Review by Veronica

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Series Name: Buchanans and Renard, #14

“Ever so slowly he reached across her to get to the hotel phone on the other side of the bed. The back of his hand brushed against her breasts. She didn’t think the intimacy was deliberate until he looked at her and she saw the laughter in his eyes. He was having fun, trying to rattle her. No way was she going to let him know how much his touch affected her.”

Fans of Julie Garwood books are going to love her latest book Grace Under Fire. 

Grace Isabel MacKenna had a hundred things to do today. Killing someone wasn’t one of them. It was supposed to be a quick visit to Boston for the Buchanan anniversary party, then on to Scotland to collect an inheritance. She checks into the hotel and then decides to go for a brisk walk. But after getting lost she ends up with a wounded man stumbling into her arms, and then his shooter coming after them both. When she fires back in self-defense, she doesn’t expect him to drop dead. Thanks to the Buchanans dispatching Navy SEAL and now a lawyer Michael Buchanan to help her deal with the police, Isabel endures hours of interrogation and is finally free to go.

Isabel knows she should be grateful for Michael’s help, but since she’s harbored an extreme dislike for him for years, gratitude is difficult to muster. Michael has appointed himself her de facto guardian, and she’s stuck with him despite their constant bickering and sizzling attraction. Even when Isabel goes to Scotland to claim her inheritance, Michael follows her, but he isn’t the only thing she can’t shake. Mysterious threats against Isabel surface, and before they can deal with their growing feelings for each other, Michael and Isabel must first survive.

I have a special relationship with Julie Garwood’s books. My first historical romance book was The Bride by Julie. I devoured that book in one night and quickly moved on to all the other books in that series. Grace Under Fire is my favourite book in the Buchanans and Renard series. What pushed it to the top was: a. the fact that a part of the book takes place in Scotland, b. Isabel’s driving scenes and c. all the references to the old Highlander clans. Those references really connect to her historical series, which made me so happy since it is my all-time favourite romance series. Julie’s ability to tell stories is masterful, and she always finds a way to deliver an engaging and entertaining novel to her readers. Even though this is the 14th book in the series, it is still as interesting as the first book in the series. It can be read as a stand-alone, but I highly recommend reading the other books that focus on the Buchanan family. This will help give you the backstory of many secondary characters and explain why Isabel inherited land in Scotland. 

This book just sucked me in, and it felt like the world around me disappeared while I was reading it. A lot is going on in this story, and all those different moving parts kept me on my toes. The book is only 357 pages, but it felt much longer than that, and I don’t say that in a bad way. It really is amazing how much Julie crammed into this book while still ensuring the story unfolds in a cohesive manner. Readers experience a mystery, a sizzling romance, and a fast-paced cat and mouse game. I have to admit; I did not expect who would be the ultimate mastermind behind the mysterious threats to Isabel. I really love that Julie can still catch me off guard after all these years. 

I liked Isabel; she captured my heart with her wonderful southern charm back in Slow Burn, which meant I was super excited to get my hands on this book. Isabel is a wonderful heroine. She has this wonderful mixture of weird quirkiness, kind-heartedness, and a mad woman behind the wheel. Hands down, the scenes where she is driving or other characters are talking about her driving had me howling with laughter. I think my neighbours could hear me laughing from their backyard. I have to say the humour was an excellent addition to the story and really made it stand out for me. Michael is what I expected him to be: another sexy, charming Buchanan. Lord, all the men in that family always make my heart rate go faster and give me butterflies in my stomach. Spending more time with the Buchanan family is a treat. I just love the fun family banter that exists between this lot. It is also wonderful to see what the couples from the previous books have been up to-kind of catching up with old friends. 

The chemistry between Isabel and Michael was just on fire, and you could feel the sparks flying between these two. Their romance has this opposites attract, forced proximity feel to it (which are my favourite tropes). Julie did a great job at building that sexual tension between these two and have you wanting to turn the page to see if they will finally get together. Besides the sparks and spice, their relationship really has this real and raw feel to it. I really like them as a couple; I loved the banter and those quite cute moments between them.  

If you are looking for a fast-paced edgy romance, then you need to read Grace Under Fire.

Thank you Penguin Random House for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.