Centuries ago, an ancient Celtic relic, The Circle of Light, resided within the church on McDonough land. As long as the people worshipped and protected it, the Circle brought fortune and good luck to everyone there. And then one night a greedy pirate, the Black Scotsman, stole the ethereal artifact for his own, placing a terrible curse upon both families…
Despite the degradation of Castle McDonough and its surrounding lands, Lady Maura O’Donnell, only child of the earl, loves her home nestled in the northernmost tip of Ireland. When her father suddenly becomes ill, he elicits a deathbed promise from her to do whatever it takes to retrieve the Circle of Light back from the Duke of Gleneden, Alec McBride, a descendant of the Black Scotsman. She manages to obtain an invitation, albeit dishonestly, to a nearby house party honoring the duke. She flirts outrageously and accompanies the duke to his room where she executes a plan to drug him and to be found in his bed the next morning, thus causing their nuptials and helping her to get closer to Gleneden Hall and her family’s precious artifact. But the longer it takes for Maura to find the Circle, the harder is it to keep the truth from Alec. And the harder it is for her to resist his wicked charms.
I’m a big fan of Samantha James’s books, and it pains me to admit that this one wasn’t one of my favorites. And Alec is the reason why. It wasn’t that I didn’t like him; I did. But when I read a romance, I like to fall in love with the hero. With Alec, I just didn’t feel like I knew him well enough to fall in love. He was more of an acquaintance than a friend, if that makes sense. Plus, he seemed different from the Alec we met in the previous two books in the series, The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell and The Seduction of an Unknown Lady. I don’t know why, but I simply didn’t feel a connection with him.
On the flip side, I really liked Maura. She was a strong, vibrant heroine that lit up every page she was in. I admired her dedication and determination to recover the Circle for the sake of her people. Their lands were dried up and famine was widespread and she was willing to do anything, even sacrifice herself, to get it back. That took courage and a lot of heart. I also liked the myth and legend surrounding the Circle of Light. It was a neat concept and made for an interesting plot.
Fans of Samantha James will relish this last entry in her McBride Family series, though you won’t see any of the previous characters. While Bride of a Wicked Scotsman may not be my favorite (The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell holds that honor), I did enjoy the story and this series and will certainly pick up Ms. James’s next book.