Tag Archives: Ballantine Books

Review: Always by Sarah Jio

Always
by Sarah Jio
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication date: Feb. 7, 2017
Genre: Romance
Rating:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March comes a gripping, poignant novel about the kind of love that never lets go, and the heart’s capacity to remember.

While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at one of Seattle’s chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can’t believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the Herald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister.

When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense everything connected and felt “right.” But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what and whom she wants.

Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she’s willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.

 

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Review: The Rock by Monica McCarty

rockThe Rock
(Highland Guard, #11)
By: Monica McCarty
Publisher: Ballatine Books
Published: Dec. 29, 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating:
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The first time he caught sight of Elizabeth Douglas, Thomas MacGowan thought she was a princess. To the son of the castle blacksmith, the daughter of the powerful Lord of Douglas might as well be. When it becomes clear that his childhood companion will never see him as a man she could love, Thom joins Edward Bruce’s army as a man-at-arms to try to change his lot. If he’s harbored a secret hope that he could close the gap between them, he faces the cold, hard truth when Elizabeth comes to him for help. She might need the boy who used to climb cliffs to rescue her brother from the hands of the English, but she would never see the son of a smith as a man worthy of her hand.

 

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Review: The Striker by Monica McCarty

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The Striker
(Highland Guard, #10)
By: Monica McCarty
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: Nov. 24, 2015
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating:
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Goodreads

Six years ago, Eoin “Striker” MacLean endured the greatest betrayal of his life, a disaster that led Robert the Bruce to a crushing defeat and left Eoin without the spirited woman who ruled his heart. Eoin knew that falling in love with his sworn enemy’s daughter was risky, dividing him between a possessive desire for beautiful Margaret MacDowell and an undying loyalty to his king. He promised Bruce that he would keep his fiery bride in the dark about the elite Highland Guard, but he could not predict the dire consequences his secret would have on his young marriage. Nor could he foresee how surrendering to temptation could cripple Bruce’s cause, forcing Eoin to blame his wife—and himself for trusting her.

Now, as Bruce prepares to challenge the resistance’s remaining strongholds, Eoin finally has his chance for revenge against the woman he once loved so fiercely and her entire clan. But when ferociously independent Margaret reveals a surprise that unites her with Eoin, neither of them will let their love go down without a fight.

 

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Review: The Arrow by Monica McCarty

19288180The Arrow
(Highland Guard, #9)
By: Monica McCarty
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: Aug. 26, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating:
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The talents of legendary marksman Gregor “Arrow” MacGregor are crucial now, as Bruce moves to reclaim his Scottish holdings. Gregor is considered the most handsome man in Scotland, and his fame as an archer is rivaled only by his reputation with the lasses as a heartbreaker. But when his infamous face is exposed during a covert mission, Gregor is forced to lay low. He returns home only to find a new battle waiting: a daring game of seduction involving his now very grown up and very desirable ward, Cate of Lochmaben.

A born fighter, Cate was clinging to life when Gregor rescued her after a vicious English raid on her village left her mother dead. But five years later, the once scrappy orphan Gregor took under his protection has become a woman. Brave, strong, and skilled in warfare, Cate is determined to lay claim to the warrior who refuses to be trapped. The heat in his eyes tells her she has his attention . . . and his desire. But will Gregor allow his heart to surrender before danger finds them, and the truth of Cate’s identity is revealed?

 
1thoughts
Cate was rescued by Gregor and his fellow Phantoms when the English attacked her village. Since her mother was killed in the raid, Gregor took in Cate as his ward. However, because he is part of Bruce’s secret elite army, the Phantoms, he doesn’t spend much time at home. So he has no idea how much Cate has grown or how beautiful of a woman she’s become over the time apart. However, Cate is determined to make him see her as a woman. A woman who he can;t live without.

I love this series. There’s so much rich history in the books that it’s hard not to be taken back in time. The author does a lot of research for her books that it’s hard to remember that it’s technically a work of fiction. Even though the series is amazingly entertaining, this one just didn’t hold up to the others. The story was still entertaining but I had some problems with the main characters.

Cate has been in love with Gregor since he saved her. She’s been anxiously waiting for his next trip home from the war so that she can woo him with her womanly charms. I could see her wanting him to see her as a woman but some things she did just didn’t really work for me. She claims she knows how he loathes being looked at as a prized trophy husband for his looks alone. She claims she knows him for who he is. However, her advances towards him were all wrong for what she claims. She corners him, forces herself on him and just doesn’t take no for an answer because he’s surely just fighting his love for her.

Gregor was a likable character at first. He does everything he can to stay away from Cate. She’s a nuisance sure, but he can’t deny her gravitational pull. He tries to discourage her advances by parading around with other women. However, when he is good and “trapped” into marrying Cate and finds out how she manipulated everything to get her way he decides to prove to them both that he doesn’t truly love her. So what does he do? He seeks out another woman. That was when I lost all respect for him. He stopped being the hero in the story and instead became a douchebag.

It’s true that these were not my favorite characters from the series. However, I am still a huge fan of the series and will continue to the next book. I like how the epilogue shoots forward in time. It makes me wonder if maybe the next book will have a whole new list of people to follow.

