A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

TBR Challenge: When the Laird Returns by Karen Ranney

on March 20, 2019

CN for book: Domestic violence.

The theme: a favorite trope. (Forced marriage.)

Why this one: I’m double-dipping with the Buzzwords Readathon.

(It’s perturbing, by the way, how many books are in my TBR that don’t have favorite tropes. Time for another sorting.)

I just spent a baffled couple of minutes trying to find my TBR Challenge review for One Man’s Love, finally remembering that I had been too rushed (and honestly, not interested enough) to actually review it. That, the first in the “Highland Lords” series, had a most favorite troupe, the lover in disguise, but it was just an average read. This one had its flaws, but interest in the characters keep me reading.

Ship designer and captain Alisdair MacRae is on his way to England to reject a title. (Hmm.) He stops in Scotland to visit the ruins of his family’s keep, only to discover that the McRae’s former enemy, Magnus Drummond, is ruining his land with sheep. Intent on regaining it, Alisdair finds himself forced to marry to Drummond’s daughter Iseabal. Since it’s not a marriage in English law, however, he expect it will be easy enough to annul it once they get to England.

Having grown up with a tyrannical and abusive father, Iseabal prays for the strength to endure marriage. But her new husband is so kind and considerate with her, she starts to think marriage is to her taste after all. And then she learns Alisdair’s plan

The plot hops around hither and yon after this, almost stopping dead at one point for multiple sex scenes. (They are tender and engaging, but space them out a bit!) It was all too episodic for my taste, and I think parts of the plot are over simplified, to say the least. (See this post on inheritance law by K.J. Charles.) But Iseabal’s arc remained intriguing. Her personality has been so stifled from living in constant fear and stoic endurance, she retreats to silent passivity whenever she feels threatened. Alisdair doesn’t have much of an journey, but is a generally charming and likeable hero who does his honorable best, and gives Iseabal a reason to find her inner bravery.


11 responses to “TBR Challenge: When the Laird Returns by Karen Ranney

  1. Dorine says:

    What are some of your favorite tropes? I don’t add books to my TBR by trope so I have an impossible time trying to find a book for this challenge. I do love a good highlander series.

  2. Liz Mc2 says:

    I have the same problem as Dorine–it took me awhile and some google searching to read blurbs to find a book in my TBR that had my favorite trope. I am a great admirer of how you juggle multiple challenges and creatively find books that will do double (or more) duty.

    • willaful says:

      The creative slotting is the main reason they’re fun for me — though nothing is ever as good as the late lamented ShallowReader Bingo. *sigh*

      • Dorine says:

        Oh, I miss ShallowReader’s Bingo as well. I didn’t ever get mine done in time to chime in about it, but I sure had fun trying. 🙂

  3. elisabethjlane says:

    Ha! My pick was double-dipped for Buzzwordathon too. And initially I was going to be like, this doesn’t have anything to do with the theme at all, but I found that it sort of worked. Sorry this one sounds like it was only so-so.

  4. KeiraSoleore says:

    Ranney hasn’t worked for me in the past, and it looks like this wouldn’t have worked either. It’s not just the wonky verifiable historical facts, but the writing style.

    • willaful says:

      I used to have an almost perfect reading twin, who adored Ranney, so I acquired quite a lot of her. I think her writing can be beautiful but her plots tend to the ridiculous.

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