by Lisa Berne
Series: The Penhallow Dynasty #2
Published on August 29, 2017 by Avon
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
Lisa Berne’s Penhallow Dynasty series continues as a Highlander marries against his will—and discovers he may have found the perfect bride.
Alasdair Penhallow, laird of his clan and master of Castle Tadgh, is forced to end his carefree bachelorhood, thanks to an ancient decree that requires him to marry. But Alasdair’s search for a biddable wife comes to a screeching halt when Fate serves up Fiona Douglass. Prickly as a thistle, Fiona challenges him at every turn, rendering herself surprisingly irresistible. Her love would be a prize indeed . . . if Alasdair could accept it.
Fiona gave her heart once, and doesn’t plan to repeat that folly. Yet she finds herself drawn to Alasdair’s intelligence and strength, and the passion he incites goes well beyond her expectations for what’s only a marriage of expedience. Despite herself, she’s falling in love with her husband.
But there’s a high wall between them—and Fiona’s not sure it can ever be torn down.
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I’m such a sucker for historical romances, especially ones set in Scotland. This one was an. . . interesting one compared to others I’ve read as the romance wasn’t star-crossed lovers style so much as a forced arrangement that turned into something more.
I’ll be honest, the marriage between Alasdair and Fiona took me by surprise. The whole premise that there is an ancient clan rule that forces the laird to marry by a certain age within a certain number of days came off as a bit far-fetched, the way it was written, but it worked for the story. I expected the marriage to take place at the end of the story rather than near the beginning, with the book covering those certain number of days leading up to the laird’s decision.
Berne did a really good job of emphasizing that awkwardness between the couple. It made it very clear that neither party was into it and allowed for their growth as individuals and as a couple to come through. But on that same note, I felt like there wasn’t a strong foundation for their relationship and the emotions that sprung up from it other than the fact that they were forced to be together. They gained a sense of companionship from proximity but I never felt it was strong enough to encourage Alasdair’s actions at the end of the story.
But I did like that the author didn’t hesitate to separate the couple and give them time to learn more about themselves. Generally I don’t see this happen unless one of the characters is in some sort of trouble and the other has to go and save them (which is seriously overdone, y’all).
As for the characters themselves, Fiona wasn’t really likable in that her character felt flat, based solely around the fact that she’s standoffish and “cold” as Alasdair puts it at one point. I think this part of her personality was so overdone and dramatized that she didn’t have enough freedom to grow more (though I did enjoy her habit of making lists as that’s something I can totally relate to).
Alasdair was all sorts of contradictions but I think a part of that is because that was Fiona’s perspective and she had a number of opinions on him (as well as everything else) but I think that he handled everything in stride considering his entire life was going to change in a little over a month. He wasn’t a standout male lead but I didn’t get annoyed with him or anything either.
At the end of the day, this was just another historical romance. Perfect for fans of stories set in the Scottish Highlands but nothing special. I’m not sure I can recommend this particular book but I will definitely consider reading more by this author as her writing is good.