historical romance

The Wanted Lawman: Book Review

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The Wanted Lawman by A.C. Smith

Deputy Jesse Morgan has a dark past and will do almost anything to keep his secrets safe—especially from his fellow lawmen. After all, he’s a wanted man.

But when he’s tasked with helping the sheriff’s sister in law, Cecilia Drake, move to town, the simple task becomes more than he bargained for. The feisty reporter captivates his attention but leaves him feeling betrayed when he discovers his picture published in the local paper—with his name.

Jesse fears it will bring the wrath of the law, or worse, his old gang upon his head. For the last ten years, they have been looking for him and want to settle their score in blood. The safest bet is to get out of town and keep running, just like he’s always done. But he loves St. Elmo, and more than that, he’s fallen for Cecilia. Hard. When a bounty hunter comes sniffing around town, it kicks off a chain of events that could jeopardize the lives of everyone he loves.

Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MU1SUQP/

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My Review:  Jesse is lawman with a secret in his past. It’s a secret that has shaped his present and prevents him from planning his future. He never knows when everything might come crashing down around him, so he lives his life always wondering when his good luck might run out. When he meets Cecilia, the feisty sister-in-law of his sheriff, it sets off a series of events that make it impossible for him to continue on the path he’s on. For the first time, he is thinking in terms of the future and the kind of life he could have if he were able to settle down. Unfortunately, his past is dangerously close, putting him and those he cares about in danger.

The Wanted Lawman is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It’s a historical romance, but so much more. Romance is at the heart of the story, but it’s also a novel about friendship, loyalty, and facing your inner demons. Because of Jesse’s past and the trauma that has shaped who he has become, there are times when he can be ruthless and even dishonest. Though he comes across as cocky to some, there is an underlying insecurity that comes from more than just his fear of being caught. He’s an extremely complex and endearing character who evolves tremendously throughout the story.

Cecilia is a determined, independent heroine who is strong-willed but still vulnerable. She isn’t afraid to show her emotions, nor is she afraid to fight for the people she loves. She drives Jesse crazy – in more ways than one. He finds her infuriating, but infatuating at the same time.

In addition to the two amazing main characters in this book, there are also many secondary characters I absolutely fell in love with, particularly Tracker. He provides much needed comic relief throughout the story, but he also gives us a unique glimpse into Jesse’s character that we otherwise would not see. Tracker and Jesse have a friendship that endures despite challenges that would normally destroy a relationship.

This is the type of story romance lovers will swoon over, but history buffs will love this book too. The story is very well-researched and full of rich descriptions that bring the past and the Colorado landscape to life. Filled with action, adventure, and passion, The Wanted Lawman is a book I can wholeheartedly recommend to book lovers of all kinds.

My Rating:

5 star

Categories: authors to watch, book feature, book review, books, historical fiction, historical romance, new release | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Troubled Souls: Cover Reveal

Troubled Souls
By: Genevieve Scholl
Genre: Romantic Mystery
Cover Reveal: March 5th
Release Day Blitz: April 15th (103rd Anniversary of the sinking)
Hosted by: Author Sandra Love

 The sinking of the Titanic was one of the most shocking tragedies in history. Rosalee has always had a strange fascination with the whole thing. She never understood why she was so curious about the ship, the passengers, and the sinking… Until she visited an artifact exhibit in Las Vegas, and started having dreams of being a passenger on the ship in 1912.

Once she finds out which passenger she is portraying in these visions, she does some research and finds out that not only is the woman buried nearby, but she also has a striking resemblance to her.

Now she has a million questions, and the only thing that can help her get the answers is the spirit of the passenger… And possibly the handsome Historian in a suit.

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Excerpt:

Bradley snapped his head back at Rosalee’s question. The doctor hadn’t said there was any possibility of amnesia, but he guessed that was why they kept people for observation. Bradley could only hope it was temporary. After pressing the nurse’s button, he gently sat on the edge of the bed and carefully grabbed Rosalee’s hand in his, making lazy circles on the top with his thumb. He didn’t want to say anything for fear of jarring her memory and causing some kind of damage.

A nurse walked in to the room and smiled when she saw that Rosalee was awake. “How are you feeling, Rosalee?” she asked sweetly.

Bradley winced at the mention of her name, and looking down at Rosalee’s creased brow.

“Who’s Rosalee?” she questioned. “My name is Emily,” she added.

The nurse—whose name was Daphne, according to her badge—looked between Rosalee and Bradley in confusion. “She seems to be suffering a little amnesia,” he told her. “Is it a cause for concern?”

Daphne’s smile reappeared, though it wasn’t as cheerful as the last time. “It’s possible with any head injury, of course; though we weren’t expecting it with such a minor bump. But that’s why we keep people in for 24-hour observation.” She moved a chair close to the bed and took a seat. “After I gather a bit of information and check her vitals, I’ll have the doctor stop by to talk to you.” Bradley nodded, and Daphne turned to Rosalee. “Are you up for a few questions?” She nodded, and Daphne pat her hand before continuing. “Now, Emily,” she paused as she smiled at Rosalee. The use of the name made Rosalee visibly relax, and Brad sighed … she really did believe her name was Emily, “do you know your last name?”

“Lancaster,” she answered immediately.

Daphne nodded, and wrote on the paper she held. “Do you know why you’re in the hospital?”

Rosalee shook her head. “The last thing I remember is standing on the ship.”

“What ship?” Bradley asked gently.

“The Titanic, of course.”

TS Teaser 1

About the Author:

I’m just a small town girl with a heart for the country life. I’m very shy and pretty much a loner, but my writing helps me be more outgoing and talk to various people that I would otherwise have a hard time approaching. I don’t write for the money or the fame, but rather to tell a story that needs to be told; whether that is my story or a character’s story. As a lot of people know, from my various interviews, I started writing to express my anger and hurt over the bullying that I experienced in High School, but eventually I just realized that I loved to tell stories. I was born in Texas, grew up and still live in Upstate New York, and want to retire in Ireland.

