Book Review: Legendary

Legendary by Stephanie Garber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The game continues and Legendary (the second book of the Caraval series) follows the younger, carefree sister, Donatella. There are promises to fulfill and more mysteries to solve. But the answers she is looking for will require the greatest sacrifice.

The magic keeps getting better. There was so much revealed in this book that added to the complexity of the world. Everything that I thought I knew about the game was turned upside down again. I love how the author was able to keep the game just as interesting and magical as the first time around.

Tella was a wonderful character to follow. She is brave if not reckless and keeps secrets of her own. I was very pleased by how complex she was as a character and wanted to see her succeed. Even though she is very different from her sister, I loved that they compliment each other and help one another grow in ways that they would not have otherwise.

And did I mention the romance yet? No? Well, there is more of that waiting for you in this sequel. Despite Tella’s aversion to the idea of falling in love, her journey to romance swept me off my feet. I enjoyed all of her interactions with a certain someone I shall not name but let’s just say they were… legendary.

Ha, see what I did there?

Ha… ha…. okay, I’ll stop.

Overall, I loved this book and I have already bought and started reading the last installment of this series. I cannot wait!

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Content

  • Heat Level: Clean
  • YA
  • Fantasy Romance
  • #2 in the Caraval series

Favorite Quote

“Not everyone gets a true ending. There are two types of endings because most people give up at the part of the story where things are the worst, where the situation feels hopeless. But that’s when hope is needed most. only those who persevere can find their true ending.”

Stephanie Garber

Book Blurb

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister, Scarlett, from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice, but now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever…

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . the games have only just begun. 

Book Review: The Clown

The Clown by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


There is no way out and Cora has finally accepted her fate. Stuck in an “inversion”–a pocket dimension–her attraction for a dangerous man deepens. But, acceptance does not mean peace and there are other dangers in the form of smiling faces. 

The writing in this story is phenomenal. Kingsley has always captured my heart by the poetic way she strings words together. It is modern, dark, but also classic in a “creepy-vintage-circus” way that I love. 

Cora continues to be my favorite in this series. I am really attached to her and love the way she handles situations. She is growing as a character and really blooming into her new role in the Faire. I also love how organic and sweet her interactions are with Clown. Although his intentions are vague and ominous, his POV was a welcome addition to the story. 

As for Simon? His wicked antics were amped UP. The reader is reminded again that he is not a “good” man and he is very much still insane. There were moments where I was turned off by his toxic behavior but Kingsley still does a good job stating that these behaviors are NOT right but this is who he is. Despite this, he proved to have other sides that were soft and fluffy. 

The first two books did not have any sex in them but this book seems to have made up for that fact. The heat level is REAL my friends. If you were wondering when that was going to happen… trust me, you will find it here. However, I was a little disappointed by how it all led to that moment. The first two books were leading up to this and yet, it fell a little flat to me. 

I personally read romance for the romance and not the sex and there was an abundance of it. But for those who look for that in your books, it was… NOT vanilla to say the least. Despite this, I still enjoyed it and understand that this is an adult book, a DARK one at that, and those who want that HEAT will be very pleased. 

Plot-wise, there was not a whole lot going on besides Cora and Simon’s relationship. I really like that but I found that I was not devouring this one as much as the first two. The ending, however, was great and I was pleased by the outcome.

In all, I enjoyed it and will come back for more.


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Favorite Quote

“First of all, I’m not your boss. Second of all, I’m not stupid enough to waste my breath. And third, I don’t want to fix you, Simon.” She snickered. “Anybody who looks at you and goes, ‘he’s just moody and misunderstood, I can fix him with a little casual sex,’ needs to get their own freaking head examined.” She set down her coffee mug. “I know exactly who you are. Do I approve of your puppets? No. But I didn’t go into this naïve. Whatever the hell ‘this’ is.”

Book Blurb

A friendly face and laughing heart…will be what tears her soul apart.

Finally accepting that there would be no leaving Harrow Faire, Cora sets out to try to find her new way of life as part of the Family. With that comes her slow acceptance of her attraction toward and, even worse, her feelings for the Puppeteer.

