Lacybourne Manor by Kristen Ashley

Lacybourne Manor by Kristen AshleyLacybourne Manor by Kristen Ashley
Published by Self Published on August 5, 2011
Pages: 543 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
four-stars

In 1522, the very night they were wed, Royce Morgan and his new bride, Beatrice Godwin, were murdered on their way home to Lacybourne Manor. After the cruel deed was done, a local witch came across their bodies, witnessing firsthand the tragedy of star-crossed lovers. Vowing that Royce and Beatrice would someday uncross those stars, using magic mixed with murder as well as true love, she linked their spirits together with hers (because someone had to protect them) forever… or until their reincarnated souls find happily ever after.

Now arrogant, forbidding Colin Morgan lives at Lacybourne, knowing, from lore (as well as the portraits of Royce and Beatrice that hang in Lacybourne’s hall and the small fact that he looks exactly like Royce Morgan), that he is the reincarnated soul of his ancestor. One stormy night, flighty, free-spirited, scarily kind-hearted Sibyl Godwin comes to Lacybourne and it doesn’t escape Colin’s notice that Sibyl is the spitting image of Beatrice. However murder, magic, a warrior’s heart beating in a modern man’s chest, a woman bent on doing good deeds even if they get her into loads of trouble, a good witch whose family has vowed throughout the centuries to protect true love, distrust and revenge make a volatile cocktail.

This means the path to happily ever after is paved with tranquiliser darts, pensioners on a rampage, Sibyl’s bad morning moods, heartbreaking misunderstandings and all kinds of magic, good… and bad.

The drama that could be read from Lacybourne Manor by Kristen Ashley’s synopsis had me hooked….immediately. With the way that Kristen Ashley pens her stories I knew to expect some serious anger towards one or both of the main characters and their possible pigheadedness, but I would ultimately fall in love with everything Lacybourne Manor had to offer.

Colin and Sybil were equally delightful to read about, I couldn’t have asked for a better hero and heroine for Lacybourne Manor. The way things began and then worked itself out in the end was truly magical and in no way predictable. I was really expecting to loath finishing this story because of a situation that took place within its pages that I felt soured the story for me only to have to bow down to the greatest of Ashley’s pen because she blew my mind once again with how she orchestrated this sticky situation fabulously.

The mystery, and going back and forth between the past and present and sometimes a place in-between was superbly done. I loved the glimpses of the original ancestors of Colin and Sybil, Royce and Beatrice, that we were able to see, both in contrast and in clarity to Royce and Beatrice’s situation and Colin and Sybil’s. The other thing I loved about Lacybourne Manor was the fact that there was a senior citizen facility filled with some amazing elderly characters that added so much life and balance to this story.

Now that I’ve read the first two stories in Ashley’s Ghost and Reincarnation series I feel so much better about going into Penmort Castle, and I feel like I’ve gotten a better sense of the series. Lacybourne Manor simply was amazing.

About Kristen Ashley

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA. She nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn’t taken her first breath!).

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana but has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multi-generational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland and existed amongst the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Sommersgate House by Kristen Ashley

Sommersgate House by Kristen AshleySommersgate House by Kristen Ashley
Series: Ghosts and Reincarnation #2
Published by Self Published on December 7, 2013
Pages: 461 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
five-stars

Douglas Ashton is the cold and unfeeling owner of the gothic Victorian Mansion, Sommersgate House. Julia Fairfax is his stubborn American sister-in-law. After tragedy strikes, Douglas and Julia are forced to live together at Sommersgate and raise their newly orphaned nieces and nephew.

Douglas has no desire to raise his dead sister’s children nor does he want the distraction of the tempting Julia living under his roof. Julia is struggling with grief and trying to make a go in a new country without much help from impossibly handsome but even more impossibly remote Douglas. Not to mention, she has to deal with the active hostility of Douglas’s frosty, Attila-the-Hun-in-a-skirt mother, Monique.

Douglas decides the best way to give the children what they need, get his mother to behave and give himself what he wants is to marry Julia. When he tells her (yes, tells her) she will be his wife, Julia thinks Douglas is (probably) insane. And anyway, she’s decided if she ever has another husband (since the last one wasn’t so great), he was going to be short, balding, have a paunch and worship the ground she walks on (none of these characteristics define Douglas in the slightest).

One more thing, Sommersgate House is haunted by the ghosts of the man who built the house and the woman who was the love of his life. They both died mysteriously at Sommersgate months after it was finished. When they did, a curse settled on the house making it seem strangely alive. And the only way for the beautiful but frightening house to rid itself of this curse is for its owner to find true love.

Why didn’t I first start with Sommersgate House by Kristen Ashley in her Ghost and Reincarnation series?!

With the way I responded to Sommersgate House I truly believe that all things happen in their own time and with their own reason because had I not read Penmort Castle first and somewhat loathed it I wouldn’t have given Sommersgate House a chance.

While I was reading Sommersgate House I seriously dwindled away into a pile of goo. This story held everything I love in a contemporary romance story, especially a story of Kristen Ashley’s caliber. There was a broody hero, little babies that needed love, a strong-minded heroine, a mystery that kept me intrigued, a villain that I loved to hate, and a romance that was absolutely timeless. Ugh, I’m getting excited all over again, this book was so good!!!!

When I asked Kristen Ashley which order I should go in when going through her Ghosts and Reincarnation series, since Goodreads had a particular order, she let me know that I should follow her order for this series instead of Goodreads lol. I sort of feel cheated because Goodreads and Amazon stated that Penmort Castle is the first in the series so that’s why I read that first, but in reading Sommersgate House so many things now make sense that I was confused about in Penmort Castle.

Sommersgate House was an amazing start to Ashley’s Ghost and Reincarnation series, it introduced the premise of the series in a way that now if I were to read the synopsis of the other stories in this series I would at least know what the end goal would be for each couple. Ugh, I have a feeling that I’ll have a new favorite series by Ashley, I’m seriously contemplating vetoing the ranking system I have for her series because it’s starting to feel redundant.

About Kristen Ashley

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA. She nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn’t taken her first breath!).

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana but has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multi-generational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland and existed amongst the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

The Golden Bell by Autumn Dawn

The Golden Bell by Autumn DawnThe Golden Bell by Autumn Dawn
Series: Darklands #4
Published by Self Published on September 6, 2006
Pages: 200 pages
Format: iBooks
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
five-stars

You can bring them in from the wild, but you can’t always tame them….

Fallon is a man with a bloody past, and a rough and ready way with justice. Rain is a woman on the run, and now she’s under his command. She’s outsmarted men before, but is she woman enough to handle him?

Out of all the stories in Autumn Dawn’s Darkland series I most remember The Golden Bell.  It wasn’t really the romance but the mystery that captivated my attention with this story.

We had been reading about Fallon since book one, The Charmer, so it felt really good to be able to have his story laid out for us the way Dawn penned it. He wasn’t like Keilor, or Mathin in dominance and strength, but he was definitely an alpha. Fallon was more of a modern style warrior than one in the traditional sense, which is what we got with both Keilor and Mathin. Plus, it seemed from the little that we learned that he had another aspect of his duties to the Darklands that was always so hush hush, so it was great to read about the investigations happening on Earth to protect the Haunt that lived in the Darklands and on Earth.

Rain embodied everything that I love in a heroine of an action, mystery, and romance story. She might not have known her heritage but she knew what her mission was, what made her even better was she wasn’t so fixated on it that she couldn’t function and experience life because of it. She was so strong and competent that I gobbled up the banter between Fallon and her as if I was sitting at the dinner table eating my favorite foods.

The Golden Bell really took care of the prejudice that was left over within the Haunt from the first story of Dawn’s Darkland series, The Charmer. Because the heroines in The Charmer and Scent of Danger were humans and there was such hostilities between the humans that live in the swamps and the Haunt, many politicians and wealthy citizens of the Haunt would rather see them dead than allow them to reproduce and muddy up their bloodlines. What fanned the flames of this prejudice that made The Golden Bell somewhat of a conclusion to Dawn’s Darkland series was the fact that Rain was half Haunt and half Human who had mated with a Haunt of prestige and wealth, Fallon. It didn’t help that Rain invented a device that allowed for teleportation between places and possibly worlds.

I loved everything about The Golden Bell, but I’m also glad that I stopped here with the Darkland series.

Scent of Danger by Autumn Dawn

Scent of Danger by Autumn DawnScent of Danger by Autumn Dawn
Series: Darklands #3
Published by Self Published on September 8, 2010
Pages: 228 pages
Format: iBooks
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Ever fall in love with the wrong man?

With a body to make a young girl sigh and a voice like black velvet, Mathin is definitely the wrong man. He’s not safe, he’s not stable…he’s not even human.

Andrea doesn’t know what she’s getting into when she agrees to visit her granny. Swept away to another world by a man almost too hot to handle, she can’t decide if it’s a dream come true or someone’s idea of a sick joke.

Romanced by the light of the triple moons, entranced by Mathin’s fiery kisses, will Andrea give up her home on Earth in exchange for something wild?

Scent of Danger by Autumn Dawn wasn’t my favorite out of Dawn’s Darklands series, and it wasn’t entirely Mathin’s fault. With a combination of only having a brief introduction of Mathin’s character in The Charmer, and not really caring for Andrea’s attitude when it came to anything new and different in her life, I wasn’t really invested in Scent of Danger until about halfway through it.

