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Category Archives: Historical

Okay so historical stories are not really my go-to genre. As a matter of fact, I very rarely read one. But I make exceptions. So here are the few historical romance that made it to my reading list.

Donners of the Dead, by Karina Halle

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***A Standalone Horror Romance***

A note about this book: Donners of the Dead is set in 1851 – couples were often thrust into marriage together with short courtships, racism was widespread and not overly frowned upon, and women had little to no rights. What wouldn’t fly in today’s day and age was unfortunately the norm back then – it is worth keeping that in mind when reading this book.

Jake McGraw was unlike anyone I’d ever known. He was brash, rude, unapologetic and arrogant; chauvinistic, close-minded, and terribly stubborn. He was built like a tree, tall with a hard chest and wide shoulders and hands that looked like they could wrestle a bear. He was a cigar-chomping, scruffy-faced, beast of a man. I was pretty sure I hated him. And I know he hated me. But among the flesh-eating monsters in these snow-capped mountains, he was the only thing keeping me alive

The year is 1851 and pioneers in search of California gold are still afraid to travel on the same route as the tragic Donner party did years before. When the last wagon train to go into the Sierra Nevada mountains fails to arrive at their destination, Eve Smith, an 18-year old half-native girl with immense tracking skills is brought along with the search party, headed by an enigmatic former Texas Ranger, Jake McGraw.

What they find deep in the dangerous snow-covered terrain is a terrifying consequence of cannibalism, giving new meaning to the term “monster.” While the search party is slowly picked off, one by one, Eve must learn to trust Jake, who harbors more than a few secrets of his own, in order to survive and prevent the monstrosities from reaching civilization.

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I’m a sucker for Karina Halle’s books! Ever since I started reading the Experiment In Terror serie, I have been addicted to her stories, her characters and her writing style.

What I really like about her is that she isn’t afraid of mixing the genres. I hope for you that you’re not too hung up on the concept of genres because Karina Halle isn’t afraid to shake things up where genre boundaries are concerned. And that’s how you end up with a book like Donners of the Dead, a historical horror western romance where zombies are the bad guys. It’s the first book I read about sexy cowboys fighting flesh-eating creatures and I was not disappointed.

“Chills gripped my chest with an iron fist the moment Isaac turned his head and stared down at me. Half of his face was gone, his eyeball blasted into his face leaving a dark red and black hole of bone, brain and blood.” 

Donners of the Dead was beautifully written. I was sucked into the book the moment I started reading and did not put it down until it was finished.

I really liked that this story was inspired by real events that happened in 1851 (minus the zombies of course). I like when a story is grounded into reality to a certain extent. Here, Karina made a great job of setting the decor and ambiance of the time. As is mentioned in the blurb, women status was very different then and our main character Eve, has it even worse because she is mixed-race (her dad was Indian and her mother a white girl) which was something highly frowned upon at the time and didn’t help when it came to integration.

“There was a loud, solid thunk on the porch, followed by another. The house shook slightly. I kept my eyes trained on the outside but couldn’t see anything. But I could smell it. It was blood and sweat and hay and horse and something unfathomable. A severe chill threaded down my back.” 

The dark, creepy tone of the book is set from the start and from there, it only gets scarier. In the first few pages you’re already facing strange, blood-thirsty creatures, and from there, my mind was suspecting every little movement and noise described in the book to be a possible ambush. No need to say that my nerves where on edge. But then again, Karina knows how to creep you out and I wouldn’t be surprised if you kept the lights on when you read her books. She really has a talent when it comes to making you shiver with fear.

“You must draw strength from fear or fear will make you weak.”

“Men are the real monsters. They often are.”

Here Eve, because of her tracking skills, is sent on a party in the mountains with a bunch of strangers to help them find someone who has been missing for a year. Even though she does want to go, no one really asked her if she was okay with going and she probably won’t see the money she is due for her services. And on top of that, the men of the group, even though they need her, don’t show a lot of appreciation. 

“I tend to tune out when a woman’s speaking.” I leaned further into Sadie, as if that would help me escape his chauvinism. “That’s probably because a woman’s never said a good thing about you.” (…) “You’re damn right about that.” He cocked his head and looked me over. “Except where it counts, if you know where that is, and judging by what you’re wearing to bed, I reckon you don’t.”

I found Eve’s character very brave and likable. She is strong and knows how to stand her own even though she is still very young. Her life prior the expedition isn’t easy and nothing is given to her. Her father went missing a while back and her mother is the shell of the woman she once was, leaving Eve to fend for herself. Her uncle and aunt are supposed to take care of her but let’s just say that Mr. Smith isn’t exactly thrilled about that. I liked her and her voice a lot in the book. She was a very interesting character to read about.

And then, between the bad guys and the creepy monsters lurking in the dark, there’s Jake McGraw.

“My goodness he had large feet”

“If you asked someone to tell you what a “man” was, I was certain he’d be their description.”

To me, the cherry on top of the delicious cake that is this book is that even though we are surrounded by horror, there is still a whole lot of steamy romance happening.

Jake and Eve’s relationship was great to witness. I loved the nickname he gave her, even though it starts out of an act of douchery. He is far from a gentleman and openly shows to Eve that he doesn’t like or trust her because she is half-Indian. He’s been through a lot and that’s why he is so “rough” on the edges.

“He may have “saved” me, but it was still Indian-hating Jake McGraw, and we mixed about as well as oil and vinegar.”

Basically, if it wasn’t for this expedition, there was no change in hell for them to ever be together. She’s a small town girl, he has seen world (or at least most of the US). She’s half-native american, he is a broody cowboy. You get the picture. But as the story evolves and things get tough for them, they start to care for each other and find out that they need each other more than they realized in order to survive.

“We were a tribe of two but a tribe all the same. Two broken people looking for their place in the world and finding each other.”  

Their relationship grows steadily and naturally. What I really like about Karina’s characters, is that they are not perfect. They are flawed and out of the norm, just like us, and it makes you relate to them on some level. The make mistakes, they curse, they lie and they doubt but they are still very likable. And even though they might not be people you would normally like, she makes you like and care for them with all their flaws. That’s why I very easily have crushes on her characters and am always excited to see new book release from her.

“No matter his age though, he was a rude bastard”

“I couldn’t find the words. Jake McGraw just kissed me. Not Avery as I’d imagined, but Jake. A man. A Texan. A liar and a jackass.” 

This book was a great one that I really enjoyed reading even though it made me jump at every noise I can hear in my house. It was the right mix of fright and romance and I recommend it highly to anyone looking for a thrill!

“There are only monsters inside of angels and angels inside of monsters. Choose wisely.”

Truce: The Historic Neighbor From Hell (Neighbor From Hell #4), by R. L. Mathewson

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This is the story before everything… 

Elizabeth knows what’s expected of her, perfection. She’s the daughter of an Earl and expected to marry well, say and do the right things with a smile on her face when inside she’s dying for a chance to escape. Thanks to an inheritance her godmother left her years ago, her chance will come with her next birthday. Her hopes of escape abruptly end when Robert, her childhood nemesis that she hasn’t seen in over fourteen years, comes back into her life and does everything he can to drive her out of her mind even as he steals her heart. 

He hated her. 

At least, he tried to hate her, but it was so damn difficult to hate someone that he couldn’t live without. He tried to ignore her, tried to focus on anything but her, but nothing worked. Somehow she made her way into his heart and started to make him want things that he never though possible, made him smile and laugh even while she drove him out of his mind and started a legacy by turning him into…..

A Bradford.

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I had such a blast reading this book! It was so good, I read it in one seating. Which is not something that happens everyday.

I’ve had an ongoing crush on the Bradford men ever since I read Playing For Keeps. So of course, I was elated to see that there was a forth book to the serie, even though the genre of this book isn’t exactly like the first three.

In fact this book is a historical romance. But a word of caution about that. Historical romances aren’t usually my thing. I’ll read one book in the genre once in a while, but I don’t usually go for them. I do make exceptions when the book is written by an author that I already know and trust to write good stories. So I started reading Truce.

“Elizabeth? he asked, looking stunned. “Too far!” she said as if those two words would explain why a grown man was chasing his daughter. Evidently they did, because all three men laughed and nodded knowingly. She didn’t stick around to see if her father was going to help her. There was a madman chasing her after all.”

Now, it isn’t you’re regular historical romance book. If you are a die hard fan of the genre, you’ll probably find some things that will bother you in the writing, even though R. L. Mathewson did make an effort to write accordingly to the era. But there are some small slip-ups when it comes to the vernacular. It wasn’t a problem for me here, but it might be for some readers. Same thing goes for some of the things our protagonists do together and to each other, if you know what I mean. Again, it wasn’t at all a problem for me in this book, but some readers might not appreciate the impulsivity Robert and Elizabeth show at times, since it’s not the proper way to behave for a Lady and a Lord. So, if I had to make a comment about one thing in this book, it would be about that, even though it really didn’t bother me in the least. Quite the opposite actually.

