|Jaclyn Reding: The Pretender|
Historical Romance (Paperback), ISBN 0-451-20416-6
Elizabeth Regina Gloriana Drayton, the Duke's eldest daughter, inherited his striking good looks as well as his strength and assertiveness. Realizing the latter traits contributed to Elizabeth's downfall, the Duke takes control. A marriage to a mature gentleman, he believes, will put Elizabeth in her place and keep her there.
While en route to Scotland, the coach carrying the protesting Elizabeth to her doom suffers a broken wheel. Luckily for its passengers, help arrives in the form of a dark-haired Highlander. Never one to let luck pass her by, a calculating Elizabeth devises a way to foil her father's plans. She must trick the unsuspecting Scotsman into her bed and make it appear that they have lain together. After an immediate marriage and subsequent annulment, no man will want to marry her, never mind to tame and control her. Things couldn't turn out any better if she planned it herself!
Of course, after Elizabeth lures Douglas Dubh MacKinnon into her bed and forces a marriage, her plans backfire. Now one step ahead of her, the Duke refuses to petition for the release of her marriage contract until she spends a year with her crofter husband in Scotland. Since the MacKinnon is not a peasant but Clan Chief, the pretense sets the stage for humorous situations and a fair amount of romantic tension.
Jaclyn Reding creates a captivating premise and compelling characters against an intriguing setting (both historical -- the Battle of Culloden -- and geographical -- the legendary Island of Skye) in The Pretender. I enjoyed reading this off-the-beaten path tale of historical romance. As avid romance readers know, rarely does the heroine end up in bed with the hero in the beginning of the book. Yet Elizabeth, our determined, feisty and passionate heroine, portrays both the best and the worst of us. Gotta love flawed characters who make mistakes! Douglas, on the other hand, remains ever the handsome gentleman. One can only hope that men like him truly exist.
A long-time fan of Jaclyn Reding's "White Quartet" (White Heather, White Knight, White Magic and White Mist remain among my most favorite books), I enjoyed the opportunity to enjoy her storytelling magic once again. Luckily, Reding's Highland Heroes series continues with The Pretender.
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