Romantic Reads · stuff I read

An English Bride in Scotland (An English Bride in Scotland #1)

Summary from Goodreads:

The first in a new historical series set in the Highlands of Scotland, from Lynsay Sands, the New York Times bestselling author of the Argeneau vampire series and countless historical romances.

Annabel was about to take the veil to become a nun when her mother suddenly arrives 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!

But 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…

Annabel was given over to the sisters as a little girl and hasn’t seen her family since. But now her mother has arrived at the Abbey and hustled her away – to be married! Her sister ran off with the stable boy rather than wed a Scottish laird so Annabel must take her place or the family forfeits both the dowry and betrothal agreement.

For his part, Ross could have refused to marry Annabel but one look is enough to have him wishing for the marriage bed. Annabel is learning to be a wife and the mistress of Clan MacKay but danger soon strikes.

I was admittedly hesitant to take a chance on another Sands historical – the Madison sisters trilogy had left much to be desired – but since I had enjoyed Sands’s medieval historicals I decided this would be a fun read. And it was. Annabel is a character you can root for through her missteps and triumphs once she leaves the Abbey. Ross is a trademark Scottish Sands hero – big, boisterous, and kilt-wearing. There is danger and intrigue and smoking-hot love scenes….

Which is where the book stumbles. So much of the plot is derivative when compared to previous medieval Sands historicals – a novitiate saved from taking the veil and married off quickly (Always), Scottish husband who loathes wife’s family (The Devil of the Highlands) and peremptorily orders wife to be guarded in the keep (without her consent) when she’s repeatedly attacked (many, many books), heroine with body issues (The Perfect Wife), crazy-jealous villain (The Hellion and the Highlander, and, well, almost all of them) so An English Bride in Scotland seems overly recycled if one has read her previous work. It was a fun book but when I finished I found myself wishing that parts of the novel played out differently. (Annoyance warning: vocabulary anachronisms abound – i.e. comfy, nirvana – so be forewarned if that is off-putting for you).

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