The Highlander's prisoner
There's more to hardened outlaw Niall Corbett than meets the eye. Despite his merciless reputation, he's on a mission he must defend with his life. One that means taking beautiful Fia Mackintosh prisoner for her own protection!
Fia may have dreamed of being swept away by a gorgeous Highlander, but never of being held hostage by a gang of outlaws! While her head screams for her to run, her heart beats a little too fast for her captor, a man she shouldn't, yet can't help but trust…
Good book. Fia is lady's maid to Arabella, the heroine from the first book in the series. She is rather envious of the relationship between Arabella and Brodie, especially the "romantic" nature of its beginning. She dreams of being kidnapped by her own Highland hero and finding a love like theirs.
Niall is a member of the outlaw gang that has been raiding villages belonging to Brodie. When they raid the village closest to the castle while Brodie is away, Niall spots Fia. He is stunned by her beauty and knows that he needs to warn her away for her own safety. Unfortunately, he's not quick enough, and to save her from danger by two other outlaws, he takes her captive himself.
I really enjoyed the development of the relationship between Fia and Niall. Both of them are keeping secrets at the beginning, but it doesn't stop the attraction from building. Fia is not very happy that the reality of her kidnapping isn't anything like her dreams of it, but she makes the best of the situation. She doesn't let on to Niall that she knows their campsite very well. She plans to use that knowledge to help her escape. She also doesn't let on that she is closer to Laird Brodie than he suspects and that a rescue party is likely. I loved her powers of observation and how she watched everyone, trying to figure out who they are and why they are doing what they do. Niall is even less happy with the situation. Fia is a terrible distraction from what he is supposed to be doing. He has been sent to find out who is behind the attacks, something he doesn't tell Fia. He plays the outlaw very well around the others, but when he is alone with her his real nature comes out. Niall is trying to recover his lands after losing them. He is haunted by the guilt of some of the things he has done.
It was fun to see the two of them trying to hide their feelings from each other. There were some terrific scenes in the cave, especially involving the exchange of "boons". It didn't take long for Fia to fall for Niall, especially once she realized that there was more to him that first appeared. However, she doesn't hold out much hope for a happy ending. It takes Niall a bit longer to admit his feelings, but he also knows that nothing can come of them. After all, he is a nobleman destined to marry elsewhere, and she is just a village girl. I loved the protectiveness he showed, especially when he sacrificed his own safety to make sure she could get away. Naturally, Fia's feelings wouldn't allow her to just leave him, and I loved seeing her go back for him after the others were gone. Her strength of will (stubbornness) really showed in her determination to help him.
I liked seeing them get closer over his healing time, as they had the opportunity to talk more. Fia fell harder for Niall. Meanwhile, Niall realizes the biggest thing she needs protection from is him. I ached for her when they got to Edinburgh and he purposefully turned into a snob to drive her away from him. I ached for him too, as he really did love her and was torn between duty and love. He was stunned by her final gift to him, and felt even worse.
I knew they were going to end up together somehow, and I loved the way it came about. The scene in the great hall, between Brodie and Niall was great, though I also would have liked to see the conversation between him and Brodie after the conference. I loved Niall's big moment back in the village when he went after Fia. The epilogue was great and I loved seeing Mistress Murray and her reaction.