The Book Gourmet

Book reviews à la bookworm...The good, the bad, and everything in between.

 

 

Professional Reader Reviews Published

Across A Moonlit Sea by Marsha Canham

Across a Moonlit Sea - Marsha Canham

Simon Dante, a French count with a British mother, prefers to spend his time on the deck of his ship, Virago, battling the Spanish on the high seas, instead of being a man of leisure in the court of Queen Elizabeth. Then one day, he's betrayed by his fellow sea hawk and left to die in the circle of six Spanish zabras.
Dante and his crew put up a fight, remaining afloat long enough for a merchant ship, Egret, to sail by, captained by Jonas Spence and helmed by the man's daughter, Isabeau "Beau" Spence.

Sparks fly immediately between Dante and Beau, mostly thanks to the "unorthodox" way his crew come to stay on board the Egret, and later due to the palpable attraction between them. But they've both been burned before, so trust doesn't come easily...Even as they sail toward England and embark on a quest to help Sir Francis Drake in ruining King Philip's plans of war.


I love Marsha Canham's books. Simply love them. The narration is evocative, painting incredible vivid pictures of characters and their surroundings no matter which era the story is set in. This one was no different...The sea was brilliantly blue, the storms frighteningly loud, the battles at sea gripping (you could smell the gunpowder and hear the thunderous roar of cannons), and the battle of wits between the two sexes intriguing, engrossing and inspiring even though the outcome was predictable.

The set-up might sound formulaic—Marsha Canham always pits two headstrong leads against one another with the hero always towering over the heroine, at the peak of physical condition, dark, handsome and extremely arrogant and his heroine loving to antagonize him, matching him word for word as they both try to fight the passion and attraction blazing between them—but each story is an entity of its own (even if they're part of series or trilogies) with characters so distinctly different (albeit similar in physical descriptions), and romantic couples never encountering obstacles and woes similar to those before them (except for the fighting against the inevitable part), that the reader notices the initial formula or template, and then promptly forgets about it as they're swept along.

This story was no different. Both Simon and Beau were strong, self-sufficient characters, stubborn and afraid to trust the unknown, but they both became even stronger as a couple. Their verbal battles were amusing and rather arousing as they served as foreplay for what was to come. But even as they succumbed to the inevitable, they never lost those individual character traits that made them tick, keeping up with the battles of wits and words long after their fates were already set.
I loved them separately and I loved them together; the sparring and the loving equally wonderful to read.

Then there was the supporting cast (with an additional romance thrown into the mix) with two motley crews of seamen, friends and confidantes, a father talking to his daughter about itches that might need to be scratched, a hulking Cimaroon with his two gleaming scimitars, a gunman with unsteady sea legs constantly falling in love...And added to all that was Sir Francis freaking Drake.

The action sequences were breathtaking and intense, culminating in the singeing the King of Spain's beard in the port of Cadiz serving as backdrop to a much smaller battle brewing in the peripheral vision since the prologue.

This book offers a remarkable mix of a wonderful cast of characters, intense battle sequences, and a delightfully epic romance.

The Black Diamond by Andrea Kane

The Black Diamond - Andrea Kane

Aurora Huntley has spent more than a decade as a virtual prisoner in her home due to her overprotective brother and dangers lurking outside her little world. Her family is besieged by privateers and burglars trying to get their hands on the legendary black diamond that's supposed to be in her family's possession. Yet it isn't, and they have no idea where it is.

Still, dangers abound, and Aurora's brother, Slayde, decides on an ultimate protection for his sister—marriage. But Aurora doesn't want to get married, despite the suitability of the suitor, so she devises a cunning plan—she'll get a man to compromise her, thus ending her forced betrothal.

Little does she know that the man doing the supposed ruining is the Romeo to her Juliet, the last remaining descendant of the Bencrofts, her family's archenemies. Julian might have been the black sheep of the family, but he's still a Bencroft, and he's still in the search of the black diamond that's supposedly brought ruin to his family. But Julian isn't searching for the diamond out for its monetary value, his reasons run deeper, and he's willing to bring Aurora along on the journey.

A journey that will be more rewarding than either of them ever suspected.


Yes, yes, yes. If Legacy of the Diamond was a bad start to the "story", this one is a great ending.

