The Scot Beds His Wife- Kerrigan Byrne


I love Kerrigan Byrne and her style of dark historical romance. This book was just as enjoyable, but it has a slightly different tone from the other books in this series. What starts as almost a typical Scot alpha-hero romance, ends up being much more.

The Story-
After going through a particularly harrowing experience in America (I won’t spoil it for you), Samantha goes to Scotland to start over completely. The manor she has moved into is coveted by the one man she promised to protect it from.

My Thoughts-
I was surprised with the beginning in America and thought the American heroine was a refreshing take. She is delightfully spunky. Gavin is pretty much your typical dark, brooding Scot, but he does have a bit more going on upstairs than many of them do. The dark opening of his childhood set me up perfectly for Byrne’s style, but it took awhile for the book to get back around to the repercussions of that scene. I was initially afraid in the first third to half of the book (after the openings) that it was falling into a more “normal” rhythm of a historical romance. I felt like I had read it before. And then, everything changed and the danger ramped up and it became everything I hoped for from Kerrigan. She ties in some things I didn’t expect and brings it to a different level.

The Bottom Line-
Honestly, if someone were dipping their toe in to Byrne’s writing for the first time because they weren’t sure they wanted to start with her darker or crazier books, (which I absolutely love) I feel like this would be an excellent choice. Don’t get me wrong: her fans will still be happy as clams. I just feel like this book will win her some new fans based on the cover, title, and plot. Oh, and by the way, I am sooooo excited for the next book. We get to meet the hero in this book, and just swoon… Definitely one of my fave historical romances of the year. 5 stars

Caught by the Scot- Karen Hawkins


Don’t you just love when you read a book from an author that is new to you, and it is so good that the author is immediately added to your “must read all new books” list? Well, that is what this book did for me and Karen Hawkins. Fortunately, my first Hawkins is also the first in her new “Made to Marry” series which is a great retread of a fave trope: some hot Scottish brothers are forced to marry in order to inherit.

The Story-
The first brother in this series, Conner is a young roustabout rogue who is absolutely certain that an old family friend, Theodora, will be tickled pink to marry him, if only he offers. In a funny twist, Theodora has just eloped with a local guy and is not about to swoon at Conner’s feet now that he is finally giving her the time of day.

My Thoughts-
I adore the humor in this book. There are some truly hysterical situations and scenes, but the wit is also there. Also, I am so glad that Hawkins didn’t make Theodora’s fiance some jerky guy. She took a way better, more interesting route in his character development that felt just perfect. Conner and Theodora are super duper hot, which I love. He’s so surprised by their heat, and she’s so true to herself; the inner conflicts shine and make you root for both characters. Hawkins’ writing kept me rapt; I couldn’t quit reading. The plot feels fresh. Even though it has been done before, it hasn’t been done in this way with this humor. And yet, though there is humor, the heart is still here.

The Bottom Line-
If you love historical and haven’t read Karen Hawkins, this is an EXCELLENT choice to start with. If you are a fan of hers, you probably already have this on pre-order. I cannot wait to read more from her. I highly recommend her to fans of Tessa Dare, Eloisa James, Loretta Chase,and Julie Garwood. And, to top it off, she writes Scots, which happens to be one of my fave historical sub-groups. 5 stars!

The Rogue’s Conquest- Lily Maxton


This is my first book by Lily Maxton, and I am pleased to say that I really enjoyed it. The Townsends series features siblings in Edinburgh that are up and coming in society, a bit on the fringe, but definitely devoted to one another.

The Story-
Eleanor Townsend studies bugs, beetles specifically. She is brilliant in her recordings and findings, and has been requested to present them to an important society. Unfortunately, they believe her to be male. What to do, but dress up as a man and present the findings incognito?! James MacGregor is a prize-fighter who wants only to climb in society for vengeful reasons. When he discovers Eleanor’s secret, he decides that she is his way in.

My Thoughts-
Eleanor and James are both somewhat underdogs, so I loved seeing them interact and overcome their own personal issues to be together. This is an excellent friends-to-lovers romance with nice twists that I didn’t expect. I always have a soft spot for when a hero sees something special in a girl that no one else sees, and Maxton does that so well here. Another big plus? The “other woman” is not a b****! Yay! We have real female friendship without backbiting. Way to go! The story has great pacing, identifiable characters, and swoon-worthy moments.

