The Montgomery and Armstrong clans have been at odds for so long they don’t even remember how the feud began but they despise each other all the same. The king needs them allied and forces a marriage between the chieftain of the Montgomery clan and the fiercely protected daughter of the Armstrong clan. There’s nothing like a forced marriage to make peace, right?
Graeme is not pleased. Not only is he being forced to marry, he’s being forced to marry his enemy’s spawn who is rumored to be “touched” but he doesn’t let it show. Even when Eveline’s mother attempts to discourage the match he reacts with humor.
“She doesn’t speak. Hasn’t since she awakened from a deep slumber of over a fortnight.”
“Tis all? She doesn’t speak?” Some husband would be grateful for such a gift.
He doesn’t want to declare war against his king and resigns himself to the fact that his wife is one he’ll have to “take care of” rather than love. But from the moment he meets Eveline he realizes the rumors may not be entirely fair. She appears to understand him and she listens to him with her entire focus despite the fact that everyone believes she’s daft. She is lovely and sweet and determined to be a real wife and soon he is very conflicted about his longing for her.
This was a refreshingly old style historical Scottish romance that was incredibly charming. Eveline is not daft but she is deaf and we get to know her very intimately through her thoughts in the early scenes. From very beginning she is amenable to marrying Graeme because the timbre of his voice registers with her and breaks up the deafening silence that fills her days. The story is almost completely character focused until the last quarter or so which is probably why I enjoyed it so very much. It tells of Eveline’s struggle to fit in, her sweet and tender romance with Graeme who may be a rough and tough clan leader but is also one of the kindest, compassionate heroes around. Rounding out the characterization is Eveline’s friendship with Rorie and her attempts at becoming an accepted member of the clan.
I loved the romance development between Graeme and Eveline. They have an immediate connection and were able to communicate non-verbally. I was wondering how the author was going to handle that bit but she did it well. Eveline is very likable and intelligent and Graeme realizes it right away. He was understanding, patient and surprisingly tender towards her even in the very beginning. He wasn’t a typical man slut or a-hole warrior type. The two were very well matched and I enjoyed reading about them.
Eveline and Graeme’s younger sister Rorie’s relationship was, for me anyway, almost as engaging as the main romance. Rorie is tough and mischievous and lonely. She is a great ally for Eveline who really needed one. It was sweet watching them become so close and work through the language barrier quite amusingly.
“You did manage to tell me, although let me say this is the most one-sided conversation I've ever had in my life. I'm quite worn out now.”
“I was prepared to dislike you.”
Eveline flinched. Dislike was nothing new to her and yet it still managed to make her feel inferior.
“But I find that for whatever reason I’m unable to. You have a certain charm, I suppose. And now since I like you, it means I’m going to have to protect you from the rest of the clan, which also means they aren’t going to be happy with me.”
Rorie shrugged as she made the statement.
“They don’t much like me either, just so you know. The women think I’m hopeless and the men think I’m too focused on matters that shouldn’t concern a lass my age. They mostly ignore me, but if my brother weren’t the laird, I would be treated with higher disdain.”
I definitely recommend this book if you’re a fan of character driven romances. The plot wasn’t anything new if you’ve read a few of these “feuding clan and arranged marriage” plots but I didn’t care because the characters were so engaging. There are no big battles and political crap taking over the story. I hate it when that happens. The pace isn’t fast and furious but I never once found my mind drifting while listening.
Narration Notes: In a word? Fabulous. The accents were beautifully done and I didn’t want to stop listening. The narrative was pleasant but those accents, oh my! The narrator really brought the characters to life and I couldn’t get enough.