Sleepless in Scotland by Karen Hawkins
Catriona Hurst has always been the responsible one in her family so when she hears that her twin sister Caitlyn is trying to trap Lord Alexander MacLean into marriage she immediately rushes down to London to try to stop her. Learning that Caitlyn plans to stow away in Alexander's carriage and hide until she is ruined, forcing him to offer for her, Catriona follows the carriage and at the first opportunity tries to find her sister. Unfortunately her sister is nowhere to be found and Catriona finds herself escorted off in the MacLean carriage with the wrong MacLean. Hugh MacLean had also been made aware of Caitlyn's plans and had decided the best way to deal with it would be to scare her, but because of the poor lighting in the carriage he can't tell that the woman he has kidnapped isn't Caitlyn. When the Hurst family finally catches up with the carriage there is nothing left for Hugh to do but offer for Catriona and while neither of them like being forced into marriage both agree that they would rather have a quick, private ceremony than a big production. After the quicky marriage the two head up to Hugh's estate in Scotland where the first thing they do is realize that they are incredibly compatible in the bedroom. Despite this Hugh is determined to maintain some distance between them and they "agree" that Catriona will only stay in Scotland for a couple of months until the scandal dies down.
And then Hugh abruptly introduces Catriona to his three daughters, Christina, Devon, and Aggie. Part of Hugh's desire to keep Catriona at arms length is because he his daughters were gravely hurt by their mother's treatment and subsequent abandonment and he does not want them to get attached and then hurt when she leaves. Catriona quickly realizes that the only thing Hugh actually does want her to be involved in in his life is bedplay and this is far from the way she wants it. The girls fear that Catriona will steal their father's affection from them and, led by Devon, the slowly sabotage her attempts to get closer to Hugh, although Catriona gets her own back by playing nasty tricks on them as well. When Hugh learns what the girls have been doing it prompts Catriona to ask to be a larger part of their lives and his life and a huge argument ensues where he unleashes the power of the MacLean curse via a frightening windstorm. When Catriona's grandmother, Mam the white witch, comes to visit she lets Catriona know that sometimes to make a marriage work there needs to be arguments and Catriona realizes that all the compromising in the relationship has been one way. She knows that she need to get Hugh to accept her as an important and necessary part of his life and the lives of his daughters.
The book, as promised, was fast and fun, as all the books in the series have been; they're easiliy digestible and easy to read in one sitting. Fortunately the characters weren't forced to resort to witty banter to make the book so lively as Hawkins let the reader know that these two were compatible by showing us more "true" talk. Hugh and Catriona talk a lot, and have a lot of internal dialogue going on, and Hawkin's does a great job with all of it. My favorite scene was the argument scene because Hawkin's did such a great job writing about what both Hugh and Catriona were feeling throughout the fight. She got into both their heads and was able to make the reader really feel the fear, anger, love, and hurt that both were too scared to admit to and that was driving them apart. Throughout the whole book Hawkins did an excellent job of telling the story from the two different points of view of Hugh and Catriona and both were very well developed characters whom a reader could easily identify/ sympathize with. There were also some brief periods where the story was told from the point of view of one of Hugh's daughters and these were very well done as well as it was important for the reader to know why the girls were being so horrid to Catriona and why they feared her entrance into their lives.
There was minimal angst in this book, and the whole mean stepdaughters thing could have created some excellent angst, but Catriona was really a happy, intelligent woman who was able to hold her own and so there really was no call for any angst. Unfortunately there was very little actual bedroom description, only one slightly steamy scene and one that wasn't even finished. While we are told numerous times that Hugh and Catriona are enormously hot for each other and do it 2-3 times a night or morning only a (very) little bit of description is thrown in as a character is remembering what had happened in the past. All in all I felt like not much actually happened in the book, there were no villain or side-plot- all there was was two people having to overcome one's fear of intimacy. I thought for sure the girls mother would come and try to take them away, and indeed reference was made to this possibly happening, but this was a no go. Our "climax" scene involved one of the girls running away and Catriona (rather foolishly as she had only been riding for 2 weeks) galloping after her in a storm. A heroine that has been level headed and intelligent the whole book doing something like this seemed out of character and I almost had to categorize her as TSTL- too stupid to live (almost).
Rating: The book was better than both of the other MacLean books I have read (To Scotland, with Love and How to Abduct a Highland Lord) it suffered from some of the same setbacks as the other two even while it excelled in other areas. It was between a 3 and a 4 and once again I will let the lack of steam drag it down to 3.