Series: The MacGregor Lairds, #2
Release Date: February 12, 2018
I loved this book right up until the last few chapters and then I couldn’t believe how it ended.
Lady Elizabet Harding is distraught, she had just learned that her father has betrothed her to a man that she cannot stand, Fergus Ramsay. In an effort to collect her thoughts, she goes out for a ride, but when a storm blows up and her horse is spooked, she is sure she is going to die, but she is plucked from the runaway horse by a masked man. At first she is scared, but he is kind and sees that she is sheltered from the storm. She knows who he is, the infamous Highland Highwayman. They talk and just as it seems he will kiss her, Fergus arrives.
John MacGregor hates Fergus Campbell or Ramsay as he is calling himself these days. John has one purpose and that is to destroy the men responsible for his brother’s death. He knows Fergus and Lord Dawsey (Elizabet’s father) are responsible and just as soon as he has enough evidence, he will see them pay for their crimes. He cannot imagine someone as lovely as Elizabet with Fergus, but he can’t be detracted from his goal.
Later that night, Elizabet’s parents return to London, they want to stop any gossip regarding her “escapade” so Fergus will not call off the marriage. On the way their coach is held up by John, who didn’t expect to see Elizabet. He robs her father and easily disarms her when she pulls a dagger on him. He asks for a kiss and doesn’t take it, instead he returns one bag of coins and kisses her hand before leaving. As he is riding away, she goes to pick up her dagger and one of John’s men shoots her. The horses are spooked and take off, leaving her laying in the road bleeding. John rushes back to her side. He takes her to his hideout and then to his home in Scotland. In all the time they are together, he is careful to disguise his voice and wear his mask. He nurses her back to health and falls a little more in love with her each day, but he knows that he has to return her to her family. They return to England and stop for the night in his hideout. He tells her he has a meeting and to stay in the cottage. She of course doesn’t, and ends up in danger, after observing her “betrothed” digging in the ruins of her dowry property. When she confronts John (whom she knows as Jack), he tells her that he is trying to stop him, but soldiers arrive and they are all in danger. She races back to the cottage and John follows her. He hides in the tub while she tries to get rid of the soldiers – but when one gets a little too friendly, she shoots at him, which brings more soldiers. When the soldiers finally leave, she learns the true reason John hate Fergus and her father. She doesn’t want to leave him, but she cannot help him destroy her father.
She returns home and it seems like the wedding will take place. She misses Jack and when she sees John at a ball – unmasked, she asks her friend Alice who he is, she puts two and two together and decides to try her hand at blackmail. She threatens to expose him as the highwayman if he doesn’t marry her. He agrees, but the King refuses to break her betrothal. He returns to his rooms and finds Elizabet waiting for him. He tells her of the King’s decision and kisses her. She knows it is hopeless, unless she is willing to turn on her father, there is no way they can be together. She asks him to make love to her, so she will at least have a happy memory. He can’t say no to her, when she is getting ready to leave, he asks her again if she would bear witness to her father’s crimes and she refuses. At that moment, her father bangs on John’s door and when he tries to slip her out through the courtyard, Fergus is there. From this moment on everything goes to hell. John is named as the highwayman and while trying to flee is shot.
Elizabet is inconsolable, until she learns he did not die. But John will have to make decisions that will change his life, a life he can’t ask Elizabeth to share.
I loved this book until the final chapters and then I was shocked at the twists and turns. I didn’t hate it, but I was not happy with the ending. The book is well written, flows nicely, has lots of action, angst and wonderful characters. There is one love scene, but it is not graphic and is barely lukewarm, the villain(s) are especially vile and the ending leaves a lot to be desired (IMO), but the epilogue was sweet and hinted that this story is not necessarily over, so I will definitely be reading the next book with high hopes for a more satisfactory outcome!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher.*