Friday, July 31, 2015

The Highlander’s Choice by Callie Hutton

Publisher & Release Date: Entangled Publishing, July 14, 2015
Time and setting: May 1816, Scotland

Genre: Historical Regency Romance

Length: 195 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 4.25 Gold Crowns

Book Description:
The Scottish Highlands, 1815
Lady Sybil Lacey is every inch an English woman. She's horrified her best friend is wedding a barbarian Scot. For aren't Scots naught but brutish, whiskey-swilling lechers? So to find herself secretly attracted to the tall and devastatingly handsome Scottish laird of Bedlay Castle is quite disconcerting...
Liam MacBride is convinced that English ladies are silly sassenachs who think of nothing but social events and clothes. So why is he intensely drawn to Lady Sybil? All they do is quarrel...until loathing turns into undeniable lust.
A tempestuous, fiery romance between an English lady and a Scottish laird cannot end well.

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Vikki’s Musings
The Highlander’s Choice is not the first book I have read by Callie Hutton. I read A Baron’s Betrayal and enjoyed it a great deal. When I received a request from the publisher to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review, I agreed immediately. This is a lovely romance novel set in the beautiful highlands of Scotland.

When Lady Sybil Lacey accompanies her friend to Scotland for her wedding to a Scottish laird, the last thing she expects or wants is to be attracted to a barbaric Scots, but when she meets Liam, Laird MacBride, that is exactly what happens.

Will Sybil and Liam find a way to move beyond their prejudices and find true love, or will they let those issues drive them apart forever?

This story is a sweetly developing tale of two individuals with preconceived ideas based on what they grew up believing. Liam, Laird McBride thinks all Sassenach females act entitled and are not concerned over anything besides balls and parties with an endless line of servants waiting on them all the time. Lady Sybil believes all Scottish men are barbarians, drink huge quantities of whiskey and bed any woman they can find. Obviously, they are worlds apart in their thinking.

I liked Lady Sybil’s character quite a lot. She is loyal to her friend, loves her brother and sisters, and is in tune with nature and the beauty of Scotland. She is no young miss without a thought in her head besides attending parties and participating in idle gossip. She quickly shows Liam that she is no pampered miss. I liked her determination to remain calm and not react to what Liam’s mother tries to do. Even though she is a bit of a hoyden, she is quite feminine, a female after my own heart.

Liam makes a great hero. He is a man of honor and integrity. He is loyal to his friends and treats women with a great deal of respect, while still having a touch of a daring twist to his character. He is fairly uncomplicated and straight forward. When he makes up his mind to woo Sybil, he sets out to do that in a big way. He allows her to see the real Liam without any hidden agendas. This may sound like he is a bit boring, but he is not at all. It is a refreshing change for the hero to be a straight up kind of guy, so many of the heroes in romance novels are terrible rakes.

That is not to say, he is above taking his wooing as far as need be to win his lady. Ms. Hutton does a superb job of building sexual tension, and when Sybil and Liam do crawl between the sheets, sparks fly. While the love scenes are mildly explicit, they are deeply emotional, satisfying this reader’s romantic heart.

The Highlander’s Choice is a tale that bridges the gap between cultures. Still to this day, Scotland strains under the yolk of British rule. At the time of this story, there were still people alive in Scotland who had lived through the aftermath of Culloden. It’s no wonder some Scots like Liam’s mother, still hated the English. Ms. Hutton was able to handle this delicate issue with great expertize. I have high hopes that now that the Scottish people have voted to stay a part of Great Britain, there can be lasting acceptance and collaboration between England and Scotland and old wounds can be healed at last.

At one point in the story, I greatly feared the couple would not be able to bridge their differences, but thank goodness this is romance so they do manage to attain their “happily ever after.” I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful love story, and I cannot wait to read Sarah’s story. Happy reading!  