But just as things seemed to be falling into a pattern, things turn upside down—seemingly literally—as Harrow Faire enters “the Inversion.” And her troubles don’t end there when the mute Clown takes a keen interest in her. One that she doesn’t understand until it’s too late.

Mr. Harrow took her from her life to become the Contortionist. But it seems…the Faire itself has other plans.
__________________
If you’re drawn to compelling villains and sinister love stories, The Clown—book three of the Harrow Faire series by Kathryn Ann Kingsley—is your next book obsession! Dark fantasy and occult horror blend seamlessly with romance in this gripping page-turner!

Book Review: The Puppeteer

The Puppeteer by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cora is now trapped in a world she had believed to be impossible. Yet, she refuses to accept her fate. She will fight until she is free but will it cost more than she bargained for?

The second installment of the Harrow Faire series did not disappoint. Kingsley is gifted with story-telling and creating complex characters that I never thought I would root for. I was looking forward to learning more about our insane Puppeteer and I was delighted by the outcome.

Although Simon is insane and by no means innocent, he is full of charm and wit that pulls you in for more. I loved that despite his misgivings, there were lines that he was not willing to cross which made him more likable and sympathetic.

Cora was amazing. Simply amazing. I love her so much and I am more than happy that she recognizes how to pick her battles and when she picks them? She goes all out. I chuckled more than once during some of her interactions with Simon and loved that she was sensible as always.

I was also charmed by the romance. I am usually not so forgiving when it comes to toxic relationships but Kingsley has masterfully handled this one very well. Both characters are imperfect but they both grow and learn together. It’s dark but also complex enough to keep me interested.

Overall, I cannot get enough of this series and am off to read book three!

Tata!


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Content Warning

Language and suggestive, sexual conversations. 18+

Favorite Quote

“I’m not brave. All I’ve done is panic since I got here.”

“Is that so?” He was still stroking her cheek. She didn’t know when she stopped being afraid of his touch. All it left behind now was warmth, and a strange electricity that crackled through her. He hummed thoughtfully. “I am not so sure. You came here to save your friend, knowing it would be your own demise. You have stood up to me at every opportunity. I think you are not as weak as you have come to believe.”

Book Blurb

Silver strings she can’t outrun…her trouble now has just begun.

After Cora Glass’s life was stolen by Harrow Faire, things just keep going from bad to worse. Unable to run, unable to escape, there seems to be no way to avoid what she’s become—the Contortionist. But a girl can only take so much.

Haunted by an abandoned and seemingly sentient circus? Fine.
The life of her best friend threatened unless she sacrificed herself? Fine.
Tormented and stalked by a grinning madman who wanted to kill her, and now wants to do worse? That’s where Cora has to draw the line.

As she struggles with the knowledge that magic is real and she will never go home again, she is also forced to contend with the advances of a man who may be the devil himself. And just like the tales of old, she finds herself drawn to him. If only Harrow Faire would slow down and give her a second to catch her breath.

Too bad that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

__________________
If you’re drawn to compelling villains and sinister love stories, The Puppeteer—book two of the Harrow Faire series by Kathryn Ann Kingsley—is your next book obsession! Dark fantasy and occult horror blend seamlessly with romance in this gripping page-turner!

Book Review: Contortionist

The Contortionist by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cora lives a mundane life, plagued by chronic pain. All of her dreams and goals have been put to a halt and she resigns herself to a boring job that she’s overqualified for. But when a certain circus comes to town, Cora wishes to relive some of her childhood joy. However, things are not what they seem and something strange lurks within. 

Read this just in time for Valentine’s Day weekend. Kathryn Ann Kingsley has captivated me again with this dark, horror romance. I have not read any circus themed books before and boy was I missing out. Kingsley crafts a tale that perfectly blends mystery and creepiness that devoured me whole.

Cora is an extremely likable and sympathetic character. Her voice throughout the story was well-balanced and interesting to read. I was also impressed by the way her chronic pain was portrayed throughout the story. I myself do not suffer from any chronic pain, but I have a brother in law who does. I applaud the author for the raw, and honest portrayal of such afflictions. 

