Experience The Birth Of A Legacy With Rebel

Title:  Rebel
Series:  Women Who Dare #1
Author:  Beverly Jenkins
Length:  384 pages
Date Of Publication: May 28, 2019
Publisher:  Avon Books
Rating:  5 Stars

The first novel in USA Today Bestselling Author Beverly Jenkins' compelling new series follows a Northern woman sobookh in the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War...

Valinda Lacey's mission in the steamy heart of New Orleans is to help the newly emancipated community survive and flourish. But soon she discovers that here, freedom can also mean danger. When thugs destroy the school she has set up and then target her, Valinda runs for her life—and straight into the arms of Captain Drake LeVeq.

As an architect from an old New Orleans family, Drake has a deeply personal interest in rebuilding the city. Raised by strong women, he recognizes Valinda's determination. And he can't stop admiring—or wanting—her. But when Valinda's father demands she return home to marry a man she doesn't love, her daring rebellion draws Drake into an irresistible intrigue.

Please enjoy this excerpt from...

“Is it a love match?”
Val paused. It was now her turn to study him. She replied truthfully, “No, it isn’t. I take it you believe there is such a thing?”
“I do. You?”
“There are no love matches in my family or in the families of my acquaintances, so I err on the side of saying no.”
“Raimond and Sable have one, as did my parents, as did our great-grandparents Dominic and Clare.” He added softly, “Love is real, cheri.”
The passion he put into the words, coupled with his accent were such a heady combination, if he professed the moon was made of ice cream she’d ask for a bowl and spoon. She eyed his full lips and remembered the gentleness of his fingers on her scraped cheek. Common sense urged her to get up and run from him like her slips were on fire because Drake LeVeq was dangerous in ways an engaged, untouched woman like herself couldn’t even imagine, but lord help her, she was drawn to him.

My Thoughts
I can't tell you how delighted I am as a blogger, Historical Romance fan, and as an African-American woman living in the South.  To read Beverly Jenkins' Rebel.

Not only does this compelling read check all the universal romance boxes of: damsels in distress, dashing heroes, and passions hot enough to set pages aflame.
This book allows readers to see in its hero and heroine.  Educated proactive people.  Willing to do whatever they must to right the wrongs of institutionalized racism and bigotry.  In a freshly war ravaged land.  Full of people lost and clinging to whatever vestiges of comfort and familiarity there is to be had.

For teacher, Valinda Lacey.  A woman trying to escape the prospect of marriage to an older man that she doesn't know.  Arranged by her father.
Only to find herself a target of racist army officers.  When she tries to establish a school in her newly adopted home of New Orleans.

Enter Captain Drake LeVeq.  A ranking officer in the Army, an architect, and the son of an affluent family of color in New Orleans.  He is just the right person to help Miss Lacey navigate both the bureaucratic pitfalls surrounding her attempts at establishing and maintaining a school meant for the education and betterment of not only students of color.  But anyone wishing to educate themselves.  As well as the societal dangers of a woman alone in unfamiliar territory.

What neither of the two count on however.  Is the attraction that their continued interactions seem to encourage.
An attraction that they are powerless to deny.
An attraction that they both know has the stuff to become so much more.

This is a romance that is so much more than a romance.  Providing social commentary, historical truth, thrills, chills, and so much more.
The perfect "against all odds story.
Tailor-made to enlighten, inspire, intrigue, and nestle securely within the hearts of all who read it.

Reviewer's Note
***This book is the first of an interrelated series.  Which may be read as a standalone.  Or as part of its intended series.
Thanks to Avon Books, Edelweiss, and Netgalley for providing the review copy upon which my critique is based.

About Beverly
Ms. Jenkins is the nation's premier writer of African American historical romance fiction and specializes in 19th century African American life. She has over thirty published novels to date.

She has received numerous awards, including: five Waldenbooks/Borders Group Best Sellers Awards; two Career Achievement Awards and a Pioneer Award from Romantic Times Magazine; a Golden Pen Award from the Black Writer's Guild, and in 1999 was named one of the Top Fifty Favorite African-American writers of the 20th Century by AABLC, the nation's largest on-line African-American book club.

She has also been featured in many national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, Dallas Morning News and Vibe Magazine. She has lectured and given talks at such prestigious universities as Oberlin University, the University of Illinois, and Princeton. She speaks widely on both romance and 19th century African-American history and was the 2014 featured speaker for the W.W. Law Lecture Series sponsored by the Savannah Black Heritage Festival.

