on August 29th 2017
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Lisa Berne’s Penhallow Dynasty series continues as a Highlander marries against his will—
and discovers he may have found the perfect bride
Alasdair Penhallow, laird of his clan and master of Castle Tadgh, is forced to end his carefree bachelorhood, thanks to an ancient decree that requires him to marry. But Alasdair’s search for a biddable wife comes to a screeching halt when Fate serves up Fiona Douglass. Prickly as a thistle, Fiona challenges him at every turn, rendering herself surprisingly irresistible. Her love would be a prize indeed . . . if Alasdair could accept it.
Fiona gave her heart once, and doesn’t plan to repeat that folly. Yet she finds herself drawn to Alasdair’s intelligence and strength, and the passion he incites goes well beyond her expectations for what’s only a marriage of expedience. Despite herself, she’s falling in love with her husband.
But there’s a high wall between them—and Fiona’s not sure it can ever be torn down.
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
Alasdair Penhallow was enjoying his careless, roguish, fun-filled life until one fine day – or rather, it had been fine until that moment – when he learned of a decree saying that the Chieftain, Alasdair himself, had to marry thirty-five days after reaching his thirty-fifth birthday, which was now. Alasdair had no intention of obeying the ancient decree, but with the punishment, if he doesn’t obey being death, well, it doesn’t leave one much choice, does it? But his Uncle Duff MacDermott tells Alisdair that even with a wife, nothing needs to really change. Fiona Douglass was firmly on the shelf. Once she had thought she would be a bride, but her suitor, Logan Munro, chose her younger, prettier sister, and although Fiona never resented her sister, Fiona no man could ever compare to Logan. Fiona could settle for a decent man, someone who liked her for who she is, but her hopes have once again been thwarted when she is told that she is amongst four eligible candidates to marry Alasdair Penhallow. She doesn’t want to go, but if she doesn’t, it will literally be the death of her. However, Fiona is not worried, Alasdair won’t pick her anyway; and when Fiona sees her competition, she knows she is secure in her spinsterhood. Unfortunately, Fate has decided otherwise, and when a most unexpected event occurs, Fiona and Alasdair have no choice but to marry. Neither is pleased, not at all.
And if you think you’ve read it all before, read on. Lisa Berne gives the marriage of convenience trope clever, unforeseen, and fabulous twists: Alasdair and Fiona do not like each other, there is no combustible and immediate attraction, they loathe the situation, and they refuse to make the slightest effort to make the forced marriage work, and the wedding night is a complete disaster, and not a funny one either; I found it so refreshing, I almost applauded! Alasdair is sometimes unkind, aloof, Fiona is entirely unyielding and very independent; they could have been exceedingly unpleasant characters, yet they are not. Ms. Berne knows exactly where to draw the line because the dynamic between Alasdair and Fiona shifts several times, it all feels genuine, and it’s enthralling to watch them be, basically.
Fiona doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and the competition between the four brides-to-be was something to behold: the dialogues are absolutely splendid, and the barbs exchanged are at times vicious; always entertaining, and oftentimes quite funny. Lisa Berne’s prose is spectacular: lush and sumptuous, the dialogues are impeccable, the descriptions of Scotland are breathtaking, and the characterisations are so sharp, that I could all visualise them clearly. One minor character in particular made a rather strong impression on me, Crannog Sutherlainn, and I wonder if we will encounter him again in future instalments, and I also loved little Sheila.
THE LAIRD TAKES A BRIDE is a rollercoaster of emotions: I laughed, I cried, I worried, I suffered for both characters, but mostly for Fiona, and just as Alasdair and Fiona seemed to have resolved their issues, well… one of them hasn’t. Lisa Berne has written a perfectly fabulous book, intelligent, unusual, and unique; THE LAIRD TAKES A BRIDE is not to be missed!
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.