First of all, Aurora, the rather self-centered brat from Legacy received a personality transplant and I actually liked her. She was lively, spirited, stubborn, resilient, and adventurous, a perfect other half of Julian, the hero.
They complimented each other, they were each other's equals, no matter what, and the budding friendship, partnership and romance that developed were wonderful to read. It didn't feel rushed (despite happening in a mere week), both characters were nicely developed, and the flow of the story gave the reader ample time to get to know both of them, and ultimately understand what drew them together.

The rest was also very well done. The pacing was excellent, the mystery intriguing, I loved the treasure hunt styled following of the clues, and the suspense scenes were well-written and gripping, offering one jolt after another when all was revealed.
I didn't see the other danger coming, and was pleasantly surprised by it.

The resolution to the utterly stupid family feud was beautifully done, and the finale with the affirming epilogue was just the right icing on this particular cake.

Legacy of the Diamond by Andrea Kane

Legacy of the Diamond - Andrea Kane

The black diamond, a gem of unfathomable wealth and beauty, has plagued the Huntley family for generations. It prompted the feud with the Bencrofts, it supposedly brought a curse upon the Huntleys...and now resulted in Aurora Huntley being kidnapped and held for ransom.

Slayde Huntley is more than happy to give up the diamond if it means saving his sister's life...Only it's not his sister that he saves, but Courtney Johnston, a sea captain's daughter whose ship had been attacked by pirates and whose father had been forced overboard. Aurora, on the other hand, had merely been in London for a short trip with a longtime family friend...



This book was a huge disappointment.

From the characters (the heroine and the hero's sister acted like children instead of young women and the hero was a curse-believing idiot for the better part of the story) to the suspense which could've worked if the story wasn't overburdened with the drama and angst of the characters. As it was, the big reveal of who the villain was, came as a huge surprise (the only plus of the book), while the motive ended up sounding rather idiotic, and the whole thing was resolved too quickly (a matter of pages).

It wasn't badly written, but was unfortunately weighted down by the characters and poorly developed suspense plot.

Wishes in the Wind by Andrea Kane

Wishes in the Wind - Andrea Kane

Someone is threatening her father's life, because the renowned jockey wouldn't throw a race, so Nicole Aldridge, willing to do anything to save her father's life, masquerades as a boy in order to seek employ with the Marquis of Tyrenham.

Little does she know, Dustin Kingsley would recognize her for the woman who's stolen his heart during a short conversation on the bank of the Thames and that the aristocrat will do anything to keep her father and her safe.


Unfortunately, this doesn't hold a candle to its predecessor. Not in characterization, romance (if you want to call it that), nor suspense.

The characters were unfortunately mere sketches, not truly developed beyond the initial story needs, the romance was rushed, hasty, and too instantaneous to be plausible, even less believable, and while the suspense could've been the saving grace of this novel, it was pushed into the background, playing second fiddle to the "romance". There was no real intrigue or intensity, and no real feel of peril.

I feel Dustin deserved more.

Echoes in the Mist by Andrea Kane

Echoes in the Mist - Andrea Kane

Six years ago, supposedly for causing a woman to commit suicide, Trenton Kingsley, Duke of Broddington, has moved to his estate in the Isle of Wight, into self-imposed exile. Now, he's back, determined to forever ruin the man he deemed responsible for the ruination of his life, Baxter Caldwell, the brother of the dead woman. Trenton is willing to do anything to accomplish his revenge, even using Caldwell's younger sister, Ariana, as a pawn.

Ariana Caldwell has grown up on stories about Trenton Kingsley's ugly character, but even though she's supposed to fear him, she doesn't. There's something in him that draws her in, convincing her all he needs redemption for whatever happened six years ago, and she's willing to provide it.

But someone doesn't want Trenton to be happy and that someone is determined to accomplish what the incident in the past has obviously failed to do. Utterly ruin Trenton Kingsley, no matter what.


Oh, wow.

It might sound presumptuous, but hey, it's my review. This story was a psychological drama disguised as a romance. And it worked. All of it.

