Published by Avon Impulse on December 9th 2014
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Lady Alanna McNabb is bound by duty to her family, who insist she must marry a gentleman of wealth and title. When she meets the man of her dreams, she knows it's much too late, but her heart is no longer hers.
Laird Iain MacGillivray is on his way to propose to another woman when he discovers Alanna half-frozen in the snow and barely alive. She isn't his to love, yet she's everything he's ever wanted.
As Christmas comes closer, the snow thickens, and the magic grows stronger. Alanna and Iain must choose between desire and duty, love and obligation.
But it's Christmas in the Highlands, and there are bound to be a few surprises.
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
Once Upon a Highland Christmas is the third book in the ‘Once Upon A Highland Season’ by Lecia Cornwall. I haven’t read the previous books, but I didn’t need to in order to understand and fully enjoy this one.
Lady Alanna McNab is the middle sister of her family. Their mother is determined that each daughter marry a man of the English aristocracy. Her oldest sister ran away and married her true love when she was being forced into marrying, which unfortunately meant that their mother then offered Alanna as a bride for the jilted English man. Alanna also doesn’t want to marry him, but she won’t say no because she is the ‘good daughter’ the one who doesn’t want to cause any upset. On the morning of her wedding day Alanna needs to get away from all the fuss and decides to go for a walk to clear her head. Before she knows it she has been walking for hours, the weather has turned and she is stuck in a huge snow storm. She has no idea where she is, or how far she has walked, but she thinks her time is up after she falls and injures herself and ends up lying in the snow unable to move.
Laird Iain MacGillivray is returning to his castle, himself also caught up in the unexpected snow storm. He normally wouldn’t have got caught but his mind was elsewhere, knowing his duty lay back at his castle. His very proper and very English cousin was there awaiting his proposal of marriage. He doesn’t want to marry her, he doesn’t love her, yet he knows she will help him ease into his new inherited role as an English Lord. When his horse shies at something on the ground, upon investigation Iain discovers Alanna in the snow. She is barely alive. He knows that he won’t make it back to the castle in the storm, but also knows that not far away there is shelter to be found in an empty cottage. So he lifts Alanna from the snow and takes her with him to the cottage where he hopes he can warm her up, treat her injuries, and make sure she lives. Then when the snow clears he can take her to his castle to recover properly before he helps her get to wherever she was going.
At first sight of Alanna, even in her frozen state, Iain is captivated by her beauty. He has never seen any other more beautiful. Then when thankfully after his tender ministrations all night, Alanna awakes, she too is struck with how handsome Iain is. She is also very sore, and very unwell. Thankfully the weather has let up briefly and Iain manages to get them both safely to the castle.
From there we watch as a relationship develops between them to the disgust of Penny, Iain’s cousin and her mother. The latter plot ways in which to make sure that Alanna returns home to her own betrothed as quickly as possible, and to make sure she gets no ideas about Iain. Whether or not that will end with him marrying his cousin remains to be seen. Both he and Alanna’s futures are pretty much set out for them by duty, but will they allow themselves to shirk their duties, and give in to the fierce attraction they feel for each other? Or will they do their duty to their families making everybody happy except of course themselves?
I absolutely adored this story, so much so that I tried to read it all in one go. I didn’t quite manage that, but in two sittings I had read and loved the whole story. I loved Iain’s sisters whose belief of magic could be the very reason the snow storm happened. Penelope and her mother, although single minded in their attempts to force Iain into marriage, weren’t entirely unlikeable, nor was Alanna’s mother who was just as single mindedly trying to get Alanna to marry. I loved Iain’s clan and the utmost respect they have for their Laird, and how he cared for all of them. There was definitely highland magic in the air which made the book a true delight to read.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book.