This is a historical romance that takes place in Scotland, beginning in 1807 and covering 2-3 years. Meara MacDonald is the 18 year old daughter of a prosperous, loving, happy couple, and the sister of 15 year old Hannah; and, of course, she is in love with her neighbor and childhood friend, 20 year old Duncan.
The novel starts with the death of Meara’s mother; and not long after that, her father deteriorates drastically and ultimately disappears. Meara is convinced that her mother was murdered by her Aunt Dierdre, and that Dierdre was also instrumental in her father’s disappearance. Dierde and her brother Sloan had turned up at the castle one day claiming to be relations, and Dierdre had a ring with Meara’s mother’s family crest as proof. Meara’s mother was an only child, and discovering both a brother and a sister had thrilled her and allowed her and her husband to overlook any oddities about the pair. Meara, however, was under no such delusion.
With both of Meara’s parents gone, Dierdre takes over the household and increasingly makes life tougher on Meara and Hannah. Their treatment is reminiscent of Cinderella – two wealthy, privileged girls all of a sudden reduced to the status of servants. Early on, Meara and Duncan elope, but they only tell a couple of trusted servants. Duncan has to return to war with Napoleon on the eve of their wedding day, and Meara to her family home to protect Hannah.
I enjoyed the book; I tend to like historical novels, and this was no exception. Meara was a likable character, as were the loyal servants and Duncan. And the bad guys were really dispicable – I couldn’t wait for them to suffer for their mis-deeds! The plot, although not particularly original, was engaging and kept you guessing.
There were some things that I didn’t care for. There were grammatical and spelling errors, but because the book was written somewhat in the jargon of 19th century Scotland, once you got used to that jargon the errors just sort of blend in.
A bigger issue for me was that Meara is portrayed as a headstrong, fiesty young woman. Throughout the book, I wonder why she didn’t do more to protect herself, her sister and her property. She made a couple of very feeble attempts, but as soon as they didn’t work out, that was the end of it – it really didn’t jive for me. However, I must also say that I am primarily a mystery/detective reader and I often have this problem with romances. Plot does not appear to be as necessary to a romance as it does to a mystery – which makes sense!
I also wondered why Duncan never came through for Meara. He did not know everything that was happening, but he was well aware that Meara was certain Dierdre had killed her mother, and he believed her. So why did he run off to war, leaving his wife at the mercy of this woman? Granted he offered to stay and Meara insisted it wasn’t necessary, but still . . .
Bottom line, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it. Will I go back look for other books by this author? Probably not; however, I would read one if it showed up on my Kindle!
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