Tuesday, January 30, 2018

EARL OF SUNDERLAND by Aubrey Wynne

EARL OF SUNDERLAND
Wicked Earls' Club
by Aubrey Wynne
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Publisher: Plato Publishing






He’s inherited the title of rake. She hides behind her independence... Fate accepts the challenge.


Grace Beaumont has seen what love can do to a woman. Her mother sacrificed her life to produce the coveted son and heir. A devastated father and newborn brother force her to take on the role of Lady Boldon at the age of fifteen. But Grace finds solace in the freedom and power of her new status.


Christopher Roker made a name for himself in the military. The rigor and pragmatism of the army suits him. When a tragic accident heaves Kit into a role he never wanted or expected, his world collides with another type of duty. Returning to England and his newfound responsibilities, the Wicked Earls’ Club becomes a refuge from the glitter and malice of London society but cannot ease his emptiness.


Needing an escape from his late brother’s memory and reputation, Kit volunteers to inspect the family property near Scotland. Lady Grace, a beauty from a neighboring estate, becomes a welcome distraction. When the chance to return to the military becomes a valid possibility, the earl finds himself wavering between his old life and the lure of an exceptional—and unwilling—woman.




Early May 1814
London, England 


Lord Christopher Roker slapped his twin brother, the Earl of Sunderland, on the back. “A fit of the blue devils on your wedding day, eh? Come now, the bride seems a prime article to me.”


“She’s not the woman of my choice. I’m more than an unwilling groom. I’m downright defiant.” Carson tucked his white linen tails into the pale gray pantaloons, gave his matching waistcoat a tug, and adjusted his neckcloth again. “Yet our parents are deliriously happy over the match because she is the daughter of a marquess.”


“You made your own name.” Christopher shook his head and gave his brother’s shoulder a hard squeeze. “Gambling and womanizing has its place when you’re more boy than man. By Christ, we’ve just passed thirty.”


“How did I know I’d fall in love and my reputation would haunt me?” Carson walked over to a polished oak side table and poured two glasses of brandy from the crystal decanter. He handed one to Christopher. “Or that the woman who stole my heart would have a self-righteous father who despises me?”


“How many times did I warn you to pull back on the reins? There are always consequences to one’s actions. You will be the Marquess of Falsbury in your own right someday. It’s time you accepted responsibility.” He took a sip of the amber liquid as Carson downed his in one gulp and poured another. “It’s a bit early for that, isn’t it? You might want to pace yourself.”


Sunderland sank heavily onto a chair, pushing his fingers through a tangle of black waves. “Kit, trade places with me. Marry the chit and take the title. You should have been the heir anyway. You’re better to this type of life than I am.”


“We had this conversation when we were twelve, and you wanted to be a sheik and live in the desert. And then again at sixteen, when you wanted to run away and join the Navy.” He smirked and sat down opposite Carson. “Besides, Mother would know at once.”


“She’d stay quiet for her darling Christopher. You’ve always been her favorite.” He tipped back his head and gulped the second glass of brandy. “A little courage for the ceremony.”


A knot tightened in Kit’s stomach. He had a bad feeling about this wedding but knew better than to admit it. It wasn’t the match itself. Lady Eliza was a beauty and came with a generous dowry. And he didn’t believe for a moment Carson loved another woman. Infatuation was more likely. He fell for one and before he hit the ground, another had taken his fancy. While Kit loved his brother, he also accepted his faults. His abilities did not include accountability or dependability.


“You’re dipping too deep, brother,” Kit said as took the third glass of liquor from his twin, recognizing the slight glaze in those familiar chestnut eyes. “Let’s get you to the church, shall we? At this rate, you’ll be foxed before the end of the wedding breakfast.”


“That’s the plan, sir. Then I won’t feel those leg shackles I’ve acquired.”


What a grand and delightful story.
It’s not often you love everyone in the story. Well, I didn’t love Bonaparte, but he wasn’t really IN the story. He was just causing a great many people to die in war.  Still, the details of the war were most impressive.
The main male characters were two twins, one in the army, fighting Bonaparte and the other, the Earl of Sunderland, who weds a young woman named Eliza. Then there was Grace.  Her mother dies in childbirth giving her beloved husband a son. At fifteen Grace must care for her baby brother, Sammy, and run the house, while her father grieves the loss of his wife.
Grace and Eliza are cousins. So when the Earl of Sunderland, Carson, dies running his horse too fast in the dark and breaking his neck, Grace goes at once to be with her cousin. Christopher, called ‘Kit’ by his family is to be the new Earl of Sunderland. Only Eliza is pregnant, so if the child is a boy, the infant will be the new Earl of Sunderland.
In most stories, this situation would be rife with anger, resentment, and connivings. But not in this one. These delightful characters all want the best for each other, and as a result, they all end up getting the most out of their lives. Even if it isn’t the life some of them expect to have.
5 feel good stars!!!


