Say Yes to the Scot A Highland Wedding Box Set

Publish Date June 20,2017
Price $3.99 e-book only

With this summer’s heat index rising, I was looking for a way to cool off via a mental trip to Scotland. What I got with this compilation of bridal stories was in stead a heatwave of sweet romance.

Typically I forego compilations due to past experience where the author tries to place a 100K word novel in a 50K space, thereby missing the story– what I consider the main reason for picking up a book. Instead I found four authors to whom can write a romance in the allotted space, keeping the story and romance going from start to finish in a cohesive plot.

If you’re looking for new authors and don’t want to invest 300 pages of unknown writing style and story direction, this is a great way to do so. If you just want a little something to get you through the summer while waiting on your favorite author’s book to release, this is also a great resource for not a lot of expense of time or budget.

Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

Publish Date July 11, 2017
Price: $17.99 Hardcover, Kindle $10.99

I’ve been a follower of The Great Library series since the first book, Ink and Bone came out in 2016; this latest installment sent my emotions, yet again, on a thrill ride of ups and downs, my heart breaking for characters and leaping with joy for them too.

Let me start with what I feel is the premise for this book, “You, of all people, understand the power of a symbol.” This one simple line not only sums up the basics of what the reader will be experiencing, but also sets the tone–dark, devious, and misleading. Take a look at the cover, its red and ash grey, stone is melting from the heat, the foundations of the building is cracked and crumbling; there’s no lightness about this cover because in this edition the characters are hard-pressed to find hope in their current situation.

The story starts out where we were last dropped, literally, in the prior book, Paper and Fire, inky blackness, flesh feeling like it’s being ripped apart, and confusion. From this point on, don’t expect a break as Caine will keep the reader from food, water, relaxation and rest, just like her characters. She’s keeps a fast pace, luring readers for ‘just one more chapter’ which will see your favorite character be either hurt, betrayed, beaten or blown-up. It’s not to say there’s not any hopeful moments, it’s just that the circumstances are so bad that if you, or the characters, miss seeing that one, faint, firefly moment of light in the dark, which comes so rarely, you’ll miss it, so don’t blink.

I started wondering while reading this book if I would have had the courage this cast of characters have: the necessity to continue to keep fighting for what’s right; the strength to overcome seemingly impossible odds; to trust where in other circumstances I wouldn’t. My parents lived through WWII, Vietnam, and many other wars. They were raised during WWI and the midst of the depression. It was their backbone that brings me the inner courage to keep going on days that I may instead say “I’ll just pass on today and see what tomorrow brings.” This latest edition brings to mind that what we [society today] think are impossible odds is in reality, just an illusion, a falsehood, brought on by media, the internet and society.  I’d like to quote more more line: “The Archivist is right, you know. We are dangerous.” “We’d damn well better be,” Jess said. “Or we’re all dead.””

Reading the last paragraph– the last line– I felt elated and betrayed simultaneously by Rachael Caine; betrayed as once again I was left with my nails clinging to the page like a free climber without a net; elated that YES! [fist bump into the air], the story is not over (I had thought this was a 3 book deal.)

 

 

Single Malt Murder, by Melinda Mullet


Pub Date 21 Mar 2017
Price $4.99 e-book

I came across this book a little while back and two things grabbed my attention- single malt whisky and Scotland, two things in my top 5 favorite things list. Yes, I love the smoky-peaty single malts the best, but most people like the smooth, sweeter varieties. With this said, I wanted to read a mystery too, so this seemed like a match made in malt.

Melinda Mullet is new to the novel writing business and according to her bio had been an practicing attorney prior to her new career.  With this said, the mystery of who done ‘it’ is a bit more intricately woven than some other mysteries in what I call the lower to mid-range mysteries (meaning this is not on a high school or college level reading level.)

If you’re not a whisky drinker, it’s okay, neither was Abigail Logan, our lead character. Mullet uses this lack on knowledge to educate her readers on the whisky process, type of whiskey and some history too; not so much so that you’re bored, but enough to make you think that that bottle of booze in your cabinet took a lot more than the bottle of beer you may have laying about.

As for the mystery itself, Mullet does a superb job of misdirection, using Abigail’s thought process to bring you to a possible murderer only to have her and you, the reader, think about your suspects again. While, if you’re a savvy reader, about half way you’ll start coming across clues as to who ultimately was behind the nefarious deed; if you’re reading to enjoy the story, no worries, the who, what and why is revealed pretty close to the end of the book so you’re not wading out the blah-blah-blah of page fillers once the reveal happens.

Which brings me to pacing of Single Malt Murder which was, in my opinion, dead on. In the beginning I was a little leary as it the pacing seemed a little slow, but I reasoned due to this is the first book, introductions needed to be made and the explanation of the whisky making process needed to be explained, that accounted for, what I call, the slow pacing. and after the first couple of chapters the pacing and background information started to weed itself out and allow the story to truly begin, creating a good, solid page turner.

