It was less than a year ago that I first read one of Roseanna M. White's books, but she has quickly found a place among my favorite historical authors. The Lost Heiress
and A Name Unknown
have both been captivating and charming stories, but this one really took it up a notch, and from the very first pages I did not want to put it down.
Lady Rowena Kinnaird rarely left her Scottish home while growing up, and more and more the Highland castle has come to feel like a prison, with her father's overbearing ways and a cruel relation looking to make Rowena his wife. The story opens two weeks after Rowena has been assaulted, and she fears she may be with child. Unknown to her, in order to secure Rowena's safety and to give legitimacy to any child she might be carrying, her father and her maid hatch a scheme to get her married off within days to the nearest man they can catch.
The duke of Nottingham is visiting his mother's ancestral home when he receives a rare invitation to dinner with the Kinnairds. Brice has hardly met anyone from the surly Scotsman's family, but he accepts, willing to be neighborly. When he meets Rowena, he begins feeling a tug from the Holy Spirit that she's someone he is supposed to help in some way. Within hours it's clear that Brice has been set on a path to force him into a quick marriage, and while on principle he's prepared to fight the claims of Rowena's father, he is unable to turn aside from a woman who is clearly scared and in danger, even though he does not know the extent of the situation.
Feeling wounded and betrayed on every side, Rowena wants to be honest with Brice even though it would likely blow up the plans her father has set. If she is carrying a child, it would be a despicable secret to pretend it's Brice's. And how could she pretend if she has too much past trauma to let him even touch her? Maybe there won't be a baby and she won't have to face this additional crisis.
Besides the weight of a new wife, skittish and not exactly excited to become his duchess, Brice is also the bearer of the Fire Eyes, a pair of red diamonds that were a focal point in The Lost Heiress, and he knows his life is in danger. He's determined to out the treacherous siblings who are desirous to steal them from him, but having Rowena depending on him certainly complicates matters. He may have brought her out of one danger only to introduce her to a greater one.
Through intrigue, tragedy, misunderstanding, and multiple villains, Rowena and Brice seek to find their way through to what seems like the impossible: a loving marriage. This book is full of wonderful characters, well-depicted emotions and personal growth, and a plot that will keep you racing from one chapter to the next. I'm so glad I have the third book in this series already in hand! Be watching this space for its review soon.
(Please note: Due to content, I would not recommend this for anyone who is triggered by personal assault and the long road of healing it requires.)