*This book was provided to the reviewer by the author in exchange for an honest review at SeductiveMusings.blogspot.com
This is my first book by Mary Wine and at the time I began reading it, I did not realize it was the latest in an ongoing series. The event which drives the story - Daphne McLeod willingly giving up her virginity to Norris Sutherland in order to break an unwanted betrothal to another man - actually takes place in the preceding book. This book begins with each of them recalling that night and wondering what it meant to their futures. But it wasn’t clear to me until well into the book how much time had passed since then or whether Daphne’s belief that it had meant nothing to Norris was well-founded.
Daphne is the only legitimate heir of a clan that had once ruled much and had great wealth but is now just barely hanging on. She has made great sacrifices for her clan, not the least of which was deliberately breaking the betrothal which would have destroyed them if it had come to pass. She has continued to wonder if that night meant as much to her as to the man to whom she’d given her greatest gift in order to make it happen. But Norris is her only hope if she is to be saved from the head of another clan who intends to wed, bed and murder her, all for a supposed hidden fortune that may or may not even exist.
Norris is the legitimate heir to the Earl of Sutherland and overlord to all in this part of Scotland, including Daphne and all others who are trying to possess her and destroy her clan. He’s not sure what to make of this woman who only asked for one thing and then walked away, but he knows he’s not done having her with him quite yet. As a titled man responsible for continuing his family line, he can’t pick a penniless ruined woman to be his love... or can he?
Although both Daphne and Norris are compelling and likeable characters, this book was very difficult for me to finish. The pervasive use of dialect made some conversations hard to follow and I found myself rereading some portions multiple times to make sure I knew what it is they were saying. The lengthy descriptions of the intricacies of clan loyalties and Daphne’s struggles to keep her clan fed detracted from what I really cared about - the romance between Daphne and Norris. Her character was almost TSTL (Too Stubborn To Live) but became less infuriating once she finally learned to trust Norris. I did enjoy the portion of the plot when Daphne’s life was endangered by her growing importance to Norris, and its resolution was satisfying. There were also parts which were clearly there to set up the next book in the series, but it’s unlikely I’ll be reading it after my experience with this one.
Sensuality level: 3 (steamy M/F)
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