My rating: 4 of 5 flames
This book starts off strong. I started around 10pm and ended up reading it straight through til 2am! I kept saying to myself “As soon as I find a stopping point, I’ll put it down,” but I just kept on reading.
The heroine, Gwyneth Carswell, is the daughter of an English earl. But she was taken in by a handsome lord who said the right things, and when he left her ruined, and pregnant, her father sent her to live with some distant relatives in the Highlands. She was 17 and pregnant, and that cousin was chief of the clan MacIrwin, and married her to one of his men. In Gwyneth’s mind, her son now had a last name, and she would never let her sensual side lead her again. She was a very timid heroine, who had been mistreated by men her whole life (when you get a glimpse of her father, you understand that it wasn’t just her abusive husband, and wasn’t only physical abuse). She refuses to go by “Lady” Gwyneth trading down instead for Mistress Carswell, feeling that blending in and not bringing forth her shame and previous station would be best. She even names her son Rory, even though he’s English, so that he will blend in more.
The hero, Alasdair MacGrath, is injured when the MacIrwin chief plays at wanting peace, but ambushes the MacGrath party instead. Gwyneth has become a healer since the death of her husband, and when she finds Alasdair, she can’t just let him die. But she has to hide him, or risk death.
Alasdair leaves, but is almost caught-so when he fights one of the MacIrwin men, that man tells Donald, the chief and her cousin. They do trace him back to her, burning her home down, and killing the healer, who lived with her. Luckily she escaped…and where did she run? Straight to MacGrath of course!
I loved Alasdair. From the first moment, to the last, I loved him. Gwyneth drove me nuts a few times, especially in her constant rejections of Alasdair. By the last few pages, which I couldn’t turn fast enough, I really was angry with her for her decisions. BUT, I also know why she did it, and I know that she really needed to see that what she thought she wanted wasn’t necessarily what she wanted.
I did like the ending, and I did like how not every villain was sent off to jail with a tidy nice bow on the end. I’m not saying what really happened, but it worked.
This was my first Vonda Sinclair read, and it won’t be my last. The Highland Hussy decrees that Ms. Sinclair is a fantastic writer, who brought so much of the reality of fighting and feuding Highlanders to the pages, that it was easy to visualize and sympathize with Gwyneth.
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Thank You to Ms. Sinclair for the review copy