Though this story begins with a bit of what we’ve read before in romance, it keeps its momentum fairly consistent, plying readers with a mystery that keeps us guessing and a nice romance to even everything out. It’s not Ms. Sands’ best, but it works for the most part.
Annabel has been at the Abbey for more than half her life, there to take the veil as soon as the abbess deems her worthy. After fourteen years, you’d expect she’s ready, but between the abbess’ super strict rules and punishments and Annabel’s exuberant failure to slow down in every aspect of life within the sanctuary walls, she’s still in training to be a bride of Christ. Then out of the blue her mother shows up, whisking her home for she knows not what. Without being given a chance to breathe, Annabel discovers her sister has left them all in a lurch and a bridegroom waiting for his bride, which, it turns out, is now Annabel.
He’s always meant to honor the agreement his father made with a fellow warrior, taking the man’s oldest daughter to wife, but Ross has spent the last few years defeating challenges for the lairdship of his clan. Finally overcoming the last obstacle and feeling able to now leave his stronghold, he’s arrived to claim his bride. He finds a beautiful woman in a house with unemotional parents who seem to care nothing for her, as well as getting the feeling that something isn’t quite right with the entire situation. But he weds Annabel and heads back to Scotland as fast as he can. Ross is enchanted with the curious magpie he’s married. She’s captivated not only him, but his clan is also taken with her. As his feelings for her grow, keeping her safe when strange, unexpected events occur is of the utmost importance.
I do like these two characters. They’re charming, bright, and they complement each other well. Ross is a strong and fair leader, taking his responsibilities seriously, but he also knows how to have fun. His new wife is also strong though innocent. Annabel has to bungle her way through running the household, since she’s never been trained for such things, but she does just fine because of the person she is inside. This works well when she’s in danger from an unknown source, but then her heart puts her in further danger. But I enjoy her resolve when push comes to shove. I didn’t see the bad guy coming when all is revealed, so that is a plus.
However, what really pulled me out of the story too many times are the more modern colloquialisms that show up here and there throughout; i.e. “jumping the gun” and “to feel him up.” For me, Lynsay Sands is a high-calibre, talented author and such word usage is for rookies. While I know that our expressions today are steeped in history, there’s other ways of using them, which Ms. Sands also does in this book: “Kate’s accent would make her stand out like a throbbin’ thumb.” Close enough to our current saying of a “sore thumb,” but said differently to go with the era of the story.
Despite that, though, it’s this author’s high-calibre talent that also gives readers a good story over and above such issues. Thus the reason for my grade not being any lower. I like this book, but it’s just not up to par to her earlier historicals like Love is Blind and her Devil of the Highlands trilogy.
She never expected to marry…
Annabel was about to take the veil to become a nun when her mother suddenly arrives at the Abbey to take her home…so that she can marry the Scottish laird who is betrothed to her runaway sister! She knows nothing about being a wife, nothing about how to run a household, and definitely nothing about the marriage bed.
He never expected to fall in love . . .
From the moment Ross MacKay sets eyes on Annabel, he is taken with his shy sweet bride…and the fact that she’s blessed with lush curves only makes him utter his own prayers of thanks. But when an enemy endangers her life, he’ll move the Highlands themselves to save her. For though Annabel’s not the bride he planned for, she’s the only woman he desires.
Read an excerpt.