Series: Forbidden, #3
Release Date: May 15, 2018
Sir Aiden MacConnell, former Templar Knight and loyal warrior to King Robert is sent to take Latharn Castle from Lord Comyn’s control. On the way to the castle, he finds Broccin Macraith, Earl of Balfour, dying from battle wounds. Broccin remembers Aiden from his youth and asks him to take a missive to his betrothed at Latharn Castle. The missive is a Godsend to Aiden, it will gain him entry to the castle. He will assume Broccin’s identity, learn the secrets of the castle and when he leaves, he will send a message saying Broccin died in battle.
Lady Gwendolyn Murphy is not happy, she does not want to marry again. She married years ago to strengthen alliances for her father, but when she was widowed, her father assured her, she would be able to live her own life. But with his death, Lord Comyn has taken guardianship of her and is insisting she marry the Earl of Balfour, a man with a reputation of coldness and ruthlessness.
Aiden and Gwendolyn meet when her prized mare is struggling to birth her foal – Aiden steps in and saves both the mare and the foal. Gwendolyn is grateful, until she learns who he is. She bristles at his commands and informs him in no uncertain terms that until they marry – Latharn is HER castle and she does not answer to him!
Aiden is attracted to Gwendolyn, but he is on a mission, he must gain her trust to learn the secrets of the castle for King Robert. He plans to stay for only a few days and then he will ask the king to make sure Gwendolyn is taken care of. But when a missive from Rome arrives, calling the priest back to the Vatican, all his plans are destroyed! Lord Comyn was adamant that their wedding take place within a fortnight AND by the priest. With no other priest available, Aiden must marry Gwendolyn. He is not happy, but he will make it work – he will get the information he needs and then send a missive that he died.
Gwendolyn is confused, this warrior is not what she expected and when he refuses to consummate the marriage but feigns proof of her innocence, she begins to admire him. Before he shows the “proof” to her retainers, she tells him the truth, she was married before. As they are disposing of the “evidence” they see a fleet of English ships dropping anchor. It seems that Comyn has joined forces with the English to fight King Robert.
Aiden needs to get this information to the king and sends Sir Ronan and Sir Cailin out with the news. But when the Duke of Northbyrn double crosses Comyn, Aiden and Gwendolyn must run for their lives.
Aiden still hasn’t told Gwendolyn who he is and when things between them become heated, he tries to put her off, he will not dishonor her. He will take her to the king and ask him to she her settled.
When Aiden is injured and Gwendolyn learns the truth, she is beyond livid. And when she meets with the king, she gets several more shocks – she is angry with herself for falling for Aiden. When the king offers to restore her as mistress of Latharn, she agrees to swear fealty to him. Then he makes another demand – she will marry Aiden, again, immediately.
Aiden tries to make things right with Gwendolyn, he promises to restore her castle to her and leave. Gwendolyn agrees to his terms, but isn’t sure that is what she really wants. Yes, she is angry with him for deceiving her, but she also admires him. But after learning the truth of who he is and what he was, she won’t press him to stay with her.
It seems like these two are destined to part, but when Sir Cailin intervenes and a near death experience forces Aiden to examine his heart, a HEA might just be possible.
This is a well written, fast paced novel with lots of action, secrets and betrayal. The chemistry between Aiden and Gwendolyn is apparent, but the love scenes are mild and few and far between. I enjoyed the book, but a couple of things seemed “off”, first Aiden is a Templar Knight and has been since he was little more than a boy, but he seems very knowledgeable about intimate relations and second, the cover of this book is decidedly not medieval – normally I don’t really care about the covers, but if someone was to look at this cover, there is no way they would know this book was a medieval, the gown the lovely model is wearing makes the book appear to be a regency era story.
I did enjoy this story and would recommend it, it is the third book in the series, but it could be read as a stand alone title with no problem.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher.*