Highlander Campbell Sinclair is no stranger to battle, so when he sees a lad attacked by bandits, he jumps into the fray. He didn’t count on being stabbed. Grateful to the boy for nursing him back to health, Cam offers to accompany Jo safely to his destination. But when he accidentally comes across the lad bathing in the river, Cam discovers that Jo is actually Joan . . . with the most sinful of curves.
Joan promised her mother that she would deliver a scroll to the clan MacKay. But traveling alone is dangerous, even disguised as a boy. When a Scottish warrior lends his aid, she is more than relieved . . . until he surprises her with lingering kisses and caresses that prove her disguise hasn’t fooled him. As their passion ignites, will the secrets of the scroll force a wedding . . . and lead to a love she’s never known?
Rating: Narration C+; Content D
To Marry a Scottish Laird is a simple compromised-into-marriage story, which is normally one of my favourite tropes in the genre of historical romance. The problem is that while in some cases simplicity of story leaves ample room for character development and relationship progression, neither of those things are apparent in this book. The storytelling is unsophisticated to the point of dullness, there is no chemistry between the two protagonists and the author resorts too often to cliché in both characterisation and plot, so that I came away from this audiobook feeling as though that was ten hours of my life I’d rather like to have back.
Campbell Sinclair is travelling home from a sojourn in the North of England when he happens upon a lad being beaten up by three brigands. Cam is able to rescue the boy and kill or wound his attackers, but not without cost to himself. He is stabbed in the back, and would have died were it not for the care given him by the boy, who – fortunately – turns out to be a healer. Introducing himself as Jonas, the boy explains that he is on his way to deliver a letter to Laird McKay (?), and as soon as he is well enough, Cam offers to let the boy travel with him, as the MacKay lands lie not far from his own home.
A couple of days later, Cam inadvertently discovers that Jonas is, in fact, Joan, which puts a whole different complexion on things, namely that Cam has trouble trying not to think about what she looks like without her clothes on. The journey, which would normally take a few days, is slowed down because of Cam’s injury, and this allows the pair to get to know each other, exchanging stories and confidences along the road.
One stormy night, after he’s well on the way to recovery, Cam finds it impossible to resist Joan’s charms any longer. She’s still under the impression he thinks she’s a boy, so her first reaction to finding herself being soundly kissed and enthusiastically fondled is one of horror. But when Cam quickly makes it clear he realised the truth about her some time ago, she gives him the green light. At this point, I was tempted to rewind to see if I’d missed anything, because this first sexual encounter comes almost completely out of the blue, with no real build-up. One minute Cam’s trying to shelter Joan from the rain and the next he’s ripping her clothes off! And she goes from “what’s he doing?” to “oh, okay, time to lose my virginity” in about ten seconds flat. It also makes no sense given that both characters have spoken about their desire not to marry or have children – yet they have sex with no thought for consequences until after the horse has well and truly bolted several times over.
You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals