Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Highland Brides, #11
Release Date: January 24, 2023
Allissaid MacFarlane wakes to learn that Maldouen MacNaughton tried to kidnap and marry her elder sister Claray for the sole purpose of killing their family and taking over the MacFarlane’s holdings, but thankfully she was saved by the man known as the Highland Wolf, who is actually Bryson MacDonald, her thought-to-be-dead betrothed. Now married to Bryson, Claray is safe, but it seems that MacNaughton has decided to turn his attention to the next sister – Allissaid. To save his family, her father has decided to marry off all the sisters and has sent for their betrothed as well as his nephews Aulay and Alick Buchanan. Ordered to stay in the keep and prepare for the arrival of her groom, Allissaid is trying to make sense of everything when she is told that her brother Eachann is missing. Against her father’s orders, she slips out of the keep to look for him and is soon captured by the MacNaughton and learns that he murdered her betrothed, he then tries to force her to participate in a marriage ceremony, but Allissaid refuses to speak, he then tries to force himself on her, brutally beating her when she fights back, but when the MacNaughton leaves her alone, she escapes by jumping out of a window into the Loch. She is on the run when she sees a man swimming and tries to steal his plaid and is tackled by him.
Calan Campbell is Laird of the Kilcairn Campbells and his lands border those of the MacNaughton. Calan and his cousin are out investigating a recent raid on their lands – by the MacNaugtons – and on the way back to the keep, Still recuperating from a recent injury, Calan decides to take a dip in the loch and sends his cousin Gillie back to the holding. he is in the loch when he sees a young lad trying to steal his plaid and takes off after them, knocking the boy to the ground, only to find out that it is not a lad, it is a badly beaten lady. Thankfully, Gillie comes looking for him and between them, they sneak Allissaid into his keep. He hides her in his chamber and has his sister Inghinn come and examine her. When she wakes, Allissaid isn’t sure she can trust them and pretends to have amnesia, but when his mother Lady Fiona gets involved and recognizes Allissaid, she tells them the whole story of her abduction, attempted wedding, and the beating. The Campbells vow to help her and decide it is best if she remains hidden until the MacNaughton is defeated. Lady Fiona insists that Allissaid stay in Calan’s room and that he must stay and protect her, a task Calan is happy to perform, as he has come to admire Allissaid. They are getting to know each other and attraction blooms but is brought to a halt by the arrival of her cousin Alick, who takes his job to protect her very seriously – much to the annoyance of Calan, who has already decided that Allissiad will make the perfect wife for him. He just has to convince her and defeat MacNaughton…
This story picks up exactly where Highland Wolf ends, but there is more than enough backstory given to read this book without having read that one first. Allissaid and Calan are very likable leads and the passion between them burns brightly, making it easy to root for their HEA. The story has a lot going on, some of it quite dark, but Ms. Sands manages to keep the story from turning too dark by the use of her signature humor and witty banter between characters. In addition to that you will be treated to action, great secondary characters, lots of Buchanans, murder, a matchmaking mother, steamy love scenes, betrayal, and finally a HEA that sees the villain getting his due. I enjoyed this book, it did drag a little in the middle, but the ending more than makes up for that in my opinion and I am happy to recommend this title. This is the eleventh book in the series, but it is a loosely connected series and as I mentioned before, it can be read as a standalone title.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.*