Richard Seyton, Laird of Kirkhill, is called to visit his dying uncle, Old Jardine, because Jardine wants to talk to him about possibly inherited his estate. Jardine's son, Will, has been missing for several weeks and he wants to settle some things before he passes on. Kirkhill is not at all fond of his uncle and he does not know what happened to Will but he soon hears the rumors that Will's wife, Fiona, killed him. After meeting Fiona he knows that this would be impossible even if it is likely that Will certainly deserved death after everything he had done to Fiona. Fiona is furious when she discovers that Old Jardine is placing Kirkhill in charge of the entire estate, including herself, and her soon to be born son. She wastes no time acting on her feelings and behaves like a spoiled child, which irritates Kirkhill and causes him to make comparisons to his young and spoiled sister.
At the same time that he thinks she is too immature he is certainly attracted to her, but he has so much on his plate and with rumors about her involvement in her husbands disappearance circling, he is determined to stay away from her. Things are made more complicated when the English Earl of Northumberland threatens to invade Scotland and Kirkhill must prepare his own men and the men of Jardine's estate for battle. And his sister, Nan, is being a brat and refusing to marry the man of Kirkhill's choosing, whom she is in love with and who loves her for reasons I can't really figure out. There are also bridges to mend with Fiona's family who she has not seen since she eloped and of course they must figure out what happened to Will and prove Fiona's innocence. So with all this going on around them Kirkhill and Fiona still find time to fall in love and together work out all the crazy problems in their life.
My first thought in this book was how young Fiona was and how the book did almost nothing to make me think that her age was just a number and she was really mature. She behaved like the spoiled child he accused of her being and it was made even worse by his reaction to her as he threatened to throw her over his knee (like he would a child) and the constant comparisons to his sister's own unruly behavior. It really made him seem condescending to her and a relationship between them rather pedophilic really, although she was 17. So I guess that's one of the reasons I didn't really mind that there was no sex until the very end and even then it was not very good and was preceded by a few rather tame kisses. With so much going on around them these two had no time with just the two of them really and I did not really see how they managed to fall in love- it really just came out of left field.
But far and away the reason I did not really like this book was because the actual romance between the two of them seemed to be the fifth most important element in the story. First was the incoming battle of which there just seemed to be far too much planning and really made the story confusing as it mentioned lots of places and people who were unimportant and just blew through my mind. Second was what happened to Will which was certainly interesting and was an important and necessary element in the story. Third was his dealings with his family and how to deal with his sister and her insane antics, but more importantly him finally getting to know his mother to some degree. Fourth was her own dealings with her family which could have been interesting but seemed to turn into a big family reunion where we got to see how happy everyone from previous books is. And then... they fall in love.
Rating: This book was readable and the writing was well done, but I really just hated the romance aspect of it- or lack thereof.