Taming the Highland Rogue (The MacLerie Clan #4.6) by Terri Brisbin

Taming the Highland Rogue (The MacLerie Clan #4.6) by Terri Brisbin

**The date in the blurb is incorrect! It’s supposed to be 1370!**

Scotland, 1307

Laird Connor MacLerie is ruthless, a fact his wife, Jocelyn, knows all too well–particularly when it comes to arranging marriages for members of his clan. Though they found happiness and passion themselves, Jocelyn had been bought as a bride for Connor herself and doesn’t want to see another woman betrothed without consent. She hatches a matchmaking plot of her own–but it will only succeed if she can tame her Highland husband!

Taming the Highland Rogue (The MacLerie Clan #4.6) by Terri Brisbin

This is a companion story to author Terri Brisbin’s MacLerie Clan series, set in the fourteenth-century Scottish Highlands. It has been a fun series for me, but this story, a bridging sort of story between one generation and the next, is only for people already familiar with the characters.

Taking us twenty years into the future from the first book in the series, our characters now have children of their own who will be facing marriage. The fathers want these to be business arrangements, and the mothers want their children to marry for love. This plotline runs in the background of book five, so I probably should have read this story first!

Brisbin’s writing really works for me, but there’s not a great deal of plot here, so it is definitely only one for the diehard fans.

I do think the price ($2.99) was a little steep for such a short read, but I knew that going in, so it was my fault if I felt overcharged!

The Week: 11th – 17th July

Winter Snow Canberra Australia 13th July Morning 2016 Sonya Heaney.

We all got super excited about the possibility of snow on Wednesday. It’s not something we ever see! However, despite being able to see some on the mountains in and around Canberra, this was the best effort nature made at our house, early in the morning (it was gone soon after).

The same day, we had lunch for my cousin’s eighteenth birthday – Catholic families – the youngest and eldest first cousins on my father’s side vary in age nearly thirty years! We were all laughing at ourselves for the excitement over all our pictures of the “snow”. The one above was ten times more snow than anybody else saw.

Winter Blue Sky Sun Trees Canberra Australia 15th July 2016 Sonya Haeney.

Other than the snow thing, we’ve had some gorgeous weather! This was Friday afternoon.

I could talk about Nice. I could talk about Turkey. I could talk about the fact Russian gangs are again going around desecrating Ukrainian graves OUTSIDE Eastern Europe… But you can look that up on your own. On the other hand:

I love you, Canada. This story went a teeny way to relieve my anger about some other things…

Trudeau condemns Russia’s annexation of Crimea, vows ‘Canada will always stand by Ukraine’.

Canada’s leader was in Kyiv, Ukraine and visited the genocide memorial, and also the memorial where Ukrainians were killed by pro-Russian and actual Russian snipers on the 20th of February, 2014 (above and below). Many of those shots were fired by snipers in the hotel in the background. I was there a few weeks ago, when they were setting it up:

Building the memorial to the Ukrainians killed by pro-russian and russian dsnipers in Kyiv. Sonya Heaney OKsana. 2016.

Rex the cat left on Thursday. I will miss him so much. Here he is having one final sleep on my bed (maybe now I will be able to make it before the sun sets!):

Rex the Cat

Lisa Kleypas’ Upcoming Book

Devil in Spring (2017) (The third book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas

Oh, the subtlety!

Romance Cover Man

True Blood – the Musical?

fp2396-true_blood

Romance + Bull Riders

 My review of Where You Are by Tammara Webber

where-you-are-by-tammara-webber

My review of Possessed by the Highlander (The MacLerie Clan #3) by Terri Brisbin

Possessed by the Highlander (The MacLerie Clan #3) by Terri Brisbin

Possessed by the Highlander (The MacLerie Clan #3) by Terri Brisbin

Possessed by the Highlander (The MacLerie Clan #3) by Terri Brisbin

Marian Robertson rescued a child and destroyed her reputation. Now, to keep her family safe, she must marry the stern, dark-eyed warrior negotiating a truce between their clans – and risk her heart to protect the truth.

Manipulated into marrying the ‘Robertson Harlot’, Duncan, peacemaker of the MacLerie clan, finds his new wife’s courage and spirit make it impossible to resist her. But will he put his honor at stake to free her from her past – and claim her love forever?

Possessed by the Highlander (The MacLerie Clan #3) by Terri Brisbin

This cover looks like it’s sending itself up!

