Vellum Voyages

Romance novel addict, unapologetic book hoarder, dreamer & Scotland lover <3

The Legendary Lord by Valerie Bowman

The Legendary Lord - Valerie Bowman


2 helms

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This was a light, easy to read, Regency romance with a beta hero and a style of writing almost reminiscent of Julia Quinn. I haven't read the other novels in this series, and there were many characters that made reappearances. I did feel like I have missed out on some interesting stories reading this out of order, but it didn't detract from the current book. This is also the first novel I have read by Valerie Bowman.


Christian Bancroft, Viscount Berkley encounters Miss Sarah Highgate in his Scottish hunting lodge one winter evening. She has fled London to escape an unwanted betrothal and was fleeing to her father's hunting lodge but instead got lost and ended up at Christian's lodge. Christian being the noble gentleman, helps Sarah to find her way back to England without scandal in exchange for her help in making him more attractive on the marriage mart of the ton. In the few days they spend together at the lodge, they realise they are quite similar and what they are both seeking could be right under their noses!


I struggled to finish this and I really had to force myself to finish. I also skim read a lot of scenes (which I almost never do!). At the beginning, Christian and Sarah both sounded interesting: Christian a beta hero who has been friend zoned a lot and Sarah a society belle who likes to cook (I thought there would be more about her cooking as that would have been very different but sadly no). As the novel progressed, I found Christian and Sarah both highly annoying and just couldn't relate to them. I didn't feel the passion between them and to be honest, they were both just plain vanilla characters.


Valerie Bowman's voice is distinctively American rather than British and probably one of the other reasons I didn't enjoy this book set in Regency England. For example, the imagery I kept visualizing of the hunting lodge, was that of a modern day American log cabin rather than a rustic Scottish lodge. The vernacular was very modern and there were many examples of modern expressions like "whoa" and "to boot" which annoyed me. If you have similar reading tastes to me you may not enjoy this book,  but if you are a Julia Quinn fan, this might be worth a look. 


*Thank-you Valerie Bowman, Netgalley & St. Martin's Paperbacks for the ARC.


Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Lord of Scoundrels - Loretta Chase

4.5 helms


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Oooh what a book! I was DEFINITELY not affected like this on the first read...I liked it well enough but didn't understand the hype, as I didn't think it was amazing....great, but not the re-read was completely different. It was AMAZING!! It's weird, because I remembered the scenes, I remembered what was going to happen, but I forgot or didn't feel the emotions as intensely as this time around. I also forgot how bloody funny it was!


Lord Sebastian Ballister, the Marquess of Dain has a notorious reputation and an equally notorious face. In short, he is considered ugly from the day he was born due to his "large black eyes, ill-proportioned limbs" and his Italian mother's Usignuolo nose. He is unloved by his father who calls him "devils spawn" and is abandoned by his mother at the age of eight. Since the abandonment, he is cruelly bundled off to Eton where he is teased and bullied mercilessly by his classmates over his appearance and birthright. He learns very quickly to stand up for himself, hide his feelings and buries the sensitive little boy deep into his soul- who now believes he cannot ever be loved. He also learns to make his own fortune quickly and cleverly, and uses money unscrupulously to carve his reputation as a sinful beast of society.


Ms Jessica Trent is a fashionable, intelligent, independent and willful twenty-seven year old bluestocking who has journeyed to Paris to remove her silly brother from Lord Dain's evil clutches. Bertie Trent runs with Lord Dain's regular company of cronies who are only interested in whoring, gambling and drinking and Bertie has dug himself into a fine gambling pit with Dain. Jessica meets Sebastian for the first time in an esteemed antique shop and there are fireworks from the beginning. Her attraction to him is instantaneous, magnetic and surprising to her - no analysis of why, no judgement, no disgust...just acceptance! Lord Dain does not want to be attracted to her but cannot help it! This is the sort of female he has spent an entire lifetime avoiding- the marriageable type. He is nothing short of a rude, despicable and boorish human being to Jess despite his lustful fantasies starring her. He behaves hatefully after their compromising ball scene and leaves her with the words "If you don't like it, then just shoot me." You just have to keep reading to find out what happens next!!!

Why did I like this book so much? It had so many things that would normally annoy me....


1) Constant prostitutes surrounding the hero, after they both meet
2) How he treated Jess after the ball scene (I HATED him for this! I was so angry!)

His bastard child 

(show spoiler)


This is something of a twist that left me reeling and I really didn't know how to deal with and really felt sorry, hurt and angry for Jess (but Jess didn't feel any of those emotions for herself!)