Overall, this was a good malty murder novel, and at parts, I did think about breaking out my stash and sipping along as I’m sure I have some of the smoother, sweeter variety in my closet somewhere. As a side note, I’m thinking Mullet mentions, incognito, Macallan (or it could be Glenfiddich) and Laphroaig while explaining these fine Scottish treasures.  If your are a whisky connoisseur I think you’ll enjoy this series based on this first installment.

Toward A Secret Sky, Heather MacLean

Pub Date April 4, 2017
Hardcopy $17.99, e-book $9.99

While skimming through books this cover caught my attention with its stormy sky, highland hills and secret emblem floating above what I consider to be Celtic lettering. With this said, I read the description; ping #1 for me was it looked to take place in Scotland, so I assumed it had the ‘Scots humor’ I adore, and hoped MacLean would be endearing readers to the rugged Scotland I’ve come to know. Ping #2- Secret International Organization= mystery and intrigue, right? Ping #3- twisted labyrinths and famous cathedrals. So far, before I even cracked a page, I wanted to read this book!

Cracking open said book, I can honestly say it’s a page-turner. MacLean’s writing hits each story beat perfectly, each chapter starts with a hook and ends with a hook, which in turn equals ‘page-turner’ a.k.a loss of sleep if you’re reading at night.

MacLean hit on all my pings marvelously; it does take place mainly in Scotland with the secondary cast of characters weaving in the Scot’s humor, vocabulary, and daily living nuances of uprooting to a new country. Maren’s grandparents and new friends she makes help the readers understand what it would be like to suddenly find oneself in another country.

Maren, the 17 yr old who starts her story with the loss of her mom and immediate relocation to Aviemore, Scotland to be under the care of her grandparents, states the major differences between living in the US and Scotland succinctly with the large and small differences: language barriers, food choices, music availability, internet woes, phone challenges, etc. I love this, but then I’m an adult and have experienced US vs. the World differences in various countries.

Gavin, the hero of our story, is truly our hero as he does a lot of saving of Maren when needed, which is often. Gavin’s character is a type of angel, but a very young one. He’s also the hot Scot and we’re first introduced to him while he’s hunting in a kilt–great way to unexpectedly meet a hero, right? I found Gavin’s role to be a bit of an enigma though. The more I read, the more I found Gavin’s character to be confusing; in one scene he’s more like a standard young man, then the next he’s almost all knowing. I can understand that when it comes to romantic relationships this would be a new thing to him, being an angel in which MacLean explains Gavin has never been ‘in love’; it seemed like Gavin was a little too much like the waves on the beach with his knowledge and lack of knowledge flowing in and out instead of a steady movement forward as the book proceeded. Maybe this is the authors way of explaining how confusing love can be? As for love, my favorite line regarding the attraction factor is from Maren: Forget I ever met him. Short of getting a lobotomy, I had exactly zero chance of succeeding at that.

As for the story line itself, I would explain it as Buffy melds with James Bond. We’ve got the supernatural, superpower element of good vs. evil and the international men [and women] of mystery who are licensed to kill. There’s plenty of fast paced action mixed in with the underlying mystery of nightmares of foresight, disembodied screeching and in true Bond fashion, a cast of characters whom MacLean has no problem exterminating and replacing with new blood.

Overall, I give this a two thumbs up for it’s great pacing, plotting, and story beats which carry the reader swiftly through the book. I believe the young adult readers will enjoy this, but fair warning, this is definitely geared for the female readers who love action and not so much sappy, wimpy high school love stories.

Wanted & Wired by Vivien Jackson

Publish Date April 4, 2017
Pricing – Paperback $7.99, e-book $7.49

First, I must scream CONGRATULATIONS to Vivien Jackson for her first published book! I’ve known Vivien via my local RWA chapter and critique group where, yes I’m thrilled for her and have gushed over her work for apox. 2 yrs. She’s not only a fantastic person, but a fabulous wordsmith. Vivien let me know it’s okay to say her book ‘sucks’ if it does, but I’m letting you know- I’m one to tell it how it is–no holding back; her book does NOT suck.

With this first book, Wanted & Wired, from the series Tether, I can honestly say if it hadn’t been for a bad case of the flu, I would have lost several hours of sleep for wanting to keep turning the page; to see where this journey was to take me. For those wanting to know up front, this book, for me, is Terminator meets Borg in a nut shell.

The reader is first introduced to Mari, a bad-ass, gun-for-hire gal from Texas whose reality bites [big-time]. She’s brash, highly sexual and thinks on her feet when the gauntlet is thrown down. The bad, she’s insecure and it shows up a little more than I would have liked from chapters 7-14 in mental re-hashes, but I also understand this is the time where a reader needs to see those insecurities in order to see Mari to grow emotionally; so she can move on/forward when the time comes.

