There’s something quite satisfying about an enemies-to-lovers romance that just works. The dynamics between not only the two main characters, but on a larger scale, including friends and families, make for some really interesting plot options. There’s nothing like a wedding to solve a feud, right?
In Highland Spitfire, The Robertsons and the MacPhersons have been feuding for generations, and the Queen’s Regent is done with it. Tricking the two families to appear at the same time before him, he blackmails Ailis Robertson, the laird’s daughter, and Bhaic MacPherson, the other laird’s son and presumptive heir, to marry immediately, lest their entire retinue be shot. Neither wants to wed, but Ailis takes the first step, wanting her father to live more than she doesn’t want to marry Bhaic. And what can Bhaic do but step up to the challenge? And perhaps they can simply get married and then seek an annulment later. It’s not like they are attracted to each other.
But the wedding is only the first step, as Ailis discovers to no one’s surprise. She now has to live in the keep of her family’s enemy, who view her as the embodiment of evil and the cause of the deaths of more than one MacPherson. But Ailis is determined to rise to the challenge, and Bhaic can’t help but notice.
And that right there is why I enjoyed this book. Ailis is smart, strong, determined, and competent, and she doesn’t need to be feisty or rude in order to make things work the way she wants them to. She simply accepts the situation and steps up to it. She is brilliant. She’s the woman I want to be (and frequently struggle with). Even when faced with serious opposition, with people who literally want her and everything she represents dead, she succeeds in rising above it. She’s not perfect, which keeps her from being boring, but she’s perfect for this story.
Bhaic is also pretty darn wonderful, and moves pretty quickly from “she’s my enemy” to “she’s my bride, and people will treat her as such.” Maybe at the beginning it’s more for his own sake – a disrespect-her-and-you-disrespect-me sort of thing – but he quickly realizes just how special she is, and how hard she’s trying. He has no problem standing up for her to his kinsmen, is worried about her when she goes missing briefly, and is determined to make things work, especially when it becomes apparent they will not be able to dissolve the marriage later.
My biggest issue with the story was how many times Ailis and Bhaic were interrupted while trying to consummate their marriage. It was funny at the beginning – almost a comedy of errors, but it grew to ridiculous proportions by the end, and was causing both characters major problems.
Even before they manage to do the deed, the sexual tension between the pair leaps off the page. I loved the two of them together, and they complement each other well as a couple.
I will say, though, that as sometimes happens in novels set in Scotland, the dialogue was difficult to get through at times because of the written dialect. It was a bit much. I mean, we know they’re Scottish, we don’t need further proof by the “ye”s and “dinna”s liberally sprinkled throughout.
But apart from that, I really enjoyed Highland Spitfire, and am hopeful for the future stories in the series. I hope that Helen, Ailis’ only ally, and Marcus, Bhaic’s half-brother, get their own book, even though I frequently wanted to smack Marcus for being a jerk. We spent so much time following them in this novel that I feel like it was basically the secondary romance, and they definitely deserve their own.