Series: The Murrays #15
Release Date: October 30, 2018 (Re-Release)
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sir James Drummond, foster son to the Murray clan, has lost everything, his home, his wife and his child. Three years ago his wife was found burned to death and her cousin Sir Donnell MacKay cried murder, had James declared an outlaw and took over Dunncraig Castle and has told everyone that Margaret (Meggie) is actually his daughter, not James’. But after 3 years on the run, James is ready to return, clear his name and oust Donnell.
Annora MacKay is Donnell’s poor, unwanted, illegitimate cousin and was brought to Dunncraig to care for Meggie. Donnell and his friend Egan are brutal men, they rule by fear and have beaten Annora and Meggie numerous times – Annora stays for only one reason, Meggie. She is not sure she believes Donnell is the child’s father and is sure he gained the castle by underhanded means. When Donnell hires a woodworker to work at the castle, Annora finds herself drawn to him – James has gain entry to the castle by posing as Rolf the woodworker. He gains Annora’s attention because she has a gift, she is an empath and his rage makes her curious, but for some reason, she doesn’t fear him.
Rolf is frustrated at his lack of progress and by his ill-timed attraction to Annora, a woman that Egan clearly views as his – much to Annora’s disgust. When they both have the same idea to search Donnell’s ledger room – they share a kiss and are almost caught by Donnell and Egan. She tells herself to stay away from Rolf, lest she end up like her mother. Later she learns Donnell’s plan for Meggie and is more determined than ever to learn Donnell’s secrets.
James’ attention of Annora has not gone unnoticed and he is warned away by Donnell, but when he comes upon Egan trying to rape her, he intervenes. Things between them escalate and when she overhears Donnell and Egan making plans for Egan to marry her – she runs to Rolf and learns that he is not who she thought he was – he is Sir James! He explains why he has returned and she offers to help him – he does not seem put off by her gift and believes her when she says, she doesn’t think his wife Mary was dead when he was outlawed, but is sure she is dead now. He kisses her and things became heated, James claims her as his mate and will do whatever is necessary to keep her.
They try to find out what happened to Mary, but Donnell has covered his tracks well. But the discovery of Mary’s journals and the arrival of Sir Symon Innes & Sir Tormand Murray really get the investigation moving. They need more proof, but are running out of time – when Egan again tries to rape Annora, James beats him and is ready to throw away his dream of redemption to save the woman he loves and his child. They run, but are caught, James is take prisoner and Annora is brutally beaten – it seems all is lost, but Annora is not willing to let the man she loves die and forces herself to get help. Will it be enough to save James? Will there be a HEA? Will he still want her once his name is restored?
This is a well written, fast paced book, with a lot of steamy love scenes, a lot of violence (there are triggers for both physical abuse and rape – if these are sensitive issues for you, be warned), action, mystery, really nasty bad guys, great secondary characters and finally a HEA complete with an epilogue. I liked this story, but it is on the violent side and the formal address is not quite right, but all in all, not a bad read. In fact, I read this book when it first came out in 2008, I don’t think I ever wrote a review, but I would be hard pressed to say if there was anything different in this re-released edition (other than the cover and in my opinion the new cover is WAY BETTER). This is book 15 in the Murray series, but it can easily be read as a stand alone title and it quietly sets up the next two books in the series.
*I am volunarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher.*