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Gallery Books Presents: Passion On Park Avenue

42202094Title:  Passion On Park Avenue
 Series:  Central Park Pact
Author:  Lauren Lane
Length:  288 pages
Format:  Kindle
Publisher:  Gallery Books
Rating:  5 Stars

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Stiletto and Oxford series, the first in a sizzling new series following the unlikely friendship of three Upper East Side women as they struggle to achieve their dreams and find true love and happiness in the city that never sleeps.

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.

 Praise For:  Passion On Park Avenue

“Chic and clever! Passion on Park Avenue comes to life like a sexy, comedic movie on the page.”

–Tessa Bailey, New York Times bestselling author
"I couldn't put it down! Not only is the friendship between Naomi, Claire and Audrey refreshing and inspirational, the chemistry between Naomi and Oliver is off the charts! I love a sassy heroine and a funny hero and Layne delivers both. Witty banter and an electric connection between Naomi and Oliver kept me turning the pages late into the night. Lauren Layne knocks this one right out of Park Avenue!"

–Samantha Young, New York Times bestselling author of Fight or Flight
“Strong characters and relatable situations elevate Layne’s bighearted contemporary… This vivid enemies-to-lovers romance digs into class differences, emotional baggage, and the reality of dealing with aging parents.”
– Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Featuring wine in coffee mugs, dinner parties with ulterior motives, and Naomi and Oliver being (almost) caught with their pants down, this is perfect for readers who love the dishy women's fiction of Candace Bushnell."
– Booklist
our stuff here
My Thoughts
If you are a person who longs for the days when new episodes of Sex In The City were just a click away.  If you are a person for whom the phrase "girl power" is more than just "catchy".  And if you are a person who prefers their romance with a healthy helping of " heart".
Lauren Layne's Passion On Park is the perfect fit for you.

The self-made Naomi Powell may be the CEO of the next "big thing" that the fashion accessory game has ever seen.  And her money may run very long, and very green as a result.  But both she and the upper crusts of the Upper East Side apartment building that she is trying to move into are well aware that her blood runs a whole lot more red than the blue that they are used to.
With no one knowing this better than her neighbor and HOA board member, Oliver Cunningham.  The kicker being that he can't see just how far back their history goes.
But by the same token.  Naomi can't reconcile the boy that she knew from her past, with the man who seems determined to make her his future.
Leaving readers to answer the question of.  Can there be a happily...?
Or will the ghosts of the past be enough to chase away any hopes for a brigher future for these two?

Lauren hits one out of the park on all bases with this first book in the Central Park Pact series.  It's funny, heartwarming, and even heartbreaking at times.  But never a book that one wants to put down.
My only gripe.  That there wasn't more girl time involving Audry and Claire.  Seeing as that is what is so effectively alluded to at the absolutely unforgettable beginning to both the book and series.
That fabulous beginning, and a phone call or two, is just about the limit of the "girl's squad" interaction.  Before it then becomes all Naomi, all the time.
But let me be the first to say that time is a great one right down to the very last second.

About Lauren
Lauren LayneLauren Layne is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than two dozen romantic comedies. Her books have sold over a million copies, in nine languages. Lauren's work has been featured in Publishers Weekly, Glamour, The Wall Street Journal, and Inside Edition. She’s based in New York City.
See Her Socially:  Web / Twitter / Goodreads / Instagram

  Buy The Book Here!

Sometimes Half The Fun Is Justn In The Counting Of "Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault"

Title:  Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault
Author:  Cathy Guisewite
Length:  336 pages
Publisher:  G.P. ,Putnam & Sons
Rating:  5 Stars

from the creator of the iconic "Cathy" comic strip comes her first collection of funny, wise, poignant, and incredibly honest essays about being a woman in what she lovingly calls "the panini generation."

As the creator of "Cathy," Cathy Guisewite found her way into the hearts of readers more than forty years ago, and has been there ever since. Her hilarious and deeply relatable look at the challenges of womanhood in a changing world became a cultural touchstone for women everywhere. Now Guisewite returns with her signature wit and warmth in this debut essay collection about another time of big transition, when everything starts changing and disappearing without permission: aging parents, aging children, aging self stuck in the middle.

