Punya Reviews...

An avid reader of Romance novels and her reviews...

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year everyone! :)

 

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A Tough Man's Woman

A Tough Man's Woman (A Wild Hearts Romance) - Deborah Camp

My reviews are honest & they contain spoilers. For more, follow me:


A Tough Man’s Woman is the book 3 and presumably the last installment of Deborah Camp’s Tough Man/Too Tough series. I already talked about my disappointments with this series in the previous 2 books. Unfortunately this one wasn’t any better. Even with 2 quite likable main characters this might be my least favorite of the series. :(

I’d begin again by suggesting Deborah Camp’s recent western historical romance releases such as Lonestar’s Lady and Solitary Horseman. I became her fan reading those 2 books. I can vouch for her great writing style and her knack for storytelling. However this series in particular was publish in the mid-90s and there were work to be done where characters were concerned. Books 1 and 2 were okay reads. I liked reading both but there were issues in both that bothered me.

Book 1, Too Tough to Tame was the story of a small town doctor’s assistance and a Native American warrior. The heroine, Tess meets Storm in His Eyes under a very uncommon circumstance, where she was kidnapped then was forced to take care of the bullet wounds on him. With the demeaning way white folks viewed and treated Indian people, maybe that’s why Storm’s cousin thought this is how he could get some help for him. But apparently Tess didn’t have the same kind of hatred for the Indians so after the initial shock, she was happy to be taking care of the ‘manly’ Storm In His Eyes. Tess’s blonde beauty and Storm’s aforementioned ‘manly attributes’ playing a vital role, their romance (or ‘lust at first sight’ as I called it) takes off. It wasn’t an easy road to travel but they finally find their HEA after many ups and downs, revenge and a few murders.

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To Steal a Viking Bride

To Steal a Viking Bride (Norse Series Book 2.5)  - Gina Conkle

A very short story originally meant for the author's newsletter subscribers, though now it's published on amazon w/KU. My copy was obtained via instafreebie when it was free.

I remember Gunner from the previous Norse series books, though not a whole lot if I'm honest. Even then I liked the story and wished it was a bit longer, maybe novella-length, giving a bit of the background on our H and the h's relationship. In any case, it can be read as a standalone.

I'm a big fan of Gina's Viking stories and still waiting for the next book in this series, though there's no release date of that yet. The blurb sounded very interesting to say the least.

A Montana Christmas Wedding

 A Montana Christmas Wedding (A Banished Saga Short Story) - Ramona Flightner

Frankly speaking, I’ve been loving these short snippets from the lives of our favorite characters of Banished Saga for the past 3/4 yrs. They’re like Christmas gifts from Ramona for her newsletter subscribers. As usual been eagerly awaiting this year’s short story and gobbled it up within half an hour!

A Montana Christmas Wedding is a very short story that’s practically based on the wedding of Colin and Araminta, who are two recurring—and important— characters of the Banished Saga series. Anyone who has read this series will recognize them right away. They’d also understand why it makes me so very happy as a reader of this series to see them finally together. As bonus, you get visits from many of our beloved characters as their wedding guests! But be warned that this story is NOT recommended as a standalone read because it contains spoilers that may shock you, to say the least. So if you haven't read the previous installment Abiding Love, please avoid reading this short story until you do.

I know Banished Saga is almost at an end and it makes me extremely sad just to think of it. I’ll miss them all. :(

For anyone interested in signing up for Ramona's newsletter, Click Here.

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To Love a Dark Lord

To Love a Dark Lord - Anne Stuart

My reviews are honest & they contain spoilers. For more, visit:


After meaning to read her books for better of part of this decade, I’m finally on a Anne Stuart roll! I’ve read more books by her this year than ever before!! LOL I can honestly say that there’s something addictive about her writing that makes you read on even if you think this maybe isn’t going to work for you in the end. To Love a Dark Lord was one of those books. I’m very VERY torn about this book as it left me with such ambivalent feelings that I don’t even know where to begin. But I’ll try my best...


