Magic in Alba, A Steamy Englishman and A Highlander In A Kilt!

The Lady of Magick

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I’ve been waiting to get my hands on this book since seeing it at a bookstore and was so glad when I could finally dive into it after reading the first book.

Gray and Sophie are back in alternative Victorian England, this time as a married couple studying at the Merlin College in Oxford. Living together as husband and wife while also being at the college is interesting to say the least particularly for Sophie who struggles to manage the work load and to avoid the odd looks she gets due to being one of the few women at the college and the Lost English Princess. She would rather hide and concentrate on her studies than to be looked at just because she is long lost royalty and the only girl attending college. Gray worries about her so when he’s given the chance to be a guest lecturer at the University in Din Edin in Alba and mentions it to Sophie, who has been extended a scholarship to also attend, they both jump at the chance to have an adventure and Sophie is looking forward to going to college where she’s just known as Sophie Marshall and surrounded by an equal amount of girls and boys.

Sophie becomes concerned about Alba when she notices poorer areas and blighted animals being burned on their trip to Din Edin. When she mentions it to Catriona MacCrimmon who is helping her while staying in Din Edin, she doesn’t seem too bothered by it though does mention that Alba used to be a lot stronger hundreds of years ago under the watchful eye of Laird Alpin who was a powerful mage and created a mysterious spell net to protect the land and his people. Shortly after arriving in Din Edin though, she becomes caught up in life as a student including learning how to speak Gaelic, married life, making friends including Lucia MacNeill who is the heiress of her clan and future leader of Scotland and soon becomes caught up in the unrest of some of the people of Alba when they learn Lucia is to be married to an English Prince.

After a lot of hesitation, Sophie decides to reveal to some of her newfound friends that she’s indeed the Lost Princess of England and though she loses a friend, she becomes closer to Lucia who will one day be her sister-in-law. Sophie and Gray’s friends keep Sophie’s heritage a secret and life seems to somewhat return to normal as a foreign student studying in Alba.

Joanna has grown up a lot since the last book and she’s become very valuable as Lord Kergabet’s assistant. She’s also become a friend Prince Roland though she’s not sure what to do about his sudden attention though does her best to not encourage him especially when she finds herself caught up in court politics. When she learns of information that could really affect Roland and her sister, she’s torn between revealing and remembering her loyalties. She makes a decision that eventually affects her relationship with Roland but also knows where her loyalties have to lie.

Sophie’s just starting to settle in and enjoy herself despite the unrest when she comes home after a shopping trip to find Gray gone with a short note about going to visit his father who mysteriously became ill and left in a hurry. At first Sophie looks forward to hearing from Gray but then soon she realizes that all is not well and attempts to look into what might have become of her husband but alas no finding spell can seem to locate him . When her sister Joanna and Joanna’s friend Gwen show up for a visit, they find learn that Gray has left suddenly and it’s up to Sophie to show them around. Sophie had been waiting months to see her beloved sister so was prepared and eagerly waited for her arrival but Gwen was an unexpected last minute addition to the party. The more that Gray is away with no message of his whereabouts though, the more that Sophie seems to be less inclined to do things and spends most of her mind moping around. Joanna soon learns though that it’s not just a simple case of moping around and that if Gray doesn’t return, she may very well lose her sister forever. Joanna tries to look into what might have happened to Gray with the help of Gwen, Sophie and Gray’s friends in Din Edin and other people that might narrow things down. They are all soon tangled up in a plot that is more complicated than finding Gray and could impact all of Alba in the near future.

By sheer luck, Sophie is able to locate her husband after a particularly trying spell with the help of a few close friends. Not willing to sit idle while things are figured out in a rescue mission, Sophie, Joanna and Gwen set out on their own to rescue Gray and hopefully not land in hot water themselves. Lucia also becomes a big help by lending some of her magic to Sophie though things turn out quite a bit differently than these three had expected and will find help in unlikely places. Sophie soon learns that sometimes you have to let go of what you fear the most, believe in yourself and sometimes its best to let magic have its way. When two people are meant to be together, love will prevail and I knew that somehow Gray and Sophie would find their way back to each other.

