CLAIMING WHAT'S FORBIDDEN
Fearsome warrior Aidan MacLerie may be brave and unquestionably loyal to his family and clan, but his heart remains restless. Until he meets stunning Catriona MacKenzie. She's a married woman, so he can never truly possess her, yet he seeks her surrender -- one kiss at a time….
When the husband from her loveless marriage falls on the battlefield, Cat is left destitute, with her reputation in tatters. Aidan is the only man with the power to protect her now. All Cat has to do is yield to this powerful highlander.
Very good book that kept me hooked all the way to the end. Aidan is heir to the laird, young, handsome and an excellent warrior. He is also well known for his pursuit of the ladies and when he sees Catriona, he immediately wants her. She's married, but he isn't going to let that stop him.
Cat hasn't had an easy life. She was married first to a cruel and abusive man who beat her so badly she lost the baby she carried and was told she'd not be able to have more children. When her husband died, her equally awful father, calling her useless, tried to sell her as a whore. When she fought back, a passing soldier came to her rescue and bought her, marrying her himself. Grateful, Cat does what she can to make his life more pleasant. They may not love each other, but she is loyal to him, which is why she is horrified by Aidan's pursuit of her. She makes it clear to him that she will not give in to him, though she cannot deny that she is attracted to him.
Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to make any difference to Aidan. He makes arrangements for her husband to be away so that he has more opportunity to pursue her. By the time he finally understands that she is serious about her refusal, it is too late. People have noticed his attentions, and his reputation is such that all assume that she has been unfaithful. When her husband dies while he is away, Cat is left with nothing, evicted from her home and shunned by everyone.
It's at this point where Aidan starts to redeem himself. He realizes that it is is fault that Cat is in such dire straits. The only way he can protect her is to set her up as his mistress, providing her with a place to live and the means to support herself. He also feels guilty about his actions and reasons for sending her husband away. I liked the fact that, though she must be looked on as his mistress for her protection, he isn't going to force a relationship on her. He makes it clear that if anything is going to happen between them, it will be by her choice.
At the same time all of this is going on, Aidan's father has told him that it is time for him to marry. And that means finding a woman of good birth, dowry, and connections that will be good for the clan. Aidan knows that this is the way it must be, but it doesn't make him happy. He still plans to keep Cat, even after he marries.
Aidan and Cat begin to build a relationship. She has admitted her attraction to him, but her past experiences have not been pleasant ones. I liked Aidan's patience and gentleness as he exposed her to the pleasure that could be had. They slowly begin to get to know each other, but underneath it all is the knowledge that this is all they can ever have. For awhile, Cat believes that it will be enough for her, but soon realizes that she has fallen in love with him. She also knows that she could never be happy as the mistress of a married man. Though it will break her heart to do so, she knows she will have to leave once he has married. When it comes to her attention that he had purposely sent her husband away in order to seduce her, she feels betrayed. That scene had me in tears as she dealt with that blow, realizing more than ever that she has no place in his life. There's something else that adds to her need to get away, and there's only one person that can help her do it.
Aidan is horrified as it finally hits him what he has done. He tries to explain to her, but she wants nothing to do with him. His father sends him off for a few days, and when he comes back, Cat is gone. His father refuses to tell him where she has gone, and insists that it is time for Aidan to select a bride. In spite of the fact that Aidan's father loves his wife, he appears to have absolutely no sympathy for Aidan's misery. I loved seeing Aidan realize just how much he cares for Cat, and his efforts to find her were great. I loved the scene where Aidan finally told his parents who he was going to marry. The resulting furor was intense but my respect for Aidan went through the roof.
Aidan continued to mature as he faced the difficult task of finding Cat and then convincing her of his love. She had her own moments of facing up to her mistakes and wishing for a chance to make things right. I wondered how things were going to get resolved, and then Aidan's mother got involved. I had to laugh at her methods because they were certainly effective, even on a hard headed man like her husband. I loved seeing husband and son fall to her superior strategy. I enjoyed the ending as it touched on events from the two previous books.
I've only read three of the most recent books, but will add the others in the series to my wish list of books for the future. I especially want to read the story of Aidan's parents.