Title: To Marry a Scottish Laird (Second in Highlander series)
Author: Lynsay Sands
Publication Date: June 2014
In this book, we take a different path than most romance serials. Usually the main character of the next book is a character mentioned in the first (An English Bride in Scotland), perhaps a friend of the main character or a sibling. In this case, the main characters are Joan and Campbell, neither of which appear in the first book. However, that is not to say it is not connected. Annabel, her husband Ross and their three children appear in this story. Campbell, for one, is a Sinclair, which happens to be the neighboring family. He comes across Joan, dressed as a boy (which fools him for a day or two) trying to make her way from England to the MacKay family with a message from her mother. They fall in lust with each other, and maybe a little in love as they travel to the MacKay Keep.
Once there, Joan finds out she is the daughter of Annabel’s sister Kate, and her stable boy husband Grant. The woman she thought was her mother was a midwife who delivered her, and then adopted her after Kate’s death. Once again we are reminded on how horrible the Abbess and Annabel’s parents were in this novel as neither agree to look in on the now orphan. However, the midwife Maggie does, and raises her as her own. SHe never tells Joan the truth about her parentage during her lifetime, instead sends her on a deathbed request to take a letter exposing the information to Annabel Mackay.
The second part of the book holds the mystery, as someone is trying to kill Joan to get her out-of-the-way. She and Cam have to figure out which of the brides Cam’s mother had been preparing to suggest to him prior to his elopement with Joan is the culprit. We are introduced to 3 ladies who will take on the roles of the next 3 books and a few others. I have to admit, this book was good at keeping you guessing at who it was.
This book was a nice easy day read, and I think a bit better than the first as she now seems to get into the new universe she’s created. You don’t have to read the first book to read this one, though it would help for the back story about Kate & Grant, Joan’s biological parents, as well as the horrible grandparents.
Title: An English Bride in Scotland (Part 1 of the “Annabel” Highland series – Series title my own creation)
Author: Lynsay Sands
Publication Date: June 2013 (Kindle Edition)
I should start this out by saying I’m a huge fan of Lynsay Sands, so reading this was no hardship. My sister had read them and suggested that I start to read her historical novels set in Scotland since both of us have been huge fans of her Argeneau series for years. (possibly even more than a decade now, ) So I bought the book on my Kindle and settled down to read.
This book is not one of her best, but it was still enjoyable. The issue is mainly that there are so many straight-out unlikable characters that you spend most of your time not really invested in the romance but just feeling sorry for the main character, Annabel. The book starts out with Annabel as a novice awaiting to take her vows as a nun. She is stunned however when her mother, who had basically shoved her away in the convent when she was quite small, shows up to tell her she’s coming home. It appears Annabel’s older sister, Kate, has run off with the stable boy and now they must have their only other daughter fulfil a marriage contract with a Scottish Laird. So Annabel remains quite baffled as she goes from one abusive home (I don’t understand how this Mother Superior managed to make it to being a nun) to another (her parents perpetually comment on how she is not what they wanted, ugly, fat etc. NOt like her sister, so her to be husband might just run). So the first couple chapters is just wishing Annabel could just get to somewhere where people won’t pick on her.
And she does, as Ross MacKay’s home in Scotland is full of interesting characters who really want the best for Annabel. However, things seem to follow Annabel around. She is attacked by a mysterious man in a kilt several times, and then her sister arrives hoping Annabel will take her in, having been abandoned by her stable boy. Or so she says. Annabel isn’t sure what to believe.
This wasn’t a terrible read, but I really didn’t feel any connection with the characters other than sympathy for Annabel, and later Grant, Kate’s Scottish husband. The minor characters were interesting, and since this series has four more books at least (well, 3 with one coming in January), I hope to see a few of them again. It was just the pacing and depth of character that I expect from Lynsay Sands wasn’t completely there with this novel.
I gave the book a A- because as I said she’s a favorite author of mine, the book was enjoyable though not great, and I didn’t find anything that particularly annoyed me or made me want to throw the book out the window.
Title: A Perpetual Estrangement
Author: Alice B. Ryder
Publication Date: November 2016
My Grade: C
I’m once again am reading Jane Austin adaptations. I really enjoy the ones based on Persuasion, which is my favorite of her novels. This particular novel takes place in Modern England. Anne Elliot is still Anne, but this time she’s moved away from her family. She owns a bookshop she bought with her mother’s inheritance, and hangs out a lot with her mother’s side of the family (which takes place of the Musgroves.) She is estranged from her father and sister Roberta, which only gets worse as the book continues.
Frederick is replaced with Freddie, a young writer instead of soldier. Roberta and Anne’s father talk Anne out of going on a world trip with him and they end up breaking up. She regrets it, he’s trying to show he’s moved on, just like their literary counterparts.
I enjoyed this book to a point. At times it seemed to drag on, and some of the related points seemed mixed up which isn’t too much of a problem. The main problem seems to be that there isn’t much for me to say about it. It’s not bad, but it’s not spectacular either. The Author makes a point of reminding you throughout the book that this is a reimagined story, not just another modern version of the same story. Some of the elements remain the same, but others have changed completely. The book Persuasion (and other Jane Austen novels) are mentioned through out.
