Tamed by Your Desire
Sometimes same-old, same-old plotting is enough to kill a story, but other times it makes for a great comfort read. Tamed by Your Desire utilizes a favorite plot for writers of historicals set in Scotland – the family feud – and the hero and heroine at first glance seem remarkably stereotypical, as well. But what keeps this book from being just another boring collection of stereotypes lies in the depth of the characters and in the relationship between the leads, both of which it possesses in spades.
Fayth Graham is on her way to meet her betrothed. Well, make that her second betrothed. The first one was murdered in cold blood by the evil Maxwell clan, specifically by the hated “Red Alex” Maxwell. Now that her Papa is dead, she finds herself betrothed again, this time against her will to a cruel old lecher, straight out of Evil Villians 101. She’s being forced to wed to gain much-desired land for her overly-ambitious brother Ridley (who apparently took the advanced course, Evil Villains 102: Beyond the Wax Mustache, since he’s somewhat more human – but not too much). She manages an escape during a raid by the Maxwell clan – dressed, naturally, as a boy – only to fall into the clutches of horrible Red Alex himself. Only, as she begins to realize, Alex might not be so horrible after all. A fact that makes him much, much more dangerous.
Alexander Maxwell needs to find the legendary Clachan Fala, or Bloodstone, and soon. It will provide him with a bargaining chip in his bid to remain lord of Gealach, a title he holds only by force. He keeps getting distracted from his mission, however, by Fayth Graham, the very woman whose deceit caused the slaughter of many Maxwell men. She’s the last woman on earth he should want, and the one least likely to accept him, Red Alex of the hated Clan Maxwell, and only a third son, as well. But although it means letting go of all that he’s worked to acheive, he soon finds that he can’t let her go back to her cruel betrothed – and that he covets that title for his own.
The basic plot here might not be new – a Romeo and Juliet-style romance where the families are feuding Scottish Clans – but the magic is in the details. Their seemingly predictable “we aren’t so different after all” discoveries take a remarkably personal turn, and definitely break them out of the stereotypical mold. While Fayth is a heroine in the fights-like-a-man tradition, she is neither overly spunky nor unable to deal with her femininity. She is impulsive, but no more so than Alex. And as for Alex, he is very much the anger-filled alpha male, but he never once ventures into cruelty, something extremely endearing to fans of the alpha hero, as I most emphatically am.
In addition, the other characters are not exactly the stereotypes they might appear (except for the aforementioned evil, lecherous old betrothed). Ridley has a three-dimensional quality that at times almost wins him sympathy, while his weak brother Wesley dances the line between evoking sympathy, pity and contempt. Many of the other characters are so intriguing that they leave more questions unanswered than not, reminding the reader that this the second book in the Brides Of The Bloodstone series.
In fact, my only complaint is that, for all the emphasis placed on the Bloodstone, it is far less a part of the story than one might expect. With the exception of the prologue, it never makes an appearance, leaving the impression that this romance is somehow less important to the series than another, which might actually involve the stone itself. But, given the quality of the story and characters, this is a pretty small complaint.
All in all, Tamed by Your Desire is an enjoyable and intriguing read that certainly inspires the reader to seek out the rest of the series. Particularly given the complexity of the story and the number of characters and subplots involved, I look forward to seeing how it all turns out.