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Review of Heart of the Highlands: The Beast by April Holthaus

November 30, 2017

I've always been extremely picky when it comes to historical romance because I find it difficult to deal with the different setting and the terminologies and culture that go with the time frame. But I've decided to give Heart of the Highlands: The Beast a chance because the book has won several awards and it was highly recommended. And to be honest, I had the hots for the man on the book cover. So here's what I thought about this story set in 1500's Scotland.

Title: Heart of the Highlands: The Beast (Protectors of the Crown Book 1)
Author: April Holthaus
Publication Date: July 2015
Published by: Grey Eagle Publishing, LLC
Genre: Adult Fiction, Historical Romance
Source: Copy Given by Tour Organizer
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25732358-the-heart-of-the-highlands



SYNOPSIS:

For hundreds of years, Scotland has battled the English for their freedom. Now, they face a new enemy. In a divided world between politics and religion, the young King James V faces the threat of his own people rebelling against him. As civil war breaks out among the Highland clans, James recruits a secret group of warriors for protection. He calls them the Protectors of the Crown.

Ian MacKay has one mission; to defend the crown no matter the cost. Along with his men, Ian's mission is to hunt down one of the most dangerous men in the Highlands. But when the daughter of an enemy enters his life, his heart becomes captured instead.

Keira Sinclair has lived a life of peace and simplicity until now. With her clan on the verge of losing everything, she is forced to wed a Laird from a neighboring clan to ensure that hers survives. During her travels to her new home, her carriage is attacked and Keira is taken hostage by a ruthless man.

Caught in the middle of a war that she does not understand, will Keira's secrets be safe, or will she succumb to the Highland warrior who now threatens to capture her heart?

REVIEW: 

Going through the first few pages of Heart of the Highlands: The Beast, I was greatly intimidated when I realized that the story takes place in Scotland during the 1500s. I have to admit, my brain's Scottish accent (the one I use when I picture the scenes happening in my mind) needs some serious work and so I worried if I could truly immerse myself in the dialogue and the scenes. But lo and behold, when I got to Ian MacKay's POV and saw the action and rawness of the setting, I was hooked. 

I loved that, as the story unfolds, the complexity of the plot deepens. There were a lot of hidden ties, unclear agendas, and treachery happening at every corner. This isn't just a simple historical romance about how a man and a woman came together and encountered a speed bump on their way to their happy-ever-after. No, this amazing tale also involves matters of character, politics, war, alliances, etc. It's some serious Game of Thrones-level sh**. 

I would be remiss if I don't talk about the chemistry between Keira and Ian. From their first meeting, I already knew that their relationship would be explosive and intense. The strength of our hero matched with the feistiness of our heroine makes for a fun read. Their exchanges were definitely amusing. 

I have to point out though that, in the book, Keira referred to Ian as a cold-hearted beast a bit too often for my liking. But in my opinion, he doesn't really deserve that description. From the very beginning, he has shown her tenderness and consideration that belies her assumptions of him. I mean, maybe it's because of the customs or -- I don't know. This is why I've always found historical romance to be tricky territory sometimes. 

Anyway, this is excellent work, in my opinion. The characters were not dull and one-dimensional, there's a lot of backstory that we only got a glimpse of, the future still has a lot to behold, basically the foundation has been perfectly set. I'm excited for what's in store for these characters in the future.

SUMMARY:

When I opened the book, I never expected the story to turn out the way it did, and that's a good thing. Sometimes, when you've read one too many romance books, it can be quite predictable. And I'm glad Heart of the Highlands: The Beast broke away from that mould. 

I definitely enjoyed every minute I spend reading it and getting to know it's characters. I felt excited, nervous, scared, curious, maybe a bit turned on *cough cough* all while absorbed in the intricate storyline of Heart of the Highlands: The Beast. I look forward to reading the following instalments in this series because I want to find out more about Ian and Keira's future (the ending was too abrupt, in my opinion) as well as his brothers. 

RATING:


AWARDS:

2017 Reader's Favorite Book Award Honorable Mention
2016 World's Best Story Award 2nd Place Winner
2015 RONE Award Nominee

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kobo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



April is an Award-Winning Author for her Scottish Historical Romances. For more than ten years, she has worked full time in the direct marketing business, but developed a passion of historical romances through her love of reading, history and genealogy.

