Highland spinster Fiona Douglass is forced to attend a house party designed to find a bride for Alasdair Penhallow and has every expectation of being looked over, but after a series of unexpected events, she finds herself married to the intriguing, infuriating man.
Fiona, the eldest and only unmarried daughter of a Scottish chieftain, has spent the past nine years being useful and resourceful in her father’s castle in an attempt to distract herself from the pain of watching her beloved sister marry the man she was in love with. Since that time she’s become a master at list-making and problem-solving, avoiding her moody father when necessary, and avoiding the many men who’d like to marry her for all the wrong reasons. So when it’s discovered that Alasdair Penhallow, the chieftain of Castle Tadgh, having reached his 35th year, must “immediately invite the eligible highborn maidens of the Eight Clans of Killaly to stay within the castle, and within thirty-five days choose one to be his bride,” Fiona is packed off to the event. Up against three much younger ladies, Fiona is perfectly content when she and Alasdair get off to a rocky start. He is obviously a ne’er-do-well with no interest in her. As the days pass, however, she begins to see him, his clan, and his lovely castle in a different light. After a tragic accident narrows the field, Alasdair and Fiona conclude that they must marry and surprise themselves by getting along quite well. Yet Alasdair mourns past losses, and Fiona, also wounded, feels spurned again by a man who makes her feel she’ll never be good enough. With her sophomore effort, Berne shows a special mastery for characters who hide their feelings, even from themselves, and yearn, even when they don’t realize it. A difficult love scene is also brilliantly rendered.
A bright, intelligent, heart-tugging romance.