Title: Never Seduce a Scot
Author: Maya Banks
Availability: September 25, 2012, massmarket paperback and e-book (Ballantine Books)
Tired of the infighting between his two most powerful and important clans, Alexander II, King of Scots (1214-1249) decrees that the young Montgomery clan laird, Graeme Montgomery, must wed Eveline Armstrong, daughter of the Montgomery’s hated rival clan, the Armstrongs.
Not only is Eveline a detested Armstrong, rumors abound that the girl is ‘daft’. Graeme fears being wed to a woman accused of being ‘touched’ means the end of his hopes for a family and heir to carry on his name, for his honor will not allow him to bed a woman incapable of understanding the carnal intimacies of marriage.
Eveline Armstrong is far from the simpleton her familycl fears her to have become following a horrible accident. Her failure to speak and her distracted nature stem not from a brain injury but rather from a profound hearing loss. She keeps her deafness a secret from her family out of fear her betrothal to a man whom she hated and feared will be reinstated. Fate intervenes and sends her into Graeme’s arms instead.
Eveline finds herself instantly drawn to Graeme and his deep powerful voice, strong enough to penetrate her silent world. Her fierce nature and beguiling smile soon have Graeme falling under her spell as he’s forced to fight his own clan, and outside forces, for Eveline’s protection. Graeme must decide which is greater, his hatred of the Armstrongs or his love for Eveline.
“I love you,” he whispered into her hair, knowing she wouldn’t hear, but wanting to test the words in his lips. “I love you,” he said again when he realized how easily they came.
He covered her completely, but it was she who held him in her tiny hands. She who possessed him, not the other way around.
Graeme Montgomery has spent his entire life hating the Armstrong clan, even more so after their role in his father’s death. Since becoming laird, he has concentrated his efforts on protecting his people and training his army to be the strongest in Scotland. Yet Graeme is not a heartless warlord, he has a very special and protective relationship with his young sister and holds his honor above all else. This code of honor is what lead him to obey his king and wed the daughter of the Armstrong clan chieftain.
Eveline Armstrong once ran away rather than face marriage to the sadistic son of her father’s ally, Ian McHugh. Following a tragic accident and a life-threatening fever, McHugh cried off the marriage claiming that Eveline’s brain was permanently addled. Deciding her only recourse to prevent another suit by the evil McHugh is to keep her hearing loss a secret, Eveline goes along with her new ‘simpleton’ label. She has spent the past three years since her charade began voluntarily mute and learning to read lips.
Graeme is an alpha hero to then ninth degree so it was fun watching him squirm under the attention of his determined “wee lass” of a wife. There’s a particularly enchanting scene the night before their wedding where they begin to connect and find a certain level of compatibility. Eveline is instantly drawn to Graeme, not just the ‘sound’ of his voice. Graeme also has a protective and gentle nature hidden under the gruff warrior, which he’s happy to share with Eveline: “He found he didn’t mind trusting her with this softer side. Indeed, he wanted her to have it.” Not to say Graeme couldn’t be fierce when he needed to be. I almost cheered aloud when he confronted his clan regarding their disrespect towards his wife.
At the beginning of their marriage poor Graeme finds himself in the unenviable position of being sexually attracted to a woman he’s ‘allowed’ to have but refuses to take advantage of. Fortunately for Graeme, he soon realizes that Eveline is in complete possession of all her faculties and discovers her disability. (It took him three days to determine she was deaf and her own family couldn’t figure it out in three years!?! Sorry, that pushed the envelope of credibility for me). And once he takes Eveline to his bed… *sigh* Graeme is the rare hero (of any era) who craves a true emotional connection with a lover. He’s not a virgin but he’s not very experienced, preferring celibacy to empty encounters.
What he missed was what he’d never had. Intimacy. The feeling of closeness. The knowledge that he truly liked the woman he was coupling with. … But this? This was heaven. He knew without a doubt that there’d never be another woman who had such an effect on him, who could have him edgy with desire with a simple look.
I was really intrigued by the idea of a deaf heroine in a medieval setting. It was a time when women were not typically taught to read or write, as we learn Eveline was not. The compelling plot regarding the recalcitrant laird trying to learn to communicate and understand his deaf wife was glossed over by Eveline’s uncanny ability to read lips and her decision to speak. I kept wondering if it was realistic for her to so perfectly understand everyone: Thirteenth century Scotsmen aren’t exactly known for their elocution.
One last point: I’m not certain why this book is entitled Never Seduce a Scot, because it certainly seemed to work out just fine for Eveline Armstrong. In fact, if it got me a man like Graeme Montgomery, I’d be on the first flight to Scotland. 😀
My Rating: 4/5 bottles of polish. Despite the potential for more exploration of the effects of the heroine’s disability, an enjoyable tale of a gruff yet gentle warrior enchanted by his kind-hearted bride.
*I received an advanced digital copy from publisher in exchange for an honest review*