Surrender to the Highlander (Lynsay Sands)

Overall Response

I liked this book a lot better than the last few entries--the romance is a lot more interesting and I finally felt like Niels was different enough to get invested in his part of the story. The murder mystery was average--not the best in the series, but certainly not the worst. I thought it got a little convoluted in the middle because Lynsay Sands was trying very hard to put a bunch of red herrings out there. I liked the supporting cast, and the Buchanan brothers are dwindling into smaller numbers so that I actually can keep better track of them. It's an average read with a better than expected romance.

Read more

Falling for the Highlander (Lynsay Sands)

Overall Response

So this reread was a little less satisfying than I remember. I liked this book a lot the first time I read it, but this probably the second or third time, and I wasn't as charmed by the things I liked the first time. I was looking forward to Murine's book because she was a bit of an atypical character. She had a penchant for fainting when we met her in To Marry a Scottish Laird, so I wanted to see how Lynsay Sands would write her HEA. I still really like Murine, even though I think her fainting spells were a bit oddly handled. Did she faint too much because she didn't eat? Or didn't have the tincture? I don't know. I just don't feel like it was that clear.

And Dougall doesn't really do anything to make himself separate from his other brothers or give me a reason I should want him for Murine above anyone else. That's kind of my problem with some of the heroes in this series -- apart from Ross in An English Bride and Aulay in The Highlander's Promise, the heroes are kind of the same. The plot is fine -- it doesn't drag nearly as much as the last book, but I thought the book ended a little abruptly.

Read more

The Highlander’s Promise (Lynsay Sands)

Overall Response

This one is being reviewed out of order because it was only just released on Tuesday, June 26, and I didn't wait to wait to read it. I've been hoping for a good story for Aulay since we met him in The Highlander Takes a Bride and he showed up in subsequent books.

I was happy with this story for the most part. There were some...secrets being kept that I think bordered on problematic with the hero not telling the heroine the truth. Had Jetta known from the start what the deal was, things would have been different. Still, points for it never being Aulay's idea to lie to her, and for having a relatively decent reason for continuing it. (Better than most books).

I think this probably the last book in the series only because we're out of the women from To Marry a Scottish Laird and the Buchanan brothers didn't strike me as romantic leads, but I guess we'll find out. A solid entry in the series.

Read more

To Marry a Scottish Laird (Lynsay Sands)

Overall Response

This book is fine. It's an average read. That's not to knock it -- it's like any other book Lynsay Sands writes. A reliable author who may not blow your mind but will always entertain you is worth its weight in gold. I know my money is always well spent. The characters are fun to read about, the murder mystery is engaging, and this book works well to set up the next four in the series with a series of female characters who didn't blur together. I was especially looking forward to Saidh and Murine's stories. What did distract me is a few typos--Cam refers to Joan as Annabel later in the book (that's her aunt) and there's also a mistake earlier in the book (Cam says the name MacKay before Joan reveals that's where she's going). I imagine that only gets noticed once you've read a few times.

That being said, it's a good book. It serves more as the introduction to the series than An English Bride in Scotland as Joan is the niece of Annabel and Ross rather than a contemporary, and the rest of the series takes place with Joan and Cam's generation.

Read more

The Highlander Takes a Bride (Lynsay Sands)

Overall Response

The best thing I can say about this book is that I've read it three times but not in the last year so I had forgotten who the murderer was, and got a chance to be pleasantly surprised. It's lovely when that happens. This is probably the weakest of the six books in the series thus far, but that's mostly because the murder mystery plot drags a lot, and the romance is more lust than love. That being said, it's still a pleasant read and I'm not not mad that I spent my money on it.

Read more

An English Bride In Scotland (Lynsay Sands)

Overall Response

Of the six books in this series, this one is probably my favorite so far. I've reread three of them when writing this review, and I think Annabel and Ross are the best couple. What I love about Lynsay Sands is that I know exactly what I'm getting when I read her stories: a frothy romance with two beautiful people who spend half the book lusting after one each other, mixed with a murder mystery. Medieval Scotland is a violent place, y'all, and everyone of these people almost gets killed a dozen times.

I really liked the playful banter between the two leads and how well they interacted. The story with them was rarely about misunderstandings or secrets, just trying to figure each other out while outrunning a variety of murder attempts.

Spoilers Ahead

One of my absolute favorite parts about this book is Annabel's background as a former oblate and her haphazard attempt to stick to the religious strictures about sex. Wearing a weird chemise with the hole cut into it and not bedding on certain days, etc. I thought it was lovely and sweet of her to attempt it, but I really loved Ross's response. He was a bit frustrated, but he didn't force her, didn't belittle her beliefs. He simply just worked around them. It was a lovely bit of trust building that you don't often see.

I liked the twist of Annabel's sister being a bad guy and the stable boy, Graham, actually being a little sympathetic. Not really rootable, but I was sad when he died. The murder attempts were engaging, the supporting cast was great.  I don't really have a lot to say about this. There's nothing wrong with this book, it just lacks that extra oomph to get you to five stars if that makes sense.

