Tangled in Time- Barbara Longley

tangled in time

I’ve long enjoyed Barbara Longley’s time-travel books, so I was especially looking forward to this one, which is set in Ireland, not Scotland, and is the first book in her new McCarthy Sisters series.

The Story-
Regan can see ghosts, and it is inconvenient. So, she has decided to go to Ireland to see if there is some sort of ancient magic which can help to rid her of this gift. When she meets what she thinks is a ghost needing to cross over, her desires will change. Faelan has been a prisoner of a fae princess for over a thousand years and cursed to remain there until he finds a woman to love. Every year on solstice, he is able to materialize for one day, but when a woman can see him before he materializes, he feels that she is the one.

My Thoughts-
This is so different from most time-travel romances. First of all, the Ireland setting is not just window dressing; it is well-researched and is almost a character in itself. I also enjoyed the paranormal aspects to the story and how they were dealt with. This isn’t just some slippage through time that is never truly explained. Much of the plot is devoted to the couple actually getting to know one another and fall in love; imagine that! I was totally invested in the relationship and believed it, so when the climax came, nothing felt forced, too fast, or like it didn’t deserve the payoff. Much of the story takes place in current day Ireland and feels a bit like the movie “Ghost” which was fun and unexpected.

The Bottom Line-
Longley is my “go-to” author for time-travel and historical paranormal romance. This book went fast and kept me intrigued the whole time. 4 1/2 stars

Scandalous Ever After- Theresa Romain


This was my first book by Theresa Romain, and I was pleasantly surprised at her different take on historical romance. With a great friends-to-lovers trope, a delicious hero, and different settings than most historicals, this one is definitely worth checking out.

The Story-
Evan and Kate are old friends whose relationship ended at the sudden death of her husband a few years ago. Kate has been struggling to put the pieces of her life back together, and Evan has been desperately trying to move forward…and forget about his feelings for Kate. When she seeks him out, they have to figure out who they are to each other now.

My Thoughts-
I loved how different this book was from all of the cookie-cutter historical romances I (admittedly) love to read. First, the backdrops of the horse racing and Anglesey in Wales provided interesting interactions for the characters. Secondly, I have never been a horse person, but I really enjoyed reading about the horses in this book. It’s obvious that the author loves them and can transmit that appeal to the reader. Don’t get me wrong: this book isn’t all about horses or anything, it just effortlessly connects them to the story through the couple’s affinity for them. Lastly, I thought the grown-up approach to this romance was refreshing. These are two adults who have figured some things out and can move forward with eyes wide open.
The best thing about this book, however, is the hero. I loved Evan so much that at some points, I disliked the heroine based on her idiocity with regards to him. Hello!?! Here is a hot, amazing guy who adores you. There was also a bit of a disjointedness with the plot once they got to Ireland and started a murder investigation. It almost felt like two separate books.

The Bottom Line-
The overarching mystery which continues from this book, while interesting, has me less intrigued to come back to the series than Romain’s character development and welcome take on historical romance. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and highly recommend it, especially to fans of horses and well-developed characters and relationships (not instalove). 4 stars

Wild Irish Heart- Tricia O’Malley


“Wild Irish Heart” is the first book in the Mystic Cove Series by Tricia O’Malley.  In this story, she brings us to Ireland and introduces us to an ancient magic which binds the women of Grace’s Cove to each other and to the amazing landscape.

The Story-  A mysterious book stating “it is time” forces Keelin to face her past and accept a new future in Ireland.  Seriously, Keelin has the set-up with a cottage that has a view of the ocean and a glorious cove to explore.  The townspeople are suspicious, due to her family’s heritage, but she meets a hot guy within the first couple of minutes.  Flynn just happens to be rich, beautiful, and there to rescue Keelin again and again.

My Thoughts- Despite some overused tropes (girl and guy don’t like each other initially), I was drawn into this world and story very quickly.  I wanted to be Keelin, starting a new life in Ireland, making new friends at the local pub, and, of course, hanging out with the hottie. Some conflicts were resolved too quickly with an easy, “I’m sorry”, but the pacing and interest of the story never let up.

