The Scot Beds His Wife (Victorian Rebels) by Kerrigan Byrne

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The Scot Beds His Wife is the next lush, captivating Victorian romance in the Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne.

They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster.
Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, is a notorious Highlander and an unrelenting Lothario who uses his slightly menacing charm to get what he wants—including too many women married to other men. But now, Gavin wants to put his shady past behind him…more or less. When a fiery lass who is the heiress to the land he wishes to possess drops into his lap, he sees a perfectly delicious opportunity…
A marriage most convenient
Samantha Masters has come back to Scotland, in a pair of trousers, and with a whole world of dangerous secrets from her time spent in the Wild West trailing behind her. Her only hope of protection is to marry—and to do so quickly. Gavin is only too willing to provide that service for someone he finds so disturbingly irresistible. But even as danger approaches, what begins as a scandalous proposition slowly turns into an all-consuming passion. And Gavin discovers that he will do whatever is necessary to keep the woman he has claimed as his own…

It’s about stinkin’ time I come across a historical romance novel that exemplifies all of the qualities in a good novel I crave. I can’t express in words how I felt when I began reading and realized that I was getting the raw, gritty Victorian scoundrel hero I wanted so much and the leading lady with a good, working brain in her head. We (readers) are pretty well done with swooning idiots in a corset who can’t make up their minds or open their mouths enough to say more than an oooh or an aaah. Consider that request granted.

Kerrigan Byrne’s writing is fantastic. I love her descriptions and the way she delivers her characters’ mannerisms to the reader with ease. The story leaves absolutely nothing to be further desired and the delivery of plot is fantastic. I have absolutely nothing to complain or nit-pic over.

I can’t imagine not reading the rest of the books listed on the author’s website as belonging to the Victorian Rebels collection.  Now that I know they exist, I’m going to read them next.

Purchase Links:

To purchase this novel from Amazon.com.

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

 

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Grigori: A Royal Dragon Romance (Brothers of Ash and Fire) by Lauren Smith

I’m not always interested in dragon tales, but this one caught my eye. I don’t think it was the cover, either, but rather in the description of the story. I wasn’t disappointed, either.

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The characters on the book are strong and secondary characters interesting enough, but I found myself a little bored through certain points. What kept me going was trying to figure out what happens in the end–obviously–but, I feel like some readers, who may not be as curious as I am, may put the book down half read. There is truly only one way to judge and that is to read it for yourself. I feel I should repeat that I am not normally attracted to dragon stories, so maybe that’s why I felt that way.

I should also add that since this is first in a series, I’ll probably read the second. After all, I did enjoy the story. For the sake of fairness, my blog readers will know that I do tend to lean toward darker romance novels. There is little more in the world of the supernatural that I enjoy more than an angry, brooding vampire, so for a book that wasn’t exactly my norm, I feel like this one was well worth a recommendation from me.

Perhaps readers would be better swayed by the very words that drew me to the story in the first place.

He’s one of the last of a powerful but vanishing bloodline …
Grigori Barinov is the eldest in an ancient line of dragon shifters and the guardian of his family’s lands and fortune. Sworn to protect their history and magic, he won’t rest until he neutralizes any threat to their existence. When he discovers an ancient manuscript that exposes his family and their dragon lineage has fallen into a mortal woman’s hands, he knows he must get the book back by any means necessary. If that means seducing a nosy American woman with an intoxicating scent, he is more than willing to carry her off to his palatial home deep in the heart of Russia.

She’s the one woman who could expose him to the world…
Madelyn Haynes has never fit in. As an adopted child she grew up in a loving home but never felt as though she belonged. Plagued by mysterious dreams she’s had of a silver scaled beast ever since she was a little girl, she is convinced dragons are real. While in Russia working on her PhD in mythology in order to escape the ridicule from fellow professors, she unexpectedly crosses paths with the sexy and dominating Grigori, and after just one night with the man whose eyes seem to burn, she starts to change inside. Isolated in the Russian wilderness Grigori calls home, Madelyn can’t help but fall under his sensual spell, yet something deep inside her calls out that she can’t trust him. She has to show the world dragons are real to salvage academic reputation, even if it means costing her the heart of the dragon she’s falling in love with.

~From Amazon.com.

Kindle $3.99

Nook $3.99

Dark Swan by Gena Showalter

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The Alien Huntress series is back with fan favorite AIR agent Dallas Gutierrez from New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling paranormal romance author Gena Showalter, who doesn’t disappoint with this sizzling hot alpha hero.
Lilica Swan isn’t quite human or otherworlder; she is the best—and worst—of both.
She is willing to do whatever proves necessary to save her sister from the seductive and deadly Alien Investigation and Removal agent, Dallas Gutierrez, even bonding her lifeforce to his by effectively marrying him. But the bond will fade without consummation. Can Dallas resist his insatiable desire for the powerful beauty? Or will she lead to his ultimate downfall?

