FICTION

The Laird Takes a Bride

Avon. (Penhallow Dynasty, Bk. 2). Sept. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780062451811. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062451804. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
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Nine years earlier, Fiona Douglass watched the love of her life marry her beautiful younger sister, one of many weddings she'd had to witness. Her father keeps offering her up to one nasty suitor after another, and Fiona is getting nervous. Then disaster strikes. Drunken Scottish wastrel Alasdair Penhallow is told his family lives under a curse: he must wed one of the eligible maidens of the Eight Clans of Killaly before his 35th birthday or forfeit his life. Fiona is forced to go to Castle Tadgh along with three more enthusiastic maidens. Penhallow and his men are pretty squalid, having drank and wenched their way through Scotland. However, as Alasdair begins to make an effort to be a decent companion, Fiona finds him to be not so abhorrent. Unfortunately, circumstances lead to the pair getting married. Things move along fairly well as they get to know each other until Penhallow's emotional scars cause him to wound Fiona deeply.
VERDICT Berne (You May Kiss the Bride) takes a comparatively unlikable fellow and shows why he took the path he did, allowing the reader and Fiona to empathize with and forgive him. Fiona is a wonderful character, with her own scars, self-doubt, kindness, and need for love. Readers who can wait for Alasdair's redemption will be rewarded in this tale of two wounded people.

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