To Love a Dark Lord is a standalone dark historical romance set in the Georgian period, more specifically 1775. The story is kind of thrust on your face the moment we find our heroine had just murdered her lecherous uncle, trying to save herself from being violated. Yep, Emma did just that and was promptly saved (her reputation) by our hero, James Killoran, an Earl, within the first few pages of the book. But that was only the beginning of the total mindf*ckery that was this book. Boy, I wish I knew what I was getting into!

After Emma is saved, we learn a bit more about her background from her monologues. That was after she went to thank Killoran for saving her and came away hurt because of his glib reply that practically screamed ‘Yeah whatever. Now shoo!’. Emma became orphan at an early age and been living with her uncle Horace and his daughter Miriam for the past 7/8 yrs since then. Horace was related to Emma by marriage, meaning he was her maternal aunt’s husband. Miriam is in her 40s, a rigid spinster who is also zealously religious and made Emma’s life hell for as long as she could remember. She’d basically lived the life of an unpaid servant, practically hidden away from the world. She couldn’t even go outside without a chaperone and full veil! All because Emma was tall, voluptuous and had a head full of red hair. To Cousin Miriam she was sin incarnate and needed to repent for her invisible sins at least a few times a day. Then there was Horace’s pursuit of her that Emma had to dodge every day. Miriam, of course, always blamed it on Emma’s ‘sinful’ looks and all that. *eyeroll* Emma was fed up and equally miserable but she could see no way out. She had money that she inherited from her father but both Horace and Miriam had their death grip on that and Emma knew she’d never be able to pry a single penny out of them unless she could find some help.

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Merry Christmas!

Wishing my booklikes buddies a Merry Christmas!

Hope ya'll having a lovely day!

 

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Tough Talk, Tender Kisses

Tough Talk, Tender Kisses (A Wild Hearts Romance) - Deborah Camp

My reviews are honest & they contain spoilers. For more, follow me:



Tough Talk, Tender Kisses is book 2 of Deborah Camp’s Too Tough/Tough Man series. I began this series with anticipation, however right now have to say I’m going down that slippery slope of disappointment. Even though I still like the author’s writing style and all that, the characters in this series are really trying my patience!

I’m a big fan of the author’s more recent western historical publications such as Solitary Horseman or Lonestar’s Lady. However this particular series was first published in the 90s and maybe, the storyline and the character kind of show the datedness (?). The first book, Too Tough to Tame was the story of a small town doctor’s assistance and a Native American warrior. The heroine, Tess meets Storm in His Eyes under a very uncommon circumstance, where she was kidnapped then was forced to take care of the bullet wounds on him. With the demeaning way white folks viewed and treated Indian people, maybe that’s why Storm’s cousin thought this is how he could get some help for him. But apparently Tess didn’t have the same kind of hatred for the Indians so after the initial shock, she was happy to be taking care of the ‘manly’ Storm In His Eyes. Tess’s blonde beauty and Storm’s aforementioned ‘manly attributes’ playing a vital role, their romance (or ‘lust at first sight’ as I called it) takes off. It wasn’t an easy road to travel but they finally find their HEA after many ups and downs, revenge and a few murders.

Book 2 isn’t directly connected to book 1 as it takes place several years afterwards. The H and h of Tough Talk, Tender Kisses weren’t ever introduced in there. In fact, they lived in a different state and were first introduced under a very different set of circumstance. Book 2 opens up with Adele Bishop, a restaurant manager in Whistle Stop, which was also built near a train station, waiting for her ‘mail order husband’ to arrive, much to the dismay (and amusement) of the townspeople. The daughter of a known do-gooder, who was also a very open minded woman, Adele had grown up with a mindset very different than the people she has to deal with everyday. Adele’s father died when she was but a child, and her mother just a few years ago, leaving her an orphan and quite alone in the world. Well, except for Sally, a girl she’d befriended in her teens when she was living in Kansas years ago with her aunt’s family while her mother was busy traveling for her own causes. Sally married Winston, the cousin who was more interested in Adele than her. But Adele knew she wasn’t interested in Winston. Not in the way she was interested in his friend, the wild soul called Reno Gold. Sally later followed her to Whistle Stop after Winston died.

