Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Mini ARC Review: Barefoot Dreams (Barefoot Bay Undercover #4)

Barefoot Dreams (Barefoot Bay Undercover #4)

by Roxanne St. Claire

Blurb:
 A wedding day in Barefoot Bay is always joyous and exciting, but when the groom is none other than superspy bad boy Gabriel Rossi, the frenzy factor is high. Maybe that's the reason his beloved bride-to-be, Lila Wickham, wakes on her wedding day in a cold sweat from a bad, bloody dream.

As much as she wants to wipe away the memory and focus on the happiest day of her life, it soon becomes apparent that the dream heralds unhappiness—and tragedy. Terrified but determined, Lila knows she only has hours to take action against the daunting odds facing her son. But she's not alone anymore—she has Gabe at her back. And when it comes to defending the people he loves, there's no one fiercer than Gabe Rossi.

One single day, one embattled couple—one last shadow to dispel before they become the family they were always meant to be.
Themes: Contemporary, Novella/Epilogue 
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 

Review:
Gabe is BACK! 
Okay, so for those of you not familiar with Rocki’s work, that might not mean much to you, but for those of us that have been fans for years and have followed Gabe as he popped up randomly in different stories and series through familial connections, Gabe’s HEA is a very important matter.  Gabe and his Lila have had a REALLY tough time reaching their HEA, along with their son Rafe, and when I heard we were going to be getting a chance to see their wedding as its very own novella my joy knew no bounds.  The story is a short one, but we get too see all of Gabe’s family, couples that came together in previous reads as well as learning tidbits about their lives now.  And of course the infamous and fabulous Uncle Nino is back on the scene cooking his Italian favorites and keeping his large family in line.  The story had lots of action as Lila and Gabe rush through disaster after disaster, trying to keep their son safe, on the way to the alter and ultimately finding a way, together, to make sure that nothing mars their happy day.  Gabe is always the sexy, dirty mouthed bad boy that we all have fallen in love with, but we also get to see another, sweeter side of him as he deals with his 5-year old son Rafe and the shenanigans that only Gabe Jr could find himself caught in.  Lila is sweet, funny, and a little bit scattered as she races to make it to her big happy ending, but thankfully they are able to get everyone safely through the day and find a way to get to the altar. I loved seeing this little glimpse of this new family, as well as all the other characters that have been my friends the last few years, not just from Barefoot Bay, but also from Gabe’s large family.  I am hoping that we will see more of his family now that he has settled into wedded bliss on Barefoot.  I understand that the next few stories in the Barefoot World will be coming soon and like the last small trilogy, will focus on the second chances that sometimes come along for the silver foxes in the world.  As always I thank Rocki for her hard work and imagination in writing Gabe and Lila’s happy ending and of course for the chance to read it ahead of the publication.  Keep the magic alive Roxanne!

*eARC provided by author for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

ARC Review: Sinful Scottish Laird (Highland Grooms #2)

Sinful Scottish Laird (Highland Grooms #2)