I always love reading about Scotland and I loved that it was referred to Alba which is the Latin name for Scotland and is such a beautiful country. It was such a pleasure to add more Gaelic words to my vocabulary and another song to my playlist. Sylvia really has a way of describing things and I could almost picture this alternative Alba in my head and smell the salty sea air. She always draws me in with her storytelling until the very end. This book was full of adventure, humor, magic, friendship, love, mystery and unexpected twists. The ending of the book came as a surprise and yet I’m glad things ended as they did. I won’t spoil the ending because I’ve never liked spoilers myself but I was on the edge of my seat right until the end!

I’m so glad that there’s another book in the series while also sad that there’s just three books in this series. I really hope the author has more up her sleeve in the Noctis Magicae world! Just can’t get enough of Gray, Sophie, their friends and loved ones and and alternative UK where most people are magically inclined!

The Heiress and the Hothead

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I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review and what a wonderful story it was.
This is about Stephen and Amanda who are two people from different worlds and by pure chance and mistaken identity, exchange a passionate kiss under the mistletoe upon meeting each other.
Stephen is a younger English son who came from money but never felt he fit in and passionately writes about campaigning for the poor and children who are working in dangerous conditions in some of the mills and Stephen hopes to change that.
Amanda is an American Heiress from America who came to see her brother for the holidays in England and talk to other mill owners. She’s fiercely independent, trying to make a success of her mills in Pennsylvania, not interested in potential suitors and is anxious to return home after the holidays.
When these two get together, sparks fly in more than one way. Somehow Stephen manages to get Amanda under mistletoe throughout the house which leads to quite a bit of kissing.
Amanda finds herself drawn to Stephen but doesn’t entirely trust him after he agrees to show her some behind the scenes of life at the mill and tries to shock her by introducing her to one of the poor families who work at the mill. She soon shows Stephen that she’s not like one of the many bad mill owners, is appalled by some of the conditions people have to work in, particularly the really young children and genuinely cares about those who work for her. Stephen soon realizes that he made a mistake in judging her so harshly and does his best to make it up to her. Despite trying to fight his growing attraction to Amanda, he soon realizes that he’s fallen head over heels for her. When Amanda admits her feelings and asks him to be with her, he admits that he isn’t ready to leave the work he’s done in England behind to live life with Amanda in Pennsylvania.
On Christmas Eve, as they are both trying to come to terms with possibly not seeing each other again, a fire breaks out at the mill and these two will be caught in a situation that will force them to realize that sometimes you have to follow the path to your heart, even when that path seems uncertain.

This novella was wonderful to read, I loved that it was a quick read though there was plenty of tension, a particularly steamy love scene and enjoyed the characters. It was nice to enjoy a quick read and yet feel like it’s a regular sized book. This was my first glimpse into Sindful Suitors series and I can’t wait to read more!

A Sinful Scottish Laird

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Release Date: February 28th, 2017. Available for Pre-Order!

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I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I had plans to wait until closer to the release date of this ARC which is the end of February but I just couldn’t resist reading ahead of time. After reading about Arran and Margot Mackenzie’s story, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on reading about a grown up Cailean who is their eldest son that will day be Laird of the Mackenzies and take up residence at Balhaire and has remained a bachelor, much to his mother’s annoyance.

Daisy Bristol, Lady Chatwick is a young widow and mother who has come to Auchenard which is in the Scottish Highlands with her Uncle Alfonso, her eight year old son Ellis, and her cousin Belinda from London to await hearing from who she believes in her long lost love, Captain Spivey. She loved him before her marriage, he sent a letter saying that he would be coming to London, and could very well save her from fortune hunters who have learned of her interesting situation. To get away from those fortune hunters, she decides to show Ellis a bit of his inheritance and also to take a break from the chaos of London.