 
1favepart
“That is, if you can bear to tear yourself away for a few hours from the bevy of admirers. ‘Oh laird, I brought you this tart because I know how much you love figs,’ she mimicked, “Or ‘Oh, my laird, have you had this cheese from our farm?'” She made a sharp scoffing sound. “Their ploys are so obvious. Does ever woman think the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?”
He crossed his arms and grinned at her. “Well, I do like figs and cheese.”

 
Previous reviews from Highland Guard
The Chief
The Hawk
The Recruit
The Hunter

kRISTIN

Review: The Hunter by Monica McCarty

The Hunter
(Highland Guard, #7)
By: Monica McCarty
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published: June 25, 2013
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating:
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Prized for his unbeatable tracking skills, Ewen “Hunter” Lamont accepts a dangerous assignment: locate a missing undercover courier. But this is no ordinary target. Ewen has met his prey before as “Sister Genna,” a fiery, forbidden woman forever etched in his memory after one stolen, sinful kiss. Now that he knows her real identity, he’s more determined than ever to keep her safe. But without the protection of the veil between them, fighting the allure of the beautiful lass may be the toughest battle this extraordinary warrior has ever faced.
After her ill-fated attempt three years ago to rescue her twin sister, Janet of Mar has found salvation acting as a royal messenger—until she surrenders to a darkly handsome warrior whose rough, sensual kisses stir feelings the woman in her can’t deny. But when betrayal leads to danger, and a crucial communiqué is put in jeopardy, Janet has no choice but to put her faith in the hunter who can find anything—perhaps even her heart.

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Review: The Recruit by Monica McCarty

The Recruit
(Highland Guard, #6)
By: Monica McCarty
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published: Oct. 30, 2012
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating:

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Scotland’s King Robert the Bruce is retaking his kingdom from the invading English. To win, he’ll need all the grit and courage of his elite band of warriors, the Highland Guard, men who fight without fear and love without limits.
 
Fiery, aggressive, and bold, Kenneth Sutherland is a true champion—skilled with any weapon and driven to win. Now Kenneth is ready for his greatest challenge: joining Robert the Bruce’s secret army to fight among the elite. Kenneth’s best chance to attain that honor is by winning the Highland Games. Focused and prepared for victory, he is caught off guard by a lovely wisp of a woman—and a stolen moment of wicked seduction. Her innocent arousal and her shameless hunger fire his blood. He will win his place in the guard—and in Mary of Mar’s bed.

The ruggedly handsome hero-in-the-making stirs a heart that should know better. Mary vows that her surrender will be sport only—no promises, no heartbreak, just one night of incredible passion. Nothing, she swears, will persuade her to give up her hard-wrought independence and put her fate in the hands of another powerful man. But with every gentle touch and heart-pounding kiss, Kenneth makes her want more. Now Mary wants his heart. But is this determined champion willing to surrender everything for love?

 

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Review: The Hawk by Monica McCarty

The Hawk
(Highland Guard, #2)
By: Monica McCarty
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published: Aug. 31, 2010
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating:
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Handpicked by Robert the Bruce to help him in his quest to free Scotland from English rule, the elite warriors of the Highland Guard face their darkest days. When Bruce is forced to flee, his bid for freedom rests on the shoulders of one extraordinary warrior.
Erik MacSorley is a brilliant seafarer who has never encountered a wind he could not harness or a woman he could not win—until he drags a wet, half-naked nursemaid out of the waters off the Irish coast. Ellie’s ordinary appearance belies the truth: She is in fact Lady Elyne de Burgh, the spirited daughter of the most powerful noble in Ireland. Worse, this irresistible woman is determined to prove herself immune to Erik’s charms—a challenge he cannot resist.

Her captor may look every inch a rugged warrior, but Ellie vows that it will take more than a wickedly suggestive caress to impress her. Yet Erik will sweep away Ellie’s resistance with a desire that resonates deep within her heart. Still, he is a man driven by loyalty, and she is a woman with secrets that could jeopardize Bruce’s chance to reclaim his throne. As the battle for king and country sounds across the shores, will Ellie’s love be enough to finally tame the legend known as the Hawk?

 

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Review: The Chief by Monica McCarty

 

The Chief 
(Highland Guard, #1)
By: Monica McCarty
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published: March 23, 2010
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating:
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AN ELITE FIGHTING FORCE UNLIKE THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN . . .

Scouring the darkest corners of the Highlands and Western Isles, Robert the Bruce handpicks ten warriors to help him in his quest to free Scotland from English rule. They are the best of the best, chosen for their superior skills in each discipline of warfare. And to lead his secret Highland Guard, Bruce chooses the greatest warrior of all.

The ultimate Highland warlord and a swordsman without equal, Tor MacLeod has no intention of being drawn into Scotland’s war against the English. Dedicated to his clan, the fiercely independent chief answers to no one—especially not to his alluring new bride, bartered to him in a bid to secure his command of the deadliest fighting force the world has ever seen. The treacherous chit who made her way to Tor’s bed may have won his hand, but she will never claim his heart.

Although her husband’s reputation is as fierce as his manner, Christina Fraser believes that something softer hides beneath his brutal shell. But the only warmth she feels is in their bed, in glorious moments of white-hot desire that disappear with the dawn. When Christina’s reckless bid to win her husband’s love goes awry and thrusts them into danger on the eve of war, Tor will face his ultimate battle: to save his wife and to open his heart—before it’s too late.

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