With her uniquely wry and funny admissions and insights, Guisewite unearths the humor and horror of everything from the mundane (trying to introduce her parents to TiVo and facing four decades' worth of unorganized photos) to the profound (finding a purpose post-retirement, helping parents downsize their lives, and declaring freedrom from all those things that hold us back). No longer confined to the limits of four comic panels, Guisewite holds out her hand in prose form and becomes a reassuring companion for those on the threshold of "what happens next." Heartfelt and humane and always cathartic, Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault is ideal reading for mothers, daughters, and anyone who is caught somewhere in between.

Praise For
  Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault

“Absolutely brilliant!”
— Cathy’s Mother

“She’s ba-AACK! ‘Cathy’ creator returns to humor writing with her first book of essays.”
The Washington Post, read more

“Laughter is the best proof of freedom, and Cathy has written a book that will help keep us free to the very end.”
— Gloria Steinem

“There is humor; there is comedy, there is Cathy, who gives us laughter but reaches way beyond the funny bone to touch us with her humane, entertaining, and satisfying collection.”
— George Hodgman, author of Bettyville

My Thoughts
They say that after a certain age, the many molehills that seemed Everest sized mountains in one's youth.  Once again become the simple molehills they where.  Or, cease to draw even the slightest blip of awareness on one's importance radar altogether.

Cartoonist and essayist, Cathy Lee Guisewite.  Once again employees her trademark depricating wit, and unabashed frankness. As she takes readers on a tour of the issues that she and many others of adult age are now facing.  As they navigate such issues as: aging parents, adult children, and whether or not pasta is or is not the next super food.

Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault allows readers to stop, look, and smell the proverbial bullshit.  Meaning all of the baggage that we as people, and more often than not, as woman carry in the form of guilt.
Heaped upon us by the truck load via society, religion, our families, and ourselves.
This book offers a chance to takes a collective breath, wiggle your toes, and have a much needed chuckle about the complete absurdity of just about everything that we can't possibly control.  But we freely allow to control us.

about Cathy
Cathy GuisewiteCathy Lee Guisewite is the cartoonist who created the comic strip Cathy in 1976. Her main cartoon character (Cathy) is a career woman faced with the issues and challenges of work, relationships, her mother and food, or as Guisewite herself put it in one of her strips, "The four basic guilt groups."

Guisewite was born in Dayton, Ohio and grew up in Midland, Michigan. She attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor where she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. Guisewite received her bachelor's degree in English in 1972. She also holds seven honorary degrees.

In 1993, Guisewite received the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year from the National Cartoonists Society. In 1987, she received an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program for the TV special Cathy, which aired on CBS. Guisewite was a frequent guest in the latter years of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Guisewite and her husband Chris Wilkinson reside in Los Angeles. She has a daughter and a stepson.

See Her Socially:  Web  / Facebook / Goodreads

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Nothing Makes A Bigger Romantic Bump Than "A Duke In The Night"

Title:  A Duke In The Night
Series:  (Devils Of Dover #1)
Author:  Kelly Bowen
Length:  368 pages
Publisher:  Forever
Rating:  5 Stars

Duke. Scoundrel. Titan of business. August Faulkner is a man of many talents, not the least of which is enticing women into his bedchamber. He's known-and reviled-for buying and selling companies, accumulating scads of money, and breaking hearts. It's a reputation he wears like a badge of honor, and one he intends to keep. 

Clara Hayward, the headmistress of the Haverhall School for Young Ladies, on the other hand, is above reproach. Yet when she's reunited with August all she can think of is the way she felt in his arms as they danced a scandalous waltz ten long years ago. Even though her head knows that he is only back in her life to take over her family's business, her heart can't help but open to the very duke who could destroy it for good.

Enjoy this exclusive audio excerpt of A Duke In The Night here:

My Thoughts
A Duke In The Night is the first offering in romance maven Kelly Bowen's The Devils Of Dover series.
And a veritable dream for those looking for an absolutely brilliant leading lady.  Capable in every way.
Yet, not beyond allowing herself to be vulnerable for love.

Yes folks...
Clara Hayward is everything that a lady of the ton ought not be.  Opinionated, forthright, learned, and a career woman.
She is headmistress of the Haverhall School For Young Ladies.
A school that the cream of the crop the world over are clambering to send their girls to.
A school that teaches girls to use the talents and brains with which they are blessed to make a lasting mark upon the world.
A school that values its young charges not for the size of their doweries, or the beauty of their form.  But for the passion of their hearts.
A school that it now seems has become the latest acquisition of one August Faulkner.  The twelfth Duke of Holloway.
A man hell-bent on acquisition, power, and wealth building.
A man very much changed from the one that had danced Clara across a crowded ballroom some ten years earlier.
The only man bold enough to dare try claiming the one thing that Clara Hayward holds most dear.
Her heart.

