Beyond the Mist by Casi McLean

Traveling through time with the determination to save one, but the temptation to save thousands.

What’s it About? 

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Piper Taylor concedes she’ll never fall in love, until a treacherous storm spirals her into the arms of the handsome Nick Cramer. Unrelenting remorse over a past relationship haunts Nick, but he can’t deny the mysterious connection and hot desire Piper evokes. The allure of a secret portal hidden beneath Atlanta’s Lake Lanier tempts him into seizing the opportunity to change his mistakes. But his time slip triggers consequences beyond his wildest dreams. Can Piper avoid the international espionage and terrorism of 2001 New York, find Nick, and bring him home before he alters the fabric of time, or will the lovers drift forever Beyond the Mist?

First Impressions

We all remember the date. We all remember where we were. For me, it was the end of my 9th grade English class, September 11, 2001 when our class learned that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I remember not knowing what the World Trade Center was, having never heard of it before in my small suburban Ohio town. I remember watching the news on TV during my 3rd period History class, with my classmates talking incessantly behind me as they reveled in the fact that we were skipping the day’s lesson, when the second plane hit. Everyone realized in that moment that history was happening. It’s been over 16 years, and yet this novel made me realize how raw that moment still is.

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In this novel we see Nick travel through time to save his former girlfriend, Carly, who was at the Marriott Hotel at ground zero when the towers came crashing down. He feels guilty for fighting with her the day before her death, and never understood why she was there in the end. He’s determined to save her, yet also realizes he can’t save the countless others, or else risk a massive butterfly effect by changing history so dramatically. But once he goes back Nick wonders if he can simply sit by and do nothing. As I became more entrenched in this story I must admit it became increasingly difficult to want to pick up and read. It’s not that the story wasn’t interesting, far from it! It’s just that eventually you realize, whether or not Nick is successful in his quest to save Carly, whether or not he warns the government of events about to unfold, it doesn’t change anything. There’s no way for us to go back and save just one, let alone all. We root for Nick to succeed, yet also must acknowledge the sad truth that it’s something we can never hope for in real life.

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Time Traveling from Book One to Two

This is the second book in the Lake Lanier series, and when push comes to shove I’d have to say I enjoyed book one a bit more. It was a less anxiety-induced read than transporting back to the days preceding 9/11, and was all about an accidental trip through time rather than one which was premeditated. I remember enjoying the first book, from the plot to the characters involved, but my goodness did I need a refresher course when it came to the start of book two. It’s been so long since I read it, and seeing as this novel picks up literally where book one finishes off, I’ll admit I was kind of lost. Eventually I could sort of put together all the pieces of the puzzle to remember exactly how book one ended, and understand the dynamics of all the characters. A brief summary of what went down, or maybe a character list at the beginning would have been much appreciated though. You know, for those of us who have an embarrassingly terrible memory!

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When comparing the time travel elements of books one and two, I preferred the serendipitousness of Lacey’s fall through time to the 1950s. She not only had to find a way to quickly adapt all on her own, but also try to find a way back home. All while falling in love with a man from the past. The time travel element in this second book was much more orchestrated, and therefore dealt so much more with all the possible consequences of altering the past. Let me put it to you this way, whenever we have a time travel novel which mentions having vast repercussions to the space time continuum, my head kind of starts to hurt. We have the risk of running into a past self, the confusion of alternate realities and changed memories that bring the anxiety level through the roof. Add to the fact that we learn one of the characters introduced in book one has a plethora of powers from telekinesis to teleportation, and it was a lot to keep straight.

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A Lost Love and an Uncertain Future

There were two different aspects of this novel which surprised me, dealing with not only the past, but also the future. First, Nick’s motivations for going back in time. You initially assume it must be because Carly was the love of his life, and he’s willing to go to hell and back to try and save her. Well, kind of…but not really. Whilst planning this trip back in time, he falls deeply in love with Piper, and quickly realizes he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. And yet his deep love for Piper doesn’t prevent him from going back for Carly. When he travels back and runs into Carly for the first time, he even admits to himself that being in her presence again doesn’t evoke anywhere near the same feelings he had for Piper. So why does he continue with this mission even though he knows the risks to the space time continuum could be catastrophic, and his feelings for Carly have obviously diminished with time?

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Turns out, his determination to save Carly has more to do with feelings of guilt rather than love. Nick feels guilty that his last words with Carly were exchanged in anger, and is convinced their fight drove her to stay at the World Trade Center Marriott at the worst possible moment in history. So what drives Piper to get involved? She initially goes after Nick to, in a word, babysit him and ensure he doesn’t do anything stupid to possibly alter history. As 9/11 approaches though, Piper starts to wonder if maybe Nick’s drive to save Carly, and Piper’s own journey to follow Nick to the past had more to do with fate and destiny than simply wanting to save an ex-girlfriend. Phew, mental mind game right there!!

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Another aspect of this novel which I wasn’t expecting was that we don’t merely encounter a trip to the past, but we get one to the future as well. This part of the story was probably the most surprising, as well as intriguing. It becomes a cautionary tale of what could be in store for our future if we don’t change the path we’re currently on. My one complaint though is that we are only given a very brief, cursory introduction to this world. This results in it feeling slightly out of place in the overall scope of the story. At the same time though, it’s practically a guarantee we’re in store for more in the next novel. It’ll be interesting to see how the series might switch gears when dealing with how to possibly change the present to impact the future rather than wondering how an alteration to the past could influence the present.

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Lake Lanier Mysteries, book 2. All in all I’d have to say I preferred the first novel in the series, but it’ll be interesting to see where things go in book 3!

Should you read it? Not gonna lie, this was a tough book to read at times. We’re dealing with such a momentously tragic event in history, and it’s kind of depressing to see how characters re-live it knowing they can’t do anything to save everyone. Overall still an intriguing read that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I may have fallen off mine a few times.

Smut Level: You had to wait awhile to get it, but eventually we’re privy to a pretty spicy sex scene between Piper and Nick in the doomed World Trade Center Marriott.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 282 Pages.

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Lachlan by Hazel Hunter

This book is like Gladiator meets Outlander meets…Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Shockingly, it works!

What’s it About? 

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When Kinley Chandler abruptly lands in medieval Scotland, there isn’t much she’s leaving behind. With her body shattered and her military career over, Kinley has resigned herself to death. But in the past, all that changes. Lachlan McDonnel, the laird of a clan of immortal highlanders, can hardly believe his good fortune. Not only does the mysterious lass save his life, she awakens his heart in a way he’d thought no longer possible. But the druid spells that allow Lachlan’s clan to live forever have a dark side as well. He and his men know all too well that the magic folk never give without taking. Though he is sworn to protect them, the price of his loyalty may finally be too high.

First Impressions

We open on our heroine, Kinley, who has been gravely wounded as a soldier fighting in Afghanistan. She’s experiencing intense PTSD, has no family or friends for support, and has given up to the point where she’s ready to end it all. On a day trip away from the VA hospital in California, she’s prepared to roll her wheelchair off the edge of a cliff when she is suddenly transported to 14th century Scotland where her body is magically healed. As if that wasn’t shocking enough, a clan of immortal highlanders are battling against a legion of Roman vampires, and Kinley is able to assist the Scotsmen by shooting fire out of her hands. So…yeah. Believe it or not, the highlanders and Romans actually make a lot of sense story wise! Now, why a magical portal would transport someone from California to Scotland? Not sure.

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A Fantastical Blend

I was actually pleasantly surprised with how much this story pulled me in and wouldn’t let go! I finished reading it in a day as I traveled from Denver to Salt Lake City for work. We have history, fantasy, time travel, fierce warriors, magic, betrayal, revenge, and some unbelievably steamy sex scenes between Kinley and our highlander laird, Lachlan. Altogether I would say there are three main components at play here: the developing relationship between Kinley and Lachlan, the battle against the Roman legion, and the mystical element concerning Kinley’s travel through time and newfound fire powers. Shockingly, I think my favorite component was actually the fighting, and for one very important reason. Kinley is a freakin’ badass!

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You Go Girl!

As you all know, I love a strong female lead character, and Kinley represents this to the max! She’s not afraid to stand up for herself, and show the men a thing or two about fighting, strategy and hand-to-hand combat. Her persona is the perfect combination of sass, physical and mental strength. This is a woman who is taking advantage of her body’s sudden healing and will live her life to the fullest, even if it’s in another time and place than she’s used to. Kinley knows she’s in a historical era and land where women are inferior to men. But you know what? She doesn’t…give…a f*ck!

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Kinley isn’t afraid to speak up until she’s heard, even if it’s not necessarily what others want to hear. You go girl! And you go all day long! In addition to Kinley’s overall badassery, we also have this larger never-ending battle at hand between highlander and Roman that’s been raging for centuries. It’s a dark and violent battle, and these Roman vampires are merciless and pretty disgusting. Be prepared for some nasty descriptions of battle and blood-sucking murder/mayhem. ‘Twas interesting though!

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Druid Magic and Wonder

The mystical aspects of the novel, while interesting, also left me slightly confused at times. As I mentioned earlier, the reason Kinley is transported from present day California to 14th century Scotland isn’t fully explained. There is Druid magic at play which has made these highlanders immortal, and Romans become vampires. However, the interactions with the local mortals left me a bit befuddled, as these are small villages and the highlanders have been interacting with and protecting them from the Roman vampires for centuries. Yet their immortality is supposedly a secret?

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Then there’s Kinley’s fire power, which is so honed at one point and then completely vanishes the next. Huh? Lastly, the passion between Kinley and Lachlan is off the charts amazing, with so much detail and dirty talk, but at one point Lachlan’s snake tattoo gets involved in the bedroom activities in a rather…disturbing way. At least in my humble opinion! Can’t say it was a feature that was absolutely necessary. Their link is already undeniably intense, so I’m not sure we had to bring the tattoo into the grand scheme of things too?

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Immortal Highlander, book 1. Oh yeah, I’ll definitely be continuing with this series. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for our other highlander warriors.

Should you read it? This is an entertaining and action-packed read! It’s definitely dark at times, but the strength truly lies in the personalities of the characters. From Kinley’s strength to Lachlan’s soft side, his highlander brothers’ loyalty and even the evil of the Romans. It’s all just very believable even though we’re dealing with so many fantastical elements. It’s a uniquely compelling story, and while I can see how it might be too dark a read for some, I’m excited to see where this story is headed!!

Smut Level: Holy sh*t here people! Just because this is a historical read, don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s tame!! We’ve got extensive detail, and dirty talk galore. Which I must say whenever we have dirty talk mixed in with old time 14th century speak it kind of makes me giggle. Such a stark juxtaposition.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Allure Press. 382 Pages.

Dragon Knight’s Ring by Mary Morgan

There were many moments in this novel where different characters would be in some kind of open field, tilt their head back, spread their arms out wide, and scream their frustrations about life to any Fae listening. Not gonna lie, kind of jealous! Must be a cathartic experience. I wonder where the nearest open field is near me.

What’s it About?

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Crusader, Adam MacFhearguis is on one last quest to the standing stones in Scotland where he seeks to bury the past. However, a silent prayer sends him to an unknown future and to his beloved Meggie. When he uncovers a shocking revelation, Adam questions everything about the woman he thought he knew and loved. He may have traveled the veil of ages, but time is now his enemy.

Margaret MacKay lives a life in the future without the memories of her past—her death. When Adam arrives at her door confessing he knows her, she is confused and wary. With each passing day, she yearns to learn more from this stranger. Yet, when a truth is revealed, can she trust the man to unlock the chains from her mind and heart? Will love free the bonds to unite the two lovers who were doomed centuries ago? Or will evil finally claim victory over the Dragon Knights?

First Impressions

At the start of the novel, we see Adam continuing to mourn the death of his beloved, Meggie, at the hand of her brother years before who disapproved of their union. We see a broken man, who struggles to move on in life. I assumed this novel would focus on him meeting a new woman who could help him live again, and find a new romance. Imagine my surprise when, instead of meeting a new woman, we find him being sent forward in time to reunite with the love of his life. Even more surprising is the fact that she has no recollection of who he is.

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The Mysteries of the Future

So many romance novels involving time travel focus on someone having to adjust to traveling back in time, whereas in this one we see someone travel to the future instead. I must say, I absolutely loved this feature of the book! It was quite humorous to see Adam’s reactions to the strangeness of the future. From the flying beast of an airplane, to the glowing embers of light-bulbs, and the ultimate sorcery of running tap water.

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On top of Adam’s adjustments to the future, another struggle was his attempt to help Meggie regain her memories. Although she doesn’t remember him per se, she can’t deny the connection she feels to him, or how her body yearns for him. It’s only a matter of time before they succumb to their bodily urges. And once they do, Meggie has a moment of remembrance. That can only mean one thing! Maybe one more tumble will bring her memory back fast. Or maybe not. But one must try and try again!

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Blast from the Past

This is the fifth book in the series, and we see all the Dragon Knights from the previous novels come together for one final battle against the forces of evil. I’ve only read one previous novel in this series, and in hindsight I wish I had read all of them before opening this one. I think I would have connected more with the characters and the story-line if I had more background. There are so many knights, with their wives and children it was kind of hard to keep them all straight at times! Not to mention all their magical powers. That being said, definitely an interesting and suspenseful final battle!

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Order of the Dragon Knights, book 5. There’s still more to come from this series.

Should you read it? It’s kind of hard to rank this one. Definitely a good build-up of suspense, and an enchanting tale of true love lasting through any obstacle, whether death, or time. However, I did feel confused for a large portion of the book, as I wasn’t too familiar with all the different rules of magic involved, or the connections between so many characters.

Smut Level: Thinking she’s been dead for years, he’s not gonna let this moment pass them by without showing all the passion he has for her burst free.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 281 Pages.

 

 

Dragon Knight’s Shield by Mary Morgan

Just look at that cover! Look at the flames! There’s just something about a man in a kilt. Mmm.

What’s it About? 

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Angus MacKay, leader of the Dragon Knights, failed his brothers and his clan upon the death of his sister. Now he must fight the darkness of despair tempting his soul. Back on Scottish soil, he comes face to face with Deirdre who can wield a sword as mightily as his warriors, and he takes her captive. Yet, with each passing day, the fire dragon inside him roars to claim the one woman fate has destined for him.

Famed mystery writer, Deirdre Flanagan, is unprepared for the next chapter in her life. On a vacation to Scotland, she steps through the mists and enters into a skirmish alongside a Highlander. However, the fight has only begun, and now she must battle Angus as well as evil in order to claim the love of this Dragon Knight. Will their love be powerful enough to shield them from danger, or burn them to ashes?

First Impressions

It’s really hard not to draw comparisons between this novel and the Outlander series. After all, we have a modern woman who travels back in time, and falls in love with a hunky Scottish Highlander during a tumultuous time in history. What really sets this book apart though from Outlander is that once Deirdre travels through time we see a continuation of these magical and fantastical elements beyond the initial time travel. And surprisingly, I really enjoyed this aspect! It’s not like we just have a woman travel through time, and then everything else is normal. We’ve got Druids, dragons, fae and fianna! Not really sure what all of those things are, but I like ’em!

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Female Warrior

I absolutely loved that Deirdre was a strong, female warrior who could really hold her own in a world so different from her own. She could fight her way out of almost any predicament, and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and stand up to Angus when he was being a bit too medieval with his opinions.

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Although Deirdre experienced an initial phase of shell-shock at discovering she had travelled through time, she adapts fairly quickly. Especially in terms of speech, which was kind of hard to believe. However, wearing gowns instead of pants while sword-fighting proved continuously difficult for our heroine.

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A Non-Ending Ending

This is the fourth book of the Dragon Knights series, and the previous three dealt with each of Angus’ brothers. Seeing as there are four MacKay brothers, I just sort of assumed that this would be the final book in the series. As I was getting closer and closer to the end of the book, I couldn’t help but wonder why the drama of the story hadn’t been resolved yet. Although the book does end on a high note, it turns out there is a major “oh holy crap” moment towards the end which signals that the story is far from over.

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Order of the Dragon Knights, book 4. I haven’t read the first 3 books in this series, and although it was tricky at times to keep track of all the people and past events, I could still manage. I would still recommend reading the series in order though, as characters from the previous novels come together towards the end for a kind of reunion.

Should you Read It?  I wish I had known going in that this book wouldn’t result in a final conclusion, but I also can’t wait to see what happens next! The sexual tension between Deirdre and Angus is also off the charts amazing.

Smut Level: Angus often struggles to contain the fire dragon within him, but he has no problem bringing a lot of that passionate heat to the bedroom.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 315 Pages.

Beneath the Lake by Casi McLean

I really do admire these time-traveling heroines who manage to stay strong and in control when they discover that they’ve been transported to a different century. They realize they need to fit in in order to survive. Let’s just say I would definitely be one of those people being pulled away by the men in white coats.

What’s it About?

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Reeling from her boyfriend’s indiscretions at a party, Lacey Montgomery escapes into the throes of a torrential storm. Her car spins out of control and hurtles into the depths of an icy, black lake. She awakens in the arms of a handsome stranger, in a place she’s never heard of—thirty-four years before she was born. Bobby Reynolds is smitten the moment the storm-ravaged woman opens her eyes. Learning the truth about her origin does nothing to stop the passion taking root in his heart and leaves him torn between finding a way to return Lacey to her time and convincing her stay with him. Will the couple be able to discover the key to a mysterious portal before time rips them apart? Or will their spirits wander forever through a ghost town buried beneath the lake?