The Bottom Line-
I love when I find an author that isn’t with one of the big pubs that is really great. Lily Maxton is the real deal, and this book is thoroughly enjoyable. The different setting of Edinburgh, the development of this great family, and a great twist on a recognizable plot all came together to make me love this book. I will be reading the rest of the series, and I recommend this author to fans of Julia Quinn and Sarah MacLean. 5 stars

Historical Romance Guide- Part 1

I have been reading romance since I was in high school, but didn’t really commit myself to heavy reading until a year ago when I started this blog. One of my favorite genres is historical, and after a year of in-depth historical romance reading, I have come to some conclusions and have some thoughts on a variety of authors and books. Over the next week, I will explore a few different categories: Standards, Comedians, and Edgy. As always, I’d love your thoughts. Let’s dig in!!

The Standards

When I think of the standards in historical romance, I think of a beautifully-written story with wonderful characters. Maybe there is angst, but it usually isn’t driven by really dark things.  I feel satisfied and happy at the end of these books. Maybe they make me cry; they always make me sigh and smile.  In no particular order, here are some of my faves.

Suzanne Enoch and Karen Hawkins- The Scottish Ladies

Okay, I’m putting these ladies together because they complement each other so well. They both write wonderful historical romances either set in Scotland or with Scottish characters. Not all of their books have that Scottish flair, but I feel like these two are doing the Scottish thing better than anyone else writing currently. I’ve been loving books set in Scotland since I first read Julie Garwood back in college. These women pick up right where she left off, and create the perfect kilted men that I love to read about.

My Recommendations: Caught by the Scot by Karen Hawkins AND

My One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch


“Caught by the Scot” will be out on Sept 26th, and there will be a full review coming. A playful Scottish rogue has to marry to inherit, so he decides to go marry his best friend’s sister and longtime confident. Little does he know, she just ran off to elope…


“My One True Highlander” by Suzanne Enoch is a delightful kidnapping plan gone wrong with a heroine that comes from a common upbringing, but just rose in position. She is so not what he expected, and it is wonderfully entertaining.

Eloisa James and Loretta Chase- The Grand Dames

They have been doing this for years, but they are still SOOOO good at it. You practically float when reading one of their books. They are the Grand Dames of historical romance, and here are my two favorites: Eloisa James and Loretta Chase. Eloisa James writes with music in her words.  It is beautiful and heart-wrenching, fully-developed and lovely.  Her intelligence is evident in her writing, but she combines that with such lyrical prose that you are sure to be swept away. Loretta Chase has written the book that is potentially my very favorite historical romance ever (yeah, I’m jumping on the bandwagon; it;s that good!) “Lord of Scoundrels”.

My Recommendations: “When Beauty Tamed the Beast” by Eloisa James AND

“Lord of Scoundrels” by Loretta Chase


I have a confession. If I did not run this blog and, therefore, need to read new books consistently in order to write reviews, I would take a couple of months to read everything by Eloisa James. This book is a beautiful retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” with a Dr. House-type hero and so much goodness I can’t even tell you.


If you enjoy historical romance and have not read this book, just stop whatever you are doing right now and go get it and read it. Seriously. A brooding hero who thinks no one could love him, a spunky heroine that redefines the word, an amazing tale of why and how they come to fall in love. I know I need to read more Loretta Chase, but this was the best introduction to her EVER.

Lisa Kleypas and Sarah MacLean- The Current Trend-Setters

If you read romance at all, you have likely seen these two all over the place: Lisa Kleypas and Sarah MacLean. Both write captivating series with wonderfully rogue heroes and women with a twist. You will hear a lot about Kleypas’ Wallflower series, and with good reason. “Devil in Winter” is the definition of a standard of historical romance with one of my (and everyone else’s) fave heroes ever. Sarah MacLean’s “Rules of Scoundrels” and “Scandals and Scoundrels” series are witty and compelling.

My Recommendations: “Suddenly You” by Lisa Kleypas AND

“One Good Earl Deserves a Lover” by Sarah MacLean


A curvy heroine that is nearing middle-age decides that her birthday gift to herself will be to lose her virginity. Little does she know, the man who arrives at her door is not who she is expecting… I LOVED this amazing standalone book. It is mature, sexy, and tugs at the heartstrings. If you have read the Wallflower series and want another Kleypas, let this be it.


I adore a smart, “nerdy” heroine, and the combination of this one with the rogue hero is totally great. I admit I need to read more of MacLean’s work because there are a couple I have heard fabulous things about (“Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover”, I’m looking at you!), but of the handful I got around to this year, this was the best.