If I ever had a guilty pleasure author, I suppose Terri Brisbin is it. I’m usually not the biggest fan of Highland romances, and find them to be the historical romance subgenre that is the most anachronistic and the most exaggerated (and those embarrassing covers!), but Brisbin keeps me up until dawn because her writing style is so readable.

This was my fourth book by this author, and while there is a sameness to some aspects of them, such as drugging the hero, (there’s only so much you can do with the time and setting, I suppose!), I still really enjoyed it. In fact, it ties with The Highlander’s Runaway Bride as my favourite by her so far.

Yet again, I’ve read a series out of order, but I don’t think it mattered.

I think the author finds a good balance between the mentality of the Middle Ages (though almost none of her books actually have dates, this series is set in the fourteenth century) and what we will accept today. I like that while religion and things like that are not heavy in the plot, they exist to an extent to create an atmosphere. I know some modern readers might bristle at the overly masculine men and the attitudes towards women, but – again – this is the Middle Ages!

The plot in this one has enough angst and drama and secrets to keep it interesting to the very end. I liked how secrets were revealed. Some authors really struggle with how long to hold off, but we learnt gradually here, and just when you think you have it all figured out, there is something new to discover.

When you read a number of books by any author, you’re going to notice some of the same things turning up time and time again. One thing that I don’t like is how every heroine always seems to be stumbling or tripping, and having to be steadied by the hero (or any other man available). Whether they’re scared, surprised or just plain clumsy, they can never seem to stay on their feet!

Another thing, that is not the author’s fault, is that the ebook I read had terrible formatting.

I enjoyed Possessed by the Highlander enough that I immediately went back and bought book one in the series.

The Week: 20th – 26th June

Driving Home Queanbeyan to Canberra Australia Winter 24th June 2016 Sonya Heaney Sky Clouds Nature

Driving home on Friday afternoon (with a slightly dirty car window!).

I missed the big skies in Canberra.

Gum Eucalyptus Tree Canbera Australia Winter Sun 25th June 2016 Sonya Heaney.

Winter sunshine.

So, I’m finally back! This was not my longest trip away, but two months is still a long time. It’s nice to get back to the little things, like good water – and the neighbours’ cat who thinks he’s mine!

Rex Cat 21st June 2016

We finalised our bookings for our next trip to Europe this week – we’re going again in a few months. We finished bookings for England the day before the scary referendum for Britain to leave the EU (a referendum that had a severe impact the world over – including here in Australia), and I am so disillusioned now.

This is how the United Kingdom voted to leave the E.U.

When you’re doing exactly what Vladimir Putin wants you to do, you might want to reconsider. His plan to weaken and destabilise Europe is going perfectly. There go Britain’s sanctions on aggressive Russia! Now Britain will lose their trading partners, guess who they’ll be doing business with from now on…

The End of RT Magazine

front_cover_july16 RT Magazine July 2016 (Issue 389)

My review of The Beast of Clan Kincaid (Highland Warrior #1) by Lily Blackwood

The Beast of Clan Kincaid (Highland Warrior #1) by Lily Blackwood

My review of Valerie (The Carmichaels, Book 3) by Charlotte Penn Clark

Valerie (The Carmichaels, Book 3) by Charlotte Penn Clark

My review of Marrying Winterborne (Ravenels #2) by Lisa Kleypas

Marrying Winterborne (Ravenels #2) by Lisa Kleypas

My review of The Many Sins of Cris de Feaux (Lords of Disgrace #3) by Louise Allen

The Many Sins of Cris de Feaux (Lords of Disgrace #3) by Louise Allen UK Cover

The Beast of Clan Kincaid (Highland Warrior #1) by Lily Blackwood

The Beast of Clan Kincaid (Highland Warrior #1) by Lily Blackwood

A Highland warrior battles to reclaim his birthright in the first of a new series filled with seduction, revenge, and soul-stirring passion…

They call him the Beast—a hardened mercenary whose heart seems as cold as his icy blue gaze. They do not know his true name: Niall Braewick, son of the Laird of Kincaid. It has been years since he escaped into the forest the night his father was murdered. Now he has returned, ablaze with a vengeful hunger. He will gain the MacClaren chief’s trust, gather his clan, and take back his lands. And take the MacClaren’s daughter as well…

Though he pulled her from the river, saving her life, Elspeth has been warned to keep her distance from her father’s hired warrior. He is a barbarian—a shame, as he is far more compelling than the lechers and fools competing for her dowry. Little does she know that, like the castle itself, she is a prize Niall intends to claim…but will he extract blood for blood and possess what is his, or will his enemy’s beautiful, innocent daughter tempt him to forsake his dream of conquest?

