This is the second installment of the Clan Maclean series by Lynn Haywood. Will a spirited pickpocket make a proper wife for the overseer of a Virginia plantation?
Good book. It opens with Lucy, half-Gypsy, trying to get enough money to keep her and her little brother alive. For her, if it's a choice between stealing and selling her body, stealing wins hands down. But this time she and Mick are caught, betrayed by her stepfather and thrown into Newgate. Lucy's quick thinking saves them from hanging, but they are sent to Virginia to be sold as indentured servants. Devastated when she is separated from Mick, she is determined to find him and protect him, and she'll make a deal with the devil if she needs to.
Diarmid has been in Virginia for sixteen years, ever since being transported for treason after Culloden. He's worked his way up to overseer and could inherit it all if he is married. Desperate, he buys Lucy and promises to set her free once he has achieved his goal if Lucy can convince the owner that she's a proper wife. He doesn't count on the passion that flares between them, threatening the plans he has made.
The fireworks between Lucy and Diarmid are frequent and intense. Both are stubborn and hot-headed. Each has been betrayed in the past in such a way that they don't trust easily, if at all. And each one has too much pride to admit their need for each other. I enjoyed their battles - when I didn't want to lock them in a room together until they'd actually TALK to each other. The "lady lessons" at the beginning were a riot, and I loved how Lucy's talent for mimicry really came through.
There were times I was just as frustrated with Diarmid as Lucy was. He had promised her that he would find her brother and get him back for her, but he kept blowing off that promise and focusing on his own plans. Then he would get mad when she took matters into her own hands. At the same time, Lucy tended to act without thinking, which put everything into jeopardy.
The development of their relationship was definitely stormy. Neither was happy about the attraction that grew between them. Having been betrayed by a woman he loved, Diarmid is determined that emotion will never play a part in his relationships again. He makes grand statements about not touching Lucy, only to discover that he can't keep his hands or his mind off her. He really wants to get her into his bed, but he also doesn't want to risk his heart again. Lucy has sworn that she will not give herself to any man, but Diarmid is more temptation that she can handle. I loved seeing them slowly build up trust, as they learn about each other.
Things between them are complicated by the woman who wants Diarmid for herself. She is willing to lie and cheat to get what she wants, and she does a pretty good job of playing against Lucy's fears. When she teams up against a man who has a grudge against Diarmid, things look pretty bleak for things working out between Diarmid and Lucy. The confrontation at the end is intense and is creepy as well as scary.
I liked the old lady who owned the plantation. She was quite a character who seemed to get a lot of enjoyment out of making Diarmid dance to her tune. I enjoyed the interactions between her and Lucy, especially as Lucy got more into her role as Diarmid's wife. There was an interesting twist at the end that I didn't see coming and made me laugh out loud when it became known.