on October 30, 2018
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Bestselling author Vanessa Kelly returns with an enthralling new series about the men of the Kendrick clan—and the women who claim their hearts...
Lady Ainsley Matthews, heiress and darling of the ton, was expected to make a magnificent match. Instead she's hiding on a remote Scottish estate, terrified that her vicious former fiancé will use her pregnancy to force her into marriage. One man can help her—Royal Kendrick, son of a distinguished Highland clan. Though a mistake drove them apart long ago, Royal is the only person Ainsley trusts to protect her baby—even if that means agreeing to never see either of them again.
Scarred in body and soul by war, Royal suddenly has a purpose—caring for an innocent babe and thereby helping the woman he can't stop loving. But when Ainsley ultimately returns to Scotland, determined to be a real mother to her child in spite of the risk, there's only one solution: marriage. And only one likely outcome: surrendering to the desire that's simmered between them for so long, no matter how dangerous it may be.
~~Reviewed by Amy~~
I fell in love with the Kendrick family in the 3rd book of Vanessa Kelly’s Improper Princesses series. They’re the kind of family you can’t help but love yet you know you’d go crazy if around them too long. At the time, I wasn’t sure whose story I wanted next. I just knew that I wanted more of this crazy, loyal family. I’m thrilled it was Royal and Ainsley’s story. Royal really intrigued me in that last book. Injured and brooding, he was very hard to figure out, but it was clear Ainsley had an effect on him, and I couldn’t wait to see where that led. After reading The Highlander Who Protected Me, this Clan Kendrick series promises to be every bit as spectacular as the series that gave birth to this amazing family.
Royal Kendrick had fallen in love with Lady Ainsley Matthews the moment he met her. Her vibrant beauty and lethal wit drew him in and he desired her more than anything he’d ever wanted. But he knew his desire was all he’d ever have of her. He was just a common second son. A man with a mangled leg and a moody temperament. Ainsley was an heiress. The darling of the ton. And she was promised, if not officially yet, to the Marquess of Cringlewood. Ainsley admired Royal for his bravery and sacrifice. He was as blunt and bad-tempered as she and she enjoyed the acerbic humor and witty banter they shared. She trusted him and saw him as a good friend, though that was all they could be as her father would never consider Royal as a suitor. He was intent on a match with Leonard, the Marquess of Cringlewood. Unfortunately, the Marquess was a vile, cruel man who forced himself on Ainsley leaving her pregnant and with no choice but to flee to Scotland before Leonard discovered her plight and forced her into marriage.
When her friend Royal arrives to visit, Ainsley knows he is the only person she trusts to keep her baby safe. Though it will devastate her to place her child in someone else’s hands, it’s the safest place for her to be. Losing her child and losing Royal, the only man she’d ever thought she could love would be difficult, but it was the only way to keep the baby from a father who had no decency or compassion. Royal would do anything for Ainsley and agrees to raise the child as his own even though doing so would bring scandal on him.
Royal and the Kendricks quickly fell in love with the baby, and Royal, who’d felt he had no purpose after the war, found a new motivation for his future in raising the child. It doesn’t take long for Ainsley to realize she can’t bear being separated from her child, and she finds herself once again asking Royal for help. To marry her and raise the child together. Royal would like nothing more than to call Ainsley wife. But could Ainsley give up her wealth and status to marry a poor, crippled Scotsman? He’d been nursing a passion for her for two years. Could he be content to marry someone who may not return that passion? And most importantly, would marriage be enough to keep Ainsley and her baby safe from the Marquess of Cringlewood?
I adored Royal from the moment I met him in the previous series. Like all the Kendricks, he was loyal. But Royal has to be the most selfless man to ever exist! His injuries from the war left him in great physical and emotional pain yet he never complained. He was the peacemaker of the family, often having to referee between them. Whatever the task, Royal bore it. Again and again. Nothing mattered more than family. And Ainsley and her baby were family now.
Ainsley was harder to love at first. She was spoiled, though, in her defence, it was all she’d ever known until the assault by Cringlewood and the subsequent betrayal of her family. But she was brave to run away and put her child first. And she was smart to trust Royal. I felt sorry and afraid for the predicament she was in. Cringlewood had wronged her but she was the one who would suffer. Regardless of his actions, she’d be the one at fault.
Seeing Royal and Ainsley together made me realize how very much they needed each other. I admired Royal for how patient and encouraging he was with Ainsley as she struggled with motherhood. The tension and humor in caring for a baby helped me see how much they cared for each other. Royal never gave into his passion, waiting instead till Ainsley was ready. He didn’t push or demand but allowed her to move at her own pace. I admired Ainsley for giving up so much for her child. Coming to a land she rather hated and living with a family that drove her mad. Because of the assault by Leonard, she was unsure of the way Royal made her feel at times. It was fun and sweet to watch her battle between her fears and her desires. The intimate moments between her and Royal, when they weren’t interrupted by Angus, were steamy and playful. The slow build to Ainsley and Royal finding love made it that much more rewarding.
The “wonderful supporting characters that keep you laughing” award goes to Angus Kendrick. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to hug him or strangle him at times. But he brought so much laughter and warmth to the story. I gained a whole new respect and love for him in this book.
The magic ingredient in this story has to be the witty banter. The clever, romantic sparring created sparks that brought Royal and Ainsley alive on the page. Sometimes seductive and sometimes playful, it painted such a brilliant picture of these characters. Even the sometimes aggressive banter was perfect because it showed how intense the attraction was… I love that her characters can show wit and perfectly placed sarcasm even in the middle of romantic moments. There’s nothing like swooning and giggling at the same time. Their clever repartee kept the plot moving forward and ensured a fun-filled ride to their happily ever after. Vanessa Kelly never fails to make me swoon with her amazing characterizations and her intriguing stories. I am eager to see which Kendrick I get to fall in love with next.