I've remained totally unsatisfied by the last novel I read featuring a highwayman and quite frankly didn't know what to expect .... right now, I'll only say one word: fabulous!
This very lively romantic adventure takes place in 17th century England. King Charles the First hasn't lost his head yet. From the very beginning, it's fast paced with an easy, light, crisp writing style. The dialog is intelligent, witty and sometimes humorous. It's a novel that keeps you in suspense as with each new page something new unfolds. Brooklynn Rivers provides just the perfect amount of details making her vivid descriptions come to life before your very eyes.
I found in this book absolutely everything I could hope for. There is danger, treachery and lies, love and passion. There are duels, wild escapes and let's not forget that there's also evil lurking in the shadow and even a hint of dark magic. All these elements combined to work perfectly. What more could you ask for?!
The two lead characters, Skyler Weston and Quentin Ellesbrooke are truly very engaging. Skyler is a good hearted, spirited and beautiful young lady. She has a very unusual friendship with a tavern owner's daughter, in fact, they are like sisters. Despite an obvious difference in their station, she has always remained loyal to Josephine. There are some funny moments between those two. No doubt this friendship allows Skyler to see some things from a different perspective and teaches her a lot, in particular about men, because her friend Josephine is a very cheeky lass.
Quentin and his younger brother Douglas were maliciously stripped from their inheritance and Quentin's goal is one day to recover Ellesbrooke Castle. They have had to resort to the perilous and harsh life of highwaymen to survive. Quentin is spontaneous, adventurous and determined. He's the type of man who likes to have what he wants but he has an honorable soul.
Given their very different circumstances they should never have met but by the merest chance they do. And when their eyes meet, their bodies catch fire ... I won't say more here, it is yours to read now. It's only the beginning of a very gripping adventure, packed with constant danger and vibrant passion. Absolutely nothing is missing.
I definitely recommend this book and I'm looking forward to reading her next novel. I give 5 big stars.
What would you do if your weak father had made a drunk wager on you, his only daughter?
What would you do if, because of the wager, you had to marry a man you had seen only once, a man you don't like, a man not even slightly attractive, a man with a frightening and diabolical aura, a man who is simply not meant for you?
What would you do if your long-lost-but-never-forgotten childhood secret love were to be the one to escort you to your unwanted betrothed?
Wouldn't you jump at the chance to experience just once in your life the pleasures of the flesh? Maybe you would, but what about Rowena?
Lady Rowena has been born at a time where women are mere pawns in a game only played by men and where women always lose, well maybe not this time ...
Brooklynn Rivers offers us here a dramatic and exhilarating short story where no word is wasted. Her very lively descriptions take us effortlessly into a world of dark magic inhabited by unspeakable creatures.
She managed to create a wonderful and intriguing tale in One Knight's Stand that is filled with passion and danger and brilliantly combined with some very exciting paranormal elements. Rowena and Eadric are childhood friends who grow to love one another but never say it aloud. And then it is too late: Eadric leaves for the Crusades to make a name for himself, intending to return home one day and marry Rowena. However years later, he returns home only to find Rowena is betrothed to another. While she felt deserted when he went off to fight in the Crusades, Eadric feels a different kind of desertion upon return—the loss of her affection. The two main characters are indeed meant for each other and the fact that they have this past that has inexorably tied them to one another makes for an achingly sweet story where the reader wonders if things can ever be set right for them. Their past gives the story enough depth and credibility to make it work completely.
Despite the quality of it, I cannot help but wish it were longer. It's the second book I've read, the first one "The Road to Dark Desire" was perfect and I have to confess that Ms. Rivers has become one of my favorite. I'm looking forward to reading her next book. For now, I give this exciting tale 4/5.
The thing that makes "Conquered Shores" stand out from other novels of the same genre is that the author very creatively and skillfully succeeds in mixing the rich Norse mythology and some folklore to her story without ever overwhelming the reader with too many details. In my opinion, she reached here the perfect balance.
This adventure brings us to Ireland when the Vikings' strength and power were at their apogee and where Dublin was one of their strongholds. The goal of these audacious and fearless miserable heathens was to accumulate wealth and destroy everything they could.
Despite these dangerous, uncertain times and ignoring the peril of the raiding season, Shannon decides to have a short time alone when everyone is still asleep, thus disobeying his uncle. She wants to see the ocean, needs to hear the sound of the waves and dream a little ... just for a moment, but she should know better as her own parents were brutally killed during a raid when she was a little girl. After their death she has been plagued with haunting nightmares, later on she had visions during the day—different, more distinct and like a bad omen, she doesn't think that it can be memories anymore; these are visions, uncontrollable and dark premonitions filled with flames, cinder, screams, Viking battle cries. She is petrified unable to move, helpless facing the Viking warrior ...
“Submit to me." His voice echoed through her brain.
“Never,” she whispered.
And this very morning, the nightmarish vision actually becomes reality and she flees trying to escape the bloody barbarian until she's cornered; but even there she fights and she definitely doesn't make it easy for him to capture her. As soon as Gunnar Ravenshield sees the strange birthmark on her body, resembling the head of a dragon, he knows he has to claim this young Irish maiden who fights like a Valkyrie!
Today, Shannon's vision has come true, and Gunnar has seen the sign described in the prophecy:
"Whomever shall possess the one marked by Freya will achieve great wealth and fight by Thor’s side".
He may take her body but he will never win her Celtic heart or spirit!
And this is only the beginning of Shannon and Gunnar’s tumultuous and perilous journey where they'll have to deal with Ursa the Woodland Witch and her piercing mad eyes, Freya's prophecy which seems impossible to decipher, and two wonderful villains—one gnawed by jealousy and the other obsessed with power. Shannon will have to rein her treacherous body that says one thing while her mind says exactly the opposite! Whoever said that life was simple and easy?
What a page-turner, there wasn't a moment of rest in this book that opened with a very violent scene, continued with a lot of tension and finished with even more intensity.
The two protagonists are very likable—yes! even Gunnar. Shannon is courageous, strong and passionate but she has some trouble reconciling herself with unusual and disturbing feelings she experiences each time she comes in contact with the damned Viking and sadly this becomes worse as time passes. Gunnar is as bold, brash and determined as one would imagine a Viking warrior would be and this devil can even be charming when he wants. I really loved to see them battle and struggle with each other while their relationship was developing.
The only small criticism I'll make is that I would have liked a little more background on Shannon's early life, maybe because this singular birthmark has intrigued me from the start, why her? Had there been a similar mark on her female’s ancestors? Call me picky: as a matter of fact I am! It's the reason why I didn't give "Conquered Shores" 5 stars.
The Norse mythology which is the essence of this novel, the historical setting, the romantic conflict, all these elements are skillfully and intricately combined to showcase Ms. River’s talent as a wonderful and gifted storyteller. The rating system doesn't allow half a point, so I give 4 stars but it's more like 4.5.
A Great Debut Novel!
It's got it all! A pulling and emotionally riveting suspense-mystery (tragic and dark), a very nice romance going on (no bed of roses), great characters (some I loved, some I heartily disliked) and good writing.
My only complaint is that the story starts out a bit slowly for my taste.
"Unencumbered Love" is an introduction to the Jason McClain mystery series and I'm very much looking forward to reading book 1!