Tag: Simon & Schuster

Mini Review Round Up (6)

Posted October 12, 2017 by Rowena in Features, Reviews | 2 Comments

It’s another Julie Garwood week so here are some quick thoughts on my re-read of these fabulous books.

Saving Grace by Julie Garwood
Release Date: March 1, 1994
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Pocket Star
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 408
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

When Lady Johanna learned that she was a widow, she vowed she would never marry again. Only sixteen, already she possessed a strength of will that impressed all who looked past her golden-haired beauty. Yet when King John demanded that she remarry and selected a bridegroom for her—it seemed she must acquiesce, until her beloved foster brother suggested she wed his friend, the handsome Scottish warrior Gabriel MacBain.

At first Johanna was shy, but as Gabriel tenderly revealed the splendid pleasures they would share, she came to suspect that she was falling in love with her gruff new husband. And it was soon apparent to the entire Highlands clan that their brusque, gallant laird had surrendered his heart completely. But now a desperate royal intrigue threatened to tear her from his side—and to destroy the man whose love meant more to her than she had ever dreamed!

This book, man. This is probably my favoritest book by Julie Garwood. It’s got everything. A passionate romance between two outstanding characters, a hero to drool over, a strong heroine who you won’t help but admire and secondary characters that will either charm your socks off or make you want to punch them right in the face.

Lady Johanna has had a hard life and she wants to live out the rest of her life in peace. With a shit husband and an even shittier King, the odds of that happening are not looking good. When her brother suggests a plan for her to gain some protection from the King and get away from bad memories from her late husband, Johanna goes along with it. That plan brings Scottish Laird Gabriel MacBain into her life and he turns her world on its ear.

Gabriel has a lot on his plate and he doesn’t want a wife to add to his already overwhelming responsibilities but when her brother Baron Nicholas approaches him with a plan to take back the land that was taken from him and his clan, Gabriel is hardpressed to say no. Marrying an English lass wasn’t in his plans but if it’ll bring back what was stolen from him, he’ll do it. There isn’t much that Gabriel wouldn’t do for his people. He’s the bomb like that and when he meets Johanna for himself, he wants her and that, dear readers, is that.

The romance between Johanna and Gabriel is one of those old school romances that just fills you all the way up with feels and when you add in all of the other goodness in the book, this book is one that you’ll re-read over and over again. It’s so freaking good. You should read it. No, seriously. Everyone should know Gabriel MacBain and love him. *swoon*

My Rating

5 out of 5

Ransom (Highlands Lairds #2) by Julie Garwood
Release Date: December 27, 2002
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Pocket Star
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 576
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

For fans of Scottish medieval romances comes this beloved and classic page-turner from #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood.

In the dark days after the death of Richard the Lionhearted, lives and lands would fall into upheaval at the hands of a power-hungry British ruler and his violent minions. One victim of the scourge is innocent Gillian, who is a mere child when the cruel and ambitious Baron Alford slaughters her father and tears her family apart. Alford, determined to recover a jeweled box for the despotic King John, is furious when the precious treasure slips through his fingers—only to be lost for more than a decade.

Now a beautiful young woman, Gillian finds the key to resolving her past in handsome Scottish chieftains Ramsey Sinclair and Brodick Buchanan. With the cunning and courage of the daring Scotsmen, and with the friendship of a new ally, Bridgid KirkConnell, Gillian at last fights the unscrupulous Baron Alford, laying claim to her home, her family, and her father’s reputation. But in the presence of the mighty warrors, Gillian and Bridgid discover that desire can be a weapon of conquest, betrayal can slay trust in a heartbeat, and the greatest risk of all is to surrender to unexpected love.

Ransom is the second book in the Highland Laird’s Series and it follows Laird Brodick Buchanan and Laird Ramsey Sinclair as they bumble their way toward their happily ever afters. Brodick is a brute. A freaking savage and he likes it that way. When he meets gentle and courageous Gillian, things get really interesting. Ramsey, on the other hand is having a hell of a time trying to marry off the most beautiful girl in his whole clan and that’s because she’s making it damned difficult for him to make a good match.

