Archive | September 2014

Review of Rowan’s Lady

51bqeinvdql-_sy346_In Rowan’s Lady, the first in her Clan Graham Series, Suzan Tisdale has created the poignant story of two lost souls.

Rowan Graham’s wife, Kate, died four years ago in the Black Death that decimated Europe and Scotland. Although theirs was an arranged marriage, Rowan fell deeply in love with Kate. On her deathbed she makes him promise he will marry again, but he is unable to do so. He throws himself into raising their young daughter and rebuilding his clan.

Lady Arline has been married twice, and both were arranged by her father, a dastardly man who uses her as a pawn for his own gain. For various reasons, neither marriage was consummated, and she is therefore convinced she is unlovable and unappealing to men in general. She longs for the love of a man, for family, and a home, but does not see it as a part of her future.

When Rowan’s young daughter is kidnapped by Garrick Blackthorne, Arline’s husband, Rowan and Arline’s lives become intertwined, and the lost souls must come to terms with their own fears and failings in order to find happiness with each other.

For those of you following my reviews, you know I have read several on Tisdale’s books. This is, so far, my favorite. I had trouble putting it down from the moment I started. The characters of Rowan and Arline are well-drawn. Their internal and external goals are clearly defined, and their character growth is subtle yet clear. They are both greatly changed by the end of the book. Arline’s character arc is particularly well done.  I finished the book and only then realized how much stronger she had become as a person. And Rowan, like all of Tisdale’s men, is a hero to die for. She has a knack for making her men strong yet gentle, flawed yet nearly perfect.  I also loved the interaction between Rowan and Arline, particularly the comic scenes which were appropriately placed and gave a spark of authenticity to their relationship.

The plotting is well-done, tight, and keeps you guessing at every turn. Tisdale gives just enough details for the setting that you feel like you are there, but not so much it takes away from the story. The dastardly actions of several individuals creates a suspenseful arc that keeps you turning the page. Her description of the Black Death was particularly well-done. And it was nice to see some of the characters from the previous books – Wee William, Findley, and the others.

Again, I know some of my readers like very clean romance. While Rowan’s Lady is not as racy as some of Tisdale’s other works, there is a clear character arc with Lady Arline as she comes to terms with some incorrect information about men and women, and as she comes to understand herself as a woman. Tisdale treats the subject with dignity and grace, and there is nothing in the book that is immoral in any way, but if you are offended by mention of even passionate kissing this may not be the book for you.

Otherwise,  Rowan’s Lady is truly a wonderful story that will take you to the Highlands of Scotland.  Even if you don’t read Scottish books, this is one that will enchant you!

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A Verra, Verra Good Book

Well, I’ve now read 4 Suzan Tisdale books in a row. Whew! I’m not obsessive, believe me. (Yea, right!) But when I do find a new author I like, I will tend to read straight through his/her books.

But, that’s enough of my personal foibles.

I loved, loved, loved McKenna’s Honor. This book doesn’t have a romantic arc, so don’t expect one when you pick it up. There are romantic elements as far as thoughts and ideas of characters towards their husbands and wives. Don’t let that deter you from reading the book. If you’ve read the others in the series, this one is a must read as well, especially since it appears to serve as a bridge between the Clan MacDougall series and the Clan Graham series.

Angus McKenna and his son-in-law, Duncan McEwan, are in prison for crimes against the king. Their wives, Isobel and Aishlinn, who is also Angus’s daughter, are  missing. Duncan’s children are missing as well. It’s not long before the men are sentenced to hang at dawn. Angus’s shutterstock_186707222signed confession hasn’t helped matters, but he is a man of honor, and the safety of his clan means everything to him. The old adage, things are not always what they appear to be, holds very true in Angus’s case. I won’t say more for fear of revealing plot twists.

I literally couldn’t put this book down. The plot is tightly woven and literally drives you forward to the next disaster of which there is one after the other. You really feel the anguish of everyone involved at the thought that they might not be able to rescue Angus or Duncan from the hangman’s noose. I don’t think I’ve read a book that had so many scenes from different viewpoint characters, but the plot is woven in such a way that you don’t notice the changes. The revealing of the plot, layer by peeled layer, is fabulously done. Its doubly nice as we are in the heads of characters we have already grown to love through the first three books. The introduction of Lady Arline is compelling, and her meeting with Rowan Graham set us up nicely for the next book Rowan’s Lady.