Dark Swan by Gena Showalter is the tale of a woman named Lilica who has over twenty parents. Yes, twenty plus. She also hatched/created from an egg, along with her two sisters, Trinity and Jade, but that’s the least most odd thing about this fantastic story. For the sake of spoilage, I won’t go into detail about the world created for us, but in case you haven’t read any blurbs about the story yet, it takes place far into the future, in a world where alien species live along with human beings. Technology is crazy advanced.

And showers are almost unheard of. No, really. Wait to read about that for yourself.

I find it wonderfully fitting that Lilica, once dubbed Lady Wicked, finds a romantic hero and powerful lover in a man who is tasked with capturing and killing her sister, Trinity, in order to zap out a futuristic super STD. The romantic scenes were sizzling and the tension between Dallas and Lilica was fierce. I also enjoyed the action scenes, though there were few.

What I always love about Gena Showalter is that her storytelling doesn’t slow down. I can keep the same pace throughout the entire book and not feel like I’ve entered a Twilight Zone of meandering prose (and, let’s face it, that happens sometimes when you’re a reader of books). The characters in the story all have incredible background stories that I wanted to explore almost as much as the main character’s story. Also, I can confidently say I wasn’t disappointed in learning the ins and outs of the futuristic, alien filled world within the story. No topic left the reader in the dark and everything alien or futuristic subject or object was described and explained adequately.

I gladly offer anyone who enjoys a good, spicy romance my recommendation for this book. If you’d like to order the Kindle copy for yourself, head over to Amazon.  It looks like there will be an Audible edition also, but I am not certain about print yet, but I would assume so.

Release: September 25, 2017

About my diet, plus some tips!

You-can-do-it1Since July 1 of this year, I’ve been on a pretty strict low-carb diet. People have been asking me about it since my weight loss has exceeded my usual six pounds, so I decided to just write a blog post. My whole life I’ve gone through cycles of losses and gains–each diet I go on (usually calorie counting) ends in a six pound loss, followed by a wild calorie binge. This time things have gone differently. That isn’t to say there haven’t been problems, but I’ve actually lost twenty-five pounds. I don’t know how good at math you folks are, but that’s a few more than my typical six.

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It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had some issues with the diet and I’ve fought through them. Some days I’ve wanted to give up. No. Most days I’ve wanted to give up. But, every single day, I wake up and keep going because the fruits of my labor will one day pay off and I won’t be the only one affected. My choices will also have a baring on my children’s lives and choices they make. I want them to see their mom succeed because I want them to know that they can do things, too. I want them to see that if you want a healthier lifestyle, you have to put in the work, but that it’s totally worth it. If I’m honest, they are the reason I keep going and try so hard. I don’t want them to think Mom is a quitter (ha!).

I am not a doctor and if you have some health or dietary issues, you should certainly see a real physician, perhaps even a dietitian, before you begin the low-carb lifestyle change (because it IS a lifestyle change). A lot of low carb options are also pretty high in cholesterol, so, depending on your health and your family history, you may want to keep that in mind when you shop or meal plan.

I follow guidelines to eat by. When I started out in July, I only allowed myself to have between 20-35 carbs/day so that my body would get used to not having them. I wanted to make sure I trained myself well since there is a lot to learn in the beginning. But, since I have quite a few pounds to lose, I also set myself a limit of 1200-1500 calories/day. I feel like that’s a reasonable amount. Usually I hit somewhere around 1300, but sometimes it’s less. It’s rarely more than that. I try to get my protein in, too. High protein is important for me because I never get enough protein. I am not a big meat eater. Also, I bought a bag of stevia and went sugar free. No pasta, no breads, no rice. I took into account that my family has an insane history for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart issues, so I try to stick with lean meats, light butters (if any), and instead of eating lots of bacon (as I’ve noticed a lot of low-carb eaters do), I eat turkey bacon. Also, I bought a book of heart healthy recipes and I’ve learned to change just a few ingredients in some really great recipes so that I can enjoy them too. th.jpeg

So, with my new lifestyle laid out for you, I’ll hurry up and get to my big tips.

