Posts tagged “scotland

Throwback Thursday: RECKLESS by Hannah Howell

I have a love/hate relationship with this week’s Throwback Thursday pick: Reckless by Hannah Howell.

Heir to the clan MacFarlane, Ailis was a prize to be bartered by her calculating father, and her wedding to a man she despised seemed inevitable–until she is abducted by her clan’s worst enemy, Alexander MacDubh, a brutally handsome laird with ice in his eyes and hot blood in his veins. She had heard rumors of the most famous and feared member of the MacDubh clan, a fair and loving man transformed by grief into an embittered, cold-hearted raider. And now, she was at his mercy.

Alexander had come riding into Leargan to claim the three children born of a forbidden love between his brother and lovely Ailis’ sister. Now, with Ailis herself as his pawn, he can strike at the enemy whose treachery robbed his clan of so much. Her beauty and her fierce temper stir his blood, and vengeance has never been so sinfully sweet. But will a passion they cannot deny by enough to ease the pain and torment of the past–and break the chains around his heart?

I HATED – and I mean with a capital H-A-T-E-D – this novel’s hero, Alexander. I think he was pretty much the reason why the term “alphole” was invented. On the other hand, I really liked Ailis and she deserved much better in my opinion. Unfortunately she was stuck between two suitors:

1. The very rapey, Donald

2. The slightly less rapey, Alex.


Well, it’s no surprise that Ailis picks Alex with a great choice like that, huh?

I wanted something better for Ailis, and this is why I ultimately fell in love with the novel. (Are you confused yet?)

Okay, let me explain that convoluted statement. All of the characters in this novel are well written – it’s the only reason that I could hate or love them so passionately. They all had backstories and they all had baggage from their past, but not all of them grew up to be ideal people…and that’s okay. Fact is, Ms. Howell was able to write a story to which I reacted emotionally, and that was ultimately what I fell in love with – her writing. This novel may not have been my cup of tea, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t try another Hannah Howell novel.

And I did…

And I loved it!

And then I read another, which I also loved. And another…and so on.

Have you ever tried a book by a new author that you hated? Have you ever picked up another book by the same author that you loved? 

Rika Ashton

(aka Reckless Reporter)


Release Day Review: THE VIRGIN OF CLAN SINCLAIR by Karen Ranney

Disclaimer: An advanced reviewer’s copy of this novel was given to Rika’s Musings by the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Virgin of Clan Sinclair is the second Karen Ranney book I have read recently, the first was The Witch of Clan Sinclair (book two in this series, while this is book three.) Both books were BIG hits with me and I am fast becoming a Karen Ranney addict.

The Virgin of Clan Sinclair was a nice conclusion to a heartwarming series:

Ellice Traylor has a secret. Beneath her innocent exterior beats an incredibly passionate and imaginative heart. She has been pouring all of her frustrated virginal fantasies into a scandalous manuscript. But when her plans for her future are about to be derailed by her mother’s matrimonial designs, she takes matters into her own hands.

Ross Forster, the Earl of Gladsden, has spent his life creating order out of chaos. He expects discipline and calm from those around him. What he does not expect is a beautiful, thoroughly maddening stowaway in his carriage.

But when Ross discovers Ellice’s secret book, he finds he can’t stop thinking about what other fantasies the disarming virgin can dream up. He has the chance to learn when a compromising position forces them to wed. But can the uptight Earl survive a life with his surprising new wife? And how will the hero of Ellice’s fantasies compare to the husband of her reality?

The Review:

As I was reading this novel, I kept thinking that Ms. Ranney must have written this one about me. Ellice is such a relatable character – with an occasionally overbearing mother (ehem…), wild imagination, sometimes horny (ehem again), and a bit of an introvert unless she’s with friends. This was a pretty close description of me, lol! And her relatability was one of the reasons this book was such a winner with me. Plus all her overly dramatic internal monologue had me laughing out loud!

“Was she taken ill?” he’d say.

“Suddenly,” the doctor said. “She called for you but you weren’t there.” The man turned and looked at Ross, eyes narrowed, mouth firmed. “Where were you, sir, that you denied your wife comfort in her hour of need?”

“With another woman, of course. Her breasts are larger and her hips wider. She didn’t refuse me.”

Did I mention that Ellice is a writer? Her imagination is very creative and comes up with the most unlikely of scenarios.  As for the book that Ellice writes, The Lustful Adventures of Lady Pamela, well that’s where the fun starts.