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SPOILER ALERT!

His Duchess at Eventide

His Duchess at Eventide - Wendy LaCapra

My reviews are honest & they contain spoilers. For more, follow me:

 

His Duchess at Eventide is book 2 of Wendy LaCapra’s the Mythic Dukes series. I’ve been a fan of this series since it debuted last year and have been eagerly waiting for the next installment. Alluding to the story of Odysseus and Penelope, along with author’s wonderful writing, this story was a treat to read from page one.

The Mythic Dukes is a brand new series by the author that doesn’t connect to her previous series titled the Furies. That was another wonderful series through which I discovered her work. Book 1 of the Mythic Dukes, Her Duke at Daybreak, introduces us to a trio of Dukes, childhood friends—The Dukes of Ashbey, Cheverley and Hurtheven. Ashbey was our typical angsty duke who was tortured by his past and a so-called curse that’s said to have tainted his ancestral name and anything else they’ve called their own for many generations. Ashbey’s own life had been mired with tragedies and bad luck, to a point he’d given up hope for a life of happiness. He’s become so cynical, so dead inside that he never thought anyone could ever revive the empty space where his heart’s supposed to be. Then, enter Alicia our heroine.

Called as the Angelic Widow by Ashbey the moment he clapped his eyes on her, Alicia had known her own hardship with a cheating husband who publicly dumped her over his mistress. She’d been hurt all throughout her miserable marriage so Alicia never truly thought she’d ever be happy. But I think over the years since her husband had left her, she’d come to terms with the fact that he’d never return to her. To Alicia his death, though sad, had been more of a good riddance. Yet, because he was a famous figure Alicia was still the talk of the town. All negative talk, and through no fault of her own. Because they hero-worshipped her husband, she was the evil woman who didn’t die in time for him to marry the ‘love of his life’. Absolutely disgusting to think they’d treat her this way! Alicia couldn’t go out without veiling herself. Yet somehow, Ashbey or Ash who’d heard of Alicia from Cheverley, and wanted to meet her, identifies her among the crowd of people gathered to mourn their so-called hero. There amongst the crowd, they shared a moment that pretty much sealed their fate. I loved the book and Ash and Alicia’s coming together. A proper widow and a Duke who thinks he’s the very devil, and a cursed ancestry to go with it. ;) It was full of love, yearning and so much hope that I was grinning ear-to-ear when I finished it.

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SPOILER ALERT!

Once Upon a Christmas Eve

Once Upon a Christmas Eve - Elizabeth Hoyt

My reviews are honest & they contain spoilers. For more, follow me:


Once Upon a Christmas Eve is the last novella in Elizabeth Hoyt’s fantastic historical romance series, Maiden Lane. This series has officially ended in 2017 after 12 full-length novels under its belt. It also got some novellas of secondary characters thrown in between. I’ve been with this series since 2011—which originally started publishing from 2010—and have been following the publication of every book ever since. If you’ve followed or read any of my reviews of Maiden Lane, you’ll know this is one of my favorite series by one of my most favorite HR authors and it hurts to know that a series that has been a part of my life for so long, has finally come to an end. Which I suppose probably was for the best because the series had veered away from the original storyline in the recent years.

Once Upon a Christmas Eve is the story of 2 individuals who were introduced in the series quite far back and frankly speaking, I wasn’t really expecting their stories, even in a novella format. Mostly because they were minor characters and I don’t really remember much about them. They are Viscount D’Arque and Lady Sarah St. John. Sarah is the half-sister of Godric St. John, hero of book 5 Lord of Darkness published in 2013. Though I remember the storyline and our H and h, I don’t remember Sarah AT ALL and D’Arque very vaguely.