This book boasts more turns of fortune than the New York Stock Exchange on a bad week.
With Clare's family so desperate to save the last vestiges of their once great import empire.  That they sell of the school that Clare founded.
To none other than the one man that Clare has had a crush on for ten years.
The one man that she never thought that she would see again.
And the one man, strangely enough, that she can't seem to be rid of.

Watching the very progressively minded Clare befuddle, bemuse, excite, and incite August at every turn.  Just might be the most fun that one can have while reading.
The fact that he starts out believing that he and his money are the answers to everyone 's problems.
Seeing him further schooled by both the students and the situations that he is presented with.

This book is so much more than a romance. Spotlighting issues such as socially imposed gender roles versus proficiency and love for a job or task.  Specifically as applied to women of the time.
There is also the secret that haunts August's past. Driving him in his pursuit of wealth.
And his almost obsessive need to protect those around him.

But the star of this show by far.
The romance!
The sparks that fly from the pages when Clara and August are together.  So much so that you never want their trysts to end.

In short...
If you are looking for an intelligently written, female positive, captivatingly romantic read.  That you won't won't to put down.  Look no further than A Duke In The Night.
You'll be glad you did.

Kelly BowenAbout Kelly
Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She worked her way through her teenage years as a back country trail guide and ranch hand. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.

But it was Kelly's infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance. When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.

Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process. Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

Find Her:  Web / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

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"Drakon's Knight" Could Use A Lot More Dragon

45141639Title:  Drakon's Knight
Series: ( Blood Of The Drakon #7)
Author:  N.J. Walters
Length:  400 pages
Expected Publication Date:  June 24th, 2019
Publisher:  Entangled Publishing
Rating:  3 Stars

Drakon Jericho Drake, the child of a pure-blood dragon and human, has a simple plan: Kill the leader of the Knights of the Dragon and start a war. Except, when he meets his target, Karina Azarov, she can’t remember who she is. Worst of all––he can’t kill her. His dragon side has just claimed the dangerous woman as his mate.

 Karina has no idea why these Drakon’s have taken her to their home. And she most certainly does not understand why she’s so drawn to her captor. Maybe because he’s strong, intelligent, and caring, in his enigmatic sort of way. One thing she knows, he’s not going to hurt her. If only she could remember something from her past that would explain why these Drakon’s hate her so much. But if her memory returns, mated or not, he may get his war.. And one of them will die.

My Thoughts

Drakon's Knight, book number 7 in the Blood Of The Drakonseries. Is one that while beguiling on the romantic sense. Falls rather short when it comes to action, world building, and character development.
Ringing in on opposite sides of an already untenable situation. We have Drakon Huntress extraordinaire, Karina Azarov.
Leader of the Knights Of The Dragon, and first in line to kill any and all Drakons.
Pitted against her seriously hunky adversary turned love interest. One Jericho Drake.
Who, as fate and the dragon powers- that- be would have it. Have made it his mission to kill.

Surprise of all surprises. When the time comes to do the dastardly deed. He can't. 
Because his dragon recognizes her as his mate.
She, on the other hand. Is not recognizing anything. Not even herself.
Anybody want to hazard a guess as to why?
Those of you who guessed amnesia, get the cookie.
Complicating matters further is the mystery of the strange tatoo on her shoulder. Which is believed to be a ward of some sort. 
A ward that is now broken or diminished. Due to Jericho's earlier attempt on her life.
Great little oberos we have going there, huh?

Strangely enough however. With the mysteries of her identity, the whereabouts of the people who may or not be searching for her, and the secret of her tattoo looming large.
The one thing that Karina does seem to rely on as her North Star in this convolution of uncertainty is her undeniable attraction to Jericho.
Which sends the plot into the pit of romantic quicksand.
Excluding action scenes, exploration of Jericho's dragon form, and all manner of plot enriching elements which could have been employed here. 
Thereby changing what could have been a very rich and fully expressed story into something...
Much less.
In short.
Acquire love interest.
Ensure that insta-love is true on both sides.
Have sex.
Have more sex.
Tie up all loose story elements by book's end. 
Cue HEA.
The IKEA version of romance. 
The story is good.
With just a little more work. It could be better.
But as it stands, is a far cry from it's best. 

