Tuesday, October 1, 2013

An English Bride in Scotland - Lynsay Sands (Avon - June 2013)

Series: Highlands (Book 1)

She never expected to marry
Annabel was about to take the veil to become a nun, when her mother suddenly arrived at the abbey to take her home... so that she can marry the Scottish laird who is betrothed to her runaway sister! She knows nothing about being a wife, nothing about how to run a household, and definitely nothing about the marriage bed.

He never expected to fall in love
From the moment Ross MacKay sets eyes on Annabel, he is taken with his shy, sweet bride...and the fact that she's blessed with lush curves only makes him utter his own prayers of thanks. But when an enemy endangers her life, he'll move the Highlands themselves to save her. For though Annabel's not the bride he planned for, she's the only woman he desires...

A very fun book.  Lynsay Sands always has a great deal of humor in her books.  The interactions among the characters have some really funny moments.  Annabel had been dumped at a convent when she was seven years old with the expectation she would become a nun.  Fourteen years later her mother shows up and pulls her out before she can take her vows.  It seems her older sister has run off with the stable boy and Annabel is needed to take her place in an arranged marriage.  She's used to obeying orders, so she does what she's told.  Ross has finally showed up to claim his bride after taking a few years to cement his position as laird.  He's not thrilled about having an English bride and is ready to walk away until he sees her.  It's her looks that capture him first, but it's her sweet but sassy personality that keeps him hooked.  When she's attacked he'll do whatever he must to keep her safe.

I loved Annabel.  She's been at the convent for fourteen years but hasn't taken vows yet.  It seems that no matter what she does she's always in trouble.  She has trouble following their rules and just doesn't have the personality to be a nun.  When her mother shows up and takes her from the convent, Annabel doesn't know why and her mother isn't talking about it yet.  Once they get home, Annabel is stunned to find out she's going to be married off to her sister's fiance.  She's worried about it because she has no training suitable for that job.  She's also been put down because she's not the rail thin type of woman, but one with definite curves.  The wedding ceremony is rushed and then she's alone with Ross.  The wedding night is pretty funny.  Once they're on the road back to MacKay lands, Annabel's joy at being away from the convent comes out as she chatters and asks questions.  Even being attacked doesn't slow her down.  I really liked her resilience and the way she is able to make the best out of anything.  Her introduction to the people was when she took over when a merchant was hurt.  She had no problem giving orders and doing what needed to be done.  But even with that, she is very insecure about her abilities.  Her sweetness goes a long way toward winning over the people.  Another thing I loved was her growing relationship with Ross.  Although she started out very nervous around him, the attraction she felt went a long way toward making her happier around him.  The love scenes were fantastic as she learned that sex was not the horrible thing that she heard about in the convent but a fun and satisfying activity.  She also learned that Ross is a man who takes care of his own.  She did make some stupid moves, circumventing the protection Ross tried to give her, resulting in more injuries to her and Ross.  Those could have been worse though if not for her own ingenuity and strength.  There are problems when her sister Kate shows up and she is shown as the spoiled brat she is.  Annabel gets down on herself at first, but soon grows the backbone to realize that she's got what her husband wants and is loved by her people.  Loved the solution they came up with for Kate at the end.

Ross turned out to be a really nice guy.  He's a bit wary about this wedding, not knowing what to expect.  When he finds out he's getting a substitute bride he's ready to walk out on the whole thing until he sees Annabel.  It's her looks that hook him first, but her sweetness is what lands him.  He sees that she's not treated well by her parents and rushes her away after an aborted wedding night.  On the journey to his home he is enchanted by Annabel's joy in everything she sees.  He is also really attracted to her but holds off so they can be intimate in better surroundings.  His protectiveness kicks in when she's attacked on the road.  When it happens again at home he believes that the attacks are related and takes steps to find out who is behind it.  I enjoyed his surprise at the way she took charge when the merchant was injured.  Some of the best parts of the book are when he is trying to figure out how to get her into bed with him.  There's a lot made of the church's ban on "bedding" on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.  So Ross has a great time circumventing the restrictions by simply avoiding beds and doing the deed outdoors instead.  He gets really frustrated with her when she keeps avoiding his protections, but neglects to tell her why he's doing things.  I really liked the way that he made sure Annabel knew that he had no interest in Kate and that she was the only woman for him.  I did love the ending.

I really enjoyed some of the other characters also.  The maid Soenag was a great helper to Annabel and often gave Annabel the information she needed to get things accomplished.  Ross's sister Giorsal was just what Annabel needed to see.  She was another woman with a strong will and the abilities to get things done in a manner that is not always appreciated.

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