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The Rock

By Monica McCarty

The Highland Guard #11

This is a perfect blend of romance and history. I love how Monica McCarty knows so much about the Scottish history surrounding Robert the Bruce that she can effortlessly combine real characters and real events with a few invented characters to make an exciting and heart clenching story.

Thom met Elizabeth and Jamie Douglas when they were children and, along with his friend Joanna, they became best friends. Elizabeth and Jamie were the laird’s children and Thom was the son of the village blacksmith but that didn’t seem to matter while they were young.

Things changed when they grew older. Thom had always been in love with Elizabeth and he thought she felt the same. He waited three long years for her to come back from France to find out she just wanted to be friends. She was too aware that the differences in their social status would never allow anything else.

But nothing could keep Thom down. He joined Bruce’s army and aspired for a knighthood. He even had a wealthy widow with lands and titles interested in marriage. Everything was going great until Elizabeth came crashing back into his life.

I did not like Elizabeth for most of the book. I didn’t like how innocent and naive she was for her age. I didn’t like how shallow she was, thinking about how grand the wedding celebration would be whenever she married but not caring about the actual marriage. I didn’t like how easily bored she became and I didn’t like how she cared so much about her status. I started liking her and then she pissed me off again.

I did, however, fall in love with Elizabeth’s cousin Izzy. Some of the things she said had be roaring with laughter. I hope she’s featured in a future book.

I did get tired of the back and forth indecision by both parties in this book. It was just too much. It made me long for the end to hurry up and that’s not a good thing for me.

I think there is one more book out so I am going to read that next.

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Eoin was a jerk. I never changed my mind about this throughout the story. He was attracted to Margaret because she was wild, confident, cocky and said and did outrageous things. She warned him and so did his friend that maybe someone more ladylike would suit him better but he married her anyway and then tried to change her.

The book starts off with her marrying someone else years later so we know immediately that things didn’t work out between them.

Eoin is getting ready to attack the wedding, not to get her back but to kill her father who is an enemy to his king and cousin, Robert Bruce.

Margaret is getting ready for the wedding. She is under the impression that Eoin is dead and all because she betrayed him. She has a five year old son who is Eoin’s.

My heart ached for Margaret throughout this book. Over and over again, Eoin treated her like she came second to his secret membership of an elite force called the Highland Guard. He couldn’t tell her about it but he went about not telling her about it like a jerk. He would leave her and then think he made everything up to her by having sex with her. Over and over again, he accused her of things and didn’t trust her. I was ready to shank him many times throughout the book.

This story really got to me. Men think they can take a beautiful, wild creature and tame them, not realizing they are crushing their spirit. I was so hopping mad that I had to calm myself down and remind myself it’s just a book.

It’s a sign of an excellent writer when they can pull me in so deeply. I had forgotten how great Monica McCarty is at stirring up my emotions. And how well she mixes history with fiction.

I’m excited to start the next book in the series.

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Claimed by a Highlander

By Margaret Mallory

The Douglas Legacy #2

Och! This was better than the first book which was pretty dang good.

Sybil is the wild child of the Douglas sisters. She’s lived most of her life at Court and the males of her family raised her to be able to navigate the scheming and maneuvering of the nobles But thanks to her brothers lofty ambitions and his open cheating on the queen, Sybil’s family has fallen out of favor with the queen. No, that’s not quite right. The queen hates her brother and needs to take her anger out on someone. Sybil is the only Douglas sibling currently unprotected because her brothers left the country without even thinking about her safety.

Just as the queen’s soldiers are coming for her, a gorgeous but huge Highlander stands in front of her to tell her that her brother had gambled her away in a card game eight years ago and signed a marriage contract to the Highlander. She can either take her chances with the Highlander or face the queen’s wrath which will probably end in death. She takes the easy choice and rides off with the Highlander. She can always ditch him later.

There were so many twists and turns and complex workings going on on this book that I couldn’t possibly explain it all. I was thoroughly engrossed in the story and the romance took my heart on the ride right along with Sybil and Rory.

Once again, there were many villains who were just asking for a dagger in their throats. The author makes me love to hate these creeps.

I read all the way through without sleeping so I’m a little delirious. I better go to bed now.

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I am so glad I was not a woman living way back when. I’m sure I would have been stoned to death or worse.

Alison was married off when she was 13 to a disgusting older man, the Blackadder laird. He died ten years later, leaving her two beautiful daughters. She felt liberated but in an act of defiance she burned his bed, angering some of the Blackadders.

She’s part of the powerful Douglas Clan. Her brother Archie is married to the queen but Alison has no power. She is just a pawn for her family’s lofty aspirations. When she asks Archie for help keeping her holdings safe, he tells her he will arrange another marriage for her soon. That is not what she wants.

Before she even has a chance to feel freedom, her castle is invaded by the Beast of Wedderburn whole goal is to wed her and get her pregnant with an heir to ensure he keeps the Blackadder Castle. It’s just part of his plans for revenge against Lord D’orsey who had his father and uncle killed and imprisoned his step-mother. Alison does not want to be a pawn in anyone else’s games anymore.

There was one villain named Patrick Blackadder who I hated. Throughout the book, I kept asking out loud, “Would someone kill him already?” He was a vile creature.

I liked how the author blended fiction with real history and real historical people. I love history, especially Scottish history.

I hope the next book is just as interesting.

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How am I ever going to find another Highlander Historical Romance series as good as this one?

Julie Garwood created three separate complex stories with lovable heroines and despicable villains. Her male protagonists are strong and honorable not horny and pushy. A lot of historical romance writers make the mistake of making the hero think with his loins instead of his mind. It annoys the hell out of me but Julie Garwood doesn’t do that. And her heroines are classy yet full of spark.

