3.5-4 starsI liked this second book better than the first... I think.Here's the thing: The book deals with the social issue that was especially prevalent in that time - a budding woman who refuses a man in power (the laird) and is branded a whore and then outcast. It was aggravating that it took so darned long to get the full story, especially since Keely keeps intimating that Rionna knows the right story. It makes one wonder about Rionna...Then the tension between Alaric and Keely and the whole betrothal to Rionna sometimes seems drawn out. But that's the story, I guess!What I *like* is that, regardless of your first impressions of Keely, she shines through. Yes, she's the usual "plucky, determined" Heroine, but she's also got a mouth on her, which is a bit unusual. In Mairin, it's endearing, because it's more about her naivete and innocence - her unconsciously saying her thoughts aloud; Mairin spent most of her life in a convent, and she longed for freedom and independence. So you know that her "mouthiness" is from that. Keely's is more about being oppressed and wrongly labeled - the forced solitude and her suspicion of anyone and everyone, especially men.Even in the 1st book, Alaric did seem like the "sensitive" brother, and he earns that moniker here. While he's out of it for most of the book, being ill, when he does awaken, Alaric does what he can to protect and love Keely - despite knowing that their relationship can't go anywhere.It's sweet that the two of them try so hard to be satisfied with "the now". It just goes to show that when you're heart is involved, you can lie to yourself all you want - it doesn't change that "now" is never just "now".Luckily for Alaric and Keely, they prove their love to one another and to the clan - enough for Caelen to step in and save the day.Problem is... poor Rionna. This is the 2nd time she's been spurned for another woman! Can she recover? And how will she like being married to Caelen? So far, while he's shown that he has a heart somewhere, Caelen is still a scary guy, determined never to truly love again.