The Imperial Orchid – Nicola Italia

This book contains:

  • References to past murder
  • Attempted murder
  • Attempted rape.

Frances is our first main character, she’s a modern woman pushing the boundaries heading towards what we know of today with equal rights for women and the ability to work for ourselves. She excels in her field of work, is financially independent and respected equally by her male counterparts.

Miles St. Clair is a Lord’s son, out of place at home after war and with no direction for his life to take. To help him, his father cuts him off financially and gives him a final choice to turn his life around and become a productive citizen of society.

Frances returns home from a working trip to Switzerland in time to have multiple run ins with Miles and to find out about a new trip being funded by Lord Holloway, the President of the Royal Horticultural Society. Of course she’s interested, but how would it work travelling in a team for an unknown project with a group of men?

Miles is the only part of the expedition team that knows from the start what they’re after, and he knows how dangerous it is. He expected to find trouble along the way, but where it came from was a surprise to them all.

One of my favourite things about Nicola’s books is that the women are forward thinking and expect more from the world even in a period of time when they were nothing more than daughters, sisters, wives and mothers. While most of them are driven to work by necessity, Frances is different in that she’s working because she wants to work.

While I love the working aspect, the action was amazing!

There were jungle searches, midnight rendezvous, secret liaisons, subterfuge and of course, murder subplots. Not to mention the general anxiety caused by a massive monsoon storm!

I wasn’t sure who to trust or believe, even right up until the final moments when it was all revealed. You got little suspicions along the way in such perfectly timed and presented ways that it was impossible to not get hooked in and start playing who-dun-it.

Tempted by the Runes – Christina Courtenay

This book contains:

  • Attempted kidnapping.

Madison (Maddie) Berger, the little sister of Linnea from The Runes of Destiny, is just 19 and in Ireland with her parents and brother for a Viking festival. While following her parents around to all the Viking festivals, she’s learnt almost everything there is to learn about the ancient Vikings and the skills needed to live in the Viking era. But she dreams of more, of having a purpose.

Geir is the youngest of three brothers (Hrafn, the oldest, is from The Runes of Destiny, and Rurik, the middle brother, is from Whispers of the Runes) and desperate to create his own life. Hrafn is a landowner and Rurik is an established silversmith in Ireland, but Geir has no skills as such to establish himself and he refuses to be reliant on his brothers.

Maddie finds a brooch engraved with a line she knows well as her sister has a brooch with the same line on it that took her back in time. She knows the implication and realises that this is her chance to see the Viking era for herself and experience life away from her parents, even just temporarily.

On her trip back in time, she ends up at Geir’s mercy and suddenly finds herself taking a trip much longer than she expected.

I was wondering how Christina was going to keep the story going without it feeling stretched and overused. I mean, how many times can 21st Century woman go back in Viking times to the same brothers and end up in love?

Except it actually wasn’t stretched or overused at all!

The new place, context and adventure gave us a whole new story that was quite different to the previous ones. While there were some elements that weren’t as great purely because it’s later in the series, there were so many that were fresh and amazing!

Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and time travel stories, and lives in Herefordshire (near the Welsh border) in the UK. Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden – hence her abiding interest in the Vikings. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several awards, including the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel twice with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014), and the RNA Fantasy Romantic Novel of the year 2021 with Echoes of the RunesTempted by the Runes (time travel published by Headline 9th December 2021) is her latest novel. Christina is a keen amateur genealogist and loves history and archaeology (the armchair variety).

Giveaway – Win a signed paperback copy of Tempted by the Runes, a pair of silver Thor’s hammer earrings and a Thor’s hammer Christmas tree bauble (open internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Whispers of the Runes – Christina Courtenay

This book contains:

  • attempted rape
  • attempted murder
  • slaughter and plunder of Churches and Monasteries.

Sara is Linnea’s best friend who suffered the loss of her parents in the same car accident that left her in hospital for months. It’s more than a year later and Sara’s moved on from her ex and goes on an excursion for inspiration for her jewellery.