Janna MacGregor and Elizabeth Michels- The Rising Stars

Don’t you just love when you read a relatively new author and the book is soooo good? I seriously live for that because I know that it is the beginning of something wonderful. This year, to my delight, I discovered Janna MacGregor and Elizabeth Michels. Janna’s debut novel “The Bad Luck Bride” kicked off her Cavensham Heiresses series with a bang. Lyrical writing and well-developed characters are the name of the game here, and I cannot wait to read the next one in the series, “The Bride Who Got Lucky”. (It’s in my queue and a full review will be coming in the next month!) Elizabeth Michels has been around for a few years, but her Spare Heirs series about the second sons of nobility is particularly inspired. Michels brings relatable characters along with intriguing plots and witty dialogue. Both of these rising stars bring a freshness to the genre and I highly recommend you check them out.

My Recommendations: “The Bad Luck Bride” by Janna MacGregor AND

“The Wicked Heir” by Elizabeth Michels


Claire is convinced that there is a curse on her and that she will never be successfully married. Alex has a debt to settle, and marrying Claire is part of his plan. This gem is currently a steal at $1.99!


Isabelle is like the heroine from “Northanger Abbey”, a complete dreamer who wants that fairy-tale ending. Fallon St. James is a bit of a Rochester-type hero who is won over by her optimism. This friends-to-lovers story has great characters and a suspenseful plot.

Honorable Mentions

The problem with a list like this is that you will undoubtedly leave some wonderful authors out. I also read some excellent “standards” this year by Madeline Hunter, Theresa Romain, Amalie Howard and Angie Morgan, Anna Harrington, Sarah Hegger, Christy Carlyle, and Anna Bennett. I’d love to hear your thoughts on historical standards as well as your recommendations from some of the above authors!


The Laird Takes a Bride- Lisa Berne


The Laird Takes a Bride is my first book by Lisa Berne, but I was pleasantly surprised. A true Scottish historical (not a Regency disguising itself as Scottish), this marriage of convenience story definitely provides a different spin on the trope.

The Story-
Fiona has had her heart broken, and she has given up on love. Alasdair was enjoying the bachelor life, but when an old edict is uncovered, he’s going to have to make a big change.

My Thoughts-
I really enjoyed the “Bachelor” set-up, but was disappointed at how quickly everything was settled. The characters are well developed, but they are both too stubborn to almost be believed. That being said, I couldn’t quit turning pages because I absolutely had to know how it was that these two would end up falling for each other. The Scottish setting and daily life circumstances provide depth and a nice historical framework that isn’t always achieved in books like this.

The Bottom Line-
I would read another book by Berne, especially if it is set in Scotland. An enjoyable historical read. 4 stars

How to Lose a Highlander- Michelle McLean


This one was an easy read. Light on sexy-times, but still fun. I love Highlander books, so you know I was ready for this one.

The Story-
The Campbells and the MacGregors have hated each other for a long time. Both happen to be visiting the King to ask him to help with the feud, and his solution is for the Campbell daughter to marry the MacGregor laird. Of course it is. Even though these two had a meet-cute at the ball the night before in which they could barely keep their hands off each other, now that they know who the other is, they hate each other and want to drive the other to annul the marriage. Which leads to a fairly quick and predictable plot about how they eventually come together.

My Thoughts-
I liked the hero better than the heroine, but neither character was super developed. Luckily, the plot clicked right along and I was never bored even though I knew where this story was headed. I wish there had been more sexual tension because there was so much that could have been built upon from the initial meeting. That sort of thing doesn’t just disappear overnight, and I think the love/hate would have been more interesting. When the sexy times did come, I felt like they were slightly brief considering how long we had to wait to get there.

Bottom Line-
If you like Highlander books, this one will not disappoint. It is a fun, quick romp that will keep your interest. 3 1/2 stars

Hard-Hearted Highlander: Julia London


I love highlander books, so I was pretty excited to get ahold of this one. It sounded totally up my alley, but an unlikable hero and odd subplot made this feel disjointed and somewhat unsatisfying for me.

The Story-
Rabbie has to marry an English girl to save his family land etc. His ex/true love died at the hands of the English following Culloden, so suffice to say, he isn’t happy about the arrangement. His bride-to-be is an unlikable little ninny who still has a governess of sorts: Bernadette. Bernadette is, of course, sassy and worldly, which is more interesting to Rabbie than the ninny. Both have tragic backstories and lots of built-up sexual tension.

My Thoughts-
Rabbie broods and sulks through most of the novel even though the heroine, Bernadette, went through something way worse and seems well-adjusted considering. He never really turns a corner and does anything particularly likable; they just start having sex. At one point, I thought that the ninny was going to have a HEA and maybe be alright because the author did some scenes from her perspective, but no. She’s just an idiot that gets embarrassed by a creep. Then, there is all this weird backstory written in italics that actually made me wish Rabbie’s first love hadn’t kicked it. I know Bernadette would have been better off if her jerk father hadn’t screwed up her live and love. Oh, and don’t get me started on the whole “here’s a couple of kids!” thing. I won’t go into detail, but he pulls a very man move out of the blue that left me like “huh?”.