And the Puppeteer? Oooh! Talk about creepy. This character is deliciously insane with a mysterious past that I am dying to read about. I love that his possessiveness of Cora turns her off and she is ready to GTFO. All of their interactions together felt real. There was never a moment where I rolled my eyes and said, “girl, really?” Cora is very level-headed and she knows danger when she sees it. She is not stupid and she reacts like a normal person. 

However, I am genuinely curious to see how their relationship develops in the sequel. I finished the book in one day and I downloaded the sequel equally as fast. I cannot wait. 

To end, all I have to say is, “don’t go through the dark path!”

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Content Warning

Dark, creepy shenanigans. But, otherwise clean read.

Favorite quote

Not all monsters needed a scary backdrop to be terrifying. In fact, some were more frightening without one.

Book Blurb

Come one, come all, to Harrow Faire…and greet your sweetest nightmare.

Cora Glass’s humdrum existence as a bank teller flips upside down when a long-abandoned circus mysteriously returns to life. But the entry fee to this big top show is far more than Cora bargained for.

A deal struck.
A soul…stuck.

As Harrow Faire shines a spotlight on Cora, she discovers there are far more secrets in that three-ring nightmare than she could possibly imagine. Trapped in the world of the fiendish and alluring man known as the Puppeteer, Cora finds herself caught in a war between him and the reclusive Mr. Harrow. Both parties will stop at nothing—even murder—to get what they want.

And what they want…is her.

__________________
If you’re drawn to compelling villains and sinister love stories, The Contortionist—book one of the Harrow Faire series by Kathryn Ann Kingsley—is your next book obsession! Dark fantasy and occult horror blend seamlessly with romance in this gripping page-turner!

ARC Review: Spires

Spires by Briar Lee Mitchell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Something lurks beneath an old, German Cathedral–something dangerous and predatory. Vampire. When an explosion of fire releases Villicus from his prison, the creature escapes bent on revenge. His bloodlust cannot be contained and those who cruelly imprisoned him will be punished.

If you are looking for your next classic vampire story, look no further. From the first page, I was captivated. The premise grabbed me and I wanted to read more about Villicus and his plight of revenge. Although omniscient, the story is a well-crafted horror story filled with mysteries and violence. Add a dash of romance and you have Spires: a modern, gothic tale of vampires who seek power, money, and blood.

I love some good ol’ fashion horror in my books from time to time and Mitchell’s vampires did not disappoint. These creatures are terrifying and they hold no love in their hearts for humans. I love that they are actually monsters transformed and are not your typical, sympathetic creatures that are popular in media today.

Even though the story is told from multiple points of view, I was never confused about who we were following next. It was well executed and made for a well-rounded story.

I did dock points for my feelings about the ending which I felt was a little rushed and confusing.

In all, if you want to read something modern, a little frightening, and a little romantic, Spires is the book for you.

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Content Warning

Violence, sexual themes, and death

Favorite Quote

The years of waiting were over. Those who had imprisoned him, the same who had made him, must be found and dealt with. Villicus had a purpose again. He had survived.

Book Blurb

An explosion in a chemical factory turns an ancient German cathedral into an inferno. Unable to save the centuries-old structure, firemen and townspeople watch in horror and sadness as the venerable building, standing since the time of Charlemagne, crumbles to the ground in flames, smoke and ash.

The true horror though, is what had been imprisoned deep beneath the stone monstrosity and is released into an unsuspecting world. Villicus Shanks, a powerful vampire during the Middle Ages, a time when vampires warred amongst themselves to feed on the few humans left alive during the plague, was imprisoned by those who feared him the most—his own kind.

Let loose back into a world brimming with money, greed, power, and huge herds of people, Villicus’s thirst for blood and revenge seems unquenchable until he meets Amanda Brax, a human woman, who steals the heart he thought he no longer possessed. His love for her is tested when he finds the two vampires who imprisoned him, Bale and Nikonar. The two bloodsuckers, who are shocked at his surviving such a lonely and devastating imprisonment, seek his destruction once more by trying to take Amanda from him.

Book Review: The Unseen Heir

The Unseen Heir by Kenley Davidson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Against all odds, Leisa has returned to her kingdom, bent on warning those she loves of the dangers beyond their borders. She carries a promise to return to the man who once guarded over her but unforeseen obstacles keep them apart… but for how long?

As soon as I finished the first book, The Faceless Mage, I downloaded the sequel and devoured it in one day. I was hooked.

I loved the first book for its slow-burn story filled with political intrigue but the sequel is packed with twists and turns and exciting action. I could not put the book down and I was excited to read what our lovable characters would do next.

Leisa is a great character who is determined to do her part. She does not back down even when she could be in danger. Her fierce bravery and loyalty were admirable characteristics and I wanted to see her succeed. Kyrion on the other hand is just a big, lovable hunk. I love his character arc and was pleased that he learned something valuable at the end as well.

One of my favorite things about this book is how intense the chemistry between the characters are. Even though it is a clean read, the author does a fantastic job at building these electric “almost” moments that reduced me into an internally squealing middle-schooler.

There were many moments where I was like Jake from Adventure Time:

You know it’s good when you’re anticipating that kiss scene. But, I applaud the author for making those “will they?” scenes into a swoon fest that I’ll treasure forever.

Overall, I am thoroughly impressed by this author and this series and will be looking forward to the third book that will be coming out later this year.


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Favorite Quote

How did you know it was me?” For a split second, a tiny smile curved Kyrion’s lips, and it almost stopped Leisa’s heart. He was gorgeous even when he frowned, but when he smiled? He was irresistible. “I told you before,” he said. “I will always recognize you. No matter what face you wear.” “But—” “Always.” His eyes held hers firmly, allowing no room for doubt. No room for anything but her quickening pulse and the rush of blood to her cheeks. Oh, heaven help her, but he was dangerous. And not just with a blade.

Book Blurb

Against all odds, Leisa has returned home to Farhall with news of Garimore’s treachery.

But her reception is far from the hero’s welcome she imagined. Instead, she finds herself a prisoner—to the growing fears and suspicions of a man she once considered a father.

To escape, she must forsake everything she once believed in, and leave behind all hope of answers about her past. But if she stays, it means betraying the fragile trust of the man who saved her life in Garimore.

Torn between her duty and her debt, Leisa is forced to flee with Kyrion, leaving behind the only home she can remember for the uncertain sanctuary of Dunmaren—Kingdom of Shadows, home of the night elves. There Leisa must confront her growing feelings for Kyrion, her fear of her own power, and the hostility of a people on the brink of war.

When dire news arrives from Farhall, both Leisa and Kyrion must decide where their ultimate loyalties lie. Can Kyrion find a path to peace that does not require him to give up the only woman he has ever loved? Or will Leisa have no choice but to save the kingdom she still loves at the cost of her own heart?

If you love adventure, mystery, and slow-burn enemies-to-lovers romance, discover the Legends of Abreia, a new romantic fantasy series for fans of Sylvia Mercedes, Miranda Honfleur and Shari L. Tapscott!

Book Review: The Faceless Mage

The Faceless Mage by Kenley Davidson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When a bodyguard is tasked to masquerade as a Princess, she is given her own bodyguard–a brooding, silent, and dangerous force to be reckoned with. 

The Faceless Mage is the slow-burn fantasy romance that has every one of my boxes ticked. 

Large, stoic bodyguard?

Strong lead protagonist?

Slow-burn to the Gods?

Oh. And Magic?

I had added this book to my “to be read” list for a while after seeing it in my advertisements on Facebook. I pushed it off for other books in my never-ending TBR list but I wish I hadn’t put it off. 

This book just clicked with me. It is the kind of romance that pulled me in and I couldn’t stop until I reached the end. It was so fulfilling that I had to buy the sequel immediately. 

