Only one man could set her heart ablaze . . .
Lady Averill Mortagne learned to control her fierce temper as a young girl. But if her father insists on parading her before one more English lord who looks askance at her flame-colored hair, she'll simply scream! Her only respite is the time she spends with Kade Stewart, the wounded Scot her brother brought home from the Crusades. Who could have imagined a Highland warrior would be the only gentleman around?
Lady Averill helped save his life, and for that Kade is truly grateful. She is also almost unbearably beautiful, but he could never subject such a sweet and gentle lady to the rough life of a Stewart laird's bride . . . or could he? When she braves an unexpected danger by his side, Averill will prove to Kade that her heart is as fiery as her hair . . . and that submitting to their scorching passion would be heaven indeed.
I read and really, really liked the first two books in this series. And for the first 100 pages or so, I loved it! I thought it was funny, and smart, and touching. When Averill slugs her suitor, OMG, I laughed my butt off. That helps Kade realize she's not some easy-going woman, but a strong, self-sufficient survivor. He was worried that he couldn't take her home to the Highlands because she wasn't strong enough to survive.
Averill has some self-esteem issues because she has a birthmark on her face (described as small - Kade thinks it looks like a dimple), has red hair, and because she stammers with people she doesn't know or when she's uncomfortable.
The first 100 pages were by far the best part of the book, IMO. When sitting for yet another suitor (who thinks he's doing her a HUGE favor) and his mother, the mother says the following, talking about the Averill's shortcomings: "Besides, once you snuff the candle, it will not matter what she looks like, and you can always fill her mouth to keep her from talking. Just think of the dower as you do your husbandly duty." I laughed - such a turnabout on the ol' "Think of England" line.
There were a lot of funny parts in this one. Once Kade and Averill get married, she's gotten some advice from her maids about the wedding night, including info on how men like to think their "piffle" is big and how you should compliment them on it. Leading to Avy saying this on their wedding night: "Oh my. What a large piffle you have, my lord. Why, I would wager it's the largest and handsomest piffle in all of England!"
There's a running gag after Kade and Avy get married that every time he tries to make love to her, they are interrupted somehow. That was very cute, except they never seemed to attempt it at night in their own bed, and I wondered why. But I couldn't get past this: from the time they are married on about p 100, they almost never use each other's names again. They called each other Kade and Averill before the wedding. Once they were married, they only called each other "husband" or "wife". I've seen these names used before in other books, but there is usually a mix of that plus the character's name itself. It was like all of a sudden they both ceased to have a name. It annoyed me so much that I lowered my grade on Goodreads from a 4 to a 3.
Much of the focus in the 2nd half of the book also turned away from the main couple and onto external conflicts. Had Sands kept the focus on Kade and Avy, the book would have benefitted. Also, Kade was a POW for some time, and didn't seem to have any lasting effects from it. I would have liked if somehow that was imprinted on him.
Overall, I think this had the potential to be my favorite, but the 2nd half focus on the external rather than the couple and the incessant use of "husband" and "wife" in lieu of names irritated me enough that it's my least favorite of the three.
The Devil Of The Highlands series goes in this order:
Devil of the Highlands
Taming the Highland Bride
The Hellion and the Highlander