Book Review: A Chieftain’s Wife by Leigh Ann Edwards

As Alainn and Killian O’Brien begin their married life together, Alainn encounters many new and unexpected challenges. Stricken by the disturbing, reoccurring vision of Killian’s death, she desperately seeks a way to prevent it from happening. In hope of providing a normal life for their unborn child Alainn turns from her own magical abilities, but soon realizes that doing so may endanger everyone she cares for. 

Set in 16th century Ireland, A Chieftain’s Wife continues the captivating story of Alainn and Killian’s passionate love. Past indiscretions, deep jealousy, a vindictive witch, and tragic hardships all threaten to disrupt Killian and Alainn’s happiness and future together.

From Netgalley in exchange for a review.

This is the 4th in the series, the 1st I have read, and unfortunately it suffers from what I hate the most about series books – the “here’s what happened in previous books” info dump, especially in the first few chapters. It does get a little better later on in the book – the curse on Killian’s family regarding the birth of healthy children was alluded to well enough to make me consider going back to perhaps reading previous books. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done – why read a previous book, if you’ve already told me everything I need to know in this book?

Anyway Killian and Alainn are newly married, Alainn is 7 months pregnant, and the two are as horny for each other as ever and continue to regularly have sex, with little apparent concern for the welfare of the baby. In fact, sex is the main way that Alainn keeps Killian in check – when she’s angry or jealous, she bans him from her room in order to punish him.  She is supremely jealous of Ciara, a previous lover of Killian, who comes to live in the castle when Ciara’s husband dies. However, Alainn also seems to be oblivious to the young Danhoul’s attentiveness and how it, in turn, makes Killian jealous.

Besides all this, there is a darkness hanging over Castle O’Donnel – animals have been spelled to threaten Alainn at every opportunity; Ciara – apart from being one of Killian’s previous lovers – seems to be dabbling in dark magic which includes causing distress to animals; someone has tried to induce the birth of the baby early by spoiling Alainn’s food.  Alainn is also trying to suppress her magical talents, that includes visions and weather control.  Having had a vision of her husband’s death at the hands of the English, she also manages to do time travel, and transport herself across half the country.  In doing so, it kicks off a chain of events that consume the last third of the book, and sets up the story for the next book in the series.

In summary then, this is book 4 of a 6 book series, full of witchcraft and high drama, seemingly impossible tasks completed with a wave of a hand. Due to the “issues” mentioned before, this is not my style of story, and I will not be looking for others in the series. Based on other reviews out there, others seem to enjoy it, so each to their own.


Book Review: One Summer in Tuscany by Domenica De Rosa

High on a hill in the Tuscan countryside stands a castle of golden stone, home to Patricia O’Hara’s writers’ retreat – a serene hideaway where you can polish your prose by the pool, gain inspiration from your peers and eat the best melanzane in Italy, courtesy of chef Aldo. But, while the splendour of their surroundings never fails to wow the guests, huge maintenance bills and bad news from the bank threaten to close Patricia down. It’s make or break time for the Castello de Luna.

This August each of her seven aspiring authors arrives with emotional baggage alongside their manuscripts. But something is different. It may be just the prosecco, but soon lifelong spinster Mary is riding on the back of Aldo’s Vespa, and smouldering odd-job man Fabio has set more than one heart racing.

As temperatures rise, the writers gossip, flirt and gently polish their prose by the pool. But with some unexpected visitors to contend with, one thing’s for sure: neither the Castello, nor Patricia, has ever seen a summer like this. 

From Netgalley in exchange for a review

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#booktag – Reader Problems

I’ve dipped in and out of #BookTag the last few years, but have recently found some posts with questions, so thought I’d join in!

  • Q1: You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?
  • A1: In reality my bookshelves are fairly full and rather messy. I tend to look at which area I think needs tidying up the most, do a shuffle round, see if I’m in the mood to read the book that’s in my hand right now and go with that.  Or I look at my netgalley list and guilt about how low my review ratio is right now, and see what I should be reading right now.

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Genres I don’t read

Thanks to Boats against the Current who helped out with some blogging prompts! I’m going to try out a couple of these suggestions and see where they take me.

open book

This time, I will talk about the Genres I don’t read. Hopefully you’ll know I have a review policy, which has been built up over the time I’ve been blogging. I know it looks pretty big and scary but it’s been built on, often as a reaction to a review pitch where my instinctive response has first been “no!” and then “err, why?”.

Christian Fiction

I am not a fan of Christian (or generally religious) Fiction.  I have read enough of them to know to avoid. One or two have almost changed my mind, but they are outweighed by the ones that have put me off.  I don’t like it for the same reason I avoid evangelical Christians……simply far far too earnest and desperate to make me exactly the same as them (or that i’m somehow inferior/unworthy if I resist). There are a couple of books where I’ve come away feeling hit around the head with a brick.  “I am going to tell you why my life is better than yours, why I am a better person than you and all you have to do is exactly what I tell you too, and then you will feel exactly the same way I do”. I am a practical person, and much prefer the “show, don’t tell” way of things: TELLING me means nothing – SHOW me how good a person your religion has made you in both thought and deed; what joy, compassion and goodwill your religion has brought and how, when the going gets tough, your religion brings you peace and strength. Problems with organised religion much? moi? haha!

