Bride of a Wicked Scotsman by Samantha James
Maura O'Donnel has grown up her whole life hearing the story of her family's stolen treasure whose loss meant slow destruction for the entire clan. She promises her father on his deathbed that she will rescue the "Circle of Light" from the pirate Black Scotsman who stole it two hundred years ago. Alec McBride, who earned the nickname The Black Scotsman from the Englishwomen whose hearts he's broken, knows nothing about a pirate ancestor, much less the mystical Circle of Light. Maura manages to trick her way into a ball where she knows Alec will be and (of course) at the ball both are dressed in matching costumes and are "drawn" to each other. Tricks ensue and the next morning Alec believes he has ruined Maura and has no choice but to marry her. This is just what Maura wanted as her plan all along has been to get access to Alec's Scottish estate to search for the Circle of Light.
Alec realizes that something isn't quite right, and the two tip toe around each other in Scotland. Maura trying to avoid any situations that would reveal her trickery, and thus her ultimate plan, and convinced that she will be able to walk away from the marriage once her task is complete. Alec, despite his misgivings, wants to make the best of his marriage, and his assumption that she is a fortune/ title hunter is quickly put to rest, as he gets to know his wife. The two spend so much time together that she has little time to engage in searching. Eventually she breaks down and informs him of the truth and then both of them agree to work together in pursuit of the Circle of Light. Our "climax" didn't involve any kidnappings, but there certainly was a moment of high tension and release, as well as a cute, if predictable, epilogue.
This was a fast read- the big type, and 350 pages and there weren't too many "slow" parts. It was fast-paced, fun, and breezy. I was nervous about the supernatural aspect, but it was surprisingly easy to digest and did not take over the entire book as it would have if either if the characters had possessed a supernatural power (and that totally annoys me). The Circle of Light part of the plot is, obviously, an essential part of the book that blends seamlessly into the novel, does not interfere with the romance, and does not take over the book. There is a nice little bit of angst as she battles her growing feelings for a man whose family brought destruction to hers and she feels guilty over her trickery. She is convinced that once he figures out the truth over what happened he will no longer care for her and she is distraught over this. And then of course there is a nice little bit of angst on his part when she does reveal the truth and he becomes convinced that she had just been pretending her feelings the entire time.
The romance is the central focus of the book and that makes a good romance novel to me. Despite the difficulties and awkwardness of their marriage Alec wants it to work and as a result, is incredibly sweet and loving towards Maura. The book does not get very steamy until close to the end, but the author does try to make up for it by giving us plenty, even if it is a little late. And at least it makes sense since Maura is trying to convince Alec that he had already deflowered her. I also enjoyed how the book resolved their living situation- we are informed throughout the entire book how much Maura loves Ireland, yet Alec lives in Scotland, but the author makes ending situation realistic, yet fulfilling. Last, but not least, I liked how we got plenty of information about what was going on from both his point of view and hers.
Rating: I never knew that I could enjoy a supernatural plot (even a mild one) and I liked the characters, and the romance was fun. It was a sweet but non-sticking novel.