Thank you to Entangled Publishing and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About N. J. Walters
Once upon a time N.J. had the idea that she would like to quit her job at the bookstore, sell everything she owned, leave her hometown, and write romance novels in a place where no one knew her. And she did. Two years later, she went back to the bookstore and her hometown and settled in for another seven years.

One day she gave notice at her job on a Friday morning. On Sunday afternoon, she received a tentative acceptance for her first erotic romance novel and life would never be the same.

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

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"Cowboy Rebel" Without A Cause?

Title:  Cowboy Rebel
Series:  Longhorn Canyon #4
Author:  Carolyn Brown
Release Date:  May 28, 2019
Publisher: Forever
Length:  400 pages
Rating 3-Stars

The next heartwarming romance in this USA Today bestselling series proves it's tough to resist a sexy cowboy with a Texas drawl and heart of gold! Includes a bonus novella by Annie Rains! 

Ever since losing his best friend in a motorcycle accident, Taggart Baker wants to make every moment count. No dare is too dangerous, no adventure too crazy for this cowboy. But after one bad brush with the law, he realizes it's time to ditch his hooligan friends and grow up. Now he's running his own ranch next to the Longhorn Canyon spread in Texas. Still, no one would ever call him tame.

Nikki Grady has worked too hard for her RN license just to throw it away for some reckless cowboy who shows up in her emergency room after a barroom brawl. But she can't help being drawn to Tag's sense of humor and those crystal blue eyes. The more time they spend together, the more she sees his good heart. But just as Tag seems ready to settle down for good, his troubled past comes calling-and this time he won't be able to walk away so easily.

Includes the bonus novella A Wedding on Lavender Hill by Annie Rains: When an event planner is asked to create the perfect wedding in just three days, she must turn to the last person she wants to ask for help -- the infuriating owner of the house on the hilltop.

Please enjoy this excerpt from Cowboy Bold


Cade passed out straw hats to everyone as they filed out to get on the hay wagon, and Retta was more than glad to settle her new straw hat on her head. It didn’t feel as good as the one she’d left behind at the farm but with sweat and time it would shape up and fit right well.
“I like my hat. It’s like Cade’s. ” Benjy plopped the one with his name on the inside down on his head.
“Me too.” Alice crammed hers down on her braids. “Do we get to come back next year?”
“I need to draw the wagon. Some hay wagons have wood wheels.” Benjy walked away and chose a seat at the back of the wagon.
“Once you turn thirteen, you don’t get to come back,” Retta explained in a low voice.
“I’m only ten so that means I might get to do this again.” She beamed as she skipped down the porch steps.
The tires on the old wooden wagon made the ride a little less bumpy. But the wagon itself was the same as she’d been in dozens of times as a kid. Open air, benches on two sides, and hay strewn on the floor. She spotted a cooler at the back and figured that it was full of either water bottles or cold drinks.
She sat down beside Alice, and Sasha quickly sat on the other side of her, which meant again that Gabby and Faith had no choice but to sit together. Maybe Cade was right about making them learn teamwork.
Skip pointed toward the pasture where Levi was baling hay. “This is a self-supporting ranch as much as possible. We grow our own hay for the cattle in the winter.”
Retta listened with one ear but if she leaned far enough to one side, she could see Cade’s face reflected in the side mirror on the tractor pulling the wagon.
“Those are some whompin’ big hunks of hay to be picking up,” Faith said.
Retta quickly jerked her head back. “Those will stay in the field. They’ll line them up against the far fence line and then bring them to the cattle as they are needed.”
Skip nodded. “Look over in that field at those small bales. Those are the ones that we take into the barn. We don’t make a lot of the little ones, but sometimes they’re needed in the stalls if we’ve got a cow or a bull that has to be kept up for a while.”
“I could get them bales to the barn,” Nelson said.
“Yeah, right?” Kirk smarted off.
“I can and if I do, then I make money to take home, right, Skip?” Nelson asked.
“That’s right, and we can always use all the help we can get.”
Retta could see dollar signs dancing in all of their little eyes as they thought about helping haul that hay to the barn the next day. When she looked at the mirror again, she caught Cade’s eye and he winked at her, causing a blush so deep that she removed her hat and fanned with it

My Thoughts
Carolyn Brown's Cowboy Rebel is a very sweet but slow moving romance.  Staring one Taggart Baker as the afore mentioned Cowboy Rebel and nurse, Nikki Grady, as his very wary love interest.
It is quite clear from the start, that the author really wants the point of Taggart's irrepressible nature driven surely and squarely home in the reader's mind.
Due in large part to the the fact that something to the effect of "What did you do this time?" is always being said by someone  that he knows.
Which would be fine except for the fact that this latest altercation is in no way started by Tag.
Furthermore, his participation in said altercation is only brought about by his need to protect a woman that he deems to be in danger.
So readers are trapped in a mire of such manutia for pages. For what is in reality an act of chivalry!