Being tricked into coming to Fallon’s residence where Mathin just happens to be residing because he’s on vacation, is where and when we first get to meet Andrea and her friend – who surprisingly we hear and learn nothing more about even though it appeared as if they were as close as sisters. Anyway, with another brief introduction of Andrea and her grandmother’s characters, we were thrust into the potential conflict that would shape the story of Scent of Danger. While I was intrigued I sort of wished that another heroine was chosen for Mathin, as well as for this story, but thank goodness it got better.

Mathin on the other hand held so much promise from what we learned and read about his character in The Charmer, but I don’t know if in the beginning of Scent of Danger Dawn chose to tweak his character so that his attraction and later devotion to Andrea would be believable. I felt that it was because of the earlier revelations of Andrea’s character that we saw in the beginning portion of Scent of Danger that made it difficult to see Mathin and her ever as a couple without feeling as if Mathin was a lamb lead to the slaughter. It took about halfway through Scent of Danger before Andrea finally got the stick residing in her butt out and started to see past her nose to the fact that Mathin wasn’t just his looks and that he was actual a person with actual feelings.

Also, within Scent of Danger we were able to learn more about the organisms that allowed humans to reside within the Darklands, as well as the humans that live in the swamps where these organisms thrive. With the inclusion of the humans that live in the swamp and a change in the dynamics between Andrea and Mathin I was finally able to refrain from rolling my eyes at the ‘relationship’ between these two.

Grim by M.K. Eidem

Grim by M.K. EidemGrim by M.K. Eidem
Series: Tornians #1
Published by Self Published on August 30, 2013
Pages: 438 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
four-half-stars

King Grim Vasteri is the strongest, most feared warrior in the Tornian Empire. He has been sent by his Emperor to find and retrieve compatible females for their dying civilization. Lisa is a widowed mother of two little girls who finds herself and her daughters suddenly in high demand. Will the most feared warrior in the Empire keep and protect them? Or will he allow another to claim them?

King Grim Vasteri is the strongest and most feared warrior in the Tornian Empire. He is the King of Luda, blood brother to the Emperor and his line will die with him. He will have no offspring for no female would join with him for once he was scarred he was considered 'unfit'. The Tornian Empire has been dying ever since the great infection caused the birth of females to become a rarity. Since then they have been searching the known universes for compatible females. The Emperor's discovery of a compatible female on a slave ship changed that. He'd ordered Grim to find his Empress' home world so more 'unprotected' females could be obtained, knowing Grim would never be allowed to Join with one.
Lisa Miller is a widowed mother of two little girls, Carly and Miki. Her husband died just a year ago, after a long battle with cancer and she misses him immensely. Friends want her to start dating again but in her heart, she knows there isn't a man on the planet she could love like her Mark. Who could love their girls like their own. Therefore, she'll stay alone.
When Lisa is discovered 'unprotected' at her husband's grave, she wakes on an alien ship heading for an alien world. Refusing to accept this she confronts the large males, demanding she be returned to her children. Seeing his chance to have a female, Grim agrees to accept and protect her offspring, if she agrees to Join with him and only him. Realizing this is the only way she can retrieve her children Lisa agrees and the Tornian Empire changes forever.

The purchase of Grim by M.K. Eidem was somewhat of a journey. I guess I was in the mood for a science fiction romance and Grim seemed to fit the bill. It really didn’t matter what the reviews were saying because the synopsis was too interesting and unique that I couldn’t pass it up. Now that I’m finished I am so grateful that the story worked out magnificently.

Grim was so different than I was expecting, and I have read quite a few alien world romance stories thank to the mind of Ruby Dixon. The world, characters, and conflict with Grim was so on point that I found myself devouring this story.

With the way Grim began I was somewhat hesitant to invest my full attention towards it because it had the makings of a smut sci-fi read. To be honest, I’ve become burned out on those. Almost immediately, following those thoughts,  Eidem pens the earlier circumstances between Grim and the heroine in a way that just shouts “There’s more to this story!” Not only does Eidem deliver this message she also sets the foundation of this series within the first two chapters. You learn who the bad guys are, you learn what their issue is with the hero and heroine, and you also get to see the potential internal conflict that could take place between the H/h.

From the way Eidem structured the beginning of Grim, the butterflies in my stomach (always a good sign of an enjoyable read) burst forth from their restraints and were unleashed to bask in the awesomeness of this story.

The only downside I found with Grim was the author’s aim to pique our interest in Wray’s story, who happens to be the emperor and Grim’s brother. Wray should’ve been the first installment, but is actually the second story in the series. I will admit to being curious as to what went on between Wray and his love interest, the future empress. I would’ve loved the sequence of this series better if I had read Wray’s story before being educated about this literary world through Grim and the heroine’s eyes and experience. I don’t like to backtrack so it’s a toss up of whether or not I will actually give Wray a chance or just cut my losses and keep going forward in this series.

I’m so excited to read the other stories from some of the secondary characters from Grim. Also, I don’t know what other conflicts could arise because the one in Grim seemed pretty final and did a good job of eradicating the root of the main issue within this world.