“Elizabeth was curled up on her side. She looked like an angel, his angel. His minx. He had to hold her. Now. He raised the covers and crawled beneath them. He curled up against her body and gently pulled her against him, careful not to wake her and not really caring if he did.”

So, like I said, I’ve had a huge crush on the Bradfords even since I started reading about them (and a huge book crush on this serie if I’m being honest), and reading about how the Bradford family started was just as great.

I loved the characters! Robert and Elizabeth made me laugh and smile a lot early on in the book. I’m not sure if it was intended , but when I read their story, I could see their grand-grand-grand-grand-children’s story in it at times. For instance, Robert and Elizabeth’s antics when they were kids made me think a lot of what Connor and Rory’s. So I liked keeping an eye out for those little reminders while reading (even though it might all be just in my head).

  “ One day you’ll have to explain how you manage to eat so much. (…)She’d never seen someone eat so much food in one sitting. There were actually several maids that refused to wait on him, terrified that he’d accidentally devour their hands if they didn’t release the platters of food fast enough.”  

Robert’s Bradfordness isn’t as extreme as his grand-children’s, but you can definitely see where the Bradfords’ characteristics come from when you see Robert. I really liked him but there was a moment where I found him very cruel towards Elizabeth and that’s the only moment I wanted to slap him in the face. But then again, a Bradford is a stubborn thing and it takes them some times to get their mind out of the gutter. But they always eventually do right by their women so all was good. He steadily melted my heart when I reached the 65% mark on my Kindle until the end.

“The one universal problem he had, he couldn’t stomach the company of empty-headed women”

I loved Elizabeth character to bits. She is not an air-head and she is a fierce little thing. I really liked that her character stood out from the crowd. She doesn’t like or act like most women should in her society and she can’t wait to be emancipated and be her own person. When most women are looking for a husband to take care of them, Elizabeth doesn’t want to be someone’s property and she does everything in her power to avoid becoming just that. I really liked the fact that she isn’t your average lady in the London society. And she won me over when she brought a book with her at a party and escaped said party to go read.

“He couldn’t quite make out the words from the worn cover.“Which play?” Her whole face lit up. She obviously took great joy from her book. “‘As You Like It’ by Shakespeare. It’s my absolute favorite,” she said dreamily. Robert groaned. “I’m going to have to kiss you now.”

Robert and Elizabeth’s encounter was perfect and felt right. I really liked how it all unraveled between them in this scene and how the story went from there. There story isn’t all fluffiness either. Robert and Elizabeth have unfinished business if you will and because of their interactions in the past, they have emotional baggage to work on. Which is not easy to do when you realize that you fell in love with your “enemy”. But the way R. L. Mathewson handled it was perfect. I started this book because I was looking for a story that was going to make me smile and that would give me a happy feeling when I finished it. And even though there are some really emotional stuff in this book, the end result was the same and I had more than a great time reading Robert and Elizabeth’s story.

“When he didn’t respond she got nervous. She looked up slowly to see him practically shaking with rage. She gulped. Giving him a tentative smile she asked, “Too far?” Slowly, he nodded. “Oh dear.” She jumped to her feet and ducked just as he reached for her. For some reason she always went too far where he was concerned. It really couldn’t be helped thought, it was simply too much fun to pass up.”

And as usual, there is plenty of steam in this book too. Robert and Elizabeth are perfect for each other on this level too and when they come together (no pun intended) it is explosive and more than a little hot. It was funny to see that the Bradfords’ dirty talking skills started early on in the family. And not shy to try new things considering the time this story takes place in. I was kind of wondering how this was going to happen since the story takes place in the 18-something, but like I said, R. L. Mathewson did a good work by making her story enjoyable for both historical romances and contemporary romances lovers. If you are not stuck on genres, you should be alright I think.

“ Shhhh, not while I’m praying,” he said, momentarily losing his place before he started again, “thank you for letting us survive that trip from hell. Thank you for ignoring my prayers for a quick death when I didn’t think that I’d be able to survive another day of starvation,” he said, making her roll her eyes in annoyance.                     “You were given three full meals a day just like everyone else,” she pointed out, not bothering to mention the fact that, on most days, he’d received second helpings.”  

I really liked the little cameo and the very beginning and the very end of the book and I loved the epilogue. I cross my fingers and pray that there’ll be a fifth book! I need more Bradford stories…..or to get myself a Bradford all together, even though he’d be hard to feed. 

So for me this book was a great one that I would recommend to those who loved the previous books in the serie and for those who are looking for a good time.

