|Lady Maura O’Donnell is desperate. On his deathbed, her father made her promise to recover the “Circle of Light,” a treasure that was stolen two centuries ago by the Black Scotsman, a pirate. This circle had been entrusted to her Irish clan and once taken, sent the clan into despair, with a curse that brought pestilence and destroyed their prosperity. Her father died from a mysterious illness, which he laid at the hands of the Black Scotsman, who happened to have descendants that were entering the English court.
Alec McBride is the descendant of that ancient pirate, although he is unaware of any curse. Yet his family has also suffered numerous disasters, one of them his father’s death from an illness that no doctor could explain. Alec, who holds the title of the Duke of Gleneden, is in London looking for a bride. He is tricked into marrying Maura, who attends a masquerade as a lady pirate, and who drugs, and seduces him in order to force a marriage. Her plan is to get to his home and search for the circle, returning it to her homeland. She thinks the marriage arranged by her “uncle” (who is actually her butler and friend) is not legal and thus she could leave Alec as soon as she found her trophy.
Alec is intrigued by his bride and finds himself wanting to please her while also wanting back the pirate lady seductress from the night they met. They spend their days getting to know each other while playing at seduction. Maura holds him off until finally their lust overflows. During this time, she searches for the amulet and he tries to find her weaknesses.
These two battle throughout their early married days as they seek to discover the secrets of the other. Alec is certain Maura only married him for his money and he uses trickery to try to get her to show her “true colors.” Meanwhile, Maura is worried sick he will discover her real purpose and try to thwart her attempts at stealing the circle, which no one has seen or heard of in over 200 years. All the while they are fighting their attraction and ultimately their love.
It is clear from the beginning that their many secrets will catch up to them and they did, with predictable results. Now instead of just trying to use each other and exact revenge, they had real reasons to mistrust. It was only James’s talents that kept the tale from being unreadable. Their scenes of lovemaking and the relationship building-up to lovemaking were often touching. When Alec would call her “Irish” and she answered “Scotsman.” the feelings of warmth surged from the pages. These tender and often funny moments carried the love story. As it was, there were distractions and at times disillusionment, but the story still moved well.
Their relationship was often strained and at one point, it felt like they were arguing for argument’s sake. Then when the big misunderstanding came, it went as one could have predicted. The reconciliation was also nothing new. Yet, I found that I was engaged towards the end of the story and could almost forgive some of the uncertainties I had felt in earlier parts.
Bride of a Wicked Scotsman is a bit of a mixed bag, but it ultimately delivers. The reader will need to be patient at the beginning, however, and let the story develop to reach that level of satisfaction.