A Scottish Love
The beginning of this book is so peculiar, it’s disconcerting. It’s 1859 in Inverness and Shona, the widowed Countess of Morton, so penniless she can barely feed herself, is interviewing – just for the hell of it – four stalwart lads she’s asked to remove their shirts. I found this odd beyond measure. She’s wasting these young men’s time, she’s ogling them in a society where such behavior could ruin her, and she’s doing this because she’s what? Bored?
Into this tableau strides Sir Gordon MacDermond, the man Shona once loved, and according to him, betrayed. He’s come to see her brother and his friend, the war wounded Fergus, whom Gordon hasn’t seen in six months, since both men returned from India. Shona, Fergus, and her companion Helen are all about to be evicted from their home – her husband’s heir is taking the house. Shona’s husband left her destitute and now, having sold everything she owns to pay off his debts and support her small family, she has nowhere to turn.
Shona and Gordon still love one another, but for hazy reasons neither can embrace the other. As Gordon is leaving, he stiffly inquires if Fergus needs anything and Shona, desperate, asks if Gordon can offer her brother a home in Inverness. She lies to Gordon about her distressed circumstances and tells him she’s having a new house in Inverness readied and thus will be able to take Fergus back in a few weeks. Gordon agrees to take Fergus and Shona and Gordon part, full of thoughts of their passionate, rolling in the heather youthful love.
Once Gordon picks up Fergus, Helen and Shona travel to the last piece of property she and Fergus have claim to, a moldering castle in Invergaire Glen called Gairloch. Against Fergus’s wishes – Shona has kept in him the dark about how dire their financial straits are – Shona plans to sell Gairloch to wealthy Americans. Gairloch just happens to be next door to Rathmhor, the house in which Gordon grew up and now owns. And guess what? Gordon wasn’t planning to settle in Inverness; he too, has headed back to the place of their childhoods.
Once Gordon and Shona are both back in Invergaire Glen they begin a tedious courtship. The big misunderstanding in their past could be cleared up in a few words, were the two to sit down over tea. Additionally, they say so little to each other in the present; they are constantly, unnecessarily, at odds. The course of their love does not run smooth. Shona is exceptionally proud and ridiculously coy; by chapter nine, I didn’t care if she found True Love — again — or not.
Gordon, although overly reticent, is a more appealing person and is interesting apart from his affair with Shona. He’s turned his back on war and is focused on developing a better explosive for mining. Here, in the historical piece of her historical romance, Ms. Ranney shines. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the development of nitroglycerine and the role that science played in improving both armaments and the Scottish economy in the second half of the 19th century.
But the history is one small pleasant piece in what is a mess of a book. Ms. Ranney’s plotlines, characters (alive and dead), and relationships are crammed together, often in confusing order, and few of them are dealt with satisfactorily. I found it trying to follow the unhappy murderous marriage from the past, several (possible) ghosts, the wartime love affair between Fergus and the nurse accompanying the Loftons (the stereotypically ugly Americans who arrive at Gairloch and refuse to leave), Gordon’s unhappy childhood, Shona’s unfulfilling marriage, and the proper way to throw a Highland dance. By the novel’s end, I needed a quiet bath and a glass of wine.
Ms. Ranney is a good wordsmith and her love for Scotland, its peoples, and past is patent and persuasive. In several of her earlier books, I have been impressed with the diligent research undergirding her tales. But in A Scottish Love, her well done prose and stellar historical study are swamped by too much clutter. Add to that a bitchy heroine, and I have to say, I didn’t love (or even enjoy) A Scottish Love.
Impenitent social media enthusiast. Relational trend spotter. Enjoys both carpe diem and the fish of the day.
|Review Date:||November 29, 2011|
|Book Type:||European Historical Romance|