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Most historical romances are pretty straight forward. There is a hero. There is a heroine. They either hate each other at first glance and it takes the entire book to get them together, or it’s love at first sight and problems just get in the way of the happily ever after.  This book, by Teresa Medeiros, has a little of both.

Prudence Walker is the demure orphaned daughter of a scientist who blew himself up during a gunpowder experiment. She is sent to live with her father’s sister, Tricia, who collects husbands and titles like a stamp collector collects stamps. Prudence has a chance encounter in the woods near her Northumberland home with the Dreadful Scot Bandit Kirkpatrick, a notorious Scottish highwayman. When she helps him out of a painful bind, the sparks fly.

Sebastian Kerr, bastard son of a Highland laird, turns to a life of crime when his ancestral home is “stolen” after the death of his abusive father. He has turned to robbing the rich in order to regain his rightful inheritance. When Prudence helps him after an injury,  he fears for her life. She has seen his face, and his maternal grandfather, the ringleader of Sebastian’s band of not so merry men with a secret of his own, orders her death.  Sebastian sends her away, despite his strong attraction, only to find her months later in the house of his betrothed (you guessed it), Prudence’s Aunt Tricia. Sebastian has become Tricia’s latest addition to her collection.

Thus begins this beguiling story of love and intrigue in late 18th century northern England and Scotland.  There are so many plot twists and turns that you’ll find yourself anxiously waiting to turn the page, and at the same time, covering your eyes and peeking through your fingers at the next.  The wonderful thing about this story is the entire cast of  secondary characters. From Sebastian’s loyal men to Tricia’s comically funny friends and on to  Lord Killian MacKay, the man Sebastian has sworn revenge against but who has a surprise of his own for the Highland bandit, the book just overflows with colorful, lovable characters.

The love story is sweet and sensuous. You can almost physically feel the pull between Prudence and Sebastian. Teresa Medeiros has a writing style all her own.  She writes with a sharp sense of wit and an affinity for finding ways to put her characters in untenable situations that they invariably find their way out of.  Her books are always a roller coaster ride of the very best sort. And the fact that kilts and plaids and a very sexy Scottish burr find their way onto every page certainly does not hurt matters in the least.

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