The hero, Ross, thinks he resembles the Donald – Ellice’s fictional creation from The Lustful Adventures of Lady Pamela – too much and that others will pick up on it which can prove embarrassing for his election campaign…maybe even detrimental. Of course, he’s secretly intrigued by the novel and gets hot every time he reads it, but pretends to be a stickler in front of Ellice.

Ross was an interesting character in his own way. He wasn’t a tortured hero per say, but was getting there – he had the betrayal of his first wife, Cassandra, and his father to overcome. Luckily, however, he didn’t spend too much time moping around and I liked that he didn’t refuse to acknowledge that he loved her when asked by his mother. I was expecting a denial, but he was honest with himself and Ellice.

Honesty was a common characteristic that I enjoyed between both Logan – the hero from The Witch of Clan Sinclair – Ross, and it’s a refreshing change from the usual self-denial cliche, and I hope that the rest of Karen Ranney novels have similarly – though not 100% the same – honest heroes because, yes, I will DEFINITELY be reading more of Ms. Ranney’s books.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Virgin of Clan Sinclair and highly recommend this book to all my fellow historical romance lovers! Four out of five for this one!


-Rika Ashton

(aka Book Reviewer)

Books Lost in Time

I had some time to read while the laptop was getting upgraded – taking most of my digital ARCs with it – and I started to reread some of my favourite series. Among them was the “Seven Deadly Sins” historical romance novels by Kathryn Caskie and Kinley MacGregor‘s (aka Sherrilyn Kenyon’s) “Lords of Avalon,” a historical-paranormal romance series. Both the series had incredibly strong starts, but disappeared before conclusion due to unforeseeable circumstances.

Kathryn Caskie’s A Sin in White (book four of the series) was “waylaid at the gate.” The novel had a mock-up digital cover, and a tentative release date of Fall 2011, but progress was halted after Ms. Caskie had a medical emergency. All excerpts and teasers about the novel are still up on her site.

Kinley MacGregor’s Darkness Within (book three of the series) had an official cover, featuring Paul Marron no less, but was recalled before publication because Ms. Kenyon was not one hundred percent satisfied with her story. (And while I completely appreciate her effort, after reading the blurb, I still thought the story was AWESOME!)

After his sister is kidnapped by Morgan le Fey and her army, Hel Hound Kaziel must steal the Shield of Dagda. In New Orleans, Avery MacArthur is the guardian for the Shield. When Avery and Kaziel collide, more than their lives are at stake.

Neither novel has a release date as of yet, but Darkness Within has a countdown stating that it is 610 days away from release – but since I’ve been down this road before, back when the novel was supposed to be released in 2008, and then 2010, I’ll tell you now that it’s likely a countdown to doomsday. (But if you’re like me, my warning probably won’t stop you from hoping.)

Know of any other books lost in time? Do share!

Rika Ashton

(aka The Historian)

The Witch of Clan Sinclair by Karen Ranney: A Review Post

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This book will not be released until April 29th, 2014 and there may be some spoilers in this post. 

The Blurb: 

Logan Harrison is looking for a wife. As the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, he needs a conventional and diplomatic woman who will stand by his side and help further his political ambitions. He most certainly does not need Mairi Sinclair, the fiery, passionate, fiercely beautiful woman who tries to thwart him at every turn. But if she’s so wrong for him, why can’t he stop kissing her? He is completely bewitched.

Mairi Sinclair has never met anyone like Logan Harrison, the perfect example of everything she finds wrong with the world. He’s also incredibly handsome, immensely popular, and impossible to resist. His kisses inflame her and awaken a passion she can barely control.

Can two people who are at such odds admit to a love that would bind them together for life?

The Review: 

I requested a copy of this book from Avon, after a friend of mine raved about how much she loved Karen Ranney’s novel. I’d never read anything by this author, so when I was given the chance I asked for a copy of The Witch of Clan Sinclair. This is the second book of a series that started with The Devil of Clan Sinclair.

The story is set in 1872, but I don’t think it can be defined as a Victorian romance, because it takes place in Edinburgh. The novel’s heroine, Mairi, is a very strong-willed character and a strong advocate of women’s rights. She meets the hero, Logan, when she is refused entry to a lecture she wants to attend. Why? Because she is a woman. Saying she was happy is an understatement, and she’s only more outraged when Logan also refuses to let her enter.

Logan has never thought much about women’s rights before – and, really, why would he? This story is pre-women’s lib and he’s a man. But he is fascinated by Mairi and her strong opinions on the subject. Plus, he’s in a great position to be an advocate of the movement as both Lord Provost and a politician. He is also a proven supporter of reform, so he is open to the idea of women’s rights – which in a romance hero, is a great quality.