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Sword for His Lady by Mary Wine

Publisher & Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, July 7, 2015  

Time and setting: 1189, England

Genre: Historical Romance/Medieval Romance

Length: 350 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 3.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

He'd defend her keep...
After proving himself on the field of battle, Ramon de Segrave is appointed to the Council of Barons by Richard the Lionheart. But instead of taking his most formidable warrior on his latest Crusade, the king assigns Ramon an even more dangerous task-woo and win the Lady of Thistle Keep.
If only she'd yield her heart
Isabel of Camoys is a capable widow with no intention of surrendering her valuable estate. She's fought long and hard for her independence, and if the price is loneliness, then so be it. She will not yield...even if she does find the powerful knight's heated embrace impossible to ignore.
But when her land is threatened, Isabel reluctantly agrees to allow Ramon and his army to defend the keep-knowing that the price may very well be her heart.
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Vikki’s Musings

A Sword for His Lady is the first book I have read by Mary Wine. I received this novel from the publisher via Net-Galley in exchange for an honest review. There is no doubt Ms. Wine did her research for this story. Her descriptive writing brought this long ago time to life. I was sent back to that time where men were chivalrous and women were to be placed on a pedestal and admired at a distance. A lady was expected to obey her father, and then later when she married, her husband.

Ramon De Segrave is a trusted servant of the king, Richard the Lionheart. When Richard makes him a baron and gives him lands adjoining Thistle Keep and the Wales border, he accepts his new mission. Although the king wants him to marry Isabel of Camoys, he pushes back, and Richard does not command that he do so.

Isabel of Camoys is a widow and very content to remain one. Even though Ramon quickly proves he is a much better man than her late husband, she still fears giving up her freedom to another man no matter how kind and caring he seems.

Once Ramon meets Isabel, he is smitten and is determined to win his fair lady’s heart. Will his patience convince Isabel that he is not only a man to be trusted, but also the keeper of her heart?

The story started out well, and I immediately liked Ramon. He’s a brave warrior, a man loyal to his king and a champion of fair ladies. Everything I love and expect in a medieval hero. Unfortunately, I never felt I learned enough about him to fall in love with his character. I did like his gentle and caring treatment of Isabel, and he uses his intellect as well as his brawn to thwart the villain.

Isabel is fairly typical for a woman of her times. She received a bad deal from her first husband, so it’s no wonder she hesitates at first when she learns the king has sent Ramon to protect her lands and wants her to marry the man. However, once the villain comes around and even kidnaps her, she still hesitates after Ramon rescues her. That irritated me. Over all, I never warmed up to Isabel’s character.

As the story unfolded, I found myself flipping through sections that were a bit tedious to read. This book definitely has a sagging middle. However, the pace does pick up toward the end again. The plot seemed a bit superficial and the characters lacked any true depth. The villain’s character was actually quite one-dimensional, and his actions are completely predictable. There were no surprises and as I read, it was if I were watching from the sidelines.

Nonetheless, A Sword for His Lady is very well-written and gave me a great sense of time and place. This is a good book for anyone who enjoys a slowly developing love story, especially if you love the medieval period of history. Ms. Wine paints a realistic picture of Richard the Lionheart as a detached ruler only interested in the funds for his crusades, a man who rarely spent any time in England. I read some of the other reviews so there are plenty of other readers who loved this book, you may as well. Reading is subjective and what one person loves another may find just okay. That was the case for me. Happy reading! 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The MacKinnon’s Bride by Tanya Anne Crosby

Publisher & Release Date: Oliver-Heber Books, January 24, 2014
Time and setting: 1118, Scotland

Genre: Historical Medieval Romance

Length: 347 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 4.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description:
Descended of the powerful sons of MacAlpin, Iain MacKinnon refuses to bow to the English. But when his young son is captured, the fierce Scottish chieftain vows to stop at nothing to secure the lad's return. Retaliating in kind, he captures the daughter of his enemy, planning to bargain with the devil. 

FitzSimon's daughter has lived her entire life in the shadows of the man she called father—yet never would she have imagined he would deny his only daughter. Even as Page blames her captor for welching on a contract with her father, she suspects the truth... the shadows hold secrets. Now only the love of her reluctant champion can save the MacKinnon's Bride. 

This book begins the Highland Brides series.
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Vikki’s Musings
I am so glad I found this book on Amazon. I was also able to download the audio version for an excellent price. I had never heard of Ms. Crosby, but the book description sounded intriguing, so I decided to take advantage of the great offer. I always enjoy a good medieval romance and this is a fantastic one.
Page is abducted so she can be exchanged for the MacKinnon’s son. Her father has the boy and plans to turn him over to the English king. When Laird MacKinnon arrives at her father’s keep, the man could care less what happens to his daughter. Through cunning and wit, the laird out maneuvers the earl and manages to get his son back, but the man tells him that if his daughter returns, he will cut out her tongue.
There is no way Iain will allow that to happen, so he tells Page he is keeping her for revenge, leaving Page with the impression her father wanted her after all, even though he has treated her so poorly all her life that he never even gave her a proper name.   
Can Iain win his fair lady’s heart, or will his withholding the knowledge about Page’s father destroy any tender feelings she has for him?
Not only is there a beautiful romance between Page and Iain, there is a marvelous, action-packed plot that kept me engaged throughout the entire book. The suspenseful scenes are outstanding and even had my heart pounding. I was so enmeshed in this story, it felt as if I was Page and all her emotions were part of me. That is a great sign of an amazing storyteller.
Page is a marvelous character. Even though she has every reason to be cynical and negative, she is able to push all her hurts to the side and show a little boy tenderness and care, although she is in a frightening situation that would have the majority of women in hysterics. While Page is fierce and determined, she is still very feminine. I truly loved her character and wanted her to have her happy ending.
Iain, the MacKinnon is also a great character. He is fearless and a strong protector, plus he’s a Scottish warrior and a fierce leader, a man his clan can respect. Then add into the mix, he has the ability to love his son in an age where fathers did not actively raise their children. Even though love has not dealt him a winning hand in the past, he embraces his feeling for Page in a way that melted my heart.
The passion between Page and Iain sizzles from their first meeting. Ms. Crosby is great at building sexual tension. That is one of the reasons I love historical romance so much. While the love scenes are not explicit, they are sensual, and they are high with emotion.  While I normally enjoy more explicit love scenes, these are so well written I found them very satisfying.
The MacKinnon’s Bride is a fantastic tale of love, intrigue and suspense with an excellent medieval setting. There is a good amount of historical detail without bogging down the story. While this is the first book I have read by Ms. Crosby, it will not be the last. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loved the medieval period. Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Spotlight on A Time for Everything 

by Mysti Parker

Hello! Thanks for visiting today. I am excited about Mysti Parker's new release. I have started reading it and so far, it's intriguing. I will be posting my review later this week. In the meantime, here is an excerpt from this book. Also don't forget to enter the rafflecopter drawing below. Mysti is giving away an Amazon GC. 

Publisher & Release Date: esKape Press, July 7, 2015

Time and setting: 1866, Tennessee

Genre: Historical Romance

Length: 335 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 3.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

After losing her husband and only child to the ravages of the Civil War, twenty-five-year-old Portia McAllister is drowning in grief. When she sees an ad for a live-in tutor in another town, she leaves everything behind in hopes of making a fresh start. But as a Confederate widow in a Union household, she is met with resentment from her new charge and her employer, war veteran Beau Stanford. 

Despite their differences, she and Beau find common ground and the stirrings of a second chance at love—until his late wife’s cousin, Lydia, arrives with her sights set on him. Burdened with a farm on the brink of bankruptcy, Beau is tempted by Lydia’s hefty dowry, though Portia has captured his heart. 

In another time and another place, his choice would be easy. But love seems impossible amid the simmering chaos of Reconstruction that could boil over at any moment into an all-out battle for survival. Will Beau and Portia find their way into each other’s arms, or will they be swept away by raging forces beyond their control? 

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Vikki’s Musings

Let me say up front, I received this book from the publisher for an honest review. I have read many books written in this time period. A Time for Everything is very historically accurate, and I enjoyed that aspect of the book tremendously. The pacing is excellent, and kept my interest throughout. The book starts out well, but I did struggle with the many twists and turns of the plot as the story progresses. I am going to skip a synopsis since the book description gives the gist of the story extremely well.

I wasn’t sure I would like Portia’s character in the prologue. While her plight pulled at my heartstrings, she seemed to have given up, and wanted to succumb to her grief for her late husband and little daughter, but then she pulls herself up by her bootstraps and soldiers on. By the end of the book, I was rooting for her. I particularly liked her relationship with Jonny, the hero’s son. She is caring and patient with him and exactly what he needs to bring him out of his shell.

Jonny is a fantastic character, and I loved him from the very beginning. He is a sweet child who has had much to contend with in his young life, the loss of his mother and an indifferent father. For me, the relationship between him and Portia helped keep me engaged in the story. The scene where he has to put down his pony tore at my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I also enjoyed quite a few of the secondary characters as well.

