31 August 2009

Mailbox Monday

This meme originated @ Marcie from ~The Printed Page~


I received these books over the past two weeks. My birthday loot came in between and I lost track of what I received in the mail. Now all is in order again and my shelves are even more stacked with books. Was that possible you might wonder, yes it was. Hubby looked with awe at how I managed to do it LOL

Erin Quinn with Haunting Beauty captured my interest the minute I read her excerpt and she did not fail to deliver for me! I already read and reviewed this book and it got 4 stars from me.


Sherrilyn Kenyon always manages to make me look forward to her next release and I have anticipated Fang and Aimee's story since I read NIGHT PLAY.


Oh how DREAMFEVER managed to give me a trauma, not with its story, because I still have to read it. No with getting me a copy. Amazon.de yet again send me an e-mail stating they could not deliver on time *sigh* Some books you just want as fast as you can so when a copy still wasn't send to me at the beginning of last week i cancelled and went to my national online bookstore, four days later I had my copy. I have finished my challenge book and will crack the spine of DREAMFEVER tonight *YAY*

I love Lauren Dane's latest series and I ARC reviewed this one, not only is the cover ab-fab but the story rocked and the moment I started LAID BARE I knew I was going to finish it in no time! It proved to be quite a hawt read :)


If there is one book which has made its round around the blogs then it is this one; THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER (what a long title) and while reading various reviews I knew I had to try this one.


*sigh* IF YOU DECEIVE, I bought this book used hardcover at abebooks.com because a certain american contact failed to deliver it to me while I ordered and paid for it at least 20 months ago. Long boring story and I won't get in to the details. If your interested, here was my angry post about it.


I won this book on Twitter @foreverRomance and I am intrigued with the premise of this series.

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29 August 2009

Megan Hart's Pleasure & Purpose

Megan Hart has a Trailer contest up for her new release; PLEASURE AND PURPOSE. All you have to do is feature this trailer and e-mail Megan Hart de post link. For more information go check it out on her blog, it is fun! ~click here~


So please, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS in the Be A Winner contest entry. Follow them. If you don’t send me an email or tweet appropriately, I WILL NOT GET YOUR ENTRY.
Here they are again in a nutshell:

EMBED the code for the video into your blog or website. Send me a link to your blog post or website page to READINBED at GMAIL.COM — please make sure I can SEE your blog or website, that you’re not set to private, that you’re not linking me to your private Facebook home page or login page or something funky. Tweet or retweet this entry (WITH @Megan_Hart in the tweet — if you don’t do this, I WILL NOT SEE YOUR TWEET.) If you post this information on your blog or website, you’ll also be entered to win a copy of No Greater Pleasure!


Deadline, Sept. 4th!

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What's Your Reading Personality?

When I did my blog rounds this morning I stopped by Book Chick City and found the most fun quiz ever. What is your reading personality quiz? Answer 10 questions and you’ll be surprised *cough cough* what might roll out as the answer. This is what the quiz classified me as:

Your Reading Personality: Eclectic Reader!

You read for entertainment but also to expand your mind. You're open to new ideas and new writers, and are not wedded to a particular genre or limited range of authors.


Take the QUIZ at BookBrowse.

When I look at my bookshelves I guess that sums it up about right. Within the overall romance genre I have numerous sub-genres along with Urban-Fantasy /Fantasy and a small selection thrillers. Yet I want to know more and did some book soul searching and came up with various questions…and answers :)

· What hour of the day do you like to read the most?
I think my most productive reading hours are early in the morning. Hubby tends to leave me wide awake at like 6 AM in the morning and my body wakes up o so slowly. This is when I tend to read until 8-ish. Also the late afternoon, from 3-5 PM can be solid reading hours and a Sunday afternoon is also reserved for some reading hours. (If I don’t have other obligations of course)

· Which authors are your comfort reads?
C.L. Wilson – Tairen Soul books / JR Ward’s first three BDB novels / Sherrilyn Kenyon’s first seven Dark-Hunter novels / Karen Moning’s Highlander series. I keep coming back to these novels, though my comfort reads are mostly read when I am sick. What surprises me is that over the last year no new authors have made the cut as a comfort read.

· How do you treat your books while reading? Are you a spine-cracker or one who treats her books gently?
I am so anal, really anal about spine creases. As a teen and tween it did not matter, I cracked the spine but now I always look ahead and think about the fact I want to re-read them someday and don’t want to have the cracks/glue in the spine letting go of the pages. Then again, who am I fooling? With all the books I still have to read there is hardly time for something like re-reading :)

· Do you keep your books, re-sell them or lend them to friends?
I almost keep every book I buy, I hardly sell them and lend them only to peeps I trust. Though my shelf space is driving me towards letting go of the books I know will not be re-read again, they are still sitting on my shelf in the hall. They have been sitting there for like 2-3-4 months now and I think I will do a few giveaways in the future with them. Make someone else happy.

· Are you a glommer of an author?
I used to glom after I read one book of an author but with so much I want to read and a budget to watch I tend to be careful. If I have a new author discovery I try to remain with the first title in a series or trilogy or just a single title that speaks to me.

· Are you anal about reading a series in order, whether chronically or publish-date wise?
I prefer reading in chronicle order of series/trilogy but I have been known to just jump in and later find out; Oh, this is the third, fourth or whatever novel in a series.

· What is the strangest place you ever read a book?
It may not be the strangest place but for me it is the latest discovery. I heard Pearl talk about reading in the car and never thought of those hour long trips to my parents to read. I have done so the last few times and it makes the trips go by much faster. Also, when in a traffic jam you get the weirdest faces when other drivers get a glimpse of the book covers LOL The naked chest always does the trick!

· Do you donkey-ear your pages or use a bookmark?
Once again, in teens and tweens I donkey-eared away but now, with an ocean of promo bookmarks, I use them.

· How would you describe your TRP? Small (10-75), medium(76-150), large(151-250), extra-large (251-400), an entity of its own in my house (401 and above)
Ah, the much debated TRP. Yes I have one and it is in the extra-large category but slowly creeping up on last category and transforming into an entity.

· What is your pet-peeve when reading a book?
This may sound a bit, well, a bit bitchy, but when I am completely succumbed in my book and hubby starts talking to me about random stuff *horror*. I can’t stand that, when I read I don’t hear, I am in the motion of the book , the world and its characters (if the author does it right of course :D) and then hubby starts tapping shoulder…girls, there are just moments I have a do-not-disturb-me look and hubby is getting it big time.

I hope you all take the quiz and talk about your reading personality, I feel like such a schizo right now, like your reading personality is a whole other character ;)

Have a great Saturday!

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28 August 2009

Review: Erin Quinn - Haunting Beauty

~click on the cover to buy a copy~

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (August 4, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425228177
ISBN-13: 978-0425228173

Summary:

Danni always believed she was an abandoned child. Then the seductive Sean Ballogh appears out of nowhere with a startling story challenging everything Danni thought was true. He claims that Danni’s family has been searching for her ever since she disappeared twenty years ago. He’s come to bring her home to Ireland. Now, Danni must rewrite history to save her family, to fight a force more evil than she ever imagined, and to reunite herself with the man she was destined for—or risk living forever in time as nothing more than an ethereal memory, a tragic and haunting beauty.



The lives of two people are forever altered due to the course of events in a night long ago. What once was, shattered that night, and two people began an extraordinary journey to find out what happened that night.

A book deeply rooted in the Irish lore is connected to the people living in Ballyfionúir. Its true origins unknown, its place unknown but its dark power is undeniable.

My imagination received an incredible work-out upon reading HAUNTING BEAUTY. This is not a story that is easily read or easy to put down. To give you a fair warning; Haunting Beauty kept me mesmerized and on my qui vive with ever turn of the page! The mystery encompassed me with its high-octane twists and turns that I did not see coming. In the center of this dynamic story are two people, Danni Jones and Sean Ballagh, they surprised me in many ways and from the first page I was so very intrigued by their personalities.

