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Friday, November 27, 2015

Her Scottish Rogue by Carol A. Spradling ♥ Review & GIVEAWAY ♥ (Historical Romance)



Wren Taggart is no lady. Her life consists of kitchen duties at Newcastle Inn. Mistaken for Lady Anne, the illegitimate daughter of England's Prince Regent, she is kidnapped and forced to marry a man who cares nothing for her or for Britain. Deception and lies is the only way for her to return home. But when her heart softens toward her new husband, she fears she will lose more than the life she's known.

Scottish born, Beckett Montgomery is no lord. The bastard son of a nobleman, he despises everyone and everything British. To restore a family name and fortune he doesn't want, he must convince all of Longton nobility and England's Prince Regent that he is the honorable Sir Lacey, and the rightful heir to Longton Castle.

When a murderer targets women who bear a resemblance to Wren, Beck must choose between returning home to Scotland and protecting the woman he's come to love.



1816 is known as the year without a summer, starting the period in time known as the Little Ice Age. Severe climate abnormalities resulted in world temperatures dipping by unusual amounts. The disturbance is believed to have been generated by the volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia.

During this time, the air was damp and uncomfortable. A relentless "dry fog" reddened the air, dimming the sunlight. Sunspots were actually visible to the naked eye.

Needless to say, food shortages became a major problem. Every day, temperatures during the month of May went below freezing, and the ground froze solid. Food riots broke out and grain warehouses were looted.

Typhus became an epidemic, and fatality rates doubled. The final number of deaths is unknown, but countries all over the world report deaths totaling hundreds of thousands.

Since I set Her Scottish Rogue during this time period, it was important to show the cold and dreary weather. I paid close attention to the details but used poetic license from time to time. While I wanted to be as historically accurate as possible, I didn't want the weather to become its own character.
The following is a poem from Eileen Marguet sums up The Year Without a Summer:


It didn't matter whether your farm was large or small.

It didn't matter if you had a farm at all.

Cause everyone was affected when water didn't run.

The snow and frost continued without the warming sun.

One day in June it got real hot and leaves began to show.

But after that it snowed again and wind and cold did blow.

The cows and horses had no grass, no grain to feed the chicks.

No hay to put aside that time, just dry and shriveled sticks.

The sheep were cold and hungry and many starved to death,

Still waiting for the warming sun to save their labored breath.

The kids were disappointed, no swimming, such a shame.

It was in 1816 that summer never came.


A fortunate case of mistaken identity!

I was intrigued by the "mistaken identity" element of the story and couldn't wait to see how it got resolved! Wren's forced-husband, Beck, didn't even believe her when she said she wasn't Lady Anne, and it took a unique tactic to get him to finally believe her (no spoilers here!).

The dialogue was fun to read, especially when Beck spoke. He "spoke" with a Scottish accent, and the way Carol wrote the words made it very easy to imagine what he actually sounded like.

I enjoyed all of the characters in the story, especially Baron. While I wasn’t sure about him at first, he definitely grew on me by the end.

I thought the epilogue was well done, and thought it wrapped up as[ects of the story in a surprising way.

All in all, Carol had some fantastic ideas that made this unlike any other historical romance I have read, and I would be very interested in reading more books in this series!

***I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***



Beck glared first at his wife and then his brother. Wren had rushed past the door to the study only moments ago, not stopping when he'd called her name. He'd watched her from the window to see where she ran in such a rush. Baron's horse was hitched to the front of the barn and he looked as though he prepared to leave without saying a word to anyone. Did Wren intend to have him escort her back to Newcastle?

"Will neither of you answer my question?" Beck demanded again.

Baron flicked a glance from Beck to Wren and then shrugged.

"Your lovely wife and I were having a small chat. Isn't that right, Lady Anne? Now that we're finished, I'll be on my way." He walked to a table and began tossing things from the surface. "Where's my whisky bottle?" His body straightened and his eyes lit up. He reached his hand and pulled a bottle from behind a pile of soiled rags. "Ah. Tis not whisky, but rum. Even better. A gentleman's drink." He pulled the stopper from the opening and tipped the bottle. Amber liquid spilled into his mouth and splashed down his chin. Finished, he wiped the back of his hand across his lips.

"Ah, my manners." He rubbed the opening with the palm of his hand and then shot his arm toward Wren. "Ladies first."

Beck swung his arm wide. The cracking blow caught Baron under his chin. The rum bottle soared into the air, breaking against the wall. Beck didn't wait for him to steady himself. He threw himself forward, catching his brother around the neck, and dragging him to the floor.

"You had everything, you spoilt whelp of a jackal, and you do na ken enough to treat a lady with respect," Beck ground through his teeth. He hauled Baron to his feet, and steadied him for another blow.

Baron punched upward, his fists striking under Beck's ribs, first with one hand and then the other. Beck's breath rushed from his lungs, and he doubled over. Wheezing, he watched for the next blow.

"Spoilt whelp, am I? You stinking, Scottish bas––"

Already bent forward, Beck didn't wait for him to finish his slur. He rushed forward, hitting his brother low in the gut and shoving him backward. Knocking him over a feed bale, the two men soared through the air, tumbling backward and then rolling into an empty stall. Beck scrambled to his feet and sat atop his sibling. He swung his arms, aiming for anything solid. Muscular legs wrapped around his head, hauling him backward. Baron twisted out from under him, sprang to his feet, and flew at him, his hands spread wide.

Movement silhouetted the door opening, and Beck glanced over his brother's shoulder and then charged forward. Sir Lacey stood next to Wren, calmly taking in his sons' behaviors. A slight flicker of approval lit his da's face. Did he enjoy seeing his offspring at each other's throats? If he did, he would...

A wooden crate shattered across Beck's side. He stumbled sideways, grunting loudly.

"What the… are your fists no good enough for you, whelp? You have to pick up a weapon?" Beck asked, regaining his balance.

"Sir Lacey, you must stop them. They'll kill each other," Wren shouted from the front of the barn.

Why dinna she return to the castle? A bonnie brawl wasna anything for a lass to witness, and God knew he needed to work off his anger. He'd become enraged thinking Wren might leave him. What better way to take out his angst then with a friendly scrap with his brother?

Beck turned his gaze to Baron. His brother was hunched forward, and clutching his side. His cheek was beginning to swell, and a dark circle formed under his eye. Other than the way he held his hand, he looked ready for a second round of fisticuffs. A crooked smile formed beneath his glare. He launched himself forward, and Beck extended his arm, flattening his brother's nose. Dazed, Baron's eyes crossed and his body swayed like a hawk in a windstorm. Blood flowed down his face as he reached for a nearby wall. He touched his hand to his lip and looked at the blood.

"Damn barbarian," he sneered. He wiped the red liquid on his pant leg. "My nose is my best feature. Now you've broken it."

"The break gives you character, something you sorely need," Beck sneered.

"You've hated me your entire life." Baron swung a rake handle, its aim in line with Beck's head. Beck's eyes widened, and he ducked.

"And with good cause, you arrogant fop. You had everything, and you squandered it all. You care for nothing but yourself. Swine."

Beck caught Baron in the chest and shoved him against the wall. Baron drew his knee up, hard and fast, catching Beck between the legs. His body jerked, and he moaned. Holding to his groin, he fell to the floor.

"It's mine to squander," Baron shouted. He stood over Beck, breathing hard, but momentarily out of harm's way. "Or is that why you're here? You're interested in securing an inheritance."

He stomped past Beck. Nearly out of reach, Beck's arm shot sideways, and he grabbed Baron's ankle, wrenching his brother's leg backward. Baron flapped his arms, searching for something to break his fall, but thudded to the ground. Dust and hay wafted up around them. On hands and knees, Beck scurried up to him. He grabbed hold of his shirt, yanked his body up, and glared down at him.

"You have nothing I want, you or Sir Lacey. The only reason I'm here is to clean up your mess, whelp."

"That's too bad," Baron said, dangling from his brother's grasp. "Because I want something from you."

Beck paused, and then shoved Baron back on the ground. He rested his hand on his thigh. Breathing heavily, he glanced to his side. His da and Wren no longer waited at the door. It was good that they'd left. With the direction the skirmish seemed to be taking, it might be wise that neither of them heard what they discussed.

He looked through the hay-infused air to his brother. His fight was more than an opportunity to work off spent up tension. Although he didn't know what Baron wanted, he doubted he'd be willing to give him anything.

"What could I possibly have that would mean anything to you? You were raised with everything you wanted. You were respected by all your peers. I worked, and fought, for the little respect I could force out of people. Only to later learn that it was fear that I saw in their faces, not regard. They never saw me as anything more than a bastard. So I ask you again, brother. What could I possibly have to give you envy?"

Beck fell to his backside and leaned against the front of a stall. Baron watched him closely, and then pushed himself to a seated position.

"I want the one thing I could never have," Baron said. "My father's love."

Beck's chest heaved and then relaxed. He lifted his gaze. Dark brown hair covered his eyes.

Baron pushed himself opposite of Beck and leaned against an inside wall. "Our father provided me with a castle to live in, servants to tend to my every whim, money to buy everything I wanted." He threw his hands forward, pushing away his explanation. "You have no idea what it's like to try to win a person's favor, knowing all the while you were being compared to. . . you." Baron drew his legs up and rested his arms on his knees. "Father never said it, but in his eyes, I could see him weigh my measure against yours, and always, in the balance was you. All my efforts were for naught. I can't fight a ghost, brother, and you weren't here for me to best. He may have given me everything, but you were the son he wanted, the son I could never be."

Beck crawled to his feet, and then offered his hand to Baron. "Whether we like it or no, we're more alike than either of us want to admit."

"But I'm better looking," Baron said, standing to his feet.

"You were better looking," Beck said, swatting Baron's broken nose.

"Ow," Baron howled. "Did you have to hit me square in the face?"

"I thought you'd duck."

Both men laughed. Beck wrapped his arm around Baron's shoulders. "Do na forget, Sir Lacey," Beck said, teasing the younger man. "I'm a barbarian, but you envy me."

Baron looked up at him, admiration beaming upward. "Not any more. Now, I respect you."



       
      




As a youth, I loved reading Trixie Belden books. She was great—smart, witty, and surrounded by good-looking guys. What’s not to like? While in my teens, I discovered the answers to that question when I heard someone mention a romance novel she had read. Her shallow breathing and flushed face was enough to pique my interest. A trip to the bookstore was in order. I read with wide-eyed amazement. Trixie never spoke of such occurrences!

Other than the obvious, I found myself trying to appreciate what my friend had enjoyed about this book. Yeah, there was the hot guy and beautiful woman, but the book as a whole frustrated me. Why did it take 380 pages for the couple to admit they loved each other? To me, this is where the story began. Much to my sadness, I found this to be the writing norm.

I was determined to find an author who felt as I did. This is how I discovered Kathleen Woodiwiss. Yes! Someone who could tell a story with the two main characters committed to each other before the final pages. Needless to say, she became a favorite soon followed by Diana Gabaldon.

I hope to follow in both of these ladies’ examples and combine history and romance throughout the entire story.


    



Win an eBook & AudioBook of Her Scottish Rogue (1 winner each)!
***These prizes are authorized and will beprovided by Carol A. Spradling***



@CarolASpradling http://goo.gl/KQ6kHj pic.twitter.com/LUL6kNeX6M

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