Author Photo

 

For updates on the story, the release, or to chat with Genevieve …

To sign up for Genevieve’s newsletter and receive a Save the Date card like the one pictured above, feel free to fill out the form: http://eepurl.com/9jzV1 (to ensure a Save the Date card is sent to you, physical address is required—if no physical address is given, you will still receive the newsletter in your email, but will be opted out of receiving any physical mail/swag).

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Categories: cover reveal, historical romance, romance | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet the Authors of Grá mo Chroí

Thank you Tricia for inviting Ali and myself to talk about Grá mo Chroí our collection of retellings of some of the great love stories from Irish myth. Quite a few people have asked us what prompted us to have a go at rewriting perfectly good stories. To explain…

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Jane: I started these retellings about a year ago with the story of Deirdre. It was cold.
Exceptionally, we had had a dusting of snow; the blackbirds were taken by surprise and fussed about in the trees. Something in the combination of the snow and the black feather reminded me of the story of Deirdre, a young girl kept in seclusion, just waiting to be married to an old king, and I decided to write her story. One story led to another, and when Ali, at the end of last year suggested we have a go at rewriting some of these legends, I knew I could do it.

Ali: The first stories we worked on and subsequently revealed to each other just happened to be the most tragic ones, the love stories, perhaps because we connected in some way with the characters and what happened to them. It seems to happen quite naturally in the mythology, that stories and characters cross-reference each other. But it also helped with the selection, I think. Jane knew that she wanted to write both the Baile and Aillin story, and the Cuchullain and Emer story, which build on each other. Without giving too much away, I was half way through writing my Ciabhan and Cliodhna story, when I realized there was an overlap with the Cuchullain story. Fand’s words of advice to the couple do not appear in the mythology as far as I know, but I thought it would be fun to add them, as the story lent itself so perfectly to that happening.

Once we’d noticed the love theme, we thought it would be fun to launch them for Valentine’s Day. That was in November, so we had to work fast… the Christmas and New Year celebrations held things up, but it’s amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind to it!

Jane: The challenges we faced were both in the research and getting under the skin of Iron Age people. There are lots of variations of all the old stories. As they are part of an oral tradition, we know them mainly through the versions noted down by Christian monks. There are regional variations, but also alternative endings, as if someone was trying to change the message, or include a message that wasn’t there before. We can’t know anything for sure, but it rather muddies the waters if we are trying to reach back in time to the emotions of the men and women of pre-Christian Ireland.

Ali and I have different writing styles, but I think it’s fair to say that both of us have been greatly influenced by the obvious love of nature of the early Celts. Their flattest prose, even their description of combat, is full of poetry. That, for me, is the point of entry into the world of the protagonists of these ancient stories. They looked at a stream, a tree and saw what I see. They listened to the song of the blackbird, the curlew, the cry of the gull, and they heard the same sound. They were romantic people though their notion of love was perhaps not quite the same as ours. That is what I hope we have succeeded in putting across in these retellings.

Ali: Everyone loves a love story, the more dramatic and tragic the better! I am lucky enough to live in Ireland now, and Jane comes of Irish heritage although she lives in France. I never imagined when I came to live here that I would ever fall in love with it so deeply, but I did. I’ve never yet met anyone who has experienced Ireland and didn’t!

If you’re ready to dive into the world of Iron Age Irish tragedy, Grá mo Chroí is available at

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Connect with the authors:

Jane can be found on her blog, www.janedoughertywrites.com, on her FaceBook author page , or tweeting. You can find out more about her on Goodreads, and all her books are available on Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk.

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You will find Ali pottering about most days on her blog: www.aliisaacstoryteller.com, her Facebook author page, or tweeting. Alternatively, you can email her at: ali@aliisaacstoryteller.commailto:aliisaacstoryteller.com@gmail.com. Her books are available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

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Categories: author feature, book feature, book launch, book release, book tour, historical romance, irish mythology, irish stories, retellings, short stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Redemption’s Edge: Book Review

Redemption’s Edge
(Book 1 Redemption Mountain Historical Western Romance)
By Shirleen Davies

Dax Pelletier is ready for a new life, far away from the one he left behind in Savannah following the South’s devastating defeat in the Civil War. The ex-Confederate general wants nothing more to do with commanding men and confronting the tough truths of leadership.

Rachel Davenport possesses skills unlike those of her Boston socialite peers—skills honed as a nurse in field hospitals during the Civil War. Eschewing her northeastern suitors and changed by the carnage she’s seen, Rachel decides to accept her uncle’s invitation to assist him at his clinic in the dangerous and wild frontier of Montana.

 
Now a Texas Ranger, a promise to a friend takes Dax and his brother, Luke, to the untamed territory of Montana. He’ll fulfill his oath and return to Austin, at least that’s what he believes.

The small town of Splendor is what Rachel needs after life in a large city. In a few short months, she’s grown to love the people as well as the majestic beauty of the untamed frontier. She’s settled into a life unlike any she has ever thought possible.

Thinking his battle days are over, he now faces dangers of a different kind—one by those from his past who seek vengeance, and another from Rachel, the woman who’s captured his heart.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MQA5X1I

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22839369-redemption-s-edge?from_search=true

Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Review: The wild west is a good place to escape. It’s a place where people start fresh after the horrors of the Civil War, and a place where new lives begin. Dax, a former General in the Confederate Army, seeks a new life away from the war-torn south. With his brother, Luke, he becomes a Texas Ranger, tracking down criminals and bringing them to justice. Tragedy and destiny collide to bring Dax to Montana, and though he insists his future is in Texas, life might have other plans.

After working as a nurse for the Union Army, Rachel is unwilling to resume her life as a Boston socialite. Courageous and down-to-earth, Rachel isn’t like the people she grew up with. She loves her family, but she wants to have a purposeful life where she can use her nursing skills to help others. She finds what she’s looking for in the town of Splendor, Montana. Working as a nurse at her uncle’s medical practice, she feels she’s exactly where she’s meant to be. When she meets Dax, Rachel discovers her life might not be as complete as she’d thought.