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Meet twelve of the most wickedly sinful earls in all of Regency England. Together they make up the Wicked Earls’ Club. A secret group, marked with a single golden W; it is a place where these deliciously devious earls can indulge in their darkest desires. Though fate may have something else planned for them entirely.





Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding and all things Christmas.


Her short stories, Merry Christmas, Henry and Pete's Mighty Purty Privies have won Readers Choice Awards and Dante's Gift received the 2016 Golden Quill and Heart of Excellence award, as well as being a Maggie and Aspen Gold finalist.


Her upcoming series "A Vintage Romance" was inspired by tales of her stepfather, who served in the British Air Force in WWII. Wynne's medieval fantasy series "Medieval Encounters" begins with Rolf's Quest, 2016 NTRWA Great Expectations winner. The Wicked Earls’ Club will continue with a Regency Christmas in 2018.


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A place of handsome knights, dashing gentlemen, beautiful, sassy women, and romance from the past to the present. You’ll also have some opportunities to help promote Aubrey with her upcoming releases if you feel so inclined. There is fun to be had, prizes to be given, and heroes and heroines to fall in love with. Come join Aubrey's street team.




Saturday, January 27, 2018

DONNACH'S DAUGHTER by Nancy Pennick

DONNACH'S DAUGHTER
The Clan MacLaren series, Book 2

by Nancy Pennick

Genre: Historical Romance Stand Alone Novel

Publisher: Satin Romance, an imprint of Melange Books






Glynis MacLaren longs to see the world, not get married and live a suffocating life in Scotland. She leaps at the chance to escort her sister to the colonies. She soon finds out the larger world is just as constraining for a woman. People expect her to marry and follow certain protocol. Then she meets the ship’s captain. He stirs feelings in her that she never knew she had. The trip across the ocean is filled with the adventure she sought, love she didn’t expect and a sudden heartbreak when the journey ends.



“A good evening to you, madam,” Captain Aaron Redding addressed the woman standing at the bow’s rail, her back to him as she stared out to sea. He liked to make the habit of getting to know the passengers, especially the upper class. Word of mouth was paramount to the success of his merchant ship. He had learned the ways of polite society at a young age and knew from many admirers he was quite handsome. The combination of the two went far in his business. “Let everyone know how well you were treated aboard the Pembroke,” he would bow and tell them as they disembarked at the end of the journey.



Aaron shook his head, returning to the moment. Perhaps she did not hear. The wind had picked up, and waves crashed against the side of the ship. “Madam? We have just left port and this will be your first night at sea. Are you faring well?” 



A steady breeze blew across the ship. The woman wore no cap, and her blue silk dress whirled about in the wind, at times clinging to her body. Her dark hair reached almost to her waist and whipped around her in a seductive way. For some outlandish reason, Aaron longed to reach out and latch onto one of those silky locks, run it through his fingers then bring the tip to his nose to inhale the fragrance. The willowy figure in front of him didn’t acknowledge his presence, which made him all the more infatuated. She pulled her shawl closer to her body, tossed her head, and became still again.



Perhaps she is hypnotized by the sunset. It is one of the more magnificent ones I have seen in a while. Or enthralled by the crash of the waves on the bow? I sometimes cannot even hear when I am close to the ship’s edge with the wind and sound of waves in my ears. He wished to join her at the rail yet afraid he would startle her. So he stood quietly behind her, watching the edge of the horizon where the sky met the ocean, as the sun sank out of sight in a blaze of deep pink, golden yellow, and shades of purple. He felt a strange communion with her, this shadow of a woman who disappeared in the last ray of sunlight that almost blinded him.



Aaron blinked as if he had seen a mirage, but she was still there. He studied her carefully in case she might be one, so he would not forget a detail. Do not be a dolt. She is a real woman and is still standing there. Ignoring you! The captain of the ship. He cleared his throat. “I hope you continue to enjoy the evening, madam.” He turned and left in haste without looking back.





