The Highlander's Bride by Michele Sinclair 415
Laurel Cordell is running away from the crazy Douglas clan after they had kidnapped her while she was on the way to go live with her grandfather in Scotland. Although Laurel is English, her heart has always been in Scotland and after both her parents have died, she wastes no time leaving her cold hearted brother and returning there. She runs straight into a group of warriors from the McTiernay clan, including Conor, who is their big fierce giant of a leader. Immediately upon seeing Laurel all the men in the group are entranced by her angel-like appearance and want to claim her for their own. Unfortunately, everyone believes that Conor has already claimed her, even though he wastes no time in making sure everyone, including Laurel, knows that he will never marry. He had at one point wanted love in his life, but after being chased for his title by conniving women, he has sworn off matrimony forever. However, he is still drawn to this English beauty and vows that he will protect her. Laurel is also very attracted to this man, but believes that getting involved with someone will bring the Douglass Clan's wrath down on her loved ones.
When he leaves her alone in the castle to go on a journey she decides to get her revenge by taking over his castle and cleaning it up. Somehow while doing this she comes to deeply respect the man in charge and the devotion he garners from his underlings. When he returns he is furious that she disobeyed his wishes and wants to sternly scold her, but somehow all of their arguments end with the two of them kissing and desperately wanting each other. Conor realizes that he needs Laurel in his life and that without her he will turn into a bitter, lonely man, but Laurel is still wary of marrying a man who seeks to control everything she does. Together these two very strong willed character must learn to compromise for the sake of their relationship and for the good of the clan. Just when things look to be going well, problems come from an unexpected source, as Laurel's grandfather comes charging in to rescue her from the man he believes kidnapped his granddaughter. However, when the evil Douglass clan finally does decide to have their revenge on Laurel, it will take all of them to defeat them.
Note: My summary actually makes the book sound interesting- do not be fooled! Laurel is definitely not a very nuanced character: she is either super feisty and take charge as she is ordering people around and getting her hands dirty helping fix up the castle, or she is losing her temper at everything that Conor says. Basically she loses her temper quite a lot in this book and Conor is not any different. He is constantly angry that: someone may be looking at her, someone may think that he is going to marry her, she is doing something he has not specifically told her to do, she is looking at another man or talking about another man. his jealousy and worry over her know absolutely no bounds and it gets tired incredibly quickly. They spend almost every second together arguing over her doing something he deems unsafe and then they both end up blowing up at each other. And to make it worse both of them, and everyone else, regards this as a sign of how strong their relationship is. Wha? I feel like this is a sign of an immature writer to be unable to show passion between her characters unless they are arguing.
His views on marriage are a staple of romance novels heroes who spurn marriage and yet, because we don't actually see any scenes where he has dealings with these women who are supposedly throwing themselves at him for his title, they seem even more ridiculous than usual. And did Scottish "lairds" really have a recognized title? This brings me to another point: this book takes place in 1307 but there is absolutely no evidence of this at all in the book. He lives in a keep, but really this book could have taken place anytime between 1200 and 1850 as far as I could tell. One scene in particular made me want to just choke everyone involved and although it is a spoiler I will not cover it b/c I do NOT want you to read this book. Laurel is 9 months pregnant, but Conor, for some odd reason, has to pretend that he does not love her when the Douglass' come for her, so he locks her in a tower and doesn't see her for like two weeks. Supposedly he had to wait for reinforcements, but then they only ended up using 12 men in the battle. So... he treated his pregnant wife like crap for nothing. And she understood why he had to do it.
Rating: I hated this book. I hated the writing, I hated the characters (especially their interactions with each other), and I thought it was overall a horrible book.