Review: The Laird’s Choice (Lairds of the Loch, Book 1) by Amanda Scott

The Laird’s ChoiceHero: Magnus Galbraith escapes captivity after putting together the plot to assassinate King James at the hands his captor’s allies. He will warn the king, claim his freedom, thumb his nose at his father and avenge his brother in the process. He doesn’t expect the laird whose land he washed up on to offer his eldest daughter in marriage. Though to be fair, she did warn him.

Heroine: Lady Andrena MacFarlan has great empathy and can sense the true thoughts of man and animals. She intrinsically knows when something is wrong on her father’s lands and feels it when there are intruders. She finds a wounded man, without an inheritance to call his own that is willing to defy an enemy of her father. She knows she will be asked to wed him and Dree finds she is not unwilling.

Review: The romance is nice and slow. It’s a romance that simmers. The hero and heroine go from perfect strangers to wedded couple and develop from there. The paranormal elements are a little vague for me, but if you can ignore it or roll with it, they become part of the story. Author is very good at conveying the historical setting. You know there was lots of research! I liked the glossary at the beginning. That helped!

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Laird’s Choice (The Lairds of the Loch)

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Get into Bed with Mia Marlowe (Author Interview)

Joining us today is Mia Marlowe, Lord of Fire and Ice

Keira: How far has Brandr traveled to earn the designation as Far-Traveled?

Mia Marlowe: Brandr’s been walrus hunting in the Frostlands where the ice never melts and the sky blazes with eerie light.  He’s journeyed to Iceland to secure trading rights for his people.  In the opening of LORD OF FIRE AND ICE (http://miamarlowe.com/books/fire.php) , he’s just returning from a five year sojourn to the distant southern city of Miklagaard (Constantinople).

The Vikings followed two routes to Miklagaard. Some of them sailed along the coast of Europe and through the Strait of Gibraltar into Middle Earth’s great inland sea. This is the way Brandr and his friends traveled. In my first Viking romance MAIDENSONG, my hero and heroine sail down the rivers of Europe, braving the rapids and grueling portages to the Black Sea to reach the great city of the south.

Keira: There are never enough Viking romances. What is your favorite aspect of Viking romances?

MM: I’m fascinated with Nordic culture. Their art, especially the ‘gripping beast’ patterns, has a weirdly contemporary feel. And the way they dealt with their women was far more in line with modern norms that with the other peoples of their times. While the rest of Europe treated their women as chattel, Nordic women could own property, choose their own mates and divorce them if they wished, and older women especially were often consulted on weighty matters.  As Brandr says, “For action, seek a man.  For wisdom, a woman.”

Keira: Is Brandr’s skill with calling fire mystical?

MM: Brandr was born with an affinity for the flames. He doesn’t know why because no one else in his family can call fire from thin air or direct its path with a mere thought. Part of what he was doing in Miklagaard was learning how to control his unusual gift by studying with a Middle-eastern sorcerer.

Keira: In the past when I’ve read Viking romance it is usually the heroine who is the slave, not the hero. How did Brandr get into the mess he’s in now?

MM: Brandr stayed behind at a mead house while his friends returned to their longship. The heroine Katla’s brothers decided to drug his drink when they learned he was the son of Ulf. Because Ulf killed Katla’s husband, they figure she’ll jump at the chance to enslave Ulf’s son.

But there’s a catch. Her brothers will only give Brandr to her if she promises to marry one of the men they choose for her. Since they already have a man in mind who’s promised to split his much larger holding with them, Katla is as caught by the deal as Brandr.

Keira: Katla is cold, but she has cause, doesn’t she?

MM: Katla comes off as cold and hard because she’s a woman forced into a man’s position. She’s the head of a household of over 30 souls, all of whom are dependent upon her for every bite of food in their mouths and every coin in their pockets. She figures she has to be tough lest bad bargains, encroaching warriors or the ever-returning enemy called winter will overcome her people.

But inside where no one can see, Katla is soft and warm. She yearns for “inn matki munr”—the mighty passion. It’s a love so deep, legend says the bonded couple can even speak to each other without voice, and send thoughts to their beloved over many miles. Katla didn’t ever achieve inn matki munr with her dead husband and fears she will never know such mighty passion.