It's the writing....its all about the writing...Loretta Chase just makes these annoyances seem so petty when we look at the big picture of what is happening between Jessica and Dain. This romance has the epitome of a tortured hero. Its not just the events of his childhood that make Sebastian tortured, again its the writing that makes it so heart wrenching. Dain's childhood is written so emotionally that, you can't help but ache with sadness for the lost, sensitive, lonely little Sebastian. Ms Chase also portrays our hero as an extremely sensitive being. He is probably one of the most sensitive heroes I have read about and for someone with that amount of sensitivity to be hurt at such a young age, it was really painful to readt. Dain's viewpoints on many of the scenes were such great insights into his mind and it was probably why we as the readers are given a chance to understand why he is as he is....



Then he would burn them, just as, years earlier, he’d burned the gloves he’d been wearing when Susannah had first touched his hand, and the piece of a feather that had fallen from her bonnet, and the note inviting him to the fatal dinner party at her uncle’s.



I LOVED Jess. She is an amazing female. Yes she is pretty much perfect, but I love that about her, here is pure female perfection falling for the most "ugliest" man in London instantly. Seems like Dain gets his comeuppance through Jess for his years of self torture. I also love that she is much older because she has an air of maturity that can handle Dain and put him in his place. Anyone younger and the romance would not have been as believable. Aside from the superficial, the chemistry between Dain and Jess is electric. Their banter is witty and practical, seductive and innocent. Just beautiful!


Now onto some of the cons....The first half of the book is really really good. The second half felt a bit more subdued and normal (like coming off an adrenaline rush) and there is a twist and a lot of other going ons connected with the twist. This felt a bit rushed and sort of unnecessary but it was not badly done, but when you compare the first half to the second half you do notice a change of pace and style of plotting. I can also relate to why some readers including myself, may not be able to forgive Jess or Dain (they both do some surprising things- shooting scene, and Dain keeping a very big secret).I could not forgive them for this, but did accept that these were their choices on how to handle the situation. 


This is one of my longest reviews, but I just can't do it justice in a few short words. This is not a unique plot, but what makes it unique is the way its written to demonstrate how Jess makes Dain believe in love again. I didn't feel the intensity of this romance on my first read over twelve years ago, but I do feel it now. It is such a beautiful romance with echoes of the Beauty and the Beast that is lushly written with plenty of witty banter, larger than life characters (don't forget that awesome grandmother!) and heart wrenching moments to find its way to your keeper shelf. I'm so glad I kept this book to re-read it in the future! It has definitely earned its keeper shelf status!


P.S This contains one of the best kissing in the rain kisses ever written! Bone melting!!

Ice Planet Holiday by Ruby Dixon

Ice Planet Holiday: A SciFi Holiday Alien Romance (Ice Planet Barbarians Book 5) - Ruby Dixon

3 helms


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Cute re-visit to the sa-khui planet and our favourite horned aliens :) . Stemming from a hot pool gathering, all the girls missed holidays and decided to start one of their own! "Not Poison Day" was hatched (wait till you get to the part of how the name came about! HAHA!) and both caves get together for the celebrations :) .


This is sorta like a "Not Poison Day" novella but with some focus on Claire and Ereven as the main couple duo. You get to read from many POVs which was nice but beware of whining Georgie! Holy crap she whinged a lot in this, it was quite irritating and really grated on my nerves  >_<


Claire had shacked up with Bek in the newer caves in a pseudo mating arrangement and now she is having second thoughts due to his controlling nature. They never resonated for each other and she wants to end things with him, but Bek is not the easiest person to break up with. When everyone gets together in the older caves to celebrate "Not Poison Day", Claire ends things with Bek and stays with the single women despite his protests. He doesn't give up easily on Claire and this is where Ereven steps in and "fakes" an interest in Claire with her blessing to make Bek back off.

Didn't relate much to Claire or Everen, maybe because their relationship was too short and there was so much other stuff happening? It felt bland in comparison to the other novels and Everen was very sweet but I didn't feel like I knew much about him. There was no background story to him, which was a shame as I might have been able to understand him more. Claire is one of the wimpier girls in the group, and I guess I probably want a bit more oomph from my heroines so that I can relate to them. She did grow as a character through this experience with Bek. I also liked the way Ruby Dixon, redeems Bek at the end and doesn't portray him as a bad guy, just misunderstood. Hopefully he also gets a happy ending!

Not one of my favorites but it was a fun, shorter read! You can skip it and not feel like you missed out too much. Guess that's the reason its a half book!

Barbarian Mine by Ruby Dixon

Barbarian Mine: A SciFi Alien Romance (Ice Planet Barbarians Book 4) - Ruby Dixon

4.5 helms


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This is my favourite one so far!!! My heart just broke for Rukh and then re-mended itself for his happy ending :) I was just a weepy, sniffing mess but a deliriously happy one!


Harlow kicked ass in the last novel with her mechanic skills and we lost her halfway through the book after she got attacked, so her fate was unknown till now. Rukh is a lone warrior with no tribe, no family and no exposure to the other aliens. In fact, he refers to them as the "bad ones" and stays well away from them.