The characters were engaging and realistic, deeply-layered and nicely drawn and developed. The story progressed at a perfect pace for the relationship and romance to grow slowly and organically; as Trent and Ariana slowly grew to know each other so did the reader and it is from that knowledge (mostly through observation, since words can sometimes be deceiving) that the romance, no, love, blossomed.

What worked most was the ambiguity. Ariana was the guide in the story, and the reader knew as much as Ariana did. The reader shared her apprehension, her doubts, her reasoning, and her thinking process. Who is Trenton Kingsley? What drives him? Did he really have a hand in her sister's death? What is the truth? What is a lie? What is an illusion? Who to trust?
The truth is hidden for most of the story, so the apprehension, the doubts as to the hero's true nature and/or intentions are real. The wondering, whether he's capable of what he's accused of, is incessant, even though instinct dictates there's more to it that meets the eye.
And in the end, it takes both observation, instinct and truth from his lips (as trust is finally established) to put the fears and doubts to rest, and for a man to finally find redemption and love.

But of course, that's not the end of the story. There's also an evil villain, their unwitting accomplice, and a nefarious plot to ruin Trenton (and Ariana in the process) out of pure spite, might I add.
The psychological torture was exquisitely done, finding both intended targets with chilling precision.

Intense, intriguing, chilling and alluring, this story is definitely a keeper.

Adam by Jacquelyn Frank

Adam  - Jacquelyn Frank

On Samhain in 2008, Jacob and Bella are killed in front of their daughter's eyes and nothing will never be the same again. Families, friendships and alliances are broken, while the crazy Demon bitch Ruth and her Vampire mate Nicodemous continue wreaking havoc...Until they accost Jacob and Bella's daughter, ten years after her parents' deaths.

But instead of letting the pair kill her and drench themselves in her power over the element of Time, Leah does what she's been planning for quite a long time...Travel back in time to fetch her father's older brother, Adam.


When I read this series in 2009, there was no Adam book on the horizon, so I mistakenly thought Noah was the last book, and I was rather perplexed at how the main story arc about the crazy Demon Ruth was never resolved.

It is resolved in this one, though the story left much to be desired.

First of all, the resolution and the final battle came across as rather easy, almost as an afterthought, which left a rather bitter aftertaste after all the trials and tribulations the heroes and heroines of the series have been through so far.
There was no imminent threat of danger, no edge-of-your-seat, bite-your-nails gripping intensity and suspense. It was pretty much a given from the start and it left me rather disappointed.

The second problem was the rather hole-y plot thanks to all the obvious tweaking of timelines. And somehow it didn't really make sense. If Adam disappeared in all the timelines, then why did Jacob and Bella die in the first place only for Leah to go back in time and fetch him, creating a different timeline?
And who was the mysterious Demon female helping our many good guys and gals?
In the end, there were many loose ends left dangling and many questions left unanswered. But I'm quite behind in my reading, maybe I'll get my answers in Ms. Frank's other works.

And the third problem was the two protagonists. I never really warmed up to Jasmine (I still hate her guts, to be honest). She was a bitchy and selfish creature lashing out at almost everyone (except Damien) due to her own insecurities and no one really took her up to task. Even at the end of her story, there were many apologies and quite a bit of groveling that was needed on her part, yet they never came.
I don't have much to say about her counterpart, her mate/Imprinted/Bonded or whatever you want to call him. Adam simply failed to make an impression. After many great heroes that came before him, Adam was rather bland and without much personality, if you ask me.
But that's probably due to the fact the story (rather short for the "final showdown") was overcrowded with new and old characters, tweaking of time, and final-minute information.
The result was a barely lukewarm and very rushed romance that quickly stepped over the line into unrealistic and unbelievable.

Still, it was good seeing old friends, learning that quite a few dreams would be realized once Ruth was vanquished...And I'm looking forward to seeing them in future books and series in the Nighwalker realm.

Kane by Jacquelyn Frank

Kane - Jacquelyn Frank

Kane met Corinne on Samhain, after stalking her, burning for her for three days, but before he could claim her, his brother stopped him...Then, before he could receive his punishment, Kane was summoned back to her side, horrified at the changes in her. She was dying and the only thing that could prevent it, was his nearness...While the beast, under the influence inside him, raged to claim the woman he knew was his mate.