Keira: How does she end up with a Viking in her bed? Is he as skilled as his legend proclaims? *wink*

MM:  She invites him, of course.  Even though she technically owns him, she doesn’t want Brandr to merely render her a service. The passion has to be mutual.  And yes, Brandr is a skilled lover, but even he is blindsided by the difference in the experience when lovemaking is about more than pleasure. It’s a connection on a deeper level than just physical, a mingling of souls that knits two hearts together so irrevocably they can’t be sundered.

And as far as skill goes, Katla holds her own. *wink right back*

Keira: Do you feel there’s any extra steps in writing a romance that involves slavery?

MM: When the topic of slavery comes up, we usually think of our country’s own sad past. However, slavery is an ugly truth throughout much of human history. In the ancient Roman world, one person in every three was a slave. In feudal times, serfs were slaves in all but name. They were chained to the land and the lord who owned it.  Sad to say, human trafficking is still going on in some parts of the world today.  It’s a hideous blight on mankind, a denial of what it is to be human.

However, I write historicals so I have to be true to the times. The Vikings did keep thralls, their word for slaves. However, in Nordic society, thralls could be freed at any time or even earn their freedom.  Even after the iron collar was struck off, their place in society was still low. A freed thrall owed his former master loyalty and it took two generations for the stigma to be fully lifted. Since this means Brandr owes Katla even more loyalty than most husbands show their wives, I’m good with that.

If an author really digs into whatever time period she’s writing about, she’ll probably come across some type of slavery. I wonder if I’ll ever see a Regency romance where the debutant realizes the lovely little bonnet she just bought was paid for by the slave labor on her father’s Caribbean sugar plantation. And what would she do about that realization?

Keira: The coolest Viking fact you found in research is ___________.

MM: I really loved researching the myths of the gods of Asgard. It’s a fascinating, detailed collection of stories that rivals the Greco-Roman system and even has an “end of the world” scenario. There was reputedly a temple in Uppsala with three huge statues of the major gods—Odin, Thor and Frey. Frey, the god of increase, is always depicted with a gigantic erect male member. Kind of makes you wonder why they chose Thor to be part of The Avengers movie, huh?

Keira: Will you write another romance together?

MM: Yes! Connie Mason and I are working on a trio of Regency-set stories called The Royal Rakes series. The Royal Rakes is loosely based on the very real “Hymen Race Terrific.” After Princess Charlotte died in 1817, the Prince Regent’s unmarried brothers realized they have an opportunity to wed, bed, and breed in order to present George III with a legitimate grandchild who will one day wear the crown. But not everyone wanted the royal dukes to succeed. And what better way to stop them than to make sure a dedicated rake comes between them and their intendeds?

Look for Waking Up With a Rake in January 2013. For more info, please visit http://www.miaamarlowe.com . You can also find me on Facebook http://facebook.com/MiaMarloweFanPage and Twitter http://twitter.com/Mia_Marlowe . I look forward to connecting with YOU.

LORD OF FIRE AND ICE

BY CONNIE MASON AND MIA MARLOWE – IN STORES JULY 2012

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His Duty is to Fulfill Her Every Desire…

Brandr the Far–Traveled has seen the world and a good many of the beautiful women in it. His bed skills are the stuff of steamy legend, his sword sings death, and he can call up fire from thin air. No one ever thought he could be enslaved through trickery and forced to wear the iron collar of a thrall—least of all him.

 

Until All She Desires is Him…

Katla the Black isn’t just called so for her dark, silky hair. His new mistress has a temper as fierce as a warrior’s and a heart as icy as the frozen North. But inch by delicious inch, Brandr means to make her melt…

Buy: Lord of Fire and Ice

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Connie Mason is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels. She was named Storyteller of the Year in 1990 and received a Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times in 1994. She currently lives in Florida. Mia Marlowe is a highly acclaimed new voice in romance whose debut novel released in Spring 2011 from Kensington. She lives in Boston, MA. Together, they are working on a new Regency romance series for Sourcebooks Casablanca, the first of which will be in stores in January 2013. For more information, please visit http://www.conniemason.com/, http://miamarlowe.com/ and follow Mia on Twitter @Mia_Marlowe.

GIVEAWAY: 1 print copy of Lord of Fire and Ice. Open to US and Canada only. Enter by leaving a comment and/or asking Mia a question! :D Last day to enter is July 20, 2012.