Website: http://www.aprilholthaus.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.april.holthaus/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AprilHolthaus?lang=en
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/aprilholthaus/books/?lp=true

TOUR ORGANIZED BY: 



Book image provided by iRead Book Tours

Review of Tarif by Marian Tee

November 20, 2017

Hey, Booksnakes! Today, I am going to be reviewing the third instalment of Marian Tee's Desert Sheikh Romance series, Tarif. 

Before proceeding to the actual review, I'd like to point out some differences this book has compared to Malik, the second part in the series. Call it a disclaimer, if you will. 

First, the steamy scenes are way hotter (and more frequent). Second, the story was more unpredictable and complex, Third, I cried my eyes out multiple times in a span of 200 pages.

Title: Tarif (A Desert Sheikh Romance)
Author: Marian Tee
Publication Date: October 27, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: ARC Given by Author
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36490942-tarif


SYNOPSIS:

“It’s a pleasure to finally have a chance to speak with you.”

“The honor and privilege is mine, Your Highness.”

“I wonder if you truly mean that, anisdi.”

Prim and proper Anisah Kahveci led a simple, orderly life with simple, ordinary goals.

One: Terrorize – err, discipline – her students into becoming law-abiding, socially mindful citizens of the kingdom.

Two: Work hard to secure a safe future for the brat – err, her younger sister.

Three: Eat all the sweets – err, indulge in a scoop of ice cream now and then.

But all her plans were for naught and her life turned upside down the moment Sheikh Tarif Al-Atassi decided he wanted her to be his woman.

Note: This is a full-length standalone (no cliffhanger) romance written to bring laughter and tears into the reader’s life. It is 100% escapist, contains explicit (but not gratuitous) sex scenes, with an alpha hero and an innocent but fiery heroine falling in love and enjoying a happy ever after in the end.

REVIEW: 

Let me start off by saying that, by far, Tarif is my favourite novel in Marian Tee's Desert Sheikh Romance series. The rollercoaster ride my emotions was taken on was no joke. In most stories, there's like one scene that'll wreck you, and that's usually the climax. But since Marian Tee is super extra, she didn't want to make her readers cry just once. No, we have to bawl multiple times. And that's what I did.

I don't want to give much away about the story and the whiplashes that await future readers, but it might be somewhat unavoidable so please excuse me in advance. 

The story's timeline may somewhat be confusing to some, especially if you have yet to read the books that precede it. Basically, at the first few pages, we are thrown back to events of My Arabian Billionaire, this time from the perspective of our female protagonist, Anisah. Immediately we see her strong and unyielding character. Her loyalty. The author is no stranger to creating stubborn heroines with soft hearts, but most of them are -- for lack of a better word -- meek. I didn't get that at all with Anisah. She has her hard-headed tendencies, yes, but she's also fierce with an unyielding conviction, she puts others' well-being above hers, and she refuses to show weakness in front of others. 

Now let's talk about our hot-blooded, male protagonist, Tarif. He's really not what I expected him to be. Apparently, he's supposed to be the resident playboy of the kingdom, or at least that's what his image is. But there's not much in the book that indicates that kind of lifestyle. Well, there is that one -- oh, wait. I shall not speak of that because it might be a minor spoiler. 

Anyway, Tarif is obviously the guy that no one outside his family takes too seriously. He's like that friend who you'd go to if you're looking for a good time, but in more serious matters, people easily dismiss him. And that's just crappy, especially since that kind of treatment led to an emotional and mental scar in our hero. 

The chemistry between Anisah and Tarif is insane. Their steamy scenes are passionate and scorching, their banters are witty, and their emotional turmoil was heartbreaking. I couldn't help but put myself in their shoes while reading their moments of despair, and I thought to myself, "How does one go back from this?" 

The sadistic part of me wanted to see their pain expounded and to have it come full circle, and the romantic side of me just wanted them to have their happy-ever-after. It was a tough battle, but Marian gave me the best of both sides so I'm satisfied. 