Rukh is just unbearably innocent in the ways of normal life. He doesn't understand a lot of things like social skills and sexuality and he is lonely beyond measure since his father's death but the only person he has ever spoken to is his father and he has been groomed from a young age to stay away from the "bad ones". He resigns himself to a life of solitude till he comes across Harlow and the confusing khui thrumming she invokes in him.


This is how they initially meet


 I don’t know what this means. All I know is that I’ve smelled the strange creatures surrounded by the bad ones, the ones my father told me to avoid. There are two strange things traveling with the bad ones – they are so furry it is impossible to tell what their bodies look like, but one has a shock of orange-red mane that fascinates me. I’ve followed them since last night, and now the reddish-maned one is alone.


And I…panic. When it starts to turn, I club it over the head.


It collapses to the ground in a heap of multicolored fur. A bone knife, similar to my father’s, falls from its hand.


I rub my thrumming chest, confused.


I just love this scene! And I LOLd so hard when he clubbed Harlow over the head. It was heartbreakingly funny all at once because it is such a natural reaction to Rukh and Ruby Dixon captures his lack of etiquette so effortlessly by this scene.


Harlow cannot be forgotten as she does handle his innocence really delicately and is very patient with him. She loves him without reservation and judgement and she really does make Rukh so happy, its beautiful . I loved Rukh's sexual awakening under Harlow's tutelage and Ruby Dixon captures their moments beautifully as they are not just erotic, but passionate and loving and you can feel the love between them leap through the pages.


 In that moment, I want to give Rukh everything I possibly can. I want to give him a mate, a family, teach him about sex, and share everything every day together. I want him to know he’s not alone.

I want him to know someone else loves him. Someone else is there for him.


There are so many beautiful moments and many more beautiful quotes but I won't ruin it for the rest of you! Rukh is very dear to me and Raahosh is a very close second. Just be prepared to ugly cry with a lot of painful heartstring tugging.


The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries

The Heiress and the Hothead - Sabrina Jeffries


2 helms


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Dear Romance Novel Authors,



Please do not place a sex scene in a novel just for the sake of a sex scene, I really would prefer a passionate kiss rather than an ill-placed sex scene inside a burning mill.





P.S - I don't read romance novels for sex. I read them so that I can get lost in someone else's life and escape mine. I read them so that I can relive the joyous occasions from my own life through the characters. When I can relate and empathize with the characters, even better!



Yes, you read that right! The H/h had sex in a burning mill while they were trapped, against the hot stone wall (I can assume it was hot since there was a raging fire).....Oh yeah she had smoke inhalation the next day (should have refrained from those lusty gasps of air) and not sure about her outcome from the hot stone "happy ending" massage. Romances are getting hotter these days especially since Fifty Shades erupted off the shelves (ugh!) there's a demand for hot, hotter and hottest sex but Sabrina Jeffries really takes the steam for an inferno sex scene!


Novellas are HARD. I get it. As an author, you have to create a believable relationship, i love yous, happy endings, weddings etc. within a 100 pages or so.




Initially, the first five pages are meh but when the H/h start sparring about their passion for cotton mills, it gets interesting. Miss Amanda Keane is an American cotton mill heiress who is visiting her brother in England for Christmas & Lord Stephen Corry is one of the invited guests at the Christmas house party. He is an enthusiastic journalist of underage mill hiring practices who defies his station for this just cause. In his experience, all mill owners are irresponsible when it comes to the welfare of working children, and he makes the mistake of categorizing Amanda with them. She is a passionate owner who is not just ethical but also compassionate, and sparks fly when Stephen and Amanda try to each prove their point.


It was all going well with the story..and SCENE....and then THIS scene....


Lord Knightford (guest from the house party who is also part of the rescue party) pops his head through the upper window of the burning mill (isn't this mill burning?) and it went something like this:



Lord Knightford: Oh hey "Old Boy" the mill workers are saying there's another exit to the blocked mill


Lord Stephen/Ms Amanda: Where is it?!


Lord Knightford: ??????? errrrr..umm....BRB


Like seriously? There's a blazing inferno at a cotton mill, two people are trapped in it, they know how quickly one of these fires can burn but yet they have sex during the fire, inside the mill and afterwards, a "rescuer" is casually bandying about, without a sense of urgency and the lack of knowledge of crucial information during a crisis AFTER he has spoken to mill workers who know the mill inside out.... WTF!?


I think what really got to me was how trivially the fire was portrayed....I felt the sense of urgency of a powerful, raging force ready to engulf anything in its path when the scene was first described and there was build-up of drama and the scenes that followed led to intimacy in an inappropriate situation and idiocy, which looses the reader completely!


What I did love was the use of historical fun facts of Victorian Christmas traditions of mistletoe berries and how it was used to shape the story. Ms. Jeffries's historical research shines through this novella (I learnt a lot!) and she does choose a particularly difficult conflict scenario for a novella and handled it well. The meeting of two people, forming an attraction and resolving the conflict of distance from two different parts of the world in Victorian England is not the easiest thing to write about within a few pages so that was a very commendable effort indeed.


