The Laird Takes a Bride
Summary: Alasdair Penhallow, laird of his clan and master of Castle Tadgh, is forced to end his carefree bachelorhood, thanks to an ancient decree that requires him to marry. But Alasdair’s search for a biddable wife comes to a screeching halt when Fate serves up Fiona Douglass. Prickly as a thistle, Fiona challenges him at every turn, rendering herself surprisingly irresistible. Her love would be a prize indeed . . . if Alasdair could accept it.
Fiona gave her heart once, and doesn’t plan to repeat that folly. Yet she finds herself drawn to Alasdair’s intelligence and strength, and the passion he incites goes well beyond her expectations for what’s only a marriage of expedience. Despite herself, she’s falling in love with her husband.
But there’s a high wall between them—and Fiona’s not sure it can ever be torn down.
I really appreciated a heroine who is very thin. I feel like there are more and more plus-sized heroines, which as a plus-sized gal myself I really love and appreciate. I don’t see many books featuring a heroine at the opposite end of the spectrum, so I loved that Fiona is almost painfully thin despite having a very healthy appetite. As someone who struggled with depression, I also really connected with Fiona and her own struggles with what I interpreted as depression and possibly OCD. What a fantastically multi-layered and non-traditional heroine!!
The house party/competition aspect of the plot was great, and reminded me a bit of Lenora Bell’s How the Duke Was Won. Again I found myself loving Fiona, with her vast practical knowledge and rather dry wit. The other “competitors” were more caricatures than real characters, but that sure made for fun reading! I love that Fiona and Alisdair don’t have the insta-love or even insta-lust that you see in so many romance novels, but instead have a slow warming toward each other, with several set-backs due to understandings and insecurities. The last quarter or third of this book had tears just streaming down my cheeks and my heart aching in my chest, which I love in a romance novel (as long as there’s a HEA at the end!). I love the vulnerabilities of both main characters, their journies and their growth. And then there is this:
“But fear, I know, isn’t always a rational thing.” He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it. “If you wish, I’ll teach you. If you trip, I’ll catch you. And if you prefer not to, I won’t persist.”
Well swoon, Alisdair.
This is the second book in The Penhallow Dynasty series, but it can be read as a stand alone. The first book is about a distant cousin of Alisdair’s and has only a very brief passing mention in this book. There are no spoilers for the first book, You May Kiss the Bride, in this book, so you’re also totally safe to go back and read book 1 spoiler-free.