How could this have happened to her? Left without a penny to her name, Ainsley McBrayne is devastated when she finds she cannot access the inheritance until she is forty or has a child. Now, since she has been left a widow with a great amount of debt from her now deceased husband, Ainsley know not what to do. She only is sure she never wants to marry again and be under any man's thumb, for she was treated rather poorly in her marriage
When she bumps into a very handsome man by the name of Innes Drummond, who admits to hearing her conversation with her solicitor, she is angry, but open to his invitation to talk. Once they each tell a bit of each other's stories, Innes convinces Ainsley that a marriage between the two of them would solve many of their issues. Ainsley at first is aghast when Innes brings up marriage, but he does a very good job of convincing her that it only for each other's benefit and it will be only temporary.
Innes Drummond is now the heir to an estate he never wanted, but when his brother dies leaving him to be next in line to be Laird, he has a hard time accepting his lot. Innes and his father never saw eye to eye about anything. The man was more than difficult and made many people's lives miserable. Innes chooses the leave and build a life for himself outside his family estate. But things change and responsibility comes to light, and Innes needs to go back to the ancestral home and make amends to the people he has left in a lurch since his father died.
Innes pays off all the debt Ainsley's deceased husband leaves her and whisks her away to his estate, which is in a poor state and needs work. Innes introduces his wife to his people and they inevitably begin to heal many of the wounds left when both his brother and father passed away. Innes and Ainsley also succumb to the spark of attraction that they felt in the city and which had been enhanced by their surroundings in the Scottish Highlands. Their marriage ultimately becomes a passionate love affair in danger of combustion since they both have expressed their dislike of matrimony and openly agreed to end the relationship with the coming of the New Year, but sometimes what we say out loud is in no way what we feel, and herein lies many of the obstacles in STRANGERS AT THE ALTAR by Marguerite Kaye.
What a fabulous story by Marguerite Kaye. It is in fact the first book I have read by this author and I have added her to my must read list. This story is about renewal and coming to terms with the past and more importantly, letting the past go. Innes and Ainsley are so clouded by their pasts that they aren't able to see they are perfect for one another until it is too late. At first Ainsley is weak and with self esteem, but Innes helps her build that self esteem to a level she never thought could be attained. A really lovely story that I highly recommend.