Review: Paying the Piper by Simon Wood

Format: E-bookpayingthepiper
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Thriller
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Leisure Books
Hero: Scott Fleetwood
Heroine: NA
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: October 30, 2007
Started On: February 13, 2013
Finished On: February 15, 2013

Yep, I have gone and done it. In my need to read something other than a romance though I would always remain strictly a staunch supporter and fan of romances, I went scouring through the thousands of titles on Amazon and stumbled across Paying the Piper by Simon Wood. When I first started reading I was an avid reader of thrillers, mainly focusing on titles by Sidney Sheldon that I couldn’t get enough of. Somehow my fascination with reading thrillers came to a standstill because I couldn’t find an author who satisfied all the adrenaline pumping suspense that I crave from a good mystery/thriller. But then I may just have found what I was looking for in Simon Wood because Paying the Piper certainly was an edge-of-the-seat read for me.

The book opens into the harrowing scene where Scott Fleetwood, a reporter for San Francisco Independent races his way towards the school where his twin sons Sammy and Peter go to school, the premises from which Sammy had been kidnapped.  Little does Scott know that when he receives the call demanding ransom, it would be the notorious Piper on the line, a serial kidnapper who had gone underground eight years earlier when his last kidnapping had ended up in murder.

Scott suffers from his fair share of guilt on the last known kidnapping that Piper had executed. It had been his involvement and need for a hot story that had escalated the events to the level that had ended the life of an innocent young boy who otherwise would have been set free. From the FBI comes his nemesis since then, the lead detective assigned to the case Tom Sheils who has his own grudge and contempt for Scott for what had taken place in the past. But when it becomes evident that this is by far no ordinary “Piper” kidnapping and that the stakes are too high and way too different from his usual MO, it is the joint effort that leaves no stone unturned that finally takes the reader towards the end of this story. And I have to say I loved every single minute of it.

Simon Wood is certainly a master at what he does. Never did there come a moment of lull in the story where I wanted to start a new book because The Piper wasn’t doing it for me. Rather I snatched whatever reading time I could in between chores and raced through the book, most of the time my heart accelerated in its beating because the taut suspense that Simon carries throughout the book is that good.

For fans of suspense and thrillers, this is one book you wouldn’t want to miss. Recommended.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley

Format: E-bookmadness
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Highland Pleasures, Book 1
Publisher: Leisure Books
Hero: Lord Ian Mackenzie
Heroine: Beth Ackerley
Sensuality: 3.5
First Published on:  April 28, 2009
Started On: October 1, 2010
Finished On: October 2, 2010

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie lived up to and exceeded all the expectations I had before I started on this novel. A lot of romance readers on Amazon seem to unanimously agree that this is one of the best historical romances that has been published of late and the awards that this book has received is testament enough that this story is a favorite amongst many romance readers.

This story is the first title in a series entitled as Highland Pleasures by Jennifer Ashely of which the second book in the series has already been published on July of this year. The Mackenzie family is Scottish in its origins and was one of the most powerful families in the region during the 1800’s. Hart Mackenzie who is the Duke of Kilmorgan is the eldest followed by Mac, Cameron and Ian who is the youngest.

Ian Mackenzie is a genius (who was suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome?) who was gravely misunderstood during his childhood. With a father who was driven to rages and drinking, Ian had always been the odd one who had stood out from his siblings. With his analytical genius mind which would remember everything he has read or heard verbatim and the ability to play music that he has heard once flawlessly though he never understands the normal modes of behavior always lands him in trouble. When Ian witnesses the murder of his mother at his father’s hands during one of his fits of rages, Ian’s father has him declared insane and locks him up in an asylum where he spends his childhood until his father’s untimely death ends in Hart attaining dukedom. Because Ian is misunderstood, he has always been labeled as the mad one in the family. The Mackenzie’s though powerful has always been considered wild and uncouth and it was considered unfit for a lady to be in the presence of a Mackenzie without a chaperon.

Ian and his tendency to collect Ming porcelain items lands him in the company of Sir Lyndon Mather who has got himself engaged to Mrs. Thomas Ackertey (Beth Ackertey), a widower who had come into a considerable fortune on the passing of her employer Mrs. Barrington.  Beth’s father had been a Frenchmen who had seduced her mother, a daughter of an English squire into marrying him which had ended up in her mother being disowned. Her father had died when Beth had been quite young leaving them both destitute which had resulted in both mother and daughter having to seek refuge at a workhouse. When Beth’s mother had died when she had been 15 years old, Beth had managed to acquire a teaching position at the workhouse and when she had turned 19, Thomas Ackerley the vicar newly in charge of the workhouse had married her. A year later, Thomas had died of a fever and Mrs. Barrington had hired her as her companion whom Beth had looked after for the past 9 years.

When Beth first lays her eyes on Ian, his massive height, width of his shoulders together with his dark hair and amber eyes that always seem so restless take her breath away.  The heat that slowly starts to burn within her in the presence of Ian is something that Beth had almost forgotten that her body could feel. Having agreed to marriage to Mather had been Beth’s way of making sure that she would never be lonely during the years to come and also the route to having her own children someday. What she never expects to happen is for Ian to warn her of Mather’s rather unusual sexual preferences and the fact that Mather was actually interested in her money rather than herself. Ian knows something worth protecting when he sees one and he so badly wants Beth. And before the first encounter between the two is over, Ian thoroughly kisses the delectable Beth and proposes marriage to her as well the latter of which Beth refuses though she is more than tempted.

