31 July 2009

Bar Cynster Challenge; Stephanie Laurens - Scandals Bride

~click on the cover to buy a copy~

Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Avon (March 1, 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0380805685
ISBN-13: 978-0380805686


When Catriona Hennessy, honorable Scottish Lady of the Vale, received this prediction, she was exceedingly aghast. How could she unite with a rake like Richard Cynster--a masterful man with a scandalous reputation? More shocking still was her guardian's will that decreed she and Richard be wed within a week! Though charmed by his commanding presence, and wooed by his heated kisses, she would not--could not--give up her independence.

So she formed a plan to get the heir she needed without taking wedding vows.Richard was just as stunned by the will's command. Marriage had not previously been on his agenda, but lately he'd been feeling rather...restless. Perhaps taming the lady was just the challenge he needed. But can he have the rights of the marriage bed without making any revealing promises of love?

This is the first Bar Cynster novel that I’m starting in while completely blank of mind. I know I have read Scandal’s Bride at some point since it got released in the Netherlands but I’m coming up empty as I dig in my memories. Whether my lack of recollection is a good sign remains to be seen but I guess it will be like I’m reading Scandal’s Bride for the first time.

With the revealing of Seamus McEnery, Laird of Keltyhead’s last will and testimony many life’s got turned upside down and Richard Cynster is suddenly stuck in the middle. He has seven days to determine if he will wed Catriona Mary Hennessy. If he does, everyone will get their share of the inheritance and his son receives the title Laird of Keltyhead. If Richard doesn’t wed Catriona, everything will be divided among two bishops leaving all family members penniless. Let the courtship begin…

Scandal’s Bride revealed a marvelous historical romance which delivered a true-to-the-core heartwarming story about two strong-willed people falling in love. It spoke of family, home and hearth. Nothing truly out of the ordinary occurs in this tale and yet it spoke of the talent Stephanie Laurens possesses, she made me a part of the romantic journey as well as being a part of such a large, overbearing but loyal family. It is the personality of Catriona, who is the ‘Lady of the Vale’, and Richard, with his more than interesting background who add a flavor to the story which would otherwise have been mediocre.

Catriona is ‘Lady of the Vale’ she is a priestess who conveys with the spiritual lady to give food, guidance, protection and healing to all in the valley. The valley is prosperous, still Catriona has to answer to a man, her guardian; Seamus McEnery. Catriona is skillful in leading her estate and is confident about herself and her abilities. She is compassionate, sumptuous, driven and feisty, all attributes a good heroine needs to oppose a strong male opponent.

And everyone who has ever met a male Cynster knows he is a very strong opponent. Not over bearing in a negative way but sure as hell of himself and in no way sidetracked when he has targeted his goal. So when Richard meets Catriona and they share a passionate kiss at the graveyard his interest is more than a little stirred. Richard is the epitome of a Cynster; blessed with a keen intellect, a self-assured nature, he is chivalrous, owns his male virility and sensuality coursing through his veins along with upholding the family saying: ‘To Have And To Hold’. Add the circumstances surrounding his entry in the Cynster clan and he was a hero I could root for.

Richard and Catriona meet under out of the ordinary circumstances but the moment they meet there is an instant drawing to each other. With Catriona’s bold decisions a need is setting them aflame and is not easily extinguished. This need of theirs builds and expands from that first moment giving a very sensuous feel to the story and it kept my eyes glued to the pages. With a minimalistic story Stephanie Laurens kept me involved on all levels and with all the ups and downs between Richard and Catriona. This is where the true strength of this novel lies. The main couple are high-spirited and colorful characters. Strong of mind, deliberate in their passions and bold in their decisions. To see their journey unfold was food for the romantic soul and I just had a marvelous time.

The valley and all the people in it came to life with the arrival of Catriona and Richard. With minor events that created a major impact it fueled the story and it avoided the story from slowing down too much. When the matriarch, Helena, decides it is time for some interference of the Cynster clan you get a vibrant setting full of loveable characters. Each means something to Catriona and Richard, and they complete the cast of characters. I loved to be able to catch up with many of the Cynster clan. Moreover, it is one of the reasons I always love to read a series. Via every story in the series the characters become dear to me, if only because they shape the Cynster clan in to what it is.

It is with those minor events that insecurities are laid bare and the main couple have to go through to become more connected as man and wife. To be able to open your heart and release all those pent up emotions and doubts takes trust, something that has to grow on both sides. I couldn’t get enough of the sultry passion between the couple, the energetic dialogues leaping of the pages but most of all it was the romance building that captivated me from the beginning. I cherished it from the first page since I had my ups and downs in this series and I felt a bit reluctant to start in Scandal’s Bride.

Richard and Catriona have enamored me with their story and I look forward to what the future Cynsters have to offer. As it turns out I can honestly say; “I want more of such second first times!”

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  1. Hi Leontine.
    Sounds like some nice books. I could do with some of those :)

  2. These both sound like the kind of books I would enjoy. Will add to TBR. Thanks!


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