27 July 2015

The Highlander Takes a Bride by Lynsay Sands (Highlander #3/An English Bride in Scotland #3)

Summary from Goodreads:
A bold, seductive laird meets his passionate match in a scintillating Highland romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands...

Sword fighting, swearing, and riding astride come naturally to Saidh Buchanan. Simpering and holding her tongue—definitely not. Raised alongside seven boisterous brothers, Saidh has little interest in saddling herself with a husband... until she glimpses the new Laird MacDonnell bathing naked in the loch. Though she's far from a proper lady, the brawny Highlander makes Saidh feel every inch a woman.

She has an angel's looks, a warrior's temper, and seeks out his kisses with wanton eagerness. Little wonder that Greer is intrigued by his comely guest. When reckless desire overtakes them, he's more than willing to make an honest woman of her. But Saidh is the target of a hidden enemy, and Greer faces the battle of his life to safeguard the woman he wants above all others.

In To Marry a Scottish Laird, Lady Saidh Buchanan is one of the young ladies gathered in the Sinclair castle to tempt the hero laird into marriage - which is unnecessary because he arrives home married to the heroine, Joan.  At the opening of The Highlander Takes a Bride Saidh has become friends with Joan and has kept her company during the birth of Joan's first child.  It's a nice break from Saidh's seven brothers.  However, Saidh learns that her cousin Fenella's fourth husband, Laird MacDonnell, has died.  Four husbands in four years....Saidh sets out for MacDonnell, determined to find out what is wrong.

Greer, as the new laird, has a pretty good life, deceased cousin, deceased cousin's weepy wife, and too many visitors aside.  However, the arrival of blunt-tongued, sword-wielding, braies-wearing Siadh is a welcome addition to MacDonnell.  It's turns out he thinks she's pretty perfect - so he invites Saidh's seven brothers to MacDonnell....so he can marry Saidh.  He doesn't exactly tell her this.

This is where it really turns into a typical Sands novel.  It's one thing that always annoys me - that the heroines don't always get much say in whether they get married and when.  Granted, all the heroes and heroines are usually panting for each other by that time but the marriages are often hasty and sometimes executed in the wake of "ruination".  Now, Sands does try to make a point here by having Saidh ask each of her brothers of they are "ruined" by having sex without marriage - clearly, being males as opposed to females, they are not - but the sequence feels clunky and rushed, particularly after the brothers try to beat the crap out of Greer on sight.  I enjoyed having Saidh's brothers in the novel. They brought a lot of humor to the book and the 7-brothers-and-1-sister banter was very sweet.

I am going to caution Sands, though.  She's starting to skate dangerously close to Stephanie Laurens territory by recycling so may of her murderous plot elements.  This wasn't quite as bad as the first book in the series, An English Bride in Scotland, but the methodology - and some modern-sounding deductive reasoning - has been seen before in several of her other books.  I'd like to see her work through a novel without a complicated, recycled murder plot.

The Highlander Takes a Bride is available July 28, 2015.

Dear FTC: I received a digital advance copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.

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