Was the book perfect? No. But, what it might have lacked, it made up for with interesting characters with crazy chemistry and swoon-worthy interactions. Even more importantly, this story delved into themes of choosing your own path and self-discovery.

To put it simply, I loved this book. I would recommend it 100% and cannot give it enough praise. 


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Favorite Quote

But courage was a language they could both understand, and hers never faltered. Neither did her compassion, and that was perhaps the most difficult thing of all. Because amid the darkness of his desire for revenge, he, too, felt compassion— for this lonely human with nothing to cling to but her duty to a kingdom that had been so blithely willing to risk her life.

Book Blurb

Leisa’s ambitions used to be simple. Guard the princess. Hide her magic. Wait for her family to return.

But all of that changes when her king demands that she use her unique abilities to spy on the rival kingdom of Garimore.

Alone, far from home, and living a lie that grows more perilous by the day, Leisa’s task is complicated by her most dangerous enemy yet—the masked assassin known only as the Raven.

Everyone in the Five Thrones knows to fear him, but the Raven is not what Leisa expected. As silent as he is lethal, he provokes her curiosity as much as her fear, and hides secrets she’s determined to learn.

When her already precarious mission takes a deadly turn, Leisa must evade the Raven himself if she is to succeed. It’s never been done before, but Leisa is nothing if not stubborn. And if she doesn’t become the first to escape his blade, her entire kingdom will pay the price—in blood. 

Book Review: Yours, Sterling

Yours, Sterling by Sydney Winward

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Kathleen has been arranged to marry a boyish-looking king, she is more than disappointed. However, when war threatens them both, will it tear their relationship apart or drive them closer together?

Sterling, the teddy bear

Some days all I want is a short and sweet romance to placate my inner romantic. Yours, Sterling is exactly that: a charming novella that satisfied the craving. From beginning to end, I was captivated by this arrangement between Kathleen, the feisty princess, and Sterling, the awkward Prince. Their odd match made me giggle and smile as they interacted.

As the story progressed, I sympathized with both characters. Even though Kathleen can lose her temper, her feelings were valid, and Sterling is a big, naïve teddy bear worth rooting for.

The ugly duckling

I also want to point out that I do not read many romances where the male romantic interest starts out as the “ugly duckling”. Usually, stories like that are centered around the woman and so it was both refreshing and quite realistic. I have met many young men who still look like they’re 14 when they’re actually 18 so I loved that the author delved into this dynamic more with a romance.

In all, I would recommend this novella. There were many “awww” worthy moments and if you are looking for an easy-breezy, sweet afternoon read, this is the book for you.

If you would like to download the story for free, check it out here



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Favorite Quote

“Look at you!” she exclaimed, holding him at arm’s length. “You’re not a boy anymore.”

More guffawing from the soldiers.

Sterling rolled his eyes. “That’s just what every man wants to hear from his wife…” he muttered.

Her smile blossomed as she glanced down at her feet. Quietly to herself, she added, “I can wear heels again.”

Book Blurb

A young king. A hopeful bride. A war threatens to tear them apart. He’s determined to keep them together.

An arranged marriage to a younger man wasn’t what Kathleen de Clare had in mind for her future, but after an assassination attempt on their wedding day, a war tears them apart. She must fight for their future together, or watch it fall apart completely.

Book Review: Spellbound After Midnight

Review

Spellbound After Midnight by Jenna Collett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Refreshing Take



I love a great fairytale retelling, and this story did not disappoint. Spellbound After Midnight crafts a new twist in the classic aged tale of a woman losing a glass slipper. Tessa, a clumsy, spellcasting witch (aka, Fairy Godmother) takes on the task of helping a woman in need. But, when murder is thrown in the mix, Tessa meets the handsome but stern detective Derrick Chambers to solve the devious mystery.

This story had an interesting world that kept me engaged and excited. The story itself had some unique twists and turns that I did not see coming and a decent “bad guy” reveal at the end.