Review: The Egyptian Slave by Alcamiya Payne

by Sandra Scholes, guest reviewer

For some men the love of a woman is not enough. In Mem’s case, he has had enough of the usual woman who he has around him, so much so he has lost his will to perform in bed with anyone. Feeling he is doomed to failure with the opposite sex, he tries one last time to see if he can get the sensation of love and yearning back in his heart.

Going to the slave market Mem looks around at what is on offer, and goes for an unlikely beauty that catches his eyes for all the wrong reasons. Toomela is the one he buys and takes with him, but is she who she thinks he is?

Only he can find out…

Egyptian Slave by Alcamia Payne is set in the heart of the land of the ancients, where Pharaohs ruled with an iron hand, and one man is his favourite at court.

I liked the cover art, as just from looking at it you can feel as though you are transported to that far away land of sand and sensuality. Of course, it is a depiction of Mem and Toomela in a sand dune having a moment to themselves before the Pharaoh calls upon him for his services.

At first Mem does not take to his new slave girl, in fact he treats her badly, hitting her and such, but this is not shown, only talked about by Mem’s cook, Ati. He finds her useless, and does all he can to reprimand her, but Ati doesn’t know why he is so hard on her. Is it the devilishly sexual look in her eyes that bedazzles him? Or is it something else.

There is a lot of fun to be derived from the fact that Ati has noticed how Toomela is not like the other girls he has seen, as she is flat-chested and has no curves at all – what either Ati or Mem don’t know at first is that Toomela is very different from the girls he has brought home before. Mem has had his fair share of beautiful slaves, yet none of them had brought out the passion in him. On the advice of the court astrologer, Mem takes it upon himself to train Toomela to cater to his every whim by massaging and taking care of him in bed as well as out of it. It is when he discovers Toomela is a boy that he really starts to get excited!

The Egyptian Slave is a read that can only be done on your own as it is so sensual, sexual and as sizzling as a summer barbecue, and you will be forever looking round to see if someone is looking over your shoulder.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Egyptian Slave, The Egyptian Slave (UK)

Review: His by Elizabeth Coldwell

by Sharon S., guest reviewer

Okay, when I was offered a chance to review this, I jumped! You should know by now I *love* m/m especially when there is a dominant/submissive relationship, and after reading the blurb I was excited.

I have mixed feelings about this story. I will start with what I liked. The story is set in London and based on the prose I would think Coldwell is from the U.K. It added a surprising and fun element to the story once I wrapped my brain around the slang. I really liked the main characters. Dante is the owner of a very exclusive, what I would call hard core, BDSM club. The author is definitely knowledgeable about the Mater/Slave relationship. Sean is inexperienced and naïve when it comes to the BDSM scene, and had no idea what he was getting into when he accepted an invitation to the club. He is a natural submissive, but didn’t realize this until Dante decided to make him his slave for the weekend. The myriad of emotions Sean went through while being Dante’s slave were believable.

I have read BDSM erotica, but this was what I would call “hard core”. I am sure some people like this type, but it wasn’t for me. I prefer a more romance in my m/m stories. This was a little to true to life. Dante admits to having feelings for Sean and wanting to pursue a more permanent relationship, but he was still going to have other men and loan Sean out to other Masters. This isn’t love to me.

I can’t really rate this story based on the sexual content. This type of erotica isn’t my thing, but if you like hard core BDSM, then I think you will like this. I did enjoy the writing and characters. This is a 64 page novella and a quick read.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: His, His (UK)

Review: Lily of the Nile (Cleopatra’s Daughter, Book 1) by Stephanie Dray

by Zarabeth, guest reviewer

Lily of the Nile follows the story of Cleopatra’s daughter in her new life as a Roman captive. She is a child who is forced to grow up fast and really examine her beliefs. With the death of her family and the capture of Egypt under Roman control her faith and her personal safety are in extreme danger.

It is a well-told tale of political intrigue and magic. If you have any interest in Egypt and/or Rome then this is a perfect story for you. I do believe Ms. Dray has done her homework and did a decent job of painting the picture of those times for her readers. Nothing came across glaringly incorrect or even mildly incorrect (but I’m no expert) which will soothe the feathers of historically savvy readers out there who put a lot of stock in that sort of thing.

I should note that this book is historical fiction with very little in the way of romance as that might affect some readers buying decisions (one way or the other!). It’s a very intense read and not exactly lighthearted. I thought it was pretty good.

On a side note, do you not think that the cover for this book is gorgeous? Beautiful artwork!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Lily of the Nile

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