The Beast of Clan Kincaid (Highland Warrior #1) by Lily Blackwood

Set in the fourteenth century, this book has everything you expect from Highland romances. The overly big, overly tough warrior men (the subgenre’s main drawcard!), the feminine but feisty females (which work, if written well enough). The scheming and power-hungry lairds and ladies. The avenging and the honour. The swords. The lusting.

This is a subgenre that works for me – sometimes. Other times, I get the impression these books are a throwback to the bodice ripper era. The Beast of Clan Kincaid is a bit of both, which made some of it enjoyable to me, and other parts too drawn-out and predictable.

On the predictable side was the cast of evil blondes (including a beautiful but evil stepmother!) versus honourable brunettes we were presented with. There were also too many scenes of our hero and heroine lusting after each other for me; I wanted some more plot twists in their place.

On the other hand, the writing is solid, and the research just enough to give this old, OLD time period a proper historical flavour without totally alienating the reader.

It’s just that, after a gripping opening, I found my mind wandering by the halfway mark. It came back together at the end, but by then I was starting to think this would have worked better as a shorter book.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Much Ado About Highlanders by May McGoldrick

Much Ado About Highlanders by May McGoldrick

In the heart of Scotland, this Highlander is about to meet his match in a brand new romance from bestseller May McGoldrick.

Highland warrior Alexander Macpherson has lost his wife. When he agreed to take Kenna Mackay as his bride to advance his clan’s power in the north, he expected a bit of an adjustment. He didn’t expect the sharp-tongued beauty to run away on their wedding night. Still, Alexander wants his runaway bride…and he has the sneaking suspicion that she wants him, too.

Kenna Mackay thought she was safe in a priory full of nuns learning the craft of healing, but when she is kidnapped by her own husband, the battle of wits begins anew. But even as passions ignite, a deadly secret from Kenna’s past rises to the surface and put their new love in jeopardy. As a heartless villain closes in, two headstrong lovers find themselves locked in a struggle between evil and the power of undying love. And this time, Alexander is determined he will not lose his wife again.

Much Ado About Highlanders by May McGoldrick

This book has paranormal (well, magical) elements to it, which I did not realise would be the case when I started reading. It’s a Highland romance in the style of books of a few decades ago, which will be extremely appealing to some readers, and not so appealing to people who prefer less of the “feisty female” trope.

More than any other, the Highland romance subgenre tends to rely heavily on tropes and tried and true themes. The runaway bride from a different clan or the heroine hiding in a nunnery. The perilous journey across Scotland. The reason it’s so successful is because those tropes are so appealing, and recently I’ve fallen for them a few times over.

Much Ado About Highlanders doesn’t bring anything to the genre I haven’t read before, but it was solidly-written, and a nice escapist fantasy, even if it had an old-fashioned feel to it. By “old-fashioned” I mean the heroine is (irritatingly) feisty like the little misses of the 80s bodice rippers, and the men are supremely MANLY (which I’m sure is one of the reasons people pick up this sort of book!).

There is a secondary romance that gets a lot of page time, and I actually liked those characters better, so I was fine with the strong presence they had in the story.

I’m not a fan of surprise paranormal elements in books. I like my genres to stay separate, I suppose. In this particular case, the magic elements seemed to turn up to save the day at the characters’ lowest moments, where I’d prefer people actually have to fight for their successes.

Highland romance fans will enjoy this one. If you like your romances a little less – er – feisty, maybe you’ll find it light fun…

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Highlander’s Stolen Touch (The MacLerie Clan #5) by Terri Brisbin

The Highlander's Stolen Touch (The MacLerie Clan #5) by Terri Brisbin

Ciara Robertson has loved formidable Highlander Tavis MacLerie all her life. She watched, brokenhearted, while he married and lost another. Now, finally of marriageable age, Ciara throws her heart at his feet….

Tavis knows that innocent Ciara thinks she’s in love with him – but she deserves better. Painful experience has proved that he’s a far better warrior than husband, and he’s determined never to marry again.

Her dreams shattered, Ciara accepts another man’s hand. Ordered to take Ciara to her husband-to-be, Tavis is tormented – and tempted – every step of the way…

The Highlander’s Stolen Touch (The MacLerie Clan #5) by Terri Brisbin

This book was one I was excited to read, because these two characters (Ciara and Tavis) have appeared in a previous book, but were much, much younger back then.

