Reading Fanatic Reviews

Medieval Romance

Snowflakes in Summer by Elizabeth Preston

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Snowflakes in Summer*

Not the Best Example of Highlander Time Travel Romance

In general, I’m a fan of Highland romance and time travel romance, which is what inspired me to choose this book. However, I didn’t find this particular spin on those two subgenres to be particularly appealing. I felt like I could understand Caitlin more before she was whisked away on her adventure to medieval Scotland. Some scenes seemed to be taken right out of Outlander, like Caitlin tending to a man’s wounds. The romance fell flat for me, probably because they fell into a sexual relationship very fast. The alternative viewpoints between Caitlin and Bern revealed him to be relatively simple minded and two dimensional. Just because someone is from medieval times doesn’t mean that they’re incapable of complexity, especially for a laird who is involved in difficult power struggles.

I found the language to be stilted in many places; the book didn’t read naturally for me. At times, it felt like to me that the author was trying to mimic Jamie’s speech patterns from Outlander for Burn. The author made some strange word choices, and for one in particular, I wondered if it was truly a word that a Scot would have said back then. The numerous sex scenes were often written in ways that made me cringe at the words chosen. There are many issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage. Commas seem to be particularly problematic.

With the popularity of Outlander, time travel Highlander romance has become a trendy subgenre of romance. There are some good ones out there, but this did not impress me as one of them.

The Beast’s Bride by Jayne Castel

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Free with Kindle Unlimited

The Beast's Bride*

A Kind Man Amongst Brutes & Lechers

Rhona—daughter of the chief of Clan MacLeod—does not wish to marry at all ever, but her father insists that it is her turn. After embarrassing her father in front of another clan leader, who was hoping to make her his next wife, her father decides to hold a competition, and the winner will become her husband. Her father’s strongest warrior and protector, Taran, has held a tendre for her for a long time, but because of his facial scarring, he believes that she would never consent to be his wife. Though Taran doesn’t want to compete at first, he decides to enter the games as he doesn’t want to see her with another man.

Rhona is a delightfully headstrong heroine to watch; I so wanted her to be able to get away from it all! You can understand why she doesn’t want to marry with the examples of men she has around her. She definitely has her own mind about things, and her father does not like that at all. Taran has long been her friend, teaching her swordplay when she was younger, and in fact, the reader first meets him when he is rescuing Rhona from a lascivious, dangerous suitor. I like that Taran is tough, but he is still vulnerable in his feelings for Rhona. I don’t want to give too much away, but he handled their forced marriage in true, swoonworthy hero fashion.

The only thing I didn’t like about the book was how awful the men were (except for Taran) and how meek the women were. The men were all brutes and lechers. Rhona’s father is ghastly, unwilling to protect his maiden daughter from a son-in-law who seemed to want to ruin her, preferring to believe that his actions were the girl’s fault. The married women had no backbone and just accepted the harsh treatment by their husbands as the norm.

His Clandestine Bride by Tora Williams

His Clandestine Bride*

Overcoming Complicated Pasts

In this second chance at romance medieval story, Isobel is confronted by her past when Edmund, returned from the Crusades and now one of the king’s men, shows up in search of an enemy of the king. Six years ago, Isobel and Edmund had a brief but passionate affair that that resulted in a clandestine marriage where they made vows to each other without witnesses. (I guess you could do that back then!) When she told her parents about the marriage, they locked her in a tower until she agreed to marry another man who would form a political alliance with her father. Edmund tries to get to her, but her parents do not allow it through devious means. So, she believes that he did not come for her even though sent out a message about her plight through what she thought was a trusted servant, and he has always believed she turned her back on him.

In the present day, he figures out that her child is their son; she had tried to keep the boy a secret. Edmund is determined to have his heir in his life, and he figures the only way to do so is to marry Isobel again in a public ceremony. Wounds have festered since they were separated. Will they forgive each other? Can they get over their other wounds that occurred in the past but still hold them back? Will Edmund find the man he’s looking for and gain the additional wealth and prestige the king and promised?

The author did an excellent job portraying the complicated web of thoughts and emotions this couple needed to untangle in order to build a future. She did a good job as well at showing Edmund learning how to become a father. Edmund was not natural with his son at first, which makes complete sense given his history, but he wanted to do better and be a good father. I thought his unsureness was very realistic.

The book had some of the common issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage, and there were even a few small errors in diction. But I found interweaving of the story to be done so well that I wasn’t overly distracted by these errors.

If you enjoy second chance at romance stories with a historical twist, you might enjoy his tale of a couple who have much pain in their past, caused by others as well as each other, strive to find love a second time around.

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One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

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