(show spoiler)



Well, I definitely had a lot to say about such a short little novella! It is worth reading just to get to those silly scenes and have your say....I wonder if that mill scene had anything to do with the title....curious and curioser....



*Thank-you Sabrina Jeffries, Netgalley & Pocket Star Books for the ARC.

**This title was previously published under the Anthology "What Happens Under the Mistletoe"

Barbarian Lover by Ruby Dixon

Barbarian Lover: A SciFi Alien Romance (Ice Planet Barbarians Book 3) - Ruby Dixon

3.5 helms


Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages


Kira and Aheako's story was somewhat different to the other novels...the vibe was more serious. Kira is the "Eeyeore" of the group and fair enough, I think she certainly had her reasons. It's nice that the girls have varying personalities. Not everyone can be strong or smart mouthed and its refreshing to see Ruby Dixon play with individuality to keep the series fresh. 


Aheako has been pursuing Kira throughout the last novel and we are used to Kira rebuffing his advances and here we finally find out her personal reasons for doing so. Kira still has the translator stapled to her ear and discovers that the aliens who kidnapped them are coming back for their cargo and this hastens her to get rid of the translator once and for al,l without scaring the rest of the tribe. Of course, Aheako volunteers to go with her to the Elder's cave and he insists on becoming heart mates with Kira despite her sharing her secret with him and their lack of resonance from their khui. Aheako was a good match for Kira, I think she needed someone playful and less serious to balance her personality and help her see the fun things in life. Kira does have a lot of things to deal with and I don't blame her "sad eyes".


Sweet story but definitely not as exciting as the previous books BUT this is mainly because of my personal choice for strong female personalities. Kira does kick ass though (so does Harlow! What a badass boss!) and has her moment in the limelight, so she is no shrinking violet all the time. You can put her down as a quiet achiever ;) I'm also glad Aheako's personality was already pre-defined and we got to know him in the previous novel, as the story is mostly focused on Kira and Aheako doesn't shine like he normally does. Kira and Aheako are really cute together and I'm really happy for Kira as I loved her happy ending :)

Kidnapped by the Highland Rogue

Kidnapped by the Highland Rogue (A Highland Feuding) - Terri Brisbin

2 helms


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A bit of a dud this one :( I haven't read the previous books in the series and there were some strong references to them but it was easy enough to follow the previous character's stories. I was very bored and distracted throughout the book and Fia and Niall really didn't hold my attention.


Fia dreams of a passionate and everlasting true love, just like Laird Brodie & Lady Arabella, her employers. She is kidnapped by outlaw Niall Corbett and taken deep into the highland hills with his band of men. There is more to Niall/Ian than meets the eye, as he is on his own secret mission from the King and kidnapping Fia complicates matters, but he had to do it to save her from the nefarious intentions of the other outlaws. Fia can't help but be drawn to Niall as he is nothing like what he portrays and she sees through his rough facade to the nobleman beneath. Even though her mind says run, her heart whispers something else entirely and she longs to discover the real Niall.


Fia comes across as quite bland and boring and there wasn't anything memorable about her except for her dreams of love. I can relate to Fia's sweet dreams of wanting true love. Who doesn't want that? But that's about all I can relate to. She wants her story to happen exactly the same way as it happened for Brodie and Arabella (Brodie kidnapped Arabella and they both fell in love- first book in the series) and her mind just seems to be fixated onto this scenario, so I didn't feel like this was original enough for Fia's story. I do love a "kidnapped and falling in love with your captor, without major Stockholm Syndrome scenarios", but I just didn't believe the passion and the love between Fia and Niall. Niall also comes across as boring and nothing really stood out about him except that he was leading a double life. There wasn't an explanation on why the King had such a stranglehold on him, his family and his titles. Explanations and reasonings were all over the place which really made for distracting and uninteresting reading.


Fia and Niall were nothing special in my eyes, I wasn't lost in their love and there were some interesting references to Niall's male parts which felt out of place!


*Thank-you Terri Brisbin, Netgalley & Harlequin Historical for the ARC.

Match Made in the Highlands by Pam Binder

Match Made in the Highlands (Matchmaker Cafe Series Book 1) - Pam Binder


1 helm



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I struggled to finish this. The story didn't grab me, the characters were uninteresting and I just wasn't feeling it. The idea for the story was unique: a matchmaker tour that operated at Stirling Castle to help tour participants find their soulmates by the end of the tour. This tour is run by three sisters, who come from a long line of matchmakers.


The events and explanations were a bit haphazard and the characters could have been more developed. There was too much going on for such a short story.There might have been more depth to the characters and the story if the central couple, Irene and Logan were the only couple focused on.