The magnetic pull this book had on me never faltered for one second. Through Danni’s mystical ability I got to witness murder, passion, danger and tragedy. Questions came up in my mind faster than Erin Quinn, or the story, wanted to answer and I craved to find out how it was all interconnected. There are two major triggers in this book that kept me this succumbed to the story. One, family secrets which I always find exciting to unravel and two, a couple who are as mysterious as they are compelling in their personalities.

Now Sean Ballagh is not your average hero of a book. Of course he has the Irish charm, is rugged, passionate and handsome but there are unexplainable things that mystify his character. He is one of those characters you have to read about in the book to fully understand him. He exudes a natural male virility but it is not what stands out for me. It is his depth of mind and soul, it’s his world of pain he tries to shoulder, it’s his determination to see the course of events changed once more and the realization of the truth that pulls at my strings so much.

Danni, if there is one character who made a deep impression on me then it was Danni. She leads this story with an inquiring mind and courage to boot without coming off as super woman. Fear and doubt make her very human and through every choice she makes she learns and grows. At times her actions gave me heart-in-throat moments but I love that effect in this tale. Because of her abilities and the concept of this story I really needed to keep my focus on what she did and the dialogues she had with various other characters.

The islands inhabitants are concentrated to the ancient Ballagh and MacGrath families. Each plays a key part in the larger scheme of events. Rory, Fia and Cathán MacGrath but also Colleen and Niall Ballagh, father to the main protagonist, Sean, are dynamic and add to the overall authenticity of the island. I didn’t need much more characters to tell this tale, they alone already established an eerie feeling of untold secrets and endless possibilities.

The focal point in this story lies within the plot and mystery which is gradually unraveling before my eyes. It is a layered and engaging to find out the why and the whodunnit of it all. The pace fitted the story like a glove, attention to detail in backdrop and emotions of the characters enhanced the, for lack of a better word, haunting feeling. The romance between Sean and Danni is delicately intertwined within the larger overall story. First and foremost the events of that faithful night drive every action of Danni and Sean as their feelings change and grow with each chapter. It makes the ending so high-stake but above all laced with fear, hope and everlasting love.

Everything aims towards that night where so much of the current troubles originate from. With the stories’ progress the plot thickens, various characters are introduced and some play a key part in that night that I never would’ve guessed. The intricate plot thrives on Irish lore but most of all brings an island to life that is steeped in old and forgotten magic, a bit scary and captivating all at ones. The prose of Erin Quinn lends itself well to stage such settings as shivers crawl up and down my spine when truths unfurl itself.

The tone of the story is perhaps an acquired taste but one that definitely fits the story. It adds to the mystical atmospheric backdrop and the sense of imminent danger. I was immersed in this story, ensorcelled by its lore, the island but above all the characters who tell such a heart wrenching tale of loss and their path to change their lives for the better. Erin Quinn will show you a mystical Ireland that is grittier, darker and allows love to transcend and shine with a force of two people destined to love one another.

HAUNTING BEAUTY is one amazing road which Sean and Danni have to travel to gain a chance for a new beginning.

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25 August 2009

ARC Review: Judith James - Highland Rebel

~click on cover to buy a copy~

Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402224338
ISBN-13: 978-1402224331

Summary:

Amidst the upheaval of Cromwell's Britain, Jamie Sinclair's wit and military prowess have served him well. Leading a troop in Scotland, he impetuously marries a captured maiden, saving her from a grim fate.

A Highlands heiress to title and fortune, Catherine Drummond is not the woman Jamie believes her to be. When her people effect her rescue, and he cannot annul the marriage, Jamie goes to recapture his hellcat of a new wife...

In a world where family and creed cannot be trusted, where faith fuels intolerance and war, Catherine and Jamie test the bounds of loyalty, friendship, and trust...


To live by the temperament of a king is a very delicate dance. In his favor you are bestowed titles and wealth but fallen out of grace you will lose it all, perhaps even burned a traitor or worse, exiled from king and country. No one knows the court and its politics better than Jamie Sinclair and his journey is an unusual one to say the least.

The mind versus the heart. This is my dilemma as I start my review of Highland Rebel. Because my mind recognizes the moving and beautiful prose the author is using and the formidable, well researched historical setting she has created. And yet, I hardly could get a connection with Jamie Sinclair and Catherine Drummond as a romance couple. Friends, yes, partners in crime, most definitely, but the romance didn’t ignite for me until I was approximately ninety pages away from the ending. With a 449 page long story to unfold that is a long way to go.

There is no traditional romance found in Highland Rebel, but then, Jamie and Cat are extraordinary characters all together. While I do believe they genuinely care for each other I could not feel the blossoming of love as Judith James probably intended for me to feel. I felt their camaraderie and curiosity for life itself between them rather than a burning passion. Throughout most of the story Judith James emphasizes on the friendship they feel rather than the emotional connecting of man and woman. As I couldn’t connect with them the distance gradually grew more, even up to a point where I had to use my will to keep on reading. This is never a good thing for me as it diminishes the overall joy in reading the story.

Is it bad characterization? Most definitely not! Once again my mind acknowledged the time Judith James took for setting up both Jamie and Cat’s characters. Their personalities layered and their past is elaborated throughout the overall story, not dumping vast amounts of info on me but when necessary background information is provided or revealed at the right time. Hence, I got time to truly get to know them as certain choices become understandable and I wondered how problems would be solved.

Jamie Sinclair is a courtier, a soldier and a mercenary. Blowing in which way the political wind comes from. As his courtier persona he is slightly jaded and bored but his past made him a jack of all trade’s with many faces. He beds the women at court, he gambles away, trades valuable information and he has a roguish attitude that makes him popular among many women. Underneath all these faces there is another man to be found, another man to get to know and understand.

Catherine Drummond is intelligent, opinionated, independent. She was raised by a father who taught her a strong sense of clan and he hired various teachers to feed her thirst for knowledge. She has many leader qualities, yet she still remains a woman and it is like a brick wall she collides onto when it comes to clan matters. After her father dies she is left with wealth and land, and her brother and uncle try to use her as a pawn to gain powerful allies. Try is the operative word here because Cat is a spitfire who will not be subdued by a man.

Cat and Jamie meet and marry under out of the ordinary circumstances and it signals the beginning of an extraordinary relationship. They are equals in many ways, up to a point where Cat dresses as a man and is taken by Jamie to brothels, clubs and various other meeting places in London. Cat keeps visiting these places, she is in search for independence and seeks opportunity to display her intelligence. What was a let-down for me was the down-to-earth behavior they sometimes displayed to one another. If a divorce contract was discussed it was done amicably, when Jamie talked about actively searching for a new mistress it is initially accepted by Cat. I suddenly questioned the budding feelings Jamie had in his heart for Cat. When passion flares and stopped for numerous reasons they do not discuss their feelings and just leave it be. Their interactions are at times matter-of-fact and distant and at other times display such passion that I instantly hungered for more of those discussions. More of them willing to go for each other, willing to put up a fight and the better part of Highland Rebel I did not receive that.

Jamie, as a courtier, and the tumultuous times he finds himself in, are described with such keen eye for historical detail that it was easy for me to envision the historical settings. Yet I could not find myself agreeable to his courtier ways as realistic and true-to-his-character as they might have been. The flirting he does with the women, the ex-mistresses who try to seduce him, the sometimes not so ethical choices he has to make. It fleshes out his character but it didn’t make him more appealing to me.

Half way the book I took a break from the story wondering if it was perhaps me, was I in some kind of weird mood that prevented me from getting a feel for the characters? Now when I take a break from a book it isn’t a good sign for my level of reading pleasure. Many things I find valuable in a story; like well fleshed out characters, thorough world building and a flowing writing style were undoubtedly there but the characters seemed beyond my reach. It all boils down for me to how I felt about Jamie and Cat. They are the story, would it pertain a secondary character it would not nearly make such an impact as it did with the main couple.

I received a real good dose of how life was back then and the author portrayed it very vividly and realistically. Jamie and Cat’s journey was all about how they would want to live their lives in that world, in that regard Judith James did an incredible job. Still it had me pondering on the fact how much historical detail and reality I can handle in a historical romance. Was it simply because I never encountered a male protagonist who was mainly portrayed as a courtier that kept Jamie from being less then appealing to me? Was it Cat in her tomboy and peculiar ways for independence that made me feel less connected with her as the heroine?

