Review: Knight of Love by Catherine LaRoche

knight of loveHero: The hero has a complicated name. He is Wolfram von Wolfsbach und Ravensworth, also known as Wolf, the English Earl of Ravensworth. He first meets the heroine when he’s undercover as a blacksmith in Prince Kurt’s court, where he finds her being publicly whipped for a small infraction to the amusement of the Prince. Barely able to contain himself, Wolf watches and then volunteers to carry Lenora upstairs where he gives her a large knife for protection.

Heroine: Despite appearances to the contrary, Lady Lenora Trevelyan is not a damsel in distress. She is resourceful and determined to make her escape on her own… no knight in shiny armor needed. She successfully escapes her abusive fiancé, Prince Kurt von Rotenburg-Gruselstadt and is galloping toward freedom and safety with the English/German diplomat… and gets captured by rebels just days down the road. The head of the rebel camp is none other than the blacksmith who gave her the knife.

Review: The hero is an unusual mix of beta and alpha characteristics. He’s very flowery in his language, chivalrous, and believes in love at first sight, but is also skilled at war, believes in civil rights of man (and woman,) and carefully controlling to ensure all is in his favor. For my tastes, I would have had less flowery language and more determined wooing. Wolf arranges a wedding to Lenora in order to protect her – this battlefield wedding is hardly legit as she didn’t give her consent. Still, he consummates the marriage in a forced seduction that evening. It is a heartbreaking (and erotic) experience for both of them which makes it successful. That night destroys what trust Lenora had in him. Now she’s plotting a new escape… but it’s harder to break the touch of silk than the touch of iron. There’s also an erotic scene where Lenora is in full control of Wolf and that is also successful as it is healing for both. I felt the story fell short when it changed locations from Germany to England. It was a night and day difference and the smoldering passion cooled quickly. Definitely a memorable read.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Knight of Love

Review: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

safe havenReviewed by Sandra Scholes

There haven’t been many novels released for publication on the 14th February, but this is one of them, and a real romantic love story where Kate comes to Southport and in an instant, she causes a storm. She is a real beauty, yet doesn’t want to get into love affairs with men, not when she has been heartbroken before. She does however get embroiled in two different relationships with men she feels she shouldn’t have, so things don’t go to plan for her.

Kate needs to let her hair down and her barriers to true love, but her past keeps coming back to haunt her with a terrible secret that threatens to destroy any chances of happiness.

Kate to everyone around her is an average girl who works at a restaurant, and minds her own business. She doesn’t take much notice of the people around her, and doesn’t want to get to know anyone in particular. She also has a rule she never breaks; she never dates the men she works with, and that unfortunately applies to Alex, the guy who is most interested in her. Alex spends a little time with her at work, and he begins to feel closeness to her he had not felt since his wife had been alive. Alex has a deep past where he remembers his wife as a caring individual who helped bring up their children and when Kate shows affection toward one of them during an accident, it reminds him of a past where he was content.

It doesn’t take long before readers discover that Kate is an independent woman and likes to think she can leave whenever she wants to. She isn’t one who likes to feel caged in, and the reality of her not being able to do what she wants tends to give her a complex. Jo, her friend thinks she should date Alex as she believes he is a stable man who loves his kids and might be able to give her a good life. Kate pretends not to be interested in Alex but Jo knows full well that she wouldn’t be so chatty with him if she didn’t want to date him. No matter how much she claims otherwise, she’s kidding her self.

Alex is still mourning the loss of his wife, but liked the fact he could rely on someone like Kate even if she refuses to accept that she has a fancy for him. The parts that impressed me about this novel:

  • The pacing is right.
  • The characters are believable – it isn’t a sordid bodice-ripper but a heart felt love story between two people.
  • It’s a case of the irresistible force going against the immovable object where Alex and Kate are concerned.
  • Both of them have had to come to terms with sadness in their lives, and have a lot to overcome so that they can live a normal life together.

