Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Highlander's Christmas Bride by Vanessa Kelly

"Don't think too long, because you're not that charming," Nick said. "She just might choose a nunnery, after all."

Despite my love of romances, I've somehow never gotten onto the Christmas romance train, which is odd because I do love Christmas movies (although I am firmly against Love Actually as either a sentimental holiday tradition or a movie to be liked; but I also believe both Die Hard and Bridget Jones's Diary are Christmas movies so take what you will from this.)

All that to say: Vanessa Kelly's newest has me thinking I need to do some Christmas-themed romance deep diving immediately.

The Highlander's Christmas Bride by Vanessa Kelly
Zebra Books, 2019
Copy from the author for blog tour
Historical Fiction reading challenge

While the plot is familiar -- seemingly-doomed-to-spinsterhood heroine meets brawny bachelor; both smother their interest in the other; random occurrence forces them to consider marriage to save reputations -- Kelly twists and alters enough so that the resulting story is fresh, fun, and romantic.

Donella seems virginal and prim, but has enough experience to know that if she wants to make life choices for herself, joining a convent might be the only way to exert agency. She's too wellborn to elope for love, too valued among her clan and community to trust that love will motivate any suitor.

Logan is a widower whose life in Canada has brought massive prosperity, but he needs support from another clan to further land his business. Offering to escort Donella from the convent to her family keep seems a way to gain the favor he needs. We all can see the romance a mile away and, frankly, that's half the fun plus Kelly completely surprised me with a handful of well-placed variations on the expected. I finished this book with a smile, deeply in love with both Donella, Logan, and their rambunctious families.

In terms of heat, this is more slow burn and low-end rated R: there's a sex scene toward the end but most of the book is build up. Good for those who want less explicit romances in their lives and as Kelly lays out the story and the characters, that sex scene grounds one of the more fun and surprising 'twists' to the story, which was just delightful.

This is the second in Kelly's Clan Kendrick series, but it reads like a standalone quite well. I suppose it "spoils" things from the first book, The Highlander's Princess Bride, but only that the hero and heroine of that book end up together happily so ... is it really a spoiler?

I read this over a few days while inhaling leftover Halloween candy so it pretty much was perfect for this time of year.


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