Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Key by Lynsay Sands

Book Description:
Iliana Wildwood would do anything to escape from the depraved baron who sought her lands - including marrying a barbarian. Fleeing the highlands, Iliana was wedded to Duncan, laird to Dunbar Castle. Certainly, there was something about the virile warrior that made her weak in the knees - but something stank in the state of Scotland, and Iliana would not trust anyone until she'd discovered the source.

Determined therefore to resist her handsome husband, Iliana found a way to keep her secrets safe. Employing a belt of chastity, the spirited beauty managed to thwart the thane's advances. But then her husband changed his tactics and began a sensual assault that sent her intentions up in smoke. And as the air cleared, Iliana found it had been her heart she had locked away, and that this stubborn Scot had finally found...

An amusing medieval Scottish Highlander romance in which the gist of the story is a lively English heroine is forced to marry a stinky and smelly Scot (albeit, he's good looking!) who refuses to bathe more than twice a year! In retaliation, she refuses to consummate their marriage by wearing a chastity belt with a key until he soaps up! As you can imagine, it had it's amusing moments but I found the hero came across as too dense for my liking most of the time.

Iliana must marry Duncan Dunbar, the son of the laird of the Dunbars in Scotland in order to save her mother who has been forced to marry this evil Englishman. It's complicated, but the King of England has arranged this marriage. The only problem is, Iliana has been accustomed to living a clean and tidy life in England and is not used to the rough and tumble - and very dirty Scotsmen that she's now forced to live amongst. Her soon to be husband is uncouth and unkempt so she takes matters into her own hands and refuses to allow him to bed her until he bathes. Hence, the chastity belt and only she knows where the key is.

Now, I can completely understand where she's coming from, but I think she takes it a bit too far. Duncan is outraged and simply refuses to give in to his new wife, no matter how luscious and pretty she is. He wants her - but not enough to take a bath for her. Now, I thought was this was just plain silly! What's so hard about taking a bath or couldn't he swim in the nearby loch? Instead he goes through all sorts of battles with Iliana and ideas of seduction to avoid a bath! It was funny at first but then got old pretty fast. Eventually she finds a way to have him "fall" into a bath with her and they're finally able to give in to the overwhelming lust that has been building up between them, but as soon as he starts to stink again - back on goes the chastity belt!

Meanwhile, Iliana's mother manages to escape from her horrible English husband and Duncan's father develops a fondness for her. I liked this little sideline between the two of them and their developing romance. Her evil husband comes to attack the Dunbars and there is treachery within the castles walls - someone is a traitor (I guessed it right) and Iliana and the rest of the women must hold off a seige while Duncan and his men are on a wild goose chase looking for Duncan's wayward sister. The action during the seige was exciting and gripping and I felt just as tired as Iliana when it was all over.

Eventually, once there is peace in order again at the castle and Iliana's mother evil husband is dead, Duncan's wise father is the one that finally convinces Duncan that bathing is a good thing. Duncan comes around and they all have a rollicking good time in their baths by the end of the book!

There's a lot more too it, I'm leaving a lot out. It wasn't bad, and a pleasantly diverting read on a snowy day while sick in bed, which is where I've been for the past three days.


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