Rurik is one of Linnea’s brothers-in-law and a silversmith who’s decided to move away so that he can try and get over his love for Linnea. He’s proud, a strong warrior and determined to make his new life in England successful.

Sara travels back through time right as Rurik is burying some of his fellow shipmates after becoming shipwrecked on the coast of England. They both knew about time travel thanks to Linnea, but they aren’t sure if the other one knows or realises so don’t want to freak them out.

As they travel through England heading towards Jorvik they find themselves in positions they didn’t expect but continues to bring them closer and closer.

Following on from The Runes of Destiny,we get to have more time travel back to the same time period and it’s so fun!

I wanted more from this world when I finished The Runes of Destiny and I’m so glad I got more. Although I think I’m missing Echo’s of the Runes, I’m not sure though coz this series isn’t listed as a series and I’m not sure the characters cross over.

Either way, this is another great story that wove romance, action, time travel and drama all together into another great story that I’m hoping isn’t the end of this series. Once again I’m left wanting more and I have a guess as to who could be the focus of the next story but you never know!

Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and time travel stories, and lives in Herefordshire (near the Welsh border) in the UK. Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden – hence her abiding interest in the Vikings. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several awards, including the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel twice with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014).  Whispers of the Runes (time travel published by Headline 24th June 2021) is her latest novel. Christina is a keen amateur genealogist and loves history and archaeology (the armchair variety).

Giveaway – Win a signed copy of Whispers of the Runes plus a pair of silver Viking style earrings (open internationally)

The Viking Chief’s Marriage Alliance – Lucy Morris

This book contains:

  • attempted kidnapping.

Gyda is a woman forced from her home after her husband’s death. With all her family dead already and her husband’s son’s suggesting her death, she’s forced to flee with no means to support herself except her skills. Except she needs to get set up somewhere safe first.

Thorstein on the other hand has a home, a successful settlement and an overlord who he respects. Now it’s time to find a wife to help him run his settlement.

Gyda’s ship that has taken her from Viken to England is shipwrecked near Thorstein’s settlement. When his people see the shipwreck, they go out to save whoever they can. When they get there, they find Gyda trying to save her jewels and other belongings even though her own life is at risk.

Thorstein promises to see Gyda to Jorvik, a job the master of the ship has decided not to fullfill, to deliver her to her late-twins husband. Once there, their lives are turned upside down and they’re both forced to face their past on a daily basis until they can both finally move forwards, together.

While I can find romances that rely on a lack of communication frustrating at times, I can’t say I felt that with this one. There were enough moments of the “will they? Won’t they?” that it kept your attention and made the story intriguing, without getting old fast.

As both characters grew, revealed little details about their past and generally began to learn about the other we can see them grow as a couple as well. This growth starts off as small observations, but in the end makes the difference between life and slavery.

Being able to recognise when you got something wrong and takes steps to learn is so important! Every time I started to feel frustration over that acknowledgement from them, they made that leap of faith. It was beautiful to watch, and I almost wish I could’ve found out more about their settlement like 5-10 years later!

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Lucy Morris lives in Essex, UK, with her husband, two young children and two cats. She has a massively sweet tooth and loves gin, bubbly and Irn-Bru. A member of the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association, she was delighted to accept a two-book deal with Harlequin after submitting her story to the Warriors Wanted submission blitz for Viking, Medieval and Highlander romances.

Writing for Harlequin Historical is a dream come true for her and she hopes you enjoy her books!

Note: link provided for purchase will take you to Book2Read where you can then pick what platform you’d prefer to purchase from.

The Highlander’s Secret Son – Jeanine Englert

This book contains:

  • references to physical and emotional abuse off page and spoken about.

Fiona and Brandon both display the typical Scottish highlander stubbornness that seems to feature in just about every Scottish highlander I read about. We meet them as they’re coming across each other for the first time in about a year.

Fiona is running from her father and from the abuse that he’s dolled out in an attempt to make a better life for herself and her son. When she’s captured by Brandon, she’s determined to escape his clutches and tyranny. He has become exactly what he promised he never would, someone who put his clan before his love, making him the worst person to capture her.

