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Marian Fletcher Blackley, Duchess of Endsmere, has been on the run from the English Crown for weeks since killing her abusive husband…no matter that it was self-defense. She has only one safe place to go—the MacKinlay clan in Scotland, where her sister is the laird’s wife.
War Chief Cameron MacKinlay has vowed never to marry after witnessing his widowed mother’s grief. He has his lands and his clan, and that’s enough for a good life. When one day a sprite of a lass comes running out of the forest with hounds nipping at her heels and an English bounty hunter not far behind, he feels compelled to save her by claiming the disheveled duchess is his wife. But he certainly didn’t intend to marry her for real!
And now he’ll do anything to protect her…
This book starts off quickly and never lets up. Within the first chapter, the murder, fleeing of London, and accidental marriage all take place – not a spoiler, it’s in the book description. I was concerned when all of these major plot points occurred so quickly that there would be a lot of lagging in the rest of the book. There wasn’t. The pacing of the book is spot on.
As is typical of a romance novel (or really most novels), the main characters each try to hold secret their own troubles. In this book, each won’t abide that is the other, resulting in them actually talking to each other and sharing their burdens – like a really couple. This is incredibly refreshing in a romance novel – actually, ANY writing – because for too long we’ve been show that each individual should sacrifice themselves (mentally, emotionally, etc.) to soldier on and be the strong one. This book shows a true partnership and is amazing.
As a caution/trigger warning, (again, not a spoiler) the heroine was a victim of domestic abuse and continues to suffer the emotional and mental impacts of her past throughout much of the book – as would truly happen with any survivor. This is met with grace and support and some bumbling best-of-intentions, but never ignored, ridiculed, or brushed aside. I found the emotional maturity of all characters in the book refreshing and wonderful to read.
The Final Verdict
My rating: 5 stars
Would I recommend? Yes
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