By Nicola Davidson
Bold and wild, Lady Isla Sutherland disguised herself as a lad to hone her gift of sword fighting. But when she is discovered and dragged to court, it is decreed she must wed at once. To gain time and a chance at finding love, Isla proposes a royal tourney—to the victor her richly-dowered hand in marriage—and the king agrees.
After constant raids, laird Callum MacIntyre’s small but prosperous clan is now on the brink of ruin. His only choice is duty; to set aside his private desires and secure an alliance with a powerful Highland family. Winning the week-long tourney would solve all his problems…if only he was a warrior not a scholar.
Squire Alastair Graham yearns for a wife and children, yet he cannot forget one torrid, forbidden night in his laird’s bed, unspoken of since. Alastair dreads losing his closest friend, but meeting the beautiful Isla is a revelation. She offers to train Callum in secret, and when sword lessons lead to scorching passion for the trio, both men know Isla is the unconventional woman of their dreams.
But the battle for her hand is fierce…and their enemies will do anything to win…
Nicola Davidson has been my go-to author for sexy historical romances for a while now and she does not disappoint with Wicked Passions. I really loved the previous book in the series, Scandalous Passions, and highly recommend it. Nicola returns to 16th century Scotland with a MMF romance this time. Isla, the heroine, is a sword fighter but once she’s discovered, she is forced into marriage. Luckily, she convinces the king to offer her hand and fortune to the winner of a tourney. Callum is a scholarly laird hope desperately needs Isla’s money and connections to protect his home and just as desperately wants his squire, Alastair. The contrast between all three characters, headstrong Isla, cautious Callum, and steady Alastair is what makes this story so great. The attraction between the three, Callum and Alastair already there, and the introduction of Isla is so scorch the pages steamy. Isla has decided that Callum is who she wants to win the tourney and offers to train him in sword fighting but the three also end up engaging in a different form of sword play as well. While the timeline for them all falling in lust and then love is at times rushed, the foundation of Callum and Alastair is already there and Isla fits in perfectly.
Nicola Davidson creates a lush historical setting and quickly pulls the reader into the 16th century. The minor characters, including King James IV, Ladies Marjorie and Janet and Sir Lachlan Ross from the previous book, all continue to stand out. This book is sexy and delightful and yet poignant. Callum struggles with the trauma of his past and the pressures as a leader, Isla with her passion for sword fighting and the realities of her position as a high-born lady, and Alistair with both his place in the world and his place in a relationship with Isla and Callum. There is just as much heart in this story as passion.
*Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.