Sorry Ms. Binder, I really do dislike dishing out such low ratings for books but this story just didn't capture me like I had hoped.


*Thank-you Pam Binder, Netgalley & Wild Rose Press for the ARC.

Barbarian Alien by Ruby Dixon

Barbarian Alien - The Complete Serial: A SciFi Alien Serial Romance (Ice Planet Barbarians Book 14) - Ruby Dixon


4 helms


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Oh boy is this series so addictive! My iPad is beckoning to race over and read the rest as I loved this one too! In this sequel to Ice Planet Barbarians, there is more depth and emotional baggage to deal with in Liz and Raahosh's story and a lot more human and alien culture conflict is touched on. I thought I would find Liz really annoying, as I found her snarky comments in the previous book somewhat uncalled for at times but nope I was fine with her personality! Yes she is a smart-talking wise crack but once Raahosh is under her skin, her gentler side peeks its head and she falls for him just as he has for her.


It wasn't an easy start for these two, with Liz being very against the whole cootie/khui resonance thing and Raahosh resonating for her immediately on sight and accepting this without question. He is one surly blue alien when he realises his designated mate doesn't desire him as he does her! Raahosh is very eager for a mate and a family. So eager, that he forces the cootie on Liz (to be fair, she was going to die without it so he took matters into his own hands!), kidnaps her away from the tribe and holds her hostage and only plans to return her until she falls pregnant with his kit! Sounds barbaric? He was anything but barbaric....sigh...Raahosh is such a softie and he just wants to care for and protect his mate and damn the consequences! He's also never had a lover (adorable virgin alien alert!) as he has always considered himself less desirable to the other female sa-khui due to his broken stump of a horn and physical scars. He's got emotional baggage due to his past family situation and does not want another repeat of his parent's life. But by kidnapping Liz, he has gone against tribe law and has repeated his father's past which had dire consequences and Raahosh has to answer for his actions.


Human slang with hilarious literal translations, erotic love making with interesting alien extras, a feminist heroine and a surly love sick alien makes for some hilarious sexytimes! Highly recommend reading these in order! It's more addictive this way and each book paves the way for the next one!

Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon

Ice Planet Barbarians: The Complete Series: A SciFi Alien Serial Romance - Ruby Dixon

4 helms

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This was such a surprise! Sooo fun, sexy, sweet and erotic!


Georgie and several other women from earth are abducted by aliens and are on their way to their destination when the aliens begin to have problems with their spaceship and are forced to abandon their cargo on an ice planet. Georgie, being the bravest of them all set off to seek help and gets trapped in one of Vektal's hunting traps. Vektal a seven foot, horned blue native is the chief of a tribe called sa-khui. His khui instantly resonates for Georgie, indicating she is his destined mate. As Vektal dotes over Georgie and accepts his fate quickly, she has to decide if she wants to stay on this foreign and alien planet, as Vektal's mate or try to find a way back home for herself and the others.


I really really enjoyed this book! There were some moments where I thought to myself I soooo wouldn't do that, but hey that's what makes her Georgie! Vektal is one big pile of mush when it came to Georgie! For a shorter read, it was very well written and the world building was excellent! The dialogue was amusing as hell and I enjoyed the different take on the alien race: them being more primitive instead of us! The sa-khui are also a stranded tribe which really puts a spin on things and I would love to know more about where they came from! I can't wait to see who resonates with who, with the bevy of women available to the tribe now!


Sooo with that, I am off to download the rest of this series as fast as I can onto my iPad!


A Raven's Heart by K.C Bateman

A Raven's Heart - K. C. Bateman


4.5 helms

Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages



Get ready to feel the yearn in this book! Raven & Heloise just burn up the pages! We get a tease of their story in "To Steal A Heart" and now that we get to read their story in "A Raven's Heart" it does not disappoint! The chemistry was scorching between these two and boy was it fun to watch them both struggle against their wills for each other!


William Ravenwood (Raven) is tortured by his past after being kidnapped at nineteen and held for ransom, which his grandfather, the Duke refused to pay. Bitter and hurt by this betrayal, he shirks his responsibilities to his title and involves himself in a spy ring which also include Nicolas Hampden, his childhood friend and neighbour from the previous book. He is known as The Raven, a smuggler, and an agent who rescues hostages and prisoners of war from captivity. Raven is on a mission to discover the fate of his fellow colleague, Christopher ‘Kit’ Carlisle as Kit has been missing for two years. Heloise, a code breaker for the English government and the younger sister of Nicolas and Richard Hampden has known Raven since childhood and has always loved him. Her youthful declaration of her love at sixteen was rejected by him and even though she has tried to put that incident behind her and move on with her life, her heart has always belonged to Raven. Raven knows this and also secretly harbours feelings for Heloise but considers himself too tainted for her since his capture. He puts distance between them and avoids her as much as possible but she is never far from his thoughts. Heloise decodes a message stating Kit is alive and under capture in Spain, which places her in grave danger as French agents are targeting and killing all English code breakers. Circumstances change suddenly for them as Raven wants to rescue Kit immediately but he is also determined to protect Heloise with his life even if it means taking her against her will to be with him in Spain at all times. Placed in such close proximity to each other, their attraction to each other reaches a crescendo which they both cannot turn away from. Raven constantly tortures himself with the knowledge that he is not good enough for her and Heloise finds Raven an enigma difficult to decipher but their connection to each other is unmistakable and an anchor to which they are pulled inexorably towards until love heals both their scars.


