The third book in the Cynster Sisters series, published January 31, 2012.
We joyfully request your attendance at the wedding of Miss Angelica Cynster ... but not until she and her hero lay to rest an ancient grudge in the Scottish Highlands!
Headstrong Angelica Cynster is certain she'll recognize her fated husband at first sight. And when her eyes meet those of a mysterious nobleman, she knows beyond a doubt that he's the one. But her heart is soon pounding for an entirely different reason - when her hero abducts her!
The eighth Earl of Glencrae has no choice but to kidnap Angelica, the one Cynster sister with whom he hadn't wanted to tangle. But to save his castle and his clan, he must persuade her to assist him - and he's prepared to offer marriage to seal the deal!
With the Scottish Laird believed dead, Angelica Cynster has her freedom back. Both her sisters are happily engaged, and now it is her turn to find her hero. Eliza has given her the Lady’s necklace, and she is determined to find her hero and hunt him down. And when she spots a strange gentleman across the crowded ballroom, watching her, she feels he is it. But even though he is keeping an eye on her, he is not getting nearer, but keeping his distance. Which is not to her liking at all, she wants to know who he is! And so she ropes a family friend into introducing them. Lord Dominic Debenham is a reclusive English gentleman, who doesn’t come to London often, which is why she hasn’t met him before. More young ladies follow her example, and Debenham quickly is surrounded by admiring young ladies. But Angelica just knows he is her hero, and she wants to get to know him. When the dancing begins, Debenham just points at his cane, and politely refuses. The other gentleman in their circle dutifully lead the other ladies to the dancefloor, but Angelique refuses, she will keep Debenham company. She boldly asks him to escort her to the terrace for some fresh air, and even though he is clearly displeased with that, he agrees.
What Angelica certainly never could have foreseen, is that he promptly abducts her as soon as they are alone. It was never his intention to do that tonight, tonight was for reconnaissance, but he had to take the opportunity when she presented herself on a silver platter. Angelica is furious with him, and herself, but never for a single moment afraid. After all, he doesn’t hurt her even though he ties her down and lays her in his carriage wrapped in a blanket. He then returns to the soiree, it would not do to be missed together. And when at the end of the evening, her family is missing her, he makes sure he is seen by several of his acquaintances.
Back at his mansion, he takes her inside, and Angelica immediately finds out his servants will not be helping her escape. But when he tells her the truth about the abduction, and asks for her help, she cannot refuse. After all, he is her hero, and she will marry him, but it will be on her terms. Not to safe her reputation, but out of love.
As it happens, his father has been obsessed with her mother for years. He had arranged with Celia’s parents to marry her, but Celia did not want to, and eloped with Martin Cynster, the fourth son of a Duke. The Laird took it gracefully, but he withdrew from society, and never stopped obsessing about Celia. He had people following her, and keeping him up to date with all the happenings in her life. What she did, where she went, what she wore. And of her children as well. And it was well known in Edinburgh Society that he was obsessed with a married English lady. But he had to do his duty to his clan, so he married a Scottish lash. She knew full well that he did not love her, and neither did she love him. But she boasted to her friends that she would turn him, wrap him around her little finger and make him forget about the English lady. Which she could not. Mirabella never wanted for anything, but the love and attention of her husband. When she finally gave him a son, she expected him to change, but it did not. O, he loved his son, and gave him all attention, but not her. And her son also did not need her, he had the clan who raised him and thought him, and led him roam the highlands freely. So when she tried to turn him against his father, she could not do it.
But now his father has been dead for five years, and Dominic is Laird. And Mirabelle has finally found a way to exact her revenge on them all. If Dominic cannot present a certain Goblet in London on July first, he and the clan will loose everything they own. The Goblet was collateral for a big loan his father took out six years ago. Mirabelle doesn’t care about the clan or her son. She wants revenge. By making him abduct one of Celia Cynster’s daughters, she will make him lose his honour, which is very important to Dominic, and make Celia pay for everything she unknowingly cost her. That an innocent young lady is ruined is totally unimportant to Mirabelle. She has hidden the Goblet, and unless Dominic will do as she wishes, she will not give it up. She will see him and the clan thrown into poverty.
Angelica is a very strongwilled and capable young lady, and she wants to help Dominic, on certain conditions of herself of course. But she is a great ally, and he needs her help to escape her family and reach the highlands safely. Together they plan and plot their journey, and how to convince his mother she is truly ruined.
Of course, the Cynster males cannot sit back and do nothing, even though the woman are convinced that Angelica has gone willingly, that she is helping the Laird. But still, it takes them a few days to figure it all out, and find the identity of the Scottish Laird there are looking for. It is old Lady Clara who has the final clue, and then Celia will have to tell her story, why she eloped with Martin.
It was a surprise to be told the reason behind this series at the start of the book, but the following journey and adventure was great to follow. Angelica and Dominic working together, the great secondary characters of the servants. I loved Angelica. She is such a strong young lady; she knows what she wants, and when it is important to stand her ground and when to give in. She is used to overprotective big males in her life, so she is not afraid of the Earl. She has learned at the knee of the ladies in her family how to handle a man like that. And the Earl, well, he certainly does not know what he is getting into. He is losing control of the situation, but he cannot deny the wisdom behind her reasoning and her actions. She wraps his servants, his fellow clan members, around her fingers, assuming the duties as his duchess-to-be from the start.
Dominic is a very big man, strong and honourable. And having to disregard his honor is very difficult for him. He won’t force Angelica, not even to safe his clan. But to satisfy his mother, he will have to do a lot he doesn’t like. How can he see Angelica walk into danger, where he cannot protect her?
As usual, Stephanie Laurens writes in a very rich and compelling voice, and I loved this story from the start. It was different and almost new again, not cookie-cutter like the previous books. The romance between Dominic and Angelica was sweet, and believable. The lovescenes hot, as Stephanie Laurens can write really good and steamy ones. There is also subtle humor. A good story, with a great ending to the adventure. And in the end, a triple wedding.