The Bottom Line-
So, why the 3 stars if there were so many things that annoyed me? The plot clicked along pretty well, and although I am not super happy how she ended up with Rabbie, Bernadette is a pretty kicking heroine. I enjoyed their banter and was truly intrigued to see how they would get together because it really wasn’t seeming likely. The writing is solid, and I have a feeling that I would enjoy something else by this author. She writes in my fave subgenre, and clearly has talent; this just went in too many directions and didn’t redeem the hero enough for my taste. 3 stars

A Dangerous Damsel- Kimberly Bell


“A Dangerous Damsel” is the second book in Kimberly Bell’s Countess Scandals series, but works just fine as a standalone book.  Ms. Bell is a new author to me, but I always love to read new authors, especially those who write in the historic Scotland genre in hopes of finding books for my particular catnip.  This one did not disappoint.

The Story-

Ewan has just been informed of his father’s death, which means he is the new laird.  Add to that the surprise of being robbed naked by a bewitching nymph, and he is having an odd day.  Deidre has always used her sexuality to deceive men, and it has worked very well for her until now.  She can no longer protect her brother from the seedy underworld that she has introduced him into.  When threatened by her former lover, she must rely on the man she just robbed and endangered. But, she must never forget her first rule: never trust anyone.

My Thoughts-

This is the most overtly sexual heroine I have read in historical romance, and I liked it.  It was just the change I needed after endless first timers and shocked blushing. There is a scene by the river that is some seriously brave writing for a heroine.  I also liked that her sexuality is never a source of embarrassment to her and isn’t really used as a plot conflict at all.  The hero, Ewan, is a big highlander, which is always fun, but doesn’t have near the intrigue of the heroine.  The plot was well-paced and fun with only a slight stall near the very end.  I was somewhat confused by the character of Rose and wonder if she will appear in future books.

The Good- 

Deidre is one of the best female romance characters I’ve read. I kept picturing her as Esmeralda in Disney’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, and I always wanted to be like her instead of short, cute and fair.  The rules that the siblings have set for themselves were great because the reader always knows that rules are made to be broken.  I liked many of the minor characters like Angus, Rose, and Darrow because they had so much more personality than you usually see.

The Bottom Line-

This Highland historical sets itself apart because of its sassy heroine.  It was a quick read that I enjoyed, and I will be reading more from Ms. Bell.  This is totally worth it for fans of historicals, particularly the Scottish historical genre. 4 stars

Literary Travel- Outlander

I love to travel.  Like, I am willing to drive a clunker, wear bargain store clothes, and skimp on Christmas and birthdays if it means I get to travel.  So I do. Each summer, my husband and I embark on a journey (this year will be Canada!) and I get to live in the excitement of planning that trip until that last day of school when we set off.  Of the things I love about travel, visiting places which have sparked my imagination through books is near the top of the list. Behind wine and cheese… because, you know, it’s wine and cheese.  This past summer, we lived many of my literary fantasies when we rented a car and drove around England and Scotland.  In fact, we hit so many that this is going to need multiple posts.  So, stay tuned for Jane Austen, Harry Potter, and Shakespeare, but today I want to talk about visits to places which helped me to physically connect to Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander”.  

If you haven’t read or watched “Outlander”, are you crazy?  Even my mom has read this book.  I’ve had a soft spot for Scotland ever since my first visit to Edinburgh three summers ago.  Everything about it enchanted me from the weather to the higgeldy-piggeldy old buildings to the kilts and bagpipes.  I watched and loved the Starz series, and as I began to plan this trip, I knew we would have to hit some Outlander-inspired spots.

1. Doune Castle- This is the castle that was used in the filming of Castle Leoch in the first season.  It is near Stirling, but definitely not on the typical tourist trail. We were the first ones there the morning we visited, and enjoyed having the castle pretty much to ourselves.  There is a small exhibit dedicated to Outlander in the castle, and the audioguide includes input from Sam Heughan who plays Jamie Fraser.  I seriously could have listened to him talk all day, and it was amazing to stand on the battlements, listening to his brogue as he talked about the castle and filming there.  But, the coolest thing about Doune Castle is that they have actual Outlander-licensed items in the gift shop. I looked all over Edinburgh and didn’t see them anywhere else.  I got an awesome ring, but they had Claire’s scarf and finger gloves and many other neat items.  Monty Python was also filmed here, and it is a nice castle to visit with some cool history of its own.

