Sunday, March 28, 2010
High in the Pyrenees, a band of mercenaries led by Courtland MacCarrick wages war for General Reynaldo Pascal. When Court turns on the brutal general, Pascal orders him killed. Court narrowly escapes and exacts revenge by kidnapping Pascal's exquisite Castilian fiancee.
Noble heiress Annalìa Tristan Llorente despises her towering, barbaric captor almost as much as she does Pascal. Her inexplicable attraction to the Highlander only fuels her fury. Yet nothing will stop her from returning to Pascal-for if she doesn't wed him, she signs her brother's death warrant, as well as her own.
From the moment Court discovers that Anna's prim facade masks a fiery, brave lass, his heart's ensnared and he dares to defy the curse that has shadowed his life-to walk with death or walk alone. But Pascal vows that he'll hunt the two, never stopping until he's destroyed them both. If they survive, can this hardened soldier of fortune convince the only woman he's ever loved that she's meant to be.
If You Dare is a delightful, on the run, historical romance that involves a stubborn Scottish Highlander, Courtland MacCarrick, who has a family curse hanging over his head and proud noblewoman, Annalìa Tristan Llorente, who is descended from Castilian royalty and has a distinct dislike for plaid wearing, arrogant - and hairy - Scotsmen. In somewhat of a convoluted plotline, Annalìa and Courtland are thrown together unwillingly. Annalìa detests the brawny and uncouth Scot, but she is forced to help him when she finds him near dead on her property. She recognizes he is one of the notorious mercenaries that are terrorizing the Andorran countryside, but her good conscience cannot leave him to die. Soon enough, he gets better and takes over her household while her brother, Aleix is held captive by the evil Pascal, a man determined to become the next ruler of Andorra.
There's no love lost between Courtland and his former employer - Pascal. Having someone try to murder you will do that to do. Since Pascal tried to have Courtland murdered, Annalìa assumes he'll come to her aid to help rescue her brother from Pascal's clutches. Courtland by this point has had enough of Annalìa's insults and haughty attitude in regard to his Scottish background. Her proud disdain is neverending, and it doesn't help that he's fighting the strong attraction he has towards her. To teach her a lesson, he acts the brute towards her and teases her, pretending he will not help her unless she sleeps with him. She finds him unbearable (although, he's starting to grown on her as well) and takes matters in to her own hands and goes to Pascal herself. Pascal has stated he will only release her brother if Annalìa will marry him - a fate worse than death. Annalìa walks right into Pascal's trap and basically hands herself over to him. Tsk tsk, silly girl.
Ultimately, but too late, Courtland rues his unecessary teasing, and he and his crew must dash off to rescue Annalìa and her brother. Meanwhile, Aleix has already escaped with Pascal's alleged daughter, Olivia, who has been waiting for a chance to escape from the clutches of her would-be father. By the time Courtland and his crew get to Pascal's retreat, they only find Annalìa, but no brother. They escape but not from Pascal's Rechazados - legendary and deadly assassins who have Annalìa in their sights. Now on the run to evade the ruthless assassins who are bent on murdering Annalìa, Annalìa and Courtland must make their way through the French countryside en route to the safety of London together where Annalìa hopes to be reunited with her brother, Aleix.
I told you it was convoluted!
En route to England all sorts of things happen to Annalìa and Courtland, but most importantly, they fall in love with one another, though both must overcome their own strong barriers to accept it. Annalìa has no idea what this curse is all about, and Courtland cannot ask her to marry him, for he fears if he will, Annalìa will be struck down dead because of the curse. It's a long, bouncy roller coaster ride of a journey together, but sexy and amusing. I loved the interplay between them, much of it sassy and fun. Annalìa is no shrinking violet, she does what she wants and eventually learns how to "play" Courtland like a violin - I really liked her! She's strong and brave, a gunshot wound doesn't even stop her! He, of course, finds himself helpless to her charms. This strong and brawny Scottish warrior is brought to his knees by this tiny, yet fearless Castilian.
Once in London, Courtland's two older brothers come to his aid and certain revelations take place regarding the curse. Courtland will not ask Annalìa to marry him, he loves her too much to risk her life. By this point, madly in love with him, she is bewildered, sad and irate as hell that he won't marry her! An unlikely alliance develops between Aleix and Courtland and the men return to Andorra to get Pascal out of the picture once and for all. Once Pascal is out of the way, Annalìa will be able to return to Andorra and her brother - albeit, she is not the same woman she had been before Courtland MacCarrick came into her life. Will she and Courtland ever be together again? Will Courtland overcome his family's curse and marry Annalìa in the end? If not, will her brother accept their love - even if Courtland cannot marry her? How will Annalìa and Courtland overcome this obstacle? Fortunately, fate steps in, as well as Courtland's mother - and some common sense.
I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this trilogy about Courtland's brothers and how they each deal with the curse in their own way. This really was a fun book, and as confusing as the plot may seem, it makes sense while reading it. I was rooting for these two lovers and was completely satisfied with the happily ever after ending that had both humor and tenderness. I highly recommend this series, it assuaged my Scottish Highlander craving 100% and gave me a chuckle throughout as well!
P.S. I've had this on my TBR list forever, I'm sorry I waited so long to read it, chalk up another book finished for my TBR Challenge!