In this book, Gabrielle witnesses a horrible act while traveling to the abbey where she will be married in one weeks time in the Highlands. King John is marrying her to an old Highland laird to win favor with the Highlanders.She and her guards see men disguised in monk robes trying to bury a man alive.

To save him, Gabrielle kills one of them with her bow and arrow. She and her guards sneak him into the abbey to get him help. They do not want anyone to find out they saw anything because they don’t know what happened and who to trust.

The injured man is the brother of a brutal Highland laird named Colm MacHugh and he wants answers. If he can find the person who saved his brother, he might be able to get proof of who wanted him dead.

Colm MacHugh was the perfect Highlander male. He was disciplined, stubborn and a man of few words yet honorable. He would never lay a hand on a woman but he is also afraid love weakens a man so he holds back his feelings. I was pretty much in love with him throughout the book.

I am going to have a hard time finding a series that lives up to this one now that it’s finished.

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Gillian was fierce and brave. Even though she knew she would be punished, she tried to save a boy she didn’t know from a powerful baron.

Her father had been killed by Baron Alford right in front of her fourteen years earlier because her father possessed a jeweled box that the baron desperately wanted. Her father gave her sister the box and told them to hide it until they could get it to King John. Gillian and her sister were separated while escaping and her sister went deep into the Highlands to hide.

Now, Alford is making Gillian travel into the Highlands to find her sister and the box or he will kill her beloved uncle.

I had a hard time getting anything else done this weekend because I was so into this book.

I have grown attached to some of the characters so I hope we continue to see them in the next book.

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Judith was an adorable heroine. She was sweet but spunky. I don’t usually like such nice female characters but Judith won me over.

Judith and Frances Catherine met at a festival on the border of England and Scotland when they were four and five years old. Frances Catherine was Scottish and Judith was English but they became best friends for life.

Frances Catherine’s mother and grandmother had died in childbirth so she was frightened the same would happen to her so Judith promised her that she would be there with her when or if she ever had a child. Frances Catherine knew Judith was too stubborn to let her die. So when Frances Catherine married and became pregnant, she sent her brother-in-law to escort Judith to the Highlands.

The people in each country hate the people of the other country. Judith knows she will face prejudices but doesn’t care as long as she is there for her friend. She was not prepared to be attracted to the warrior who came to escort her though.

It wasn’t all light reading because there were some darker problems but I enjoyed it.

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What a disgusting pig the protagonist was! There is nothing that will make me think differently. He had that total creepy raperish vibe going on. Ick!

Okay, I realize things were way different in early 1600s Scotland and men basically owned women but I’m a 21st century reader who isn’t going to stand for men forcing themselves on a woman no matter how much he thinks a blush equates to wanting to have sex with him.

Cullen meets Bronwyn while riding on the border of their clan’s lands. Their clans are bitter enemies. He flirts with her but she seems not interested in him. When her clansmen ride over a ridge and spots them talking, she gets back up on her horse and he grabs her ass. His balls would have been in his throat if he did that to me.

Throughout the whole book, Cullen couldn’t seem to control his penis. It had control of him. The same was true for Bronwyn. He touched her wrist once and she became horny. What the hell?

It was the way he treated Bronwyn that really had me steaming though. He did some things that were nothing short of abuse, using his power to get his way. And then she would forgive him when he waved his tallywacker around. Man, I hope anyone reading this book knows how wrong that is.

No! I can’t accept it. I don’t want my heroes to resemble a horny creep at the bar who thinks just because you danced with him means he can rub his dick up against you. I want my heroes to know when to stop and respect the meaning of no.

There was actually a good plot going on here with the two clans rivalry and a few other background stories emerging but the book was ruined by the lecherous behavior of the supposed hero.

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I decided to depart from my usual Paranormal Romance and Fantasy genres and read a Scottish Historical Romance. I haven’t read one in years. I have enjoyed Mary Wine’s Historical Romances before so I chose one she wrote.

One of the things I like about Mary Wine is that she blends actual history with the story which makes it a little more realistic. What wasn’t realistic was the plot that was schemed up by the evil mistress.

An earl in England married a noblewoman who gave him a girl child but refused to bed him ever again because she was so afraid of dying in childbirth. He took a leman who gave him many other children. His wife grew bitter and hateful and raised their legitimate child to be spoiled and hateful like her.

The earl spent a lot of time at Court and so did their daughter, Mary. He married her off by proxy to a Scottish earl named Brodick McJames.

Mary was scared to death to have sex or a child ever, especially with a will Scot so she cried to her mother who came up with a scheme. She would send the eldest daughter of the leman in her place. When Anne became pregnant, she would return home to give birth. If it was a boy, Mary would claim it and she could take Anne’s place. The dumb Scot wouldn’t even notice the difference in the two. He could get a leman and Mary would be off the hook for sex.

I rolled my eyes and almost quit reading but I gave into the cheesy ridiculousness and read on. And I liked it!

I’m going to see what other trouble the McJames Clan gets into in the next book.

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This series began as one of the best stories I have ever read but gradually deteriorated into something else. The main character, Mare, started out as a fun and interesting person and ended up being someone I could barely stomach. The pages and pages of introspection of each character not only annoyed me but bored me to tears. Sometimes it is better to just describe something simply instead of using every adjective in thesaurus. Is it necessary to describe in detail what everyone in the room is wearing including the servants?

This last book trudged along, annoying me with every turn of the page. It was written from just about every character’s point of view. The only character I enjoyed reading about was Evangaline. She’s the only one who had any kind of positive character growth. Everyone else was full of themselves

I was so disappointed in this book that it depressed me. I was hoping for so much more but just got a bunch of hot air, really descriptive hot air.

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