A first hardcover in the warmed-over fairy-tale tradition of Jude Deveraux and Julie Garwood.
The bride is Gwendolyn Wilder, the only maiden in a Scottish glen where most virginity is only a memory at 15; the beast is Bernard MacCullough, laird of the glen who has returned to his broken-down castle to find out which of the villagers of Ballybliss betrayed his parents to the English. Bernard has kept his people away from Castle Weyrcraig by pretending to be the “Dragon.” He and his sidekick Tupper get their victuals by sending threatening shopping lists to the village. The mention of innocent blood in one message leads the frightened glen folk to tie Gwendolyn to a stake in the castle courtyard, in case the Dragon has a taste for virgins. Bernard cuts her down and plies her with room and board. He’s afraid that if he lets her go, she’ll blow his plans for revenge. As the Dragon visits her under cover of darkness, so that she won’t recognize him, Gwendolyn falls in love with him. He doesn’t seem to mind that she’s a bit chubby. He likes her curves, her spirit, and her intelligence. Before she gets a chance to offer him her virginity, though, the villagers return to slay the Dragon themselves. To save Gwendolyn’s life, Bernard reveals himself to his people. Heartbroken when she learns her sexy beast is just another guy, Gwendolyn rushes home, where she has spent much of her life tending to her mad father, the traitor Bernard has been seeking. When he learns her secret, Bernard tells Gwendolyn he’ll spare her dad if she’ll marry him. After an awkward dénouement, the couple will move quickly to happily-ever-after.
Instead of purveying such copycat fables, Medeiros would be better off sticking to the witchy romances she does best.