First Impressions

When Lacey finds herself in 1949, she’s inexplicably drawn to her handsome hunk of a rescuer, Bobby. Although he’s her knight in shining armor, she becomes convinced that Bobby is playing her like a fiddle. Not to mention the fact that she could be sucked back to her own time at any moment, and Lacey refuses to give her heart over fully to the young man. Well now isn’t that quite a pickle? Although Lacey was wary of Bobby’s intentions, I absolutely loved him. He’s such a gentleman, and I wish we could have learned more about him. I also wish there would have been a bit more focus on them actually falling love. It seemed like one minute they were trying to find the time travel portal Lacey traveled through, and the next they were smitten like a pair of kittens.

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Time Travel Twist

This novel has a unique twist as far as time travel romances go. When Lacey falls back in time the story becomes split between her in the 1950’s, as well as a man in 2012 who is apparently plotting Lacey’s eventual fall through time. Throughout the entire book we question who this man is, and why he’s so set on manipulating Lacey’s future/past. Unfortunately, because I’ve read a lot of books, watched a lot of TV, and seen a lot of movies, it takes a lot to surprise me. I basically have no life at all. Therefore, I deduced the truth behind this plot twist almost immediately. I will say it took away a bit from the dramatic element of the story, seeing as I was just kind of waiting around for the inevitable big reveal. Still, definitely a unique twist that set it apart from your average time travel book.

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: The end definitely implies there will be a sequel following another character.

Should you read it? I personally felt the plot twist was kind of obvious, but I can see how it could keep you guessing until the end. I wish they hadn’t tried to rationally explain the scientific reasoning behind the time travel portal at the end, but I will admit to staying up until 3 am to finish the toe-curling conclusion of this one.

Smut Level: There are some pleasant make-out sessions, as well as a little something something more between Lacey and Bobby, but nothing too graphic.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 398 Pages.

Call Down the Moon by Mary Gillgannon

In a way, this novel sort of reminded me of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Except the time travel element was to the future instead of the past. And there were Wiccan rituals involved. And it was in Ireland instead of Scotland. Ok, so it was pretty much nothing like Outlander.

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What’s it About? 

In the ninth-century, Irish warrior Connar fell hopelessly in love with Aisling, one of the Nine Sisters, a group of priestesses skilled in healing. When Aisling came to a tragic end, he used magic to travel to the future to reunite with her. His beloved Aisling is now Allison Hunter, a free-lance writer in Denver. Although Allison doesn’t remember her past life, she is instantly attracted to Connar when she interviews him for an article. But someone has followed Connar from the past, and they are determined to keep Allison and Connar apart. As Allison begins to have visions of a violent and terrifying confrontation, she struggles to separate the past from the present and trust in a love that transcends even death. 

First Impressions

I must be a bit of a sadist at heart, because in my opinion the best feature of this book was Connar’s inner turmoil and heartache. Hear me out. So, some crazy stuff goes down in the 9th century, and Connar travels through time in order to reunite with the reincarnation of his soulmate, Aisling. When he finally finds her again she has absolutely no recollection of who he is, so he has to make her fall in love with him all over again. The turmoil comes from him being so close to the one he loves with all his heart, yet he must take things slow and can’t reveal too much about his past for fear that she’ll pull away from him. I know it sounds sick, but his pain and yearning entertained me. Man, I should probably just hide away from the world and avoid all human contact.

Some Bumps in the Road

Definitely a strong start, but as the story progressed there were a few issues here and there. Firstly, as Allison/Aisling spends more time with Connar she starts to have visions of her former life, and it isn’t exactly all prancing ponies and wildflowers. Even though these visions increase in intensity as she gets closer to Connar, she can’t deny the constant pull between them. This battle of wills was intriguing at first, but after a while it was just a bit too repetitive. It was almost like she was pulling the petals off an enormous daisy, “I like him. I run away from him. I like him. I run away from him.”

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The second speed bump came with the storyline itself. There was some initial mystery surrounding what exactly happened to Aisling in the past, and how those troubles may have followed her and Connar to the future. It isn’t too long though before it becomes blatantly obvious where things are headed, and it’s frustrating as hell that the chracters don’t see the writing on the wall. I mean come on, get there faster!

Talented Man Indeed

You gotta give it to Connar, the man is extremely talented handling a sword. His athleticism and concentration involved in Renaissance fair sword fighting is delectible. He’s also talented in using his hands, tongue, and his own little broad-sword to bring a woman pleasure. Anybody know when and where the next Renaissance fair is taking place? I might need to hang around the sword fighting area and practice my eyelash batting skills.

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Soulmate series, book 1

Should you read it? It’s a unique time travel story, with some Wiccan and reincarnation elements thrown in too. The end is a little frustrating though because you want Scooby and the gang to solve the mystery already.

Smut Level: Exquisitely graphic foreplay, but the sex act itself seemed rushed.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 282 Pages