Kade Stewart is surprised to wake up in his friend Will Montagne's household after two weeks of unconsciousness. He, Will, and several other men had been imprisoned after being captured during the Crusades and after a daring escape their boat had nearly been sunk off the coast. His vision is blurry but he has no trouble discerning that Lady Averill, Will's sister, is something quite special. Unfortunately her self-esteem has been nearly crushed by a series of cruel suitors who disparaged her red hair, the small strawberry birthmark on her cheek, and the stutter she gets when she is nervous. To prevent her nervousness he pretends he cannot see her and while he knows he wants her he is not sure that her sweetness can survive the harshness of Scotland. When she ends up punching a suitor in the face when he makes mean comments about the size of breasts, he knows that they can be perfect for each other and wastes no time proposing that they marry. But Averill is not convinced as she believes that Kade is still unable to see all her faults and she has to reassure herself that he actually does want her by listing all her faults to him.
That is still not enough to put him off, so the two marry, and enjoy quite the remarkable wedding night. But Averill picked up some tricks from the maids of the castle and these so called tips turn out to be some quite awful advice. The two of them head off to Scotland to see how Kade's family is doing and on the way a stray arrow nearly kills him. He brushes it off as an accident but Averill is not so sure. Castle Stewart is a mess as Kade's father and two brothers have chased away all the servants, left a big giant mess, and live in a constant drunken stupor. Kade wants to take over as laird from his father and he wants him sober to do it and Averill decides that the perfect way to get the Stewart men off alcohol is to poison their whiskey so they get horribly sick every time they drink. When next Averill and Kade are out in the open, the arrows do not miss him and everyone is forced to admit that someone is after Kade, although no one has a guess as to who. Together Averill and Kade must work to figure out what is going on and realize that they are desperately in love with each other.
Averill was interesting and well written. She was calm and collected, knew what to do to get her way, and was very knowledgeable about medicines, but not in annoying "she's too perfect" way. Also she is quite resourceful- as evidenced by her poisoning her in-laws. There was some mention about how her mom had taught her to control her temper and I was a little worried that the book would be about how she learned to be feisty, but this was not the case. Aside from her fighting back against the mean suitor, which just proved that she was feisty enough to survive Scotland (?), her hiding her temper was not that big a deal. Kade was not quite as interesting and I wish more of the story had been told from his point of view, but he was worthy enough of Averill because of how well he treated her, how he understood her, and because he was not a pigheaded hero who wandered off even when there was someone out there trying to kill him. LOVED that! The murder plot was a little far-fetched, especially the villain, but it was interesting enough and added some good scenes to the novel.
There were some amazingly hysterical moments in this book, especially centering around Averill's attempts to please her husband in bed. The advice she solicits from the two maids, is in itself hilarious, but when she attempts to apply that advice, on two separate occasions the results are hilarious. And it was also beautiful because she so badly wants to please her new husband and is upset when she doesn't think she is able to accomplish that, but Kade knows he wants to keep his wife happy so he soothes her feelings. It was funny and showed how well their relationship was growing. I like that Sands has trues series' with recurring characters and characters who are all related and she does it without hurling at everyone out of the blue. It's short, sweet, and enough to let the reader reminisce about how great her last novels and couplings were without being irritating or just too much. I realized that I love how Sands writes the interactions between her characters- they are literally just perfect.
Rating: Really great book with some great characters and some quite funny moments. I would definitely recommend this fast paced novel.