I fell in love with this historical romance and the whole cast of characters it had to offer. Rachel is strong, but feminine. She’s compassionate, determined, and confident in her abilities as a nurse. Dax is intelligent, hard-working, and more than a little scarred by the horrors of the war. Sparks fly between Rachel and Dax, but there are challenges to overcome before they can be together. Dax faces both internal and external conflicts. An enemy from the past threatens his future while new enemies create havoc. Rachel is convinced Dax has already made up his mind about his future, and she’s sure she isn’t part of his plans. Rather than wait around, she takes matters into her own hands.

Full of danger, tension, and romance, Redemption’s Edge is a very strong start to this new series by Shirleen Davies. This series has incredible potential and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the characters introduced. I strongly recommend this book to historical romance readers.

My Rating:5 out of 5 stars
 
Categories: authors to watch, book review, historical romance | Leave a comment

The Magic of Highland Dragons: Book Review

The Magic of Highland Dragons
(The Clan MacCoinnach)
By Kella McKinnon

A clan chief has a duty to wed and produce heirs, especially if he also carries within him the power to keep his people safe from the evil that seeks to triumph over them. But Bren Mac Coinnach has long refused to take just any wife. He secretly waits for the one woman that legend says will be his and his alone: his perfect other half, and each year of waiting grows longer and more difficult than the last. 


When a woman is placed under his protection, he makes a vow not to touch her against her own will, and he soon realizes it won’t be an easy vow for him to keep, especially since her will seems made of iron. Bren hungers for her with a need stronger than he has ever felt before, but in a world filled with magic and the timeless, endless battle between good and evil, both his honor and her life are soon at stake. 


Faith McAlpin had never thought she was much different from anyone else… but she is, and always has been. She would soon learn just how different, and the lessons come fast and furious, until she wonders if she will lose herself entirely, especially to the fiery passion and mesmerizing gaze of the Mac Coinnach Chief. Now the struggle has only begun…

My Review: While cataloging artifacts, Faith finds a Celtic ring. Or maybe the ring finds her. Fascinated by it, Faith takes the ring home and when she tries it on, she suddenly wakes up far away from home. Hundreds of years and across the Atlantic ocean, to be precise. She’s taken to Bren, the Laird of MacCoinnaich, who is sworn to protect her. He promises to give her lodging and to ensure that no one lays a hand on her. Bren doesn’t realize how difficult it might be to keep that promise. He’s irresistibly drawn to Faith, and though he doesn’t suspect that she is the soul mate he’s dreamed of, everyone else seems to realize the truth–Faith and Bren are meant to be together.

I really enjoyed this book. The undeniable chemistry between Bren and Faith made this one of the best romance novels I’ve read in a while. I loved the way the author continuously ratcheted up the tension, and then for one reason or another, pulled back and made Bren and Faith wait a little longer for the ultimate moment between them. And, yes, it was worth the wait. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of time-travel plots, but I was satisfied by the magical explanation behind this tale. The fantasy aspects of this novel were very well done, and though I enjoyed the added bonus of magic, the romance still took front and center in this book. For those who like fantasy, romance, and Scottish tales, this story is definitely for you.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Buy on Amazon

Categories: authors to watch, book review, historical romance, paranormal romance | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Interview with Shirleen Davies

Today, I’m excited to introduce Shirleen Davies, one of my all-time favorite authors. If you’re a regular follower of Authors to Watch, I’m sure you’ve seen my glowing reviews of the MacLarens of Fire Mountain series. Shirleen’s historical romance series is by far one of the best series I’ve ever read.

Welcome, Shirleen! Can you tell us about the MacLarens of Fire Mountain series?

The MacLarens of Fire Mountain focuses on four brothers and two cousins during the 1870s American West. Each story focuses on one member of the family, highlighting their struggles, flaws, difficult decisions, and how they find their way past the obstacles placed before them. Although they may be read as singles, each book brings back characters and family members from previous books, giving readers a chance to get to know the MacLarens, and hopefully, relate to their struggles and choices.

Have you always had an interest in that historical time period?

Absolutely! When I started college my major was American history. I’ve always loved studying it, especially the period from the Revolutionary War through the 1800s. Through necessity, I worked full time while in college in the business office of a major utility company. That experience influenced me to change my major to business, but I never lost my love for history and continue to be captivated by events from our past.

How much research goes into each book?

Considerable research is completed for every book whether it’s historical or contemporary. I believe readers deserve to know the setting where the story takes place, including significant political or social events of the time. I’ve found that my research is most important for historical books so that readers have a context or background in which to place the plot and characters. I can’t count the pages of research I do for each book, but it’s considerable.

I hate to ask you to do this because it’s like picking a favorite child, but do you have a favorite character or couple in the series?

I can’t pinpoint why, but for whatever reason, my favorite characters are Jamie and Victoria in book two, Faster than the Rest. I really do love my lead characters in every book, there is just something about Jamie and Victoria that pulled me into their story and produced some scenes that I find particularly satisfying.

You also have a contemporary series based on the MacLaren family. What was your greatest challenge in taking this new direction?

Identifying character personalities and stories that would be of interest to my readers. There are so many choices today plus all the conflicts that didn’t exist in the 1800s, such as dual career couples, long distance relationships, and non-traditional jobs. How do you choose? It’s a challenge.

How do you keep up with the series as a whole–all the characters, backgrounds, etc. Do you keep a spreadsheet or a notebook? Do you ever have to refer back to previous stories to make sure you’re getting everything just right?

Yes, yes, and yes. I developed a master character spreadsheet with tabs at the bottom for each series. I keep a spreadsheet on first and last names common in the 19th and 20th centuries, and a scheduling calendar/spreadsheet to keep my writing on track. I also have a master spiral notebook for each series, plus a separate spiral notebook for each individual book. These are referred to and updated every day. I’m also beginning to use author Beat Sheets to help with my storyline and flow.

Your historical series seems to have really taken off and found an audience. What is it about your series that seems to resonate with readers the most?

I believe it is the characters. Readers seem to love the MacLarens and their strong sense of family and commitment to each other. If one faces a problem, they all face it together, and don’t back down until the trouble is behind them. They respect the strengths and accept the flaws of each other, yet speak their mind without fear of retribution. In my opinion, they are the best of what a family should be.

What are you working on now?

Book three, One More Day, of my contemporary series has just finished the editing and proofreading process. It will release in July.

I’m very excited about my new historical western romance series, Redemption Mountain. Book one, Redemption’s Edge, will release in September 2014. The series focuses on men and women who live through the American Civil War to face massive changes and challenges to their previous life. I’ll also be working on my next MacLarens historical western series, Boundary Mountain, which will focus on another branch of the family and take place in the 1860s through 1870s. Three of the characters were introduced in Wilder than the Rest. Book one of that series will release in 2015.

Thank you so much for visiting with us today! For those readers who would like to learn more about Shirleen Davies and the MacLarens of Fire Mountain series, please visit the following links:

Website
Amazon Page
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Get to know the MacLarens of Fire Mountain:
Tougher than the Rest (Book One)

A passionate, fast-paced story set in the untamed western frontier by an exciting new voice in historical romance.

Niall MacLaren is the oldest of four brothers, and the undisputed leader of the family. A widower, and single father, he is focused on building the MacLaren ranch into the largest and most successful in northern Arizona. He is serious about two things—his responsibility to the family and his future marriage to a goal of a wealthy, well-connected widow who will secure his place in the territory’s destiny

Katherine is determined to live the life she’s dreamed about. With a job waiting for her in the growing town of Los Angeles, California, the young teacher from Philadelphia begins a journey across the United States with only a couple of trunks and her spinster companion. Life is perfect for this adventurous, beautiful young woman, until an accident throws her into the arms of the one man who can destroy it all.

Fighting his growing attraction and strong desire for the beautiful stranger, Niall is more determined than ever to push emotions aside to focus on his goals of wealth and political gain. But looking into the clear, blue eyes of the woman who could ruin everything, Niall discovers he will have to harden his heart and be tougher than he’s ever been in his life…Tougher than the Rest.

Faster than the Rest (Book Two)

Headstrong, brash, confident, and complex, the MacLarens of Fire Mountain will captivate you with strong characters set in the wild and rugged western frontier.

Handsome, ruthless, young U.S. Marshal Jamie MacLaren had lost everything—his parents, his family connections, and his childhood sweetheart—but now he’s back in Fire Mountain and ready for another chance. Just as he successfully reconnects with his family and starts to rebuild his life, he gets the unexpected and unwanted assignment of rescuing the woman who broke his heart.

Beautiful, wealthy Victoria Wicklin chose money and power over love, but is now fighting for her life—or is she? Who has she become in the seven years since she left Fire Mountain to take up her life in San Francisco? Is she really as innocent as she says?

Marshal MacLaren struggles to learn the truth and do his job, but the past and present lead him in different directions as his heart and brain wage battle. Is Victoria a victim or a villain? Is life offering him another chance, or just another heartbreak?

As Jamie and Victoria struggle to uncover past secrets and come to grips with their shared passion, another danger arises. A life-altering danger that is out of their control and threatens to destroy any chance for a shared future.

Harder than the Rest (Book Three)

Will MacLaren is a hardened, plain-speaking bounty hunter. His life centers on finding men guilty of horrendous crimes and making sure justice is done. There is no place in his world for the carefree attitude he carried years before when a tragic event destroyed his dreams.

Amanda is the daughter of a successful Colorado rancher. Determined and proud, she works hard to prove she is as capable as any man and worthy to be her father’s heir. When a stranger arrives, her independent nature collides with the strong pull toward the handsome ranch hand. But is he what he seems and could his secrets endanger her as well as her family?

The last thing Will needs is to feel passion for another woman. But Amanda elicits feelings he thought were long buried. Can Will’s desire for her change him? Or will the vengeance he seeks against the one man he wants to destroy—a dangerous opponent without a conscious—continue to control his life?

Stronger than the Rest (Book Four)

Drew MacLaren is focused and strong. He has achieved all of his goals except one—to return to the MacLaren ranch and build the best horse breeding program in the west. His successful career as an attorney is about to give way to his ranching roots when a bullet changes everything.

Tess Taylor is the quiet, serious daughter of a Colorado ranch family with dreams of her own. Her shy nature keeps her from developing friendships outside of her close-knit family until Drew enters her life. Their relationship grows. Then a bullet, meant for another, leaves him paralyzed and determined to distance himself from the one woman he’s come to love.

Convinced he is no longer the man Tess needs, Drew focuses on regaining the use of his legs and recapturing a life he thought lost. But danger of another kind threatens those he cares about—including Tess—forcing him to rethink his future.

Can Drew overcome the barriers that stand between him, the safety of his friends and family, and a life with the woman he loves? To do it all, he has to be strong. Stronger than the Rest.

Deadlier than the Rest (Book Five)

Connor MacLaren’s search has already stolen eight years of his life. Now he close to finding what he seeks—Meggie, his missing sister. His quest leads him to the growing city of Salt Lake and an encounter with the most captivating woman he has ever met.

Grace is the third wife of a Mormon farmer, forced into a life far different from what she’d have chosen. Her independent spirit longs for choices governed only by her own heart and mind. To achieve her dreams, she must hide behind secrets and half-truths, even as her heart pulls her towards the ruggedly handsome Connor.

Known as cool and uncompromising, Connor MacLaren lives by a few, firm rules that have served him well and kept him alive. However, danger stalks Connor, even to the front range of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains, threatening those he cares about and impacting his ability to find his sister.

Can Connor protect himself from those who seek his death? Will his eight year search lead him to his sister while unlocking the secrets he knows are held tight within Grace, the woman who has captured his heart?

Read this heartening story of duty, honor, passion, and love in book five of the MacLarens of Fire Mountain series.

Wilder than the Rest (Book Six)

Pierce is a rough man, but happy in his new life as a Special Agent. Tasked with defending the rights of the federal government, Pierce is a cunning gunslinger always ready to tackle the next job. That is, until he finds out that his new job involves Mollie Jamison.

Mollie can be a lot to handle. Headstrong and independent, Mollie has chosen a life of danger and intrigue guaranteed to prove her liquor-loving father wrong. She will make something of herself, and no one, not even arrogant Pierce MacLaren, will stand in her way.

A secret mission brings them together, but will their attraction to each other prove deadly in their hunt for justice? The payoff for success is high, much higher than any assignment either has taken before. But will the damage to their hearts and souls be too much to bear? Can Pierce and Mollie find a way to overcome their misgivings and work together as one?

Buy the books on Amazon
Categories: author interview, authors to watch, historical romance | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Deadlier Than the Rest: Book Review

Deadlier Than the Rest
MacLarens of Fire Mountain 
Book Five
By Shirleen Davies
Available on Amazon 

Connor MacLaren’s search has already stolen eight years of his life. Now he close to finding what he seeks—Meggie, his missing sister. His quest leads him to the growing city of Salt Lake and an encounter with the most captivating woman he has ever met.

Grace is the third wife of a Mormon farmer, forced into a life far different from what she’d have chosen. Her independent spirit longs for choices governed only by her own heart and mind. To achieve her dreams, she must hide behind secrets and half-truths, even as her heart pulls her towards the ruggedly handsome Connor.

Known as cool and uncompromising, Connor MacLaren lives by a few, firm rules that have served him well and kept him alive. However, danger stalks Connor, even to the front range of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains, threatening those he cares about and impacting his ability to find his sister.

Can Connor protect himself from those who seek his death? Will his eight year search lead him to his sister while unlocking the secrets he knows are held tight within Grace, the woman who has captured his heart?

Read this heartening story of duty, honor, passion, and love in book five of the MacLarens of Fire Mountain series.

Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Review: Connor MacLaren is a man on a mission. He won’t let anything deter him from finding his missing sister, Meggie. Grace, the mysterious waitress whose caught Connor’s eye, is definitely a distraction. Connor is drawn to Grace, and for the first time in years, he considers settling down, but not until Meggie is found. Grace is a woman with secrets which have the potential to destroy any possibility of a future with Connor. And now that the criminals stalking Connor have set their sites on her as well, she’s in more danger than she ever imagined possible.

My love for this series is no secret. I’m a hardcore Shirleen Davies fan and I’m happy to say this book met all my expectations. There’s tons of romance in this book, but like all the books in the MacLarens of Fire Mountain series, romance is never easy. These characters are complex and have issues to resolve before they can share a life with someone else. For Connor, his personal hangups and sense of morality is his worst enemy. For Grace, her secrets are her downfall.

Like the other books in the series, Davies re-introduces the other beloved members of the MacLaren clan. For me, it’s like seeing old friends. All the details of the previous books come flooding back and instantly transports me to Fire Mountain. The breathtaking scenery of the old West is brought to life within the pages of this series and it makes it so, so difficult to put the book down for any length of time. The author describes pre-state Utah and the dilemma faced by Mormons in plural marriages who suddenly found their lifestyles illegal, and she did an excellent job handling the sensitive aspects of the story line.

Deadlier Than the Rest earns another easy five star rating from me. I’m still in love with this series and can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next!

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Categories: authors to watch, book review, cowboy romance, historical romance, romance | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Interview with Becky Lower

Today’s guest is Becky Lower. She’s here to speak with us about her newly released novels, Blinded by Grace and The Road to Comfort. Becky has provided us with excerpts from both her books, so be sure to stick around after the interview. Before we begin, let’s have a look at the blurbs and covers for her marvelous books!

Blinded by Grace

In 1858 New York City, Halwyn Fitzpatrick thinks he’s off the hook for attendance at the annual Cotillion Ball. He has no sister to shepherd down the grand staircase this year and no real desire to go through the rituals of courtship and betrothal himself. Besides, he’ll know the right girl when he sees her, especially now that he has new spectacles. But his mother has other plans for him. At 27 years of age, her son is in dire need of a wife.

Grace Wagner needs a husband by July, in order to inherit the trust her father has left for her. Her stepfather, though, has plans for the money that don’t include Grace, and the last thing he wants is for her to find a husband before she turns 21, thereby fulfilling the terms of the trust. She’s been in love with Halwyn since she was thirteen, but he hasn’t noticed her at any of the balls they’ve attended over the years. With the aid of his new eyeglasses, he spies Grace from across the room and they share a dance. Grace decides to present him with a business proposition that will satisfy them both. But, can a clueless knight in shining armor and a desperate damsel in distress find a way to turn a marriage of convenience into something more?

The Road to Comfort

Juliette St.James has only done two impetuous things in her life, and the first resulted in her becoming a single parent at age 18. Now, she’s embarking on a cross-country trip to celebrate becoming an empty-nester. Not sure of what she will do now that she’s flying solo, she comes face-to-face with her worst nightmare—a cowboy.

Cyclone Kelley is a former rodeo cowboy who has broken one too many body parts to continue on the rodeo circuit. But the one body part that can’t be fixed by putting it into a cast is his heart, which was broken when his wife died. He wasn’t home to save her, and feels he’s unworthy for any kind of lasting relationship with a woman, so his life has been a meaningless string of one-nighters.

One broken car and an equally broken cowboy later, they are forced to decide if love is worth gambling on what could be. Or if tornadoes, and Cyclones, are better left alone.