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Jubilant Montana Christmas

Jubilant Montana Christmas - Ramona Flightner

My reviews are honest & they contain spoilers. For more, visit:


Jubilant Montana Christmas by Ramona Flightner is a novella and the newest installment in her Bear Grass Springs series. Even though I’m a big fan of Ramona’s writing, I found myself with very mixed feeling about this series in particular. However, Karl and Leena’s story, which I didn’t really anticipate all that much seeing they were minor characters in the previous books, turned out to be a lovely read.

Ramona’s Banished Saga was/is absolutely marvelous and I always recommend that series. It’s more of a family saga spanning generations, rather than your typical story and HEA for one couple per installment. Bear Grass Springs falls under the latter category, though it’s beginning to stand out on its own. Ramona writes clean romances so if you love clean romances with sweet stories set in late 19th or early 20th century Montana (and Boston), then her books are for you!

Bear Grass Springs began with the stories of the MacKinnon brothers Cailean, Alistair and Ewan, in the first 3 installments respectively titled Montana Untamed, Montana Grit and Montana Maverick. They also have a younger sister called Sorcha. They’re from Scotland, but have settled in the Bear Grass Springs Montana in search of a better life. Cailean and Alistair own the only livery in town, which they’ve managed to make a successful business out of. Ewan is a carpenter and his business is thriving as well. The brothers were much sought after bachelors until they settled down with the love of their lives, Cailean with the town baker Annabelle, Alistair with Leticia who was a school teacher before she began helping Annabelle with her rapidly growing bakery business. Ewan finally found someone to love in Jessamine, a news reporter newly arrived in Bear Grass Springs; also the proprietor of the town’s only newspaper. The backgrounds of all 3 of heroines are told in their books. However my feelings for all 3 books were pretty ambivalent. The first two, the brothers were being obtuse and in turn, there were loads of misunderstanding and frustration that made me wanna kick their a$$. And for book 3, I didn’t like the heroine AT ALL.

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Uh...

— feeling confused

Trying to change my avatar but it won't change to the one I want to change it to. Tried in two browsers but not working. Won't change after I upload the new avatar, even after I save it.

What's up?

SPOILER ALERT!

Too Tough to Tame

Too Tough to Tame (A Wild Hearts Romance) - Deborah Camp

My reviews are honest & they contain spoilers. For more, visit:


I’ve become a fan of Deborah Camp’s writing since I read Solitary Horseman. She’s one of my go-to authors when I think of western historical and rightly so, cause her stories are generally engaging with hot heroes and adorable heroines. But this new series that I’ve recently started titled Tough Man/Too Tough, I have a very mixed feelings about book 1, Too Tough to Tame.

This series and it’s installments were first published in the mid 90s and it showed some of that dated scenario where things are sometimes rather over the top and you just have to come to terms with that it wasn’t written for the more contemporary readers. I’m not saying Too Tough to Tame is a typical bodice ripper. It’s not, because there are only a few murders and no rape at all (well nothing that actually happened in the story). Violence is very limited. In fact, the author’s writing is pretty good so it shows a consistency of her brilliance where her writing is concerned. But those over the top moments sometimes made things too cheesy for me. I don’t even know if it makes any sense but I laughed and eyerolled quite a bit at their gestures, banters and thought seesh how silly!.

But on the brighter side, I don’t remember about reading a hero with Native American heritage—not for quite a while at least—which was a breath of fresh air, a change of scenario for me.

