Title: The Border Laird's Bride
Author: Allison Butler
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 5 Stars
Description/Synopsis: To fulfill his father's dying wish, border laird Jamie Graham must marry and sire a legitimate heir. But his marriage will be one of convenience for he has vowed never to open his heart to betrayal. While guarding his cattle from thieves, Jamie catches the spirited daughter of a neighboring laird stealing his horse.
Despite viewing an arranged marriage as a death sentence, feisty Kenzie Irvine has no choice but to wed the domineering Jamie. But she has sworn an oath never to bring a child into an uncaring world. And Kenzie also has a dark secret she has no intention of giving away - even if she finds herself her on the wrong side of the law…
WARNING - SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT - REVIEW BELOW
So, cover first: It's gorgeous. They did a great job picking the model/image for the cover, and it's nice to see a cover on a historical romance novel that isn't your usual bodice-ripper cover. My hats off to the cover design team.
As for the story: I absolutely loved it. I couldn't put it down! I'll admit I'm a sucker for historical romances and what I consider "sure-reads" (which this is) - meaning usually formulaic high-end-publisher-quality romances. This was extremely well written. The characters were full of depth and had defined, unique personalities. Each seemed to have their own goal and motivation (which is sometimes lacking in romances, so it's great to see it in this one).
Yes, it is what some may consider a cliche plot: The unwilling bride. That being said, I really don't care. Unlike some, I don't have a problem with reading a plot I've read before as long as the characters and story are entertaining and engaging. This falls into that category.
I totally fell in love with the character of Kenzie. She is determined, stubborn, thinks outside the box, and goes to the greatest lengths to help those she can (even if sometimes her plans are a little foolish). When bad things happened to her, I felt sympathy for her plight. Jamie too was charming and warm-hearted, but got his hands dirty and really became a force to be reckoned with when the wrong people crossed his path. I liked that he wasn't just a laird, but a genuine noble character that sparked fierce loyalty and camaraderie among his people. I desperately hated Kenzie's father and sister Jeanne, just as I was supposed to, but also on a certain level I couldn't help but feel sorry for Jeanne. I left the story with a feeling that there was a lot more to her character than what was presented on the surface - and that's very difficult to do with a villain.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I read it in a handful of hours (when I was supposed to be doing something else), and ended up staying up until the wee hours of the morning to get it finished (despite the fact I got about 4 hours of sleep). I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical romances, or even just endearing love stories with a lot of emotional turmoil thrown in. This one is staying on my shelf.