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My Highlander Husband
Volatile times engulfed 1715 Scotland. Threats of a Jacobite uprising hung in the air. Lady Juliet Kingston traveled to Glenhaven with her entourage to meet and marry Laird MacLaren’s son with the hopes their union might help calm the rumblings of war—an Englishwoman weds a Scottish Highlander. Juliet longs for home and the man she left behind, until she meets Ross MacLaren. Both are stubborn and strong, but find love. Now a threat comes from a different front, one Juliet cannot fight. She gives up her husband and home to protect those she has come to love and returns to England with John, her former beau. Will she ever find her way back?





After a great career in teaching, Nancy found a second calling as a writer. Born and raised in Northeast Ohio, she currently resides in Mentor, OH. Ohio is her home, but she loves to travel the U.S. Now Scotland is on her bucket list as a place she’d like to visit. Nancy is married and has one son.


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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

DUKE DU JOUR by Petie McCarty

DUKE DU JOUR
Lords in Time series, Book 1
by Petie McCarty


Genre: Regency Time-Travel Romance

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press






Jared Langley, present-day Duke of Reston, tumbles into an abandoned fountain on his ducal estate and travels back in time to the year 1816. There, Reston servants and local villagers think him a dead ringer for his namesake and rakehell ancestor—the seventh Duke of Reston, gone missing at the Battle of Waterloo. Unfortunately, Seven got mixed up with French spies out to assassinate the Duke of Wellington, and an unwary Jared ends up in their crosshairs.


Lady Ariana Hart has loved Jared Langley, the seventh Duke of Reston, since she was twelve years old, until the night the rogue broke her heart. Given up for dead, her rakish neighbor makes a miraculous return from Waterloo—only Jared shows up a changed man and reignites all the feelings Ariana had long ago buried.


Jared is in a race against time. He must waylay the suspicions of his quirky servants and neighbors, get to Wellington before the French spies do, fix his fountain—before Seven shows up—so Jared has a way home, and definitely not fall in love with the irresistible Lady Ariana.




“Did I hurt you?” he asked, as he pulled the boot free.



“No!” she blurted.



His gaze swung up to her face, and she forced a smile. The boot removal had affected her as much as him. How would he ever make it through the night? He frowned slightly and then set to work on the other boot, holding her other knee and reigniting the heart palpitations all over again.



She made another swipe at the coverlet with her palms and almost fell over sideways. He fought back a grin. Misery loved company, and the sight of her flushed cheeks and bright eyes caught his breath in his throat.



Jared straightened and placed the second boot by the first next to the bed. “Are you feeling all right? You look a bit flushed. Maybe the ride was too much for you.”



He leaned in and placed the back of his hand against her forehead, ostensibly to check for a fever, and she whimpered at his touch. The intimate sound had his mouth feeling dry as sand, and he desperately wanted to touch more than her forehead.



His gaze locked with hers. Her eyes darkened.



Oh no. This could be trouble. A misstep here could ruin her…Or keep me here forever.



Still he did not move his hand. His gaze held hers. “You feel warm.”



He heard his voice go low and raspy.



Great. Let her know she has the upper hand.



Was she warm or was he? Every vein and artery in his body pulsed with the need he had denied since the day he’d met her.



“I’m fine,” she said softly.



He had to fight this magnetism, or he would have her ruined in short order.



“Are you?” He leaned closer.



Her look of befuddlement tugged at his heart, and he fought the lust roiling in his chest. He couldn’t read the look in her eyes. Did she want him, too? Oh, what did it matter unless he kissed her?



She leaned forward, whispered, “I think so.”



“Let me check.” He pressed his lips to hers.



Every nerve ending in his body exploded with pleasure. Primal desire had overwhelmed him in the taproom after he had saved her from the drunken farmer, his primitive nature taking the lead.



My lady. Mine.



He had not thought twice. Jumped in like the knight in shining armor she raved on about. He had wanted to be her knight.



His lips did not plunder, as she no doubt expected. He gentled his kiss so as not to frighten her, locked together in this room as they were. He brushed his lips across hers, caressed, hoping to make her want him half as much as he wanted her. He leaned back to stare into her eyes. He shouldn’t have started this. He would not be able to stop.



“This way lies disaster,” he rasped, “for both of us.”



“Maybe,” she said breathlessly, “but could I please have another?”





