Very Endearing! This is a good read!
Staring off with a prologue dating back a few generations from the books setting time (which was more of a visual 'info drop' for me), we learn of the conception, protection and subsequent robbery of the 'Circle of Light'. It is known that 'The Black Scotsman' is responsible for the thievery. The ancestors of Lady Maura O'Donnell believed the abduction of the Circle, which has always brought them happiness and prosperity before, has now brought them pain, sufferings, and all around bad luck for being neglectful in their guardian duties to it.
In the abruptly emotional first chapter, we look in on the curse swiftly taking yet another O'Donnell life. Lady Maura's father becomes suddenly ill and dies; coincidentally on the same day he reads of 'The Black Scotsman's arrival in Ireland and a masquerade to be held in his honor. Alec McBride received the nickname from the hordes of admiring misses, but that doesn't change the fact that he is indeed a decedent of 'The Black Scotsman'.
After the funeral of the Earl, Maura's father, she and the family butler (a long-time friend, and more like family) head off to a town near the Baron who is hosting the masquerade in McBrides' honor. Maura promised her father on his death-bed that she would do whatever she could to bring the Circle back to their homeland and to their people. Through some deception she feels keenly regretful for, Maura manages an invite to the party; and also secures herself a room to retire in afterward, before she 'continues on her nomad's traveling journey'(a convenient lie).
Serendipitously, Maura spots the man she seeks dressed up for the masquerade exactly like her; like a pirate. After some flirtatious banter about pirates looking for booty and dancing around fires naked, Maura's plan proceeds precisely as she hopes, and she is invited into Alec's room.
Some hot and steamy interludes almost detract Maura's plan, but she's able to salvage all with a little trickery and well placed blood smears on the sheets. (Sorry to be so ominousness, but you will enjoy the book far more if you find out the means and mechanics to the deceit on your own.).Also according to her plan; she awakens in his bed as they are discovered by the Baron and her 'Uncle Murdoch' (the butler). Honor dictates a marriage, and so there is a marriage.
Reluctant at first, having no memory of taking Maura's virginity or desire to wed her, Alec follows through and can't escape the nagging feeling that he has been 'had'. They continue on to his Scotland estate and Alec inwardly vows to make Maura pay for whatever deception she has played at. In between through searches of the estate, and doing everything in her power (save beating Alec over the head with a stick) to avoid her husbands advances, Maura find herself playing a very dangerous game with her loyalties and her heart,
Eventually, Alec puts two and two together and realizes that her never slept with Maura (ever!), but the realization comes on the heels of an incendiary, playful 'romp' on the estate grounds which leads to kisses, which leads to deflowering. Calmly angry, Alec demands the truth and is part relieved, part angered beyond comprehension with the discovery that Maura's whole motivation for wedding him was over a 'Myth'. Also revealed is the fact that Maura purchased the services of a priest stripped of his privileges of office and thus their marriage is a false one.
Tender feelings between the two were already present before Maura's deflowering, but like a dam, once such feelings are released and explored once, they can never be reigned in, and passion soon takes precedence over everything else.
A scary moment at the bottom of a well, the discovery of the true whereabouts of the 'Circle of Life' and Alec's unnecessary jaunt back to Ireland to fetch his 'Irish' ends the book SMASHINGLY!
Rating: 3 1/2 "Aww's"
My Favorite Part of the Book: Is how Maura comes to care for Alec. More specifically, the realization that her search for the 'Circle of Light' has changed from being for the sake of her father to being for the sake of Alec (her love). The curse of the Circle effects not only the family that failed to protect it, but the family that stole it in the first place; and having recently witness the sudden quickness with which the curse consumed her father, and hearing how it took Alec's father, Maura is heartbroken with worry. This is a thought-line that if I were writing this book, I wouldn't think of at first or maybe not at all. It really resonates somewhere and helps translate for the reader the depth of Maura's affection for Alec!
Overall, I enjoyed the book; a lot more than I thought I would, seeing as to the fact that I don't really indulge in Scottish or Irish themed romances. The dialogue lacked in certain spots and lost me a time or two during the 'Hey look, your dressed like a pirate, I am dressed like a pirate' banter. It really began to pick up as you moved along in the story, and the epilogue is just DARLING! I enjoy Sam Jam a lot and have read a few of her titles so far; while this book doesn't disappoint necessarily, it left a little to be desired (in my opinion). The ending chapters of this book and the myriad of twists in the plot have solidified my full recommendation to all you book lovers out there!
-An excerpt from the book can be found on SamJam's website:excerpt of 'Bride of a Wicked Scotsman'
*Also check out the companion books to the McBride Trilogy series! 'The Secret Passions of Simon Blackwell', Alec's sister Anne's Story!
*And (a personal favorite) 'The Seductions of an Unknown Lady', Alec's brother Aidan's Story!