  1. Eat breakfast. There is definitely something to the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
  2. Sit down and write out a plan. Sometimes just seeing something literally spelled out in front of you is a really great way to assure that it’s a permanent plan, that it will stick. Remember to include a reminder to drink plenty of water. Eight glasses (eight ounces each) of water a day is recommended, but honestly I hardly ever drink that much. If I hit four, I’m doing well. I strive for more, though. You can tailor your plan to fit your needs. Low-carb eating ranges from only limiting carbs to a full on Keto lifestyle (which I decided wasn’t for me). Some low-carb eaters set a limit, such as fifty, but will eat toast or bread so long as it fits under fifty carbs for that day. I have chosen to forgo the breads, pastas, and rices altogether.
  3. Do not weigh yourself every single day, but if you do not own a scale, I would recommend you buy one. Mine is digital and also measures bone mass and BMI. It’s more technologically advanced than I was prepared for, but I love it. I record my weight in my planner, but there are apps where you can track your weight, too.
  4. Track what you eat. Write it down, along with the carbs and calories. Or, you can get an app for that, too. I use Spark People, but a lot of people prefer My Fitness Pal. I didn’t like the latter, but most people do. Use whatever makes you comfortable.
  5. Create an exercise plan. If you have medical needs and see a doctor regularly, ask them for suggestions. If not, walking isn’t crowded and is a very heart healthy way to exercise if you don’t live anywhere near a gym or don’t want to pay for a membership. Also, on rainy days, you can check out Leslie Sansone’s Walk-A-Mile DVD’s.  I bought a pair of small weights to carry while I walk, too.
  6. Remember that you are human and humans sometimes make mistakes. You might cheat. And, if you do, you can always make up for it by starting over the very next day. If I have one too many carbs, I try to, at the very least, keep my calories where they need to be. I have only gone over with both once. And, I keep losing. I figured I’m losing about 2.5 lbs. / week. Slow and steady. Last week I lost less than that, but it’s okay because sometimes it goes that way. Even if you gain, it’s okay. Just keep going.
  7. Look for a support system. Spark People has a great online community. I’m in a low-carb group on Facebook, too, and those people are fantastic for sharing their own ups and downs, sharing recipes, and it’s nice to know that I have help if I need it.
  8. If you’re a milk drinker, try some unsweetened almond milk. I love that stuff. Buy some peanut butter (whichever kind you like) and keep it handy. Stock up on sugar free jello, Powerade zero, bottled waters, lean meats, cheeses you like, and veggies. Google and Pinterest will be your best friends for recipes. I may even share some of mine here, too.
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  9. Do not plan cheat meals. In fact, plan your meals ahead in order to avoid the cheat meals. A cheat may happen, but don’t plan them. If you eat out, usually you can find some kind of lean chicken and veggie meal. If you eat fast food out (which sometimes happens), you can always get a salad or a burger (and ditch the bun).
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If you’re interested in a low-carb lifestyle, just remember that if I can do it, you can too. I still have a long way to go, but every journey begins somewhere. Feel free to share your tips and tricks in comments. I’m always learning something new.

Queens Of the Conquest by Alison Weir

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The lives of England’s medieval queens were packed with incident—love, intrigue, betrayal, adultery, and warfare—but their stories have been largely obscured by centuries of myth and omission. Now esteemed biographer Alison Weir provides a fresh perspective and restores these women to their rightful place in history.
Spanning the years from the Norman conquest in 1066 to the dawn of a new era in 1154, when Henry II succeeded to the throne and Eleanor of Aquitaine, the first Plantagenet queen, was crowned, this epic book brings to vivid life five women, including: Matilda of Flanders, wife of William the Conqueror, the first Norman king; Matilda of Scotland, revered as “the common mother of all England”; and Empress Maud, England’s first female ruler, whose son King Henry II would go on to found the Plantagenet dynasty. More than those who came before or after them, these Norman consorts were recognized as equal sharers in sovereignty. Without the support of their wives, the Norman kings could not have ruled their disparate dominions as effectively.
Drawing from the most reliable contemporary sources, Weir skillfully strips away centuries of romantic lore to share a balanced and authentic take on the importance of these female monarchs. What emerges is a seamless royal saga, an all-encompassing portrait of English medieval queenship, and a sweeping panorama of British history.  (*Blurb from Amazon.com*)

Non-fiction/Historical 

Release Date: September 26, 2017
Includes: Maps, family trees, illustrations, glossary, British terms, two appendixes, bibliography, notes, and references. 

Queens Of the Conquest focuses on the consorts of the Norman kings of England. These ladies lived lives none of us, no matter how well read or traveled, could ever begin to imagine. Spectacular language with feeling, concern, and incredible knowledge tell the tales of the backbone of a Norman society. Alison Weir’s gift of historical realness to her readers is incredible. Bravo, Miss Weir.