The first three books of this series concentrate on the parents’ generation, and now we’ve jumped ahead a decade and a bit, catching up with the eldest child.

Readers who follow this series in order will meet Ciara, the heroine of this book, in book three, when she is only five. I know people have read the series out of order, but I would recommend reading Ciara’s mother’s book before this one.

There are a lot of secrets and lies and half-truths that will make reading The Highlander’s Stolen Touch that much more interesting.

I actually really like how each couple has – and keeps – their own secrets. Brisbin does a great job of creating a series where things are connected, but each book is its own separate, complete story.

I don’t usually venture this far into the past with my romance reading, because the cultural differences are just SO great compared to how we live now. However, there’s just enough of a Middle Ages feel to these books without it being overwhelming, so I enjoy them.

So far, Brisbin has always been able to come up with original issues to keep her characters apart. The stakes are high, as most of the characters are important people in Scotland, and marrying for love is more or less out of the question.

I think this one was perhaps the most balanced of all the author’s books I’ve read, structure-wise. In other books we’re racing to the end and there’s still so much to be resolved. I think with this one I didn’t feel like I was being robbed of the high drama at the end.

The addictive feel of the author’s writing means I binged on book after book in this series, unable to stop. That should tell you how I feel about these books!

Surrender to the Highlander (The MacLerie Clan #2) by Terri Brisbin

Surrender to the Highlander (The MacLerie Clan #2) by Terri Brisbin

Torn between honour and desire…

Innocent Margriet Gunnarsdottir carried a heavy secret. She faced a perilous journey to the wild and distant north of Scotland, and her safety lay in her adopted disguise – a nun’s habit! But her only protector, a proud, rough-hewn Highlander, made her ache to share her crushing burden.

Rurik Erengislsson had sworn to see her home and unharmed. A woman promised to the service of God should be shielded and honored – not desired! Yet Rurik was tempted beyond reason to make this beautiful waif his own.

Surrender to the Highlander (The MacLerie Clan #2) by Terri Brisbin

This one came in the middle of my binge on Terri Brisbin’s Highlander romances, and I thought it was a good time to read it, because it’s a little different. It also has very likeable characters, which was nice, as the hero in the book before this one in the series isn’t a very nice person until the very end!

Surrender to the Highlander is a 14th century road trip romance for the most part! I don’t always love that style of book, but I thought it worked really well here, and also allowed for a secondary romance (mostly in the background). The Scottish Highlands back then were not the easiest place to travel through, so the challenges they faced made it an engaging read from start to finish.

But really, what I really liked about this one was that both hero and heroine were so likeable. Sure, they make major mistakes, and there’s plenty of drama, but this is the womaniser of all the men in the series and he turns out to be the most respectful of all the heroes I’ve read form this author (about half a dozen so far).

Clearly, it’s impossible to depict the fourteenth century totally accurately without alienating your readers, but I do like the version of the era the author creates. I like that her heroines are strong but still period-appropriate.

I think these books appeal because they’re the sort of romances you got several years ago, back when you just wanted to read about some big warrior man and a beautiful woman. That straightforwardness in storytelling (and – I guess – simplicity) is a little hard to come by these days, but sometimes it’s exactly what I want.

Every review, I seem to complain about Brisbin’s stumbling and tripping heroines, and it’s the same here. They’re always losing their footing and needing to be steadied by the men. Why?

One thing I would change about the books in this series is the way the big reveals and dramas at the end are so condensed. I’ve read all of them on Kindle, and the big things don’t ever start happening until after the 90% mark. There’s no time to do the scenes justice! The most exciting parts of the story are often told in summaries, rather than being shown on the page. That includes the big rescues, the weddings etc. I’d like more time devoted to these parts.

The stories are so good that I always feel like I’m being robbed at the end!

I really did binge on these books. One a day for nearly a week. So obviously I recommend them if this is the stuff you like to read!

Taming the Highlander (The MacLerie Clan #1) by Terri Brisbin

Taming the Highlander (The MacLerie Clan #1) by Terri Brisbin

The Beast of the Highlands…

He is the Beast of the Highlands, a man known for his cruelty and unforgiving nature. Now laird of the powerful MacLerie clan and in need of a wife, Connor buys his way to a bride, one he insists not be beautiful like his first wife. He brings Jocelyn to his lair planning to keep her in his bed and out of his life…and heart.

