One of my favorite genres in the realm of historical romance novels is that of the Highlander. I just love me a braw Scotsman wearing a kilt and little else! I had the privilege to visit Scotland about five years ago, and it solidified my already great love for that country. There is something so beautiful and mystical meandering through the Highlands with its creeping mists, majestic castles, and fathomless lakes. I could just feel the pulse of the land in my veins and could easily imagine the people who lived there many years ago. One thing our tour guide said was that the Scots constantly warred among themselves, and a bitter feud is at the base of this wonderful tale of The Highlander's Viking Bride by Cathy & DD MacRae.
The MacGerrys and the Sinclairs have been at each other's throats in a feud that has lasted hundreds of years. No one can really remember by they were fighting in the first place. After unexpectedly finding himself laird of the clan, Calder MacGerry is determined to make peace with the Sinclairs. The laird of the Sinclair clan jumps at Calder's offer of a truce. He promises peace and aid through the winter to the MacGerry clan, but only if Calder will marry his daughter, Katja. The agreement is struck and these two strangers find themselves wedded, bedded, and on the road back to the MacGerry clan in a matter of a couple days.
Calder is a good laird but he is a man, and therefore he is prone to making mistakes, especially concerning his new bride. Katja is the daughter of the enemy and is not looked kindly upon by the MacGerry clan. To make matters worse, Katja is neglected by her husband who is new not only to this marriage business, but also new to the duties of being laird, with the recent death of his father. I felt rather sorry for both of these poor kids. They just couldn't seem to figure how to balance their duties, and still make time for each other. Then due to the lack of communication on both their parts, Katja overhears something that is taken out of context, and she runs off to her relatives in the northern isles, instead of taking the time to talk to Calder. But don't worry my fair readers, these two figure themselves out and of course the book has a happy ending!
I will have to say even though there are great side characters in this book, Freki stole the show. I just wanted to reach through the page and snuggle that adorable wolfhound! He is Katja's solid rock and protector. No one touches his mistress! But I still just want to curl up with him and smother him with kisses! The moment Calder and Freki meet, was just priceless:
His wife’s old servant opened the door of the kirk and Calder rocked back on his heels, confronted by a mountain of fur growling menacingly at him with shining teeth that would make a Cù Sìth envious. Momentarily frozen, Calder heard his bride murmur something in a rough language, then offer the hands they held together for the beast’s perusal. After a few sniffs and one wet swipe of the tongue, the monster uttered a whine of reluctant acceptance before taking his place at Katja’s other side.
“Freki willnae harm ye now, unless ye make an aggressive move toward me,” Katja said matter-of-factly, a cold edge to her voice.
Still taken aback by the size of the creature, Calder asked, “Freki? What is he?”
Katja scratched the beast’s ears. “Freki is one of Odin’s wolves, according to Norse legend. He is, in fact, a wolfhound—a gift from my uncle.” She looked at the russet-colored behemoth with an expression of adoration on her face, as if he were her very own bairn.
One of Odin’s wolves? Freki was an appropriate enough name, then. The monster was certainly large enough to be the pet of a war god. “I’ve never seen a dog his size.” Calder still didn’t trust her beast had taken him off the list of potential meals.
“Ach, well, my uncle says his bloodline is found in Ireland. My uncle raises wolfhounds.”
Calder looked at the beast askance. More like devilhound.
Her tone warmed as she spoke of her dog and he struck for a way to keep her talking, if for no reason other than to hear the sweet sound of her voice. Though clear as chimes in the wind, it possessed a seductive quality that stirred his lust.
“What were the words ye spoke to him? I’ve not heard them before.”
Katja’s cheeks darkened. “Norn. My mother’s language. I am Scots on my sire’s side, Norse on my dam’s.”
Calder recalled Christer saying their mother no longer remained among the living. But proof of Katja’s bloodline resonated in her pale blonde hair, her slender, proud posture, and the fearless way she met his gaze. Viking blood ran strong through her veins.
This isn't an overly complicated story. Just a quick summer read that will leave you wanting more and more from these highland men of yesterday. Go check out my previous post on where to pick this delightful story up. Until next time...