As I would imagine people might like to read this particular volume for research, I feel I should say that the book’s contents are arranged in such a way that a pupil will feel at ease flipping through the pages (digital or paper, applies to both) knowing that whatever bit of information they’re looking for will be right there. Every bit of every Queen’s life is explained and painted in such a way that a reader–scholarly or leisurely–will understand on a level deeper than common knowledge usually allows.

For those reading for leisure, which I assume is most of us, this is just book one and that means there are more coming in the Medieval Queens series. If the rest of the series is as meticulously involved as this one, I’m in. It is unfortunate that the Norman queens haven’t been given the same amount of attention (in my opinion) as the queens of other eras because they are, simply put, incredible.

The only gripe I really have is that I cannot seem to find any information regarding subsequent books in this series, other than that there is some. I will most certainly be following up, however, and I will let my own readers know about any editions to come.

Pre-order Queens Of the Conquest by Alison Weir on Amazon.com if you are interested.  

You can also visit Alison Weir’s website if you follow this link through cyberspace! 

 

Wickedly Spirited by Deborah Blake

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Kindle price $1.99, release date September 19, 2017, available for pre-order!

This book is marketed as a romance, but honestly it reads as more of a YA magical adventure, though I do realize Wickedly Spirited is part of a series, so I’m absolutely certain (after having read this story) the other pieces of the world Deborah Blake has built for her readers are more romantically involved. As a matter of fact, the next bit of story will be released in November 2017 (Titled Dangerously Divine). But, as is, this story can standalone and I would easily recommend it to my fifteen year old daughter.

The story revolves around sixteen year old Baba-Yaga (witch) in-training, Jazz, after having been adopted by her mentor. Behind her mentor’s back, Jazz tasks herself with restoring immortality to The Riders, companions of the Baba-Yagas. With the help of her mentor’s dragon-cat, Koshka, Jazz ventures into the Otherworld to gather ingredients to help her out.

There isn’t much to add because this is a very short read, one which I really enjoyed because sometimes I’m really too busy to get too involved in what I’m reading, regardless of how enjoyable it might be. Those of you who are busy during the day and have jobs and lives beyond the internet probably understand what I mean. The premise of the story is nice, the characters are all great, if not surreal (reminiscent of late nineties dramedies), and knowing there’s more coming in just a few months–rather than years, as with other book sequels–is a treat.

I can give my recommendation for this book without having to mull it over because it’s an easy YES. A person can read this story while they fold their laundry. Kindle gave it a bit over an hour and a half, so great to read while you’re in a waiting room or having morning coffee. I really am glad I stumbled upon this.

I am going to make sure to get a copy of Dangerously Divine as soon as it’s released because I really would like to know what happens to Jazz next. Without going into too much detail, Wickedly Spirited sort of leaves you wondering.

PRE-ORDER WICKEDLY SPIRITED FROM AMAZON HERE!

TO PRE-ORDER DANGEROUSLY DIVINE (BROKEN RIDERS NOVEL, A) FRO

M AMAZON, CLICK HERE!

DANGEROUSLY DIVINE

Available for pre-order. Release date November 28, 2017

Wychwood by George Mann

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After losing her job and her partner in one fell swoop, journalist Elspeth Reeves is back in her mother’s house in the sleepy village of Wilsby-under-Wychwood, wondering where it all went wrong. Then a body is found in the neighbouring Wychwoods: a woman ritually slaughtered, with cryptic symbols scattered around her corpse. Elspeth recognizes these from a local myth of the Carrion King, a Saxon magician who once held a malevolent court deep in the forest. As more murders follow, Elspeth joins her childhood friend DS Peter Shaw to investigate, and the two discover sinister village secrets harking back decades.

I absolutely adored this book. After doing a little bit of research on the author, George Mann, I realize that this was a fit made in wherever perfect fits are made. The guy worked on Dr. Who and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics! I have to admit, I am a wee bit in awe of him.

I enjoyed George Mann’s writing style. I couldn’t put this book down and overslept because of that (but, that is neither here nor there). I didn’t feel like it was a chore to get to the end and, to be honest, some novels feel that way because of a lack in plot or character development. But, in Wychwood, I felt mostly fulfilled at the end. I say mostly because I feel like I’m still going to close my eyes at night and see some of the images Wychwood delivers to readers. I imagine that’s also a positive.

Mystery readers will delight in the story telling abilities displayed on the pages. There is an eerie realness in the characters and the need to either like or dislike them is strong.

Wychwood is available from Amazon, and Titan Books.  

Today is the official release date! I really encourage you to read this one.