I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Love with a Scottish Outlaw by Gayle Callen
Series: Highland Weddings #3
Published by Avon, HarperCollins on June 27th 2017
Genres: Fiction, General, Historical, Romance, Scottish
Purchase Links: Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Google Play
ADD TO GOODREADS:
Love is worth any risk in this seductive finale of USA Today Bestselling Author Gayle Callen’s Highland Wedding series…
The last thing clan chief Duncan Carlyle expects to encounter in the rain-soaked Highlands was Catriona Duff, daughter of the corrupt earl responsible for the price on his head. Yet Duncan finds himself sheltering the beauty who claims to have lost her memory. Catriona could be the key to stopping her father, but only if Duncan can keep her identity—and his dangerously powerful desire—to himself.
Duncan may have rescued Catriona, but the gruff outlaw clearly doesn’t trust her. She’s moved by his mission to rescue kidnapped children, but hiding in a network of caves means living in close quarters with everyone—including Duncan. And even as Catriona struggles to remember her past, the present draws her ever closer to this enigmatic man…and to the secret that could change everything.
Author Gayle Callen returns to the tumultuous world of the eighteenth century Scottish Highlands, where clan politics battle undeniable attraction. Throughout Love with a Scottish Outlaw, Laird Duncan Carlyle struggles to justify his quest for vengeance against the corrupt Scottish Earl of Aberfoyle after encountering the earl’s injured, and amnesiac, daughter, Catriona Duff, wandering alone. Duncan intends to punish Aberfoyle for the earl’s involvement with the kidnapping and transportation of the children of clan Carlyle by holding Catriona for ransom. Catriona’s kind and generous nature are not what he expected from a lady more accustomed to the ballrooms of England than the caverns of a Highland outlaw’s lair.
Cat’s eagerness to help his people, including the children he rescues, help open Duncan’s eyes and heart to Cat’s true self, beyond her position as his enemies daughter. At first, Duncan intends to punish Aberfoyle for the earl’s involvement with the kidnapping and transportation of the children of clan Carlyle by holding Catriona for ransom. However, Catriona’s kind and generous nature are not what he expected from a lady more accustomed to the ballrooms of England than the caverns of a Scottish outlaw’s lair. Cat’s eagerness to help his people, including the children he rescues, help open Duncan’s eyes and heart to Cat’s true self, beyond her position as his enemy’s daughter. Surprisingly, Duncan finds himself opening up to Cat, sharing his feelings and turbulent memories. In addition to craving her body, Duncan begins to need her comfort.
For her part, Catriona is traumatized by the loss of her memories. While she might not know her name, she does come to understand who she is a person, someone who thrives on having a purpose and being needed. Being with Duncan and his clan makes Cat feel alive and, oddly, safe. Treated first as a guest, and then a trusted equal, Cat has no idea that Duncan his holding her “hostage” — nor are any of his clan aware of her true identity. When lies eventually come to light, forcing questions of trust and faith to the forefront.
I had a difficult time warming up to the romance between Duncan and Cat. Maybe it was the huge lie Duncan kept from Catriona? Although his anguish was real and allowed for positive character development. Maybe it was the setting of a dark, damp cave for a majority of the novel that made the beginning of the story drag for me? Individually, Cat and Duncan were interesting enough, but the spark between them wasn’t strong enough to pull me in early.
The issues raised by author Gayle Callen in Love with a Scottish Outlaw are interesting and well developed. Do honor and vengeance eclipse love and forgiveness? The measures taken by Clan Carlyle to survive and reclaim their stolen children might not be acceptable by today’s standards, but thieving and reiving were the ways of the Scottish Highlands at that time. Most significantly, Ms. Callen sets the tone of life in the Scottish Highlands of the 1720’s thoroughly, with language, location, and appropriate period dress. The attention to details is very impressive, helping to immerse the reader in the rough and tough Highlands, where kidnapping and whiskey raids were common.
Duncan lifted the woman’s upper body into his left arm, cradling her head so that he blocked the rain. He probed near her wound gingerly with his right hand, and she frowned and weakly tried to turn away.
His wariness deepened. There was something about her, a familiarity that echoed inside his head but refused to take shape.
“Where am I?” she whispered, her accent English. “What happened?”
An English lady in the Highlands? He chose to answer the second question rather than the first. “Ye’ve a nasty wound to your head, mistress. Did ye fall?”
She blinked as if she might lose consciousness. “Where am I? What happened?”
Now it was his turn to blink, but he remembered that wounds of the head could cause confusion. He knew he had to stop the blood loss.
“Mistress, can ye stand?”
She opened those eyes again, large and golden, in a delicate face. Her dark hair streamed back from her forehead, her hairline coming to a peak.
He recognized her, a flash of memory from Stirling several years ago, when he’d glared his hatred at the Earl of Aberfoyle, a haughty old man on horseback, forcing aside a poor lass heavy with child to make way for him. The earl’s family was seldom in Scotland, so their arrival in the Highlands had caused a stir. Duncan had seen this woman riding just behind, wearing the fine gown and jaunty hat that marked her a noble lady. At least she’d looked distressed at her father’s actions.
Catriona Duff was the daughter of Aberfoyle, the chief of the Clan Duff and Duncan’s bitter enemy. Aberfoyle was one of the main reasons that Duncan was an outlaw who had to protect and feed his people while on the run.
He lifted his head and looked about, as if the earl and his entire retinue were somewhere nearby, waiting to attack him. “Where are your men?” he demanded.
“What happened?” she asked weakly.
“Ye’ve hit your head. Where are your men?”
Her hand fluttered toward her forehead, but he didn’t allow her to touch the wound.
A spasm of pain narrowed her eyes. “I found them . . . dead,” she whispered. “What happened to me?”
“I don’t know.” Six weeks after almost being captured, he was still wary of anything unusual in his part of the Highlands. Dead men would prove her story true, but he couldn’t deal with them now.
“I—I can’t remember—I can’t remember anything!” Though her cry was feeble, it was full of helplessness and fear.
“Ye don’t remember the accident?”
“Not . . . the accident, not even . . . my name.”
He frowned down at her, wondering at what intrigue she was playing—or what her father had set in motion. He wouldn’t put it past the bastard.
She clutched his plaid. “What happened to me?” she cried in despair.
“I do not ken. I must clean that wound. Can ye stand? I can pull ye up on my horse.”
He rose, lifting her up with him until she could clutch the saddle for support. After mounting, he reached down for her. He would have preferred she ride astride behind him, but she seemed so weak that he ended up cradling her across his thighs. She leaned into him, her head lolling onto his chest, her blood staining his black, red, and yellow plaid.
It didn’t take long to reach the rocky overhang he’d used for shelter several other times. Once out of the rain, he searched his saddle pack but found nothing that would do for a clean bandage. He ended up cutting several strips from the end of his shirt with his dirk. The wound seemed clean enough after all the rain, so he wrapped the improvised bandages around her head and hoped they stopped the bleeding.
She looked at him helplessly the whole time, and he felt like she was memorizing his features. He studied her, too. Her high cheekbones emphasized the hollows beneath, and her full lips hinted at an expressive mouth. Her pale face was as remote and beautiful as a statue, making her appeal to him on a primitive level that he would never acknowledge.
Why was she in the remote Highlands? According to gossip he’d heard long ago, she rarely visited her father’s castles. Was she the advance of a larger party headed right for Duncan’s unsuspecting people? She was so close to his hidden encampment. If he let her go, she could bring men to hunt the area, risking his people—risking the good he was trying to do. He couldn’t release her until he knew all the facts.
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