Jocelyn MacCallum saves her family and people with her marriage, but fears for her soul and her life when she becomes bride to the Beast. Against his wishes and orders, Jocelyn begins to make a place in his clan for herself and begins to learn more about the man she wed.

When an old threat rises against the clan and laird, will love be powerful enough to save the woman not known for beauty and her Beast?

 

Taming the Highlander (The MacLerie Clan #1) by Terri Brisbin

Near the end of this book I had a lightbulb moment and realised I had, in fact, read it before. Now, when I went back and checked the original publication date, it’s no wonder I didn’t recognise it at first. Close to a decade on, and I’ve read a lot of other books since then!

I really enjoy Terri Brisbin’s writing. I’ve seen her books described as sort of “simple storytelling” – but as a compliment, because her writing is so quick to engage you. Her plots have plenty of drama, and there are always good conflicts between her main couples.

I will say that Taming the Highlander isn’t my absolute favourite of Brisbin’s books, because the hero spends the majority of the book being cruel to the heroine, and then gets all pissy with her when she is downtrodden and distant from him near the end! He is almost abusive towards her because he is still mourning his first wife, and then he has a miraculous turnaround and cannot understand why she is unhappy and not wanting him around!

It is really surprising, having read the third book in this series only the day before I read this one, and seeing the obsessive love the two of them share. It doesn’t happen in their own book.

What saves it is that excellent writing style. Even though there’re plenty of similarities in the author’s series, I always get hooked on these Highlander books she writes and drop everything else to read them as fast as I can.

While I would still LOVE for Brisbin’s heroines to stop tripping over in every second scene (why are they all so clumsy?!), what I do LOVE about her female characters is that they’re strong when they need to be, but they also seem appropriate enough for the time (fourteenth century) for me to buy them as real people.

This heroine is no exception.

I would recommend this book easily, just with the warning that you have to hang in there for the hero to get over himself! And stick with the series – and the next one – they’re great fun!

The Week: 11th – 17th April

Tuesday Autumn Sunset Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 12th April 2016 Sun Sky Trees Nature DSC09517DSC09515

Unedited shot of Tuesday’s sunset in Canberra.

I have NO idea what happened, but half a version of this post came up on my blog a few days ago, and I only just noticed! Whoops.

Only a few days left before we head overseas for two months. It seems like such a big effort – maybe I’ll stay at home! I am absolutely not organised, and while we’re still having near-summer temperatures here, over there it’s still almost as cold as winter. I don’t have room in my suitcase for winter stuff!

Maybe someone will sneak in the house and get all my things organised for me…

I’m also going to really miss the cat (Rex) the neighbours are looking after, who thinks he lives here and comes visiting for hours every morning, lunchtime, afternoon, night…

Rex Burmese Cat Cute

Rex

Seriously, I’m not that depressed about going! We will be back in the Ukraine for the first time since the revolution (which happened straight after we flew out the last time) and the Russian invasion immediately afterwards, so there’ll be some big changes. And then I’m hoping the sun will be out by the time we get to Italy!

Speaking of Russian invasions…

This is what Russian aggression in the Baltic Sea looks like

It’s always such an ordeal just getting to Europe from Australia. Flying to Sydney, then a ten hour flight to Asia, then hours in the airport, then a twelve hour flight to Europe, then hours in the airport, and then a few more hours on another flight to reach our destination. *SO* much fun!

I have been trying to get as much reading done as I can before I go, because I have a mountain of review books, but I’m not going to have them anywhere near finished. Hopefully I’ll get some reading done while I’m away, but you never have as much time as you think when you’re constantly on the go with other people in multiple countries.

On This Week

RT_Convention_2016Vegasbanner_v2-reduced

What goes into creating a cover for historical romance?

Duke-of-Pleasure-by-Elizabeth-Hoyt-300

My review of Mad For Love by Elizabeth Essex

Mad For Love by Elizabeth Essex

My review of One with You (Crossfire #5) by Sylvia Day

One With You by Sylvia Day

My review of You Can’t Always Get the Marquess You Want (Masters of Seduction #2) by Alexandra Hawkins

You Can't Always Get the Marquess You Want (Masters of Seduction #2) by Alexandra Hawkins

My review of Heir to the Duke (The Duke’s Sons #1) by Jane Ashford

Heir to the Duke (The Duke's Sons #1) by Jane Ashford