Kenneth Sutherland can do no wrong in the eyes of all the lasses who gather around him as he wins game after game at the Highland Games. He can have his pick of any of them and loves it. He would never let something like marriage get in the way of having his way with the lasses so when King Robert Bruce asks him to marry his former sister-in-law, he agrees right away. To Kenneth, marriage is for having an heir and making alliances. It was an acceptable practice back then to have women outside the marriage. He never dreams that she would refuse the betrothal.
He wants to get into the Highland Guard more than anything. The Highland Guard is an elite secret group of warriors who are the best of the best. His only obstacle is his hot temper and his soon to be brother-in-law who has agreed to step out of the way if he wins all of the competitions at the Highland Games and so far he has won them all with just one more event to go.
I was dying laughing at the interchange between Mary and Kenneth…how Kenneth was trying to embarrass her by his play on words in front of her friend, Margery after the event in stables where she watched as he had sex with a lass. Instead of turning away, Mary watched, fascinated by how he made the girl respond. He caught her watching but she didn’t see him looking at her, at first, because she was too busy watching his body and what he was doing. But what made me laugh was the way he was when he sees her a few days later, he was blatantly being suggestive to her, thinking she was an attendant to Lady Margery instead of a countess and the woman who Robert wants to betroth him to. Mary lets him believe it, then uses him like a stud for one reckless night of wanton pleasure and then leaves him while he is asleep. It’s nothing he hasn’t done a hundred times before to the lasses but the roles were reversed. I couldn’t wait for him to find out who she really was especially after his response to her when she told him, “I’ve heard you are to be betrothed.” And he asked, “What does that have to do with us?”
Mary of Mar is the widow of Earl of Atholl who was hung for treason by the English king for fighting for Scotland under Robert Bruce against him. She was married to him at the young age of 14 and got pregnant right away. Her husband was a revered warrior and a playboy. She gave him her heart but he couldn’t have cared less. He was always away and they lived apart. She barely knew him. She has had her son taking away from her before he was six months old and raised at the English court. She has been trying to keep anyone like the king from noticing her by wearing shapeless, colorless clothing and covering her head with ugly veils so she isn’t forced into a political marriage. She likes her freedom albeit the little she is allowed living in England but the king hasn’t forgot about her. He sends her to Scotland to try to negotiate with Robert Bruce during the Highland Games. The King knows she’ll come back since her son is with him in England.
When Robert Bruce suggests a betrothal to Kenneth Sutherland, she knows she will refuse but agrees to meet him anyway. She goes out for air and she stumbles upon a beautiful god-like man having sex with a woman. He was taking his time and taking care to give the woman pleasure. Her husband never did that. It oddly turns her on. She is embarrassed afterwards and hopes to avoid him while she is at the games…whoever he is. _____ I laughed at how she didn’t realize she still had on the spectacles that she had tied around her head while she was sewing before she went out for fresh air until she got back to her room.
She figures out who he is when she sees him on the field at the games. She hopes he doesn’t recognize her but she is out of luck. She tries to duck behind someone in the crowd but he nods directly to her and then catches up to her and propositions her.
Kenneth is infatuated with the skinny little nun-like creature who is not falling at his feet in adoration like all the other lasses. He likes lasses who don’t challenge him and only want to please….doesn’t he? He is outraged once he finds out who she is and how she didn’t tell him the truth. Then she dares to refuse the betrothal and she leaves to go back to England before the games are over. He is so angry that he loses a competition which costs him his place in the competition.
He gets another chance to be in the Guard but he has to compete and go through grueling training to get there. Now, as a test, Robert Bruce is sending him to England to spy. It’s a dangerous operation and guess who he runs into….the woman who has been on his mind for months but she is all filled out with curves, not skinny anymore and not hiding under ugly clothing. He is going to make her pay for what she cost him by making her want him more than anything.
I stayed up all night reading this book. I couldn’t put it down. That sounds cliché but it’s the truth. I’m sure my buns will be sore for sitting so long but it’s worth it.