By Vanda Vadas
His marriage might cease decades of hostilities between two clans, but that doesn't mean he wants it─or his bold new wife who is keeping secrets of her own.
Roderick MacLeod arrives in his native Scottish Highlands to pay brief respects to his recently deceased father─the man Roderick blames for the death of his English mother. But before he can return to England, he is saddled with two responsibilities he never asked for: the title of Laird of Clan MacLeod and an unwanted marriage, by proxy, to the daughter of a rival laird.
Annabel MacDonald thought she had the perfect marriage; her husband's continued absence allowed her independence and the freedom to secretly hide and abet the escape of her fugitive clansmen. When the husband she'd never met shows up, she must convince him to return to England before he uncovers her many secrets, and perhaps her heart.
“Have you gone completely mad? If, and when, I feel the need to marry, I’ll pick the lass. Not be shackled to one of my father’s choosing. I’ll wager the poor woman had no say in the matter either.”
Roderick MacLeod has never forgiven his father. Even now, standing at his father’s grave, all Roderick feels is anger. Roderick wished it wasn’t so, but Malcolm MacLeod had always been known for his warring ways. If his father had just for one moment stopped and thought before he reached for his weapons then Roderick's mother would still be alive.
Roderick feels nothing but bitter memories at his childhood home of Castle Finvreck. The sooner Roderick returns to England, the better. However, first, he must pass on his inherited Lairdship to someone who actually wanted it.
Unfortunately, his father has played a cruel last hand — a hand that would tie Roderick to this cursed kingdom forever. For in his absence, Roderick learns that he is married, on his father’s command, to a woman from the rival MacDonald clan. Roderick knows that marriage by proxy is not legal, and he intends to inform his so-called bride at the same time as he plans to tell his people to look for another man to lead them. Nothing will stop him from leaving Scotland for England. He had not, however, countered on Annabel MacDonald, his bride. She wasn’t what he expected, and against his better judgement, he finds himself inexplicitly drawn towards her.
Annabel had no desire to see her husband. She was happy with the way things were. A husband would only complicate her already overcomplicated life, for Annabel is aiding and abetting fugitive clansmen, who fought at Culloden, escape an English unmerciful execution. Annabel hopes Roderick's visit will be a fleeting one.
However, Roderick makes Annabel feel things that she has never felt before. She is torn between wanting Roderick to fall in love with her and saving the lives of those who had fought at Culloden. If only she could tell Roderick the truth about what she was doing. If only he would understand…
Set in the majestic beauty of the North-Western Highlands of Scotland, The Prodigal Laird by Vanda Vadas is the utterly captivating and heartwarming love story between a reluctant Laird and a woman who would be his wife.
I was immediately drawn into the world of Roderick and the MacLeod clan. Vadas has penned a compelling love story set against the backdrop of Jacobite defeat. The Prodigal Laird is set a year after the Battle of Culloden when the after-effects of the fray was still being felt throughout the Highlands. The English government wanted not only to punish those who had fought with Bonnie Prince Charlie, but they also wanted to prevent any further rebellions. Those who fought against the English now found their lands, and in many cases, their lives forfeited to the Crown. However, that was not all, for the English government wanted to see an end to the clan system and everything it stood for. Vadas paints a vivid portrait of the hardship and struggles faced by those who lived in the Highlands during this time. Although the desperate plight of those who had been involved in the rebellion as they tried to flee to France before the English soldiers caught up with them is a subplot to this beautiful romance, Vadas still managed to portray the utter despair and fear that these loyal Highlanders faced. The plight of young Thomas was particularly distressing and demonstrated why Vadas’ heroine, Annabel, felt so moved to help her people escape from so-called English justice.
Vadas has created a highly appealing protagonist in Annabel. I absolutely adored her. Annabel is incredibly courageous, but also wonderfully feminine. She is ready to be fallen in love with. Her quick wit and fiery spirit are a perfect match for the MacLeod’s prodigal Laird. Likewise, I thought Roderick was very well crafted, and as with all good romances, he is a character that is easy to fall for.
The chemistry between Roderick and Annabel is a slow simmering seductive build, and like all great romances, that first kiss was incredibly evocative. But, there is more to their relationship than sexual tension and attraction. Roderick and Annabel are well matched in both mind and spirit, which gives this love story creditability.
The antagonist of this tale changes as the story progresses. At first, it seems that the antagonist is Roderick’s father, for he is the reason Roderick finds himself back in Scotland in the first place, and then it seems to be Annabel’s father. However, this all changes when Captain Hubert Stoke comes on the scene. Stoke is a cruel and dangerous man, who is determined to make a name for himself at the Highlanders expense. Vadas has an intuitive understanding of what makes a good villain! I loathed Stokes. He is just awful, but then I should imagine that is what Vadas intended for her readers to feel all along.
The Prodigal Laird is a tautly gripping romance which is absolutely impossible to put down once started. It is engaging, engrossing, enthralling and irresistible. When Historical Romance is written like this, there is no such thing as too many pages.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.
Before residing in Australia, Vanda's birthplace and early childhood years were spent in Papua New Guinea. At the age of eleven, a holiday in England sparked an interest in the days of old. Castles, ruins, and discovering Jane Austen novels inspired a life-long interest in all things historical, a passion that later kick-started Vanda's desire to write historical fiction. Subsequent travels to faraway places have served to create fictitious characters and dramas set against authentic and geographical backdrops. The Gold Coast in Queensland is home to Vanda and her husband, where they enjoy walks along world-renowned beaches or a quiet getaway to the lush hills of the Hinterland.
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