Series: Cynsters #23
Published by self-published on 5/26/15
Genres: Historical Romance
Also by this author: By Winter's Light, The Lady's Command, The Greatest Challenge of Them All
Marcus Cynster is waiting for Fate to come calling. He knows his destiny lies near his home in Scotland, but what will it be? Who is his fated bride? One fact seems certain: His future won’t lie with Niniver Carrick, a young lady who attracts him mightily and whom he feels compelled to protect—even from himself. Fate, he’s sure, will never be so kind as to decree that Niniver should be his.
Delicate and ethereal, Niniver has vowed to return her clan to prosperity. Having accepted that she can never marry and risk a controlling husband, she needs help fending off unwelcome suitors. Powerful and dangerous, Marcus is perfect for the task. Suppressing her wariness over tangling with a gentleman who so excites her passions, she appeals to him for aid.
Marcus quickly discovers his fated role is to stand by Niniver’s side and, ultimately, claim her hand. Yet in order to convince her to be his bride, they must plunge headlong into a journey full of challenges, unforeseen dangers, passion, and yearning, until Niniver grasps the essential truth—that she is indeed a match for Marcus Cynster.
What to say about A Match for Marcus Cynster? I enjoyed it; it was pleasant – a nice diversion after a tough day. But it didn’t capture my attention and sweep me away like some of Laurens’ early books did.
I do really like Niniver; she’s sincerely dedicated to her clan, and she has a finely developed sense of duty as well as a caring heart. She has also been under-appreciated and underestimated by the men in her family, which has left her reluctant to trust her heart. Also, as Clan leader, she knows it will be hard to marry; she can’t marry within the clan without disrupting the political balance of the clan families, and whether she marries within or outside the clan, a husband in that time would expect his wife to be subordinate to him (and would control any property and money she brought to the marriage.) That would also affect the clan’s cohesion. Since she can’t expect to find a man willing to defer to her leadership, Niniver has pretty much resigned herself to not marrying. Which is a problem, since she’s currently besieged by suitors, most of them young men of clan families, and all of them both unwelcome and, well, inept at courting.
Marcus has all the Cynster alpha-male possessiveness and protectiveness, but he has also grown up with his parents’ marriage as an example. His mother Catriona is a priestess of sorts, dedicated to and in communion with The Lady (i.e., the Goddess.) His father Richard – a Cynster in every way – sees his role not as lord and master, but as Catriona’s consort; he’s her protector, the one who makes sure she (and by extension her people) are kept safe. With his father as his example, it’s clear that Marcus is exactly who and what Niniver needs – but true to trope, she’s oblivious.
Of course, the pair are deeply attracted to each other and have both been hiding the fact for years, which heightens the tension between them. I’m beginning to find that scenario rather exasperating, because it’s such an overused trope, but I guess it was necessary in this case, since if Ninever had any idea of Marcus’s interest in her, she would never have asked for his help.
Laurens always includes some sort of mystery or threat, usually one that puts the heroine in danger. In this case, there are several. Initially, there’s the possibility that one of Niniver’s overenthusiastic suitors will decide to force the her into marriage through rape (not unheard of in historical times. As the book goes on, a more definite threat to Niniver emerges. Of course, Marcus (being a Cynster) isn’t about to let anything happen to her. He walks a fine line between protecting Niniver and giving her space to be herself and do her job. While I do rather like the Cynster men, it was refreshing to come across one who already knew how to be a partner instead of a dictator. (The other Cynster men always figure that out eventually, but it has become a bit repetitive.)
I had some problems with the book, though. The threat/mystery could have been played up a little more, but my biggest complaint centers on the inevitable relationship crisis toward the end of the book. Niniver jumps to completely unwarranted conclusions about Marcus’s motivations and feelings. I understand how her family history has impacted her, but her reaction is still over the top. It might have worked if we had seen into her mind at the moment when she made that mental leap, and explored her feelings right away. However, at that moment and for at least half a chapter or so afterward, we’re privy to Marcus’s thoughts and feelings, not Niniver’s. That made her reaction feel out of character and therefore less believable.
Perhaps it’s just that I’ve been reading Laurens for too long, but it does seem to me that her books just haven’t been as enthralling in recent years. There’s less humor, and neither the suspense nor the romantic tension feel as intense as in the first six Cynster novels, for example. That said, this is probably her best book since Loving Rose (and certainly since she began self-publishing.) And it made a very welcome diversion after a frustrating day.
Bottom line? If you’ve never read Stephanie Laurens, start with the first Cynster books instead. If you’re a die-hard fan, enjoy, but be forewarned: A Match for Marcus Cynster is no match for Devil’s Bride.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2015 Historical Romance Reading Challenge