★ ★ ★ THREE STARS
“How did two people whose lives up to this point had been filled with trauma and pain find a way to each other when everything around them conspired against them?”
This was an entertaining and surprisingly educational read! Set in the Scottish historical period of the witch trials, the story followed Elizabeth Ruthvel and Lachlan Douglas in an arranged marriage trope that hoped to end the feud that had been escalating between their clans for decades.
“The hatred between their two families ran too deep for the fighting to end.”
While I am always a fan of arranged marriage tropes (as I love to see how they learn to rely on one another and slowly fall in love) this one just wasn’t a very big hit for me. I enjoyed the slow burn between the characters as well as their unending loyalty to their families, but I just felt like something was missing from this. A special spark that would really capture my attention and have me eagerly awaiting to find out what happened next. Sadly, this wasn’t the case.
Despite this, I did still enjoy the book. The characters were highly likeable and had a good growth over the period of the story. Elizabeth was a strong woman who had not been given freedom or experiences up until her arranged marriage, so I felt it hard to judge her actions too harshly. While they were not actions I would normally support or wish for in a character, I could not entirely fault her for them considering how her family had brought her up. Having lived a very sheltered, controlled life (except for her mother’s death) she had not had much exposure with complicated dating situations. This made the unrealistic and feeble decisions she made during certain events in the book, a bit hard to support. Despite this though, she was always loyal to Lachlan and for that she still had my vote!
“Feeling alone was not a new sensation for her. She’d never really had a place where she belonged, even in her own clan. And still, the sensation cut deep. This was her new life now – a captive surrounded by her enemies.”
Lachlan was by far the best character in this book. He was the epitome of good, noble and honourable. A guy who would certainly take the shirt off his back for you – yes please! His ripped physique was definitely a plus point in this book. Who doesn’t love a nice toned warrior that’s also incredibly sweet on the inside? His support of Elizabeth and unconventional opinions on women’s rights (for the time period) were also a tick in the pro column for me!
“Your place is wherever you choose it to be…Life is short and often filled with difficulty. It is our dreams that make our lives worth living.” – Lachlan
While most of this book was enjoyable, I would have liked for there to have been more down-time for the two main characters. It wasn’t that this story was written badly – not at all. I just didn’t connect as well to the characters because there were too many obstacles between their start and happily ever after. It felt like the characters were jumping from one obstacle to the next and never really hitting pause to get to know each other. By default, the reader didn’t get to connect with them a lot either, which was a shame. I would have liked to have seen more of Elizabeth and Lachlan getting to know each other (and his clan) before things went downhill.
Additionally, the ending left me a little bummed. I wasn’t going to get what I had expected – but maybe that was for the best? Something new and fresh is generally better than cut and dry predictability, but I was looking forward to finally getting a chance to connect with the characters. The lack of this in the ending threw me off a bit.
Despite everything, this was still an enjoyable read and I do intend to give the next book in the series a go!