A Whisper of Roses by Teresa Medeiros
The Cameron and MacDonnell clans have been furious enemies for centuries and everyone is shocked when the decaying and moral-less MacDonnell's make a visit to the Cameron clan stronghold. However few are surprised when the MacDonnell leader, Angus, is killed. While no one knows precisely who killed him the Cameron leader, Dougall is quick to offer up restitution. This includes marrying his daughter Sabrina off to Angus' son, and now leader of the MacDonnell clan, Morgan. As young children the two had been intensely, and privately, in love with each other, but pride had prevented their friendship, and love from blooming. Now Sabrina is terrified that Morgan is still the same proud bully he was then and Morgan is worried that Sabrina will always regard him as the uncouth, dirty MacDonnell who ruined her life by taking her away to a crumbling castle and a dieing clan. Despite immense pleading her feather refuses to relent and Sabrina and Morgan are married.
Things do not get off to a rousing start as upon their arrival at the MacDonnell stronghold they are confronte with Morgan's former paramour, Alwyn, in his bed. After a very rocky start with his clansmen, Sabrina sets out to win over her new clan and succeeds admirably with everyone but MacDonnell who holds out until Sabrina runs away in a panic after admitted some of her feelings for her husband. Things begin to look up but then the plot that killed Angus comes to the forefront again and Morgan and Sabrina's happily ever after is seriously threatened by a throw from a horse that leaves her (probably) crippled. Convinced that she can not be a burden to her husband she throws his own fears about his inadequacy in his face and leaves with her father. She heads to London where she turns into a raging bitch and her mom and dad are convinced that Morgan is the only one who can save her from turning into a lonely, bittered old woman. Public spectacles ensue, yelling ensues, and he pushes her until (surprise!) she's no longer crippled!
Both characters spend 380 pages of this book running and hiding from their feelings convinced that to admit their love for the other would mean certian defeat. This was incredibly nerve wracking to read as in most cases we read as the two characters fall in love with each other but instead we are confronted with two characters who love each other and then just shove impossible, sometimes imaginery and annoying, obstacles in their path to true love. It got a little tiring knowing that if either our feisty heroine or our bit strong hero could just have admitted their feelings in the first place the book would never even have started as they would have married as children. This book has more angst than anything I've read outside a Jodi Picoult book. It was amazing at first but after a while I couldn't help but wait for one of them to commit suicide. If life was so awful and you were so worried about your spouse not loving you then... ugh!
The most fun part of this amazingly unfun book was the side romance between Sabrina's self-proclaimed fat cousin Enid and Morgan's incredibly gorgeous cousin Ranald. They're funny, in love, and a great contrast to the angst and drama of Morgan and Sabrina. The sex is steamy but there's very little of it despite the immense sexual attraction they feel as, as always, the two create obstacles to their happiness. I actually started to like this book a little more when I thought their was a chance that we would have a woman wiht a physical disability as our heroine, but of course that couldn't last long as Sabrina was just not walking so she could wallow in her own self-pity. Not to mention: what man would give his daughter away in marriage, even if he believed that they had liked each other as kids, to a man she, and everyone else involved from family members to clansman to the groom himself seemed so dead set against getting married. And of course what ends up happening just leaves everyone feeling guilty and angsty. Enough was enough.
Rating: I got my fill of angst during the marriage preparations and the author did a great job with characters, even if the book did go on too long. I do imagine I'll remember this one for a while.