There are other interesting parts to this story, Alex used to be in the CID and worked with abused women, and sees something similar in Kate as he saw in other women, but he is not altogether sure of his instincts. She does have a troubled past, but readers don’t get to find out until later on in the novel. Nicholas Sparks, the author of The Notebook, The Best of Me, The Rescue, Message in a Bottle, and The Guardians has written a true love story that is believable from the moment you turn the first page.

Nicholas Spark’s new novel is also a new movie due for release in early February. Staring Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough, the trailer can be watched here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj6i_Z1Srsw

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Safe Haven

Review: Three Sisters (Blackberry Island, Book 2) by Susan Mallery

three sistersThis book is not an anthology, but there are three stories intertwined in it. Three Sisters is the nickname for three Victorian houses on a cul-de-sac and with a name like that, it is easy to see that the three women who own it will become as “sisters” in their friendships to one another.

Romantic relationships are at the heart of the novel, but it is not your traditional romance novel. It’s more women’s fiction with romantic elements. I found two of the three stories very depressing for much of their page time and should come with a warning label for some readers. The issues in the novel are not lighthearted ones and could be tough to read emotionally for some women.

One woman deals (or not) with grief over the death of her infant son and it is destroying her marriage. (Her husband isn’t handling it any better and gets drunk to avoid his grief.)

Another woman is struggling in her marriage because she needs order and perfection to counter her childhood abusive relationship with her mother. Her needs, which are silent and never spoken, affect her household and all her children see her as the bad guy. (How could her husband who indicates knowing this tragic past, say/think the things he did and not be more sympathetic or handle his own concerns/needs better/sooner?)

The last woman faces the challenges of new beginnings after her fiancé dumps her at the altar and runs off with his secretary to get hitched in Vegas. I by far, enjoyed her story the most. I liked her, her new fella, and the daughter.

Each of the married women’s struggles is handled with respect, but the story is at times very much a downer. It’s not until over halfway through the book that things start to look up for the two married women on the street, but getting there was painful for me. Their husbands also had to come around and I wasn’t convinced by one of them for a while because it seemed like all the blame was on the wife. Not fair.

The book will tug at your heartstrings, but you have to ask yourself do you want them to be tugged so hard? It ends happy. I give 2 Stars for the married couples’ stories and 4 Stars for the single gal’s story…

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: Three Sisters (Blackberry Island)

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Review: Barefoot in the Rain (Barefoot Bay, Book 2) by Roxanne St. Claire

barefoot in the rain roxanne st claireReviewed by Cara Lynn

Barefoot in the Rain is the story of Jocelyn Bloom, who is a life coach to the stars. It also continues the story of some of the other characters in this book, including her friends.

I have to say I did not enjoy this book. When I read, I prefer to read for enjoyment, maybe even romantic suspense (not hard-core suspense), or I read non-fiction to learn something, but I don’t really want to read about problems in a fiction book. Or worry about what the problems might reveal.

Jocelyn has fled back home, because the tabloids are accusing her of being the mistress of a famous actor, possibly breaking up his marriage. Fifteen years earlier she had fled home, vowing never to return, because of her extremely abusive father. Unknown to her, he now has Alzheimers or something similar — or maybe not. (He does, it appears.) She is taking the heat to protect the actor’s wife.

It is a testament to the author that I cared enough about the characters to continue reading it. I did not like the juxtaposition of all the Alzheimers and memories of abuse throughout the whole story.

The book begins with a prologue in which Jocelyn and her next door neighbor, Will Palmer, a boy she has known all her life, who had offered a place of refuge whenever her father went after her mother, are about to consummate their innocent love, when her father, the sheriff of the town, barges in, pulls a gun on Will, threatens him with attacking her (he hadn’t.) He is totally out of control. You really don’t know what he did to her until you continue reading the book. I was afraid her father had raped her (he hadn’t.) (Thankfully.)

