Holiday special, 1st book in Cynster Next Generation series

Blurb from the cover:

It’s frosty December and six Cynster families come together at snowbound Casphairn Manor with members of their households to celebrate the season in true Cynster fashion—and where Cynsters gather, love is never far behind.
The festive occasion brings together Daniel Crosbie, tutor to Lucifer Cynster’s sons, and Claire Meadows, widow and governess to Gabriel Cynster’s daughter. Daniel and Claire have met before and the embers of an unexpected passion smolder between them.
However, Claire, once bitten, twice shy, believes a second marriage is not in her stars. Yet Daniel is determined. He’s seen the kind of love the Cynsters share, and Claire is the lady with whom he dreams of sharing his life. Assisted by a bevy of Cynsters—innate matchmakers every one—Daniel strives to persuade Claire that trusting him with her hand and her heart is her right path to happiness.
Claire is increasingly drawn to Daniel and despite her misgivings, their relationship deepens. But then catastrophe strikes, and by winter’s light, she learns that love—true love—is worth any risk, any price.

My rating: 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will count towards my “Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “2014 Release You Missed” square. I have read all the other books in the Cynster series up to this point (many for which a review is posted on my blog, see link above) and I am very much looking forward to reading Lucilla’s story (to be released February 24). By Winter’s Light is the 23rd (technically) book in this series, with a seemingly never-ending listing of possible novels to come in the future. Laurens is just about to begin writing about the “next generation” with Lucilla’s story, and since Lucilla is one of about 70 cousins and extended cousins, we could see another 69 books from this generation (Jeez Louise that’s a lot). Anyways, its hard to keep who’s who straight sometimes. Luckily, Laurens has developed an extensive family tree that can show you all the children in each family (scroll over the couples to see the children’s names) that can help us make sense of where we are in the Cynster world.
I have to be completely honest. I went into this book expecting not to like it. I read about the whole Cynster family thus far and I’ve been so excited to get into reading about the next generation that I couldn’t help but think, who cares about the damned tutors?? But Laurens managed to surprise me yet again but making this a fun and interesting read. I found myself becoming involved in Claire’s story and rooting for her to open herself up to love. I also loved the back and forth between all the different P(s)OV. It made the overall story very well rounded and fun to see from all sides. Lucilla and Thomas’s interactions make me that much more excited to read her story on Feb 24.

The bottom line:  I would recommend this book both as part of the series and also based on the merits of the book itself.

Author website
: http://www.stephanielaurens.com/
Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Winters-Light-Cynster-Stephanie-Laurens/dp/0778317471/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1421331366&sr=8-1

2014 – Book #84

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The eighty-fourth book I read in 2014 was Scandal and the Duchess by Jennifer Ashley. This is book 6.5 in the Highland Pleasures/Mackenzie family series. I rated this book 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5. I finished this book on 9/17/14 (my birthday! :-)). This book tells the story of Steven McBride, brother to Ainsley McBride from book #3 in the series and Elliot McBride from book #5 in the series. Steven is home on leave from the military and spends his first night home getting sloshed in a bar. When he tries to head back to his lodgings, he can’t seem to remember exactly where he’s booked a room for this trip. While trying to figure it out he stumbles (literally) into Rose Barclay, young widow of the Duke of Southdown.

Scandal seems to find Rose wherever she goes, even if most of the supposed scandals are complete falsities made up by the members of the press. When Steven collapses into Rose in the street, she takes him home thinking him a poor homeless veteran. She lets him sleep it off in her guest room and then brings him some breakfast. In return for her kindness, Steven decides to help Rose in her unfortunate situation. It seems that the new Duke (that inherited the title when Rose’s husband died) is contesting the marriage and refuses to pay Rose a widow’s settlement or let her stay in any of the estate’s houses. Steven decides to help her and hires a lawyer to argue her case and also stands up to Albert for her.

Overall I like this book (really more of a short story). I liked the characters a lot, Rose was very compassionate and Steven very alpha male. The plot was interesting if fast paced as one would expect in a novella. I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to the next book in the series, Rules for a Proper Governess, due to come out on October 7.

Link to author website: http://www.jenniferashley.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Scandal-Duchess-Mackenzies-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00DGZKJ5C/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1411046652&sr=1-1&keywords=scandal+and+the+duchess

2014 – Book #55

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The fifty-fifth book I read in 2014 was The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae by Stephanie Laurens. I finished this book on 6/22/14. This is the 18th book in the Cynster family series and the 3rd book in the Cynster Sisters trilogy. The Cynster Sisters trilogy is actually a sub-series within the Cynster family series. I have read other books in the Cynster series and have many other blog posts on them (see link below). This book was actually a re-read for me since I’ve read it before. This time I rated it 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5. This book tells the story of Angelica Cynster and Dominic, the Earl of Glencrae.

In the last book in the Cynster Sisters trilogy, the man behind the kidnappings of both Heather and Eliza Cynster was last seen by Eliza and Jeremy while he was falling to his death. Because of this, the Cynsters all believe the threat to Angelica has been eliminated, which Angelica is grateful for since she no longer has to worry about being kept under the collective Cynster males’ thumbs. And when she sees a devastatingly handsome man at a ball, she knows that he is her hero.

Dominic, the Earl of Glencrae, was hoping that he would not have to stoop so low as to kidnap a Cynster girl himself and thereby wound his own honor. After his associates failed to hold onto either Heather or Eliza though, Angelica is now his last hope and he can not afford any mishaps. Especially with his meeting with the bankers coming up in a few short weeks and his mother still refusing to tell him where the goblet is that he should be handing over to said bankers. Dominic never imagined that Angelica would make the kidnapping so easy by asking him to go for a private walk on the terrace. Then this Scottish laird convinces Angelica to help him save his clan and they set off together to his home near Inverness. I don’t know what it is but I love the books about highlanders, there’s something so romantic about them.

This book is personally one of my favorites in the series. I love the great tension and emotions that flow so easily between the hero and heroine, and I love that this book finally solves the mystery of the past 2 books in the Cynster Sisters trilogy about why Dominic’s mom is so mean. One of the things I didn’t necessarily love about the book though was that the ending kind of came out of nowhere. The villain from the end of the book isn’t included in the story up until he becomes the villain and honestly his name isn’t even mentioned at all until the climatic end scene. So at first you feel a little lost trying to figure out who he is and what the back story with him is. Another thing I probably would have changed is that I wish there had been more interaction between Angelica and the boys. Not that it was necessary to make the book a good book but I thought it would’ve rounded out the story better.

One of the things I think is really interesting is following my characters’ progress on their journey to Dominic’s highland home. They take a mail coach from London to Edinburgh, passing through York. And then from Edinburgh they head to Inverness by way of Perth. I can’t find the exact island where I think Dominic’s home was but that piece of it could be fictional. I also love the descriptions of how beautiful the highlands of Scotland are, they make me desperately want to go there myself someday to witness the landscapes. The photo below is of Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness in Scotland.

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Link to other reviews in the Cynster Sisters trilogy: https://rebeccabookreview.wordpress.com/category/book-reviews/book-series-book-reviews/cynster-sisters-trilogy/

Link to other reviews in the Cynster family series: https://rebeccabookreview.wordpress.com/category/book-reviews/book-series-book-reviews/cynster-family-series/

Link to author website: http://www.stephanielaurens.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Capture-Glencrae-Cynster-Sisters-Trilogy/dp/0062068628/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1403554774&sr=8-1-spell