Review: The Warrior Laird

Reviewed by Jen

Dugan MacMillan has only a few weeks to come up with a huge some of money to pay an unexpected rent on his clan’s property.  His plan: to use the portion of a treasure map left behind by his grandfather to find a cache of gold coins.  He really doesn’t have any clue where he is going, but he does have an idea of where to find another piece of the map.

It’s just after Dugan finds the second scrap that he runs in Maura.  She is a woman on the run from her betrothal to a horrible old man.  Coincidentally, she holds a third piece to the treasure map.  And when she hears Dugan’s men talking about the gold, she steals their two parts and takes off.  It’s not that she’s a bad person, but she figures she could use the gold to help take care of her beloved sister Rosie.  Young Rosie is disabled and was cast out by their father. Maura wants only to rescue the child from the distant Loch where she was abandoned, and take care of her.

It takes very little time for Dugan to catch up with her, though.  Once he does, he realizes he has two possible paths to get the money he needs. One possibility is for him to find the treasure. But even if he can’t, he can ransom Maura back to her fiance.  It’s cold, but he figures that his greatest responsibility is to take care of his clan, and without the money, they’ll have no home.

Of course, Dugan and Maura fall for each other as they journey to the place where they’ll meet up with her betrothed.  But I can’t say that I loved their romance.  Maura was earnest enough.  Her attraction to Dugan were the first feelings she has ever had for a man. But Dugan makes his moves on her with every intention of selling her off.  Even when he comes to care for her… even when there is real hope of finding the gold.. he holds on to the ransom plan.  I understand his loyalties, but this made it hard for me to root for them to fall in love.

Then there’s the sex.  Something just didn’t click for me there.  The scenes felt rushed and incomplete.  I was disappointed.

The book isn’t bad. We’ve got a treasure-seeking adventure and a sexy brogue.  And Maura inspired my sympathy, though it was hard to watch her be so powerless to her fate.  It was just frustrating at times and I  didn’t feel the love.

Rating: C-

*ARC Provided by Avon 

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Warrior Laird
by Margo Maguire
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: Avon

Review: Brazen

Reviewed by Jen

In this companion story to Seducing the Governess, investigator and former military assassin Gavin Briggs, is on the hunt for a missing heiress. Lady Christina is one of his employer’s two long-lost grand-daughters. He’s been hired to bring her back to the old man in exchange for a sizeable sum of money. But Christina has other ideas.She is being blackmailed. Someone claims that her adopted brother isn’t dead as everyone believed –and that there’s information about him which could ruin her family. She plans to confront her blackmailer and find her brother before she’ll even consider meeting the grandfather that cast out her mother years ago. Briggs agrees to help Christina in her mission; and she agrees to go with him when the task is done.

Christina seems to be everything Briggs despises in a woman. She is high-class and refuses to be docile. But as he gets to know her better, he sees that she is really fiery, loyal and down-to-earth. Slowly, he gives in to his desires for her… but never allows himself to dream of a future with her. He’s haunted by the many deaths at his hands as a sniper. Not only that, but as a younger son, he’ll never have a title to give the beautiful widow.

Christina had such a terrible marriage, she really had no idea what passion could be. Until she fell into bed with Briggs. It becomes quickly apparent that their feelings for each other are mutual. But it never really occurs to her that it could be more than an affair. I like it when a hero thinks himself beneath the heroine. Unfortunately, here, the heroine seems to agree (at least for a long time) –and that was a turn-off for me. Christina is all the great things Briggs thinks she is, but the fact that she dismisses him as a candidate for marriage so thoroughly made me disconnect from her and like her substantially less. It also didn’t help that she considered reneging on her deal with Briggs more than once. Bad form! And Briggs needs the money that her grandfather promised him –to take care of his sister and her young child.

The passion and the sex were hot. And there was pretty good action… although the particulars on the reveal of the villains were a bit murky for me at the end. I liked Christina’s loyalty to her brother and I sympathized with her unfortunate history. But when all was said and done, I found her impetuous and selfish –and I didn’t think she was worthy of Briggs.

You don’t have to read Seducing the Governess to understand what’s going on here, but I think I preferred that book to this one. 3 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository

Brazen
by Margo Maquire
Release Date: November 29, 2011
Publisher: Avon

Review: Seducing the Governess

Reviewed by Jen

The only parents she has ever known are dead and now Mercy must take a job as a governess to make her way in life.  Her prospects are limited, so when she is offered a position teaching the niece of the Earl of Ashby, she takes the job.  Things are nothing like she anticipated though.  The manor is in poor condition, the child is terribly withdrawn and the staff of the home is filled with former soldiers who once served Nash, the earl.  Nash, himself, is even a bigger issue.  Mercy met him on the way to her interview, as he fell off a horse. Their exchange left strong feelings of attraction within them both.

Mercy fights her feelings for many reasons. One, of course, is impropriety.  She also just found out that the man and woman who raised her were not her parents. Instead, through Susana (her adopted mother) and her journal she learns that her true mother was an assumed harlot and Susana always feared the same would be true of Mercy.

Nash doesn’t want to take advantage of the young governess.  Plus, he realizes he needs to marry a woman with a large dowry to rebuild the Ashby estate.  Only, his main prospect doesn’t inflame him the way Mercy does… doesn’t look at him the way Mercy does, as though his scars from the war don’t even exist.
This is pretty standard Regency Romance fare.  It was a solid read with good sexual tension.  Both lead characters are likeable and once they stop fighting their feelings, the love scenes are sexy and well written.  There wasn’t much in the way of surprises. Things work out pretty much as you’d expect them to.  But it’s a nice enough ride to get there.  The ending is a little abrupt, but the foundation is clearly laid for a companion book featuring Mercy’s sister.  4 stars.
*ARC Provided by NetGalley