Morag Farquhar is a woman fleeing for her life, from her English aristocratic brother, with her young charge - Rob. Her brother is the newly titled Baron of Wolfsdale after a mysterious horse riding accident killed her father.
She and Rob have travelled for many months to finally arrive at Cragenlaw Castle, in the Scottish Highlands, on a dark and dismal day. The weather is throwing a brutal storm at them and the Laird of the keep, Euan McArthur, has lost his third wife and stillborn son during childbirth.
The witches curse from his careless youth continues to rip any chance of an heir from him as each of his three wives die during childbirth and all his babes have been stillborn sons.
As Morag encounters the McArthur and bargains for a place in his stronghold for her and Rob, she quickly realizes he does not recognize her from the young girl who nursed him back to health after he was almost fatally wounded on the battlefield. Their time together, back in the cave she had hid him in, turned from caring into lovers. A time she has never forgotten and feelings never erased.
After a difficult labour and childbirth, Morag was pronounced barren by the midwife and would have no more babies. This news becomes Euan's salvation. It has been many years since he's been able to lie with a woman without the fear that loving them would eventually kill them if they became pregnant. The drive to beget an heir pushed him to marry three times, but never again would he marry, unless the witches curse can be lifted. However, taking a leman that is barren seems the logical solution to all.
Morag still has feelings for Euan and her and Rob's safety is more assured the longer they can stay within the McArthur stronghold. So she agrees to his terms and becomes his leman.
This story dragged me in almost immediately. Frances Housdens' writing style is different and intriguing. The blend of the Scottish phrasing and words throughout the story really helped me to quickly feel absorbed back in Scotland. The descriptive tone took me to the Scottish Highlands back in 1069.
I am originally from Australia and spent many years living in Scotland and could imagine the accent and the characters easily as I was reading.
Mhairi wasn't in a mood for taking any of his nonsense. "Aye, I did, and gave it a fine skelp as well, for weren't you a right wee devil? ..."
Right from the very beginning there were questions I was asking, that I needed the answers to. Frances ensnared my interest early and didn't disappoint as the plot progressed.
Why didn't Euan recognise Morag when he first saw her? Why didn't Morag confront Euan about his abandonment of her? Why didn't Euan recognise Morag after she became his leman? These are just a few questions that I needed answered, and they are handled very believably as you begin to understand the motivations for each character and as the many secrets slowing give you another missing piece of the answer. Of course don't be surprised if you learn one thing and then have another three questions.
There are many secrets within the keep and the occupants and visitors whose daily lives twisted and twirled kept me regretting having to put the iPad down for that luxury in my life I call sleep.
The erotic scenes were more than I'd expected, but were very welcome. I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptive style and frequency of the scenes. This was definately my style of book. It had all my personal favourites - a great story, believable characters, lots of erotic scenes with a strong romance theme, suspense, intrigue and mystery and best of all it's set in the Scottish Highlands a few hundred years ago.
A thoroughly great read that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone who enjoys a very 'spicy' romance.
"I never spoke her name, never heard it cross her lips, it was best not to know anything that could betray the other. I simply called her Love -- better going without that intimacy than betraying her if I were caught."
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