There were many aspects of Beau Stanford’s character to admire. He is determined to save his horse farm, and he is loyal to his friend, even though Harry has major problems, and actually becomes one of the villains in the story. However, I have a problem with him giving into an attraction for the other woman, when he clearly has strong feelings for Portia. He shows more desire for Lydia, a woman—to put it bluntly—who is not a very nice person, than he ever shows for Portia.

A Time for Everything has Portia and Beau’s stories running parallel with the couple having some scenes together, but most of their feelings for each other come out during their introspection. They do not vocalize their love until very near the end. That kept me from fully seeing them as a couple desperately in love.

There are a great many sub-plots going on throughout this tale that definitely kept me reading. However, Ms. Parker struggled with keeping her villains truly evil. At the end, she almost tries to redeem them when neither one of them should have been redeemed in my opinion. I found this a bit too convoluted to be believable.  

Nonetheless, I did enjoy this book, even with these issues. It showed a vivid picture of the racial tension that existed during the reconstruction period after the Civil War, and did it remarkable well. I could have easily given 5 Gold Crowns for that part of the story. On the other hand, the romance was so lackluster I struggled to give it 3. The plot also was problematic and only deserves a 3 as well. I have read some of the other reviews and many reviewers have loved this book, so you may as well. Happy reading!


Brentwood, Tennessee — December 25, 1865
The angels are coming.
Portia lay on the frozen ground between her husband and daughter. Snow fluttered softly toward the earth in delicate flakes, each one melting on her face with a pleasant sting. She wouldn’t have to wait much longer.
The sunrise, hidden by snow-laden clouds, gradually lit the gray sky. With numb fingers, she traced her husband’s name, carved into the stoic slate. Jake McAllister, but let her hand drop to the ground before she touched that wretched date. December 16, 1864 — the day her whole world began to fall apart.
It had been a day as cold as this one when Jake returned. Portia had stood on their porch, holding Abigail, both of them wrapped in shawls and a quilt. Yet the cold had managed to seep inside, wrapping icy fingers around her heart. Her husband lay lifeless in the back of a wagon. His once-rosy face had turned ashen. Blood caked his Confederate jacket. His hands, large and strong, yet once so gentle, were posed across his belly. His fingers were stiff and claw-like, wrapped around a phantom gun. He did not look like Jake. It had to have been a mannequin with a wig the same dusty red shade of his hair.
“That’s not him, she’d repeated to the men who’d so methodically carried him into the house. Jake would pop out from somewhere, still the jokester he had always been, and she would slap him for playing such a cruel prank. Then she would laugh with him and hold him tight because he had finally returned to her and Abby.
 But the longer her eyes absorbed the wretched sight, the more evidence she had discovered. Little freckles and scars she knew so well. The pea-sized patch on his jaw where his beard never grew. The missing end of his middle finger, taken by a vicious dog when they were children.
It wasn’t a joke. Jake was dead.

Author Bio:

***My mantra: I believe authors and readers alike should be treated with respect. I highly admire and appreciate those who are genuinely interested in reading my work, even if it's not their cup of tea. I have never, nor will ever, criticize an actual reviewer for a negative review. I have never, nor will ever, rate a book I haven't read. I do not appreciate those who use ratings/reviews as a means of spite and disrespect. I am saddened by those who feel differently.***

Mysti Parker is a wife, mother, and shameless chocoholic. While her first love is romance, including five published books and an award-winning historical, she enjoys writing flash fiction (the weirder the better) and children's stories. When she's not writing, Mysti works as a freelance editor, serves as a mentor in a 7-week writing course (F2K) and reviews books for SQ Mag, an online speculative fiction magazine. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband, three children and too many pets.

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Guardian of Darkness by Kathryn Le Veque

Publisher & Release Date: Dragonblade Publishing, January 4, 2014  

Time and setting: 1200, England

Genre: Historical Romance/Medieval Romance

Length: 374 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 5 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

1200 A.D. - After decades of warring between the Lairds of Kerr and Prudhoe Castle in Northumbria, a tentative peace is reached. The Lady Carington Kerr is sent to Prudhoe as a hostage to ensure her father’s good behavior, and a more reluctant hostage there never was. 

Small and dark, with emerald eyes and a luscious figure, she is as gorgeous as she is fiery. Enter Sir Creed de Reyne; a gentle giant of a man, he is, by nature, calm and wise. He is the ice to Carington’s fire. As Carington resists the attempts to keep her in her English prison, Creed is placed in charge of the captive as both jailer and protector. 