And, our hero is not willing to lose his chance at love despite his earlier desire for a more conventional wife. Logan’s pursuit of Mairi, which leads to plenty of verbal sparring matches, also proves how well suited they are to one another. Although, Mairi is reluctant to trust Logan with her heart – especially after a bad experience with a former suitor – she slowly comes to understand Logan. Logan, for his part, remains steadfast and charming throughout the novel. Ranney embodies character chemistry in the relationship between Mairi and Logan.

Both Logan and Mairi are strong, like-able characters and their story is told with a poignancy that I have read in the works of very few authors before and I give The Witch of Clan Sinclair a rating of 4 out of 5.


Rika Ashton

(aka Book Critic)

The Untamed Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley: Cover and Blurb Reveal!

If you’re like me and eagerly awaiting the next “Mackenzie” series installment by Jennifer Ashley, then be ready to rejoice! The blurb and Kindle cover has been revealed for “The Untamed Mackenzie” – a novella featuring Inspector Fellows and Louisa Scranton, Isabella’s sister.

Delicious, no?


To redeem her family’s disgraced name, Lady Louisa Scranton has decided to acquire a proper husband. He needs to be a man of fortune and highly respectable in order to restore both her family’s lost wealth and reputation. She enters the Marriage Mart with all flags flying, determined to find the right bachelor.

But Louisa’s hopes are dashed when the Bishop of Hargate drops dead at her feet – and she is shockingly accused of murder! Soon, Louisa’s so-called friends begin shunning her, because the company of a suspected killer is never desirable in polite society.

The problem comes to the ears of Detective Inspector Lloyd Fellows, by-blow of the decadent Scottish Mackenzie family and an inspector for Scotland Yard. He has shared two passionate kisses with Lady Louisa – and vows to clear her name. For not only does he know she’s innocent, he recognizes he’s falling for the lovely lady.

Fellows is Louisa’s only hope of restoring her family’s honor – and it is he alone who intrigues Louisa in a way that may be even more scandalous than murder…

I’m now officially dying to read this one – have been ever since that kiss between Louisa and Fellows. Plus, any chance to catch up with the Mackenzie’s is worthwhile. 😀

If you have a favourite series with a new installment releasing, please do share! I’m always looking for new reading material. The wait between novels by favourite authors can be lonely without company. 🙂

Rika Ashton

(aka “OMG! September cannot come sooner!”)

The BRAVE Rave!

I’m pretty sure that my post title says it all, but today I’m raving about the epic greatness of the new Disney Pixar film, Brave. Set in 10th century Scotland, the movie follows a fierce Scottish (voiced by an actual Scottish actress, Kelly Macdonald) lassie, who embarks on a quest to “change her fate” or so the trailers have been saying since the movie first began its promotional campaign.

I’ve been following this movie’s progress since it was still untitled and then when it was announced under its initial title, The Bear and the Bow, almost two years ago. The first concept arts drew me in and I immediately knew I’d like Merida with her wild, red hair. Plus, I also loved the concept of a quest and curse, but what I didn’t expect was the true maternal core of the film.

An unexpected, but delightful surprise.

As many other reviewer’s have mentioned online and in print, previous Disney Pixar films revolved around a male lead and most didn’t even feature mothers, so I was pleasantly surprised by the central theme of Brave. I was tearing up with delight and wanted to give my mum a hug then and there – a little hard to do since my mum was a home and I was sitting in a theatre miles away, but the thought was there. I was surprised that none of the trailers prior had mentioned this aspect of the film, but maybe the promoters were afraid that little boys – of which I saw many in the audience – wouldn’t want to watch the film if they thought it was about “female bonding,” though those words sell the concept short and the film is about much more than this.

The film also features the classic hero’s quest, though with a female-hero, and that quest is as much about redemption and righting one’s wrongs as it is about adventure. I also liked the lack of a “prince” readily available to bail Merida out of her problems. Don’t get me wrong, I love princes and mean no offence to any of them, but Disney films have a way of utilizing these men as throwaway solutions to all their heroines’ problems, so I appreciated that Merida had to think her way through her situation and as a result, find her own strength.

Plus, throw in some family-friendly comedy, three adorable and devlish younger brothers, amazing scenery and landscape animation, possibly the best-yet soundtrack, and Disney Pixar’s Brave has earned a place among some of my favourite all-time animated movies, such as The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Howl’s Moving Castle and yes, Hercules.

Rika Ashton

(aka The Very Brave!)

P.S: Brave also gets points for being the only animated Disney movie (that I know of) to warn parents/guardians against nudity, lol!