I really enjoyed getting to know Brodick and Gillian again. Gillian’s strength and Brodick’s attitude toward English apples was great fun. Gillian does whatever it takes to do what’s right and I really admired that about her. She wasn’t above lying to get what she wanted and I just flat out liked her. Brodick was a little harder to like because he was so set in his ways and was so stubborn but at his core, he was a good guy and he had only good intentions toward Gillian and that was enough for me.

I seriously adored this book and my one gripe about it was that Ramsey and Brigid deserved their own story. I wasn’t nearly satisfied with their story. I adored Ramsey and came to love the heck out of Brigid but I was left wanting more from their story. I wanted them to have more page time but all these years later, nothings changed on that front so I need to get over it. Ha.

Still, overall this was a fabulous story that had everything I love in romance novels. It’s a good one that I would definitely recommend.

Highland Laird’s Series

My Rating

4 out of 5


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Mini Review Round Up (5)

Posted October 5, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

The Prize by Julie Garwood
Release Date: August 1, 1999
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 408
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

In the resplendence of William the Conqueror’s London court, the lovely Saxon captive Lady Nicholaa was forced to choose a husband from the assembled Norman nobles. She chose Royce, a baron warrior whose fierce demeanor could not conceal his chivalrous and tender heart. A resourceful, rebellious and utterly naive, Nicholaa vowed to bend Royce to her will despite the whirlwind of feelings he aroused in her. Ferocious in battle, seasoned in passion, Royce was surprised by the depth of his emotion whenever he caressed his charming bride.

In a climate of utmost treachery, where Saxons still intrigued against their Norman invaders, Royce and Nicholaa revelled in their precious new love … a fervent bond soon to be disrupted by the call of blood, kin and country!

Julie Garwood was one of the first romance authors that I’ve read and she has always held a special place in my reading heart because it was through her books that I found some of my closest friends. Friends that, all of these years later, I still keep in contact with and I’m still just as close with them as I was when we first met on the Julie Garwood Bulletin Board.

Last week, one of those friends who has stopped reading as regularly as I do, wanted to read a book together so Holly and I agreed to read The Prize with her.

I’m so glad that we re-read this book because holy cow, it brought back so many memories of how much I loved this book back in the day. From Royce and Nicholaa’s first meeting to seeing them fall in love and then Justin! Oh, be still my heart, Justin. I fell in love with him all over again and gah, I wish that Julie Garwood would have given him his own story because there was so much material to work with and he was so deserving of having his story told.

This scene is one of my favorite scenes of all time and one of the so many reasons that I love this book.

“I noticed that over the past few weeks you’ve seemed more concerned about training me than the others. Was that because you had less faith in my ability?”

Royce held his smile. Justin as experience an attack of pre-battle worries. It was a common affliction, especially among the younger, unseasoned soldiers.

“As your baron, I have complete faith in your ability. I didn’t give you this honor, Justin. You earned it. As your brother, however, I’ll admit I’ve forced you to work harder. You have to be better than the others, remember?”

“I remember.”

“You have fulfilled my expectations,” Royce announced, giving him the praise he knew he needed to hear.

“Thank you.”

Royce did smile then. “You insult me by giving me your gratitude,” he said. “As your baron, I was only doing my duty.”

Justin didn’t look at Royce but kept his gaze directed on the center of the field. “I wasn’t thanking my baron,” he said. His voice was gruff with emotion. “I was thanking my brother.”

You guys have got to read this book if you haven’t already. There’s much to love about it. A smart, strong and loving heroine, a hero who leads his people with care and secondary characters that will jump right into your heart and plant themselves there forever. This is the Julie Garwood that I know and love and I highly recommend this book to everyone.

My Rating

4.75 out of 5

The Wedding (Lairds’ Fiancee’s #2) by Julie Garwood
Release Date: August 1, 1996
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Pocket Star
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 377
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Lady Brenna MacAlister harbored no illusions that her husband, a quick-tempered highland laird, was in love with her. How could he be enamored of his bride when on their wedding day, he had assured her that she could return to her home in England as soon as she had given him a son?

Marrying Connor MacAlister had been impulsive act for Brenna. But MacAlister and his warriors a savage-looking band who had captured her and her arranged marriage to another offered precious few alternatives. Nor could Brenna deny that in fact, she had proposed to MacAlister—even if that had been ten long years ago, when she was just a child, and Connor a visitor to her father’s castle. Actually, Brenna scarcely remembered the secret missives she’d sent to MacAlister, abetted by her mischievous older sister… yet she had never forgotten the tall visitor’s dazzling, unexpected smile.

Now, after a hasty forest wedding, they were man and wife. Determined to be happy, Brenna soon endeared herself to most of the clan, despite—or perhaps because of—her uncanny knack for getting into trouble. And although she grew to adore her brave superstitious, gentle husband she had no clue that Connor lived for the moments she whispered “I love you”… words she never meant him to hear. But when a rival lair struck out at the MacAlisters, trapping Brenna in a web of dangerous intrigue, she knew that only her faith in her gallant mate could save her….

After reading The Prize with Grace and Holly, I went on to glom a bunch of Julie Garwood’s other books and The Wedding was one of them.

What a joy it was to read this book again. I had forgotten so much about what happened in this book but man, there’s a lot of good stuff.

Lady Brenna and Connor were a fabulous couple that had me laughing one minute and happy sighing the next. Brenna was strong and she was capable and above all else, she was kind. Connor was fierce and he was protective and everything that I love in a hero.

The romance between Connor and Brenna was fun. It was passionate and well written. Their chemistry felt real and the book as a whole was packed with Garwood’s classic humor and sweetness that you won’t find in the newer historicals. For me, there has always been something magical about Connor and Brenna’s story. This book will always be special to me because I connected with pretty much everyone in this one. From Brenna and Connor to Crispin and Quinlan and Alec and Jamie, I loved them all and it’s always a great time when I read this.

I loved this book so much that I carried a copy of it when I went to the hospital to have Brenna, my daughter. Hahaha, yep. You got it. After poring through baby name books and not really seeing anything that I liked, my sister gave me this book out of my bag and said, “What about Brenna? That’s a pretty name” and my baby was born Brenna Lily.

I will never get tired of reading this book and when I’m asked to quote one of my favorite romance novels, I will always quote…

She let him know how much she liked what he was doing by scoring his back with her nails and crying out with pleasure.

“Oh, God.”

“Nay lass, tis Connor.”

Hahaha, this book is great and if you haven’t read it…why the heck not? Change that, you’ll love this one!

Laird’s Fiancees’ Series

My Rating

5 out of 5


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Buddy Review: Dating You, Hating You by Christina Lauren

Posted July 12, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

Buddy Review: Dating You, Hating You by Christina LaurenDating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren
Published by Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books on June 6th, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 350
Format: eBook
Source: Gifted
Goodreads
four-stars

All’s fair in love and work. The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest.

Rowena: This month’s buddy review with my book bestie, Bookish Ames is Dating You, Hating You by Christina Lauren. I have never tried anything by Christina Lauren before and Ames thought that I should so I started my reading journey through Christina Lauren’s backlist with this one.

Dating You, Hating You follows Carter and Evie as they try to figure out how to be together while working together. They had their first date and it went well so they both were looking forward to seeing where dating would take them but when they show up for work on Monday, they find out that their companies have merged and they are now competing against each other to keep their jobs.

Lots and lots of shenanigans happen and overall, I enjoyed the book even though it wasn’t the most original of plots.

What did you think, Ames?