by Julia London

Blurb:
A young widow puts her sexy suitors to the test in New York Times bestselling author Julia London's scintillating return to the idyllic Scottish Highlands.
Widowed and forced to remarry in three years' time or forfeit her son's inheritance, Daisy Bristol, Lady Chatwick, has plenty of suitors vying for her hand and her fortune. But a letter from a long-lost love sends Daisy and her young son to her Scottish Highland estate to buy time for his return. Along the way she encounters the powerful Cailean Mackenzie, laird of Arrandale and a notorious smuggler, and she is utterly and unwillingly bewitched.
Cailean has no use for any Sassenach in his glen. But Daisy's brazen, flirtatious nature and alluring beauty intrigue him. When her first love appears unexpectedly at her estate, Cailean knows that a passionate woman like Daisy cannot marry this man. And to prevent the union, Cailean must put his own life at risk to win her heart.
Themes: historical  
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
 Returning to the Highlands, amid the treachery, scandal, and dangerous time of Rebellion, Julia London brings us the second in her Highland Grooms series.  This story comes many years after the ending of the first story and actually follows the oldest son of the couple from book one, Cailean Mackenzie.   I was a bit surprised when I realized this would be Cailean’s story, but it was a happy surprise in the end.  I enjoyed getting to know Cailean, even if a good majority of the time he was being a typically stubborn Scottish ass and seeing Daisy find herself despite all the weights on her shoulders, whiel  the expectations of society reminded me that some women just can’t be kept down. Daisy and her son, along with some extended family, have come to Scotland to escape the money grubbing suitors that have graced her halls ever since her late husband put her on the marriage block upon his death.  She waits for her first love to return to her and in the meantime has no use for the men that surround her, until she meets the riveting and sensual Cailean Mackenzie. Cailean is beyond irritated that an Englishwoman has encroached on his solitude in his little corner of their family lands and wants nothing more than to see her gone, especially since the last Englishwoman he gave his heart too obliterated it.  Cailean tries to stay away from the slightly crazy but stunningly beautiful and sweet Daisy, but the pull is too strong and he soon finds himself facing the truth that he will have to release the woman he has come to love if they are either to have a chance at happiness.  Cailean was a bit of an ass through a good bit of the story, but then again most stubborn Scottish men share that trait—even to this day—and the alpha males are even worse.  As he slowly began to lose his heart to Daisy, the walls he built around himself made me feel sorry for him, knowing that he was letting past hurts and fears keep him from claiming the woman he loves—not to mention the little boy that has stolen his heart.  Daisy has done everything she can to make a decision that will allow her some happiness at the same time as giving her son what he needs to be happy and to thrive.  She thought her long lost love was the answer to that hope, until she meets Cailean and begins to wonder if perhaps the brash and bold Scot is the man of her dreams. 
I loved getting to know Daisy and Cailean, even if I was exasperated with their stubborn unwillingness to see what was right in front of them the whole time.  Daisy was definitely a woman well before her time, asserting her independence in a time when women the world over (for the most part) were treated simply as property of the men in their lives.  She was once forced into a marriage of duty, instead of marrying her love, but now that she is older and wiser there is no way she will marry anyone that doesn’t love her.  But in the meantime there’s nothing to keep a young, vital widow from having a little fun with a big burly Scot, now is there?  Daisy has a passionate nature and refuses to hide it from herself or Cailean, determined that he will be her lover, but she certainly never planned to fall in love with him.  Cailean likewise is taken aback by the passion and sensuality of this wild English flower and her sometimes inappropriate behavior.  He knows that she is trouble, but the more time he spends with her and her son, the deeper he finds himself sinking into the quicksand he saw around them but was unable to avoid.  He wants nothing more than to take Daisy to his bed, especially since she seems to understand it can never be more than physical between them; however in the end he is sunk and gives his heart to her.   Even their love doesn’t seem to be enough to overcome the dangers and obstacles surrounding them, until some sage advice from his father finally brings Cailean to the conclusion that the matters of the heart will always be more important than any others he faces and only with the love of his life by his side will he ever be happy.
Duty or Love seems to be the common problem that faced both Cailean and Daisy, much like other couples during that time in our history.  The Scottish Rebellion was a long-fought and bloody battle, that left many families without their men as well as without their lands, but stories like these remind us all that even in the bloodiest and most tragic of times, there was still love and life went on for these people despite the trauma and tragedy.  London’s skill at bringing these histories back into the minds and hearts of readers and showing us the sweeter side of those times, is nothing short of amazing and an important task for a writer to undertake.  So many authors gloss over the darkness of history, focusing simply on the frivolousness of the society and ignoring the soldiers, warriors, and common men that were the most important of that time, but London brings everyone back to the most important realization—history was made by the people, all the people, that lived through those times, and none should be made to be forgotten or ignored.  Daisy and Cailean had a rough time finding their footing together and building a life was sure to be even more difficult, but their love was strong enough to overcome everything and give them a chance to truly become a family. Cailean was a protective, sexy, and sweet warrior that needed only to be reminded that sometimes love comes in the most unlikely of packages and if you overlook it, your life will never be a filled with color or vibrancy as if you had given your heart away. Daisy was a kickass heroine, once she finally came to see the men around her for what they truly were and stood up to them for the sake of her son and also for her own heart.  Love Cailean was no easy trail for Daisy, but the joy at the end when he finally gave his heart to her made all the pain and sadness along the way worth it.  I cannot wait for the next story in the series, Hard-Hearted Highlander, which will revolve around Cailean’s younger brother Rabbie and his own bumpy road to happiness.  If you like a good historical romance, with some subterfuge, danger, and passion, Sinful Scottish Laird is the perfect way to get your next fix.  Thanks for the magic Julia.

*eARC provided by author for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.