Ian wants to protect Beth from all the rumors and the darkness that surround his family. The murder of a whore named Sally Tate that had long gone unsolved which Detective Inspector Lloyd Fellows was trying to pin on the Mackenzie’s with a vengeance; particularly to send Ian back to the asylum where he supposedly belongs to is something that Ian would rather Beth doesn’t find out. When another whore who named Lily Martin is viciously murdered Fellows swears that he wouldn’t stop his quest for justice until the Mackenzie’s pay for their crimes. Beth however has a mind and a will of her own that Ian has no idea how to predict or control and before long Beth has it in her mind to find out who actually committed the murders so that her beloved husband would finally be free of the nightmares that haunt him day and night.

I absolutely loved reading this story. Ian is a hero so very worth drooling over with his eccentric and unusual behavior. What he fears most is looking Beth in her eyes because it is the one place in this world that Ian fears he might lose himself in. Ian who doesn’t know how to express emotions like normal people do has a hard time believing that he has the capability of falling in love, something which Beth disproves so beautifully before the story is through. I loved Beth for her courage and unwavering belief in the man she comes to love, and for the fact that she understands Ian better than anyone else. The love scenes are beautifully done with a hero whose unwavering focus on what he is doing is a delight in itself. I am so very interested in reading about all the Mackenzie men because Ms. Ashely has definitely whetted my appetite for more.

All in all, recommended for all romance lovers. This is a MUST read!

Favorite Quotes

She heard the echoes of Ian’s screams in her head. Beth pressed her forehead to his hands, her heart wrenching. Ian’s hands were large, sinews hard under his kid-leather gloves. Yes, he was strong. In the Tuileres Gardens, it had taken both Mac and Curry to pull him away from Fellows. That didn’t mean others could try to tear at that strength, try to defeat him. The doctors in the horrible asylum had done it, and now Fellows was trying to.
I’m falling in love with you, she wanted to say into their clasped hands. Do you mind awfully?

Ian closed his eyes. Beth watched emotions flicker across his face, the uncertainty, the stubbornness, the raw pain he’d lived with for so long. He didn’t always know how to express his emotions, but that didn’t mean he didn’t feel them deeply.
When Ian slowly opened his eyes, he guided his gaze directly to Beth’s. His golden eyes shimmered and sparkled, pupils ringed with green. He held her gaze steadily, not blinking, or shifting away.

“I love you,” he said.
Beth caught her breath, and sudden tears blurred her vision.
Love you,” Ian repeated. His gaze  bore into hers harder than Hart’s ever could hope to. “Love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you…”

Ian cupped her chin and turned her face up to his. Then he did what he’d been practicing since the night on the train – he looked her fully in the eyes.
He couldn’t always do it. Sometimes his gaze simply refused to obey, and he’d turn away with a growl. But more and more he’d been able to focus directly on her. Ian’s eyes were beautiful, even more so when his pupils widened with desire. “Have I told you today that I love you?” he asked. “A few dozen times. Not that I mind.”
As a young woman who’d been starved for love much of her life, Beth lapped up Ian’s generous outpouring of the words. He’d surprise her with them, catching her as she walked down the hall, pushing her up against a wall, breathing, “I love you.” Or he’d tickle her awake and tell her while she tried to hit him with a pillow. The best was when he lay against her in the dark, fingers tracing her body. She treasured his whispered
, “I love you.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo

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Review: Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle & Mobipocket Reader
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Blakewell/Kenleigh Family Trilogy, Book 3
Publisher: Leisure Books
Hero: Nicholas Kenleigh
Heroine: Elspeth Stewart
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 6, 2005
Started On: April 18, 2010
Finished On: April 19, 2010

The first book that I tried from Ms. Clare certainly didn’t disappoint. This story has all the elements that make up a great romance. The web of sensuality that Ms. Clare so cleverly weaves is magical, one that I as the reader got myself lost in.

Ride the Fire is the story of beautiful Scots-Irish Elspeth Stewart and the sinfully delicious Nicholas Kenleigh. On the verge of death, Nicholas accidentally stumbles upon Elspeth, eight months pregnant and living in the harsh wilderness that wasn’t safe for anyone much less a defenseless woman. Somehow Nicholas convinces the skittish Elspeth that he intends her and her baby no harm and Elspeth cares for him until he regains his strength.

Meanwhile, the uprising of the Indians living around the area continues making Nicholas fear for Elspeth and her unborn babe. Though Nicholas has witnessed the evil side of life too many a time and lived through hell and beyond, he can’t help but feel protective towards Elspeth who feels restless and uneasy around his vicinity. Elspeth has always held the notion that men held little regard for anyone else much less the women in their lives. Having lived through episodes of sexual harassment by her step brother which eventually turned her own mother against her, Elspeth has always felt tainted and unclean and unworthy of belonging to anyone. Ever since her husband died her plans have included living alone with her child with no need for a man.

Nicholas changes everything Elspeth has believed in till now. Where Elspeth has associated intimacy with a man with pain, Nicholas teaches her that there is no shame and only joy in the act. Where Elspeth has always associated men with brutality, Nicholas shows her in the best of ways how tender and loving a man can truly be. Both Nicholas and Elspeth who have had so much suffering in their lives find in each other a joy none can turn their backs on. And Ms. Clare has done an excellent job on keeping the adventure going at full pace with the sensuality level at an all high! My my!!

This book is highly recommended for those who love their romances with a good dose of sensuality. You would definitely not be disappointed with this novel. I wanted a Nicholas for myself after reading this book. Yes ladies, he is that good!

Till next time then! I presume I would be catching up on reading all the novels by Ms. Clare pretty soon!!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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