A Scotsman in Love
For me, comfort reads often involve a lot of angst. Something about the theme of love as redemption, and seeing love heal characters and help free themselves from their suffering reaches me on a deeply emotional level. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy Karen Ranney’s work; she does tortured characters quite well. In A Scotsman in Love, two characters who have experienced deep sorrow find their way to one another – and a very happy ending.
After a deeply embittering betrayal at the Russian Court, artist Margaret Dalrousie has retreated home to Scotland. She has no real ties to family left and no longer makes her living as a painter, so were it not for the mysterious gift of Blackthorne Cottage, she would have nothing. Margaret lives at the secluded cottage, coming out only to practice her shooting and to walk the grounds of Glengarrow, the nearby estate of an owner who’s been abroad for years.
Though one wouldn’t call it a happy, full life, Margaret has a peaceful routine of sorts. However, her world is upended when, on one of her walks, she runs into Robert McDermott, Earl of Linnet. The master of Glengarrow has come home – and he is not happy to find Margaret in his domain. Robert, too, has his ghosts and sorrows and he does not want company.
However, Robert is very curious about his unwanted neighbor and finds himself especially intrigued when he learns that she was once a famous painter. Though Robert professes to want Margaret gone, after some initial skirmishes, he instead finds himself hiring her to create a special portrait for him. The time spent working together eventually becomes a very emotional experience for both Margaret and Robert, and somehow they begin to slowly draw one another out.
Readers who need love at first sight and lots of fireworks in their first 50-100 pages probably won’t find this slow-burning tale to their liking. Ranney demands great patience from her readers in this story, and given the nature of the plot, it does eventually pay off. Each of the main characters has been through a deeply traumatic experience and in their own way, each has managed to shut out the world. A sudden, quick snapping out of such a state would not make sense, but the slow buildup of intensity does.
So too, does the passionate relationship that eventually comes along. While I did sometimes get impatient with the main characters in this story as they danced around one another a few too many times, there was a poignancy to the book that worked for me. A Scotsman in Love tells a somewhat stark story, but the austere beginning contrasts well with the happy ending and makes it seem all the more joyful. If you’re in need of a good tearjerker, this book may be just what you’re looking for.