Child of the Mist

So, after finishing The Séance, I needed to find another book to read on the plane. I found Child of the Mist, by Kathleen Morgan, as a free e-book that I downloaded to my Nook. I found it very enjoyable, and a good way to pass the time cramped up on a plane like a sardine.

Set in the 1500s in the Scottish highlands, two rival clans are at war. The feud between the Campbells and the MacGregors has been going on for many years, and no one can even remember exactly how it was started. The might Niall Campbell, next in line for clan chief, gets captured by the MaGregors through the work of a traitor in his clan. The MacGregor’s daughter, Anne, uses her skills in healing to nurse him back to health.

As a way to end the feud, Anne’s father proposes that they unite their two clans through marriage. Niall and Anne handfast, as Niall is still in mourning over his late wife. Anne returns with Niall to his castle, making very few friends and encountering more hostility than she had imagined. Amidst all this, she still manages to see through Niall’s gruff exterior and falls in love with the man inside.

The traitor is still in Niall’s midst and he is suspicious of everyone, including his wife. He must consider the possibility that she is in league with the traitor. Meanwhile, Anne’s reputation as a healer has preceded her, and there are those who would see her burn as a witch. With plots against both Niall and Anne, they each are facing many challenges besides that of a new relationship.

Full of action and budding romance, this book was definitely entertaining. Of course, it was entirely predictable, but still well written and interesting. And unlike other free books I’ve downloaded, this one wasn’t full of errors and strange formatting. Must be the difference between self-publishing (Smashwords, etc) and legitimate publishing…

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The Scoundrel

I just finished reading The Scoundrel by Claire Delacroix. (Yet another book from Goodreads.) This is actually the second book in a set but stands on it own.

Set in Scotland in the 1300s, Evangeline, the Lady of Inverfyre seeks to reclaim a relic that was stolen from her home 15 years ago. Her home has grown poor and the people are going hungry. She believes that restoration of the Titulus will set everything right and restore Inverfyre to its former glory and prosperous times. She finds the scoundrel whose father took the relic years ago. Luckily, he has just stolen it for himself. Evangeline finds him in a tavern and seduces him quite successfully, stealing back her birthright.

However, Gawain cannot easily dismiss this thievery or the lady’s seductions. Biding his time, he plans to go to Inverfyre to steal back the Titulus. However, what he finds there is not what he expected. He discovers secrets and those that would seek to do Evangeline ill. Though he is a self-proclaimed scoundrel with no honor, his heart leads him to act otherwise.

This book was definitely a quick read. I enjoyed the historical setting and the fast pace. It’s not really the type of book that I’d put at the top of my reading list, but I did find it entertaining.

Delicious

Wanting to read something a bit on the lighter side, I discovered Delicious, by Sherry Thomas. I don’t seem to read romance novels too often, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them. This historical romance can be described as a Cinderella story with a culinary element.

Verity Durant is well-known for her skills in the kitchen. She’s been the cook at Fairleigh Park, for Bertie Somerset, for many years. She had also been his lover once upon a time as well. Upon Bertie’s sudden death, Fairleigh Park is inherited by his estranged brother Stuart, a rising political star in England’s Parliament. Being born illegitimately to the same father as Bertie, Stuart has had to struggle to gain acceptance and success. It has not been an easy road, but he has accomplished much and made a place for himself in society.

Through flashbacks, a story emerges that occurred about 10 years earlier. Verity, feeling ill-treated by Bertie, goes to visit Stuart to offer her services as his own personal cook. She reasons that this will result in her revenge against Bertie, and that Stuart will jump at the chance to one-up his brother. However, Stuart is not at home, and she is attacked by two men. Of course, being on his way home, Stuart rescues her, inviting her into his home to recuperate for a few moments. Verity realizes that she never should have come, so never gives her name or true reasons for being in the street outside his house. She leaves for her hotel, and Stuart is so enchanted with her that he follows her there, even proposing marriage. So, in the morning Verity runs away, believing that Stuart would regret his actions, especially if he found out who she was.