SUMMARY: 

Tarif made me feel a lot of different things in a span of two hours (time it took me to read the entire book), and I enjoyed every emotion. I felt contented when I flipped through the last page ... The last page ... THE. LAST. PAGE. Marian, wtf you have a lot of explaining to do. 

So yeah, there's a teaser right there, folks. Marian Tee left us a little something to stir our imaginations and make us wonder what she has in store for us for the following instalment in her series. 

RATING:


PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo


Book image from Goodreads

Review of Malik by Marian Tee

November 07, 2017

Hey there, Booksnakes! It has been a while since my last review, but I am back with another Marian Tee novel, and it is part two of her Desert Sheikh Romance titled, Malik.

I have a confession to make: I actually read this after finishing Tarif, which is actually the third installment in the author's series. For some screwed up reason, I belatedly realized that I received a copy of this book from the author. I only found out about it when I was already writing my review of the book which apparently comes after this one. But better late than never, I say, so I jumped in head first in the story and came out of it feeling thrilled, happy, and slightly dirty (which was the author's intention all along).

Title: Malik: Desert Sheikh Romance
Author: Marian Tee
Published by: Jaded Speck Publishing
Publication Date: August 17, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: ARC Given by Author
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36069145-malik


SYNOPSIS:

Sheikh Malik Al-Atassi was only seventeen when his mother took in orphaned 7-year-old Kyria as her legal ward.

Since then, the royal family had raised Kyria alongside Malik as if they were brother and sister…even if they were not related by blood.

And for a while, everything was as it should be…until Kyria came into womanhood, and she realized that her feelings for the sheikh were also that of a woman for a man.

Come join Marian Tee in another sheikh romance set in the exotic desert kingdom of Ramil. This is a no-cliffhanger standalone romance and does not require you to read any of the other Desert Sheikh novels.

CHARACTER BACKGROUND:

Kyria Markide is a strong and passionate woman who hides herself behind an image of meekness and submission. She believes that she owes her life to the royal family of Ramil for taking her in, raising her up, and making her feel loved. To return their generosity, she swore to remain loyal to them and not bring them shame in any way. That is until she realized that her feelings for her sheikh brother is more than just familial...it was also quite carnal.

Malik Al-Atassi is a man of many faces. He could be gracious, forgiving, and patient, but he's also prone to doing dangerous and desctructive actions. Overall, he's an honourable, dependable man who would rather spend a decade pretending he doesn't just love his adoptive sister, he's also in love with her.

REVIEW:

As a bookworm whose main genre of focus is romance, I have read a lot of books that cover a myriad of love stories. There's the typical boy-meets-girl tale that make us all sappy, and then there's the more mature, dark, and erotic novels that are not for the feint of heart. Malik falls somewhere in between, with the author's writing as charmingly comedic as it is, but the subject-matter being taboo to a lot of people -- incest.

I'm no stranger to love stories that are far from the norm. Erotica is also a staple in my to-read list, so Marian's approach in Malik and Kyria's story didn't deter me from opening my e-reader and enjoying the ride one bit. In fact, one of the things I liked about this novel is the realistic approach the author took. Realistic, how? Kyria was taken in by the Al-Atassi family when she lost her parents at a very young age. Malik was 10 years her senior and so he made sure to look after her and do everything he can to take away her pain and make her happy. 

FACT: They're not related by blood and Malik is old enough to understand this. 
FACT: Loving someone doesn't always entail physical attraction first. Only pervs think that. 
FACT: The bond these two people shared growing is deep and only they can understand it. This kind of relationship actually happens somewhere in the world, most people just refuse to acknowledge it. 

But because this is not socially acceptable, the author made a point of putting this problem in perspective for the characters. So it's not all rainbows and butterflies. 

I don't want to give much away about the story, but I will say that Malik is incredibly hot. I think he's the one I like most out of the five sheikhs. I also saw a funnier and more intimate side of the Al-Atassi family. From the banter between Malik and his mother, to the constant ribbing of the guys, and of course, the love and loyalty they all have for one another. 

SUMMARY:

Malik, compared to the other part of the series, is relatively laid-back. I didn't cry as I did in My Arabian Billionaire or Tarif, but I felt satisfied knowing that they're happy together, and that they can fight whatever the world throws at them because they have the people who love them to back them up.