Brandon finds himself in the position of Laird Campbell, a position he never wanted but was forced on him thanks to Fiona’s actions. When he captures her and discovers he’s a father he’s faced with choices he never thought he’d have to make. Impossible choices. Choices between happiness with Fiona and the security of his clan. He makes mistakes almost every step of the way and is faced with every bad decision by a furious Fiona.

Fiona is escaping her father who is hell bent on destroying Clan Campbell any way he can. Once Brandon captures Fiona, her father decides the best way to do that is to force Brandon to hand over Fiona and his son.

In a bid to prevent this from happening, Brandon seeks out a marriage with another Clan so that he can protect Fiona, their son and his clan from Clan McDonald. Yet every decision he makes to try and secure Fiona’s future, pushes them further and further away until the unthinkable happens and Brandon has to try and get her back.

I quite liked Jeanine’s story of highland clans and their disputes. It had a great balance of romance and action; however the pacing felt a little odd. At times it had a slow and steady pace, then at others it felt like it rushed by!

Granted, the romance sections were given time to have the appropriate build up and the action had the speed you need. The change of pace isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just something that I noticed.

Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Jeanine Englert’s love affair with mysteries and romance began with Nancy Drew, Murder She Wrote, and her Grandmother’s bookshelves full of romance novels. She is a Golden Heart ® Finalist, Silver Falchion, Maggie, and Daphne du Maurier Award Winner in historical romance and mystery. Her Scottish Highland historical and historical romantic suspense novels revolve around characters seeking self-acceptance and redemption. When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved rescue pups, as well as mysteries and romance with other readers.

Giveaway – Win a bundle of Highland treats (open internationally)

Prize contains:

1) One signed paperback copy of The Highlander’s Secret Son.

2) Bookmark and magnet book swag.

3) Scottish Blessing Bracelet.

4) Sterling Silver “Spread Your Wings and Fly” Necklace.

5) Red Journal.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Among the Darkness Stirs – Nicola Italia

This book contains:

  • Death of father
  • Murder and its investigation

Audrey is the daughter of a vicar, university educated and in need of work. Throughout life’s challenges and changes, she stays true to herself as she picks up her, and her families lives and works to give them the life they deserve.

With the help (and eventual romance) of Henry, Audrey is able to weather all the storms the workhouse throws at her while Henry continue to support her, offer friendship and help her in her investigation. Although Henry only wishes to help Audrey in the beginning, this changes to more intense feelings that he has to pursue, while trying to keep her safe from her own investigations.

Audrey’s father dies leaving her family destitute with no where to turn to. Thanks to the help of Henry, she’s able to secure a role in a workhouse teaching the children in the hopes of bettering their lives. While working there she makes friends with some of the staff, “inmates” and Henry’s mother.

The first half of the book is about Audrey finding her place in the workhouse, getting to know Henry, his mother, Norwich and getting comfortable teaching the children. Then, about halfway through the book, one of her friends suddenly dies and she discovers a diary that concerns her. The remaining half gives Audrey and Henry time to investigate the odd diary and figure out exactly what is happening.

On the whole, the book was quite interesting. Various aspects of society and the changes we likely take for granted now were pointed out numerous times. Simple things like everyone deserving a basic education, women getting a university or college education, women holding jobs and even the idea that people who fall on hard times are lazy.

I did find the first half of the book a little bit slow. Looking back on it I can see how most of it was needed, the pace of it just felt a little slow. Especially when compared to the second half. The first half spanned a few months, whereas the second half spanned maybe a week or two.

It’s not that I think the second half was rushed! I actually think it was really well done.

There was enough detail, enough intrigue and enough drama that it worked really well. It was just a bit of a shock to have the pace suddenly change. When I got to about 60% of the way through I found myself wanting to keep coming back to the book, ditch work and just find out what was happening!

And I was left shocked at the end!

When it was described I thought it was one, normal(ish) thing, but then when it was truly revealed I couldn’t believe it! Did that stuff actually exist in those times?! WOW!