I think my problem was mostly I found it hard to connect with some of the characters. Anne’s story has perhaps a bit too much sorrow. The version of Cousin Elliot is a bit too far away from the original. Most of his motivations are stripped away, and he’s after her Uncle who’s a literary agent. There are also a few scenes with Jane whose age I couldn’t really figure out. She seems like she’s in her preteens but at the same time seems to be referred to as much younger. Freddie and Anne’s relationship is strained, like the original, but it seems the sudden Happily Ever After is, well, Sudden. There isn’t so much the anticipation that he’s changed his mind. Most of the time you are as confused as Anne as to what is going on.
Still, it was enjoyable and I wouldn’t avoid it. If someone asked me if it was worth reading, I would say sure. it’s a good rainy day read. If you like Austen, this story is enjoyable if a bit awkward in parts. I wouldn’t put it on my greatest reads list, but its alright.
Title: The Truth about Leo
Author: Katie MacAlister
Publication Date: August 2014 (Kindle Edition)
There are times I come across books and I feel like either the Author was told they needed to write the book, or they rushed it. This is one of those times. The main characters seem interesting, but we learn hardly anything about them. The minor characters for the most part are characters from the other books, which is nice. I found it readable, but perhaps not one I would feel like I missed out on something by not reading it.
The main characters of this novel, the fourth in the Noble series, are Leo Mortimer and Dagmar Sophie. She’s an impoverished princess whose cousin is the Prince regent of Denmark. Prince Frederick (actual person in history) is tired of taking care of his cousin (and Dagmar is, from the accounts of her mother, a thorn in Frederick’s side) and tells her to find her way to family, or she will be sent to a French Convent. Instead she marries a wounded soldier, Leo Mortimer, and gets transportation to England where she plans to go into business as a shop owner.
Most of the book deals with the two in almost a honeymoon like phase. They get over their respective issues with what happened rather quickly. Some of the books conversations are a little hard to follow because there are so many people in them, and some are even multiple conversations occurring at the same.
It does have its moments, though. MacAlister has a knack for funny dialogue and banter. I just find this novel to not be one of her best.
Also the B plot mystery about Dalton’s nephew is missing quite a few pieces. I feel like there is two stories, trying to fit into one book and failing to do so.
Title: The Trouble with Harry
Author: Katie MacAlister
Publication Date: May 2004/ July 2014 (Kindle Edition)
This book is the third in the series that started with Noble Intentions, but they seemed to have dropped the ‘Noble’ title theme and gone with something a little different. This takes place about 15ish years after the first novel. Harry has long since married the woman he was engaged to in that book, and they have had five kids. Sadly his wife died shortly after the birth of their youngest son, McTavish. Five years after her death, he feels its time to find a wife, someone who can be both companion to him and help reign in his unruly children.
Answering his ad is Plum, a gentlewoman who ended up thrown out by her family because she was tricked into marrying a man who was already married. She’s been living in the country, raising her niece Thom and writing books on ‘connubial calisthenics.’ She doesn’t tell Harry this, and Harry doesn’t tell her about the five kids till they are already married.
Like the previous books, the first third of the book is getting to the wedding, but the second 2 thirds is their life afterwards as they figure out each other, as well as handle the ‘mystery’ that they have to solve. In this case, someone has been after Harry’s children, in an attempt to hurt Harry.
I found this book to be enjoyable, but not one I will probably find myself eager to read again. I probably will one day, when I’m passing by it in my library and think”Oh, why not.” It just doesn’t hold like some of MacAlister’s other books. Also like the other ones I enjoyed the secondary characters even more so then the main two. Harry is still one of my favorites, although I wish more could have been focused on what he did as a spy for England.
The Britons show up in this one in the form of Noble and Nick. Nick and Thom’s interactions are almost more interesting than the main character, and I wish she had used them for the fourth book. (Which I shall move onto now.)
Title: Noble Destiny (Book 2 of 4)
Author: Katie MacAlister
Publication Date: May 2003/June 2014 (Kindle Version)
This novel continues in the same universe as Noble Intentions, and focuses on Charlotte, Gillian’s wacky cousin, and Alasdair MacGregor, the Scottish earl seen as a thorn in Noble’s side during the first book. Its been several years, and Noble and Gillian are on the verge of taking a trip to their AMerican plantation when Charlotte shows up, ready to be a part of English society again now that she’s left her late husband’s family and returned home. Only she expected Gillian to help her. With Gillian on vacation, she turns to her best friend Caroline who helps reluctantly hoping this doesn’t all blow up in their faces.
The first third of the book is Charlotte trying to trick Dare, whom she had thought about marrying several years ago before her marriage to an Italian count, into marrying her now. She succeeds, but then trouble finds them as Dare’s cousin long thought lost returns, and potentially ruins everything Charlotte’s been working for.
This novel was not as good as the first one, and I must I found Charlotte’s behavior more annoying than anything else. She seems like a better natured Lydia Bennet in a way. She gets better towards the end, when Dare is almost killed in an explosion while designing a marine engine. She’s forced to reevaluate her decisions on things. She’s still got a level of annoying though. Dare is also not the character I thought he was from reading the first book.
The minor characters still shine in this book, although not many reappear from the first book. Instead we have Dare’s butler who knows how to use sarcasm and overdramatizing (and has his moments of hilarity), and Caroline who wonders half the time why she’s still friends with Caroline.
I did however not find anything particularly horrible about the book, just was disappointed in the characters. That being said, I read it in a day so it wasn’t too bad a read. The mystery was a bit of a non-starter, finished before you realised there was really a mystery (and it turns out not to be the one you thought of.
Had this not been in a series though, I might not have enjoyed it as much.