Now years later, she finds herself as the employee of this man that she has loved for a decade, but he is lately engaged to another. Verity cooks for him, never allowing him to see her face, and speaking to him only in French. She even goes with him to London when he must return to the city. There are a few scenes where sparks fly, and eventually Stuart discovers her true identity as “Cinderella” from that fateful night years ago. Angered that she had been deceiving him, he asks for her resignation. Verity returns to Fairleigh Park for a few weeks, during which time Stuart has come to his senses. He and his fiancé had put an end to their engagement, (mutually, of course), and Stuart was free to seek out Verity. He didn’t offer her a legal marriage, just “a marriage in everything but name,” which Verity actually accepted. However, a few facts emerge, including the face that Stuart can actually behave as an adult, which affects their relationship as well. It turns out that there is a fairy tale ending after all.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It wasn’t too heavy and definitely hit the spot for a great entertaining read. I couldn’t put this book down. I read it on a day off of work and even texted my husband saying, “I’m sorry. I’m a terrible housewife, but I can’t tear myself away from my book today.” I believe I may have to track down more of this author’s books in the future.

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever

While I do not sit around and read only romance novels, I still enjoy a good romance story occasionally. This book can definitely be considered “chick lit” (I really hate to use that term as I find it annoying, but in this case, it fits).

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever is the first book I’ve read by Julia Quinn, and other reviews I’ve read suggest that it is definitely not her best work. However, I thought it was a decent book. It was an entertaining read, and I was able to finish it in a single afternoon. So, for me, it served its purpose.

Miranda Cheever has been in love with her best friend’s older brother, Turner, since she was ten years old and he was nineteen. He was the one who suggested she began keeping a journal in the first place. Skipping ahead a few years, she has grown into herself and is no longer a gangly child. Also, Turner’s horrible cheating wife, Leticia, has been killed by being thrown off a horse, for which he feels nothing but relief and gratitude. However, Leticia has left her mark on Turner. He is hard and cold. He believes himself unable to love, vows never to marry again, and finds it difficult to trust.

Meanwhile, Miranda and her best friend, Olivia, spend a season in London, going to balls and meeting many eligible men. Of course, Miranda lives with Olivia’s family while there, and she and Turner have a few interactions. Turner finds her the least intolerable of all the single women, they have witty conversations, and he finally realizes she is not a child anymore. At one point, Miranda admits her love for Turner.

On an outing to the country, Miranda and Turner are paired together in a scavenger hunt. When one clue incorrectly leads them to the hunting lodge, it begins to rain. The only thing to do is to wait out the storm, and of course, shed their wet clothes. One thing leads to another, the result of which is that a couple of weeks later, Miranda decides to retire to her grandparents’ home in Scotland for at least nine months.

Turner learns of the pregnancy and rushes to Edinburgh to insist upon their marriage. After all, what else is a “gentleman” to do? By this time, Miranda has had a miscarriage and rejects his proposal because he will not say that he loves her. Turner, however, still insists upon their marriage, as do Miranda’s grandparents. She finally gives in and they are married.

She finds that she enjoys being married to Turner and prompty becomes pregnant again. Turner constantly showers her with affection and compliments, and he believes that is enough for a while. Finally, he sees the pain in Miranda’s eyes, knowing that she wants his love in return. When Turner is leaving for London for a few days, Miranda says she loves him, something she has not reminded him of since a long time before they even married. He cannot say the words back. When he returns, Miranda demands to know which it is: does he love her, or does he not? His silence is her answer, so she takes up residence in a guest bedroom and becomes a different person.

The baby finally arrives after nearly a full day of labor. The baby is healthy, but Miranda has bled too much and is not fully expected to live. Turner loves the baby, realizing that he loves his daughter because she is a part of Miranda, not because she is a part of him. At this point, he realizes that he also loves Miranda. He finally tells her so, pulling her back from the brink of death. She recovers, and it is assumed that they live happily ever after.

Like I said, I’m definitely not one to read a bunch of romance novels, but I did enjoy this book. I was a bit disappointed in the main hero. I liked him well enough, but I did wish him to have a bit more depth and substance.