I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Lady Nerissa is trying to recover from the heartache of having her fiancée break things off after her older brother meddled too much. She loves her older brothers but their over protectiveness is stifling her. When she has a chance meeting with an Irish rogue, she is both appalled by his behavior and feeling awakened for the first time. Ruaidri hates the English and as an Irishman fighting for the American cause, he is only in England on a mission from John Adams. He kidnaps the sister of the man who invented a new explosion technique hoping to exchange that knowledge for his hostage. Nerissa and Ruaidri may be enemies on the war front but they soon find themselves wanting to call a truce in the bedroom.
Book five in the de Montforte series, The Wayward One is Nerissa’s, the youngest sister, story. I have not read the previous four books and although her brothers, previous book's heroes, make appearances and two of them are a big part of the story, I never felt like I was missing a big part of the story. I think new readers can start of fine here and continuing fans will greatly enjoy the inclusion of past characters. The de Montforte family members are all mentioned, which helped me gain a clear picture of the family but the author didn't heavily clutter the story with all their backstories, which was wonderful.
"I'm not in the business of ravishin' beautiful young women, even if they are English."
"Sometimes a woman wants to be ravished, Ruaidri. Just once."
Ruaidri and Nerissa's attraction was a little too immediate and I can't say I ever felt it truly evolve. There is not a lot of shallow he/she is hot therefore I love them but there also wasn't a lot of emotional connection and sense of growing closeness. Nerissa is portrayed realistically as a pampered and bit naïve sheltered aristocrat but who wants to break free of her gilded cage. Not necessarily a new trope and I can't say Nerissa ever matured from that. She seems to cling to Ruaidri because he is handsome, take charge, and dashing. She was willing to fight for him but it all felt somewhat milquetoast, as the growth and emotions just weren't there. Ruaidri had more substance to his character with more backstory and general personality. He was the pretty common Irish rogue, charming, witty, sexual, and commanding. There were times where his affability was a bit much but he was definitely likeable. That was maybe what the problem or nonproblem I had with this book overall, together, our couple was likeable. Their passion doesn't jump off the page, they won't emotionally grab you, but they are likeable.
And he saw the way he treated her, with free and easy abandon instead of the status-conscious, fawning deference to which she was accustomed…and that in itself gave her a certain liberty to be the person she had never really had the chance to be: Herself.
The plot of Ruaidri kidnapping Nerissa to get her brother to give him his new explosion technique started off ok but the English enemies and their arrogance, the brother joining them, then the older brother getting manic over controlling the situation, Ruaidri's secret that Nerissa gets dramatic over, and the very quick resolution to Nerissa's brother refusing to give anything to the colonials, kind of unraveled at the seams. From the characterizations to the moving plot, it was all fairly loose. What kept me in the story was the wonderful nautical feel. The vast majority of the scenes take place on Ruaidri's ship and the author did a great job of describing the ship and setting the feeling of the atmosphere without making it feel like I was looking at a diagram or being lectured to. If you like a nautical feel, you might want to read this for that alone as they are few and far between in romancelandia lately.
The last 30% or so lost a lot of its momentum as our couple was basically together and the story had to rely more on how would Nerissa's brother get out of giving away his explosion secrets, which was resolved pretty much out of sight and very quickly and then her older brother coming to take her back home, which felt forced but maybe continuing fans will enjoy more of his involvement. The book cover is gorgeous and if you're a continuing fan of the series you'll enjoy the younger sister getting her story, but as a newcomer, I was underwhelmed with the depth and emotional aspects. However, like I said, the nautical feel was fun and could scratch any seafaring itches.