Her interesting situation is that her husband put an edict in his will just before he died that Daisy must marry before three years are up after his death or Ellis will lose his fortune and Daisy is determined to save her son’s fortune and she hopes that Spivey could be that man.

Just before they read Auchenard, they temporarily have a break down and Cailean comes riding in, offering assistance. At first their hired coach mistakes Cailean and his crew as highwaymen and that gets sorted out. Daisy finds herself drawn to him in a way she hasn’t with any other man but manages to keep her cool and sends him on his way.

Once they arrive at Auchenard, they are shocked by the state of it which has fallen into disrepair mostly due a caretaker caring more about drinking than looking after what is essentially a large hunting lodge. It’s an adjustment for everyone to be at Auchenard and takes a lot of hard work as well as money to be livable but everyone rallies together and makes it work.

Daisy has lived a life of privilege but she also had no say in being married to the late Viscount Chatwick. She did eventually have affection for the man and his death was hard on her but finding out his edict was even harder. She wants to do right by her son but she also doesn’t want to have to choose someone that will only want to marry her because of the fortune that her son will one day take over. She’s smart, funny, loves to flirt and loves her family dearly. Daisy will not take this next chapter of her life lying down and falling for Cailean came as a big shock to her. Daisy is more than well matched for Cailean but it’s also complicated because she wants to follow her heart and yet do what’s best for Ellis.

Cailean is funny, smart, very responsible, loves his family and shies away from getting involved with those outside his clan, especially women because he was hurt as a young man. He just wants to do what is needed of him and take care of the people that will one day look to him for guidance. Fate isn’t quite ready to let him go without a fight and will soon show him that sometimes taking a leap of faith can lead to amazing opportunities.

I loved reading the scenes between Cailean and Ellis who get along so well. Cailean helps Ellis to come out of his shy shell and into being a regular young boy who needs guidance but also a friend. He doesn’t dismiss the boy or order him around like others have and that makes a big impression on Ellis. It was a very touching scene to read when Cailean gives Ellis his own plaid and sporran!

As Daisy and Cailean find themselves running into each other as they are neighbors, it becomes harder to resist the attraction they feel for each other. There were several steamy scenes that certainly mentions just how much stamina a Scotsman can have and feelings more than just a flirtation develop though they both try to fight it.

Much as these two should be together in my personal opinion, it’s easier said than done as they both have responsibilities and tensions are high as it’s the early 1740’s when the Jacobites are rallying and it’s a very dangerous time.

When something is meant to be though, it will find a way to happen and I really do think these two are amazing people that just need some nudging to realize how right they are together.

Full of humor, the power of love, steamy scenes, adventure and believing in the unexpected, it was well worth the wait of getting to reading this book earlier than its publication. I can’t wait to read more about the Mackenzie clan and be immersed in the Scottish Highlands!

So that concludes my bookish ramblings for the last three books that I’ve inhaled. I’m really enjoying this extra time I’ve had to read and excited at the thought of actually reaching my goal of reading eighty books this year! There’s so many new books coming out that I can’t wait to get my hands on as well as a small stack of library books and my own that I already own. I get easily distracted by other books and can’t seem to help myself. This Tuesday I am going to my local Barnes and Noble to look at new releases with my boyfriend and will probably bring home even more books. I have a small stack being sent to me that I ordered online, a pre-order of a book that will hopefully be in my hands by the end of this week and can’t wait to read more ARCs. My boyfriend jokingly called me a Rogue Librarian as I love being surrounded by books and sharing that love but alas don’t have the degree to be an actual Librarian. Maybe some day I can be and if not, I’ll continue enjoying writing about books I’ve read and squealing with joy every time I’m given a chance to read an ARC or new release.

Thank you so much for continuing to tune in and I’m so glad to be able to share my take on books with you. Feel free to follow me on Facebook , friend me on Instagram , or find me on Goodreads . May you never be without a book, booklight or e-reader! I will be back soon with more bookish ramblings and hope you’ll stop back!

Slainte

~Meg

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