The Lockhart brothers' quest for an ancient family heirloom has proved fruitless...and an unpaid loan has left them indebted to their rival, Payton Douglas. With no recourse, the Lockharts offer Payton their most valuable commodity: their sister Mared's hand in marriage.
Raised to despise the Douglas name, Mared outwardly agrees to the marital bargain for the sake of her family; secretly, she concocts a plan to ensure Payton will not wish to marry her. Seeing the handsome, virile laird Payton face-to-face, however, threatens a centuries-long enmity -- and awakens Mared's deepest desires. But she will not be swayed. Choosing to repay her family's debt by working as his housekeeper instead of wedding him, she finds herself inexorably drawn to the man she vowed to resist. Then a profound discovery changes everything....Now, no longer bound by a promise to her family, Mared must let her heart decide if the laird Payton is the enemy of past legend -- or if he holds the key to a future filled with a passion beyond her wildest dreams.
As heel-kickingly fun and high spirited as the ceilidh that Highland laird Payton Duncan throws to celebrate what he hopes will be his betrothal to lovely but stubborn neighbor Mared Lockhart, the final book in London's 19th-century Highlander trilogy (Highlander Unbound; Highlander in Disguise) will elicit satisfied sighs from readers. In this long-awaited installment, a smitten Payton attempts to convince Mared that it's past time they cast aside the deep-rooted enmity between their families and marry. But Mared's agreement to wed Payton is based on a debt the Lockharts owe him, and instead of gaining Payton's love, she longs to escape to sophisticated Edinburgh, where no one will know her curse: that violent death awaits any man betrothed to a Lockhart daughter. When Mared refuses to marry him, Payton takes her as his housekeeper for a year to work off the debt. Proximity forces Mared to realize that she does love him, but when her family's reversal of fortunes sends her to Edinburgh, she must choose between sparkling city life and her laird in the backward Highlands. Like the earlier books in the series, this one isn't especially deep, but London's charming hero and impulsive, vulnerable heroine are so likable and get into so much trouble that it's hard not to get caught up in their sprightly dance.