I'm so sorry... I know a lot of people like this book and I had high hopes for it but I was sadly disappointed.
"The Highlander's Reward" is the first book in the "Stolen Bride" Series by Eliza Knight. It is settled in Scotland, in the Lowlands and Highlands. Everything is happening in the time of William Wallace and his rebellion towards England (1297, the battle of Stirling Bridge where our two heroes meet).
Our main heroine is a twenty year old Lady Arbella de Mowbray whom is on her way to marry an English noble occupying Scotland. She doesn't know the guy nor she wants this marriage. She is forced into it by her king and consequently by her father, an English knight. When her entourage arrive on the Stirling Bridge, she is trapped in a battle between the English and the Scots.
If not for a certain Highland warrior, she would have been considered as spoils of the war and suffered greatly before her death. Thankfully, Laird Magnus Sutherland hates when women suffer, despite her being an English. He whisks her away on his stallion called Beast (yep, you see it right) and promises her safety.
Everything is going all dandy filled with sunshine until one of his own men tries to rape Lady Arbella. He sees how war changes people and doesn't trust anyone anymore. The only way he thinks he can guarantee her safety is to marry her (yes, you see that right too). Even though they are a day or two of riding from his home. But no! He will marry her to keep his promise. If she wants it or not.
She doesn't see a way out, so she agrees. But she tells him that this marriage will be in name only and that she will never be his true wife. He laughs her off and swears to himself, he's going to make her his true wife even though it's the last thing he does. (Didn't take him long either).
They marry and ride to his lands. No trouble on their way there. When they arrive, people are a bit sceptical about an English Lady but they accept her soon. The only problem now is that she really wants to go back on her word because she wants nothing more than to be his real wife...
Dear Lord, what the hell?
The premise was good, I was looking forward to a steamy romance between a Highlander and an English Lady, both promised to wed someone else.
But the execution of this premise is very poor. We have a chapter or two where the author keeps on mentioning in every other paragraph how Magnus doesn't believe in love and how he knows it will never taint him. And then it does at the same instant he sees her on the bridge. Really? You couldn't even stretch that on few more pages? This instant liking is unbelievable. He is most likely covered in blood of the English, he just killed a bunch of them and she likes him all the same.
Next thing. The author doesn't make us see things from the characters actions and feelings. She just tells us what is what. In no way did she show how Magnus lacks the believe in love but she just kept repeating it, like a mantra. And then he falls on the next page. It's the same with Arbella, she will never like/marry a brute Scot, the next page she is allowing him to kiss her and touch her etc. Some consistency please? And some believable pace?
They say no and literally the next sentence is how they're doing it. I'm so frustrated. Really. There is just so many things wrong and missing in this book that it would take me all day to mention them and I've got better things to do and countless more books to red.
So, to summarize. The only good things about this book are: the premise, description of sex and promise of some better characters.
Bad is everything else. Unexplained conclusions, jumping from one decision to the exact opposite from one sentence to another, unbelievable actions by these characters, lack of description of the main heroine, lack of showing just why this Highlander is a great and brute warrior known all around... Lack of so many things and inability to build up characters and storyline to make it believable and engrossing.
However, I never judge an author by one work alone. Perhaps this is only an exception. I do think this is promising if the author tries a little bit harder in her sequels.