Sarah’s Child by Linda Howard

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Rome Matthew was a man whose wife and two young boys died in an accident. He was an emotionally-wrecked man who had erected a strong barrier around his heart due to the pain he’s suffered. Sarah, a good friend of his now dead-wife, loved him secretly even before Rome was married, and supported him silently when he buried his wife and sons.

I don’t know how to comment on this book, except their love must be so strong. It’s startling to learn that Rome was attracted to Sarah before he married Diane, but he stayed loyal to Diane and he loved her. To me, in a love story, shouldn’t the man be only be attracted to his wife? That’s the one thing I absolutely wanted to see in a book (which I know sounds cynical— but plenty of men stray in real life). After his family’s death, Rome found his attraction to Sarah so strong that he proposed marriage to her, which she accepted because she knew this was second best to what she could have. She knew that she could never have Rome’s heart, but at least being married to him made her happy.

Rome eventually learned to love Sarah, but he still refused to have kids as the death of his two boys had given him such a big blow. This is another part which made me feel so.. so…sad for Sarah. He wanted her to go for an abortion, but she refused, and she had to do everything herself during her entire pregnancy…no help from Rome whatsoever. Such a sacrifice she made for him!

The moment when Rome hugged his new daughter finally and cried his heart out while mourning for his dead sons brought me to tears.

This story is hauntingly beautiful, requires a huge sacrifice especially from Sarah, but was so heart achingly sad that I may not re-visit for a long time (although the ending is undoubtedly good:) )

Rating: 4/5

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Duncan’s Bride by Linda Howard

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OK, this is a modern romance written by Linda Howard. Typical of her male characters, Reese is a physically handsome (at least I imagined so), emotionally hard,bitter and cynical person. He’s been betrayed by his ex-wife April, who managed to get hold of half (if I’m not wrong) of his ranch when she divorced him, and he’s been struggling to rebuild his ranch to its glorious standards since. After eight years, he’s still struggling and refusing to let an investor invest in his ranch, because he wants total control. He advertised for a bride, and city girl Maddie answered the advertisement. Maddie is ‘casually stylish’, has long legs, and is the total opposite of Reese’s ex-wife, who cheated on him and loved the glamorous city life instead of life on a ranch.

I like Maddie. She’s a strong woman who throughout the book, had the courage and determination to help Reese on the ranch, even risking her life in doing so, and also stood up to Reese when he stubbornly believed she was another April trying to take away his Ranch when she paid off his debts behind his back using her own money. Although being a rich city girl, she didn’t mind hard physical work. Although practically I wondered, how many girls actually worked really hard on a ranch, still managed to eat ‘small bites of food’, and still had long legs instead of looking beefy from the muscles, and still managed to look ‘casually cool’. Does such a person truly exist? (Sigh..I’m day-dreaming again)…

I also love Reese. Despite being a stubborn mule, he has tender moments…

There was a thick knot in his throat; he had to swallow before he could speak again.’ Do you…do you mind if I check up on you everyday or so? Just to make sure you’re feeling okay. And I’d like to go with you when you have a doctor’s appointment, if you don’t mind.’

For such an arrogant and self-possessed person, this is such an uncertain and endearing side of him.

At the end of the story, we learnt of April’s death and she willed everything she’s taken from Reese back to him. It showed Reese another side to her; all he’s ever thought in his bitterness was she cheated on him, hated life on the ranch and was such a shallow and greedy woman she tried to destroy him by taking his ranch away. But in the end, he learnt all the bitterness he had for her through the years which destroyed his relationships with other people, and especially causing his troubles with Maddie was for naught. April was only jealous of Reese’ devotion and love for his ranch, and she grew bitter of it— she’s rather he had a mistress as she could never compete with a piece of land he loves. Thus to punish him she tried to take his ranch away from him, but this marriage and ultimate divorce from Reese actually caused her life to be so empty, and she eventually drank herself to death. Would definitely re-read this book again (and had done so:P )

Rating: 4/5

TBR Book Ramblings

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I’ve spent the better part of yesterday reading Duncan’s Bride and Sarah’s Child, both by Linda Howard, and these two books brought all my memories of precious romance novels I used to read back in high school. It had been more than TEN long years (12 years to be exact) since I read them ( I remembered a phase back then when I absolutely devoured all the romances I could get hold of— before my phase of love for crime thrillers began), and added to that my personal habit of skipping heart-wrenching parts), I only remembered parts and pieces of the books which I’ve read. I’m still trying to get over this habit, but to me… I really don’t want to read about how the hero and the heroine tortured each other misunderstanding each other! And lo and behold, after many months (and sometimes yes! years—how annoying!) of realising they couldn’t do without each other, they learnt that everything was just a big misunderstanding after all… and yes, that’s the gist of a romance story afterall. What am I complaining about? Anyway, there’re so many novels I wanted to re-visit again:

By Catherine Anderson:

1) Annie’s Song — I remember this is such a poignant love story, so untypical of most!

2) Seventh Heaven— All these years the hero held such a big place in my heart I couldn’t forget about him. I couldn’t recall the plot, all I know is I had to read it again, and after googling around I finally found the name of this book.

3) Baby Love

4) Phantom Waltz

5) Always In my Heart

6) Sweet Nothings

7) Only By your Touch

8) Sun Kissed

9) Keegan’s Lady

By Judith McNaught:

1) Almost Heaven

2) Someone To Watch Over me

3) Perfect

4) Paradise

5) Whitney, My Love

6) Until You

7) Once and Always

I don’t know if you understand how I feel, suddenly I feel the urge to find these books and re-read them again. And since it was such a long time ago, the titles were really familiar but the plots were jumbled up in my head. I’m sure there’s still many books written by  these authors which I’ve read but haven’t recalled.

And then there’s this book which had haunted me for years. All I can remember is the boy of a town drunk who’s looked down on by everyone. One fine day, someone picked on him again which was witnessed by a young girl from a well-established family. From then onwards, she fought her battles for him whenever he’s picked on, and having being abused all his life, he was wary of her at first, but eventually protected her like he’s part of her life.

‘Tell me you love me, even if you don’t mean it.’ ‘I love you.’

This was what the girl said to him when they were both so young. When the boy’s father tried to violate her one day, he had to kill his own father in order to protect her. The girl’s family turned on him for his father’s wrong-doings and he was forced to leave town. Fast forward many years later, they had still not forgotten each other. The boy had made a millionaire out of himself, and the girl had become a journalist (if I didn’t recall wrongly). I remembered when they met each other again as adults, even then, being a 16-year old young girl, I still felt like crying when he told her he’s always been tracking the articles she’s written over the years, always watching her from a distance.

This plot haunted me, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember the names of both the hero and heroine, the author or the title of the book at all! I spent hours googling, and eventually my sister (who introduced me into Romance books in the first place) came up with the title within 5 minutes! ‘A Place to Call Home’ by Deborah Smith. I’ve placed an order for this book, and I know it’ll always have a special meaning in my heart.

I just had a secret yearning that work and life wouldn’t interfere, I can read them all the time, but as of now I’ll just try to enjoy them whilst I can:)

Highland Scoundrel (Campbell Trilogy #3) by Monica McCarty

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The 3rd book in the Campbell Trilogy series. I’ve waited 2 days before i started reading it, again because I know I want to..nah..need to finish the whole book within one seating and it’ll be my off day today.

I started off really excited because the beginning seems promising already. Duncan Campbell, who was mentioned in the previous two books for his guilt of treason, was back after 10 long years to prove his innocence. He requested help from Jeannie Gorden to gain evidence to prove that he was framed back then. 

I loved the Duncan when he was young. Yes he was born a bastard, and had to work harder than most (certainly more than his brothers) to prove his worth, and he was just starting to achieve what he wanted when he met the beautiful Jeannie Gordon, whom he, the hard, serious, heart-tuggingly (I don’t think such a word exists ? :P) handsome warrior fell in love with. It’s sweet to read how he gave his heart to her without any of the drama so expected in other books. However, when he was framed for treason and lost everything he achieved, he believed Jeannie was the one who betrayed him. I love the flashback of their love 10 years ago! I have to admit I’ve skipped many pages though— I skipped the circumstances on how he ‘discovered’ her betrayal, knowing it’ll bring me sadness that was not relevant, and I was so excited to know how the plot proceeded, I didn’t think this ‘betrayal’ details were important!

Forwarded to ten years later, he discovered his love for her was as present as ever and vice versa. It’s a bit difficult for me to say, but I was a bit disappointed in how he reacted to her towards the end of the book. I do love reading about his struggles to acknowledge his love for her, still present 10 years later, and how protective he was towards her, how kind he was towards her children and how honourable a man he was. When she finally relented to telling him that her child belonged to him though, I really expected him to be very apologetic over the way he left her so many years ago, and from there onwards their love was so strong that they exceeded all difficulties right till the very end. Maybe I was expecting a very sweet heart-breakingly sweet reunion (and a rather predictable one), but this wasn’t what I anticipated.