Ames: I agree. After their super meet cute (I loved how they met) and the sabotage shenanigans started I was reminded of the Hating Game by Sally Thorne. But you know what? I think that dynamic works for me. It creates a believable tension and it’s funny to see two characters match wits with each other. I do have a confession though. I never read the blurb for this book, so going into it blind, I thought it was a New Adult. haha Whoops. So when I started reading about a 30 year old woman I was like “WTF?”

Anyway. Speaking of Evie. I really liked her character. She lives in LA and works for an agency representing actors and actresses. For all that that industry puts a focus on looks, I liked Evie’s confidence. She didn’t focus on her looks and was all about getting the job done. And done well. She was great at her job. So I felt her frustration when her boss kept giving her the short end of the stick. And Carter was a good character too. He definitely had some growth happening with his character. Especially in regards to the sexism in their office. But he grew. And he was cute. These two really learned a lot about each other when they were fighting.

Rowena: I thought their Harry Potter meet-up was cute, too. There were lots of similarities between The Hating Game and Dating You, Hating You but the stories had enough differences that I had no problem enjoying them separately.

LOL, after seeing the cover, I thought it was a New Adult book but not after reading the blurb.

Like you, I enjoyed both Evie and Carter. I liked that Evie never questioned her worth at work once Carter came on board. She knew that she was good but she also knew that being a woman would not benefit her the way being a man benefited Carter. Her frustration was real to me and I even liked the way that Carter felt her frustration and understood it as well. I like the tension between them at work because they sure did light the sheets up after work. Haha.

I liked that in this story, Evie and Carter had already started dating and wanted to continue dating but didn’t know how to go about that in the new circumstances that they found themselves in. I liked that the conflict for Carter was about how to make it work with Evie because he wanted to. Because he really liked her.

This book was a lot of fun and I’m definitely going to read more from this author.

Any gripes?

Ames: Before I get into gripes, I want to talk about the secondary characters. Evie and Carter each had their own friends who I felt were flushed out characters that they had real interactions with. Evie getting upset over Carter’s shenanigans? Her friends would come over and help her drown her sorrows. Carter had friends that were a married couple that were always inserting themselves into his situation with Evie in a good way. Even Carter’s brother had a little bit of a story arc going on. I really liked how these characters made this a fuller story.

Now my gripe. As I’m reading this book, published in 2017, I had a very real WHAT THE FUCK moment over some racism that was very casually and VERY uselessly inserted into this story. There’s a scene at a party when one of Carter and Evie’s coworker made a reference to her and Evie being Eskimo sisters.

WTF

I haven’t heard this term before but I didn’t feel good reading it in that context. In Canada, we do not use the term Eskimo. We refer to our Northern brothers and sisters as Inuit. Second, the meaning behind this term (look it up on Urban Dictionary if you haven’t heard of it before) – its demeaning to Inuit people and to women. I was shocked to see this and it definitely pulled me out of the story. And I wonder how the editor/publisher didn’t flag this? I felt like the context in which this term was used was pretty useless to the story.

I don’t feel like this term was used in a malicious way, I think it just may be an awareness (or lack of awareness) issue on the authors’ behalf. Consider this a teachable moment and do better going forward.

What about you, any issues with story?

Rowena: I agree with you about the secondary characters. I enjoyed Evie and Carter’s friends and Carter’s brother. I liked that they had their own people and weren’t always in each other’s pockets and that those people felt real and fleshed out. I also liked that they had a friend in common, who didn’t want to take sides and was on both of their teams.

I was completely ignorant of that saying “Eskimo sisters” before you told me but in the context that it’s used in the book, I agree that it is racist and that it didn’t move the story along or add anything to the story as a whole so it wasn’t necessary to use.

As for me, aside from that, I can’t say that I had any gripes with the book. It was entertaining, the characters were well written and the romance was pretty steamy. All of that makes for a happy Rowena so, all in all, this was a great first book for me. I would give this one a 4 out of 5. You?

Ames: I agree with your rating, 4 out of 5. Despite that one WTF moment, I was really happy with the story overall. I liked the humor over the shenanigans and even the dog! Great characters and loved their sexual tension.

four-stars


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