Tempted by Your Touch
The Clachan Fala, commonly referred to as the Blood Stone, is at the root of decades of feuding, raiding and death. This legendary stone is rumored to bestow powers of invincibility in battle upon its owner and began a bloody battle between the Graham and Maxwell families. The English Grahams and Scottish Maxwells have been engaged in the feud for so long the current family members cannot even remember the reason they despise each other.
Robert Maxwell, Lord Annan, agrees to marry Caroline Graham, known as “the Pious Graham Mare,” in order to put a permanent end to the feuding between their families and free his brother Patrick from the Grahams. Caroline is rumored to be exceptionally tall, with horse-like looks and a nun’s manner, but this matters not a bit to Robert, who is not expecting to find true love. Their marriage will be a simple alliance; the best he hopes for is a strong friendship with his new wife and a life filled with peace and children.
Caroline Graham has always wanted to join a convent and live a scholarly life among the nuns. She’s never had a true “calling” but feels comfortable only with her priest. Teased about her looks most of her life by her cruel brother and even by her father, Caroline has found safety and acceptance only in the world of religion. Years of witnessing her mother’s heartbreak and subsequent depression have left Caroline with an intense fear of feeling any sort of emotion. She’s vowed never to marry and allow a man the power to wound her in the same manner. But everything changes when her father dies and her callous brother arranges the marriage that will bind her to Robert Maxwell.
Fearing a brutal man who will rape and beat her, Caroline is surprised when Robert goes out of his way to show her kindness. In a desperate effort to save her future, Caroline tells Robert she’s “unsuitable” for marriage and talks him into a handfasting instead of a real marriage ceremony. Robert, being a nice guy, agrees to fake the consummation so she can remain a virgin. If peace is not made between their families within one year’s time Caroline will be free to become a nun. What does Robert stand to gain from this arrangement? Not a whole heck of a lot besides a little peace. But he’s a handsome devil and figures he’ll be able to tempt her into his bed long before the year is over. And, boy, does he tempt her.
This setup, though not terribly believable, allows the couple to become friends long before they consider becoming lovers and for this the story gains many points. From the moment Robert sets eyes upon Caroline he wants to make her his. Using kindness and humor, he gently liberates the sensuality simmering beneath her cold exterior. Despite the bloodshed surrounding them, they manage to share many romantic and passionate moments. Imagine spending a night reading to a handsome man whose eyes never leave your face, a man who appreciates intelligence and creativity. This is Robert. He makes Catherine feel like a woman and it’s a wonderful thing to witness. Though distrust and insecurities occasionally rear their ugly heads, they never allow it to consume them. Their mistakes only make them seem more human. Caroline does makes one slip-up towards the end of the story that may try the patience of many readers bothered by short-term separations. Robert’s a fabulous hero and is the perfect match for Caroline who begins the book far too serious and withdrawn.
But alas, this book apparently sets the stage for two sequels to come. There are many secondary characters, a lot going on plot-wise, and everyone seems to be harboring a secret. In the end there are far too many threads left dangling. I don’t mind following a good series as long as I feel a strong sense of closure for the romantic leads in each individual story but, unfortunately, that didn’t happen here. The abrupt ending leaves things far too unsettled. Sure, Robert and Caroline are in love, but will they find the peace they both long for? We apparently won’t discover the answer until the next book (or books) are published. And remember that Blood Stone that caused such a bloody ruckus? Scads of people die for the darn thing, but do we get to revel in its mysterious powers — or even find out if it truly exists? Not here. In the end I was left with more questions than answers and too much of the plot was left totally up in the air for me to recommend this story as a stand alone book.
I’d advise purchasing Tempted by Your Touch if you enjoy following a series and if the plot interests you. But keep it in a safe place until the sequels are released, or else you’ll end up turning the last page with a whole lot of questions and not enough answers.