Friday, September 20, 2013

An English Bride in Scotland

An English Bride in Scotland by Lynsay Sands

As the second daughter Annabel was hidden away in a nunnery while her sister, Kate, was destined to make a fine marriage. When Kate runs off with the stable master's son Annabel is suddenly the only daughter they have to fulfill their marriage obligations and she is rushed home from the nunnery just in time for a marriage to Ross MacKay. Ross has finally settled the dispute to his title that arose after his father's death and now it is time for him to fulfill his father's marriage contract with his old friend. He immediately knows something is wrong when he arrives for his bride and sure enough rumors abound about Kate and her lover but he is very pleasantly surprised to see Annabel. Annabel remembers how she had always been overshadowed by her beautiful and slender sister, while she had been "Belly." She cannot imagine that someone would genuinely prefer her to her sister and feels bad that Ross is forced to take her as his wife. However, Ross is quite happy with his beautiful new bride, and after seeing how her family treats her he wastes no time in whisking her off to his estate in Scotland.

Ross wants his new wife to be happy with her life and he certainly wastes no time in ensuring that she is happy in the marriage bed and in her public life she begins to take over running of the keep as best as she is able since she was not trained for this task. Even while she knows that Ross is happy with her in the bedchamber, she wants to be the best wife she can be and make him not regret not marrying Kate. The people in the keep quickly grow to love Annabel because she is kind and generous and shows herself willing to learn and Ross is happy to finally have peace within his lands. Unfortunately someone is not as happy with their marriage as they are and has been trying to kidnap and/ or kill both Ross and Annabel. When Kate shows up Annabel tries to rekindle familial feelings and Ross is very happy to have ended up with Annabel. To make their marriage successful Ross and Annabel must discover who is trying to kill them and gain confidence in their own ability to make the other happy.

I, of course, love a heroine who is self conscience about her body and a hero who appreciates a woman with lots of curves. Annabel is kindhearted and quickly ingratiates herself with the members of Clan MacKay but Sands always manages to make sweet heroines who manage to be real and not to good to be true. I love how determined she is to prove herself and to make Ross proud of her despite her misgivings about her attractiveness and her abilities. I also liked how she wanted to be close to her family even though they were cold and unfeeling towards her, but she was able to admit when her relationships with her family had become irrepairable. There were times though when Annabel behaved in a manner that could easily be termed too stupid to live as she ventured out of the keep several times even though there was obviously someone out to get her. This is a common trait in romance novel heroines and one I absolutely detest.

Ross was a great hero; tall and manly and wearing a kilt and obviously a great warrior and a great leader to his clan. He was very protective of his wife which I appreciated and tried to treat her like an adult and equal partner in their relationship even when she did stupid things. I really felt their relationship progressing in this book as the two spent a lot of time together, both as a couple and interacting in a larger environment. They were very physically attracted to each other and there was quite a lot of pretty hot sex in this book, but nothing too scandalous or scorching. Sands is usually a very funny writer and this book is no exception as the characters are often in humorous situations and there are funny little mix ups. Her books always have a little mystery as someone is trying to harm the protagonists and the person is always someone who is there, but not necessarily the prime suspect. This book follows suit as we are lead down a bunch of wrong paths until finally the culprit is found. As usual the writing is fast and fun and the book is a very quick read (I read it in one day).

Rating: A very enjoyable and funny book, but it stuck a little too closely to the typical Sands format and the heroine did frustrate me at times.

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