 
Interview with Becky Lower

Hi, Becky. Welcome to Authors to Watch. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’ve never married and have no children, which I realize is an oddity, especially for someone who writes romances for a living. But my unfettered state has allowed me to spend my life going wherever I please. So, I’ve lived in various places, seen most of America at one time or another, met and enjoyed the company of a variety of people. My life experiences have been my training for a writing career.
When did you begin writing?
Like most authors, I’ve always enjoyed writing. I worked on the school papers in high school and college, but never really cared for reporting. My mind always seemed to be in the clouds, and each time a situation went one way, I would always wonder “what if…?” But, I thought a job had to be a job. It wasn’t until the economy failed in 2008, and I found myself without employment that I began to take a writing career seriously. I moved from expensive Virginia to a small home in Ohio, pared back my expenses to the bone, and dug in for the long haul.

I understand you recently released two books. Can you tell me about them?
My historical romance, Blinded By Grace, is the fifth book in a nine-book series about the Fitzpatricks, a well-to-do large and lively family in New York City in the decade leading up to the Civil War. Each of the nine children will get their moment in the spotlight. Blinded By Grace features the eldest brother, Halwyn, who was just diagnosed with nearsightedness and is wearing glasses for the first time. That’s how he can see across the ballroom, and find his soulmate waiting for him there. My contemporary, The Road To Comfort, also features a strong male lead, but of a much different variety. Where Halwyn is quiet and dignified, Cyclone is a brash and bruised former rodeo bull rider.

How much research did your historical novel require?
I’d already done a lot of research on the decade leading to the Civil War, but each book I write has its own peculiar traits. For this one, I had to do research on eyeglasses. Most people associate eyeglasses with Ben Franklin, but they were invented 700 years ago. Ben merely improved upon them, by creating bifocals.

Your books are very different. What audience will each of your books appeal to, and why?
While it’s true my books are written in different sub-genres, the story lines don’t change that much. It’s still about two people meeting and falling in love. My male characters tend to be Beta men. Even when, as in The Road To Comfort, they start out as Alpha types, it doesn’t take long for their softer sides to show up. The women start off struggling, either against the forces of society, or their own bad decisions. But in the end, they find their strength and become women who deserve to be loved.

Of all your characters, which was the most difficult to write?
Without a doubt, Simon Huffman, in Blinded By Grace was the one who gave me the most trouble. I had never written a truly evil man before, and I kept inserting into the book my reasons why he was so bad. My editor told me to trust the reader, and that they would understand his motivation. So, I had to take out the multiple repetitions that I had put in to make myself feel better about this man.
What was the most challenging aspect of releasing two books in one month?
It is definitely the promotional aspect. Since one is a historical and one contemporary, I needed to find blogs and review sites that appealed to their sub-genres. It has been time consuming, but fortunately, my background is in marketing, and I truly enjoy doing guest blogs such as this, and other forms of promotion.
What is your primary goal as an author?
To write the best stories that I can, and to find readers who enjoy them.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m more than halfway through the second draft of my next historical. The Duplicitous Debutante is due to my publisher in June. After that, I’d like to get started on the next contemporary, which is going to be a trilogy about three generations of women in the same family.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

I have a friend who is a wonderful writer, but she’s paralyzed with fear that if she shows her work to anyone, that person will steal the work and claim it as their own. Maybe that particular scene will be stolen, but give two different writers the same picture or the same facts, and they’ll write two entirely different stories. So my advice is this: Find a critique group and don’t be afraid to share your work. No one is able to write your story but you.

Connect with Becky Lower:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beckylowerauthor
Website: http://www.beckylowerauthor.com
Blog: http://beckylowerauthor.blogspot.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BeckyLower1
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6159227.Becky_Lower
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/authorbecky1/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Becky-Lower/e/B008DTC15C/
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/becky-lower

Excerpt for Blinded By Grace

New York City, April 1858

A pair of eyeglasses. Who would have guessed?

Halwyn’s vision had never been this focused before. He tweaked his new spectacles to a more comfortable spot on the bridge of his nose as the current crop of debutantes prepared to make their grand entrance into the ballroom.

His mother and father flanked him as all eyes turned to the staircase where each young lady would descend after the announcement of her name. Halwyn’s mother, Charlotte Fitzpatrick, pressed her hand into his back. Even though her touch was gentle, Halwyn did not mistake her meaning, especially when she reinforced it with her statement.

“This is your year, Halwyn, to find a bride. Take your time perusing this year’s group of lovelies and let me know to which ones you want an introduction. I can arrange it.”

“Mother, please. I have no intention of selecting a bride in this manner. I’m too busy for such foolishness. There is too much to do as is, what with the job at the bank and helping you and Father ride herd on the little ones.”

His mother smiled, her eyes aglow as the ladies assembled at the top of the stairs, surrounded by their fathers, brothers, and assorted other young men. “You are twentyseven, Halwyn, high time to be married and producing grandchildren for me to spoil.”

“You have four already to spoil, with two more on the way this year. My contribution can wait.”

His father tried to hide his grin, but was unsuccessful. “I’m giving you fair warning, Halwyn. Your mother has decided this will be your year to wed. So, it’s up to you to find a suitable mate, one who won’t bore your mother to death with every last detail of the wedding ceremony. If you don’t put forth an effort, believe me, your mother will for you.”

Halwyn groaned and raked his hand through his hair. His thumb and forefinger brushed back the stray locks that always seemed to fall over his forehead.

“Why do I feel that I’m about to be fed to the lions?”