Tess Summers lives in the town of False Hope, Montana which is rather closer to the Native American territory. The Blackfeet have always clashed with the local people for various reasons and the situation can be very tense at times. There were mention of other tribes but they seemed to be the prominent ones in this story. Maybe because our H is one of them. :) Now Tess is a spinster, though not without her own secret dreams and wishes. But in this backwater town, the type of men she daydreams about are hard to come by. She lives with his brother, John, who is the sole doctor of the town. She’s more like his helper; nurse and everything else that he might need when he’s working from patient to patient. He’s recently married but his wife is a showpiece rather than anyone practical, so Tess even had to work as their housemaid i.e., cooking, cleaning etc. Anything you can think of.

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Lord of Danger

Lord of Danger (Mills & Boon M&B) (Mills & Boon Special Releases) - Anne Stuart

My reviews are honest & they contain spoilers. For more, follow me:



Lord of Danger was another Anne Stuart book that intrigued me when I read the blurb. I dived into it not really reading too many reviews, but I had heard of it before being one of her classic HRs. My first attempt at her big backlist wasn’t very successful. Didn’t like that book much but I was enough ensnared into the magic of her writing that I wanted to read more. And man was I struck surprised by this one! Lord of Danger, simply put, just worked for me. So marvelously that... ah!

I’m a big fan of well-written medieval romances doesn’t matter whether the hero is a big, grumpy oaf in need of some loving or a straight bad boy who likes to hide away his heart of gold because he feels vulnerable to expose that part of him to the world. Our H, Simon of Navarre falls under the latter category. And though I’m not always fond of bad boy rakes, sometimes even I have to give in and admit defeat to his mastery. I can only say that I don’t blame Alys for falling for Simon.

Alys and her younger sister, Claire, had been living with nuns since they were young. Both born on the wrong side of the blanket so their only eldest half-brother, the legit heir to everything Richard the Fair, send them to the convent. Alys was barely a few yrs old when she was tore away from her ill and dying mother’s arms, never to see her again. I don’t really know much about Claire, only that her mother was either a prostitute or a tavern maid who abandoned her after she was born. Well, yep, their father was a piece of work who couldn’t keep it in his pants. Who knows how many of his bastards roamed all over England! Richard has duly, and may I say proudly(?), followed his father’s tradition in that regard. -_- Both Alys and Claire were much younger than him so when his father cocked up his toes, he banished them ASAP not wanting brats underfoot.

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Splendor

Splendor - Catherine Hart

Initial thought:

 

Good writing, but too silly characters (especially the h who went from a prudish spinster to a sexy siren the moment she met the H, her transformation was the most hilarious of all -_-) and situations made it difficult for me to take anything seriously in this book. In fact it started out quite intriguingly and I thought I'd found a new author I'll be checking out often. Unfortunately, it also went downhill soon. I only kept going to see how the author resolved a particular twist regarding the H. There was no big surprises there in the end either. Sigh.

 

Thought I won't do a full review. Then I decided to add a bit more... :-<

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The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo

The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo - Kerrigan Byrne

My reviews are honest & they contain spoilers. For more, visit:


The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is the 6th installment of Kerrigan Byrne’s dark and steamy Victorian Rebels series. Despite the ups and downs I’ve faced in this series, liking some installment more than the others, I’ve been a fan of it since book 1.

The Victorian Rebels series is based on a few Victorian-era bad boys getting their HEAs with women who bring them down to their knees, quite literally. They are a diverse bunch who’d do anything to survive and protect the ones they love. As mentioned in the intro of my review, I was sold on the idea since book 1that started it all. Kerrigan’s writing was pretty dark and she, throughout the story, took us to places I never thought I’d explore. I.e. book 2 where some really nauseating stuff that were happening, seeing the hero was an assassin. The description of it all weren’t always for the faint-hearted. Nevertheless, I found the stories thrilling and engaging.

