About the Book:
In only six weeks, Isla Ramsey is due to marry Henry Northrup, the sixth Earl of Sydney. But she remains haunted by memories of the dashing Hugh Courtney, the Marquess Pierce. The handsome aristocrat had hinted at forever and then tossed her aside, leaving Isla with few viable options. Now, as she awaits her new fiancé’s arrival from London, she rides her horse past Hugh’s estate at Hazelwood every day, pining for a man who was never truly hers.
Hugh Courtney may have left Isla’s life, but he can’t erase her from his thoughts. When he rescues her from a sudden snowstorm, they are forced to take shelter together at his private estate. In such close quarters there is no escaping each other. Yet no man wants a reckless wife—or a woman promised to another. As fate draws Isla further into his world, Hugh vows to keep her out of his bedchamber. However, some vows are meant to be broken.
Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link: The Wayward Bride (Besotted Scots Book 1)
Isla Ramsey has not had an easy life. While still living in Scotland, she was brutally attacked by her fiancé, and her brother’s rescue of her resulted in tragedy, with the whole family being ostracized and forced to leave their home. Now living in England, Isla has met a man she has fallen in love with, and he seems to love her, too. Unfortunately, a perfectly innocent encounter with her dear friend, Lord Sydney, has resulted in their being compromised. When her attempt to contact and explain the situation to her new love interest, Hugh, results in a terse rejection letter, Isla is crushed. Her already shaky reputation could not withstand another scandal, so, at the urging of her siblings, she agrees to accept Lord Sydney’s gallant proposal.
Hugh Courtney, Marquess Pierce, believed that he had found true love with Isla. When he started to hear the grumblings of her being compromised, he immediately went to find her, only to be told by Lord Sydney that they were already engaged. Feeling that he had been toyed with and made a fool of, Hugh responds to Isla’s letter with an abrupt request that she never contact him again. Still, he can’t help himself from standing at his window every day, watching her as she rides past.
Hugh is also still grieving for his beloved sister, Emma, who died two years ago. Emma’s husband died not long afterward, leaving their child, Hugh’s niece, under the guardianship of her grandfather. Hugh misses the child dearly, and makes a devil’s bargain with her guardian. If Hugh agrees to marry Julianna, the guardian’s daughter, he will relinquish custody of the child to them. Because Hugh has no hope of marrying his love, Isla, he agrees to the match. Besides, Julianna is beautiful and kind, and his niece already adores her.
Isla purposely rides by Hugh’s home every day because she can’t seem to help herself. She has no hope for them, but she just longs to be near him. When a near disastrous accident happens to Isla, Hugh is the one to rescue her, and brings her to his home. Freakishly bad weather will keep her from returning to her own home for days, and during that time, Isla and Hugh finally really talk, and both realize the truth of what happened. Their love and passion for each other never diminished, and they opt to share a brief interlude of time together before they’re forced to say goodbye forever and enter their loveless marriages. Even if Isla were to back out of her engagement, Hugh cannot – not if he wants to be a part of his niece’s life.
To muddle up this situation even more, Lord Sydney meets someone, and falls head over heels for the first time in his life. But how can he pursue his own happiness at the risk of his dear friend, Isla, being ruined? I have to say that Anna Bradley writes seemingly impossible tangles and situations that cannot be mended as well as anyone I’ve read. It’s also a testament to excellent writing that I like both Lord Sydney and Julianna, the “other” man and woman who were keeping Isla and Hugh apart. All four of these characters are likeable, worthy people, well deserving of their own happiness. They all have vastly different personalities, but all have suffered some manner of heartbreak and pain. I have a particular fondness for Hugh, who is a serious, proper man. I love the strong, silent type who is just a seething cauldron of passion inside.
THE WAYWARD BRIDE is a compelling read, with plenty of emotion and heartbreak. It does seem that there’s not going to be a way to happiness for Hugh and Isla, but the solution comes from a somewhat unexpected source. I do feel I should mention that there is a secondary romance which plays a significant part in the story – and it’s a male/male romance, which is a trigger for some readers. There is some sensuality represented, but not a full sex scene. We also visit with characters, such as Isla’s brothers, whose stories have already been told, but I think THE WAYWARD BRIDE provides plenty of background, allowing it to be easily read as a standalone. I enjoyed this read very much, and think it will appeal to those who enjoy the proverbial emotional roller coaster ride on the way to happy ever after. ~Rose