I have to admit that, while I liked a lot of this book, I was also compelled to skim in a few places. And now comes the confession ... I skimmed the sex scenes. I know! What's wrong with me?
I found the historical elements and the story of the conflict to be more engrossing than the rest. The hero and heroine started out pretty good. They were enemies and the way they acted toward each other made perfect sense. I wondered how they would get over it. And I guess that's why it felt so inorganic when they did. They just ... did. It was odd. But, eventually it stopped feeling forced to me and I went with it, which is why I give it 4 stars even.
The turbulent time setting was really diverting. Robert the Bruce is the unrecognized (by England) king of Scotland. England is killing Scots, Scots are killing English. It's bloody and, like the conflict between the hero and heroine, I couldn't fathom it being peaceful enough even to end the book with a satisfying HEA. It's pretty rough all the way until the end, but I ultimately believed in the potential for a long life together for this couple.
A couple of things that bothered me and nearly pushed this into the three-star range. Insta-recovery from effects of torture. Uh ... no. If we have the time to see the details of the excruciating act, then there's time to explain the recovery or to make allowances for lack of ability. It's in the story line already so it's true. Now you have to work within the truth you, the author, have laid down. No skipsies.
So I guess I wasn't romantically overwhelmed, but I did like the story overall. The settings were interesting and there was no pulling back from tragedy. I usually can't abide character death but it was fitting in this scenario even as it was very heart-breaking.
I remember someone (K, I think) describing this as a dark version of Julie Garwood. That's a very apt comparison, IMO. The historical elements are more in depth and seem mostly accurate, and the heroine isn't nearly as quirky, but the hero is a Garwood Special if ever there was one.
Now, if only the Kindle edition didn't have so dang many typos (grrrr). It took me until the third time I saw it to finally figure out that "Ufe" was supposed to be "life". I thought it was some gaelic something or other. And was the boy's name Tam or Tarn? I know Mairi's name wasn't Main, but the Kindle didn't. Sheesh. There were even symbols in place of some letters. It was quite the challenge at times, I tell ya.
Anyway, just go for it. ;^)