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What would you do if the handsome Highlander you married refused to bathe and lived in a near pigsty? Hit him where it hurt. Put on the chastity belt and hide the Key!...
Iliana escapes her wicked stepfathers plans, by agreeing to marry a wild Handsome Scots Laird. But she never dreamt what she would have to deal with. When she arrives she finds it is a bachelor keep, and since the death of Duncan's mothers some two decades before, that he and his father and been living in horrid conditions and not sure when they last bathed. Iliana refuses to consummate their marriage, and Duncan is furious, not understanding why she should object to a couple decades of grime. So she does the only thing a thinking woman can do, put on the chastity belt, hide the key, and set about to cleaning the castle. Duncan fails to appreciate all her hard work, so the key says hidden, but his father is slowly appreciating the positive side to having a female in the household.
The humour is laugh out loud in the battle of will. Iliana is a strong character, surviving abuse and imprisonment and yet not broken in spirit.
It is a wonderful warm and funny tale, from the talented mind of Lynsay Sands, the Queen of the Hysterical Historicals.
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on 10 January 1999
Iliana escapes her evil stepfather by agreeing to a marriage with a Scottish laird, but she never dreamed she'd have to deal with a pigsty of a castle and a husband who smells like a pig and refuses to bathe more than twice a year! Duncan Dunbar and his father Angus have lived in a filthy bachelor household since Duncan's mother's death twenty years ago. Having never known anything else, Duncan is outraged when Iliana refuses to consummate the marriage until he takes a bath. Fortunately, she has brought with her a chastity belt (a gift from her dead father after a trip to Italy) which effectively discourages her husband's advances. Then she rolls up sleeves and sets the entire household to work scrubbing and cleaning a castle which has become an abomination after 20 years of neglect.
Although her stubborn husband fails to appreciate her efforts, her father-in-law--remembering the way things used to be when his late wife was around--becomes her staunch defender and ally, advising his son that having a woman in the house has its advantages. Nevertheless, Iliana and Duncan have a great deal to learn about life and love before discovering the key leading to their own happiness.
Iliana is a strong-willed, determined young woman who has survived abuse and imprisonment, and, in spite of being "only a female," she stands up for her beliefs in the face of her husband's disapproval. Surely the woman who cleverly masterminds the defense of the besieged fortress in the absence of her husband will eventually find a way to persuade him to bathe regularly!
The humor in this book kept me enthralled from beginning to end. Although I'm not sure I believed the chastity belt premise too much--surely he could have snatched it away any time she had to answer nature's call--the humorous characters and situations made this one of the most original and enjoyable reads in a long time. I will definitely look for more books from this author.
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on 24 May 1999
This is my first book by Ms. Sands, but by no means at al, my last. hilarious misunderstandings, exilherating, touching, a page turner, filled with unexpected twists and turns. . . i don't have enough space to praise this book enough! Ms. sands is truly a master at this craft.I am dying to read THE DEED, which is out of print. i can't wait to read it when it comes out again!
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on 17 May 2005
This book was given to me by a friend who thinks my addiction to historical romance simply hilarious, and always endeavours to make her derision know by buying me the books that have the cheesiest covers (think Hint Of Heather) Anyway the last laugh was on her as I spent the a whole day ignoring her as I was so wrapped up in the book. I was initially annoyed when i read this as the cover is misleading and the characters dont look like the ones on the front(thank goodness)
Anyway, I was initially put off by said cover and the book spent a good two weeks lounging by my shelf, until I decided to (finally) pick it up, I was hooked immediatly, I completely forgot to eat for the whole day as is often the case when i find a good book! I digress... Iliana is just the perfect heroine, strong and kind natured, with a little bit of a wily streak, (think flying soup cauldrons) who stands up for what she believes in. And in this book, she believes in cleanliness, (well not a hovel anyway) and brings this around in everyway she can. Unfortunatly, one area where she seems to fail, is her new husband, Duncan Dunbar. who smells like a pig and acts like a tramp, so she retaliates in the only method concievable... A chastity belt, (yes my eyebrows shot up at this point too) which brings about some very amusing escapades. Anyway, too say much more would give away the plot, but I do hope you enjoy this wonderful romp of a novel.
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on 27 July 2003
Iliana has been compelled to marry Duncan, a Scottish laird, and while not overly happy, is determined to make the best of things. However, her new husbands' personal hygiene leaves something to be desired, and she refuses to allow him to go to bed with her until he changes.
Obviously, there is some element of suspension of disbelief here, and I'm not entirely sure I approve of the sexual politics, but this is a romance novel - if I wanted to read politically correct stuff, I'd read Erica Jong or something.
This is a very funny story, with lots of mishaps and misunderstandings, but true love & cleanliness win the day.
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on 1 April 1999
Anyone who can make a stinking hotheaded stubborn mule of a hero lovable and a chastity belt central to the story without make me go "Huh?" is defitely something in my book! Haha!
This book is peppered with wonderful repartees and the pace never slows. I never had so much fun reading a medieval like this in a long time.
Definitely for folks who have a soft spot for Scotland and good storytelling with lots of love and laughter.
My only complain is: What's with that cover? I picked up the book thinking it's a Scottish romance set in the 1700s to 1800s!
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on 23 May 2013
The Key by Lynsay Sands is a wealth of humor, romance, and danger. The tale engulfs readers in a world that is beautiful, but wild. Life is a matter of traditional form and death is mourned, but moreover seen as an annoying part of life that cannot be avoided.

Sands breathed the breath of life into each character and the spark not only took, but expanded, creating characters that leap from the page. Each is a full-out personality with pride, strength, care, and insecurities. The main couple is Iliana Wildwood and Duncan Dunbar. Both are strong-willed, complex, and set in the ways of their raising. Though the story revolves around Iliana and Duncan, Sands has created numerous other characters to backup and enhance the story. Each is just as lively and complex as Duncan and Iliana.

The work is extremely well planned and written. Some of the interchanges will have readers laughing aloud, while others, just the opposite. The language is straightforward and easy to follow. The plot has a few twists and turns, but nothing extreme. Readers will be thoroughly enthralled, be more invested in the characters, and plot with each turn of the page. One thing is for sure, all will have a good time.
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on 13 April 2009
i am a great fan of Julie Garwood and having exhausted her stock of historical books i saw a review of one of sands books and they compared her to Garwood. i have been a little dissapointed in some of the Sands books i have read so far but not this one.
an english lady sent to a marry a scottish laird for her protection, she arrives at the castle to find it in a disgusting state and a husband with an aversion to bathing. the book builds her relationship with the castle retainers whilst she transforms their lives, the castle and eventually her husband. for garwood fans of the bride, the secret, saving grace etc this one is worth reading
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on 26 March 2013
love the story and caricters. will get my mother and frinds to read this. then we can chat about it
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on 6 March 2014
Loved this book !!
Sometime I find historical romances to be oppressive however the comedy in the book and the way in witch it keeps you guessing till the minuet is great
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