I love this theme of childhood love and the passion that arises when both sides are struggling so hard against their love for each other! Raven and Heloise are just perfect for each other and you can determine that from the first few pages. Heloise is a strong heroine which I love! Not only is she intelligent, she's a damn brilliant code breaker and no shrinking violet. She thinks Raven will never love her back especially after the scar on her face which ruined all other prospects of marriage for her. She throws herself in her work, resigning herself to a life of solitude but utilizes this opportunity with Raven to go after what she has always wanted, even it means getting hurt in the process. Heloise has gumption and grit and she is truly worthy of Raven's hard earned love. Raven is such a tough nut! He is just so determined to stay away from Heloise, which made his fall all the more sweeter. I must admit though I didn't feel like I understood the full extent of why Raven thought he was so flawed for Heloise. I get that he was tortured during his captivity and he realized that he loved Heloise during that time and then he felt undeserving of her love ever since. A little more depth about his reasoning would have added more to the story but otherwise I really really liked Raven! He was cheeky, a rogue he made a very dashing hero and smuggler!


Adventurous and combustive this romance has everything! I just loved the comparison between Hades/Raven and Persephone/Heloise! K.C Bateman again nails a truly unique declaration of love! Loved it!


*Thank-you K.C Bateman, Netgalley & Random House Publishing Group-Loveswept for the ARC

Neil by Sybil Bartel

Neil (The Uncompromising Series Book 2) - Sybil Bartel

3.5 helms 



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I don't know..I just don't know....this is a very difficult and confusing review to write as I really don't know how I feel about Neil...This book reads like an action packed movie. It's non-stop action with plenty of swearing and hotter than average sex scenes. I really did feel like I was inside a movie!


Viking-sized, ex-Jægerkorpset Neil Christensen a.k.a Viking is THE most alpha hero I've ever read about. He only speaks for around 20% of the book with Ariella/Ariel doing most of the swearing talking! Viking meets Ariel through her employer Andre, as she works for him as his receptionist. They become entangled in a plot of stolen guns, motorbike gangs, exes and in the midst of it all is Conner, Ariel's and her ex Jason's two-year-old son.


I don't know if I want to rage on Neil or like him and I don't know how much I wanted to dislike Ariel for her choices concerning Jason. Jason is an ABSOLUTE F*&$. He not only puts Ariel in a very dangerous motorbike gang related situation, he involves Conner too and put the child's life at risk. I felt like Ariel was too in love Jason to think clearly about her actions and hence the situation that placed Conner and her in danger. But this character flaw is what I also like about her as she feels very human. Sybil captures Ariels's emotions honestly. I cannot imagine how despairing and difficult being a broke, single parent is and I highly commend any single parent. No one wants to be in love with their ex especially a lying, cheating d*$^ like Jason who is also the father of her child. But, sometimes you can't help it. Everyone wants that fairytale where your first love is your only love and Ariel desperately wants that but she is also smart enough to know what was best for Conner and herself. I also liked how Ariel could stand her own against Neil and doesn't take any bullshit from him. She was sassy and smart mouthed and stood her ground at times against his alphaness.


Neil only "speaks" in short words and commands and is EXTREMELY bossy but he does have a kind heart and a soft spot for kids. He treats Ariella quite cave man like at times but that's part of his character and sex appeal as an alpha. Neil is also portrayed to be an honest character but towards the end, there is something major he hides from Ariella and his pedestal crumbles. I really hated him for this as he tried to classify his lie as not a lie on a technicality. It jaded his character for me and I think many readers will be torn regarding it. This secret is explained later on and reasoning is given which also portrays a depth to his character. I didn't feel like I knew Neil better at the end of the book but he does demonstrate depth. You just have to read between the lines and his actions speak louder than words.


The age gap bugged me. He's 36, she's 21. She's broke and a single mum. He looks at her. She goes gaga! Of course a 21-year-old in her situation is going to have stars in her eyes over a rich, older man! Neil being rich felt convenient. He also treated her like a horny teenager and Ariel also allowed her body to rule her thoughts. A lot of things were manipulated by sex. It was sort of like reading 50 Shades but with better writing and no BDSM. I wonder how Neil would handle a woman who is older and equally worldly.


