Title: How to Marry a Royal Highlander
Series: The Renegade Royals #4
Author: Vanessa Kelly
Format: eBook/Paperback, 352 pages
Published: June 30th 2015 by Zebra
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 3 out of 5 Wine Glasses
Illegitimate yet thoroughly irresistible, the Renegade Royals are leaving behind their careers as daring spies for the greatest adventure of all…
At sixteen, Alasdair Gilbride, heir to a Scottish earldom, fled the Highlands and an arranged betrothal. Ten years later, Alasdair must travel home to face his responsibilities. It’s a task that would be much easier without the distracting presence of the most enticing woman he’s ever met…
After one escapade too many, Eden Whitney has been snubbed by the ton. The solution: rusticating in the Scottish wilderness, miles from all temptation. Except, of course, for brawny, charming Alasdair. The man is so exasperating she’d likely kill him before they reach the border—if someone else weren’t trying to do just that. Now Eden and Alasdair are plunging into a scandalous affair with his life and her reputation at stake—and their hearts already irreparably lost…
Eden and Alec have never responded well to each other and now that Eden's sister is married to Alec's cousin, they are going to be seeing each other even more. However, all the friction that is crackling around them is slowly starting to heat up. When Eden is caught in a compromising position, it is decided that Eden and her mother will travel to Scotland with Alec as he goes home for the first time in ten years. With a childhood betrothal hanging over his head and guilt over the circumstances of his birth that have him as the heir to the earldom, Alec is dreading going home. He secretly hopes Eden's presence will get him out of his old betrothal but little does he know, he is about to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire.
If you have been reading along with this series, you know all about the men it has followed and their infamous fathers. All the heroes were born on the wrong side of the blanket but lucky enough to have the blankets belong to royal princes. The "cousins" all know about each other and served in the war together as spies. This overarching storyline is attention inducing and in the first book I thought the darker tone such a birth and livelihood would produce was felt. Each successive book I felt has been getting lighter in tone and with this fourth addition, I found myself wanting to describe it as "cute". It's lighter in tone with the playfulness between our leads shown through the hero’s willingness to tweak our heroine’s nose and her ability to always rise to the occasion.
This would work as a standalone, you would miss a few snappy moments between Eden and Alec that occur in the previous book but the meat of their relationship really starts here. I really enjoyed how our leads played off of one another, Alec volleys and Eden readily picks up the racket; they are evenly matched. This made for a fun and spirited couple to read about. Eden was a little unsteady as a character with her confidence and then sudden lack of self-esteem making her actions feel forced sometimes. I get that she feels more for Alec but she would flirt with him and then turn around and be too shy at other times. I also felt like her mother had to drive her towards making a claim on Alec so much that she ended up seeming like a wet noodle. Speaking of wet noodles, Alec is going to drive you crazy during a lot of this story. He's great with Eden being his devilish little self but when it came to taking a stand against his family members over the betrothal, his assertive personality vanished. You'll want to shake him and say "Just tell them no!" but I can see how as this is a historical with historical problems and how family obligations were trickier, dealing not just with emotional manipulation but reputations and legalities, he was in a tight spot.
The secondary characters consisting of Alec's family were molds of the gruff but caring grandfather, scholar father, desperately grasping Aunt, stoic fiancée, and decoy cousin. The villain is obvious and the whole betrothal story that was the main plot device to create havoc for our couple was pretty weak and stretched on for way too long. Eden’s mother stole the thunder for me a lot as she was the one to get things done, laying the law down to get Alec and Eden together, and her repertoire with her “humorless” maid was priceless. In the previous book I thought the emotional execution was weak and the plot stronger, I find the opposite to be true here. I liked Alec and Eden's interactions, when they were allowed to have them, and found the plot very weak; not much happens in a very, stretched out way.
As I said, I found this to be a cute story, Alec and Eden's playful poking at one another will bring a smile to your face, just skip the unnecessary betrothal drama.