As for Taggart's leading Lady.  Nikki Grady is a nurse.  Who in addition to wanting to save the world.  Wants nothing more than to mold Taggart in to her interpretation of the perfect man.
A.k.a. His brother Hud.
And who, in spite of many very endearing attempts by Taggart.  Refuses to even consider his suit.  Although she fulls acknowledges her attraction to him.
This is another foray into pointless repetition that turns what would have been the start to a wonderful reading experience into a labor of Sisyphus.

Things do get better.  Or at least a little more interesting at about midway through the book.  When we are treated to the who's why's and wherefores of Taggart's bad boy past.
And the beginning of Nikki's change of heart regarding her relationship with the formerly unrelatable Taggart.
There is also the Taggart's quest to name and brand the ranch.  And Nikki's rather strange and slightly dictatorial relationship with her mother
Coupled with the general low level hum of a small time gossip hive.  Filled to the brim with busybodies dying to share two cents worth of wisdom on a ten dollar day.

This is a great "passing the time" read.  Something to read on the bus or a the the beach etc.
This is also the fourth book in an interrelated series.
You may read it as a standalone or as part of its intended series.

About Carolyn
Hi! I'm twenty five years old and movie star gorgeous. The camera added thirty plus years and a few wrinkles. Can't trust those cameras or mirrors either. Along with bathroom scales they are notorious liars! Honestly, I am the mother of three fantastic grown children who've made me laugh and given me more story ideas than I could ever write. My husband, Charles, is my strongest supporter and my best friend. He's even willing to eat fast food and help with the laundry while I finish one more chapter! Life is good and I am blessed!

Reading has been a passion since I was five years old and figured out those were words on book pages. As soon as my chubby little fingers found they could put words on a Big Chief tablet with a fat pencil, I was on my way. Writing joined reading in my list of passions. I will read anything from the back of the Cheerio's box to Faulkner and love every bit of it. In addition to reading I enjoy cooking, my family and the ocean. I love the Florida beaches. Listening to the ocean waves puts my writing brain into high gear.

I love writing romance because it's about emotions and relationships. Human nature hasn't changed a bit since Eve coveted the fruit in the Garden of Eden. Settings change. Plots change. Names change. Times change. But love is love and men and women have been falling in and out of it forever. Romance is about emotions: love, hate, anger, laughter... all of it. If I can make you laugh until your sides ache or grab a tissue then I've touched your emotions and accomplished what every writer sets out to do.

I got serious about writing when my third child was born and had her days and nights mixed up. I had to stay up all night anyway and it was very quiet so I invested in a spiral back notebook and sharpened a few pencils. The story that emerged has never sold but it's brought in enough rejection slips to put the Redwood Forest on the endangered list. In 1997 Kensington bought two books for their Precious Gems line. Two years and six books later the line died with only four of those books seeing publication. But by then Avalon had bought a book and another, and another. Ten years later the list has grown to thirty nine. Last year Sourcebooks bought the Lucky Series which is in the bookstores now. They've also bought The Honky Tonk Series which will debut with I LOVE THIS BAR in June and will be followed by HELL, YEAH, MY GIVE A DAMN'S BUSTED, and HONKY TONK CHRISTMAS.

Folks ask me where I get my ideas. Three kids, fifteen grandchildren, two great grandchildren. Note: I was a very young grandmother! Life is a zoo around here when they all come home. In one Sunday afternoon there's enough ideas to keep me writing for years and years. Seriously, ideas pop up at the craziest times. When one sinks its roots into my mind, I have no choice but to write the story. And while I'm writing the characters peek over my shoulder and make sure I'm telling it right and not exaggerating too much. Pesky little devils, they are!

I have a wonderful agent, Erin Niumata, who continues to work magic and sell my work. I'm very lucky to have her and my editors who continue to believe in me.