Duke du Jour by Petie McCarty

This was a fun story. It’s a complex Time Traveling story, but very clever.  Jared accidently falls into a fountain that takes him back to 1816. Coincidentally, the 7th Duke of Reston has died. And those who killed him are not happy that the Duke of Reston has somehow returned, not realizing this is the 13th Duke of Reston, not the seventh.  He’s barely arrived when he falls in love with Arianna. (Arianna loved the real 7th Duke of Reston, even though he was a jerk. So she really loves the new Jared, except beautiful women keep kissing him.)
Jared arrives in weird clothes, insisting he had amnesia. But it soon becomes obvious to those who knew the old Jared that he has really changed. And while Jared is a better man in the past, now having friends and a brother, and a woman he loves, he knows he can’t remain in the past. He has to return to his time or he’ll change the future.
There were times that the twisted complexity overwhelmed me for a few minutes, but I never got too lost. There are lots of fun characters, including dogs.


I give this a 4.5 stars rounded up to five!




Petie spent a large part of her career working at Walt Disney World -- "The Most Magical Place on Earth" -- where she enjoyed working in the land of fairy tales by day and creating her own romantic fairy tales by night, including her new series, The Cinderella Romances. She eventually said good-bye to her "day" job to write her stories full-time. These days Petie spends her time writing sequels to her regency time-travel series, Lords in Time, and her mystery-romance-with-elements-of-suspense series, the Mystery Angel Romances.


Petie shares her home on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee with her horticulturist husband, a spoiled-rotten English Springer spaniel addicted to pimento-stuffed green olives, and a noisy Nanday conure named Sassy who made a cameo appearance in Angel to the Rescue.


Visit Petie's web site online or her Facebook page.


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Sunday, January 21, 2018

How Pure Innocence came to be


How Pure Innocence came to be...

I took a serious risk when I began my story so early in my heroine’s life. Most readers of romance wish to begin stories once the young woman reaches an acceptable age for romance. However, Amy’s life begins much differently than a normal baby and the consequences have a lasting imprint on her, her uncle, her friends, and all her many enemies.

I did not wish to tell her beginning in past tense. I wanted you to cry with me as we watch the determined 15-year-old girl who has birthed Amy just five days before, try to care for her child. She is in a terrible state. Her ‘parents’ have tossed her out because she insists there was no man who touched her. The townspeople have thrown stones to chase her from their community. She is hungry and bleeding, but no one will help her. She has ended up on an unstable cliff that could fall at any time.

Colonel John Winston has just returned with many soldiers from his last battle. He sees the young girl pacing near the edge of the cliff. He demands to know who she is, since he had left instructions that no servant was to walk near the cliff. His manservant assures him the girl is not one of his staff.  Then he explains the girl bore a child five days ago but insists no man touched her. Thus, she is Satan’s whore and the child is the spawn of the devil.

When John Winston talks to the frightened and bruised girl holding her child, he discovers the father of the child was his younger brother, who died in battle eight months ago. Now, determined to save the young girl and her baby, John Winston sets about to rescue the girl from the fragile cliff. He will marry the girl, despite her young age, and raise dead his brother’s offspring as his own.

Only he never gets the chance...

Live is like that. While the young girl freezes in fear as she ground about her suddenly drops, she makes a final attempt to save her baby by tossing the child to John, standing on solid ground. Only she didn’t have the strength to toss it far enough. Thus, John’s only recourse is to jump off the cliff and grab the baby. He could only hope that his servant would secure the other end of the rope about his legs and waist to either horse or a tree...

When they pulled John up the new side of the cliff, he discovers the child is alive but starving, so he took her to the nearest farmhouse on his estate. Only the woman of the house refused to nurse the baby. He first threatened to throw them off his lands. Fortunately, Gunter spoke up, providing the birthmark that proved she is a Winston. Finally, the woman, Nell, takes the child in the other room and feeds her. When she returns with the child, she apologizes for ever thinking the child the spawn of the devil. The child is a little angel, just like her mother.

And while Nell genuinely believes this, she is the only woman who does. The townspeople and the housekeeper of the estate, and all the servants continue to believe Amy is the spawn of Satan and must die.

Thus, Amy grows up differently than a normal child. To stay alive, she must evade her enemies. To assist in keeping her alive, John assigns four of his best soldiers to keep watch over here whenever she goes outside. Her favorite times are trying to evade the soldiers while sneaking up on them from behind. By the time this book ends, Amy can evade any servant or townsperson who might try to capture and kill her. She even successfully evades her soldiers at times.