The main story is how she and Will fall in love again. (They always were on some level.) Complicating matters is that he has been taking care of her father for some time, since he also returned home, out of pity or compassion.

Because of this trauma associated with her first sexual experience, she is still a virgin. (Her friends don’t know this.)

There is a teaser chapter of the next book in the series where Zoe and Oliver, the doctor who had hurt her, get back together again (I’m sure.)

I’m not at all convinced or the reason for her father’s abuse. I also have some knowledge of a similar situation, not a family member, of dementia or Alzheimers or loss of memory (no abuse was part of it.) So there were parts of the book which I assume were researched, but didn’t jive with what I am personally aware of. For all these reasons, I give the book 2 stars. That said, I would like to read the next book in the series which is, as I said, Zoe’s story.

There is forgiveness of her father and renewal of love, perhaps unreasonably. It wasn’t convincing to me, at least.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Barefoot in the Rain (Barefoot Bay)

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Review: Diana by the Moon by Tracy Cooper-Posey

by Susan S., guest reviewer

This novel drew me in so completely, so thoroughly, time just simply faded. Diana by the Moon is a work of written art. Tracy Cooper-Posey has penned a beautiful story; of one woman’s courageous journey of self discovery amidst turbulent times.

What I think appealed to me most, was how the author timed the dramatic elements in the plot. If you haven’t read Cooper-Posey’s books, I’m highly recommending this one. I’m familiar with several of her sub-genres, and her adaptability and range as a writer is impressive.

Alaric (hero) is a tall, dark haired, handsome Celtic warrior. As lieutenant in Arthur’s army, he shares his passion that one day there will be a united Britain. When Alaric is sent to the north, an area inhabited with Romans—he’ll have to practice something a soldier doesn’t often do when faced with an enemy; practice self control. Alaric has good reason for his deep-seated hatred for all Romans. His biggest challenge will be reigning in his contempt, and following Arthur’s peace orders.

Diana (heroine) is an ebony haired, blue-eyed Roman with a deep hatred for Saxons, and an equal dislike for Celts. So, it’s no surprise she’s anything but pleased when Alaric comes wanting her villa, the beacon, and to establish a cavalry outpost; with 30 of his men no less! When Diana adamantly refuses, he resorts to an underhanded approach to get his way. Diana and her younger sister Minna, share a dark secret which Alaric is determined to uncover throughout the novel.

Will Diana learn to set her prejudices aside to trust a Celt with her land, her secrets, her very heart, or will the Saxons attack rob her of the chance?

My thoughts:

I felt such empathy with the characters that when a key character dies, I was heartbroken. One of the factors I consider a must have in a great novel is believability, I couldn’t fault the author. It was a realistic event during the time period, under the given circumstances.

I loved Cooper-Posey’s unconventional meeting of the hero and heroine. How they went from that initial meeting to their interactions towards the end of the story, is quite amazing-really.

Will we meet Arthur, Merlin, or the Lady of the Lake? …Maybe.

Favorite scene: It’s hard to choose. There’s so many, but I guess I’d have to say: Alaric and his men are called away by Arthur. There’s an intensely emotional scene where Minna runs to Alaric; that tugged at my heart. All I can say in regards to that scene is, “Wow.”

Favorite character: Again, hard to choose. But, if I had to single out just one, I’d pick Diana. Her strength and leadership, despite her hidden pain are admirable.

Recommendations: This novel will appeal to romance readers, anyone who reads historicals, and those who like romantic suspense. If you enjoyed the (1998) movie Merlin with Sam Neill, or Sir Walter Scott’s book Ivanhoe. A must read if you enjoy myths, legends, and lore.

Originally released in 2004, Diana by the Moon is now released with a brand new cover, and a new publisher.

Rating: 5 Stars

Buy: Diana by the Moon

eBook publication, April 2010, Cerridwen Press, Historical Romantic Suspense, Pages 221. ISBN# 978 141 992 3791.