The prologue runs parallel to the beginning of the first chapter of Jacob, but told from his youngest brother, Kane's, perspective...The rest of the story is set just after Jacob ends and involves Jacob's younger brother, Kane, and the woman meant to be his (who almost wasn't because of all the lost lore), Corinne, Isabella's older sister.

I liked the premise of these two strangers thrust together in order for one of them to survive, while also battling the raging lust neither can really ignore.
Unfortunately, it was too short for the story to unfold organically (a normal novel would be preferable), or for the characters to overcome their rather flat and bland bonds. In the end, I had no idea what really made either Kane or Corinne tick, why he was in love with her (beside chemistry reasons), or where their story could really go (beside bed at least twice a year when they'll have no choice in the matter).

The Silver Coin by Andrea Kane

The Silver Coin - Andrea Kane

A shadowy figure had sworn revenge against Lady Breanna Colby at the end of The Gold Coin, and has recently put the revenge plan in motion. A revenge that starts with threatening letters and gifts, terrorizing Breanna, and will end when both cousins, Anastasia first and Breanna last, are dead at his feet.

But the assassin didn't count with the fact Damen Lockewood's friend, an expert in finding people who don't want to be found, Royce Chadwick. Royce is very good at what he does, but now he has an added incentive to win—Breanna Colby.


This was another great suspense novel set in the Regency era with a very determined killer stalking his victim, terrorizing her with notes and gifts.
The romantic sub-plot was once more relegated into the background, which was good, since, as in the previous book, it didn't bring much to the table. It was once more rather forced, and quite jarring in comparison with the main arc of the story, deterring from the plot instead of enhancing it.

The second problem was the pacing. The second half of the story was too slow and plodding, decreasing the tempo instead of increasing it as the story came to a fold.

Still, the characters were nicely developed, the friendships sounded genuine and the connection between the cousins was nicely written.

The Gold Coin by Andrea Kane

The Gold Coin - Andrea Kane

When they were children, identical cousins, Anastasia and Breanna Colby, store to always be there for each other, to always protect one another.

Now, after ten years in America and after losing her loving parents, Anastasia is once more reunited with her beloved cousin, but the uncle with a foul temper, she'd come to avoid when she was little has turned into a tyrant...And possibly a criminal.
Anastasia, now a wealthy heiress, is still determined to protect her cousin, even if it means incurring the wrath of her uncle. But she has help in the form of her financial advisor (until she turns twenty-one), the fascinating, business-savvy Damen Lockewood, her cousin's Breanna would-be fiancé...At least if her uncle has any say in it.

Yet Fate has her own plans, but in order to get their happily-ever-after, Damen and Anastasia might have to help her along.


This book is worth reading for the suspense alone. There's mysterious cargo being smuggled out of the country, an entrepreneur with a volatile temper that's so deep in debt he's willing to do anything to get his hands on some money, shady characters, even an assassin...

The mystery was quite gripping, the guessing game intense, and there were some pretty tense moments throughout the story. The plot was tight, the pacing wonderful...

The problem was in the romance department. I wasn't really convinced and the whole "ordeal" seemed rather forced.

Still, the characters were nicely developed and the relationship between the two cousins, as well as the friendship between Damen and Breanna nice and genuine.

While My Pretty One Sleeps by Mary Higgins Clark

While My Pretty One Sleeps - Mary Higgins Clark

The killer hides gossip columnist and author Ethel Lambston's body where he thinks no one would find her, but even without the body, fashion designer Neeve Kearny knows something's wrong. Ethel wouldn't just pack up and leave without informing anyone...Or leaving her new clothes undelivered.

Then the body surfaces and Neeve's trained eye immediately notices something's off with the clothes. Someone else had dressed the dead woman...And whoever slashed her throat, did the same to Neeve's mother all those years ago.


This was a good, solid thriller with an intriguing mystery that wasn't revealed until the end, but it had major pacing problems (again, too many characters and too much time spent on some of those), and the motive for the first murder was just a tad too out there for me to understand.

