dinsdag 21 september 2010

Karen Hawkins - Much ado about marriage


Meeting lovely Fia is all it takes to turn Thomas’ espionage mission in Scotland topsy-turvy. Flirting in the woods with the seductive, infuriating lass leaves him captive in the MacLean castle, but his escape attempt brings worse! Caught in an apparently compromising position with the lady, the English Earl has no chance to make any ado before he finds himself wed. Thomas is on a serious assignment, but Fia’s sharp tongue and saucy wit bring mayhem to his life. How can he concentrate, when just one glance from her makes him burn with desire?

A rewrite of her very first book (not the first one published though). I enjoyed it. It is kind of a prequel to the MacLean curse books, and the new series about the Hurst amulet.

Thomas Wentwoth, the Earl of Rotherwood, is on a spying mission for Walsingham, the righthand man of Queen Elisabeth. He is to search for some letters from Queen Mary, that will be proof enough the imprison her and put her one year old son on the Scottish throne. But just when he was successful, and escaping from MacLean Castle, he is knocked of the second story ledge, when a young woman tries to escape through the same window. She is running away, with some of the Laird’s silver.

Though Thomas is considered the luckiest man in England, his luck is not holding in her presence. Her mangy dog chases his horse away, her horse throws him and then lies down on his leg, and finally they are captured by the Laird. Thomas is very glad to learn Fia is not the laird’s mistress, but his cousin and ward.

The laird has him beaten for his making free with Fia, and almost throws him in the dungeons. Bruised and feverish, it is Fia and her maid Mary who nurse him back to health. Duncan, Laird MacLean is determined to marry Fia off so she will be safe from the coming civil war. But when she is caught in a compromising position with Thomas, those plans are changed. Thomas will have to marry her. Fia doesn’t mind all that much, all she wants to do is go to London and be a playwriter. She just wants a sponsor who will make that happen. And as Thomas is one of the Queen’s favourites, he can help her.

Thomas however is not pleased. His mother ran away with the stable master when he was a little boy, and he grew up trying to please his stern father. To no avail of course. But he has to be in control, and not bring scandal to the family name. What is he to do with such a hoyden of a wife? He wants a cool and well mannered wife, who will give him nice children and never creates a scandal. No, the only course open for him is to get an annulment from the Queen, and for that, Fia has to remain a maiden. Which is easier said than done, as they are both very much attracted to each other.

Fortunately, his best friend is waiting aboard his ship. Robert MacQuarrie, Viscount Montley, also known to the Scots as the Coward of Balmanach. But that is a whole other story.

Fia strikes a deal with him: he is to learn her to behave as an English noblewoman at court, because she doesn’t want an annulment. Of course, she never wanted a husband, but now that she is getting to know Thomas, she wants to stay being his wife. So Robert sets out to teach her to dance, to play cards, the language of the fan, how to dress and everything. And Thomas is getting more and more jealous. Then one night, after a storm, Thomas finds Fia alone in his cabin, and he cannot walk away from her. They spend a night of passion in each others arms, so the annulment is not an option anymore. Is Thomas really falling in love with his lovely wife? Is he capable of recognizing the feeling? After all, he never has been loved before.

Then, back in London, the plot thickens. What was Walsinghams real motive for sending Thomas to Scotland? And is Fia part of the betrayal or not?

Yes, a good story, filled with humor and real characters you just have to like. I want to learn what happens with Duncan and Robert and even some of the servants. Karen Hawkins really knows how to catch a reader in her story. If you haven’t read any of her historical romances yet, this would be a good one to start with if you cannot find the first books in the series.

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