Saturday, January 21, 2012
It's hardly the type of wedding Fiona MacLean dreamed of. No family, no guests, just a groom who's been dragged - literally - to the altar. But if marriage to Black Jack Kincaid, the handsome wastrel she'd sworn never to see again, will avert a bloody war between their clans, so be it. Surely she can share his bed without losing her heart...
Known throughout Scotland and London as a wild rogue, Jack is accustomed to waking in dire situations, but...married? Long ago, he and Fiona reveled in a youthful passion. Now, the fiery, sensual lass is his once more. And though their marriage is in name only, Jack is determined to win her forever - body and soul....
First in the MacLean Curse series, I had mixed feelings about this book, I was bothered by the improbable forced marriage scenario and the fact the hero is such a cad at first and then does such an about face about his feelings for the heroine. First, he's outraged that she has tricked him into marrying her (which I had trouble with on her part) and then he decides he might as well make the best of it, bedding her and then leaving in the middle of the night to gamble and carouse about London leaving his wife back in bed at home. Then, after much ado he falls madly in love with her once he realizes he could lose her. He had a lot of shortcomings to get over and she, who is supposed to be an independent and spirited-minded kind of lass, was incredibly naive about her newly married situation and what is simply not done in London Society.
The story begins in Scotland. Fiona MacLean's dear brother Colum has been killed by a member of the Kincaid clan. Their two families have been feuding forever. She is certain her other brothers will retaliate and more bloodshed and killings will take place. In order to thwart this inevitable event, she conveniently has her men fetch the rakish and dead drunk Black Jack Kincaid (and former love of her life) who is passed out in a heap in the road - in a great rainstorm - which she has brought on (the MacLean's have a supernatural ability to create rainstorms at will when they are emotionally upset.) The rakish Kincaid has just come from the arms of his married mistress (who crops up later in the book). Fiona's strong men bring Jack to the church where Fiona has a vicar ready and waiting and marries them while he's very nearly unconscious. He's barely cognizant of where he is and what's going on until he wakes up in a comfortable clean bed to find he's married to Fiona MacLean, the girl who jilted him umpteen years before when he wanted to run away with her. The girl he never quite got over (though he won't admit it, least of all to himself.) She had second thoughts at the time and changed her mind, due to the ongoing feud between their two clans, even though she gave her virginity to him. She's remained a spinster ever since and he became a rogue and a wastrel, vowing to never lose his heart again.
Now fifteen years later they are married - in name only - and Jack is furious. But, he looks on the bright side, takes her to London with the intention of having the marriage annulled. (Why a Scottish lord lives in London I don't know, but it serves it's purpose.) Fiona is only happy to go along with him, for as soon as her big brothers learn about what she's done, they're going to come after her. She wants the marriage to "stick" which means they have to consummate it. Plus, she wants to have a baby. She makes an agreement with Jack that as soon as he gets her pregnant, she'll return to Scotland, have their baby and raise it alone. He'll be off the hook and won't have to have anything more to do with her. He's all for this arrangement to jump into bed with her and he takes this part of the agreement seriously, only he makes love to her - thoroughly. If there's one thing that hasn't changed - the sex is still great! But then he does the unthinkable - he leaves her and goes out for a night on the town - alone!
This won't do, which is the crux of the story. Can Jack wise up and realize what a good thing he has with Fiona and that he's going to have to settle down and stop acting like a rake when he now has a beautiful wife whom he's loved for years anyway? When is he going to forgive her for leaving him at the altar fifteen years earlier? He may not realize it, but the hurt he felt that night when he found out she had changed her mind, never left him. Hence his reason for drinking and carousing and all sorts of other things - because he never got over her. Now that he's got her, he's got to let it go and look to the future. Forgive and forget.
Of course, it takes him forever to get to that point. In the meantime, they both fall in love with one another all over again, yet neither will admit it to the other and all sorts of things happen while in London, where the majority of the book takes place. He insists on continuing his rakish ways of gambling and staying out all night (I really couldn't stand him during this phase of the book) and she, in retaliation, decides to go out on the town - alone as well. Her opinion is, "If he can do it, so can I!" There's another male Scottish acquaintance who is only to happy to escort her about to Jack's usual haunts, places not fit for a lady of Fiona's background and naivete. He has a score to settle with Jack, plus he's eager to seduce Fiona at the same time. A dastardly villain, basically. There's lots of jealousy that crops up, miscommunication and the usual "I've-loved-you-all-along-why-didn't-you-tell-me?" dialogue that goes on. It's not until Jack realizes he can lose Fiona to another man that he decides to settle down and be a good husband. Jealousy always works when it comes to reformed rakes. Plus, when he's afraid she's carrying his baby he doesn't want her to leave him and go back to Scotland to carry out their bargain. Predictably, he changes gears, but Fiona's not buying it at first.
This book was a series of frustrating missteps on the part of the hero and heroine with some sensual scenes between them from time to time. Overall I wasn't overly fond of either of them. Too many mind games go on with no real emotional pull to the story to keep me interested. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. Still, I will read on in the series for I like Hawkins and there's more ahead for Fiona's big and brawny Scottish brothers - and their weatherly supernatural powers.