The Roman, by Caroline Storer

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ROME AD 79

The one woman he ever loved was the one woman who betrayed him.

And now, the Roman will have his revenge…

Marsallas and Justina were young, beautiful and desperately in love once, until a tragic betrayal tore them apart.

Six years have passed since that day, and Marsallas has since thrown himself into the deadly world of chariot racing, gaining fortune, fame, and a salacious reputation throughout Rome. His bed is kept warm by a different woman each night, but his heart remains iced over as the memory of Justina’s betrayal continues to haunt him.

The last thing he expects is to see her again, but when she steps back into his life, he sees a chance to avenge his broken heart.

But beneath the hurt, an attraction so intense still burns between the two, and as their fates begin to intertwine once more, their determination to resist one another starts to falter…

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I was asked by the author to read this book in exchange of an honest review. 

The plot was interesting. A betrayed hero, a selfless heroine, an undying love that conquers everything. I mean, it held promise. But there were a number of things that bothered me.

The first one (and main one as well) was that there were a lot of typos. I spent the first three chapters correcting them in my head and then I just decided to try and just ignore them.
Also I thought the English was very “modern” for a story that takes place in Rome AD 79. The way the characters spoke sometimes felt like you were reading present day people talk. Maybe I am mistaken (after all, English isn’t my mother tongue) but it bugged me all the same.

Sometimes, I didn’t really get why the characters reacted and acted like they did. For example, the main characters are arguing or fighting one minute and kissing each other the next. Or they are talking peacefully to each other and all of a sudden, one of them has a fit. It’s okay when you are the reader because you follow the thought process but when you consider this from the character’s point of view, it’s another story. And even as a reader it sort of came out a little out of the blue.

Also I think the story dragged on a little. There were moments that could have been shorter or skipped all together in my opinion and the story would have been better off that way.

Reading about the details of the time period was very nice and I think the author did a good job here. You are not drowning under descriptions but there’s just enough of them to create the decor in your mind. The process of making bronze sculptures was very interesting to read about.

I liked reading about the characters’ back story. It gave insight into their lives and minds and you understand where the characters come from, why they feel what they feel.
But I couldn’t really connect with them. Marsallas was very bitter. You get why when you read the story, but it made him mean at times toward Justina.
She felt a little too…”fragile” to me. What I mean is that after living like she did for six years, you’d expect her to be a little more…fierce. Or at least to defend herself when someone talks down to her and walks all over her. But she was kind and sweet. She’s only 22 years old in the story after all.
Also she day dreamed a lot. Sometimes it felt a little like Marsallas was some sort of fantasy inducing being and whenever he enters a room, every women start fantasizing about him, his body and what he can do with it under the sheets.

But I have to say, the scene in the baths was very steamy (pun intended). After lusting after each other for so long this scene was a success.

So in the end, the story and the book were okay. I liked the details about the era and the descriptions but I couldn’t connect with the characters. It was an easy read but it’s not a story that will stay with me for a very long time.

Transcendence, by Shay Savage

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It’s said that women and men are from two different planets when it comes to communication, but how can they overcome the obstacles of prehistoric times when one of them simply doesn’t have the ability to comprehend language?

Ehd’s a caveman living on his own in a harsh wilderness. He’s strong and intelligent, but completely alone. When he finds a beautiful young woman in his pit trap, it’s obvious to him that she is meant to be his mate. He doesn’t know where she came from; she’s wearing some pretty odd clothing, and she makes a lot of noises with her mouth that give him a headache. Still, he’s determined to fulfill his purpose in life – provide for her, protect her, and put a baby in her.

Elizabeth doesn’t know where she is or exactly how she got there. She’s confused and distressed by her predicament, and there’s a caveman hauling her back to his cavehome. She’s not at all interested in Ehd’s primitive advances, and she just can’t seem to get him to listen. No matter what she tries, getting her point across to this primitive, but beautiful, man is a constant – and often hilarious – struggle.

With only each other for company, they must rely on one another to fight the dangers of the wild and prepare for the winter months. As they struggle to coexist, theirs becomes a love story that transcends language and time.

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Oh. My. God! This book was A-MA-ZING!!!!!!!!! I LOVED IT! I LOVED IT! I LOVED IT! I can’t believe how much I loved this book!

I just finished it and to be honest, I think I’m probably not in shape to review it right now, but it’s one of those book that when you turn the last page, you just need to tell the world to go grab a copy and read it already. I’m that close to wake up everybody in my house (regardless of the time) and gush over this book.