In The Highwayman, Dorian Blackwell AKA Dougan McKenzie is introduced to us alongside his plight of life in a prison as a youngster. He’s one of the bastard sons of the cruel and lecherous Hamish MacKenzie, now-deceased Laird of MacKenzies. His darkness has seeped into every single one of his sons, doesn’t matter whether they’re legitimate or illegitimate. The only difference was Dougan/Dorian wanted to fight it for the love of his life, Farah. But, as he grew up seeing and experiencing stuff no youngster should, Dougan had already transformed into someone with a blackhole for a heart. He is called ‘The Black Heart of Ben More’; the reigning king of the underworld for a reason. It was a great beginning to this series that I absolutely enjoyed.

Book 2 and 3, The Hunter and The Highlander, kind of followed book 1. The Hunter is the story of Dorian’s best friend since prison, Christopher Argent, the aforementioned assassin. I really liked his story with a famous actress of that time. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy task to make a hero out of a ruthless killer but Kerrigan pulled it off quite masterfully. The Highlander veered more towards the McKenzie family. It’s the story of Liam McKenzie, the legitimate heir of the McKenzie kingdom, who is also Dorian’s half-brother. He didn’t even know Dorian existed until book 2, as their father was infamous for emptying his nastiness everywhere he went, never bothering with the repercussions. Liam also grew up in a disturbed household as we find from the beginning of the book. His life afterwards was what can only be called hell-ish. He was forced to marry the wrong person, a woman his younger half-brother, Gavin St. James, loved. He’s Hamish’s son from his second marriage. Later, Liam finds love in Mena, a woman haunted by her own past and hunted by a cruel husband. I loved that Liam and Dorian are now united, their wives being friends, because Farah already knew Mena before she escaped to the Highlands to save herself.

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Hidden Honor

Hidden Honor (Mira) - Anne Stuart

3.5 stars. After reading and LOVING Lord of Danger, I was looking for another medieval romance by Anne Stuart and came across Hidden Honor. But this one didn't give me the same feeling as Lord of Danger, nowhere near it TBH. So there'll be no full review for this one.

Peter, our H, is a monk who went to Crusade. He was a normal knight before that, but now atoning for his sins done during Crusade. And for that reason he'd taken vows for the strictest order of monks he could find. It intrigued me to know that the H was a monk cause I don't think I read another book where the hero was one. Now Peter, alongside a coterie of King's men disguised as monks, were accompanying a bastard prince to a monastery to be cleaned off of his latest sins. Peter was disguised as the Prince himself, while the Prince was masquerading as one of the monks. This Prince really was quite a piece of work. A cruel, sadistic POS, his history with Peter during Crusade comes to life later in the story, which also explained why there was so much enmity between them which was palpable even to someone like our h, Elizabeth.

At any case, I liked Peter and thought he was a hot monk. He actually was a very sexually active man, but since his return from the Crusade he'd been celibate. On that one regard, I agreed with Elizabeth. But for the most part I could never connect with her. She was quite young and impulsive. But what frustrated me most about her was that, though I didn't think she was horribly dimwitted or something, most of the times her confidence was utterly misguided. Misplaced even. Which did make me facepalm a few times. It led to some contrived misunderstandings between her and Peter that could've been avoided otherwise IMO. It might have to do with the fact that she grew up largely sheltered and had no idea of the horrors that lay on the outside world. Whatever is the case, I had a difficult time with her and I thought she wasn't a good match for Peter. He needed someone more matured, even worldly. Maybe even someone like Dame Joanna.


With Joanna, comes the part of the story that I actually loved. It was the secondary romance between Joanna, who was a courtesan and Peter's cousin Adrian, who was a knight. He was one of the men accompanying the Prince and they met while staying at one of the castles where Joanna was the mistress to one of the lords. I really wished the author wrote more pages on them rather then Elizabeth's shenanigans. I still don't know why exactly Peter was so attracted to her. :/ I don't want to sound harsh but it must've been that aforementioned celibacy. -_-

Overall, though I liked the story because it kept me hooked, it wasn't a favorite of mine by Anne Stuart. But I'll continue to check through her backlist for my next favorite. :)