Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Had she been any other place, Daisy might have fanned herself. As it was, she was on the verge of swooning […] in that moment of lust and fear, she could not think of a single other time she has ever been so completely enthralled by one man.”
Daisy Bristol, Lady Chadwick, dutifully married the man her parents choose for her despite her love for another. An arranged marriage to a much older man, Daisy grew to care deeply for him. When he contracts an illness right after the birth of their son that confines him to bed, ending all any and all engagements, Daisy chooses to stay faithful and by his side. Having developed an affectionate relationship with him and assuming he felt the same, she was shocked when he tells her that she would have to remarry within three years of his death or their son would forfeit his title and inheritance.
Enjoying the attentions of eligible men vying for her affections, Daisy soon realizes none of them are attracted to her but more her money. Besieged by fortune hunters, Daisy takes to hiding in her townhouse, until she receives a letter from her first love, Captain Robert Spivey. He declares his love for her has never died and is resigning his commission and coming home to her. Unable to remain in London to wait for him, Daisy packs up her household and travels to Scotland to her husband’s hunting lodge, Auchenard, for some peace and quiet until Robert arrives in London and they can meet. On the way there, a broken wheel forces her party to stop and there she meets a man who sets her heart pounding and her fantasies racing.
“She closed her eyes and imagined being kidnapped by him, carried off on the back of his horse, tossed onto a bed in some rustic castle. She imagined his hands his rather large hands on her body.”
Cailean Mackenzie, laird of Arrandale, is the future Laird of the Clan MacKenzie. Fans of this series will note that his parents were the hero and heroine of book one-Wild Wicked Scott. A serious, brooding man, he has sworn off marriage after a woman played with his affections only to turn down his proposal of marriage due to his heritage. He is not pleased to see a Sassenach entering his glen and living so close to his family, his home, and his secrets.
“You should is no’ safe for Sassenach women and children. Repair your wheel, turn about, and head for the sea.”
Daisy is once again besieged by suitors once news of her fortune gets out; except by the man she wants. Cailean goes out of his way to avoid Daisy. He and his family have secrets that could spell disaster should the English catch wind of it. He has no need for women, especially not an English one and But he soon finds himself unwillingly drawn to her, seeking her out time and time again much against his will.
Sinful Scottish Laird is the second installment in Julia London’s historical Highland Grooms series but is structured to be comfortably read as a standalone. This sensual, heartfelt, and amusing story brings together a young widow who is determined to live her life on her own terms and a conflicted Scotsman whose former dealings with the English and women has left a bad taste in his mouth. Witty dialogue and an and interesting foray through the Scotland countryside and the political intrigues of this era adds to the appeal and conflict of the story-making the actions of the characters far more believable.
Though all the characters are charming and well developed, Daisy is the strongest and most compelling of the lot. She is a contradiction with her vivacious, bold, and seemingly flighty personality that is at odds with her intelligence, strength, and sheer willpower. She is still reeling from the betrayal of her husband and the discovery that she was nothing more than a womb for his child. She is angry that her agency has been taken from her by her late husband and is determined to find her happiness while securing her child’s legacy. At times she seems a little too modern for this time period but her widowhood grants her much leeway.
Meeting Cailean and indulging in her attraction to him is at first a way to pass the time. As she spends more time with Cailean, she sees the strength and loyalty that resides within him and falls in love. She holds a faint bit of hope that Cailean will be her knight in shining armor, giving her the life she wants but she knows deep down that there is only one choice she can make to ensure her son’s future.
“She was losing him, losing herself. She was losing everything. Her freedom. Her garden. Her heart. Everything was lost.”
Cailean is quite the curmudgeon at times whose past and future hold tight to him. Building his home and planning on taking over the clan when his father steps down is both a blessing and a weight upon his shoulders. Daisy annoys him at first with her playfulness and brazen flirting. She reminds him of a prior lover and he refuses to play her games. As he gets to know her, he sees the brilliant witty woman who lights up a room with her smile and laughter. He sees a loving mother and a caring friend. Delightful scenes brimming with wit and charm only serve to further fuel the burning chemistry that exists between this couple.
“You bewitch me, Daisy.” He said gruffly. “From the first moment I laid eyes on you, you have bewitched me.”
Though the romance is what certainly will capture readers attention most, the relationship that truly commanded a large part of this reader’s heart is between Cailean and Ellis, Daisy’s son. Cailean takes a young boy who’s scared of his own shadow and begets a friendship that gives this child joy, strength, and confidence.
“Rest assured when you come back, I’ll be right here, just over those trees, waiting for you to come round and tell me your adventures.”
“Do you swear it”
“I give you my word as a Highlander and a Mackenzie.”
Sinful Scottish Laird is an appealing addition to London’s Highland Grooms saga that offers readers an amusing and heartfelt romance swirling with intrigue, conflict, and reluctant hearts. Perfect for all those who love an emotional historical romance that champions the indomitable will of love and family.