The Laird’s Prize by Eliza Knight
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Highland Lairds, #1
Release Date: January 31, 2023
Lady Douglass de Clifford, always assumed that if she was ever married, it would be to an English noble with an English estate, never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that King Edward would order her father, Baron de Clifford to escort her to Scotland to wed Sir John Segrave. She is devastated, not only is marrying a man she has never met but she is being sent to Scotland, the land of heathen barbarians. The only good thing about all of this is that her father is sending his much younger, unwed sister Alice with her as a companion. Alice tries to cheer her with stories of Scotland and especially Highlanders, she also extolls the benefits of marriage to Sir John, but none of it makes Douglass feel better and she wonders if maybe Alice could be persuaded to marry Sir John. Their trip is uneventful but as they approach Caerlaverock, the holding Sir John now controls, they are attacked by a band of Scots, and with no help from Sir John or his men, Douglass is frantic to save Alice and herself. But instead of escaping, her worst nightmare has come to pass, as she and her aunt are captured by the Scots and whisked away.
Noah Sinclair, the Earl of Caithness and Laird of the Sinclairs at Buanaiche Castle in the highlands, is in the lowlands escorting his sister Matilda to visit her betrothed and to see his brother Alistair at his holding, Dunbais Castle. Noah is the eldest of triplet sons, he inherited his father’s title, the family’s main holding, and guardianship of his two younger sisters, Matilda and Iliana. They are on their way back to the highlands when they come across one of Alistair’s villages under attack. Noah sends his sister back to Alistair’s and he and his men fight off the English soldiers. Alistair arrives after the battle and they determine that Sir John Segrave is responsible. Sir John is cruel and encourages his men to brutalize the Scots. Noah and his brothers don’t want war, but they will not cede their country to King Edward, they have joined with Robert the Bruce and will fight for their freedom. After this attack, they plan to strike back at Sir John, and what better way than to steal his bride?
Both Douglass and Noah have a lot of preconceived notions about each other, and both are shocked by the attraction they hold for each other. All Douglass wants to do is escape the handsome Scot and return to England. But when an escape attempt goes horribly and horrifically wrong, she realizes that she is better off with Noah, and can only hope he is a man of his word. They return to Alistair’s castle and there Noah shocks her by pronouncing they will marry. She is taken aback by the idea, but realizes, if she doesn’t marry him, and he does return her to her father, she will most likely have to marry Sir John, the man who did nothing to help them when Noah’s warriors attacked. She agrees but makes it clear, this is a marriage in name only, Noah agrees that he will not touch her unless she wants him to. They finally make it to his castle, by now they have both come to realize that they were wrong about the other and a true friendship begins. Things are going so well that Douglass is beginning to think that her marriage could be a true marriage. But old promises and new ones may end this union before it really gets a chance to take off, especially when allies side with enemies.
This was a well-written, nicely-paced start to what is shaping up to be a great new series. I will admit that I am not a fan of the name Douglass for the heroine, but aside from that, I really liked her character, she made a true effort to be open-minded, and besides that, she was intelligent, compassionate, loyal, and steadfast in her feelings. Noah was equally as wonderful, but that is not to say they didn’t hit any bumps in the road to their HEA, but they also didn’t let miscommunications and assumptions poison them either. This enemy-to-lovers story is filled with emotion, action, hard choices, wonderful secondary characters, steamyish love scenes, a sweet secondary romance, a couple of nail-biting moments, and finally a HEA, complete with an epilogue that nicely sets up the next book. I am happy to recommend this title as I enjoyed this book and will be eagerly awaiting the next installment!
*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.*