2. Avebury Standing Stones-  First things first: Craigh na dun does not exist.  There are no stone circles outside of Inverness.  The stones in the show are fakes, and the closest you can get to something that looks like the stones in the show are on some of the far-flung islands of Scotland.  That being said, I had to see and touch some standing stones on my England/Scotland trip and for those of you who have been to Stonehenge, you know that is not the place to do it.  Lucky for me, Avebury is not too far from Stonehenge, is free, and is completely open to walk around and touch. 

I LOVED this place.  The stones are like old sentries standing guard over the sheep that graze in their fields.  We were completely alone in the field with the stones and the sheep, and I could feel the mysticism and connection to all the people from the past.  I had to put my hands on a stone in a Claire-like pose, but that picture turned out terrible because of my enormous behind.  This is an incredibly cool place, and across the street is this little old church with the prettiest graveyard I have ever seen. Go to Avebury.

3. Fort William/Highlands-  There is not a garrison to visit at Fort William, but I wasn’t worried about that; I was more concerned with seeing the surrounding area- The Highlands.  Some people are beach people, and some people are mountain people. I am a mountain person. (Unless I have someone bringing me food and drinks on a Mexican beach, just sayin’.)  Mountains make me breathless with their beauty; I love the slightly cool air.  As we drove through the highlands of Scotland, I couldn’t take my eyes off the scenery.  It is heart-wrenchingly beautiful.  Pictures do not do it justice; the mountains are so much bigger in person.  I want to live there.

4. Culloden Battlefield- If you have read Dragonfly In Amber or if you know Scottish history, you know the significance of this place.  A mist hung over the field the day I visited, evoking all of the sadness and loss which occurred in this place.  A truly excellent historic visit in its own right, somehow the Outlander series gives us a sense of what was really lost on this battlefield.

Although our Jamie didn’t really exist, many men like him did and died here, trying to defend their clans and their way of life.  

So, that was my Outlander-inspired travel.  Scotland is a beautiful place, and is a perfect place for a romance novel.  I love how books can help you to appreciate certain places or people, and find that literary tourism is a particular joy of mine.  I’d love to hear about places you have visited that helped you to connect to books, authors or literary characters in the comments below.  And don’t forget to check back or subscribe to get future updates: my next literary tourism post will be all about Jane Austen and will include my visit to “Pemberly”. 

The Highlander’s Vow- Barbara Longley


Sometimes you happen into a series that suits your interests perfectly, and you simply HAVE to read any book in the series which is published. Such is the case with this recent addition to Barbara Longley’s Loch Moigh series, “The Highlander’s Vow”.  About a year ago, I was reading the Outlander books because 1. I love romance 2. I love Scotland 3. I love time travel stories. Unfortunately, after a couple of books in the series, I lost interest. Enter Amazon Prime who noticed my proclivity for Scottish time-travel romances and suggested “True to the Highlander” by Barbara Longley which, luckily, checked all my boxes. I read it in about a day and was grateful to notice that there were two more books in the series, so I could keep going. (And they were all on Kindle Unlimited, yay!) This most recent entry into the series, which is actually a second generation continuation, popped up on my suggestions, and it immediately became compulsory reading.

The Story- All of these stories feature the hero or heroine time-traveling from either Medieval/Renaissance Scotland to a current Renaissance Festival or vice versa.  There is always a fish out of water component, which I love, as well as a little bit of magic, which is necessary for the whole time-travel thing.  In this one, Skye is engaged to someone she just realized is a jerk who is plotting her death. She rushes to find her father to explain the danger, and happens to fall through time right into a jousting demonstration at a Renaissance Festival.  She falls in with a great family who happens to be experienced at the whole time-travel thing since Struan fell into their lives from the 14th century ten years ago.

My Thoughts– Longley does the fish out of water bit better than most and spends some time imagining how people from the past would view some of our technology and customs. The story flows well, and, if you have read the previous books, it is fun to revisit many of the past characters.  I liked the heroine as she seemed more inclined to take control of her life than most women of that time period would have been. The hero was a bit too stoic for me, but there was adequate justification for his brooding nature.

The Bottom Line– It should go without saying that if you like Scottish time-travel romance, this is a sure bet.  It is breezier and more fun than Outlander, but not without depth. I will continue to read any Scotland-based books that Ms. Longley publishes with great anticipation. Best enjoyed in a long bubble bath with a glass of wine!  4 stars.