Happy reading!

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St. Martin's Press Presents: The Highland Crown

Scottish pride, persuasion, and passion—this is Highland romance at its
breathtaking best.
Inverness, 1820
Perched on the North Sea, this port town—by turns legendary and mythological—is a place
where Highland rebels and English authorities clash in a mortal struggle for survival and
dominance. Among the fray is a lovely young widow who possesses rare and special gifts.
WANTED: Isabella Drummond
A true beauty and trained physician, Isabella has inspired longing and mystery—and
fury—in a great many men. Hunted by both the British government and Scottish rebels, she
came to the Highlands in search of survival. But a dying ship’s captain will steer her fate
into even stormier waters. . .and her heart into flames.
FOUND: Cinaed Mackintosh
Cast from his home as a child, Cinaed is a fierce soul whose allegiance is only to himself …
until Isabella saved his life—and added more risk to her own. Now, the only way Cinaed can
keep her safe to seek refuge at Dalmigavie Castle, the Mackintosh family seat. But when the
scandalous truth of his past comes out, any chance of Cinaed having a bright future with
Isabella is thrown into complete darkness. What will these two ill-fated lovers have to
sacrifice to be together…for eternity?

Highland Crown
May McGoldrick
Cinaed looked up into a woman’s face. Fine black eye-
brows arched over brown eyes that were focused on his
chest. Thick dark hair was pulled back in a braid and
pinned up at the back of her head. Intent on what she
was doing, she was unaware that he was awake.
Her brow was furrowed, and lines of concentration
framed the corners of her mouth. The grey travel dress
she wore was plain and practical. She was not old, but
not young either. Not fat, not thin. From where he lay, he
guessed she was neither tall nor short. She was beautiful,
but not in the flashy way of the women who generally
greeted sailors in the port towns. Nor was she like the
eyelash-fluttering lasses in Halifax who never stopped
trying to get his attention after a Sunday service. He
didn’t bother to assess the pleasant symmetry of her face,
however. The “brook no nonsense” expression warned

36 May McGoldrick
that she wasn’t one to care what others thought of her
looks, anyway.
But who was she?
The last clear memory he had was seeing a flash from
the shore. The next moment his chest had been punched
with what felt like a fiery poker. Everything after that
floated in a jumbled haze. He recalled being in the water,
trying to swim toward some distant shore. Or was he
struggling to reach the longboat again?
Cinaed didn’t know what part of his body hurt more,
the fearsome pounding in his head or the burning piece
of that poker still lodged in his chest.
“Where am I?” he demanded. “Who the deuce are
Startled, she sat up straight, pulling away and scowl-
ing down at him. In one blood-covered hand, she held a
needle and thread. In the other, a surgeon’s knife that she
now pointed directly at his throat.
“Try to choke me again and I’ll kill you.”
“Choke you? For the love of God, woman!”
His ship. The reef. The explosion. He closed his
eyes for a moment and tried to clear away the fog.
Everything he’d been through struck him like a broad-
The Highland Crown was gone. He’d detonated the
powder himself. Where were his men? He’d climbed into
the last longboat. They’d been fired at from the beach.
He’d been shot.
Cinaed grabbed the knife-wielding wrist before she
could pull it away. “Where are my men?”
An ancient woman in Highland garb slid into his line


of sight behind the younger one. She was making sure he
saw the cudgel she had over one shoulder.
“This one is worth less than auld fish bait, mistress,”
she taunted. The crone was ready and obviously eager to
use that club. “And thankless, too, I’m bound. I was right
when I said ye should never have saved him.”
Should never have saved him. He released the wrist,
and the hand retreated. But the dark-haired woman didn’t
move away. As if nothing had happened, she dropped
the knife on the cot, out of his reach. The brown eyes
again focused on his chest, and she put her needle back to
He winced but kept his hands off the woman.
By all rights, he should be dead. A musket ball had cut
him down and knocked him into the water. He should in-
deed be finished. Someone on shore had tried to kill him.
But he was alive, and apparently he owed his life to
this one. Gratitude flowed through him.
“Want me to give him another knock in the head?” the
old witch asked.
“Last stitch. Let me finish,” she said in a voice lacking
the heavier burr of the northern accent. “You can kill him
when I’m done.”
A sense of humor, Cinaed thought. At least, he hoped
she was joking. She tied off the knot, cut the thread, and
straightened her back, inspecting her handiwork. He
lifted his head to see what kind of quilt pattern she’d
made of him. A puckered line of flesh, topped by a row
of neat stitches, now adorned the area just below his
collarbone. He’d been sewn up by surgeons before, and
they’d never done such a fine job of it. He started to sit
up to thank her.

