I’ll admit it: this is another one where the cover absolutely was the reason I wanted to read the book. In fact, I was slightly worried with the word “beast” in the title that it might be too… something … for me. But, I love highlanders, and I love the tiny islands that surround my dream land of Scotland. So, yep… this was not a difficult choice. “The Beast of Aros Castle” paid off and successfully provided a lovely jaunt across the sea.
Ava is a commoner that was taken in by a noble family in England; she’s more than a servant, but not treated exactly as family, especially by the horrific brother who is soon to inherit upon his father’s death. Fearing rape, forced marriage and other terrible outcomes, Ava and Grace, her best friend and daughter of the family, scheme to escape by marrying Grace off to a Scottish laird. When Grace fears going through with the marriage, Ava decides to step up, pretend to be Grace, and marry Tor Maclean herself. The plan is to eventually slip away and live on their own in Scotland, away from threats. Tor is not interested in marrying again after being deceived the first time around. But, this feisty woman refuses to give up, and a man can’t hold out forever, can he?
I really loved Ava for her wit, intelligence and courage. Honestly, as much as I liked the hero, I’m not entirely sure he’s good enough for her. The relationship between her and Grace added to the story; I just love it when we see a healthy female relationship where they support each other. The bad guy is really bad (perverse, evil, plotting), and I thought the resolution was extremely satisfying. There are some great twists and surprises in this story, and I became very invested in Ava.
The Bottom Line-
The island setting was refreshing for a Scottish-set romance, and the heroine is certainly more than your typical damsel-in-distress. I’m already scouring Heather McCollum’s backlist for more! 4 stars