I picked up the book and started reading again and after a few chapters I still wasn’t able to get enamored by the romance. Their individualities created a chemistry that I did not understand, not in a romantic sense of the word. In the adventurous way - for the choice of expressing oneself - leading a life according to your own rules, in that, most definitely, but in matters of the heart there was a gap that could not be bridged. Cat and Jamie were partners in their adventures, not willing to let the other one go when decisions need to be made. So with a plethora of supporting characters and warring countries the setting was quickly picking me up, and the King and his court were up to no good for Cat and Jamie. They had to go to Ireland and that is where I felt romance and passion spring to life, by then I was around page 340. Every shred of emotion and desire between them was devoured by me. A passionate outburst from Cat near the end had my eyes stuck to the pages. A sliver of what Judith James could do to me with her story was sampled and I wanted more. Was this couple finally evolving from friends to actual lovers in every sense of the word? Yes they were, and the ending was very true to their nature and I left them with a hopeful feeling for their future.

From friendship love can be born, that is what I feel Highland Rebel is trying to say. For two very unlikely characters to find a kindred spirit under the most unlikely circumstances. My heart unfortunately did not feel that for the better part of the story as my mind acknowledged the incredible potential Judith James has as an author of fabulous and enthralling stories. For the above mentioned reasons this book will not be easily forgotten and I will keep my eye out what Judith James will concoct next.

I am about to do something I have not done before. To honor the good things in Highland Rebel but also allow my feelings to be regarding this book I have decided not to give a star rating. When I look at my own blog star rating or that of ROOB it does not fit any of the descriptions. The writing of Judith James just holds too much quality and is at odds with my overall feelings for me to give it an adequate star rating.

Quote Jamie:
He loved to see the excitement shinning in her eyes. When he was in her company, many things seemed fresh and new. The world throbbed with color and everything pulsed with life. In three short months, she’s become so much a part of his life it seemed she’s always been there, and it was almost impossible to imagine her gone. He watched as she returned, bearing gifts of chocolate, eyes bright with exhilaration, and felt a stab of sadness that he’d never been that young.

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24 August 2009

Birthday loot and winner Karen Moning contest

~click on head banner for larger image loot~


On August 23rd, thirty-three years ago the world as they knew it altered forever because I, Leontine, saw the light, took my first breath and graced the world with my presence. Okay, let’s fast forward to...June 2009, that is when my sister asked for my birthday wish list and I had no clue what to ask. So I did me a blog post asking for book tips and I got me very good ones. Now our family always has one person collecting all the birthday money and wish list of birthday gal or boy to acquire the presents. Nobody in the family knows and understands my addiction as well Natascha/Ashleagh and she was my to-go to person. I often use my birthday to ask for authors and books I have yet to try and the list was extensive.

So Natascha kept her mouth shut on what she got for me, I tell ya, that woman knows how to keep a secret…damnit! So 10 days ago hubby says: “I have a surprise on Saturday for your birthday.” And I really tried to make him talk and all I got out of him is; “It has nothing to do with books.” So as the days went by I really got curious and finally the day arrived. Though it was a day early I always try to keep in mind that parents have to come from a long way and like to be back on Sunday before six so they can have dinner and watch sports in the evening at home. So Saturday it was and as family one by one dropped by it was a blur of coffee and cake. After an hour or so my mother put a shopping bag full of pressies in front of my nose.

My eyes started to glitter at it all, neat rectangular pressies and they were all for me *sigh* So I started to unpack and while my family was acting like my family and joked about my reactions I was ecstatic about what I unwrapped:

PB:
· Hope Tarr: ENSLAVED – UNTAMED – VANQUISHED
· Ilona Andrews: MAGIC BITES – MAGIC BURNS – MAGIC STRIKES
· Rhynnon Byrd: EDGE OF HUNGER – EDGE OF DANGER – EDGE OF DESIRE
· Elizabeth Hoyt: TO SEDUCE A SINNER – TO BEGUILE A BEAST
· G.A. Aiken: DRAGON ACTUALLY
· Alix Rickloff: DANGEROUS AS SIN
· Delilah Marvelle: LORD OF PLEASURE
· Lili Feisty: BOUND TO PLEASE
· Judi Fennell: IN OVER HER HEAD

TPB:
· Amanda McIntyre: TORTURED
· Joey W Hill – THE MERMAID’S KISS

HC:
· Nora Roberts: BLACK HILLS

Of course I also received birthday mail. I won a contest over at Cecile from All I Want And More and the loot was a copy of Joey W Hill – A Mermaid’s Kiss. Since she knew it was my birthday she added a lovely birthday card to it and so I consider it among my birthday loot *grin* Thank you again Cecile! Then I opened my next card and it was almost too hot to handle, I tell ya. Pearl from Pearl’s World Of Books knows what I want and what I want to do to it. Let me translate the Dutch text for you all since I love to share!


Birthday girl, I know exactly what kind of treat you want on your birthday…And inside birthday card it said: by the way, not only on your birthday!
Happy birthday!

The last birthday card was from my sister Natascha, she know exactly what to say to make me feel good about getting a year older *smiles*

So when everyone started to go home I was preparing myself for date with hubby and he took me to the restaurant where we had our first date to have a dinner that was fabulous. Just him and me time, we talked, we laughed, we kissed and ended up on the bench underneath a weeping willow. The same bench and place where we took our wedding pictures and there he said many things, among it was a poem that was recited before our wedding vows. He made me remember all the reasons I married him in the first place *dreamy grin*

I had the best of birthdays with romance and romance. Romance in real life and romance in stories! I can truly say that my thirty-third year started real good!

Of course last week I had my "Ode to Karen Moning week" and I want to thank you all for dropping by, joining me in the love for the Highlander series and giving me early birthday wishes. As promised I do not only want to be at the receiving end of wonderful presents, I also want to share and give away. So I entered all who left a reply at one of the Karen Moning post. Number one from the randomizer list will receive a copy of Karen Moning - DREAMFEVER and the runner up of the list will have a surprise present. I will ask her to pick a number between 1 and 11, I will add Karen Moning's backlist to the randomizer and this way the surprise present will be selected.

List Randomizer

There were 50 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

1. Lily
2. elaing8
3. SusiSunshine
4. Michelle G
5. Natascha / Ashleagh
6. Book Junkie
7. Blodeuedd
8. Linda Ellen
9. JennJ
10. Cheryl McInnis
11. VampFanGirl
12. Pearl
13. Julie at Outlandish Dreaming
14. Smokinhotbooks
15. Donna (Fantasy Dreamer)
16. Cherry
17. booklover1335
18. malleycc
19. Dawn Halliday
20. Eva S
21. Cathy M
22. I Heart Book Gossip
23. Marissa
24. Maija P
25. Amy C
26. FictionGroupie
27. Cecile
28. Blanche
29. Razlover's Book Blog
30. donnas
31. ObsidianMorte
32. joder
33. My Blog 2.0 (Dottie)
34. chichaihana
35. Mandi
36. Aymless
37. Patti
38. Tynga
39. Anna
40. Zeek
41. chey
42. Barbara
43. Lynette
44. Sweet Vernal Zephyr
45. buddyt
46. Kate
47. Amy M
48. Brenda
59. Book Chick City
50. Erotic Horizon

Timestamp: 2009-08-24 08:47:11 UTC

Lily, congratulations! You are the winner of a copy of DREAMFEVER, please contact me with your addy!

Runner up is Elaing8, congratulations! Pick a number between 1 and 11, leave it in a comment to this post so the randomizer can select your surprise present of a full length novel from Karen Moning!

My next "Ode to..." week will be a tribute to the Fantasy genre.

