Traitor in Her Arms- Shana Galen


Previously having read and enjoyed a Regency historical by Galen, I was looking forward to this one, especially when I noticed that it was set during the French Revolution. I was not disappointed, but this was not the light-hearted romp that I am accustomed to in historical romance.

The Story-
After her husband’s death, Gabrielle is left with all of his gambling debt and no way to pay it back. She has taken to stealing expensive artifacts from the rich in order to keep her head above water, but when she is offered the chance to repay everything and help the Scarlet Pimpernel free innocents in Paris, she must act. Ramsey has always been intrigued by Gabrielle, but no more so than now, catching her in the act of theft. A secret and blackmail keep him from realizing his full potential, and now he will follow Gabrielle into danger to hopefully free himself.

My Thoughts-
It was so refreshing to read of a different time period than Regency or Victorian England, but man, Revolutionary Paris is pretty depressing. Exciting, yes. But still depressing. The danger in this story was as palpable as a world-ending paranormal, which I adjusted to, but was perhaps not expecting from the normally light historical genre. The development of the characters was thorough and complete; their actions are entirely driven by their motivations. The heat between the two was constantly simmering beneath the surface. Mostly though, the depictions of Paris during the Revolution perfectly set the scene. I could almost smell the blood and feel the tension, waiting for the zing of the guillotine. Honestly, this felt more like a historical novel with romantic elements than a true romance because of the weight of the plot. I think that is what kept it from a 5 star rating for me; I wasn’t prepared, and the suspense stressed me a bit.

The Bottom Line-
If, after reading this review, you are thinking that this sounds like a book you will really enjoy, you will likely LOVE this one. If you are in the mood for a light historical, this probably won’t be your jam today. Well-written and a wonderfully different setting! 4 1/2 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?