But her talents do not end there. She discovers she has the ability to heal once she understands what is happening beneath the skin.

And what I believe is her greatest gift, is her kindness. Even when servants are mean to her, she will respond with kindness. Even when she goes to Finishing School in Switzerland. The mean girl that controls the school cannot break Amy. Amy is the closest thing to a human angel that you will ever meet.

In the next two books of the series, Amy falls in love with a handsome young man.

In book two, life gets very complicated, and she must marry a different great man to save him and England.
Thus, the sexual contents goes from none to kisses to many sexual encounters over the three books.


And in every book, Amy grows stronger, kinder, & wiser. You will be amazed!



5 Stars Reviews for Pure Innocence, book 1 of
The Extraordinary Life of Amy Winston.

“Ms. O’Connor tells the tale of an extraordinary girl who has the power to heal and the power to change lives with her heart.”

“I loved how Ms. O’Connor gives us a child who loves, no matter what else has come her way. Amy serves as an inspiration for so many of us who have faced tough times. I can’t wait to hear more about Amy and her life!”

“While life does not always go Amy’s way, and sometimes she’s knocked off her sunny rock, Amy always recovers and climbs back up upon her rock. She always prefers happiness to anger.”

“A fun, fast-paced story I couldn't read quickly enough. Packed with endearing characters, I both laughed and cried through the unexpected twists of a plot filled with superstition and self-righteousness.”

“You’ll fall in love with the characters...waiting anxiously for book 2!”
Don’t Miss Out!!!

AMAZON



Want to read an Excerpt?