Tisdale’s growth as a writer has been nothing short of inspirational. I only hope I can do as well with my own novels. She is certainly a force to be reckoned with among Scottish historical romance.

Now, on to Rowan’s Lady.

Small Bits of News

Well, I finally did it! I got pictures made for my webpages. Let me first say that I HATE getting my picture taken. I’m not photogenic, and on top of that I see every flaw I have. I could never get into selfies!

My young friend and aspiring ph023otographer Amberlyn Fagala was gracious enough to spend about an hour with me last weekend. She took some fabulous pictures. They are posted on the main page of my website, on my Facebook profile, and on my “About Me” page as well. She did an awesome job and I am grateful for her generosity. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

In other news, I will be a bi-weekly book reviewer with author Rochelle Weber on her Roses and Thorns Blog. You can catch me there every other week. I am really excited about this opportunity and grateful Rochelle has allowed me to contribute.

The second edition of Metes & Bounds II: David Crews, Ancestors & Descendants is nearing completion. I have a few loose ends to tie up research wise, then I will go to the final stages of publication. You can follow me on Facebook and/or sign up for email announcements when this blog has been updated. There will be a trailer coming soon, too.

Breaking Promises is coming along as well. Many of you have asked about the progress. Its nice to know my readers are anxious for more of the Cayles and McKechnies. It is rolling along nicely. I hope to have a cover reveal coming soon along with a trailer and snippets from the novel.

A Good Character is “Almost” Everything!

I often tell people I don’t read science fiction, nor do I read crime / murder mysteries, nor will I read fantasy, political thrillers, apocalyptic themes, and on and on and on. But, the truth is, give me a character that is written well, and I’ll follow them into whatever trauma and heartache the author takes them, and me, into. That’s why I love Star Wars, even though I swear off science fiction, and its why I adore The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, even though I usually stay as far away from fantasy as I can.

Suzan Tisdale’s Highlander series of books seem to be drawing me for the same reason. While the author oftentimes doesn’t use her commas properly, her prose is often repetitive, and she head hops, she writes such a good story with such likable characters that I find myself overlooking all of that.

In this third installment of The Clan MacDougall  series, Suzan Tisdale again takes us into the world of Clan McDougall in early Scotland. Tisdale’s plotting and character arcs get better with each novel. Wee William’s Woman is no exception.

Wee William is a huge beast of a man. He loves children, he speaks several different languages, and he has sworn off women. He has made a promise, though, that he will cut his beard if he ever falls in love and decides to marry.

Nora is the abused wife of Horace Crawford. He is the brother ofAishlinn, the heroine in Book I Laiden’s Daughter.   When Wee William and a band of Highlanders belonging to Angus McKenna’s clan are sent to recover some of Aishlinn’s “treasures” from Horace, William rescues Nora as well. It is love at first sight for William. Not so much for Nora.  Even so, it isn’t long before the Highlands begin taking bets on how soon William will shed that facial hair.

While I was willing to overlook the issues I related at the top, I did get irked about halfway through the book. The plot suddenly leaves Wee William and Nora and takes a turn towards Bree McKenna, Angus McKenna’s daughter, and a treaty being made by Angus with six other clans. There wasn’t enough in the first third of the book to suddenly explain why we had left the story of William and Nora and gone to Bree and another Highlander with less than savory motives towards not only Bree but the seven clans as a whole. Everything does come together at the end, but for me it created quite a disjointed plot line in the dead center of the novel. Had this part of the story been interspersed in the beginning, or had there been more references to Bree’s storyline before, it would not have been so jarring.

Bree gets out of her scrape, but I felt cheated that I was not a witness to it. I had just left William and Nora’s story for a good number of pages (probably twenty at least – I had a Kindle so couldn’t really tell) and then I am told about the resolution to Bree’s problem. I would very much like to have read about it.

However, despite all that, Tisdale creates characters a reader can fall in love with. You care for them, root for them, and you can’t wait to see how they solve their problems which seem so insurmountable. I will be purchasing book 4 in the series, McKenna’s Honor, and reading more about Clan MacDougall. All in all, this is still a great read!

Note to readers: This book, like the first two in the series, does have some racy scenes in the bedroom. Proceed with caution if you do not like books of this kind.