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I’ve long been a fan of historical romance novels because the sexy quotient is off the chains HOT. Yes, there’s issues with it, but I am here only for the fantasy and romance sometimes we just need a vice to keep us going and historical romances are a vice to a degree. You come without expectations and leave with that warm fuzzy feeling if done right. The world building, the intrigue, suspense, and the conflict. Historical Romances do a good job of it. But you know who does a bloody good job of it; Maya Banks. This book… this damn book… I loved it, loved it so much I read it five times after the first in quick succession and when I am looking to give myself a little boost of lift, I go back to it. If it was in paperback, it’d be badly dog-eared and bear in mind that this was a second re-read and it still had the same effect on my entire being. This book is so beautifully done.
PLOT: Graeme Montgomery is forced by the King of Scotland to marry Eveline Armstrong. All seems harmless until we understand that the Armstrongs and the Montgomerys are rivals and said rivalry is cause enough for the King’s concern to try and force peace between the two clans in a marriage bond. The clans are mad, mad I tell you, Graeme’s brothers hate it, the Armstrongs loathe it but for King and country they simply need to get on with it.
Eveline, lovely, lovely Eveline, is rumoured to be “touched” read; slow, because she has not spoken a word in three year though not much is known as to why, not even the fact that this occurred after her accident from a horse. However, unbeknownst to everyone but us dear reader, Eveline is not without wit, rather she might be the smartest most certainly is the bravest person in the story. Bravery and smarts unknown to her parents which makes their fear and concern understandable.
Eveline is taken from her home, and into the lion’s den and the hostilities are apparent.
Graeme cannot in anyway consummate the marriage to someone who cannot consent to it. Therefore, he is resigned to the king’s wishes however does not like it; he had hopes of carrying on the legacy and passing it to his sons, just like his father passed it down to him. A father who was killed by the Armstrong Grandfather. Though he is resigned to this marriage and is not in any way pleased that his king has foisted such a predicament on him and his clan, Graeme cannot help but be an ally to Eveline. There is something about her; on their first meeting, she reacts to him in a way she has not done to anyone in her clan for three years, though she is losing her sense of memory of sound there is a resonance in his voice when he speaks that she can just about hear and it is pleasing to her. This on the first visit… BEAUTIFUL. This scene is just so lovely and Banks sets us up for what goes on to be a charming and beautiful love story between these two and we are firmly in their corner and protective of the story unfolding.
Graeme knows Eveline will need an ally, although he is not convinced all is as it seems besides the fact that she reacts to him, that evening in her family home she visits him in his chamber and their interaction even without her speaking, is both funny and endearing; two qualities in a scene that can go wrong but Banks lands it so right by writing it so right as well.
Upon arrival to the Montgomery crypt, Graeme sets Rorie , his sister and the youngest of the Montgomery children, the task of chaperoning Eveline to help her acclimatise to her new digs because and get to know her new home also because the Montgomery clans are still pissed at having the King treat their Laird in this way.
Events however come to a head that forces the words from her mouth and everything starts to unravel by her utterances of those words. It would lead her back to the enemy and threaten the fragile peace between two clans who war will engulf much of Scotland if it happens.
Characters; I loved every single character in this story, its rare that a reader be so invested in the secondary characters as well, but every single one of them, even the bad ones were so good and well-rounded and just the right amount of what and who they needed to be especially when they were off page.
Graeme was my absolute favourite. He is Eveline’s champion from the moment he meets her; for some reason he has an unshakeable need to protect her. He could be anything to her, but he chooses to be kind and caring almost immediately. He is mesmerised by her besides her beauty, the moment they shared in his chamber on his visit, lends credence to his suspicion about Eveline, it’s such a beautiful moment and funny.
Eveline comes a close second, she is pipped by Graeme only by a hair and it’s rare that I prefer the guy to the girl in such books but only by a tiny bit I promise. Despite her affliction she is confident, does not shirk or shrink and there is a courage to her quietness that I absolutely adore. Moments of her inner musings bring the reader along and in every scene she is superior… I just LOVE HER.
Rorie, sweet darling Rorie aka Sweeting; she wants more for her life than is expected of her, she has spunk and wants to do great things for her family one day. She is Eveline’s constant champion. Rorie and Graeme, are the ones who are first to understand Eveline when she tries to communicate and this means a lot more than we realise until its not too late.
Writers take note; when writing younger siblings Rorie is perfect.
As noted, this is an utterly delightful love story, it is heavy in the right parts, light and infused with humour. Stories that revolve around community and family are often the richest of its kind. There story unfolds very well paced; we are not kept waiting, nor are the characters even in the quiet moments; which is as it should be. Revelations are not long drawn the comedic timing pitch perfect. Banks does a splendid job in bringing us into Eveline’s POV, so flawlessly; her insight takes centre stage and when we find out that she is only deaf from the fall and can speak… we lean in and listen a little more. This was such a splendid love story I would change nothing.
The bath scene. After everything has unfolded with Eveline, there is a scene where Graeme bathes her, the way he washes her hair, the absolute care taken to make sure that her ordeal does not come back to haunt her… this scene was the perfect bow to an excellently fleshed out story. How could you not fall in love?
Definitely belongs on your TBR, but you have to actually read it, because you will love it. I promise you.