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23 August 2009

Ode to Karen Moning: Spell Of The Highlander



~click on ocver to buy a copy~
Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Dell (June 23, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0440245540
ISBN-13: 978-0440245544

Summary:

POWERFUL. SENSUAL. SEDUCTIVE.
Powerful. Sensual. Seductive. He is all that is shamelessly erotic in a man. In her sexiest Highlander novel yet, New York Times bestselling author Karen Moning stirs up a sizzling brew of ancient mystery and modern passion as she brings together a devilishly handsome Celtic warrior trapped in time . . . and the woman who’s about to pay the ultimate price for freeing him. Age-old secrets haunt them. Deadly danger and irresistible desire shadow their every move. It’s a relationship for the ages. And all that separates them is a mere thirteen hundred years. . . .

Jessi St. James has got to get a life. Too many hours studying ancient artifacts has given the hardworking archaeology student a bad case of sex on the brain. So she figures she must be dreaming when she spies a gorgeous half-naked man staring out at her from inside the silvery glass of an ancient mirror. But when a split-second decision saves her from a terrifying attempt on her life, Jessi suddenly finds herself confronting six and a half feet of smoldering, insatiable alpha male.

Heir to the arcane magic of his Druid ancestors, eleven centuries ago Cian MacKeltar was trapped inside the Dark Glass, one of four coveted Unseelie Hallows, objects of unspeakable power. When the Dark Glass is stolen, an ancient enemy will stop at nothing to reclaim it, destroying everything in his path–including the one woman who may just hold the key to breaking the ninth-century Highlander’s dark spell. For Jessi, the muscle-bound sex god in the mirror is not only tantalizingly real, he’s offering his protection–from exactly what, Jessi doesn’t know. And all he wants in exchange is the exquisite pleasure of sharing her bed.

Yet even as Cian’s insatiable hunger begins to work its dark magic on Jessi, his ancient enemy is about to obtain the final and most dangerous of the Unseelie Hallows–and the ninth-century Highlander must stop him from getting it. Nothing less than the very fabric of the universe and two passionately entwined lives are at stake–as Cian and Jessi fight to claim the kind of love that comes along but once in an ice age. . . .


I always tend to scribble down notes with comments, thoughts or feelings regarding a novel while reading. Not so with Spell Of The Highlander, I was immersed in this tale and just went with the motion of the story. I was surrounded by intrigue and mystery as the Fae queen Aoibheal tipped the veil the slightest bit to let me know there was more going on then what I first thought upon reading The Immortal Highlander. I quickly turned the page to find another prologue which held the introduction to the raw and primeval Cian MacKeltar.

The prologue was a great appetizer but I was ready and set for the main course, the story of Jessica St. James and her endeavors to save Cian MacKeltar. Jessica is working hard for her PhD and has it all together. Her future carefully planned out and if nothing goes wrong she will concur her goals head on. Now there is nothing wrong with looking at a couple making out like there is no tomorrow and feel jealous. She has her PhD to look forward to instead of a man worshipping her body for all to see. She had a life…sort of. At that moment her phone rings and knocked her plans in to chaos. That is the evening an Unseelie object reaches with its cold claws in to her existence. And that is when Cian MacKeltar made himself known to her in all his savage glory.

She must be suffering from temporarily insanity to help him but with a murderer on their heels she has little choice.

The blend of background information with suspense and romance really hit the bull’s eye in Spell Of The Highlander. I received all sorts of information that didn’t quite make sense immediately but by the time I closed this novel I was convinced of the fact that the Highlander series is Karen Moning’s first move in a larger scheme of storytelling. Jessica and Cian’s road trip from Chicago to Scotland was filled with danger, ravaging passion, a dash of magic and a whole lot of the male-female clashing of wills. Cian deep-voiced her to take of her woolen, Jessica told him to take a hike. Cian wants her to stop talking, Jessica told him ‘in his dreams’. He demands of her not to save him, she couldn’t help but try.

The pages possibly vibrated with the temperamental energy humming between Cian and Jessica. I love the Neanderthal hero who turns out to have a good heart in the end and an intelligent woman who gives the right amount of resistance without becoming overly obstinate or obnoxious in attitude. While the basic of the story feels like The Immortal Highlander, Cian and Jessica, with their troubles are unique and very different in vibe. Have it all wrap up in the ominous thoughts of an all powerful Fae Queen and I couldn’t let go of these characters and their journey.

Cian MacKeltar is a man’s man, he is the Alpha in Alpha male, he is the blue print of all the future MacKeltar’s. Which means he is high on primeval elemental power, he is rough and tough, he is undiluted sex, power and magic in a package that is ripped with muscles, long hair and features that scream his Celtic heritage. Cian MacKeltar is the MacKeltar that grabbed me, lured me deeper in to the tale, allowed emotions to sky-rocket and love to blossom in all its radiant facets. Especially when he thumped his chest telling Jessica she fits him here. I couldn’t get enough of him and thereby I could empathize with every decision Jessica had to make and the ramifications it represented her with.

Jessica is brainy, humorous, tenacious, impassioned and true of heart. Those are the first adjectives that come to mind when thinking of her character. I would almost call her a “typical” Karen Moning heroine who is rebellious against the domineering male, holds her own in a fierce argument and matches the passion blazing inside a MacKeltar. Jessica is a combination of all of the above but also has a tenderness inside her with dreams and hopes that shine like bright stars. The complete personality of Jessica made me like her and genuinely made me care about her happily ever after. Because as the story progressed there was a huge obstacle between her and a happy ending, and his name was Lucan Myrddin Trevayne.

As a true villain he made me root for the good guys, he was innate evil and no matter what happened or what he did, that did not change. He was Cian’s nemesis and gave the romance a high stake feel to it. In each Highlander novel there is a time of utter romantic bliss, ablaze with sensuality, of lovers discovering each other and the timing is different but perfect in each novel. Spell Of The Highlander knows such a time too but it is also a double-edged sword with the choices Cian had to face. I was swept of my feet and holding my breath for a solution at the same time as each day something utterly beautiful happened between the romantic couple. I wanted so much for Cian and Jessica because from the get-go I was connected to them. It also made the final pages so emotional fraught and tissues were needed in the end.

A Highlander story wouldn’t be a highlander story if more MacKeltar’s did not join the cast of supporting characters. The MacKeltar twin and their wives, Drustan and Gwen with Dagues and Chloe, who play a key part in the end. My love for the MacKeltar clan runs deep and they will never be too much in a Moning novel. With the mystifying after thought of Queen Aoibheal I know the Fever series will be connected somehow to this wonderful, exhilarating and rip-roaring good series.

Cian MacKeltar and Jessica St.James gave an astonishing and fabulous ending to a series I will forever treasure on my shelves. Again romance and the world of Druid and Fae worked their magic to deliver a tale I can only rave about. I hope to enjoy Karen Moning’s limitless fantasy for a very long time to come!

Quote Jessica asking Cian if he even likes her at all;
His gaze was dark with unfathomable emotion as he stared down at her. She stared, trying to determine what it was. It was an emotion she’d seen several times before, and at the oddest moments. It was regret, she realized abruptly. A subtle yet bottomless sorrow in those beautiful, darkly lashed eyes. But what was he regretting, and why at this, as opposed to any other? It made no sense to her!
Suddenly he smiled, and the sadness was vanquished by whiskey heat. “Aye, Jessica, I like you. And I’m not just stuck with you. You fit me here, woman.” He thumped his chest with his fist. Then he shook her hand from his forearm and pushed off with the cart again. Jessi watched him move down the aisle, all sleek animal muscle and dark grace.
Wow. He wasn’t a man of many words, but when he used them, he certainly used the right ones. You fit me here. You are the exception to everything.
Crimeny.

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22 August 2009

Ode to Karen Moning; The Immortal Highlander


~click on cover to buy copy~

Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Dell (July 26, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0440237564
ISBN-13: 978-0440237563

Summary:

Enter a world of timeless seduction, of ancient intrigue and modern-day passion. Enter the dazzling world of Karen Marie Moning whose acclaimed Highlander novels have captivated readers, spanning the continents and the centuries, bringing ancient Scotland vividly to life. In a new novel brimming with time-travel adventure and sensual heat, the nationally bestselling author of The Dark Highlander delivers a love story that will hold you in thrall and a hero you will most certainly never forget...

BEWARE: lethally seductive alpha male of immense strength and dark eroticism, do not look at him. Do not touch him. Do not be tempted. Do not be seduced...