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Book Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

The Brides of Rollrock Island

Rollrock island is a lonely rock of gulls and waves, blunt fishermen and their homely wives. Life is hard for the families who must wring a poor living from the stormy seas. But Rollrock is also a place of magic – the scary, salty-real sort of magic that changes lives forever. Down on the windswept beach, where the seals lie in herds, the outcast sea witch Misskaella casts her spells – and brings forth girls from the sea – girls with long, pale limbs and faces of haunting innocence and loveliness – the most enchantingly lovely girls the fishermen of Rollrock have ever seen.

But magic always has its price. A fisherman may have and hold a sea bride, and tell himself that he is her master. But from his first look into those wide, questioning, liquid eyes, he will be just as transformed as she is. He will be equally ensnared. And in the end the witch will always have her payment.

Margo Lanagan has written an extraordinary tale of desire, despair and transformation. In devastatingly beautiful prose, she reveals unforgettable characters capable of unspeakable cruelty – and deep unspoken love. After reading about the Rollrock fishermen and their sea brides, the world will not seem the same.

Paper copy given to me as a discard.

Having grown up with the idea of Selkies as part of Irish folklore, I decided to read this before I passed it on.

The first part of the book concentrates on Misskaella, the youngest of the Prout family, who seems to have a way with the Seals who live on the island’s beach, to the point where she has to cross herself to prevent them following her through the town. It sets the rest of the story up nicely, which then is told from several Points of View: the island man who desires a seal woman, even though he is already married; the island man who escaped to the mainland as a child, returns ahead of his marriage to sell the family home, only to be enchanted by a seal woman; the children of the Island men and the Seal Women, who don’t know life can be different until confronted by people from the mainland who find them fascinating, and who then find their mothers’ “coats” (seal skins) hanging up in the local pub for safe keeping; the escape of the women to the sea, taking their sons with them, and a clue as to what happens to any girl offspring; a possible change in fortune for the island and the future population;  The view of Misskaella through the eyes of her apprentice, who has been brought from the mainland to take over when Misskaella dies. Continue reading

Book Review: Saving Grace by Sandy James

Grace Riley is on the run—from her past and from her fears. The victim of a violent rape at the hands of a rich politician’s son, she must “disappear” to escape his constant attempts to recapture her. Moving from cattle drive to cattle drive as a cook, she avoids her tormentor for nearly twenty years. When she discovers that the brother she gave up for adoption after their mother died in childbirth was orphaned at an early age, she is frantic to verify that he’s safe. She tracks him to a cattle ranch in Montana.

Widower Adam Morgan owns the Twin Springs ranch, but finds himself falling into a life of loneliness. Although he enjoys spending time with his grown daughter and the two men he rescued when they were living on the streets, he longs to meet a woman he can love. Living in the Montana territory where men greatly outnumber women makes finding a new wife difficult. Weary of working cattle, he is ready to make some changes in his life.

Grace falls ill on her journey, but she manages to make it to the Twin Springs ranch where her brother is supposed to be living. Adam takes her in, concerned for her health and the reason she’s searching for one of his adopted sons. Their chemistry is immediate and intense, but can Grace heal from her past of pain and fear? When her secrets are finally revealed, can Adam forgive her deceptions and learn to love again?


From Netgalley in exchange for a review.

There’s a couple of unusual things about this book: Grace has spent the previous 20 years effectively being stalked by her (seemingly mad) rapist, the father of her son, a member of a rich and powerful political party;  There is not one, but two romances going on here – Grace and Adam, and Matthew (Grace’s brother) and Victoria (Adam’s daughter); Both lead characters are older – Grace is 35 and Adam is in his 40s. Continue reading

Book Review: Lord of Night by Erica Ridley

Unlike proper debutantes, Miss Dahlia Grenville is secretly Robin Hood in a bonnet. Her home for wayward girls has too many dependants and not enough donations. But just as she’s about to pull off the heist of the Season, she tumbles straight into the arms of the handsome detective who has sworn to deliver Mayfair’s mysterious thief straight to the gallows.

Highly principled Bow Street runner Simon Spaulding’s world is black and white. There’s no mastermind too clever, no criminal alive who can escape the hangman. Until he realizes the delightful young lady he’s been courting is a liar and a thief. Suddenly, his career—and his heart—are in peril. How can he bring her to justice when it means losing her forever?

From Netgalley in exchange for a review. This is the third in the “Lord of” series, and therefore a companion piece to Lord of Pleasure. It’s standalone enough for me to not twig for the first few chapters and there is little overlap between the two stories. Continue reading