Just tell me what you know of the girl. It may help me calm her down and get her away from the ledge.”
“Well, she’s…or she was…the butcher’s daughter, until she just up and had a baby last week. Took everyone by surprise, for she seemed so innocent. She claimed she’d never been with a man and could not account for how the baby got in her. Since she wouldn’t name the father, and no one stepped up, Mr. Goodheart tossed her out.”
“When was that?”
“Four days ago, I reckon. The townspeople have been shooing her away. She might have come out here just to be alone.”
“No, Dom, I think your first guess was more accurate. She’s trying to gather the courage to end her life. And Dom, if you ever hear of a poor child being tossed out of their house in the future, I am to be told immediately, do you understand?”
“Yes, sir.”
John shook his head. To send a child from her home, where she would certainly come to harm, was inconceivable to John. He stopped about twenty feet before her. “You stay here, Dom.”
“Begging your pardon, sir, but you should stay here as well. That edge could go anytime.”
Recognizing the truth of that observation, he gave the situation further consideration. “Do you think she will come to me if I call her by name?”
“Nay, she’s afraid of people—what with all the stones being thrown at her. You’re more likely to make her leap.”
He dismounted his horse. “Ride back to the squad, gather up all the rope we have and bring me water and the remaining cooked hen from this morning.” He could see Dom thought his instructions a bit daft, but the man didn’t waste time questioning him. He just obeyed them.
John tethered his horse’s reins around the pointy spike of a shale rock jutting from the surface like the angry teeth of a wild beast. He knew only last month, when he had returned for a few days, that rock had laid flat beneath the ground. From this point forward, the ground had already sunk a solid foot and the whole edge could go in a moment’s notice.
He frowned at the thought of the rock yanking his fine stallion over the edge by its rein. He untied the reins from the rock and stroked his horse. “I trust you to stay where I need you.”
The horse whinnied softly, almost as if it was giving his assurances in return.
John turned his attention back to the girl. Her dark hair was wild and matted. In the center of the mats was dried caked blood. No doubt from the stones the townspeople threw.
The girl spoke rapidly in a shrill voice, declaring she was “bad, evil, the devil’s whore, and to go away, go away, go away.”
He suspected the voice was not hers but a mimic of the people who had said these cruel words. Suddenly, her voice dropped lower in a mimic of a man and she quoted dark bible passages about casting out demons.
Dear God, was it possible these were her parents’ words?
“Tell me the name, tell me the name, damn you!” the voice bellowed.
Finally, he heard the girl’s own voice. The pain and misery it held tore at his old battle-weary heart.
“There is no name,” she cried. “There was no man. Only a dream while I rested on the banks.”
“Then it’s the seed of Satan and it’ll not be raised in my house!” her voice deepened and bellowed
Inside the bundle of cloth, she held tight to her chest, a baby’s wail rose, almost as if in protest to her words. The baby’s cry startled her and for one terrible moment, John feared she would toss the child over the edge.
Then her madness dissipated, and she transformed into a young mother fretting over her new child, soothing it with soft words, as she sat down upon the ground. She opened her filthy torn blouse and placed the baby upon her right breast, rocking the child softly while it nursed. Her face held love and adoration for her helpless infant.
John knew he must save this young girl and her baby. She was not yet lost to madness.
A snort from his horse made her turn and look at him. Her eyes filled first with confusion and then terror.
John sat down upon the ground, so he would look less threatening. “I mean you no harm.” He spoke in the soft voice he used to calm war-panicked horses. His words came slow, in gentle tones, letting them sink in through her fear.
She hugged her child harder and rocked faster, but she did not try to run away.
“I want to help you. I can see you are hurt and afraid. You are probably hungry as well. I can give you shelter and food, see your wounds are tended and provide clean clothes for the baby and you.”
Upon comprehending his words, she burst into a torrid of tears and sobs that shook her body so hard he feared she would trigger the collapse of the entire cliff.
“Please don’t cry,” he begged. “The ground you are upon is unstable. I need you to be very, very still until my man returns with the ropes, so that I may rescue you. Will you do that for me? Will you be very still?”
She stopped crying and stared at him. “Why do you want to help me?”
“Because you need my assistance. I can see you are all alone and desperately in need of help.”
“I am, but you will not help me—not once you have learned what I have done.”
“I know that you’ve had a child and were tossed from your home because you would not name the father.”
“I could not name him. There is no father. I have lain with no man. There was only a dream, a wonderful dream of a handsome prince on a white stallion. He declared me the most beautiful lady he had ever seen, and he kissed me and made my body burn with fire. Then I woke up from my shady spot on the banks and I was alone as always. It was the devil, you see. He came to me in my dreams.”
She began to rock again as she held her baby tight against her chest. “That is why you will not help me—because of the dream. I am the whore of Satan and this child is his spawn.”
He feared he’d soon lose her to madness.
“Amy, I don’t think that is true. You are too sweet to be the whore of Satan. Your child is too good-natured to be his seed.”
She looked up at him in shock and stopped rocking. “She is very good-natured and so very beautiful. But what other reason might there be?”
“Amy, I believe the man in your dreams was real. He must have come to you while you slept and lay with you while he distracted you with kisses and sweet words. Can you remember more about his features? For example, what was the color of his hair?”
“The color of yours,” she said. “When I first saw you, I thought you were the man in my dream and you had come to rescue me. But you are not him.”
“No, I am not. But I do want to rescue you.”
She studied him. “His face was smoother than yours and his eyes sparkled blue. And there was a tiny mole on the edge of his mouth.”
Her words stopped his heart. Dear God, she was describing his younger brother, Alexander. Yet, that was impossible. Alexander had died in battle eight months ago and before that, he had remained in London.
A cold sweat swept John’s body. He recalled his butler had mentioned Alexander had stopped in for a moment to change clothes on his ride from Edinburgh to London. That his brother could spare the time to stop and change a pair of grass-stained trousers, but could not wait another ten minutes for his brother to return from a visit to the tenants, had annoyed him greatly. If he recalled correctly, that happened about a month before Alex bought a commission and proceeded to get himself killed on the first day of battle.
Dom’s return interrupted his thoughts. He could see the man’s arrival frightened her.
“It’s all right, Amy. It’s just Dom bringing me rope so I can come rescue you.”
“You don’t need the rope, I can come to you.” She stood up and walked towards him.
“Amy, no! Stay where you are, the ground could give way,” John exclaimed as he pulled the rope about his legs and waist, creating a window-washer’s rope-seat. Even as he secured the makeshift seat, he knew it was already too late. He could see the ground sinking. “Amy run to me!” he screamed and held out his hands.
Amy remained frozen in confusion and fear as she watched the solid ground beneath her feet inexplicably fall away. She looked at her baby, and then looked at John, standing on the new edge of the cliff five feet away. With all her might, she threw the bundle of baby and cloth towards him before disappearing in the cloud of dust and rocks falling into the sea.
Not only had he lost Amy, but the girl’s toss of the child was not sufficient. John dove from the cliff and grabbed the bundle firm against his chest praying to God that Dom had the sense to secure the other end of the rope to Samson or a tree. If not, he’d as likely pull the fellow over and carry them all to their death.
As he continued to fall, he feared Dom had not secured the rope at all. A second later, the rope bit painfully into the back of his legs and gut. Before he could recover, his back slammed into the new side of the cliff. The blow knocked the wind out of him so hard that he almost dropped the bundle in his arms.
Despite his excruciating pain, his focus remained on the child. It was too quiet. He feared he had crushed the child to death or let it slip out, and even now, it hurtled its way down into the sea below.
He heard the former cliff crash into the sea. He could almost sense the moment of Amy’s death and felt a pain rip through his heart. It seemed as if all the angels in heaven cried in a great wail and the sound was not only heart wrenching but downright painful to his ears. The wailing continued even as Dom and others pulled him onto firm ground.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Loyal & True by Laura Strickland