George slapped his son on his shoulder and laughed. “Because you are. It’s called courting. And here are this year’s entries into the marriage pool.” As a unit, the Fitzpatrick family turned to observe each lovely young lady, dressed in virginal white, as
they were announced to the fawning masses below, took a curtsy, and then descended the staircase on the arms of their male escorts. Halwyn realized he was able, for the first time in all his years of attending the Cotillion, to actually see the women as they descended the stairs. He admitted each created a vision as they bowed to the audience and gracefully floated down the stairs, and was amazed at how much he had missed in years past simply because of faulty eyesight. The ladies were prettier, the ballroom was ablaze with candles, the gowns were lovely, and the gems around the ladies’ necks glimmered in the
reflected glow of the candles. He had no problem adding rows of sums close up, but the other side of a crowded ballroom, or the ladies at the top of the staircase, had been a blur to him before.

Excerpt for The Road To Comfort

Juliette St. James had only done two impetuous things in her life. And, from the billowing cloud of black smoke belching out from under the hood of her car, the second one was no wiser than the first.

The first occurred twenty-three years earlier when she shared one night with a handsome stranger, which resulted in becoming a single parent at the age of eighteen. The second, taking a cross-country road trip on her own to celebrate becoming an empty-nester, was turning out to be every bit as ill planned.

She nudged the car to the side of the road and cut the motor, thinking maybe she should get out of the car before it caught on fire. Or before the noxious fumes the fire was causing made her pass out, in which case she’d literally be toast. Fighting against the uneasiness beginning to nibble at the corner of her brain, she quickly stepped out of the car and glanced at the surrounding landscape. Row after unrelenting row of corn surrounded her. Not a landmark in sight. Hadn’t Stephen King written something about monsters coming out of the cornfields? Not the image she should be putting into her already overactive imagination. What she needed to do was call for a tow truck. What state was she in, anyway? Nebraska? Oklahoma? Kansas? They had all blurred together over the past day and a half.

Having a plan of action in her mind, finally, she leaned in through the open window and reached for her enormous purse lying on the passenger seat. She rummaged through it, pulled out her cell phone, and turned it on. No signal. Oh, great. Even if she did know where she was, she couldn’t call for help. Wonderful.

What to do? She couldn’t get back in her car and huddle there forever, even though the smoke was beginning to taper off. She’d just have to start walking, children of the corn notwithstanding. Grasping the door handle, she hesitated as a fat drop of rain fell onto the car’s windshield. Very dark clouds were quickly moving in from the direction she had been headed when her car finally gave up. If it had been a dog, her car would now have rolled over alongside the road, wheels spinning in the air. She glanced at the sky. It remained sunny behind her. If her car had still been working, she’d turn around and head back the way she came, maybe outrun the rain. What kind of storms did they have in this part of the country, anyway? Tornadoes? Cyclones? She drew in a breath.

Maybe she should get back in the car. At least, with the rain, the immediate threat of a car fire was obliterated. The clouds on the horizon outmatched the one still billowing slightly from under the hood. They did mirror her thoughts though, as she mentally kicked herself, locked in a state of indecision. Why had she taken off on a whim anyway? On a trip to nowhere? By herself?

It was so unlike her normal controlled world. She wanted to shake herself for being so impulsive. But then, it wasn’t every day that her son got married and left home. Leaving her alone. She was all by herself, for the first time since she was eighteen. She obviously didn’t know how to act, making decisions based solely on what she wanted. It was a luxury she hadn’t ever before experienced. And she botched the very first one she’d made. What had she been thinking?

Sure, she’d had a grand time of things so far. She’d let her hair stream down instead of putting it into her usual bun; she’d turned up the volume on her car stereo and sang along at the top of her lungs with Adele and Bruno Mars. Trips inside various quick-stop grocery outlets meant that all kinds of junk food filled her car to overflowing. Her arm dangled out the window, outrageously in violation of her admonition to her son over the years not to ever do that, since you never knew when a dog would come along to bite it, or a passing vehicle would get too close and rip it out of its socket. She’d basically thrown her rigid common sense to the wind on her wild trip, and now she surveyed where her impulse had gotten her. She was in the middle of nowhere.

Categories: author interview, authors to watch, contemporary romance, historical romance | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Interview with Glynis Smy

Our guest today is Glynis Smy. She’s here to speak with us about her wonderful historical romance novels. Thanks for being here, Glynis.

Thanks for having me, Tricia.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am English, have a Welsh Christian name, and French family ties. From 2005 to 2013, I lived in Cyprus. A little European … literally, at 5’ 2”. Oh, and have a weird sense of humour. I am married to the man I met when I was 17, nearly 40 years ago, we will celebrate 35 years of marriage this year. We have three adult children, and one darling granddaughter. I live in the coastal town of Dovercourt, near Harwich, Essex. The captain/owner of the Mayflower lived here, and Samuel Pepys was member of parliament for the town. The sea is in my blood and to live back in my hometown has been a great source of inspiration for my latest book.

When did you begin writing?

I have written poetry, short stories and magazine articles from a very young age. I won an inter-schools poetry contest at the age of twelve, and never looked back. Writing novels happened during my quiet years in Cyprus. I am what is known as a late bloomer. J

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

Ripped Genes, is the sequel to, Ripper, My Love. They fall into the historical romance suspense/thriller genre. I had no intention of writing a second book but after several emails and requests from readers, which really touched me, I caved in and wrote more about the life of my character, Kitty Harper.

How did you get the idea for the book?

I’d seen a film about, Jack the Ripper, and my husband passed a comment about the evil side of him. I thought about it, and replied that he was a son of someone, surely someone loved him at some point in his life. This triggered the idea that, yes, someone might love The Ripper.

If you could recommend just one of your books to my readers, which book would you choose?

This is an interesting question. When I wrote, Ripped Genes, I actively marketed what I considered my two strongest books. However, my readers thought otherwise and, Maggie’s Child (Victorian romance), has become the favourite. It recently hit #1 in the Amazon category, historical romance Victorian for ebooks, #1 for books, and #25 in the paid section for general historical romance. I was overwhelmed by the statistics. Also, I am proud to find the book has made it into the second round of the, Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. So, what I thought was my weakest book is in fact the strongest in sales, and I suppose I would say, Maggie’s Child is the answer.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

I think, Maggie. I loved, Kitty, and am loving, Elle Buchanan my new character but Maggie crept under my skin. She is a survivor, and struggles along during times when men owned women. She also survived abandoning her child.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

Oh easy answer, the back page blurb/synopsis. Seriously, I had to remind myself not to fail my character. She needed a happy ending, not the one that kept threatening to become my twist. I will save that for another suspense novel.

