Forbidden to the Highland Laird
Forbidden to the Highland Laird, the story of a love between the new Laird of Ardvarrick and a rival clan’s harper, is Sarah Mallory’s first novel set in the Highlands of Scotland. While I enjoyed parts of it, there were some jumps in the storyline that felt unbelievable, and in the end, I had a hard time losing myself in the romance.
Logan Rathmore, the new Laird of Ardvarrick is returning to the Highlands after ten years in England. One of his first orders of business is to improve relations with the neighboring clan of Contullach, so he and his men set off to meet with the head of the clan. Before they arrive, they discover the clan’s harper playing in the woods. Logan is mesmerized by the beauty of the music and by the beauty of the performer. Later that evening, he is able to spend some time with her and finds her to be a delightful change from the ladies he knew in England.
Ailsa McInnes is, as the harper for the Contullach clan, a great, if underappreciated, asset to her uncle. But she is not quite satisfied with her life and meeting the handsome new Laird brings her disquiet to the forefront:
She was a harper. It was what she was born to be. Music was her calling and to allow herself to become attracted to any man would be disastrous. Dancing on the terrace with Logan Rathmore, her pulse racing when he smiled at her, she had come close to forgetting that. She must never do so again.
The reason she must not forget this is because she (and her whole clan) believe that a harper will lose her ability to play when she gives herself to a man. Ailsa has always assumed she would be the clan harper for life but now the temptation of Logan Rathmore has her questioning her plans. Ailsa is a temptation for Logan as well, but his first priorities are to better the lives of his clanspeople and improve relations between clans. His attraction to Ailsa is secondary, until her life is threatened by her distant cousin, who would like to despoil Ailsa and destroy Logan.
Forbidden to the Highland Laird is not your typical Highland story. I enjoyed the viewpoint of a clan harper and reading about her place within the clan hierarchy, and I enjoyed Logan’s efforts to bring more peace to the lands around him. But, I would have loved to have seen more of Logan adjusting within his clan and more of Ailsa learning how to be a woman and wife (not just a harper). Logan is a strong hero – confident, kind, smart, a hero who knows who he is and where he is heading, but while I liked Ailsa well enough, I had a hard time seeing the two of them together beyond the end of the book. Their life experiences are so vastly different that I found the attraction lukewarm. Additionally, Logan’s jump from pining for a woman in England to bedding Ailsa is just too quick.
Overall this book just left me a little confused and wanting more. I was confused about why Ailsa’s family put up with her distant cousin’s offensive behavior and how Logan switched his romantic desires so quickly. And I wanted to see more about Logan’s struggle to be a highlander after so many years in England. There were many elements of a great story here, but it just did not come together.
I have enjoyed many of Sarah Mallory’s stories in the past and I will continue to read her books in the future. This one just didn’t work for me.