Medieval Scottish feuds might go on for generations to the point where neither side could recall how the wrongs began. Lady Aileana Grant, in Twelfth Knight’s Bride by E. Elizabeth Watson, is certain that the MacDonalds were the instigators in the years old feud that has left the Grants in a desperate state as the harsh winter unfolds. In a brash decision, while out in young boy attire hunting for rabbits to supplement the castle’s meager food stores, Aileana decides to steal a few vegetables from a MacDonald hunting party. Little does she realize but she is stealing from the young and dashing Laird, James MacDonald, and ends up leading him in a wild chase straight back to the Grant castle. When its revealed that the thieving lad is actually the untamed beauty Aileana, James makes his own rash decision, demanding a wife as restitution for the theft. As the two sworn enemies begin to see each other for who they really are, they realize that their blossoming love may be the key to burying the hatchet between the two clans.
Twelfth Knight’s Bride is a succinct yet satisfying holiday themed read. Set in the medieval Scottish Highlands, this period romance has all the flavor and charm you’d expect from this beautiful and boisterous culture, and one of the reasons these books are so popular. While the plot follows a fairly predictable pattern, Watson brings the story to life with her vibrant characters and the palpable chemistry she creates between Ali and Jamie. While their attraction to each other is instantaneous, their enemies to lovers development is a gradual discovery of the good in each other that the rest of the world is too blinded by hatred to see. Seeing the other’s positive traits is the bedrock of their relationship and a tie that is needed to overcome centuries of hatred and violence between their clans.
I’m a fan of historical romances in general but get wearied by the enemies to lovers plot line when the relationship between the two main characters has such extreme swings of love and hate that it could be diagnosed as manic/depressive. I was pleasantly surprised at the nuanced approach that Watson took in nurturing the love between her two leading characters. Ali and Jamie were equally honest with themselves about both and each other regarding their ingrained hatred for the wrongs committed on them by the other family and the revelation of their own family’s atrocities in contributing to the long standing feud. It was this willingness to try to see the other’s side that kept their relationship moving in a forward progression in spite of the obstacles in their way. They both equally pushed and conceded as they fought through doubts and mistrust in a way that was refreshing and felt positive throughout the whole story. The result is an uplifting story that you will enjoy from beginning to end.