Still, the protagonist at least wasn't an idiot trying to find the killer on her own, the little romantic sparks sprinkled here and there through the second half of the book kept things "lively", and kudos for the big twist in the end

Loves Music, Loves to Dance by Mary Higgins Clark

Loves Music, Loves To Dance - Mary Higgins Clark

Darcy Scott convinces her best friend, Erin Kelley to participate in the research for a documentary on personal ads by playing and answering a few of them. A couple of weeks later, Erin is dead, strangled and wearing mismatched shoes after one of her dates and Darcy, guilt-ridden, decides to find the murdered, no matter how many dates it takes.


There were simply too many characters in this book, most of which had little to nothing to do with the main story arc and just inserted into the storyline to keep everyone guessing. Which would be a good thing if the fact every single one of those characters had to have at least one paragraph dedicated to them and/or their inner workings and/or their friends/family didn't make this story rather choppy.
It felt all over the place and this jumping sideways from character to character made for a rather poor reading experience. Especially in the last chapter, during the big finale, when the story kept jumping from the killer and victim to the rescue party and back. The choppiness of narration diffused the suspense too much.

The main protagonist, Darcy Scott, also left much to be desired, merely augmenting the problems of the story. She wasn't exactly TSTL, but she was an idiot. What did she think to accomplish by going on all those dates? She wasn't a detective, she wasn't law enforcement, and she had absolutely no skills or idea as to what danger she was putting herself into. Case in point, she failed to see the killer as the guy was right there, in front of her nose, because she was just so nice.

Captain Seadog by Jefferson Cooper

Captain Seadog - Jefferson Cooper

Upon his return from the Spanish Main, his ship heaving under the weight of the gold taken at sword's point, Captain Michael Goddard is arrested under charges of high treason against Queen Elizabeth and England.

Escaping the leader of the Spanish party, he meets Meg, a tavern maid, who helps him escape his pursuers, leading him safely to the rendezvous with Queen Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Regina thus entrusts him with the mission to expose the members of the Spanish party, the real traitors who would see Philip, King of Spain, on the English throne, and Michael and Meg embark on an almost impossible mission of unmasking the traitors within and battling the Spanish invasion from across the Channel.



This was a swashbuckling spy story set in Elizabethan era England. It had it all...treachery and deceit, duels, cloak-and-dagger (literally) adventure, (star-crossed) romance, love, and a massive sea battle in the last couple of chapters.

I liked the spy elements of the story as Michael attempted to gather enough proof to hand over to Queen Elizabeth. The adventure and suspense were gripping and intense as both protagonist and reader tried to think and plan ahead, wondering just what might happen next.
Compared to that, the romance element was more or less relegated into the background, resurfacing only to draw the spotlight onto the fact Michael and Meg could never really be, thanks to the disparity between their stations in life. But since this was an adventure story, the author never lingered overmuch on the romance aspect.

It was a wonderful story, an exquisitely written tale of perils and breathtaking romance.

It's definitely a must read, though quite a feat to obtain.

Into the Dreaming by Karen Marie Moning

Into the Dreaming: With Bonus Material - Karen Marie Moning

He's endured five centuries in an icy hell, now he has a month to know love and be loved...But he doesn't know it.

The Unseelie king had tricked him into servitude, torturing him to turn him into his perfect soldier, Vengeance. Their bargain was for one month to find love and the king has to keep his end of it. But that doesn't mean he has to make it easy.

Enter Jane Sillee, who, thanks to the Seelie queen, has spent her life dreaming of Aedan MacKinnon, falling in love with him in the Dreaming. It's the Waking that's the problem, since she's suddenly (inexplicably) in the fifteenth century and the man doesn't know who she is.

Well, she won't go down without a fight. She has a month? She's planning on using every single day of it.


This was a rather sweet story, but unfortunately it lacked necessary length to really let the plot develop. Also, the absence of any sort of suspense or dangerous situations (once the assault on the heart and memories of Aedan/Vengeance began) were conspicuously absent, firmly putting this story into the middle-ground range.

The characters lacked any serious depths with the hero spending most of the story as the stoic, icy right hand of the Unseelie king, while the heroine, despite the author's obvious efforts, failed to appear humorous and quirky.


Bonus material:
⇾ I wouldn't mind reading Ghost of a Chance.
⇾ The two deleted (changed) chapters from Kiss of the Highlander were 'not-here-not-there'. An interesting glimpse into what could've been, nothing more.
⇾ And lastly: yes, the Lite version was off. Too neat, too tidy, too tame. There's nothing tame about Dageus MacKeltar.