Overall, I would rate this 4/5, probably due to the fact I didn’t like Duncan’s reactions to finding out the truth. In fact, I think he should be grovelling at Jeannie’s feet and begging for forgiveness and mercy! However, I think once I re-read a few times I would like it better, just like recently I’ve been re-reading #The Saint from the Highland Guard series, and I love it now! I love Magnus’ tender and kind personality, and how sweet he was to Helen (including keeping and preserving the roses she’s given him so many years ago albeit he was teased mercilessly by the other warriors). I do love both Duncan and Jennie though! Jeannie is such a kind and strong female.

On a side note though, I wonder if the Campbells in this series are the descendants of the Campbells in the Highland Guard series? I hope not! In the latter, I love that Arthur Campbell had forged a friendship with Gregor McGregor (they have captured my heart)—- again my The Rock comes to mind hehe. In this series the McGregors were outlaws and many had died, especially in the previous book. So sad!

Anyway, I hope to get my hands on the McLeod series soon! 🙂 

 

The Liebster Award!

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Thank Book Olympus for nominating me for the Liebster Award! Goodness I’m such a newbie that it took me ages to figure out how to link a blog to my page! Happy I finally got it! Yay!

1. Link & Thank the blogger who nominated you

2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator gives you

3. Tag 11 other bloggers who have 200 or less followers

4. Ask the 11 bloggers you nominated 11 questions and let them know you nominated them!

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Ok, questions presented to me (pretty excited about them):

My questions:
1. Favourite childhood book?

Hands-down all books by Enid Blyton! But if I really have to choose…hmm… The Mystery Series by Enid Blyton. I love all the books in this series so much! But if I really really have to choose, I guess it’ll be ‘The Mystery of the Banshee Towers’, because it’s so funny, with Fatty’s usual intelligence and Goon’s typical comical blunders.

2. Which Hogwarts house would you be in?

Gryffindor! All the people I love are from Gryffindor, well, except Cedric Diggory… He’s such a cutie:)

3. Favourite book-to-movie adaptation?

Don’t really watch too many book-to-movie adaptations, so I’ll stay with the Harry Potter series. It gives me great memories of Harry Potter marathons during exam times in Uni…when my housemates and I would study throughout the whole day to reward ourselves with a dose of Harry Potter at night.

4. What is your favourite quote?

I do have a lot, but I guess “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, or worn. It is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace & gratitude” is a really good one. Yes, I stole it off the internet, but it’s a good one to remind myself of everyday!

5. Favourite stand-alone book?

Hmmm..there’s many too, but one of them will be The Da Vinci Code. I guess it’s a stand-alone as it’s a story without being really connected to other books by Dan Brown.

6. Would you rather live in the real world or live in a fictional world?

Fictional world definitely! OMG what wouldn’t I have to have Alec from ‘The Bride’ by Julie Garwood crazy in love with me:P

7. Which book smells the best?

I have no idea!:)

8. Favourite cover?

I’m not really too attracted by book covers, I’m more intrigued by the designs of the book itself. The cover picture doesn’t usually seem realistic to me.

9. How do you balance your time between blogging and work/school?

I’m still new at blogging…very very new! It took me a few hours just to figure out eg. how to create a new category!:) So I’m quite out of balance at the moment, and I’ve missed like a month of yoga already since I started blogging (which gives me an excuse to dive into a new book every minute I’m free), but I think I’ll eventually get the hang of the balance sooner or later.

10. Which book is overhyped?

Fifty Shades of Grey.

11.  Which book needs more attention?

I realise the books which I’m crazy in love with are usually very popular with readers already, so they already have enough attention (I think, but it never hurts to get more people crazy about them!). I’ve accidentally stumbled across ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ by Mitch Albom, and I think everyone should read it if they like these kind of inspirational books.It made me cry, touched me and gave me a new and positive perspective on life. Good for many of us, when we feel bogged down by life’s challenges sometimes.

Tag eleven other bloggers with 200 followers or less:

P.S I would like to apologise if you’ve been tagged by me and you have more than 200 followers. I tried exploring but sometimes the number of followers in some blogs are not indicated, but hopefully I can use this opportunity to know more book-lovers out there:P )

1. Another Look Book Reviews

2. Romance Novels for The Beach

3. The Blogging Book

4. Book Binge

5. Books, According 2 Nicole

6. Dirty Geeky Sexy Reviews

7. Good Books, Good Coffee, Good Life

8. My House of Books

9. African American Mystery/Authors Opinions On

10. Portable Pieces of Thoughts

11. Books Are Life- Vita Libri

Questions I present:

1. What’s your favourite genre of books?

2. Have you ever related any main character in the books you read to people you know in real-life?

3. Will you be interested in writing a book if you have a chance? If so, what genre?

4. A must-read.

5. A book you can read over and over again.

6. Other hobbies you have.

7. In a perfect world, what will your life be like?

8. Which book inspired you the most?

9. How do you get to know more fellow-book bloggers?

10. Which website can we get the books which cost the least (I know I sound stingy! But I’m really on a budget and there’s so many I really would like to get my hands on!)