What is your primary goal as an author?

To improve. I have loads of room for improvement.

What projects are you currently working on?

My latest novel is one I started in Cyprus. It is based here, in my hometown. The Penny Portrait is a Victorian romance set in the mid 1800’s, and again I have a female lead character, Elle Buchanan. In Ripped Genes I venture to America with Kitty, in this one I am off to … no, I will not add spoilers. I love the research side so tend to find other places to explore. J

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Make time for writing. Set aside even a half hour to write something each day. Even if it is a diary. This way you never suffer with ‘block’. Learn from others but do not always think their way of writing is your way, stay true to your voice. Never give up on your dream. Self-publishing is not the death of you as a writer so do not be scared of the process. Relax and enjoy your writing. Polish it to the best of your abilities or employ an editor. You can still submit your self-published work to publishers/agents, while enjoying the knowledge that you have achieved a goal in life … you wrote a book and someone is reading it!

To connect with Glynis Smy or to find out more about her books, please visit the following links:

Blog: www.glynissmyauthor.com

Facebook Page: Glynis Smy Author

The website where she showcases other authors: The Virtual Bookcase

Glynis Smy’s Books: Books

When farmer’s wife Maggie Sawbury gives birth to her fifth child, the only one that has lived and the result of an extra-marital affair, she is heartbroken and desperate. Maggie knows her joyless life with a bully of a husband is not one a child should endure, and she leaves the baby at the roadside to be found by passers-by.

Her money-driven husband announces he has found her another job in the village of Redgrave, aside from the many tasks she has on Windtop farm. He is totally unaware the position comes with a secret. One that frightens and yet brings joy to Maggie. She is to become wet-nurse to her abandoned child.

Love, and the possibility of incest, threaten to open old wounds, and Maggie has several decisions to make. However, will they be the right ones? If she tells all she knows, it will bring about the destruction of three families. Equally, her silence could be just as destructive. She shares her secret with another, the result changes her life, and a death brings with it more secrets. Will Maggie stay or will she walk away and find the love she craves?

Categories: author interview, authors to watch, historical romance | 8 Comments

Stronger Than the Rest: Book Review

Stronger Than the Rest
(MacLarens of Fire Mountain: Book Four)
By Shirleen Davies
Published Jan 2014
Avalanche Press
Available on Amazon

“Smart, tough, and capable, the MacLarens protect their own no matter the odds. Set against America’s rugged frontier, the stories of the men from Fire Mountain are complex, fast-paced, and a must read for anyone who enjoys non-stop action and romance.”

Drew MacLaren is focused and strong. He has achieved all of his goals except one—to return to the MacLaren ranch and build the best horse breeding program in the west. His successful career as an attorney is about to give way to his ranching roots when a bullet changes everything.

Tess Taylor is the quiet, serious daughter of a Colorado ranch family with dreams of her own. Her shy nature keeps her from developing friendships outside of her close-knit family until Drew enters her life. Their relationship grows. Then a bullet, meant for another, leaves him paralyzed and determined to distance himself from the one woman he’s come to love.

Convinced he is no longer the man Tess needs, Drew focuses on regaining the use of his legs and recapturing a life he thought lost. But danger of another kind threatens those he cares about—including Tess—forcing him to rethink his future.

Can Drew overcome the barriers that stand between him, the safety of his friends and family, and a life with the woman he loves? To do it all, he has to be strong. Stronger than the Rest.

Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

My Review: After an injury leaves him paralyzed, Drew MacLaren is convinced he has to set his dreams aside. He’s in love with Tess, the quiet daughter of a Rancher, but won’t ask for her hand until he can walk again. Tess believes she’s the only one who can help him, and she’s determined to be there for him, even when he pushes her away. When Drew’s job forces him to return to the site of his crippling injury, he discovers danger still lurks within the Colorado town.

Stronger Than the Rest is the fourth book in The MacLarens of Fire Mountain Series. While I can’t say it’s my favorite (because I couldn’t possibly choose between them), I can say this is by far the most complex and fast-paced story of them all. This book is non-stop action, passionate romance, and heart-clutching danger all rolled into one amazing package. It’s definitely a page-turner! With the introduction of a cold-hearted, greedy villain who will destroy anyone to get what he wants, the tension oozes from every page. There are characters who aren’t who they seem to be, and a mysterious spy working behind the scenes. In the midst of all this danger, there’s a romance brewing between Drew and Tess. Drew struggles with the fear that he isn’t good enough for the woman he loves while trying to do the job he has set out to do.

Drew is a courageous, honorable character, and it’s no wonder. The entire MacLaren family is made up of unforgettably unique characters I can’t get enough of. I love the way this family bands together and supports each other in any situation. I’ve mentioned this in my reviews of previous books, but it’s worth mentioning again–there is something very special about this series, and it isn’t just the romance. If you’re a romance lover, you’ll enjoy the blossoming love that develops in each MacLaren novel. If romance isn’t your thing, there’s enough action and intrigue to keep you engaged (particularly in books three and four). If you’re a reader who wants to discover an entire family of characters you can fall in love with, this is the series for you. It’s the family that makes this series truly special. There’s a feeling of love–not just romantic love, but love between brothers, love between parents and children, love for the land, love for your neighbors–the kind of real, enduring love that’s missing from many romance novels I’ve read. These are characters who are often flawed, but have strong work ethics and solid moral values. They embrace fun and family while enduring tragedy and sharing tears.

This series is a definite favorite I will read over and over again.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Categories: book review, historical romance, romance | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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