But Creed is also as reluctant a protector as she is a hostage; six months prior, he had been given the important assignment of escorting Isabella of Angoulệme from France to England as the bride of King John. Isabella, a woman-child of twelve years, was smitten with Creed from the start. When he spurned her advances, she fabricated a story of Creed’s indiscretions against her and brought the king’s wrath upon him. Creed fled to Prudhoe and straight into another assignment guarding a firebrand of a young woman. 

Creed soon discovers that Carington is far different from the petty child who would become queen and against both his judgment and his wishes, he falls for the Scots lass. Suffering through tragedy and triumph, Creed and Carington have a love that only strengthens with each passing moment. Even when Creed is forced to flee for his life and leave Carington behind, their only thoughts are of being together again. 

With Isabella and King John closing in, Creed and Carington must fight for their very survival as two countries and a kingdom seek to separate them.

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Vikki’s Musings

A friend of mine has a blog, Booktalk with Eileen, and she does quite a few audio book reviews. She has done several of Ms. LeVeque’s books, and since I love a good medieval, I decided to find one to read/listen to. I found Guardian of Darkness on a free promo through Amazon and was able to add the audio for a great price. I am so glad I read this book. This is a fantastic medieval romance! Since this book has a detailed book description, I will not do a synopsis. It would be redundant.

Ms. LeVeque writes beautifully with a great deal of emotion. In fact, I did not just tear up a few time, I had tears rolling down my face. When Carington’s horse had to be put down, I became very emotional. It is a very moving scene. There are other scenes that also moved me greatly.

Even though, Ms. LeVeque tells much of the story in omniscient point of view, I was still able to connect with Carington and Creed. Normally, I feel as if I am sitting on the sidelines watching when omniscient POV is used, but that was not the case with this book. I was pulled into the story from the first page and remained so until the end.

Guardian of Darkness is an excellent example where external conflict enhances the story. While there is some internal conflict, the external ruled this story, bringing the hero and heroine closer as they try to overcome their many trials.

I loved the romance between Carington and Creed and found it believable even though they do fall in love incredibly fast. Since my parents experienced love at first sight and it lasted throughout their marriage, I do believe in it, which helped greatly. What I liked about this story is that it spans over months, allowing me to see their love continue to grow and flourish. I absolutely loved the epilogue since it gives a look at them after many years have passed. I found it vastly satisfying.

I also listened to the audio version performed by Brad Wills. I thoroughly enjoyed his narration. Ms. Wills does a fantastic job distinguishing the many voices, especially the children. That is a huge feat for a male. Now at times, he did speak a bit fast making it difficult to understand every word, but not enough to take away from my listening pleasure. I will be looking for other recordings by Mr. Wills.

Guardian of Darkness is a riveting tale filled with an emotionally-charged love story and plenty of suspense. That is a winning combination for me. I highly recommend this incredible book to all who enjoy medieval romance. I am confident that you will enjoy it as much as I did. Happy reading!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Snow in July by Kim Iverson Headlee

Thank you for visiting my blog today. To celebrate the release of Snow in July, Kim Iverson Headlee is holding a Rafflecopter drawing for a $25 Amazon/B&N GC during her tour so make sure you follow the link below to enter.

Publisher & Release Date: Pendragon Cove Press, June 20, 2015  

Time and setting: 1066, England

Genre: Historical Romance/Medieval Romance/Paranormal Romance

Length: 388 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 4 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre has been granted what every man wants: a rich English estate in exchange for his valiant service at the Battle of Hastings. To claim this reward, the Norman knight must wed the estate's Saxon heiress. Most men would leap at such an opportunity, but for Alain, who broke his vow to his dying mother by failing to protect his youngest brother in battle, it means facing more easily broken vows. But when rumors of rampant thievery, dangerous beasts, and sorcery plaguing a neighboring estate reach his ears, nothing will make him shirk duty to king and country when people's lives stand at risk. He assumes the guise of a squire to scout the land, its problems, and its lady. 

Lady Kendra of Edgarburh has been granted what no woman wants: a forced marriage to an enemy who may be kith or kin to the man who murdered her beloved brother. Compounding her anguish is her failure to awaken the miraculous healing gift bequeathed by their late mother in time to save his life. Although with his dying breath, he made her promise to seek happiness above all, Kendra vows that she shall find neither comfort nor love in the arms of a Norman…unless it snows in July. 

