Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review: The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne

The Highwayman 
by Kerrigan Byrne
Series:  Victorian Rebels #1
Pub. Date:  Sept. 1, 2015
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Pages:  384
Format:  eBook
Source:  Amazon


My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:


They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster…


STEALING BEAUTY
Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, is a ruthless villain. Scarred and hard-hearted, Dorian is one of London’s wealthiest, most influential men who will stop at nothing to wreak vengeance on those who’ve wronged him…and will fight to the death to seize what he wants. The lovely, still innocent widow Farah Leigh Mackenzie is no exception—and soon Dorian whisks the beautiful lass away to his sanctuary in the wild Highlands…

COURTING DESIRE
But Farah is no one’s puppet. She possesses a powerful secret—one that threatens her very life. When being held captive by Dorian proves to be the only way to keep Farah safe from those who would see her dead, Dorian makes Farah a scandalous proposition: marry him for protection in exchange for using her secret to help him exact revenge on his enemies. But what the Blackheart of Ben More never could have imagined is that Farah has terms of her own, igniting a tempestuous desire that consumes them both. Could it be that the woman he captured is the only one who can touch the black heart he’d long thought dead?  



Ah. This book. It is most definitely going to be one of my top books of 2016. I am having trouble putting into words just how much I loved this book. It's the best historical that I have read in a long time... even more so than my 5 star reads from 2015.

In my experience, Victorian-era romances are full of adventuresome heroines who still carry a little of the marriage obsession typical of the Regency-era romances. In other words, they are usually light reads, good stories, but nothing too serious. This book is nothing like that, it is wholly unique. The Highwayman is a deeply emotional, complex and moving read that will grab hold of your heart from the first chapter. While the story has a darker tone, you are reading with an eye to the light at the end of the tunnel.

We first meet a little boy known as Dougan the Demon ensconced at a Highland orphanage, where he meets precocious young girl named Farah Leigh. Dougan's Fairy is the first person to give him a kind touch, not meant to cause pain.

“Of course I’ll love you, Dougan Mackenzie,” she said easily. “Who else is going to?”

“Nobody,” he said earnestly.
I fell in love with these two kids and wanted to wrap them up tight and show them all the love and caring they deserved. Unfortunately the cruel hands of fate intervene to tear the pair apart, and we don't learn what happened for 17 long years.

Dorian Blackwell, the Black Heart of Benmore, the most infamous criminal mastermind in recent history, has been in search of Dougan's Fairy for ten years. When he finally finds her working at Scotland Yard, he sets out to fulfill his vow to always keep Farah safe. With a secret past of her own, one which threatens her life, Dorian and his band of misfits (who were all in Newgate Prison together) must go to extreme measures to see Farah safe. This hero - he really got to me. Kerrigan Byrne's character development is spot on, and I wish we saw more of these complex characters in historical romance. Dorian was such an intricate and conflicted character, a powerful damaged hero with a dark sensuality that you just want to smother with love.
In this quiet, unfettered moment, she knew him, truly saw him for what he was. Hard, ruthless, tyrant. Abused, wounded boy. An empty heart full of promise, and a soul of shadows in need of sunlight.
For all that Dorian is dark and damaged, Farah is the light leading him out of the dark.
"My sweet Fairy.” He exhaled on a painful breath. “You can’t imagine darkness. You are the only light I’ve ever known.”
Despite her secret past, the loss of Dougan, and her ensuing circumstances, Farah has survived and maintained her a warm, compassionate and caring nature. Everyone that knows Farah seems to love her, but that is because she treats everyone with solicitude whether they are cops, bohemians or prostitutes. The prison crew cannot believe their eyes when they finally see Dougan's ethereal Fairy with moonlight ringlets and silver eyes, whom they had started to believe was the romantic imaginings of a young troubled boy. They all want Fairy in their life and will go to great lengths to protect her. Farah, in turn, wanted to hang tight to this little bit of Dougan she has found after all these years.
Love is quite like reading, I expect. Once you know how, you can't ever imagine not doing it.
Dorian and Farah strike a tenuous bargain which turns into a deep and moving relationship. The couple faces many trials and tribulations along the way to their Happily Ever After, but I was so glad to travel the path with them. From Farah's innocence to Dorian's inability to bear touch, I was surprised at the level of intimacy and sexual tension that Byrne created. She really kept me on the edge, holding my breath and biting my lip waiting to see what the next touch would bring. But beyond the bedroom, I was swept up in the tidal wave of emotion that this relationship evoked. This couple is going into my favorites pile along with Jamie and Claire, and Nathaniel and Elizabeth.

This is my first read from Kerrigan Byrne, and now I want to go out and gorge myself on all her other books. In this book, she mastered the show vs. tell, and I was captivated by the story from the very beginning all the way to the end. I cannot wait for the rest of the books in the series, though I know I will be hard-pressed to love another hero as much as Dorian.

View all my reviews

Victorian Rebels


Stackin' the Shelves #18

Hiya Bambinas!
Welcome back to Stackin' the Shelves, the weekly feature where I showcase all the books I have accepted for review, one-clicked, won or borrowed from the library. Have you read any of these, or do you plan to? 




