Highland Groom by Hannah Howell
Series: Murray Family #8, McEnroy Family #2
Published by Open Road Media
Publication Date: April 29th 2014
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Sir Diarmot MacEnroy, deciding his illegitimate children need a mother and his keep needs a proper lady, now stands before the altar with a gentle bride he hopes is too shy to disrupt his life or break his heart. The nuptials, however, are interrupted by the appearance of a flame-haired beauty carrying two babies, boldly claiming that she is his wife and mother of his twin infant sons. Armed with her seven large brothers, she has come to demand her dues. Having waited one year for the return of the handsome laird who wed her, bedded her, then disappeared, Ilsa Campbell MacEnroy takes matters into her own hands and sets out to reclaim the man she briefly and passionately loved. Stunned by his denial, her heart softens when she learns of the injury that has ravaged his memory. Now she faces the nearly impossible task of conquering his past—and his fierce reluctance to share his heart. Though desire flares hot and wild between them, it will take more to win his trust. It will take the magic touch of a woman in love.
Howell follows pretty much the same formula for all her novels: tiny heroine with big personality falls for giant hero who is mistrustful because of a past girlfriend/mistress/wife who screwed him over. She decides to fight for his love by being herself and he falls for her in spite of his vow to hate all women, but must hilarity/angst is had first. This one deviates in that the heroine has 14 large brothers and the hero has 6 bastard children he sort of-kind of forgot to mention to the heroine.
Ilsa thought she’d found the man of her dreams in the dashing Dairmot. He isn’t intimidated by her many brothers, professes to care for her and is quick to handfast with her when they’re discovered trysting. He says he has matters to take care of at home and will collect her shortly, then never returns. She’s devastated, but does her best to hide it. Until she turns up pregnant. When Dairmot still hasn’t shown up almost a year later, when the terms of the handfast are about to be annulled, her brothers force her to set out to find him. The last thing she expected was to find him kneeling before the alter with another woman.
Knowing she doesn’t have a choice about her future since she has twin sons with the man, she resigns herself to marriage to the man she gave her heart to. The one, it turns out, she knew not at all.
Dairmot was attacked almost a year ago and lost his memory. When a tiny redhead with 7 hulking brothers interrupts his wedding, he’s skeptical about their claims. He wants to deny them outright, but he can’t since they have papers saying he did, indeed, handfast with Ilsa. But their timeline puts them in the right frame to have had him attacked, so he vows to beware them all. Until his memory returns or he learns who his enemies are, he’s determined to keep Ilsa and her babies at arms length.
Dairmot was a complete ass, which isn’t new for Howell either. I didn’t mind so much, though, because I read her books for the heroines. Ilsa was pretty awesome. She took a lot of crap from Dairmot, but she had her limits. She had a redheaded temper, which made for some fun reading (especially when she punched him and knocked him on his butt). Her brothers are hilarious and added a lot of comic relief.
“So, ye decided upon a handfasting.”
“Aye. Got the lovers to tidy themselves up and took them off to the alehouse to find our cousin Liam. Set the groom in a barrel and had my brother Gilbert there,” he nodded toward a very sturdily built young man with flame red hair and blue eyes, “to sit on it whilst we discussed the matter with Liam.”
Diarmot slouched in his chair and drank his ale, wondering if it was possible for this tale to be any more humiliating.
The mystery plot isn’t anything too exciting. The kids were adorable, though, as were Ilsa’s brothers and cousins. They added so much color to the story.
While much of the story is predictable, I was still entertained. There are some truly hilarious scenes and Ilsa is awesome.
3.75 out of 5