Friday, July 30, 2010

Review: Taming the Highland Bride by Lynsay Sands

She was ready to let her heart run wild . . .
Merry Steward has had enough! Enough of her brothers whose behavior would make even the most improper lady blush. Enough of their Highland home which would surely have fallen to ruin were it not for her. She dreams of escaping into the arms of her betrothed, Alexander d'Aumesbery--even though they haven't yet met. But when they do, Merry is devastated. It seems he is no better than the men in her family.
So beautiful, so brazen, from the moment he meets Merry, Alexand is determined to make her his. Desperate to convince her he's nothing like the members of her roguish clan, he will prove he is every bit the well-mannered gentleman. Yet, beneath it all beats a heart as intense and uncontrollable as hers. And finally, when his life is threatened, Merry realizes he is the husband she has been waiting for, and their passion becomes the one thing that cannot be tamed.
Lynsay Sands is one of those romance authors that just keeps on writing and keeps on delighting her readers, no matter the genre. Whether it is paranormals or settings in ancient times, this writer never misses a beat in giving her fans more of what they love. This novel is no exception. Set in the times of the Crusades, with a hero who has been away from England and his estates for three years, this novel tells a story of an arranged marriage between one of the Clan Stewart--daughter of the Laird--and a knight who has fought valiently and who just wants to come home. He is not really thinking enthusiastically about claiming his bride, a woman to whom he has been betrothed since he was five years old. Yet when her brothers show up at his keep and he is presented with his "prize," Alexander mans up and takes on a woman knows far and wide as "The Steward Shrew." Few know, however, that her shrewish ways are the result of a father and two brothers who have abdicated their responsibilities and have systematically dismantled her patience as they drink away their days. Imagine her distress when the first glimpse of her bridegroom is after he has consumed an entire pitcher of whiskey as anesthesia for his aching tooth as it is being extracted by -- of all people -- the blacksmith. (I think most of us would have been drunk as well!)
Sands have given her audience a wonderful look inside the workings of ancient English society, especially those who live away from the busy urban areas of the times and who must make their lives secure and prosperous under some very difficult circumstances. As always, the politics of that day have perhaps a far greater immediate effect on England's citizens than would or could be true today. Suffice it to say that Merry wants her marriage to have a half-way chance of being congenial, if not loving. Her heart is engaged, almost without her knowing, when her husband's life is threatened, his health is in question from injuries sustained in mysterious attacks, Merry must not only contend with her own emotions and caring for a husband who fires her blood, but with trying to unravel the mystery of the how, why, and wherefore of the attacks on his person. It is also the tale which embraces the sometimes turbulent relationships within families, those related by blood and those who come to be inserted through marriage by royal edict.
This novel is so very well written and is another example of the work of a writer that takes seriously the writing task and who leaves nothing to chance in the telling. It is vastly entertaining as well as educational--I don't think anyone goes away from a well-written fictional work without having learned something that expands one's knowledge base about the world of living and loving, both now and in the past ages. I give this novel a 4.25 out of 5.

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