RATING:


PURCHASE LINKS: 

Amazon
Kobo
Barnes & Noble

Book image from Goodreads

Review of My Arabian Billionaire by Marian Tee

June 21, 2017

I don't even know why I'm still surprised that I finished reading this book with frog-like eyes and a stuffy nose. I should know better by now that Marian WILL make me bawl my eyes out, no matter how sweet and funny she starts off.

Anyway, I have a lot to say about My Arabian Billionaire, so let's get started, shall we?

Title: My Arabian Billionaire (In Bed with a Billionaire): A Desert Sheikh Romance
Author: Marian Tee
Genre: Romance, Erotic Romance
Publication Date: June 14th 2017
Source: ARC Given by Author
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35438470-my-arabian-billionaire-in-bed-with-a-billionaire

Image from Goodreads

SYNOPSIS:

Years and years from now, it would go down as one of the saddest days in the kingdom’s history when the crying, trembling figure of their queen was seen at the gates of the palace, performing the public ritual of ending her marriage to the king. 

News traveled fast, and the area was soon swarming with people - reporters who were out to sensationalize this unprecedented sight, gawking guests who were titillated by the hint of scandal in the air, and men like Mahmud, who didn’t hesitate to sow seeds of discord to further their cause. 

Terrible accusations began to take shape, broadcasted in viral headlines--- 

Queen Harper publicly disavowing marriage to travel alone and leave Ramil? 

Princess Safiya, daughter of Sheikh Mahmud, to be Ramil’s next queen? 

Ramilians to be fined if found offering aid to Queen Harper? 
Later, there would also be stories of loyalty – of how secret enemies of the sheikh had incited a rabble, and of the queen’s most trusted guards coming to her defense. Witnesses had sworn they heard the queen tearfully begging her loyal guards not to endanger themselves for her, but still they had shed blood for her, their loyalty to her unwavering. 

You will always be our queen. 

And when the tide seemed to swell in the favor of the sheikh’s enemies, there came the thundering, ground-crushing sound of the army’s footsteps, led by the king and his vassals. They fought their way to the queen’s side, infallible in their power, strength, and valor – 

It was a breathtaking sight, witnesses from that night were known to avow. But what they would never ever forget was the sight of their king finding his queen--- 

Only to let her go--- 

You are free, my love. 

CHARACTER BACKGROUND:

Harper Griffiths is a strong-willed woman who has a stubborn streak to her. She's got a short temper, sharp tongue, and distant demeanor. But all of these she simply use to cover up and protect a soft heart and innocent soul that people try to hurt time and time again. She's intelligent, loyal, and most of all, honourable.

Khalil Al-Atassi is a man who would give his life for his kingdom. He cares for his people above all else, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to protect his nation - even if that means tearing his heart out in the process.

REVIEW:

Let me start off by being completely honest: I had no idea what the story of My Arabian Billionaire would be about or who the characters involved are.

I tried racking my brain, trying to remember which of Marian Tee's characters is an Arabian Billionaire, but I just couldn't remember. I'm ashamed. Sorry, Marian. But then, Sapphire - Safi - March was mentioned, and then BAM! Khalil Al-Atassi is Jeremy Raybourne! I've said this before, but How Not to Be Seduced by Rockstars is one of my favourite of Marian's work. So of course, when I've finally made a connection, the sun shone and birds chirped.

From the first couple of pages, I already knew that I was going to enjoy whatever journey the story is going to take me. We're immediately introduced to a handful of characters that are different from each other, yet they share a strong, unbreakable bond that makes one want to see more of their dynamic.

And then we jump right into the chemistry between Khalil and Harper. Like most of Marian's male protagonists, the king of Ramil also enjoys teasing - and upsetting - his leading lady. But one of the thing I like about Khalil, is despite his past, or even his current political status, he's not a cold, distant man who's sworn off love. He's just a regular guy ... sort of. And that makes this story refreshing, in a way, because I didn't have to curse the guy for being stupid. In fact, he's such an honourable man that even Harper can't hate him for breaking her heart.