To be honest, I wasn’t too sure what I was getting myself into when I picked it. I had read the blurb once and then moved on but it just stayed with me. And for some reason, I was just compelled to look for it again. It was really like this book chose me more than the other way around… Okay, I’m gonna stop there because it really starts to sound like I’m talking about how I met a guy and how it was written in the stars, even though I’m talking about a book. I guess I’m still high from the story.

“In the darkness of the cave, there is a light inside her eyes that makes my heart beat faster. I know the emotions I see there are also reflected in my own gaze though I have never felt this way before. Beh softly repeats the same three sounds, followed by my name-sound.”

So, the book. I was really wondering how the author was going to make her story interesting with a main character that doesn’t speak. I asked myself the same question when I started reading Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, and that was one of the thing that made me feel like giving those books a try. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed! In both cases.
Shay Savage has mastered this story and I was hooked from the moment I started reading to the last line of the book. The fact that there are no dialogue really isn’t a problem here. You can barely notice it and you actually feel like there is a lot of communication between the characters in this book. Even more so than if there were dialogues.

I LOVED the characters. More than once I wished I could find myself my own personal caveman. No laughing please. I know how that sounds (and the reality of it would probably be much, much different) but still, it’s true.
Ehd, even though he can’t speak is very intelligent, caring and in desperate need of company. I really loved his character and it was very interesting to see his reactions and his priorities, especially in contrast to Beh’s.
It was really cute and I often found myself smiling at Ehd’s comments on how “odd” Beh was and how “noisy” she is compared to his standards, how “moody” she is at times and why sometimes she says “yes” to something at times and then “no” without any apparent reason, why is she so intent on privacy when she takes a bath or goes to relieve herself, etc…Ehd is very practical in his thinking and actions and it was cute, funny, sweet and interesting to see him wonder why Beh did what she did.

It was especially funny when Beh surprises Ehd by showing him the different ways of making love when he thought there was only one. It seems cavemen were very much into doggy-style!

“I definitely like it–lips and mouths and tongues together. When my tongue runs over my own lips, I can taste her there, and it’s as if she’s laid claim to me.” 

Beh’s character was also perfect for me. In short, I found her great. And perfect for Ehd. Not once was I annoyed with any of the characters in this story. I really liked seeing how their relationship evolved and how they reacted to each other’s differences and oddities.

What I really liked about this book, is that you are able to understand both characters even though they are so different. I can’t say much more on that part because I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, but it was truly fascinating.

“She may be strange; she may not know how to make baskets, and she may be very noisy, but she is my mate, and I’m thrilled she is here.” 

Ehd and Beh’s relationship was wonderful to read and to follow. It was touching and loving, and sweet and funny. I could go on like that for a very long time, but I won’t. You’d all get bored I think. Nevertheless, I loved them. I have a huge crush on the both of them.

And I found Ehd….priorities very funny to read about. Especially when you consider Beh’s view on them. This book was also funny on many aspects. And there are a lot of funny and cute moments between Ehd and Beh but also just reading Ehd’s thoughts was hilarious at times.

I wondered where Shay Savage was taking her story. More than once. Not that I was bored with the story, on the contrary. But I really wondered where she was going with it because of the setting of this story. But I absolutely loved what she did with it. The last chapter brought tears to my eyes, it was so beautiful (and God knows I am not a crier) and the epilogue was just perfect in my opinion. I just loved it! I loved the whole thing!

“My life with Beh was beautiful, transcending everything that set us apart from each other.”

Shay Savage wrote an amazing book and a wonderful story. If I could give more than five stars to this book I would. It takes a great author to be able to convey such feelings in a book with no dialogue. I cannot recommend it enough. Everyone should read this book. EVERYONE. So far, it is my favorite this year.
And now I’m off to chew everybody’s ears off about it and force them to read it 🙂

AMAZON.FR                                   AMAZON.CO.UK

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

5160667Always looking for a storyline and characters who fall outside the norm, Shay Savage’s tales have a habit of evoking some extreme emotions from fans. She prides herself on plots that are unpredictable and loves to hear it when a story doesn’t take the path assumed by her readers. With a strong interest in psychology, Shay loves to delve into the dark recesses of her character’s brains- and there is definitely some darkness to be found! Though the journey is often bumpy, if you can hang on long enough you won’t regret the ride. You may not always like the characters or the things they do, but you’ll certainly understand them.

Shay Savage lives in Ohio with her husband and two children. She’s an avid soccer fan, loves vacationing near the ocean, enjoys science fiction in all forms, and absolutely adores all of the encouragement she has received from those who have enjoyed her work. 

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