The Bottom Line- I intend to continue with this series as I am interested in what happens to Keelin and the other women of Grace’s Cove.  There was just enough supernatural mixed in with wonderful descriptions of Ireland to keep me happy.  This was a short, easy, fun read that brought a nice little bright spot to my week. 4 stars

Top 5 Best Locations to Set a Romance 

Today, I thought it might be fun to explore the places I love to read about in romance novels. I’ve included both some common ones as well as places I’d like to read more about. So, let’s get to it: my favorite places in romance novels!
5. Paris– Paris is synonymous with love and romance, but surprisingly enough, not many romance novels are set in this beautiful city.  The gorgeous parks, bakeries, cafes and museums would all make perfect backdrops for a budding romance.  Remember the movie “Before Sunset” with Ethan Hawke?  After that boat ride on the Seine, you just knew there was no way he was leaving her. Or what about Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris”? Paris is so magical it was perfectly believable that the hero would encounter magic in her streets.

Additionally, Paris and the surrounding areas have such an interesting history that is begging to be explored. While I do love English ladies and dukes, it wouldn’t hurt to replace them with a French aristocracy sometimes.  A few romance authors do use the setting of Paris to great effect, (I’m thinking of Juliette Sobanet) but I would love to visit the city of lights via books more often.

4. New Orleans– Being a Louisiana girl, it should come as no surprise that I view our gem of a city as a prime setting for a romance novel.  New Orleans carries with it so much mystery and magic; it is perfect for the author that wants to add a little suspense or paranormal to their story.  The food is to die for, the French Quarter has exquisite architecture, and the city is already rife with legends and stories to play with.  I will ask kindly that any author choosing New Orleans do their research as nothing annoys us natives more than someone misrepresenting our culture or city.

If you want to read about New Orleans from a native, Juliette Cross has set her “Forged in Fire” series there, and she does a great job of representing the truth of the city as well as building on its mystery.

3. Italy– When people think of romance and Italy, they usually either think of Tuscany or Venice.  They don’t realize how much there is to Italy and how many places could be utilized to tell stories of love. Naples is full of passionate people, a seedy underworld, old castles, and superstition.  Florence is the city of art and Renaissance; I fall in love every time I visit that city.  Rome is about the people and the history and movement and sex.  The Amalfi Coast is an excellent small-town setting with unrivaled beauty and close-knit communities.

And then there’s Venice.  If you couldn’t come up with a story set in Venice, I wonder about your abilities.  And Tuscany is, of course, home to wine, crumbling vine-covered houses shining in the sun, and amazing people who lovingly maintain their small villages. My favorite books set in Italy aren’t technically romance novels, but are memoirs by Marlena de Blasi. For me, they truly sum up the Italian experience, but I’d love some quick and fun reads set in this amazing country.

2. Ireland– Yes, now we are in tried and true territory. Many authors use the mystique and lore of Ireland to tell amazing stories. Overdone? Maybe, but I love them and will continue to be drawn to them. The cliffs, hills, cozy little pubs, and stories or “craic” make Ireland among the most appealing of places to have a romance.  I love how books have transported me to Galway, Dublin, Shannon, Dingle and Cork.  Ireland is the perfect setting for those of us who want to settle down in a small cottage with a cup of tea and a garden, and head out to the local pub for a Guiness and stew to listen to a local band play sad Irish music. My author recommendation list would be too long to publish, but I have to thank Nora Roberts for introducing me to the wonders of romance in Ireland back in college.

1. Scotland– I am not alone. There is a reason myself and so many like me are drawn to Scotland.  Most people might laugh at me and say that it is all about the kilts. While I do love a man in a kilt, that isn’t it.  For me, everything in Scotland comes together to both spark my imagination and comfort me like a warm blanket (or kilt) wrapped around my shoulders.

I love the history with the clans, struggle with England, rebellions, and castles. I love the lore and stories of fairies, witches, magical glens, and mountains formed from people.  I love the culture of the bagpipes, ceilidhs, storytelling, brogue, whisky, and yes, kilts. I even love the weather of Scotland.  My friend who lives there swears I would tire of the overcast days and rain, but I am not so sure.  Nothing says happiness to me like a cool day where I need to wear a sweater and drink something warm. This past summer I visited Scotland again and was able to visit the Highlands, the Isle of Skye, and I spent a few days in Stirling and a few living out my fantasy in an Airbnb in Edinburgh.

Scotland makes me happy, and I appreciate all the writers who bring me there again and again. There are so many, but I am currently reading “Highland Deception” by Lori Ann Bailey (review coming soon). Keep fulfilling my Scottish dreams, y’all!
This list is by no means comprehensive of the places I love to read about in romance novels. I would love to hear your ideas, and maybe I can construct a part 2 soon. Where do your romantic dreams take place?