Facing certain death, Anne trembles in her stateroom while swords clash and the chilling screams of battle rage on the deck above. When a rugged Highlander kicks in her door, she prays for a swift end.
But Laird Calum MacLeod has a reason for plundering the ship—and it’s not a stunning English lass. With no other choice, he takes Anne to his crumbling keep on the isle of Raasay and sends a letter of ransom to her husband. In time, Anne grows to understand MacLeod’s plight and finds it increasingly difficult to resist Calum’s unsettling charm—until the baron sends a reply agreeing to terms.
Ripped from passion that will be forever seared into their souls, will Anne and Calum risk everything for love?
Comment: I've known about this book in some site but I can't remember exactly where now. Thinking about it, I probably added to my list of possible interests and later on to my TBR because of the trope. Although not my absolute favorite, I tend to like it when stories focus on people that even though they aren't exactly opposites attract, they are sort of antagonists but that with time and interactions change their perspectives and start liking the other and falling in love. I think this romance did this quite well.
In this story we meet Lady Anne, a young woman promised and married by proxy to a much older man, someone who saw at a ball and decided she would be his wife. On her journey to meet her new husband, the ship where she is traveling is attacked by Scots and the crew is left in a little boat. Anne was not expected so the pirates take her in order to send a ransom note.
The problem is that the pirate who led the attack, Calum McLoad, is quite captivating and Anne can't help but feeling attracted to him. Things change even more when Anne realizes the Scots didn't attack the ship to get its riches; they did it to feed and help the population that wasn't meeting ends meet that easily. Having a direct contact with everyone, interacting with people she wouldn't in her daily life but who charmed her and falling in love with Calum could have been the best time of Anne's life if not for the fact she was actually a married woman and she will return to her husband...
Thinking about the overall experience of reading this book, I must say I liked it. I was engaged from page one, I was interested in seeing how the relationship between the protagonists would develop and I also liked how Anne got to be in a different but positive situation if one considers the emotional and social environment she is put in.
However, this story has some flaws, namely regarding the characterization of the bad guy, some situations and the believability of some scenes.
I think the plot was interesting. I liked how Anne must have been scared but behaved admirably not only while in the ship but afterwards too, especially because she is a genuine good person who helped and understood what the Scots were doing.
Most of the plot revolves around Anne's time with them and her falling in love with Calum. Then there's an almost different part where Anne finally arrives at her husband's door and we have glaring evidence she wouldn't be happy with him, an idea that was given before but then it becomes obvious.
This leads me to the characterization of the villain, which we know from the start is Anne's husband. He's a villain in two senses but the most important is the fact he is not a good person. My issue isn't exactly with this, though, but mostly due to the fact he is portrayed in such an obvious opposite way from Calum which I think works out to better let us see the differences and why being with Calum would be the most desired outcome. Sometimes this is a give and things go from there but I just felt this put in evidence, without necessity.
The romance between Calum and Anne is interesting and filled with sexual tension scenes, with scenes that convey the emotional bond they are developing as well and all the things that make them suit and be a couple. Even understanding this rather obvious tactic, I still enjoyed their scenes together and I liked how they became interesting people together, even if they were also so apart. But part of the fun of a developing relationship is precisely to see how they become better while together than apart and in this I think the author did well.
The story isn't complicated but towards the end several things happen that really increase the notion of adventure. In part, i liked this, as it enhanced the fun side and also the dangerous one, where all cards are on the table to see what would happen. However, some scenes also felt a little exaggerated and not as tasteful as the rest of the story seems to be. Perhaps this is only my impression but some things just didn't seem as well thought or consistent with what we have had so far. Still, I was happy with the way things ended, especially the HEA.
This was an interesting read, some flaws...but overall I liked spending time reading about the characters and their adventures and that counts for a lot.
I'm debating if I'll read the other stories in this Highland Force series but I might go for the next one at least and see from there.