Spell of the Highlander by Karen Marie Moning

Spell of the Highlander - Karen Marie Moning

Jessi St. James is running yet another errand for a professor in the college where she's trying to get her PhD, when she's attacked in the professor's office, and protected by a kilt-wearing warrior she's summoned out of a mirror.

The next morning she's sure it was all a dream, until she hears her would-be attacker is dead...And so is her professor,

Reluctantly, she goes exploring the possibility it wasn't a dream, only to discover the man in the mirror is real. A ninth-century Scottish Driud, Cian MacKeltar, trapped in the mirror by his mortal enemy in order for said mortal enemy to gain immortality.

But someone has recently stolen the mirror—hence it's in Chicago instead of in London...And fortuitously right before the "immortality spell" is to be renewed for it to last another hundred years.

Cian is determined to break free and vanquish his enemy before the renewal...And Jessi is the one who will help him achieve his long-time goal.


I don't know what to say, except I was rather disappointed in this last full-length installment in the Highlander series. It's nothing specific that bothered me, really, there was just something off.

The hero was a tad too "barbaric" for comfort (compared to the other ninth-century Scot I know and love), the heroine came across as rather flighty (for supposedly such a smart woman) at the beginning, and rather selfish at the end...And their romance didn't exactly convince me.
It felt off somehow, as if it was written more as an afterthought than anything else. It was formulaic and rather perfunctory in everything that transpired between the two. There was no feeling behind it, no "MacKeltar finding his mate magic" that I loved in the previous MacKeltar books.

Then there was the suspense sub-plot which also wasn't really convincing, coming across as more "coincidental" and Deux-ex-machina-y. Especially once we got to the big finale. The "big problem" was too easily and simply resolved, the "happy ending" telegraphed way in advance, making the story lose its edge long before the ending. There was no wonder if and how it would be resolved, it was clear it would be and happily for all parties.

Especially for the hidden one, which left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth for the entire series. Turns out it wasn't Fate that brought them all together, but a hidden figure pulling at strings, manipulating time and people for her own gain...Which, for those who read the Fever series, didn't really work (and ended up with one of my favorite characters of this series a mindless beast).

This book was more a segue from one series to the next than a stand-alone novel, and a disappointingly deus-ex machina explanation to everything that came before.

The Immortal Highlander by Karen Marie Moning

The Immortal Highlander - Karen Marie Moning

Adam Black is in quite a pickle. Having advocated for the human Druid, he's forced to save Dageus MacKeltar's life at the end of The Dark Highlander by sacrificing some of his immortal life-force...And then Aoibheal, the Fairy Queen, exacts her own form of punishment. Now Adam is human...And invisible.

To everybody but his own kind (who he can no longer see) and the human Sidhe-seer woman, Gabrielle O'Callaghan.

Gaby's spend her entire life pretending to be normal, while she's anything but. The last in the long line of Sidhe-seers, she's been taught from infancy to hide her gift, to pretend not to see them, lest they kidnap her and kill her. Then one night, all her carefully built defenses come crashing down when she sees a Fairy that doesn't look like a Fairy...And turns out to be the darkest Fairy of them all—the one the O'Callahan books of the Fae warn to AVOID CONTACT AT ALL COST with.

But Adam Black doesn't appear to want her dead...He does appear to want to drive her crazy though...Unless she helps him.


If Adam Black has mucked it all up in Beyond the Highland Mist and a little less in The Highlander's Touch, he's definitely redeemed himself at the end of The Dark Highlander with his advocacy of the human race...And more deeply and irrevocably in his own book.

He might not appear a tortured hero at first sight (or many sights after), not with that larger-than-life, nothing-can-touch-me, I'm-a-God attitude, that glimpse Dageus gets in the second part of the story, the glimpse of lonely darkness deep inside this Old One, only affirms what the reader (at least this one) believed since the third book in this series.
But it takes a rather selfless act, the strange fascination Adam has with the human race, making him argue and barter with the Queen, and her subsequent punishment, to make the reader see, or at least glimpse, at what makes the last prince of the D'Jai tick, and make him see what he's been missing for so long, and what he truly needs to feel larger than life and become truly immortal.

