A FIERY ANGEL, A COLDHEARTED DEVIL AND A MARRIAGE HOTTER THAN HELL!
Linnet MacDonnell was the youngest of seven sisters and not the family beauty. With her flame-bright red hair, sharp tongue and strange gift of second sight no man wanted her. But the devil would take her. Bartered as a bride to her father's long-sworn enemy, the nobly born Highlander Duncan MacKenzie of Kintail, she had no choice but to enter a marriage with a man rumored to have murdered his first wife and said to possess neither heart nor soul.
Forbidding and proud, Duncan MacKenzie wanted only one thing from his new bride -- to use her special gift to determine if young Robbie was truly his son. He never expected the MacDonnell lass to stubbornly follow her heart, chase away the darkness in his castle with light and laughter and ignite a raging fire in his blood. How dare she defy him and tempt a devil like him to feel what he feared most of all -- love!
I'd heard about this book for some time, but had never read anything by this author. Based on the praise for it by some of my friends, I decided to move it up on my TBR list and give it a chance. Needless to say, I'm always on the lookout for a good highlander romance, despite the horrendous cover. I can't say this is as good as some others I've read, but it wasn't bad and it held my attention, although I had some major issues with the hero, Duncan MacKenzie.
Duncan is one of those tortured hero types that cannot get over his beautiful dead wife, Cassandra. He loved her dearly at first, but then he learned of her deceit. As it turns out, she cheated on him with any man in sight, and she sounds like she was a literal she-devil. Because of it, Duncan is mistakenly convinced he can never love again - he never wants to love again.
Linnett is Duncan's next unwilling victim. She has the "sight", and he has bargained with her loathescome father to marry her so she can tell him who his son's true parentage is. Yet, she refuses to tell him, feigning ignorance. She is wise to wait to tell him, waiting for Duncan to prove to himself that he loves his son, no matter who his real father is. Duncan has no interest in a pretty wife, he doesn't intend to bed Linnett ever, he just wants her for her knowlege. But, then when he sees her, he realizes it might not be so easy to stick to his plan. Poor Linnett is attracted to him immediately, he's strikingly handsome, strong, a leader of his clan, but he never smiles, in fact he has a perpetual scowl on his face. He's attracted to and her luxurious, long silky red hair. But, he initially resists her charms and natural good will.
Duncan's not good with romance or kind words, but he eventually gives in to his lust for Linnett, yet he always puts his foot in his mouth by telling her he has no intention of loving her, only pleasuring her for their own mutual satisfaction. (!) At this point, I really had no sympathy for him, he just sounded so stubborn and unwilling to give an inch. It was frustraing to read over and over again about each unthinking, stupid thing he'd say to Linnett. She deserved better than Duncan. I liked her, she was sweet and had some backbone, yet she was stuck in this unfortunate situation of being married to this stubborn fool! Yet, she managed to make the best of it, and try to be a good wife and stepmother to Robbie. Fortunately, Duncan's best friend and brother-in-law, Marmaduke, suffering from a disfiguring scar on his face and loss of an eye, had some chivalric manners and he helped coach Duncan once in a while on the ways of wooing a young wife. Linnett winds up seeing a portrait of Duncan's dead wife,
Another side of the story, apart from the annoying and rocky courtship between Linnett and Duncan, was the war between Duncan and his half-brother Kevin. Kevin is truly evil and he is the one that Duncan is afraid is the true sire of his son, Robbie. Kevin looks just like Duncan, but he is a murderer and rapist - and he has designs on Linnett. Will Kevin succeed in capturing Linnett and Robbie, and eventually destroy Duncan in doing so? I found this part of the story disturbing and compelling, Kevin is one of those villains that really creeps you out, I was afraid whenever he was around. The battle scenes were well written, especially the one on top of the battlements of Duncan's castle. I could just imagine the arrows flying and the danger going on all around.
All in all, this romance wasn't bad, the steamier scenes were few and far between since it really took Duncan and Linnett forever to finally give in to their passions, and of course, he'd say something stupid right after to ruin it (I hate it when that happens!) But, all ends happily and Duncan finally comes around and admits he has a heart; it was gratifying to read what he says and how he feels in the very last paragraph. He's as stubborn as an ox, but by the end, I was convinced that the love of a good woman and son had cured him of his bad memories and ability to love again.