A Widow’s Vow – Rachel Brimble

Welcome back everyone, I feel like it’s been forever since I last read a regency/historical romance.

Although this isn’t a regency romance, it is set in those times. Why isn’t it a regency romance if it’s set in that time?

Because neither of the characters are from or involved in the aristocracy. Well other than their “business” dealings. None of which are legal.

Both Louisa and Jacob have faced hardship after hardship, which wasn’t uncommon in those years, and yet found ways to rise above it and make a life for themselves. Even if that life wasn’t what they were expecting, they made it so they were in control.

I admire that both of them were able to make difficult decisions and used their limited skills to create a profitable and (mostly) happy life. The way Jacob and Louisa’s best friend were able to break through her self-imposed grief to help her accept her life was amazing. Definitely an ending I was happy with!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; next week I’ll be reviewing Venators: Promises Forged by Devri Walls. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Rachel lives with her husband and their two daughters in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of over 20 published novels including the Pennington’s department store series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin).

Her next project is a Victorian trilogy set in a Bath brothel which she recently signed with Aria Fiction. The series will feature three heroines determined to change their lives and those of other women. The first book. A Widow’s Vow is due for release in September and available for Amazon preorder now.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and has thousands of social media followers all over the world. To sign up for her newsletter (a guaranteed giveaway every month!), click here!

The Eternal Banquet – Jennifer Macaire

Welcome back everyone, we’re up to the last book in the series and I can’t believe I’m finally done with the series!

Those little things that frustrated me in the last book were all corrected in this book while Ashley, Alexander and Plexis found their way through the rest of their lives.

The focus of this book is on their travels home from the land of the Eaters of the Dead. There were several revelations that, for the first time in this series, made me think about something philosophical. Normally I’ve found this series to be a great relaxation read rather than a reflective and learning kind of book.

The moment that hit me was when they were leaving Carthage for Rome. If you read the book, you’ll know what I mean with that moment. I was left wondering if maybe she was always meant to travel back in time to ensure that history played out exactly as it was meant to. Maybe every time traveller that got stuck back in time had a vital role to play in the history of the world and the Institute of Time let them make changes while also keeping up the reputation of wiping them from the Earth to discourage too much control.

As much as I loved the story, the style of the writing felt a touch off at a few points. Even the last couple of chapters felt a little bit rushed. Yet I can’t see how the ending would have been satisfying any other way.

Given the difference in the whole story compared to history, I can see why we needed the wrap up of what happened to Ashley’s children and where she ended up. I’m not sure if the main reason I didn’t like this was because I didn’t want the story to end, or because there really was something missing.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week that last instalment of The Circle Opens quartet will be reviewed. After that, I’ll be starting a new set of series to replace this one.

The Soul of Time – Jennifer Macaire

Welcome back everyone, today’s review is the second last book in the series. We’ve moved on from the filler book and it’s now full of action and everything I love about this series!

We pick up the start of this book right where we ended the last book, Chants to Persephone with everyone heading into the Eaters of the Dead territory. One of the best things about this book is that it’s full of suspense, action and surprises.

The prophecies Alexander and Ashely heard in the previous book start to make sense, bit by bit.

I found myself held in suspense for the majority of the book wondering what would happen. So many questions were raised and answered one at a time in this book. Yet, if I tell you any of them, I’ll probably ruin the story for you.

Although I loved the story and the action and how it all played out. There were a few small details that were a little bit off to me. One of them was how many pregnancies Ashely had had. In the first 4 books she’d been pregnant 5 times (possibly a 6th, not 100% sure without going back through them) yet in this book they said 4 times.

It might have been a mistake. They do happen. But it did throw me for a minute, and I had to go back through my memory and count all her pregnancies.

The other thing that started to bother me in this book was Ashely getting prophetic dreams. She hasn’t had them in any of the previous books (except maybe a brief introduction to them in the previous book) and I don’t feel like this is something that someone would develop all of a sudden.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be picking the Tamora Pierce series again. So stay tuned!

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