cover image The Highlander Who Protected Me

The Highlander Who Protected Me

Vanessa Kelly. Zebra, $7.99 mass market (423p) ISBN 978-1-4201-4115-3

Kelly’s first Clan Kendrick Regency unites a spoiled English heiress and a handsome battle-scarred Scottish Highlander. After the aborted elopement of Royal Kendrick and Lady Ainsley Matthews, Ainsley hoped that the scandalous elopement would ruin her reputation, allowing her to avoid marriage to the Marquess of Cringlewood. Frustrated by her continued refusal to marry Cringlewood, Ainsley’s father sends her to live with her great-aunt Lady Margaret Baird in the remote Highlands. Royal is unable to forget the beautiful, stubborn Ainsley, so he travels to her great-aunt’s home and discovers that Ainsley is pregnant. Ainsley confesses that Cringlewood is her child’s father and doesn’t know of her pregnancy; what she doesn’t reveal is that he raped her. Though Royal is dismayed that Ainsley continues to reject his offers of marriage, he agrees to help care for her daughter, Tira, after she is born. Ainsley’s complex character is highlighted by her willingness to bear a child alone and then give her away to protect her. When Ainsley fears that Cringlewood will humiliate her family for her continual refusal to marry him, she finally accepts Royal’s proposal, but their is marriage complicated by Royal’s desire to protect his new family and Ainsley’s struggles with inadequacy as a new wife and mother. Sensuous romance, elaborately developed characters, and a fast-moving plot make this historical very satisfying. Agent: Evan Marshall, Evan Marshall Agency. (Nov.)