Captured By Your Kiss
As Captured By Your Kiss opens, Mona Musgrave, an Englishwoman of common birth, is about to be hanged for the murder of her abusive husband. She is saved when a mystical woman named Arlana, respected by all as the Keeper of the Bloodstone, appears and claims Mona as her apprentice. (The Bloodstone, in case you’re wondering, is a ruby with paranormal powers, which is hidden away for the good of mankind. Only the Keeper knows its location.)
Eleven years pass, and Mona is now the Keeper. Several years ago she was kidnapped, raped, and forced into marriage by Lord Hugh Graham, an English border lord who wanted her to give him the Bloodstone. She didn’t. Hugh is now dead, but Mona is the prisoner of her insanely evil stepson Ridley, who wants both Mona and the Bloodstone with an obsessive lust. Ridley has betrayed and tormented his sisters (the heroines of the rest of this series’ novels) in his quest to get his hands on the Bloodstone.
Mona is not Ridley’s only prisoner. For reasons I never learned about, he has kept Patrick Maxwell in the dungeon for a year. It seems that the Grahams and the Maxwells have been feuding for a long time, and that the Maxwell family has provided heroes for the other novels. Mona rescues Patrick and they escape together. Mona hopes that Patrick, an honorable knight, will help her retrieve the Bloodstone and give it to his brother Robert, thus fulfilling some kind of prophecy, I think. But unfortunately, Ridley let Patrick and Mona go deliberately, so that he could follow them to the coveted Bloodstone.
The relationship between Mona and Patrick is a contentious one. Mona manipulates Patrick into doing what she wants, against his better judgment, by playing on his feelings of gratitude. Patrick is deeply resentful of this, since he has a life and obligations that he wants to get back to. They’re also attracted to each other, but Mona’s less-than-sparkling record with men has caused her to be wary of Patrick, and he resents that, too. They spend much of the book in mutual snits at each other. Matters aren’t really helped when they become lovers, since they both know that Patrick’s plans for his life do not include marrying Mona. This is one of those books that plays the “I hate you but I must have you” song for just a little too long.
This book is so plot-driven that the characters are not fully realized at all, although Patrick is the more real of the two. He suffers from violent and frightening nightmares and fears he will hurt someone while in the midst of these dreams. I sympathized with his desire to pick up the strands of his life. Mona is far more problematic. After all she’s been through – near-fatal abuse, rape, manipulation, imprisonment – her mistrust of men is overcome miraculously easily by Patrick, especially since he doesn’t try very hard and doesn’t treat her very well. I really didn’t believe in the romance between Patrick and Mona.
As my summary may indicate, this book has a serious case of sequelitis. Much of it takes place (I believe) concurrently with the previous two books. I felt that there were several plot holes, but this might be because I’m missing some pieces of the puzzle that are provided in other books. For instance, I never understood Mona’s driving need to retrieve the Bloodstone from its hiding place and give it to Robert Maxwell. She does this even though she knows perfectly well that she is being followed by Ridley, who intends to take the stone as soon as she shows him where it is. Which he promptly does, with disastrous results. (History buffs will be interested to know that Ridley’s possession of the Bloodstone is one reason for the Scots’ catastrophic defeat at the battle of Solway Moss.) I kept wondering, “Why not just leave the stupid thing where it is?” I also wondered about Mona’s unquestioning support and loyalty to the Scottish cause, since she is an Englishwoman. That question was never addressed.
In all probability, Captured By Your Kiss will be more enjoyable for those who have read and liked the two earlier books in this series. I didn’t think that its plot stood on its own well, and unfortunately the romance wasn’t compelling enough to make up for the plot shortcomings. If this book sounds interesting to you, I’d recommend that you either start with the first book, or pass it by altogether.