I think this book will divide readers. It really depends on what you like and don't like. This is not a conventional, straightforward contemporary romance. If you like your men OTT alpha, your books action packed, steamy and snarky this is for you! If your inner feminist is going to rear her head by reading a whole heap of male, muscular, grunty, alpha bossiness you may want to stay clear! But make no mistake, whatever side you choose, the story is good, it's very well written with characters that will make you think outside the box and that's enough reason to read it. I'll just sit on my little white picket fence and analyse which side I'm eventually going to fall on.


*Thank-you Sybil Bartel & Netgalley for the ARC.

To Steal A Heart by K.C Bateman

To Steal a Heart (Secrets and Spies) - K. C. Bateman

4 helms


Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages


A Loveswept title! I'm so glad they are publishing again & have branched out into historicals. I didn't realise they were publishing historicals until I came across "To Steal a Heart". It's all very exciting as I devoured these from my local library when I was in high school and they really cemented my love for romance novels :) It felt like a happy reunion reading a Loveswept & what a great debut for K.C Bateman! As well as writing romance and c-owning an auction house, she also appears in Bargain Hunt which I love watching! Double yay! Romance & historical information, what an arsenal she has under her belt!


This book is well written and fast paced with interesting characters and an intriguing historical period of the French Revolution. It was an absolute delight to read! Marianne Bonnard works for a circus in Paris as a tightrope walker. She is also the best thief in Paris! Nicolas Vallard, a spy for Joseph Fouché of The Secret Police, needs her skills for an important mission. He catches her trying to plant incriminating papers in his home, plotted by her evil cousin Duval who controls Marianne & her sister Sophie's lives. Forced into servitude to Duval, Marianne is always looking out for her sister & looking for ways to escape his clutches. This presents itself in the way of Nicolas Vallard who rescues them both but also steals Marianne's heart in the process!


I loved both Marianne & Nicolas! Marianne is a feisty heroine & I admired her strength, courage & attitude. She's a hard woman to break even though life had been unkind to her. Nicolas is a strong hero who is strong, driven and sensual. Just the perfect match for Marianne! The characters & language were very modern with a historical backdrop. I didn't feel thoroughly immersed into historical France but had France as the setting. It didn't bother me too much, but it was definitely noticeable. I loved the last scene of the book which was the proposal! I found it utterly romantic & he proposed with a necklace! My husband proposed to me the same way with a necklace instead of a ring, so I might be biased ;)


A thoroughly enjoyable read & I'm really looking forward to reading about Raven & Heloise in the next installment :)

The Secret by Julie Garwood

The Secret - Julie Garwood


3.5 helms


Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages


I haven't read a historical by Garwood in ages & I was really surprised by "The Secret"! It made me realize just how far the historical romance genre has come in the last twenty-four years. We are spoilt for choice by new authors who expertly intertwine fact & fiction together & give us endless bounds of entertainment through their books. It made me so proud to think of Julie Garwood as a pioneering author for these newer authors in the historical romance genre.


Frances Catherine & Judith Hampton meet when they are young girls at the border games of Scotland. They remain best friends despite their lineage & Judith promises Frances that she will travel to Scotland to help birth her first child. When France's time is near, she sends for Judith, with a lot of difficulty, as the Maitland clan are outraged by this request of an Englishwoman to be present in their midst. Laird Iain Maitland & three other warriors journey to England to escort Judith to Scotland, prepared for Judith's refusal of the journey as all English cannot be trusted according to them. What awaits them is a proud, beautiful Englishwoman intent on fulfilling her childhood promise to her best friend who challenges their views & ideals of women & the English!


Judith & Iain are a cute couple but they needed to grow on me. Iain is cute when he is jealous & possessive of Judith & I liked that alpha side of him. Admittedly I did like this book a lot more for its feminism rather than the relationship between Judith & Iain. Judith challenges Iain & his clan & forces them to rethink clan rules, women's station & olden ways. She is forward thinking & proves to be a great role model for her friend and other women in the clan.


The only problem with reading this book in 2016, is that it feels slightly dated (it was written 24 years ago!) with plenty of historical inaccuracies & modern language, but the story is sweet, the relationship tender & Judith a breath of fresh air. Julie Garwood does tender & sweet romances so well & this book is a great example. If your looking for a comfort read with low angst, funny moments & a sweet story then give this a go :)


Harry Potter & The Cursed Child #8 by J.K Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - J.K. Rowling, John Kerr Tiffany, Jack Thorne


3.5 helms


Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages


Well this is the eighth HP book.............

I'm just going to list my thoughts & chat about them, as its probably the easiest way to analyze my feelings. I'm still wondering how to feel because I feel an odd yearning for more & NEED more from what I just put down.