Summer Reading

Series Review: Keegan-Paxton (Catherine Anderson)

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Summer Reading
Keegan's Lady - Catherine Anderson Beautiful Gifts - Catherine Anderson Summer Breeze (Catherine Anderson) Early Dawn - Catherine Anderson Lucky Penny - Catherine Anderson


When I originally conceived this project, I actually had Catherine Anderson’s entire Coulter extended universe on my list of planned reviews. She wrote Keegan’s Lady first, then wrote a series of contemporary novels beginning with the Kendrick brothers and then the Coulter brothers before finally leaving it behind with a quartet about the Harrigans. Ryan Kendrick married Bethany Coulter whose brother Tucker married Samantha Harrigan, giving us about 12 more books set in this universe. Early Dawn’s Eden Paxton and Matthew Coulter are the historical ancestors of the contemporary family.

After finishing Lucky Penny, I realized I didn’t have Baby Love in ebook form, and my battered physical copy has long been packed away. I don’t like Baby Love enough to buy it again which I have done for some of my favorite books. I’ve waited for them to show up in digital sales or the occasional free releases, and sometimes I love a book so much that I have purchased a digital copy so I’ve been able to replicate a lot of my physical library.

I genuinely like Catherine Anderson, don’t get me wrong. But after rereading five of her books in a row, I realized that I really didn’t want to read another twelve straight books. She’s one of those authors who writes relatively well but leans on the same tropes and same character types. This does not bother me, but it does make rereading series more of a challenge since the books start to blur together.

Anderson writes about men who are tough on the outside, soft on the inside. They curse a lot, they always think they know best, and they don’t tend to have a lot of emotional baggage. That’s left for the heroine, who is always suffering from sort of emotional trauma or abuse.

In Keegan’s Lady, Ace has more of a background to deal with but it’s been directed into revenge not emotional conflict. Caitlin is recovering from not only an abusive father and brother, but also a brutal and violent rape. In Beautiful Gifts, Patrick had the closest tragic background–a drinking issue that’s already been dealt with off the page. Faith has an emotionally abusive father and husband from whom she’s running away. In Summer Breeze, Joseph is more solid while Rachel is the agoraphobic. Early Dawn is more even–they both have emotional conflict, but of course, Eden has been sexually assaulted. And then finally, Lucky Penny in which David is emotionally fine, but Brianna is an uptight mess who has never met a man who didn’t try to rape her.

Not only are the emotional conflicts always so similar, but the problems i have with the romances tend to the same. In several of them, the hero makes all the decisions. He thinks he knows what’s best and the heroine is usually trying to just keep her head above water. In several of the books, I was left unconvinced by the HEA and was more convinced that the woman was just making the best of the situation she was dealt with.

That’s realistic to the time period, so I’m definitely not knocking it. Men always held all the power, and women had to find their own ways to subvert the system. I just kind of wish there was more acknowledgement of it. Brianna and Caitlin were particularly upsetting to read because they had their lives turned upside down because Ace and David decided they knew what was best, and they had no choices at all.

So that’s enough critique. I actually really like all of these books. For all the problems I have with the way romances are developed and how cardboard and interchangeable some of the characters are, I usually like the plots relatively well (Early Dawn drags a bit too much, but Summer Breeze was a lovely break from a lot of conventions). Catherine Anderson writes this time period and setting better than almost anyone else I’ve read.

Objectively, the best book in this series is Summer Breeze. It has the strongest romance, plot, and characters. It’s also subjectively my favorite book. My least favorite is probably Early Dawn because of the graphic sexual abuse or Lucky Penny because David becomes more insufferable every time you read it.

Beautiful Gifts (Catherine Anderson)

This novella was released as part of an anthology entitled The True Love Wedding Dress, in which Catherine Anderson wrote the prologue, the epilogue, and the final story. Other authors included Connie Brockway, Casey Claybourne, and Barbara Metzger.

Overall Response

Anthologies are really one of my least favorite types of books to buy. Best case scenario, you love all the stories in the books and you might even find a new author to follow. My usual experience has been one or two of the stories are fine, and then there are two more you'd be happy to never read again. This anthology is one of the better ones, somewhere in the middle of those two scenarios.

Read more

Lucky Penny (Catherine Anderson)

Overall Response

So I like this book a lot even though there are a lot of reasons I shouldn't.  This book has some major red flags, particularly in the way David treats Brianna early on and I really don't think I was satisfied with how it worked out in that respect. That being said, Catherine Anderson does everyone a service in that once her initial lie is exposed, Brianna goes to great pains not to lie to David again, even when he is particularly unkind to her about that honesty. I liked the subplots and supporting cast, and I think the overall resolution was fine. I'm just not sure I'm sold on the romance. The characters and the story itself save a lot of it.

Read more

Early Dawn (Catherine Anderson)

Overall Response

This is one of those so-so kind of books. It's an interesting story with mostly engaging characters, but there are portions of the book that just seem to drag on forever, and there are some tropes that I'm not a huge fan of. The writing is fine. I think my general lack of love for this book is more that it failed to connect with me. It's one of those subjective things where I'm sure there are lot of people who would give this book a five-star rating because Catherine Anderson writes this genre very well.
Read more