The hero, Heron, is where the ‘borg’ come in. He’s a post-human who guides Mari through assignments, has her back and more than a few surprises up his tech-sleeve. If you’re looking for a new book-boyfriend and are willing to be open to the idea of someone whose unique- in a OMG fabulous way- like super-geek meets super-hero, Heron’s your man. Each time a scene came up with Heron ‘taking on the world’ to protect Mari I swear my mental synapses and heart beats skipped. I wasn’t even 11% into the book and I literally wrote “I want to know more about him; I want to keep turning the page to know more.” I think you will too.

Wanted & Wired sub-characters are just this side of fuzzy like a blanket- you just want to surround yourself with a crew like this one; Chloe, a light-emitting, non-human species that doesn’t have rights; Kellen, a not so good nature Cowboy with a heart of gold; The Queen, to which I’m not giving this one away and neither is Ms. Jackson as I would assume more information will be coming about her in one of the other two books. Let’s just say *spoilers* are there for a reason. The bad guys so far are indifferent fathers, old boyfriends and the general godfatheresque thugs who want to take you out.

Ms. Jackson’s writing is a dream. A hypnotizing, time-stealing art which kidnaps your imagination, holds it hostage and you don’t even realize it or care as pleasure neurons are being fed something unique that you want to gorge on.

Pre-orders are available and something I would recommend as the Tether series may need to be renamed to something like Magnetic Pull of Mind Gravity once you’ve read it.

It Happened in Scotland, Patience Griffin


Pub Date 03 Jan 2017
Price $7.99

Ahhh, this series is my own little vacation to a land I love, even if the land in this series is a fictional Scottish fishing village where the men are braw, kilt-wearing, and have full respect for women.

In this latest book, the reader finds the heroine, Rachel, in a [sort of] love triangle; dealing with the the loss of her husband while attempting to reunite with his townsfolk, old feelings stir for another she met once upon a time. Brodie, the hero, has his own emotional ghosts to deal with and according to the townsfolk–okay Deydie, he’s not fairing well at this task. Meanwhile, a thief may be roaming this secluded town as things start to disappear while matters of the heart are being found.

While the story is enjoyable and a quick read, I found one character a bit too annoying, Rachel’s five year old child. Maybe it’s me, but I’ve never known a five year old to be ‘that’ wise beyond her age; ‘that’ understanding about new men in her mom’s life, ‘that’ happy-go-lucky all the time. I personally felt this character could have used a little more depth of character American five year old’s typically exhibit, which may have made the story a bit more livelier between the H/H. You’ll have to judge for yourself though as this is an overall pleasant next episode for the Kilts and Quilts Novel and a wonderful journey back to Gandiegow. If you’re wanting Christmas to continue a little bit longer, you’ll love It Happened in Scotland as it takes place during the holiday season, making this one more present for you!  Happy reading.

Death Comes To The Fair, Catherine Lloyd


Pub Date 29 Nov 2016
Hardcover $19.99, E-book $11.99

As the forth book in the series, Death Comes To The Fair brings the reader to the next step in the journey of Miss Harrington and Sir Major Kurland. For those of you who have not read this delightful series, the journey started as Miss Harrington, the rector’s daughter, aiding Major Kurland in his recovery from a serious war injury, thus their roles expanding in degrees leading to proposal of marriage, where Death Comes To The Fair brings us current.

Something I applaud in Ms. Llyod’s series is the passage of time. A reader doesn’t jump from unknown time to unknown time; each book takes up where the last left off [within reason].The smooth transition is easy for the reader as well as [I assume] easy for the writer without having to re-hash what’s happened if their had been any longer expanses of time. Should a reader wish to read one book vs. the whole series, which would be a shame, they can do so as Ms. Lloyd has crafted each book to stand alone.

Now, this being said, time to fess up what I think of this latest book- I’m still in ‘like’ with the series, but for some reason this one falls a little flat somewhere in character’s relationship. Book 4 begins with our character’s readying for their wedding, which is interrupted by -gasp- a murder which places a slight hold on their impending wedding. Where I feel the relationship falls flat is Major Kurland’s flirting and amour toward Miss Harrington falls by the wayside compared to prior books. Yes, I know this isn’t a romance, but there’s been that swoon worthy charm of Major Kurland since book two and I expected it to continue, especially since the word ‘bed’ is mentioned quite frequently in this book. Then there is Miss Harrington’s misgivings about the marriage and her freedom to contend with. I would have thought by now that stubborn streak of hers would have abated since her dreams of having her own home and family are being realized.

Okay, enough of the relationship rant. As for the actual murder mystery, it was well done Ms. Lloyd! You’ve led me a merry chase through hill and dale and made sure this time not to have the killer figured out by chapter 5. The story and sleuthing was enjoyable and had me thinking and guessing almost to the end. For those who are not mystery buffs, you’ll be taken to the very end of the book waiting for the murder’s reveal as well as the HEA for the pair. As with any murder mystery, there are thrills, chills and even life threatening events. I was thinking this would have made a great release for Halloween, but alas the holiday season it is for readers.

Overall, I give this a thumb’s up for enjoyment and escapism for the average reader as once again, this is not a hard core mystery but one that is meant for enjoyment.