Sir Marmaduke Strongbow was one of my favorite characters in Devil in a Kilt. I was delighted when I saw that he also had his own story.
Lady Caterine Keith was in need of a man, no a champion. She needs protection from Sir Hugh who was not content with only taking her livestock but also wanted the castle and to marry her. Twice widowed and her innocence taken early in life she has no need for a man. Too stubborn for her own good, her dear friend Rhonda took it upon herself to send word to Linnet asking for help. Her sister Linnet already had a champion in mind, one of the greatest warriors none other than Sir Marmaduke Strongbow.
Sir Marmaduke Strongbow has much to look forward to. Though there was not a lady in his life, he would soon move into and guard the new castle that he and Duncan MacKenzie has designed. The only thing missing was a lady. Linnet seeks out Marmaduke to ask a favor in the middle of the night while heavy with child. Of course, Duncan is aware that she has slipped out of the bed and he soon finds them in the chapel. Linnet lost her courage and Duncan gladly requested the favor, be a champion to Caterine. He mulls over the request, bad timing considering his new castle will be complete soon. Honor, however will not let him ignore a lady in need.
I found myself a little agitated with Caterine. She was a bit cold. I could understand being apprehensive considering her previous problems but she was icy. One thing I found to like about her was his scars had nothing to do with the constant rejection. I loved his character except I thought that perhaps he was too forthcoming with his feelings. I wanted him to be more firm considering the lady he was dealing with.
Some reviewers hit the nail on the head, there was a very strong sexual attraction there but that wasn't all. He actually wanted to love her, to marry her and make her his wife in every way. He admired her strength and beauty. She on the other hand wanted a marriage of convenience. Slowly she starts to open up her heart. She admired him as a man, a very noble man who was slowly slaying her internal dragons.
The four highlanders he takes along, James (her late husbands self-pitying son) and her best friend Rhonda all make excellent secondary characters. We also visit Duncan and Linnet several times. Duncan, true to form lets off a string of oaths within the first sentence of his appearing in the book (this was one of the funniest things in the previous book IMO). Linnet appears to use her gift of sight much more in this novel. The mystery behind the traitor adds a nice touch along with the beautiful Scottish setting that Mrs. Welfonder describes perfectly.
A solid read, 4.0 rating. Historical romance readers will enjoy this book.