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The Bruised Thistle (The Order of the Scottish Thistle)

“I thought to never have a family, to never have a woman I could love, physically, but when I met ye, I realized love was not merely a physical act. It was about being willing to lay down yer life for another. It was about wanting to see a smile on the other’s face to brighten yer own day. It was knowing ye had done all ye could for that person. This is how I feel about ye, Iseabail.” – Seumas MacDonell

One would think, with my obsession with Highlanders and all things medieval, that Historical Romance would be one of my all-time favorites as a genre. Well, while it’s true that I enjoy reading such books, I can’t say that they’re my first pick. I need me some paranormal factor, at the very least, and loads of humor and love scenes to get me through some of the stiffest parts. Still, The Bruised Thistle proved to be a story without all those traits mentioned above that managed to keep me more than just intrigued.

Iseabail MacNaughton and her brother Calum, don’t have many places to run to. Their cruel uncle, who has usurped their land, is after them, spreading rumors of murder and treachery, and offering a generous reward for those who will be desperate enough to hand the siblings back to him. Unfortunately, the majority of those around them seem to be quite desperate. So they have no one to trust. But once they meet Seumas MacDonell, a mercenary that can’t decide whether he wants to protect them or send them on their merry way, everything changes. For better or for worse? Only time can tell, if two beings as broken as Iseabail and Seumas, can learn to let go of their past so as to live a better future…

I said it once, and I’ll say it again. This book wasn’t what I usually read. While it did have some love scenes at the very end, and the sexual tension was very obvious, it focused more on the emotional aspect of the relationship between Iseabail and Seumas. The fact they were both broken sexually – her abused, him deformed in a way – was not taken lightly, and they took their time before they were ready and able to get to that level of intimacy between them. It was realistic, and sweet, and it really touched my heart.

Both main characters were brilliant to read about, without the romance, though. Iseabail was a noblewoman who had to grow out of her comforts in order to survive and keep her brother alive. She was naive – terrifyingly so – and many times she just couldn’t act normally, but she remained true to her character and her upbringing, and that was delightful. Finally a heroine who doesn’t act all cute and sultry in her long dresses and beautiful hair! Let alone that she was accompanied by such a cute little brother. Calum was full of childish wisdom and cute moments, what with his obsession with animals and his sweet and innocent habbits. Him and Iseabail were the darling duo of the story, always bringing a smile on my face. Not to say that Seumas lacked in intrigue and interest. He was manly, without having to flaunt it all the time, and it was fun watching his sexual skills coming slowly back to life. He was protective despite denying it, and often he reminded me of a teenager in the way he would approach matters of the heart.

The only problem with this story, which was full of suspense and danger and agony, was the fact it dragged too long. I mean, we all want to know how a married couple does in their first days, but that’s only for a little while. Mrs. York seemed to forget herself and she gave us a great deal of information and events after the wedding ceremony, that weren’t needed. Yes, we’d love for all the problems in Iseabail and Seumas’s lives to be solved, but this looked like all of the book’s universe was conspiring to make them happy, which destroyed much of the story’s realism. Plus, the trouble with Uncle Henry was solved way too quickly, like the writer was rushing through that plot point to get to other matters. It made all of Iseabail’s efforts and all of the fuss caused by him chasing her seem unimportant and childish…

Even so, if you except that one issue, the rest of the story was perfect. If the rest of the book AFTER the wedding night was out of it it would be a solid 5 cupcake one!


***I was given an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinion stated in this review is solely mine, and no compensation was given or taken to alter it.***