With his long, black hair and dark, mesmerizing eyes, Adam Black is Trouble with a capital T. Immortal, arrogant, and intensely sensual, he is the consummate seducer, free to roam across time and continents in pursuit of his insatiable desires. That is, until a curse strips him of his immortality and makes him invisible, a cruel fate for so irresistible a man. With his very life at stake, Adam's only hope for survival is in the hands of the one woman who can actually see him.

Enter law student Gabrielle O'Callaghan, who is cursed with the ability to see both worlds: Mortal and Faery. From the moment she lays eyes on this stunning male, Gabby is certain of one thing: He could be her undoing. Thus begins a long, dangerous seduction. Because despite his powerful strength and unquenchable hungers, Adam refuses to take a woman by force. Instead he will tease his way into Gabby's bed and make her want him just as he wants her.

Now, no matter how hard Gabby tries to avoid him, Adam is everywhere, invisible to all but her—perched atop her office cubicle in too-tight jeans, whispering softly from behind the stacks of the law library, stealing her breath away with his knowing smile...all the while tempting her with the promise of unimaginable pleasure in his arms. But soon danger will intrude on this sensual dance. For as Adam's quest to regain his immortality plunges them into a world of timeless magic and the deadly politics of the Faery queen's court, the price of surrender could be their very lives. Unless they can thwart the conspiracy that threatens both mortal and Faery realms...and give them a shot at a destiny few mortals ever know: glorious, wondrous, endless love...



Adam Black, the blackest Fae of them all, introduced himself in Beyond The Highland Mist as a to-die-for black smith clad in only a kilt. Then I got another taste of him in The Highlander’s Touch and witnessed him from a different side. In Dageus story he played a small but very important roll and the repercussions set him up for his own story in The Immortal Highlander. Wicked, meddlesome, seductive, sinful and arrogant Adam Black. He caught my eye so very quickly in this series and he conquered a very special place in my heart. I can already hear him say that this would be his rightful place, his ego can be larger than life at times.

Adam Black finds himself in human form, on earth, with the féth fiade curse on his person, a curse that makes him invisible for all humans. For a Fae who used to time travel, have untold powers and female adoration at his leisure there is nothing as diminutive as being human. How Adam is going to be taught a very valuable lesson…at the hand of Gabrielle O’Gallaghan. Now Gabby has trouble all of her own at the hands of the fairies and a crappy day turns for the worse when she sees Adam on a bench, whereupon Adam notices that she can actually see him.

With an introduction to both Gabrielle and Adam’s current situation they collide at a certain point and I got instant chemistry erupting from the pages. The first hundred pages of the story are very one on one between the main protagonists with witty, salt and vinegar dialogues, and a plot of a Fae who goes rogue. Adam and Gabby are both thrown out of their comfort zone as Adam deals with his mortality and Gabby finds out the “its” are not what her Grams once taught her. Though the first part of the story is very dialogue focused I was never bored, Adam and Gabby are such spirited personalities that their interaction is lively with emotions and gestures. Adam shows up on Gabby’s front door, one look, one punch and her feelings to his arrival are crystal clear. This invites Adam to respond in his own way. Via Karen Moning’s signature writing I witnessed it all and I had a blast.

Adam Black is complex as he is fascinating in his complexity. Throughout the series Moning set up his character formidably. He never does what I expect him to do, he is always game to tantalize, provoke his kindred spirits, scheme away and have sparse moments where I get a taste of another kind of Adam. He can drive a woman mad and at the same time make her fall completely for him. His acerbic side alternates with his flirtatious one and are a second nature for him, still, if you pay attention he shows another side on rare moments too. It shows something that runs deeper and is more intricate at the core. A man of extremes and a carefully hidden core, therein lies a challenge for any woman and who would refuse to answer it.

Gabrielle was raised by her gram and it was instilled in to her that the Tuathe Dé were bad to their kind, Sidhe-Seers, history proved it. Still Gabby is mesmerized by the Fae and it wars inside her. Now that Adam, a fantasy come to life, is in her life she shows backbone, perseverance and common sense. At least she tries too because there is a stubborn inner voice tempting her to take a trip on the wild side, be in to the moment for a change and be adventurous. And adventure she got, perhaps even more then she bargained for. Yet she is the kind of heroine I could root for every step of the way. If there is one thing in all Karen Moning’s heroines is that they are so recognizable and have a somewhat dry, self-reflecting humor I can appreciate as it reflects resilience of character.

I noticed in The Immortal Highlander that Adam and Gabby bring a sensual physical interaction to the story but the carnality in and on itself is very limited. Adam brings enough heat to this story and as an immortal has a very languid, thorough and sultry way to woe a woman. This collides with the mortal passionate frenzy Gabby is feeling. There is amorous and emotional conflict with the plot that picks up in speed in the second half of the story and like many a book in this series it could not let me go. The easy flow of the story, the seamless blend of outstanding romance and plot, it makes me consume every page in rapid succession of each other until the story is finished, the epilogue told and I am bawling my eyes out for the ending that this spectacular romance pair received from this author.

With every entry in this series the Tuathe Dé Danaan and Druid world becomes more layered, distinct and rich which makes it so easy to immerse myself again in the vibrant world of Karen Moning. The queen Aoibheal is one of those secondary characters who makes me feel the ancient Fae race, in all her vast knowledge and magic she gives credibility to it. But also the recurrence of the MacKeltar twin; Drustan and Dageus with their wives Gwen and Chloe make the familiarity with the world in this series all the more palpable for me to feel. The Fae Hunters and Darroc in their scheming ways end up with what goes around comes around and emphasizes on the power of the queen of the Fae.

I still have one more thing to say before I let you go; I adored Adam Black as the antihero, I cheered for Gabby as a high-spirited heroine, the MacKeltars will forever hold a place in my heart but The Immortal Highlander claimed a spot among my all time favorites due to the epilogue. Can an epilogue make a story better? No, I don’t believe so but, BUT, it can add a sense of such romantic conclusion that puts stars in my eyes, a dreamy smile on my face and turn my knees in to jell-o. The epilogue ending in The Immortal Highlander soared and echoed in my heart with the emotions as true love is met and answered.

Adam and Gabby aimed for an immortality that will resonate with every romance reader!

Quote from the O’Gallaghan Books of the Fae:

Adam Black:
Tuathe Dé Danaan, a rogue even among his own kind. His favored glamour is that of an intensely sexual Highland blacksmith with a powerful rippling body, golden skin, long black hair, and dark, mesmerizing eyes. Highly intelligent, lethally seductive. Alleged to have nearly broken The Compact on not one, but two occasions. He is, by far, the most dangerous and unpredictable of his race.

Warning: Exercise extreme caution if sighted.
Avoid contact at all cost.

Quote Adam to Gabby:

“The Tuathe Dé do not speak of Tuathe Dé matters to” – he gave her an icy sneer – “mere mortals.”
“Well, mister-mere-mortal-yourself,” she bristled right back at him, “maybe you’d better get used to it, because whether or not you like it, you need at least one of us ‘mere mortals’ to help you become a pompous-asshole-fairy-thing again.”

Quote describing Adam:

He was, quite simply, a living, breathing fantasy, exuding an irresistible come-hither that held an intrinsic, unspoken caveat of danger. He had a come-and-get-me-baby-I’m-pure-trouble-and-you’re-gonna-love-it kind of attitude that provoked a woman’s most primitive sexual drives.

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21 August 2009

Ode to Karen Moning - The Dark Highlander


~click on cover to buy a copy~

Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Dell (May 20, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 044024479X
ISBN-13: 978-0440244790

Summary:

Journey to a world of ancient magic, breathtaking sensuality, thrilling time-travel... Journey to the world of The Dark Highlander. Crisscrossing the continents and the centuries, here is a novel as gripping as it is sensual—an electrifying adventure that will leave you breathless...

I am Dageus MacKeltar, a man with one good conscience and thirteen bad ones, driven to sate my darkest desires...From his penthouse lair high above Manhattan, Dageus looks out over a glittering city that calls to the darkness within him. A sixteenth century Scot trapped between worlds, he is fighting a losing battle with the thirteen Druids who possess his soul, dooming him to an eternity of sexual pursuit. When Chloe Zanders, student of antiquities, is drawn into his world, she finds the insatiable Alpha male an irresistible lure.

