Beyond the Wild Wind (Signet Eclipse) by Sasha Lord is up first this time. Istabelle O'Bannon is back, and all grown up this time, sailing and fighting against pirates along the Scottish coast. Ruark Haagan doesn't want to pose as her distant cousin Mangan to help her, but a little financial incentive goes a long way. This one is a bit different from the previous tales in the series, and not my favorite by any stretch. There are portions that are definitely not for the faint of heart here, with a villain who's truly evil, and a heroine and hero who don't seem quite able to overcome all that they must. And, truth be told, I was hoping for Istabelle's family to make much more of an appearance here than they did. This one is compelling, but, for me, not a keeper--it's just a little too disturbing in some places. I can give it only two and a half arrows.
The Second Chance (Signet Eclipse) by Jaclyn Reding. Another historical romance author makes the leap into contemporary romance, this one more successfully than some others who come to mind. Widowed Flora MacCallum is scared and excited about leaving her home in Scotland for a short stint running a friend's B&B on the coast of Massachusetts. She hates leaving her children behind, even while they finish school, but to have time for herself is an intriguing idea. Gavin Matheson is still grieving the loss of his son, not to death but a vengeful ex-wife who stole him and has stayed on the run for years. Their meeting is unconventional, but neither can quite put the other out of mind afterward. The only trouble is, Flora isn't staying, and Gavin can't trust his heart to another child, let alone to three and their enticing mother. Still, nothing in this one seems truly insurmountable. The story is enjoyable, an easy way to spend several hours indoors on a cold winter's day. I'm giving this one three and a half of Cupid's five arrows.
Until next time, happy reading!