The Highland Groom
Avon, Jan 2009, $5.99
In 1823 Fiona MacCarran understands her late grandmother's strange will that she must meet if she is to inherit, but also believes she will not be able to meet the conditions. Her grandma wants schoolteacher Fiona to marry a wealthy Scotsman so that she leave the classroom and paint portraits of fairy.
Fiona is attracted to laird of Kinloch, whose children she teaches. However, she knows Dougal MacGregor may be a hunk but is not remotely affluent; in fact she believes he is a whiskey smuggler avoiding the excise men like her cousin.
Dougal feels drunk with desire for Fiona, but knows he must ignore his feelings. He fears what she can learn about his clan's "fairy whiskey", especially the smuggling activity that could if revealed could endanger his villagers. However, when the locals get in trouble, Fiona joins Dougal rather than her blood kin to help keep them safe.
From almost the beginning readers will see how Fiona thinks differently than her brother Patrick when they rock climb and hear a noise that she says is fairies while he insists it is smugglers. That sets the tone of a whimsical engaging historical romance with a wee bit of the paranormal and some late suspense. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the caring laird sees the beauty through the highland mists and never slows down as they fall in love while she wonders if her hunch is right that he leads a smuggling operation. THE HIGHLAND GROOM is a winner as it asks whether doing the right thing to care for the locals should supersede the law that has wider applications.