The Laird Who Loved Me by Karen Hawkins
During the season Caitlyn Hurst and Alexander MacLean engaged in a heated, brief, and very tempestuous affair that ended when Caitlyn's plans to trick MacLean into marriage ended up with Alexander's brother, Hugh, married to Caitlyn's twin sister, Catriona. Despite the marriage working out very well for both parties MacLean is determined to have his revenge against Caitlyn so he convinced his onetime paramour, the Duchess of Roxburge, to invite Caitlyn to a house party where he intends to completely ruin her. However things don't go precisely as planned (as usual in a romance novel) and from the get go MacLean and Caitlyn have quite a difficult time of keeping their hands off each other and he can't help but getting jealous each time another man watches her, touches her, makes her laugh, etc.... He is struck with the urge to posses her and claim her as are most romance novel heroes. Caitlyn feels guilty over the way thing worked out between the two of them, but believes that, because everything worked out, that MacLean needs to forgive her.
MacLean and Caitlyn can't help but challenge each other and it isn't long before the two of them make a wager, although Caitlyn was definitely prodded along by MacLean who knows she can't resist a challenge. The each will choose 3 tasks for the other to complete and if MacLean wins Caitlyn will be his mistress (openly) for two weeks and if Caitlyn wins than MacLean will propose on bended knee- and Caitlyn has threatened to accept. Both enter with the intent of "revenge" or pride but it isn't long before they both realize their feelings are changing, even if they try to deny it. Caitlyn feels bad when one of MacLean's tasks injures him and MacLean finds his opinion of Caitlyn as the frivolous school-girl vanishing as he witnesses her determination, hard-work, and friendliness with the servants. As they unsuccessfully fight their attraction to each other and rethink what they each want from the other, MacLean is terrified that he will fall for Caitlyn and marry her only to have her regret marrying an old man and other people in the party aren't eager to see them get their happily ever after.
While officially a stand alone anyone who hasn't already read "Sleepless in Scotland" (Hugh and Catriona's story) will inevitably be missing quite a chunk of backstory as many references are made to Caitlyn's follies that lead to Hugh and Catriona marrying, but it isn't really explained at all. If one can get over this than it won't be too much of a problem, although there are also many references to the MacLean curse (of controlling the weather) which is not explored as in depth in this story as in the other MacLean stories (something I did not mind at all as it always just seemed a little ridiculous). Another aspect of this story that the book keeps referring back to is their passionate little affair back in London; it is literally brought up constantly. However, don't bother reading Sleepless as that's not even talked about in that story either. This was a definite no-no for me; referring to a past between the character's in fine, but I feel like we missed so much of their courtship right off the bat. The book also refers to the vast age difference between MacLean and Caitlyn and while we know Caitlyn is 23 we never learn MacLean's real age.
I like the amount of time spent on MacLean's issue of being older than Caitlyn; oftentimes in this circumstance the hero would spend a paragraph thinking about the age difference, but in this book it really is an actual issue because he had had a friend who had committed suicide after marrying a much younger woman who no longer loved him. I also enjoyed reading about MacLean's struggles with his emotions about Caitlyn and their progression from bitterness to confusion to lust to admiration to (finally) love. Unfortunately Caitlyn's emotions weren't as heavily explored and by the end I was kind of left with the feeling that Caitlyn certainly enjoyed MacLean's body I couldn't really sense any deeper emotions. And for a couple that spends nearly every waking second thinking about gettin the other naked there is very little steam; a few semi-hot kissing scene, 1 very brief sex scene, and a whole lot of talk about his cock getting hard looking at her ass; lots of talk and very little action. And of course the cover- it is not good.
Rating: Aside from MacLean's POV parts where he's thinking about Caitlyn I liked very little of this book. it was remotely satisfying so it's not a one but it's definitely not up to a three.