LOYAL & TRUE
Hearts of Caledonia, Book 1

by Laura Strickland

Genre: Historical Fantasy Romance

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press






In defiance of her father, Caledonian tribeswoman Barta leads a daring raid against invading enemy warriors. But the fight goes badly, and her beloved war hound, Loyal, is killed. Unable to imagine existing without her dearest companion, she nevertheless must return home and accept blame for her terrible blunder.


For the first time in his life, Loyal is unable to rise and follow his mistress. When he appeals to the Goddess for mercy, she grants him leave to return on one condition: it must be in the form of a man. And only if Barta recognizes him for who he truly is will he be permitted to stay.


Loyal never suspects that, as a man, his connection with Barta will deepen, becoming passionate enough to transcend nearly any change. Will Barta recognize him before he’s lost to her forever?



Why could he not rise?



He remembered the battle—he could see it all now in patterns of black and white. Violence had its own aura as did so many things in the world, a combination of sight and smell. People smelled different when angry or afraid.



He’d fought at Barta’s side as he always had and always would, and taken a number of wounds. They didn’t matter; only her welfare mattered, and his presence at her side.



For him, battle felt like a game, a violent one. So long as Barta remained with him and protected, he cared little what else happened, even to him. He existed to be with her, to protect her—nothing more.



But now she arose from the place where they’d both gone down—where he’d thrown his body in defense of hers—and he could not follow.



For the first time in his life he could not follow.



Oh, unbearable agony. For, faintly, he could still feel her, smell her tears, sense her touch. And he could feel her starting to move away from him, feel her spirit tug at his. They were bound together, always had been, by a silver cord stronger than leather and more potent than magic.



Love.



Do not leave me here, Mistress. I cannot rise. I cannot follow you.



Like hers, his spirit howled at the sky.




I’ll admit. I’m fan of Laura Strickland.
Her stories are individually unique. And once I began one, they cannot be put down. This one especially.

However, Loyal and True, was nothing like I anticipated. It is of a past time when Gods and Goddesses could offer boons to humans and even their hounds.

Barta’s people are being attacked by the Celtic clans (Gaels), thus she plans a raid to attack them. Only their numbers were far more than her small party could overtake. She was the only one to survive. Even her beloved war hound, Loyal, had died saving her.

Unbeknownst to Barta, her war hound asked the goddess to let him live so he could continue to protect Barta, and the Goddess agreed with stipulations. She would make the war hound into a human male, and if Barta did not recognize him as her hound, then he would lose the right to protect her.

The moment the stranger entered their village, Barta felt a bond with him...

And thus, the riveting tale begins... There are trials and tribulations galore, plus an impossible challenge for “True” (the new name Loyal is given, now that he’s human.)

This story is full of angst and deaths, (which I don’t like to endure) but I could not put this book down. Thus, I cried my way through it, trusting that Laura Strickland wouldn’t leave me in a depression. And I’m very pleased to say it ends with a grand HEA. So, you’ll be happy. Just grab a box of tissues for the troubling times.

I was given this free review copy at my request and have voluntarily left this review.


Amazingly emotional, Unique, and fabulously written.  I give this 5 stars.







Award-winning author Laura Strickland delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Born and raised in Western New York, she’s pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Although she enjoys travel, she’s usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario, with her husband and her "fur" child, a rescue dog. Author of numerous Historical and Contemporary Romances, she is the creator of the Buffalo Steampunk Adventure series set in her native city. Loyal and True. Is the first book in her new historical Hearts of Caledonia series.


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