11. The best author other readers shouldn’t miss out on.

Extreme Measures by Vince Flynn (Mitch Rapp #11)

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For some reason I feel like taking a break from Monica McCarty’s romances although they’re really good, but I guess sometimes the emotions are so intense I wanted to focus more on like… exciting thrilling..spy books..which led to ‘Extreme Measures’ 🙂

First off, I’ve bought this book a few years ago and had actually read it once. I’ve roughly got the gist of it the first time, but events in my mind were hazy, and when I read it again yesterday it felt like I’m reading it for the first time.

My first thought was that the author must have done so much research on the topic! Because it feels so realistic to me—  the plot, mostly the political atmosphere which interfered so much with the main characters Mike Nash and Mitch Rapp’s job— to intercept the terrorists in a third cell. I couldn’t tell if political alliances really do change like the wind as in the book, but everything does make sense to me. I feel the frustration which these two men must be clobbered with when they were impeded by politicians who only knew how to look out for their own interests.

All I can say is, Mike Nash and Mitch Rapp are so macho and so decent in a life filled with so much hatred— they see deaths in their jobs all the time. Every decision they make can make the difference between life and death! I love reading about the balance (or the trying balance) between Mike’s job and his family. I hope Vince Flynn will give Mitch Rapp a happy family of his own in future books in this series.

These men are like the manly male leads in Monica McCarty’s books— just set in modern times, but they retain the macho and physical characteristics. I just get carried away by the plot, and it’s so fast-paced you won’t be able to put the book down till you’re finished.Overall, a very exciting book! And it gives readers hope that in this realistic and  harsh world, there’s still men out there who put their lives on the line for honour, family and what they believe in.

Rating: 5/5

Highland Outlaw (Campbell Trilogy #2) by Monica McCarty

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Since I have the day off today, I wanted to quench my thirst of yet another Highlander romance. Although the previous book in this series, #Highland Warrior was a disappointment,  I figured it might have something to do with my mood— maybe I wasn’t in the right mood when I was reading it. I didn’t want to give the rest of the series up, and I was not disappointed.

This is about the outlaw, Patrick McGregor who since the age of ten,  had his parents killed and clan broken apart… lands owned by his ancestors already seized and his home then was burnt down, his clansmen all but exterminated. In order to get back what belonged to him and to rebuild his clan, he had to seduce Elizabeth Campbell (his land was recently added to her tocher by her cousin, the most powerful man)— the daughter of his worst enemy in order to get his hands on what originally belonged to him.

I love Patrick! He’s an outlaw, true— but he’s the most honourable, handsome, strongest outlaw I’ve ever read about. I could have added more positive descriptions, and I guess after reading the novel a few times, I may fall more and more in love with it, but this is just my impression on the first read. He’s lost so many of his brothers and clansmen to the Campbells, but he’s willing to give up what he’s fighting for for Elizabeth (or Lizzie as she’s called by her brothers). Of course being a typical Highlander who doesn’t fall in love, he’s been struggling from the start but eventually he did realise his love for her. Everything he did for her from the beginning was for her— including hurting the man who insulted and hurt her at the very beginning, when he first met her two years ago. He’s so sweet! I felt strongly for the honourable outlaw who since young had no home and had to run for his entire life in order to avoid persecution, who witnessed the wrongful deaths of his family and clansmen, who did no wrong but had to suffer so much to get back what was originally his.

I adore Elizabeth! She’s strong, kind and innocent but has a weakness of stammering, which made her the point of ridicule among many suitors (who only wanted to marry her for her tocher), but her love for Patrick is amazing. I have to say, Monica McCarty does not give her readers a break! At one point when Patrick was so desperately in love with Elizabeth and vice versa, and yet his unforgivable betrayal was uncovered, I felt a pang in my heart wondering how she’s going to take it. But Lizzie doesn’t disappoint! Their love faced many difficulties from the start and right up to the end.

Of course, this is the only one of two female leads who were not described to have ‘ unrivaled beauty’ and a ‘to-die-for body’ (Ellie in # The Hawk was the first), I always wondered at the ‘ She looked at him from under her lashes’… sounds like these heroines always have long lashes! Do people really have to be physical beauties to encounter such enviable knights in shining armour? 

Anyway, I love this book! And I’m certain I’ll read this over and over again! In fact, I’ve read the other books in The Highland Guards so many times during the work breaks that I have, yet I’m still so absorbed and so happy for them each time I finished.

Rating: 4/5