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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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After the Wedding (The Worth Saga #2)

Note: Received as ARC in exchange for a review. For order links, see Courtney Milan's website.

Initial Thoughts & Hot Take

I thought the book got off to a slow start. The first few chapters threw a lot of information at me about Adrian's background and family, so it took me a minute to get into the story. That being said, once it got going, I couldn't put it down and I finished it in a few hours. We'd waited a while for the follow-up to the cliffhanger ending at the end of the first book, Once Upon a Marquess, and I definitely felt like After the Wedding delivered.

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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.

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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.
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Summer Breeze (Catherine Anderson)

Overall Response

There's always been something sweet and tragic about this particular romance. Rachel is one of Catherine Anderson's tragic backstory heroines--a trope particular to her writing. Her heroines have always been through the absolute worst and are attempting to dig themselves out. I like this about her writing, but one my critique is usually that the hero doesn't ever seem to share in this trope, but this is one of the books it doesn't feel quite so tipped in the one direction. I really liked both leading characters and the path they followed to be together. The romance wasn't the source of the conflict, but rather solving the mystery of what happened to Rachel's family.

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The Pursuit Of… (Courtney Milan)

Note: This book was originally released as part of an anthology, Hamilton's Battalion, and will be released as a standalone novella on June 26, 2018. This book was provided as an ARC in exchange for a review.

Overall Response

I'm still very much dipping my toes into the m/m romance subgenre. This is not really a matter of preference, only that I tend to follow the same authors who tend to only use LGBTQ characters and romances as subplots and supporting characters. This is my third novel in this category, and the second in the m/m tradition. So that being said, I'm happy to have read this. The leads are engaging, the banter is lovely and swift and as always, Courtney Milan tackles the larger issues so deftly you don't even notice what she's doing.  There's always something deeper at work in Milan books, and her hero and heroines are always just left of conventional, which is my favorite thing about her work. I love knowing when I pick up a book from Courtney Milan, I'm about to be taken on a journey that no other author could have done.
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