Saturday, January 30, 2016

Series Saturday Audiobook Review: The Master by Kresley Cole


The Master
by Kresley Cole
Series:  The Game Maker #2
Pub. Date:  Feb. 17, 2015
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Audio
Narrator:  Kimberly Alexis
Length:  11 hrs 14 min
Format:  Audiobook
Source:  Audible


My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:


A need colder than Siberian winter meets an attitude hotter than the Florida sun in #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole’s sultry new Game Maker novel.

Everyone fears the Master...

Rich, irresistible politician/Mafya boss Maksimilian Sevastyan prefers tall, obedient blondes to fulfill his... complicated desires. That is, until the icy Russian encounters a disobedient brunette whose exquisite little body threatens his legendary restraint.

Except her.

Catarina MarĂ­n was a well-off young wife until her world fell apart. Now she’s hiding out, forced to start working as an escort in Miami. Her very first client is beyond gorgeous, but when he tells her what he plans to do to her, Cat almost walks out of the door.

If pleasure is a game, play to win.

After their mind-blowing encounter burns out of control, the lovers crave more. If they escape the deadly threats surrounding them, can Maksim overcome his past—to offer Cat his future? Only then will she tempt him with what he really wants: her, all tied up with a bow.

I have been meaning to continue w/ this series for quite some time as I absolutely loved The Professional and Aleksei. It's been so long that I didn't remember quite how steamy the first book was!

Cat Marin is on the run from her con man husband, Edward. Hiding out in Miami and cleaning houses for money, she is convinced to give the escort business a try when her friend Ivana has a bad reaction to botox and needs a stand in. This brings Cat to the penthouse of The Master.

Maksimilian Sevastyan is a billionaire politician bratva boss. He is also a hobbyist - a hobby which includes ordering up thin/blonde/Russian escorts for some impersonal BDSM play. When he ordered Ivana, he definitely was not expecting a 5'2 curvy Cuban mamasita.

At this point, the story pretty much devolves into sex over substance and remains that way for about 2/3 of the book. The plot conflicts during this part were mainly spats between Maksim and Cat... though some of the arguments and behavior did elicit some chuckles from me. Arguments aside, this part of the book was very VERY H.O.T.

Then the last part of the book speeds back up with the suspense involving Cat's husband. This part of the action and suspense was excellent and kept me listening quite late in the night. I was quite emotionally invested in Cat's character... which surprised me because I usually don't care for escorts as heroines.

I give the audio performance 3 stars. The accents were off for me at times, particularly during intimate scenes when Cat's voice devolved into a caricature of a high-pitched hispanic timbre. I think this book would have been performed better with dual narrators... particularly Iggy Toma, who does a wonderful Russian accent.

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The Game Maker


Friday, January 29, 2016

New Release: Reign by M.N. Forgy


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One bad biker. One gorgeous sheriff.
One intense biker romance.

REIGN IS NOW AVAILABLE

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1PW98BW


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Blurb

As the president of the Sin City Outlaw Motorcycle Club, l fuck as hard as I ride and rarely go to bed alone.
The women are fast and the violence is intense.
I excel in both.
People either respect me or fear me. I'm not arrogant. It’s just the truth.
I was a king, reigning over Vegas without complication, until one gorgeous sheriff made everything fall apart.
When I saw her, I became a Neanderthal, wanting nothing more than to be between those legs.
I guess that’s where I went wrong, because my reality was shot to hell real
fucking fast.
One kiss caused her to step over that blue line.
One night in her bed made me a traitor.
And now… we’re both screwed.

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Excerpt

“Really? You got me donuts?” I arch a brow, dropping the lid.
He turns, a mischievous smile fitting his face.
“Don’t all cops like donuts?” he jeers. I roll my eyes, placing my hand on my hip.
“That’s so stereotypical,” I huff.
“Oh, really?” he replies, grabbing the box off the table, a smug smile still on his face.
“I’ll get rid of them then.”
“No, wait!” I nearly trip over my feet trying to grab the box of donuts. He holds them higher than me and smiles so big I think I see two dimples. Really, he’s pulling the notorious bully move holding them just above my reach? Why am I attracted to him again?
“I thought you didn’t like them,” he taunts.
“I do like them. A lot, actually.” I cross my arms, my cheeks flushing. My dad used to always take me to the local bakery to get donuts on the weekends. I would get whatever I wanted—usually anything with sprinkles—and we would drop the rest off at the department. What can I say, embrace your stereotypes.
“So, it’s true. Cops love donuts,” he states arrogantly, sitting the box back down.

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About the Author

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M.N. Forgy was raised in Missouri where she still lives with her family. She's a soccer mom by day and a saucy writer by night. M.N. Forgy started writing at a young age but never took it seriously until years later, as a stay-at-home mom, she opened her laptop and started writing again. As a role model for her children, she felt she couldn't live with the "what if" anymore and finally took a chance on her character's story. So, with her glass of wine in hand and a stray Barbie sharing her seat, she continues to create and please her fans.


Stalk Her:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway