I've been sick recently and while I was at home I just had to read. Even sick, I just have to read. I'm a nutter. But, I decided to indulge in yet another a highlander romance. Hope everyone enjoys the review as much as I enjoyed the read!
Summary from Goodreads
Mass Market Paperback, 305 pages
Published October 25th 2011
by Ballantine Books
As the sacrificial lamb in her father’s power game, Rionna will do her duty but vows to protect her heart and her pride from humiliation. Despite everything, though, the heat in Caelen’s touch melts her defenses, and she craves the sensual delights of a husband who guards his emotions as fiercely as his clan. But when the ultimate battle for the McCabe legacy is upon them, Rionna’s true warrior spirit emerges. She will risk the wrath of her father, the fury of her enemies, and her life to prove to Caelen that his wife’s love is too precious to lose.
So, I've been intensely curious about Caelen since Alaric's book. Of course, this drattedly hot cover did not help. Not that I needed much convincing to read Caelen's story. I was sure that under his gruff manner was a really kind heart in need of healing. And Caelen's story did not disappoint me.
I think of all the brothers, Caelen was the most "alpha". Ewan was laird and just expected everyone to do his bidding, Alaric was the middle son bent on doing his duty and Caelen was gruff, but often revealed a tender nature. The mysterious youngest brother. I wasn't entirely sure how his romance with Rionna, a woman who dressed like a man and loved sparring, would play out. It turns out that gruff Caelen was secretly turned on by Rionna's body clad in men's clothes. Who would have thought?! Anyway, Caelen is like Ewan in that he expects everyone to obey him once he's laird of Rionna's clan, the McDonalds. And he's not very understanding of Rionna's ways, which he thinks are quite wild and out of control. However, since he has married her, he considers it his responsibility and duty to guard and protect Rionna. And despite himself he can't help but want more from her than just a dutiful wife, he also wants to see her happy.
Rionna seriously feels out of place as lady of the keep. She's spent her life sparring with the men of her clan. But Rionna also wants to please Caelen because feels safe for the first time in life because of him. She is, however, angered that he is trying to make her into someone she's not. She learned to fight to protect herself and other women of the clan from her father's perverted attentions, and she's furious at Caelen for stripping away her means of defence. Caelen is surprisingly accommodating when she reveals this to him, especially when she lets him know how helpless she feels after her vicious beating at the hands of Duncan Cameron's men. See, this is where I start to really, really admire Caelen. He is an ass at times, cold, gruff, completely inadequate when it comes to expressing himself, but he's definitely not unreasonable or mean. He listens to Rionna, and acknowledges that she should have a way to defend herself and patiently sets aside time to spar with her to keep her skills sharp and improve on them. He doesn't even really argue with her about it because it's pained him to see her so beside herself after the attack. He actually thought the trauma of the attack might have affected her mind, that's how worried he was. And as the novel progresses, we see more of the tender side of Caelen emerge.
What I found most devastating in this novel was that Rionna was strong enough to let Caelen think she'd betrayed him to Cameron, just as his lover had so many years ago, to save him. It really hurt her to have to do that to him, but somehow she found the strength and thanks to her sheer act of will, she saves Caelen, who she has learned to love very deeply even though she thinks part of his heart has been hardened. She's every bit as determined that no harm to him as he is that nothing should ever happen to her. My favourite part was when Caelen let her know that all of his heart was hers because she'd taken it from him before he could ever give to her. Of all of these McCabe warriors, I found Caelen's story the most romantic. Probably because Caelen resisted admitting to himself for so long how much he really loved Rionna.
Steam factor? Hot! And amazingly tender too, especially after they find out they are expecting. I love the tender bedroom scenes.
5 glittering stars