Both main characters were both likable and worth rooting for. Each had their unique backstory and motivations that pushed the story forward. I loved Tess’ independence and willpower throughout and also liked that her stubbornness got her into trouble sometimes. Derrick is a no-nonsense guy with a soft interior, a delectable combination. Their chemistry was amazing but as their romance progressed, I was a little disappointed by the lack of tension I felt between them. When the first romantic scene happened, I was confused because I did not think that both of them were on that level.

Overall, this is a cute story with a great mystery plot. I was pleasantly surprised by its refreshing take on a well-known story. I would definitely recommend it!


Content Warning: One cursory sex scene



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Favorite Quote

He bent his head, lips claiming mine in a devastating kiss. Relief swamped me and made tears gather under my eyelids. Honesty was my new policy from here on out. The reward was too good. Lies? No way, not me.

Book Blurb

Tessa Daniels needs a miracle. Preferably, the kind that comes with cold hard cash. Her magic shop is failing, and she’ll be tossed into the street unless she clears her debt.

When a financial boon arrives in the form of a young woman determined to attend the prince’s ball, a risky spell turns out to be the miracle she needed. That is until the woman is found dead at the stroke of midnight, and Tessa comes face-to-face with the kingdom’s cold, and way too appealing, lead detective.

Detective Derrick Chambers has no use for the supernatural. As the rising star at the Royal Agency, he won’t let magic, or the pretty witch that deals in it, get in the way of solving a murder.

His logic tells him to steer clear of Tessa’s chaos, but a forced partnership soon turns into an attraction neither can resist.

With the body count rising, and the kingdom in a panic, an exposed secret will tear them apart and put Tessa in the sights of a killer where no amount of magic can save her.

Book Review: Dreamspell

Dreamspell by Tamara Leigh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Imagine being able to time travel through dreams–I would be in heaven. 

Dreamspell is a tale that swept me up from the very beginning. Both 21st century and 14th century scenes were woven together beautifully to create an intriguing story. 

The two main characters were easy to relate with and root for. Nedy was a witty and fun character that I laughed along with. Although she acted and said things carelessly, it was forgivable due to the circumstances in which she found herself in. If I believed I was in a dream, I would probably throw a little caution to the wind as well.

Fulke was a cutie and such a gentleman. His reactions to Nedy truly were hilarious and genuine. His suspicions felt organic as well as his genteel nature. I rooted for them but was a little confused as to what he saw in her. She did come off suspiciously witchy and crazy for the time period after all. 

Nitpicking aside, I enjoyed this time traveling romance immensely. A little slow at times, I was able to forgive the pacing because the world and story was so magical. I would recommend this!

Note: This is a clean read

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Favorite Quote:

He clasped her to him and lifted a fistful of her hair to his lips. “Sweet Nedy.” He lowered his face to her neck. In spite of her stay in the tower, she smelled as he had only ever dreamed a woman might smell, and when she laid her head on his shoulder, he knew he could not let her go. Having lost so much which he had stubbornly resisted embracing, it was unbearable that he might also lose this strange, beautiful woman.

Book Blurb:

A TIME TO LIVE. A TIME TO DIE. A TIME TO DREAM.
Sleep disorders specialist Kennedy Plain has been diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor. When her research subject dies after trying to convince her he has achieved dream-induced time travel and her study is shelved, she enlists herself as a subject to complete her research. But when she dreams herself into 14th-century England and falls into the hands of Fulke Wynland, a man history has condemned as a murderer, she must not only stay alive long enough to find a way to return to her own time, but prevent Fulke from murdering his young nephews. And yet, the more time she spends with the medieval warrior, the more difficult it is to believe he is capable of committing the heinous crime for which he has been reviled for 600 years.

Baron Fulke Wynland has been granted guardianship of his brother’s heirs despite suspicions that he seeks to steal their inheritance. When the king sends a mysterious woman to care for the boys, Fulke is surprised by the lady’s hostility toward him–and more surprised to learn she is to be his wife. But when his nephews are abducted, the two must overcome their mutual dislike to discover the boys’ fate. What Fulke never expects is to feel for this woman whose peculiar speech, behavior, and talk of dream travel could see her burned as a witch.