My rating: 4 of 5 flames
***Kensington has approved a giveaway with this one! Hooray! Kensington has offered a copy of this book to a random winner-So just answer the question:
Does it matter if he’s a Lowlander or a Highlander to you? As long as he’s Scottish, IMHO 😉 ***
Winner will be picked after the end of the weekend
After the first few pages I wasn’t sure I’d like the heroine. Jemma is a shrew. She’s selfish, and impetuous…
But what I liked was that her impetuousness got her into trouble and she grew from it. So often the heroine is described as “impetuous” but is in reality selfish and just does as she pleases. Here, Jemma has spent the last few years caring for her ill father. After his death she took to riding every day—any time she pleases. In the opening scene, her brother calls her on it.
“…you spend your days doing nothing save pleasing your whims.”
He tells her she’s shirking her duties, she is in her early twenties-waay past marriageable age back then (14th c). And he’s done allowing her those freedoms. Laird Barras has asked to court her and all her brother wants is for her to give Barras a chance. Jemma takes it poorly and runs off. As she runs off, she sees the estate and people through her newly opened eyes, and instead of riding, she helps. Loved it. LOVED it!
But, she went riding at night. Not her brightest idea. Some English knights found her and tried to rape her. They came pretty close to succeeding but out of the blue some braw Scottish lads saved her. Le swoon.
Gordon’s men found Jemma’s mare running on Barras lands, so they knew she was in trouble. Gordon had taken to watching Jemma ride every morning and had gained permission to court her. After rescuing her, he can’t let her leave. She keeps finding excuses to leave whenever he’s visiting her brother, so this is his new plan of action: keep her so she gets a chance to know him. Pretty intelligent plan, I think. (his reasoning is that his first wife had been unbalanced from her parents instilling in her that “relations” with her husband was a sin. But as a wife she had to lay with him anyways. She went mad, and became a nun. The Church dissolved their marriage).
Unfortunately, once Jemma is saved, she is pretty much behaving like an ungrateful brat. At one point she is frustrated with him telling her what to do. She is spoiled enough that she has always said what she wants, and sees no need why she shouldn’t continue on that way:
“Making an offer for me does not grant you the right to dictate to me, sir.”
“No lass, pulling ye off the ground before ye were raped does.” His voice cut through the air like a hot knife. There was nothing friendly in his expression, only harsh judgment. “I asked yer brother for the right to court ye only, I never offered for ye and I’m thinking that a wise thing at the moment. I do nae need a wife that has nae got the sense of a child.”
I was so glad he said that to her, she soo needed to hear it. And you know what? She grew up. I liked her a lot.
The only thing I didn’t like, in fact I hated, HATED! the plot twist at the end. It came out of left-field and added nothing to the story. Making the plot twist the attempted killer was pretty far-fetched. There had been no allusion, no foreshadowing, nothing to hint at it, so it felt…wrong and awkward. The person of interest we all think it is, should have been it. It made sense, and it worked well. It’s hard to have a villain the whole book, and then only be told this random person is the villain. Sometimes the simplest direction works best. Luckily, that was only the last couple of pages, so it didn’t ruin the book, but it did pull me out of the story.
Mary Wine has a beautiful sense of the era and the location. She has a way of giving you a fantastic visual of a castle and its working day-to-day life. You can’t NOT enjoy her writing style.
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Thank you to Kensington for the Review Copy