36 May McGoldrick
That was a grave mistake. For an instant, he thought
the old woman had used her cudgel, after all. When he
pushed himself up, his brain exploded, and he had no
doubt it was now oozing out of his ears and eye sockets.
The taste of bilge water bubbled up in his throat.
“A bucket,” he groaned desperately.
The woman was surprisingly strong. She rolled him
and held a bucket as his stomach emptied. She’d been ex-
pecting this, it appeared. However horrible he was feeling
before, it was worse now as the room twisted and rocked
and spun. Long stretches of dry heaves wracked his body.
“Blood I can deal with,” the old woman grouched from
somewhere in the grey haze filling the room. He heaved
again. “By all the saints!”
“I’ll clean up later. Don’t worry about any of this. Go
sit by the fire, Jean. You’ve had a long night.”
Cinaed felt a wet cloth swab the back of his neck and
his face.
Jean mumbled something unintelligible about “weak-
bellied” and “not to be trusted” and “a misery.” When he
hazarded a glance at her, she was glaring at him like
some demon guarding the gates of hell.
“Does my nephew know that yer a doctor?” she asked,
not taking her eyes off of him as she snatched up the knife
and handed it to the younger woman.
A doctor! He lifted his head to look at her again. She
was definitely a woman. And a fine-looking one, at that.
He was still breathing, and she’d done an excellent job
on whatever damage had been done to his chest by the
bullet. But the possibility of any trained physician, or even
a surgeon, being here in this remote corner of the High-
lands was so implausible. Male or female.



“John knows.”
“But ye say yer not a midwife,” Jean persisted, a note
of disbelief evident in her tone. “And not just a surgeon,
in spite of all them fine, shiny instruments in that bag of
“I trained as a physician at a university. But I’m find-
ing that my abilities as a surgeon have more practical uses
wherever I go.”
University trained. Cinaed stole another look at her.
She had an air of confidence in the way she spoke and
acted that convinced him that she was telling the truth.
And for the first time since the Highland Crown struck
that reef, he wondered if his good fortune was still hold-
ing, if only by thread. Lady Luck, apparently, had sent
him Airmid, his own goddess of healing.
Long-forgotten words, chanted over some injury, came
back to him from childhood. Bone to bone. Vein to vein.
Skin to skin. Blood to blood. Sinew to sinew. Marrow to
marrow. Flesh to flesh . . .
From the floor, she retrieved a bowl containing bloody
cloths. A musket ball lay nestled like a robin’s egg on
the soaked rags. By the devil, he thought, his admiration
nearly overflowing. She’d not only stitched him together,
she’d dug the bullet out of him.
The deuce! He’d never seen anyone like her. Frankly,
he didn’t care if she came from the moon to practice
medicine here. He owed his life to her.

My Thoughts
May McGoldrick's first novel in the Highland Royal series is the stuff that true romance readers dreams are made of.  Offering the perfect blend of political intrigue, adventure, heroic characters, and heart-stopping romance.
With the best aspect by far being the turmoil-plagued relationship between the beleaguered Cinaed Mackintosh and his wanted woman, Dr. Isabella Drummond.

While the parts of the novel which deal with the politics at play both in the English and Scottish courts, slowed the pacing of the novel quite a bit.  Also proving considerably less compelling reading than the swashbuckling whirlwind that is the Cinaed / Isabella whirlwind.  It does add quite a bit of substance to the novel as a whole.

This is a very well written and exciting look into the romance and history of Scotland.  And this reviewer can't wait for the next leg of what promises to be a wonderful romantic adventure.

Authors Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick (writing as May McGoldrick) weave emotionally satisfying
tales of love and danger. Under the names of May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey, these authors
have written more than thirty novels and works of nonfiction. Nikoo, an engineer, also
conducts frequent workshops on writing and publishing and serves as a Resident Author.
Jim holds a Ph.D. in Medieval and Renaissance literature and teaches English in
northwestern Connecticut. They are the authors of Much ado about Highlanders, Taming the
Highlander, and Tempest in the Highlands.

Author Twitter: @MayMcGoldrick
SMP Romance Twitter: @SMPRomance or @heroesnhearts