Tempting the Laird (Highland Grooms #5)
by Julia London
Unruly. Unmarried. Unapologetic. Catriona Mackenzie’s reputation precedes her everywhere she goes. Her beloved late aunt Zelda taught Cat to live out loud and speak her mind, and that’s exactly what she does when Zelda’s legacy—a refuge for women in need—comes under fire. When her quest puts her in the path of the disturbingly mysterious Hamlin Graham, Duke of Montrose, Cat is soon caught up in the provocative rumors surrounding the dark duke. Never one to retreat, Cat boldly goes where no one else has dared for answers.
Shrouded in secrets, a hostage of lies, Hamlin must endure the fear and suspicion of those who believe he is a murderer. The sudden disappearance of his wife and the truth he keeps silent are a risk to his chances at earning a coveted parliamentary seat. But he’s kept his affairs tightly held until a woman with sparkling eyes and brazen determination appears unexpectedly in his life. Deadly allegations might be his downfall, but his unleashed passion could be the duke’s ultimate undoing.
Themes: Historical, Scotland
Rating: 4 stars
The outrageous and sometimes crazy Mackenzie family is back with another sibling finding their love in the most unlikely of places and circumstances in this latest masterpiece by an author that continues to astonish readers with her ability to weave a tale of love and adventure. Each of the elder siblings have found the types of love that their mother and father found, but Catriona is firmly on the shelf and, while mourning the loss of her beloved aunt, doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. Ms. London’s skill at bringing her characters to life and making you feel like you are living their story with them never ceases to make her one of my favorite authors and this story kept me enthralled even at moments when the story could have gotten the tiniest bit tedious. I thoroughly enjoyed Cat and Hamlin’s story and was thrilled to see them find a way to bring their lives together and find their happiness, without either of them having to sacrifice their dreams for their future. I am looking forward to whatever comes next in the series and wonder just whose romance might be coming up, but have no doubt that who it is will be an excellent story.
Catriona is firmly on the shelf and sees no problem with it, even though she once wished for other things. She has decided to continue with her Aunt’s mission in life, but with it now in jeopardy, she gives in to her family’s pressure and travels to her uncle’s estate to seek his counsel and assistance with her problems. Hamlin, Duke of Montrose, while not exactly happy, is content to live his dark and lonely existence on his estate with his ward, with no interference from his once friendly and meddling neighbors. Rumored to have killed his wife, Hamlin never imagined that a woman like Catriona would burst into his life and become lodged there like a persistent thorn in his thumb. The deeper Catriona inserts herself into his life the more he begins to appreciate her light and the life she returns to his dreary existence, but just when he begins to accept that he will give up all his life goals in order to have her forever the past comes back to haunt him. Only the true love and compassion of a woman like Catriona could ever allow him to dig himself out of the hole he finds himself in, but the question is will she still want him at the end of his task?
Both Catriona and Hamlin as individual characters were unique and interesting, but the best part about them is the obvious ways in which they complimented each other; they truly were the yin to the other’s yang in almost every way, which made them able to embrace their differences and find a deep and abiding love together despite their differences, or maybe even because of them. Catriona is certainly a spirited woman, well before her time, but she is also compassionate, loving, sweet, adventurous, giving, and strong. Cat won’t ever let any man dictate her life to her, not even her husband, and having a man life Montrose shower her with unlimited attention could have easily gone to her head, but she remained the same woman through their entire courtship. Ultimately her well-roundedness is what truly makes her so lovable not just to Hamlin but to the reader as well. Hamlin, Duke of Montrose, is an enigma himself. While he is obviously the type of man that gives his loyalty, his trust is harder to earn and his love is nearly impossible. After being badly burned by his wife, he could easily have let that turn him into a bastard, but while he is aloof a lot, especially in crowds, it is obvious to this reader that was more of a coping mechanism and a way to keep people from seeing how hurt he was by losing his wife. His willingness to sacrifice for those he loves is apparent immediately and as we see him falling more and more in love and opening himself to Catriona and his ward Eula, we get to see that vulnerability and how it makes him more approachable and lovable as a character.
Overall I loved Catriona and Hamlin’s story, though there were a few little moments of tedium here and there that could have been cut out and still left an awesome story behind. Catriona is a brave and strong heroine, even when she has her moments of doubt and fear, and refuses to ever lose sight of what truly matters in life. Hamlin’s strength might be in other areas and more readily apparent than Catriona’s, but it has its own draw and makes him a leader of men at a time when those were truly needed. I love seeing these two fumbling their way through their love affair and still ultimately finding a way to come together as a family and find a way to move forward with their futures. The passions between Catriona and Hamlin sprang lava hot from the first instance they shared a look, and when it finally spewed forth that love was scorch-the-earth hot, so hot it barely had time to truly heat up the pages before the fire alarms were going off!. I was thrilled with the ending of this story, even if there were times when I wondered where the author was headed with certain plot-lines within the story. If you are looking for a sexy read full of hot Scots and sweet and adventurous highland lasses, you won’t go wrong with Tempting the Laird, though of course I always recommend returning to the original by starting at the beginning of the series. More please Julia!
*ARC provided by author for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review. No compensation was provided.