1) J.K Rowling did not write this particular book - The original story is hers, the magic is there, you can see glimpses of her for sure but the language: that British wit that she brandishes throughout all her books is not there. The characters don't feel like who I knew seven books ago. Is this deliberate? To demonstrate that the characters have changed with the modern times? To demonstrate that we are dealing with a whole new generation, therefore the lingo changes too? Parents pick up things from their kids? It feels like modern lingo has been thrown in randomly here and there - I can't tell if its accidental/on purposes/for script reasons. Personally, I didn't like it because I didn't feel like they were the characters I knew. I didn't feel like they were the authentic characters I loved so much. It was distracting & detracting.


2) If this story was written as a novel it would have been MUCH MUCH better - The script format is confusing at the beginning & hard to get into, but once you get used to it, the reading experience improves slightly. There are momentous things that happen reduced to mere sentences because of the format. I miss the explanations, the little details, the clues & HER WRITING! J.K WRITES MAGIC WITH MAGICAL WORDS. Her writing is glorious to read, she brings her characters to life with it! Why is that taken away??!!!
For example: how do Severus & Albus know how to make polyjuice potion? They make it and use it. No further explanation.....Isn't this potion in the restricted section in the library? I know they have wizarding parents but still.....I want explanations! I want to know how they get the ingredients for it. I want to know which cupboard they raided from which corner of Hogwarts. I want every single detail of their lives dammit.


3) Why did J.K do it this way? - I do not understand why she chose to do this in a play format. Initially, when I first heard about it, I thought OMG that's awesome!Then I thought again. There will be millions of fans who will never get to see this play & therefore miss out on the drama of the script. Why do that to a fanbase so large? I'm sure, she has her reasons but I still don't understand it. She has touched so many people and yet she is only giving them a chance to glimpse a part of book number eight.


4) Is the story good? - Yes, it is sorta....I was annoyed when I first started reading it because I felt like all the favourite/momentous parts of all seven books have been taken and combined on to make the eighth book revolve around them. The ending sums up the created story. That's good right?


5) The friendship between Albus/Scorpius & Harry/Draco - Cute new generation, loved Scorpius and Albus as friends. The writing sorta hinted at a gay relationship? But then they have girl crushes. So yeah.
Harry & Draco felt too happy happy joy joy after all that animosity in seven books. When did that happen? Was it explained? No.


6) Did I want to read about the new generation? - It's their parents I love. Their adventures. Their triumphs. Their losses. Oh the losses.....The new generation is nice & if this is the path the author wanted to take to tell the story, fine. But I wanted a well-written combination of both. Not this.

Be warned. This is an emotional journey. Emotional because this is another HP book and that's momentous in itself but also due to the disappointing format & lack of detailed story. I would recommend this cautiously. If your expecting to revist your favourite characters, yes they are there, albeit a shell of their original selves but it's still them in some ways. They took me back in fleeting glimpses & that's all I got. So I'm still yearning for more. If you are expecting something like the rest of the series, you won't find it in this book. Read it because your a fan & then take the good and bad as it comes. That's what I'm trying to do. 3.5 helms because it made me think, made me emotional & because it took me back briefly to that magical world I love so much.


How To Impress A Marquess by Susanna Ives

How To Impress A Marquess - Susanna Ives


4 helms


Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages


I’m always a bit apprehensive about trying new authors in the historical romance genre as there is no safety net of a tried and true author, just thoughts & words of other fellow readers until you make your own judgement. With Susanna Ives’s “How To Impress A Marquess” I broke a few of my normal rules 1) Read a series in order (I’m a stickler for this!) 2) Read up on new authors before requesting on NetGalley. I broke both rules, as this is the third book in the “Wicked Little Lies” series & I hadn’t read any of the others & I requested this title totally on a whim, without any inkling of the order of series or who the author is.


I’m so glad I did! It was unconventional right from the start as the heroine, Lilith Dahlgren is delightful & refreshingly different. She is a new age bohemian who lives life with reckless abandon & a free spirited mind, but nurses many hurts from her past. The hero, George Marquess of Marylewick is the acting trustee of Lilith, head of the Maryle family & is part of the deep hurt & injustice done to Lilith. What ensues is a discovery of two kindred & bruised souls who can only find the solace each so desperately seeks from each other.


This seems like a lighthearted read at first, but don’t be fooled. There is enough depth to the characters stop it from getting too “fluffy”. I loved the feminism this book exudes as Lilith defies society’s views on women & encourages others to challenge it too. Lilith in her love of George is so pure & honest, she beautifully words her feelings after they first make love: “I’m not another duty! I’m someone in your life who only wants to love you and not make demands of you. I want….I want this pure moment in all its beauty, not polluted by an unpleasant past or a future of demands”. George is great hero material as he is not an alpha male, but rather a hidden sensitive who blossoms under Lilith’s unconventional ways.


A beautiful romance which can be read as a stand alone, poetry from Keats & references to the impressionism movement thrown in for good measure to keep you fascinated!


*Thank-you Susanna Ives, Netgalley & Sourcebooks Casablanca for the ARC.

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