Before long, she is caught up in an ancient prophecy that will sweep her back in time to medieval Scotland. Plunged into a world of timeless magic and dark seduction, she will soon face the challenge of a lifetime: fighting thirteen evil spirits for the heart of one irresistible man...



The Dark Highlander is chocolate for my imagination. Let me rephrase that, Dageus is chocolate for my imagination. This story immersed me in its dark magic that tortured a druid highlander who was love at first sight for me. I was enthralled from the opening sentence and I was eager to find out what happened to Dageus. I have developed a craving to reacquaint myself with every highlander story. It started out with reading a book with weekly intervals but now I am reading one right after the other, unwilling to let go of the Moning magic with these addictive fierce highlanders. The moment Kiss Of The Highlander ended and I read Silvan’s letter I knew no other book would do other then The Dark Highlander. With meeting Dageus again I was enraptured by his persona.

Dageus is the kind of character whom very naturally focuses the attention to his persona. He is scarcely holding on to his honorable side as he is desperately searching for a way to get rid of the thirteen evil druid spirits which possess him now. He is controlling his darker side with dark eroticism; simply bedding a lass is not enough for Dageus. His hunger surpasses need, his stamina knows no bounds and his time grows shorter with each day. I love my heroes on the edge, treading the fine line of good and bad and do it with the kind of attitude that makes me accept it.

Dageus is a man, a highlander, a druid, who is rife with dark secrets. He is dangerous, savagely masculine, his body an aphrodisiac for the eyes and his attitude can be playful and charming yet his eyes can hold a loneliness and despair that makes any woman go weak in the knees. He is a forbidden seduction and I reveled in all he is as a female reader. His struggle with the power of the ancient Draghar – the league of thirteen most powerful druids that ever lived – drives him to the edge and what makes the romance an all or nothing adventure. New York offers him a way to snoop in tomes of text regarding the Tuathe Dé Danaan and the Draghar, in the hope for a sliver of new information.

With all these artifacts Chloe comes in to the picture very quickly. She is to deliver an ancient book to Dageus’ penthouse and when his front door is slightly ajar curiosity gets the better of her and she enters. She find random things all revealing something of the owner, from daggers, to books, to claymores, to the magnum condoms underneath his bed. Chloe is intrigued to say the least and gets caught red handed snooping around. If there is one thing that could be said about Chloe is that she is curious to a fault but also a sensual creature, loyal, adventurous and willing to go the distance for the people she loves. A heroine to instantly embrace and that is what I did.

I didn’t love their romance, I was enraptured by it. I didn’t enjoy their growing passion, I actually felt its sensual inferno. I didn’t read their dialogue with pleasure, I savored the back and fro dance between the genders. From their first moment it was instant action and reaction, they fitted together in their polar characteristics. Chloe still held a freshness to her that opposed to Dagues’ century old darkness and it became a fabulous contradiction. While Dageus was intense and all consuming, Chloe’s inner thoughts tended to alleviate it with a humor that had me laughing at various occasions. Their connection grows over the days and weeks they are together, it is getting deeper with each event, with each new emotion uncovered and acknowledged. Dageus covets all Chloe can bring; passion, laughter, peace, tenderness and an unrivaled partnership like he has never known before. And Chloe was reacting in a very familiar female way to the utter delicious male virility which Dageus had no problem with flaunting every time he got the chance to do so.

I was encompassed by their scorching attraction that held various degrees of sensuality while there was also the ancient Draghar who were creating havoc. It was a force within the story that inserted a sense of frantic need to find a solution for their departure. It upped the stakes for not only Chloe and Dageus, but also for Gwen and Drustan, Silvan and Nell. The Tuathe Dé Danaan was keeping a close eye to the unfurling of the events and this can bring its own repercussion. Because if the Draghar would rule, Dagues would no longer be and a loss that would be felt throughout the centuries.

The story never loses its pace and with so much going on at once, on so many levels, I just didn’t want to put this book down for anything. The plot is a driving force in enhancing the romance but to also make the choices hard for both Dageus and Chloe. In the end I had to get me a tissue because the proclamation of love was all the sweeter, so much hinges on their choices and it infused the emotions with a dire need in the here and now. On the background the MacKeltar clan and the Tuathe Dé Danaan played their part and I loved to catch up with various characters. Especially as Silvan and Nell receive their own romantic conclusion.

With each novel read I try to find the words to say what is so unique about this series, about each story. The things that so appeal to me is that there is a sense of rich Celtic mythology, historical setting mixed with a contemporary one and many characters who instantly immortalized themselves in their own love story. Some novels are loosely connected but as I read on in this series each is more strongly connected then the last building an intricate world that is unlike any other. While some stories in and on itself can be read as a standalone, I don’t think The Dark Highlander is one of them. To fully experience Dageus’ story it is Drustan’s story you’ll have to read fist; Kiss Of The Highlander.

Dagues oozed, radiated and exuded such a dark magnetic force and Karen Moning translated every bit of him in the right way. He is all and more I want in my hero and the kind of highlander I can’t get enough of. Give him a heartwarming and courageous woman like Chloe and the pages are fraught with an electric sizzle. Add a fabulous setting and an all or nothing plot to it and this story becomes a rollercoaster ride.

Karen Moning’s The Dark Highlander is chocolate for my imagination, the first taste of Dageus was the only incentive I needed to immediately demand for more. Dageus and Gwen’s love for each other forged a bond that surpasses your average romance, theirs light up the sky and all you can do is read their story over and over again!

Quote Dageus:
She was curiosity and wonder; he was cynicism and despair. She was bursting with dreams; he was carved out and hollow inside. Her heart was young and true; his was iced with disillusion, scarce beating enough to keep him alive. She was all he’d dreamed of once, long ago. The kind of lass to whom he’d have given binding Druid vows, pledged his life to forever. Smart, the woman spoke four languages that he knew of. Tenacious, determined, logical in a circuitous way. Real, believing things. Protective of the old ways, that was evident each time she watched him turn a page. Twice she handed him a tissue to do it with when he’d forgotten, lest he get the oil of his skin on the precious pages. And he could sense in her a woman that wanted to break out. A woman who lived a quiet life, a respectable life, but hungered for more. He could sense, with unerring instincts of a sexual predator, that Chloe was wanton at heart. That the man she chose to grant liberties to, would be granted then unconditionally. Sexually aggressive, dominant to the bone, he recognized in her his perfect bedmate. He was a man who would offer no promises, no assurances. A man with a terrible darkness growing inside of him.

Quote Dageus:
“You know I’m no’ a good man.” He said, his voice deceptively gentle, belying the steel beneath it. “I’ve made no excuses. I’ve given you no pretty lies. You came with me anyway. Doona pretend you doona know what I want and doona think to deny me. Twice now you’ve tried to go back. There is no going back with me, Chloe-lass.” He hissed the last words, his lip drawing away from his teeth. “You know what I want and you want it too. You want it just the way I’m about to give it to you.” Chloe’s knees nearly buckled. Anticipation shivered through her. He was right. On all counts. He stalked her. “Hard, fast, deep. When I’m done, you’ll know you’re mine. And you’ll never think of naysaying me again.”


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20 August 2009

Cover discovery: C.L. Wilson's Tairen Soul


I was lurking at one of my favorite publisher's websites; Dorchester Publishing when I stumbled on this cover treasure. Now I love Judy York, I love her creativity and she adds a bit of extra color to the exceptional stories of C.L. Wilson's Tairen Soul series.

Tairen Soul Series:

This is the cover of the fifth novel which will be released according to Dorchester in January 2010 YAY Me so happy.

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Ode to Karen Moning: Kiss Of The Highlander



~click on cover to buy a copy~

Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Dell (May 20, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0440244803
ISBN-13: 978-0440244806

Summary:

A laird trapped between centuries...

