Alexander MacDubh was once one of the biggest charmers in all of Scotland. With his magnificent looks and sweet tongue, he had many women, single and married, swooning over him. But when he experienced one too many betrayals by his ex-wife and stepmother, the former resulting to the death of his beloved daughter, the other to his father's death and loss of their land and wealth, he vows to never trust another woman for the rest of his life. For two years, he has succeeded in shielding his emotions and lives for the day when he could avenge his father's death and reclaim Leargan, the land that Colin MacFarlane stole from the MacDubh's. Then one day, he discovers that his brother Barra has sired three children with the late Mairi MacFarlane. Within hours, Alex and his men were riding towards Leargan intent on claiming back the children. And Fate seemed to be smiling at him for in one swoop, it wasn't only his niece and nephews who land in his lap, but the sole MacFarlane heiress as well - the beautiful Ailis.
Strong-willed and spirited, Ailis passes herself off as the children's nurse, knowing the price that the MacDubhs would demand as ransom for all of them. But her cover doesn't last very long when Barra lays eyes on her and mistakes her for the woman he once loved. And when Alex learns about the value of his captive, he couldn't believe his luck and decides to extract vengeance from Donald MacCordy by bedding his betrothed. But Alex never expected that Fate has actually given him the woman who will be his undoing.
RECKLESS is the third of Hannah Howell's first earlier Highland series, the first one being AMBER FLAME followed by PROMISED PASSION. In those first two books, Alexander was always the charming courtier giving competition to his friends Tavis and Ian MacLagan. So I was quite surprised to see him in a serious role, that of a bitter man who has suffered the treachery of the opposite sex who he once adored. I was a little saddened to see him a mere shadow of his former self and couldn't wait for Ailis to break the wall he has built around his heart and bring him down on his knees. And that's what she does of course! It doesn't take long for Ailis to figure out the man that Alex has become and she strives to prove to him that not all women are capable of treachery, that there are many trustworthy and loving women out there who will give their all to the man they love.
This book also features a good supporting cast, notably the children and the ever-loyal Jamie. I laughed so much when little Sybeal nearly knocks the daylight out of her uncle Alexander and threatens to make a eunuch of him. That, for me, was the most fun part of the story. And who wouldn't adore Jamie's loyalty to Ailis? He was a friend that anyone would be lucky to have.
Overall, this was a pretty enjoyable read though it lacks the spark and tenderness that I loved in AMBER FLAME. To this day, that remains one of my favorite novels. You will understand once you read it. The passion, tenderness and laughter shared by Tavis and Storm is something to cherish and one I always look for when reading other Scottish books by Hannah Howell.