by Maya Banks
Book #1 in The Montgomerys and Armstrongs series
Eveline Armstrong is fiercely loved and protected by her powerful clan, but outsiders consider her “touched.” Beautiful, fey, with a level, intent gaze, she doesn’t speak. No one, not even her family, knows that she cannot hear. Content with her life of seclusion, Eveline has taught herself to read lips and allows the outside world to view her as daft. But when an arranged marriage into a rival clan makes Graeme Montgomery her husband, Eveline accepts her duty — unprepared for the delights to come. Graeme is a rugged warrior with a voice so deep and powerful that his new bride can hear it, and hands and kisses so tender and skilled that he stirs her deepest passions. Graeme is intrigued by the mysterious Eveline, whose silent lips are ripe with temptation and whose bright, intelligent eyes can see into his soul. As intimacy deepens, he learns her secret. But when clan rivalries and dark deeds threaten the wife he has only begun to cherish, the Scottish warrior will move heaven and earth to save the woman who has awakened his heart to the beautiful song of a rare and magical love.
The Montgomerys and the Alexanders have been rivals for some time, both with good reason to have animosity towards the other. When the King of Scotland decrees that the Armstrong daughter, Eveline, and Graeme Montgomery, the laird of the clan, must marry, both clans recognize that they have no choice but to comply. Graeme is distraught because Eveline is believed to be "touched" and he will not force himself on someone without the ability to exercise free will, thus foregoing the opportunity to produce an heir. The Armstrongs are outraged as they are very protective of Eveline, who is actually deaf and has learned to read lips. And, she has a reason for perpetuating the myth to everyone that she is daft. However, she's intrigued by the rugged warrior and sees this as an opportunity to have the life she'd dreamed of, being a wife and mother.
This story has everything, romance, mystery and suspense, action and intrigue. Add in the compelling Scottish highlanders in both clans and you have the beginnings of a delicious series. Graeme is attractive in so many ways and is a really good leader of his clan. Eveline is beautiful, resourceful and really tries to make the best of a difficult situation, all the while being really attracted to Graeme and he her. It doesn't take long for him to deduce that Eveline is not "touched" and the relationship they create is romantic and seductive.
The action centers around the reluctance of some members of the clan to accept Eveline, understandable given the history between the two families and hatred running deep. There are those inside the clan and outside factions that want to see this union fail. It's an extremely interesting story and a great romance.
I loved everything about this book and am looking forward to the next in the series. As usual, Banks' has applied her unique story telling skills against the backdrop of the Scottish medieval period with wonderfully defined characters. I hated for this book to end.
(I received an ARC from NetGalley)