Enchanted by a powerful spell, Highland laird Drustan MacKeltar slumbered for nearly five centuries hidden deep in a cave, until an unlikely savior awakened him. The enticing lass who dressed and spoke like no woman he'd ever known was from his distant future, where crumbled ruins were all that remained of his vanished world. Drustan knew he had to return to his own century if he was to save his people from a terrible fate. And he needed the bewitching woman by his side....

A woman changed forever in his arms...

Gwen Cassidy had come to Scotland to shake up her humdrum life and, just maybe, meet a man. How could she have known that a tumble down a Highland ravine would send her plunging into an underground cavern—to land atop the most devastatingly seductive man she'd ever seen? Or that once he'd kissed her, he wouldn't let her go?

Bound to Drustan by a passion stronger than time, Gwen is swept back to sixteenth-century Scotland, where a treacherous enemy plots against them ... and where a warrior with the power to change history will defy time itself for the woman he loves....

Click ~here~ for own written summary 2005/2006 {May contain spoilers!!!}


Kiss Of A Highlander is not only a story where I received a time travel story, it is so much more than that. Each time Karen Moning knows how to make the topic feel fresh and new and thereby avoiding repetitive storylines. It is about meeting characters I instantly adored, it is about romance that soared, hit rock bottom and then soared even more. Kiss Of A Highlander promises scorching romance between two characters who are so very appealing, both apart as well as together, they enhance each other’s presence within the story, they affect world there in and the people they care about. It had been a while since I read Kiss Of A Highlander but always remembered the scene where Gwen falls through the rocks and on Drustan’s slumbering body. She straddles him as he awakens and from that point on attraction sizzles the pages.

Who wouldn’t fall for a heroine who is a bit quirky and decides to go on a trip to Scotland to find her cherry picker, only to end up on a senior citizen tour through the magical highlands? I adored Gwen from the start and was eager to go with her on her journey. Though this is a review of me re-reading this novel it was quite a while ago that I last met up with Gwen and Drustan. Gwen is quick-witted, willful, spirited and so recognizable in her feelings and reactions. Her vacation is an act of defiance, of claiming her female power and of finding her ultimate cherry picker. I cheered her on knowing who she would meet and smiled in female recognition.

With Drustan MacKeltar I got my first real taste of the MacKeltar storyline within the overall series arc and I took it in like there was no tomorrow. Drustan is a spectacular mix of highland warrior strength, charm, humor, honor, stubbornness and even vulnerability. Drustan is innate sensual and I got my first good taste of it when Gwen straddles and awakens him. He is in a strange era and he makes his confusion believable though he is also flexible enough to gradually accept he is in another time. One of the scenes I remember oh so clearly is where he and Gwen go in to a nearby town so they can by some new clothes for him. The referral to his “sock” was hilarious and his first encounter with jeans is unforgettable. Drustan MacKeltar is a warrior hero from the highlands with a twist and I gobbled him up like no tomorrow.

I read page after page, I couldn’t let go of neither character nor their journey. The moment Drustan convinces Gwen they need to go to the grounds of his clan’s castle it is a blend of more exhilarating dialogues, fiery attraction shimmering, waiting to erupt full force and a hint of magic. When they finally arrive at the standing stones romance blooms, it reaches for the soul, the heart and to intertwine it forever. It all echoed within my own romantic heart, only to give it such a twist that it had me feeling just as desperate as Gwen. Now a strange Drustan had to be met, a plot was firmly rooted and I was introduced to new characters.

Silvan and Nell, they are the matriarch and the patriarch of the MacKeltar clan. Silvan has a great wisdom and is always reading a book or challenging his mind in some form or another. Nell is the epitome of a nurturing woman and the housekeeper who takes Gwen under her wing. They both gave a beautiful secondary romance showing a second chance at love can be so very right. And then there’s Dageus, the twin of Drustan, he mirrors his brother to perfection save he is an inch or two shorter, he has golden glowing eyes and a somewhat darker personality. I fell for him on the spot and his story; The Dark Highlander very much connected with Kiss Of A Highlander. Dageus is also a key player within the plot and the effect didn’t go unnoticed. As this story concludes with a letter from Silvan I am moments away from reading Dagues’ own tale for I promise you, reading the final pages of Kiss Of A Highlander makes you instantly crave The Dark Highlander.

Karen Moning is starting to build a world, inhabited with almost larger-than-life characters who slowly transform the Highlander series in to a unique and one-of-a-kind series. Her writing is not only fraught with sensuality, it is the sum of all her different aspects that give a fantastic impact upon closing her books. With each book in this series she takes it a step higher, adding more magic and structure to the world she envisions. She blends her Fae world with that of the Scottish MacKeltar druid line along with individual romance that can travel through time and distance. Even while I am re-reading each story I remember how hard I fell for this series with each book. That I can still experience the full impact of the characters, the romance and the overall plot for a second time means they are true keepers for me.

There was little I did not like about this story as the essence of Kiss Of A Highlander is deeply rooted in the theme; love concurs all, and it soars! The ending is romantic wise a perfect conclusion that gave me blurry eyes with dreamy sighs and the immediate craving to go on a senior citizen tour through the Scottish Highlands and find my own cherry picker, were it not for the fact I was already happily married myself. Gwen and Drustan in their journey were a light beacon in the darkest of nights, it radiated and shined and I savored myself in their glow.

Quote:
It was a mating of raw need and mindless melding. As if they could somehow crawl inside each other if they got close enough. He trust; she screamed. She clenched; he roared.



Question of the day: Which character in the Highlander series would you choose as your cherry-picker? I know, a very wicked question *wink*

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BBAW nominations for Leontine's Book Realm


I just had to say a few words regarding the BBAW nominations in my “Ode to Karen Moning week.” My Kiss Of The Highlander post will be up later today!

I think it was about three weeks ago or so that I saw a post about the BBAW and after visiting its blog I linked it up on my sidebar as a reminder that I wanted to nominate blogs in all the categories of nominations. Nothing more, nothing less. So two weeks ago I spend about 30-45 minutes linking up blogs who I thought best suited for nominating in categories. How stunned I was to find an e-mail in my e-mail box this week saying I was nominated for Best Romance Blog. You had to see my face, I was stupefied and re-reading the mail like three times. Then I went smiling like the Cheshire cat, grinning like a fool, really I lighted up like a Christmas tree. I was already thinking on what blogposts to turn in for panel. But I am also very busy at the moment with preparations for upcoming birthday and curious what hubby has for a surprise. He said Saturday night was going to be him and me, alone. Okay :D So I was postponing it until today and tomorrow to e-mail the blogpost links.

With birthday coming up I also have my Karen Moning week at blog and I am so glad everyone is enjoying this. So as I prepared my blog for Circenn Bordie and my review I checked my e-mail and found more BBAW e-mails…it blew me away. Where…how…what…huh? And that is when it hit me; other peeps, whether it was one or a dozen, nominated me for these categories and I was a bit overwhelmed by the idea. When I opened my e-mail box today another two BBAW nomination e-mails where waiting for me and all I can say is that I am so silent…grateful but very quiet because not in a million years did I expect one nomination let alone seven. So I want to hug the daylights out of you all; thanks for accepting me in this blog community, thanks for befriending me, thanks for dropping by on occasion, thanks for enjoying my posts and whether I make it to round two or not I am overjoyed and more then a bit humbled by the nominations I received.
Which are:

BBAW - Best Review Blogs: Blogs can only be shortlisted in one niche category, so try to choose the category you think best fits the blog.

· Best Romance Blog; – This blog is hot! And it reviews romance books in a way that keeps you coming back for more.
· Best General Review Blog; This blog doesn’t specialize in any one book genre, but it’s still excellent. Their book reviews usually cause you to add one more book to the TBR pile.

I have to choose one of the above who fits my blog best, I can't enter both categories.

BBAW - Everything Else: There are so many different aspects to enjoy and reward in blogging. Nominate the blogs you love. Bloggers can be nominated for as many categories as they are deserving.