Let me just quickly point out that the steamy scenes here were hot AF. Like, for real. Marian made is as sexy and rough as she could in a page or two. It was erotic in a tasteful manner, if that makes sense.

The story flowed smoothly; though of course there were moments I felt some parts could've been ellaborated, but it didn't take away from the book as a whole so it's okay.

However, I need to point out that ending made me wonder - for the Nth time - what the hell happened with KC Chariot and Yuki Himura? What was so traumatizing that the thought of seeing him, even just hearing his name, evokes such a severe negative reaction from her? Marian, please end our agony and tell us the story.

SUMMARY: 

I'm still not quite used to reading completed stories by Marian. Wait, that sounds wrong. What I meant to say was, she always delivered her stories in at least 3 parts which, in my opinion, works because we get more up and down moments. Meaning, more playful and romantic moments, and more heartbreaks and begging. But with My Arabian Billionaire, we got everything Marian has to offer in 140 pages or so.

We got the fun, we got the steamy, we got the pain, and finish off with the Happily Ever After. It's a complete package that will leave you feeling satisfied while making you want more.

PURCHASE LINKS: 

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

RATING: 


Review of King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard

June 17, 2017

At last! After waiting for months, I finally got my hands on King's Cage, the third installment in Victoria Aveyard's Red Queen series. 

Before I get on my official review, let me just say that the wait was well worth it. 

I won't prolong this intro anymore. Let's jump right to it. 

Title: King's Cage (Red Queen #3)
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance
Publication Date: February 7th 2017
Published By: HarperTeen
Source: Bought

Image from Goodreads

SYNOPSIS:

In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl's spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother's web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare's heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down. 

REVIEW:

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

We left Glass Sword with Mare held captive and suffering public humiliation in the hands of Maven. This was a result of the sacrifice she made for her comrades, in order to spare their lives. We actually get a glimpse of that moment in the first few pages of this book. We see, in detail, not only the physical pain Mare is going through, but also the emotional and mental torment: she's prisoner to the person she hates most, her brother is gone, and she worries about the effects of her imprisonment for the Scarlet Guard. 

We see a Mare that is not only vulnerable because she it literally powerless (hello Silent Stone and Arvents), but also because she still feels a pull towards Maven. 

I like that Maven can't help but open up to Mare at unexpected moments. He ends up revealing how his mother — who won Worst Mother of the Year Award — manipulated his mind ever since he was little. She took away things from Maven that she considers weakness, and that led him into this madness. 


I thoroughly enjoyed the multiple POVs in this book. We don't just get immersed in Mare's journey, but we also get a glimpse of Cameron's mind and her own struggles. But the shocker here, which probably no one saw coming, was we get Evangeline's point-of-view. 

Yes, this is the Evangeline who tried her best to antagonize Mare since day one. The same woman who's hell-bent on hurting—and killing—our leading lady. Apparently, Victoria decided that we all deserved to see through the eyes of this cold-hearted, metal-wielding, "I-know-I'm-better-than-you" silver. 

The thing is, though, while reading her parts, I was surprised to know that she's not a hundred percent rotten. She has her soft spots and gentle moments, and there's a reason why she is the way she is. 

We get to see more of the Samos clan, as well as new silvers, namely Lakelanders. We're also introduced to a whole bunch of other characters that will surely play a bigger part in the continuation of the story. 

Unfortunately, for fans of Kilorn, he doesn't get that much "exposure". But I guess it's okay. He plays a vital role in the Scarlet Guard, and his importance in the lives of everyone around him cannot be denied. I get a feeling we'll see more of him in the next book, though.

SUMMARY:

Victoria Aveyard managed to outdo herself in King's Cage. She showed us multiple sides of characters —  how people can change, and how some simply cannot. This book to me on a journey filled with action, sadness, confusion, hope, heartbreak, and a whole lot more. I didn't know what to expect before I turned to page 1, but I definitely didn't think I'd get sucked in such a riveting story. A story where you don't know who your allies are, and where happiness is merely an illusion. 

Needless to say, it's a book worth reading and a world worth immersing yourself in. 

PURCHASE LINKS:

Philippines: Fully Booked
US: Amazon

RATING:


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