Alain is smitten by Lady Kendra from the first moment of their meeting; Kendra feels the forbidden allure of the handsome and courtly Norman "squire." But a growing evil overshadows everyone, invoking dark forces and ensnaring Kendra in a plot to overthrow the king Alain is oath-bound to serve. Kendra and Alain face a battle unlike any other as their honor, their love, their lives, and even their very souls lie in the balance.

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While the title, Snow in July, did not entice me, the book description did, so I decided to give this a read. I love a novel set in the medieval period, especially ones involving the Battle of Hastings. I became immediately engaged since the book’s opening scene is in the midst of that battle. I love it when a book drops me in the middle of action right away.

Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre is a troubled man. While he wants to serve his king, he does not feel he is worthy of the honor bestowed upon him. He broke his vow to his mother to protect his younger brother, who fell during the Battle of Hastings. He has decided to return to his home rather than accept the riches and the fair lady. However, when he is called upon to settle unrest in the area where the estate is located, loyalty wins out. He goes there disguised as a squire to avoid the betrothal.

Lady Kendra of Edgarburh made a vow at her brother’s deathbed to never marry anyone who carries the blood of his murderer, but also promises Del she will seek happiness. Distraught over her inability to use the healing powers she should have inherited from her mother, she is riddled with guilt. She mourns for her brother and visits his resting place each day, placing a rose on his image.

When Kendra is abducted, Alain rushes to save her, but when he reveals who he is, will his deceit doom his love for the Lady Kendra forever?

I thoroughly enjoyed the romance between Kendra and Alain, and I rooted for their happy ending throughout the book. For the majority of the story, the pacing is excellent, keeping my attention until the last part of the tale.

I loved Lady Kendra’s character from her first scene. Her love and concern for her brother brought me to tears. She is exactly the perfect heroine for a medieval romance. She remains true to her vows and her honor, while still maintaining a gentle demeanor.  

Alain’s character is a hero after my heart. He’s a warrior with all the chivalrous honor I expect in a medieval novel set in this intriguing period.  He’s also fierce in his loyalty to his king, determined to succeed on his mission. While he initially does not want to marry the Lady Kendra, he will obey William the Conqueror, knowing the king’s plan is a good one and will unite England.

Snow in July was a solid 5 Gold Crowns until the last part of the book. I struggled with the paranormal thread, finding it a bit too far-fetched. I think this story could have been accomplished without that angle. I also feel the book should have ended well before it did. While I love having all the loose ends tied up, this one took too much time accomplishing it, causing the last couple of chapters to drag.    

Nonetheless, Snow in July is a well-written story with plenty of action and a tender romance. Ms. Headlee definitely gave me a wonderful glimpse at this amazing time in history. Her descriptions of the attire, the dwellings and daily life activities gave an authentic setting for this beautiful love story. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good medieval romance, you will not be disappointed. Happy reading!


A young woman was standing on the staircase’s top landing as Alain approached. No, he amended, feeling his eyes widen and his blood heat, a goddess. The suggestive clinging of her grayish-blue gown made him forget his blasphemous lapse.

He shifted from foot to foot to mask his reaction. Her ashblonde curls, creamy complexion, and alluring curves conquered his fear of failure. As his heart thrummed its praises of her beauty, he vowed to protect this lady unto the ends of the earth.

But he tempered his lauds with a petition for wisdom, for he needed to ascertain her heart. Experience had taught him the folly of loving a beautiful but title-hungry woman like Marie.

Yet sorrow enveloped this lady like a shroud. The slope of her delicately boned shoulders, the tilt of her petite chin, the hooded reserve of her slate-blue eyes, the slight pout of her full lips all sang the same dirge.

Blessed Virgin, could I be the cause of her misery? Please, let it not be so!

He wanted nothing more than to gather her into his arms and kiss those lips until their song transformed from sorrow to joy.

Their gazes met. Her look, a cross between appreciation and reprimand, made him remember his “station,” and he looked down.

Author Bio:

Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, Great Pyrenees goat guards, and assorted wildlife. People and creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins—the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-twentieth century—seem to be sticking around for a while yet.

Kim is a Seattle native (when she used to live in the Metro DC area, she loved telling people she was from "the other Washington") and a direct descendent of twentieth-century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim's novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband's ancestor, the seventh-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.

For the time being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creating her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon's Dove Chronicles, and other novels under her new imprint, Pendragon Cove Press.


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