· Most Extravagant Giveaways; You wonder how the blogger comes up with such fantastic giveaways! You want to win these giveaways, and you also wish you’d thought of these great giveaways for your own blog
· Most Eclectic Taste Blog; – This blog stands out because of its uniqueness - you never know what you’re going to get, but it’s always something surprising and new.
· Best Reviews; – Book reviews are the heart and soul of book blogging, and this blog is the cream of the crop - consistently well-written, entertaining and informative reviews are a staple on this blog.
· Best Writing; – It’s not just what they say, it’s how they say it. This blog is almost as enjoyable to read as the books (and anything else) it talks about.
Best New Blog: – This new blog seems to have appeared out of nowhere since September of 2008 and has jumped into the book blogging world with both feet. You love their posts and wonder how the book blogging world ever got along without them.

Now I have to select 5 blogpost for each nomination and this reviewer’s blog is getting reviewed by a panel *eek* Very weird feeling I can tell you that. It will be judged by a panel and then a selection among blogs is made for actual voting, if I have understood it correctly.


Anyway, I have heard from friends who got nominated as well, Jo from Ink and Paper, Mandi from Smexy Books, KatieBabs from Babbling About Books And More, Barbara from Happily Forever After, Book Chick City and probably even more friends! Congratulations to you all!


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19 August 2009

Ode to Karen Moning; The Highlander's Touch



~click on cover to buy a copy~

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Dell (November 7, 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0440236525
ISBN-13: 978-0440236528

Summary:

A WARRIOR OF IMMORTAL POWER

She was a mighty Scottish warrior who lived in a world bound by ancient laws and timeless magic. But no immortal powers could prepare the laird of Castle Brodie for the lovely, accursed lass who stood before him. A terrible trick of fate had sent her 700 years back in time and into his private chamber to tempt him with her beauty—and seduce him with a desire he could never fulfill. For this woman he burned to possess was also the woman he was sworn to destroy.

A WOMAN CAUGHT IN THE MISTS OF TIME

When Lisa felt the earth move under her feet, the fiercely independent 21st century woman never dreamed she was falling...into another century. But the powerful, naked warrior who stood glaring down at her was only too real...and too dangerously arousing. Irresistibly handsome he might be, but Lisa had no intention of remaining in this savage land torn by treachery and war. How could she know that her seductive captor had other plans for her...plans that would save her from a tragic fate? Or that the man who had long ago forsaken love would defy time itself to claim her for his own...

Click ~here~ for my written summary of 2005/2006.



When a hollow artifact goes missing after an ambush Circenn Brodie has just enough time to put a geas on it. Whomever touches the flask will return the Hollow to Circenn, so he vows to Adam Black on his honor he will kill the person returning it. A knight never backs down on his vows, oh no, not Circenn Brodie, he upholds them religiously.

Lisa Stone has two jobs. She needs them in order to take care of the bills her mother’s advanced cancer is producing and to live a little. Upon her cleaning job in the museum she opens a beautiful wooden box and holds the flask within it. And ends up in a tub, with Circenn Brodie, all 6 ft 4 inches of his muscular body. Life suddenly delivers a 180 on both of them and becomes infinitely more interesting.


As I am re-reading all my Highlander novels it is with The Highlander’s Touch that I realize how Karen Moning altered my world with her time travel novels. Up till then I enjoyed the time travel theme but Karen Moning made me fall in love with it. The clash between a 20th century woman and a 15th century warrior is told with an astute feeling for searing romance and Moning’s Fae world is not only imaginative it infuses the story with old magic and mysteries. Place it all in medieval times of Scotland and you have all the ingredients for an astounding story.

First of all, how can I not love Moning’s characters? The valorous knight bound by his own code, Circenn Brodie is much more than a warrior of his time, he is more than a skilled man who wields his prowess with ease, he is more, period. I don’t think I have enough words to do him justice so I’ll quote from the story:

Circenn Brodie, laird and thane of Brodie, exuded the magnetism of a man born not merely to exist in his world, but to conquer it.

Circenn is the kind of hero I lap up from start to finish. Not only innate virile but also bound by his own rules and in a situation that puts him in a conflict with his self imposed rules. It creates such an inner struggle between his honorable warrior’s side and the one that is savagely male and ready to conquer and mate. It provides obstacles for Circenn to overcome, throws him of his rigid attitude which is so hilarious at times and makes the romance and passion all the sweeter.

Now a hero can be a stud-muffin from start to finish but he is just that when there isn’t also an intricate personality to give depth to the character. Circenn held a few surprises along the way and I discovered some of them because Lisa provokes him to no end. Lisa gives as good as she gets and while Lisa is in a dire situation she is resilient enough to deal with it. From the moment a dripping wet Circenn jumps out of the tub she is drinking in the picture he provides, who would blame her? Karen Moning made sure I had all the goods to picture him in my mind to what Lisa got presented at that time. She is dealing with all the changes as they come, she is proud, sensual, intelligent, and tenacious which is all incited by deep emotions. All attributes that provokes Circenn to no end and together they are a combustible combination of personalities.

The rich history of Scotland performs as a fabulous background with Robert the Bruce warring with England for a free Scotland. The Templar Knights who have been torn asunder and find refuge within Circenn’s castle. Mean while a deadly jester in the Fairy Queens court a.k.a Adam Black meddles on his own terms with the sequence of events. From Galan and Duncan Douglas, trusted friends and advisors to Circenn, to the brief encounter with Roberts the Bruce, they all keep the story dynamic and lively. Each character distinct and adding joy and sorrow to the main storyline. Whether Circenn would forgo his honor or if Lisa would make some of the hardest choices any person has to deal with, it was one of the romance factors that made the story so engaging for me. There wasn’t a page I did not enjoy to read, my eagerness to find out what would happen between Lisa and Circenn made this story an instant read. I opened it one late morning and kept on going until it was time to eat dinner.

The romance turned me in to jell-o. Not only do they give as good as they get they fall for each other with such wild, wanton and electrifying passion it concurs centuries. When Circenn discovered what he had to do in order to keep Lisa my heart pounded, romance soared as only Karen Moning can give it and I had stars in my eyes as the ending neared. The Highlander’s Touch is such an ultimate feel good story. Where two star-crossed lovers concur all, where a battle rages in the background, where treachery is lurking for an opportunity and magic seeps through and become the very essence of the story.

Perhaps there were a few minor things that made me raise my eyebrow but they evaporated in the overall pleasure of reading this story. I have to make a separate comment about Adam Black, he adds his own twist and turns again in this story. Just like in Beyond The Highland Mist he is meddling and interfering, an addictive combination of bad and good, of dripping sensuality and ego, of love and longing. He is a mix of Fae magic and male virility I can’t get enough of and I revel in the fact I get so much of him in this series until I reach his own story in The Immortal Highlander. In this story however we get to see a more mortal side of him and it showcases a highly intriguing side that entices to explore for more and what makes him tick.

Circenn and Lisa have it all, a profound ‘all or nothing’ romantic story that swept me off my feet. Enemies to defeat in battle as well as off the battlefield and a supporting cast of characters that enriched The Highlander’s Touch like no other. Time travel has never been so delectable or so addictive to read and re-read. Because if there is one thing that is for certain is that Karen Moning’s Highlander novels are very re-read worthy, her stories, imagination, humor and characters are just that good!

Quote:
Adam Black smiled as he removed the tampon from the barrel of the riffle. Although Circenn has refused to use any of the weapons Adam had brought him, the warrior within him could not permit time to tarnish them. He snorted, dangling the tampon from its string. Only his fastidious Circenn Brodie would decide that the soft white swabs were to be used for cleaning.

Eyeing the rifle, Adam grinned. They were the perfect size to slip inside the barrel – it nearly seemed sensible. But he hadn’t brought tampons back to medieval Scotland for Circenn to play with; he’d brought them – and every gift he’s chosen – for another reason.

Quote:
Once, he walked on a California beach, nude in the full glory of his true form. Thousands of Californians had been stricken by high fevers that had erupted in public displays of eroticism.

He loved being Adam.

The sun beat down upon his muscles chest, a tropical breeze licked his dark hair. He was a pagan god, savoring his world- there was no better place to be.

Most of the time.


Question of the day: If you were thrust back in to time and you had a wee bit of time to gather three items, which would they be?

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