You aren't falling for me, are you, Irish?


The strongest, purest emotion. Love.

To feel love, to be loved, and to love in return.

And he gets all of the above in spades when he meets his heroine, Gabrielle, and eventually chips away at her armor.

It took a little time to warm up to Gabrielle with her skittishness and fear around the Fae folk. She grew up with all of that, she grew up on the darker fairy tales, she grew up learning to fear, and it took a while for her to realize not everything she thought she knew was correct, but once she did, once she opened her eyes and truly saw Adam, I knew I was in for yet another stormy, fiery—and unfortunately rather star-crossed—romance.

No, make that love story. One of those odes, songs and sagas are written about. One of those that, despite the fact you know it would end up happily (because it's a romance novel, not a drama), you still fear your heart skip a beat or two as you wonder just how such two opposites could end up together in the end.

And as always, it takes a sacrifice. One has to sacrifice something to gain something else, and, as Adam himself, I also believe he gained much more than he gave up.

Yes, there were paranormal/magical elements, paranormal beings, and a little suspense-subplot about an attempted coup, but in its bare bones, this was a romance, plain and simple. Adam and Gabrielle's love story.

Perfectly paced, wonderfully written, with a wonderful cast of characters, an amazing leading man, and just the right amount of heart-string tugging toward the end. I loved every single moment of it.

The Dark Highlander by Karen Marie Moning

The Dark Highlander - Karen Marie Moning

In 1521, Dageus MacKeltar makes the choice that will forever change him...And his destiny. To save his beloved twin brother, and ensure Drustan has a future with the woman he loves, Dageus breaks the sacred MacKeltar vow of never using the stones at Ban Drochaid for personal reasons, and travels back in time, unleashing an ancient evil lurking between the dimensions.

With a ticking time bomb inside him, Dageus travels to twenty-first century Manhattan, hoping to find anything in the ancient tomes that might prevent him from turning dark and unleashing the evil inside him onto the world.

Then Chloe Zanders, lover of antiquities, walks into his life—well, more accurately, crawls underneath his bed—and he knows she's the one. Mine, his mind whispers, and he's willing to do anything to keep her. But first, they must fight to free him...


This, this is what I'm looking for in my romance novels. This, exactly this. This emotional rollercoaster-ish mix of drama, angst, danger, suspense, mystical and mythical elements, a pinch of magic, a story of love that would defy anything, scorching hot sex, and an alpha male oozing bad boy from his every pore.

Dageus is one of my favorite, if not the favorite, tortured hero of all time. Because you cannot get more tortured than what this guy went through. Living with thirteen bad consciences constantly battering against his honor and code, chipping away his every defense day after day, and still he endured, and suffered, and tried to do anything in his power not to go full-on evil, tried everything to make things right, and was willing to do anything, anything, even making the ultimate sacrifice, for those he loved.
It doesn't get better than this. Sex-on-legs bad boy with a heart of mushy gold, a protective streak a mile wide, and a code of honor and resolve of steel. It's always a pleasure, and an emotional effort reading his story.

But despite the fact he left everything behind, his time, his clan, even his twin brother, Dageus doesn't have to suffer alone. Fate has smiled upon him and given him a glimmer of hope in his darkest hour—his mate, Chloe.
She was the antithesis of him. A quirky, nerdy, self-conscious, self-deprecating virgin, yet with an unquenchable thirst of knowledge and a fascination and undying love of Celtic antiques. Since her hero was Celtic also an antique, what more could she want.
Unfortunately, on this re-read, I've discovered a little tidbit about her that quite bothered me. In a few scenes, she came across as quite selfish and self-absorbed. It seemed everything was about her, how she loved antiques, how she wanted to spend time reading all the texts in the Keltar library, how she wanted to know everything, yet refused to know the most important part of it all...What was wrong with her man and how she could help him.
Compared to Dageus selflessness, especially in the big climax of the story, this "difference" between them was rather glaring.

Still, I'm willing to overlook such hiccups since the story is so wonderful. Wrought with emotion and drama, filled with family reunions and old friends...And yes, because Dageus is the hero. The most perfect, tortured, lovable hero.