Highland Weddings #1
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Shaken from sleep during the night and bundled off to the Highlands by a burly Scot, Riona is at first terrified, then livid. Hugh McCallum insists they were promised to each other as children to ensure peace between their clans. The stubborn laird refuses to believe he's kidnapped the wrong Catriona Duff. Instead, he embarks on a campaign of slow-burning seduction.
At first, Hugh cares only what their marriage can do for his people. Now he's starting to crave Riona for her own sake, but her true identity jeopardizes his clan's contract. And unless she chooses to risk all to be his bride, he'll lose the only thing he prizes more than the lands he's fought so hard to save—the passionate marriage they could have together.
The Wrong Bride draws us in immediately as Riona's grabbed from her bed in the middle of the night and forced to travel cross country to the home of the McCallum Clan. In certain instances stories dealing with mistaken identity can be hugely stressful, anxiety over the moment everything comes to light keeping us from fully settling in, but thankfully in this case Riona is upfront from the beginning. She tries time and again to explain Hugh's error to him, and while he doesn't believe her until the concluding chapters, knowing she's not willingly keeping information from him makes for a much more enjoyable romance.
Hugh is everything that's to be expected of a highland hero; big, strapping and completely dedicated to the well-being of his clan. Though being a kidnapper of innocent women isn't much of a mark in his favor initially, he's nothing but patient with Riona as she struggles with the unfortunate events that marked the beginning of their courtship. He's more than willing to put in the time and effort to get to know her as a person, wanting their marriage to be a happy one despite its rocky start, and if that takes a little teasing and seducing, then so be it.
Riona is a bit trickier of a character, her initial outrage over her kidnapping warranted and the wariness that persists understandable, but she continues to fight Hugh (and herself) emotionally for so long that it's hard to believe she's actually come to love him by the end. The more she starts to warm to him physically, the more she chastises herself and then takes that anger out on him, and we're forced to bear witness to this internal struggle until the end when she finally comes to the realization that she actually wants to be his wife. Part of the frustration with her stems from the fact that we're experiencing her relationship with Hugh in the context of a romance novel, so we know that Hugh is the hero and a fundamentally good man from the get-go, something she obviously doesn't have the benefit of knowing with any certainty. That being said though, the way in which she continues to fight her new circumstances–refusing to try to get to know him and plotting to reveal her true identity to one of his high-ranked clansman–gets tedious after several hundred pages.
Overall, The Wrong Bride gives us a strapping Scottish hero desperately trying to make up for his late drunk of a father's cruel mistakes regarding his people, but we can't help but wish he had a heroine who showed more interest earlier so that we could have seen more of their dynamics as a couple. The concluding chapters introduce us to what will presumably be the lead couple in the next book, and Maggie and Owen's relationship leaves us with more than a little anticipation as we look ahead.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.