Adventures of a Scottish Heiress
Grade : B

Though Adventures of a Scottish Heiress is the first book I've read by Cathy Maxwell, I'm happy to say it won't be my last. A great read, it takes the reader on a romantic, comedic, action-filled, suspenseful ride.

Ian Campion is an Irish street fighter who moved to England and must support his two widowed sisters and their families. When Dunmore "Pirate" Harrell hires him to find his missing daughter Lyssa, Ian sees this as a wonderful opportunity to earn 200 pounds, get his family out of England (where his political beliefs have gotten him into trouble), and to the States to start their lives anew.

Lyssa Harrell grew up with little money because when her mother ran off and married her father - a commoner - she was disowned. Her father worked hard and eventually made a fortune. After her mother died, he married again, for social entrée, to the widow of a Duke whom Lyssa believes married him solely for his fortune. This is not the sort of life she wants for herself. After her father insists she marry a titled gentleman and take her place in Society, she runs away. She doesn't want to marry a fortune hunter, and she's not all that happy being in Society anyway.

Lyssa begins her grand adventure with the idea that her mother's family in Scotland will accept her for who she is. She hires gypsies to escort her to Scotland, but before she can get there, Ian catches up. Ian is excited to find Lyssa, but once he finds her the trouble begins. It's bad enough that Lyssa is a termagant, but what's worse is that somebody is trying to kill Lyssa. After a failed ambush, the two are left without horses and very little money. They know that the road to England is being watched so they decide to travel to Scotland instead, hoping her family will provide shelter and help them return to England.

Ian and Lyssa travel by foot to Scotland, encountering some interesting people along the way. As with many Road Romances, the people they encounter and things they do make for an amusing read. But their plan takes an unexpected turn after their arrival at her mother's family's castle, and the two are forced to turn around again - still on foot - and head back to England. Sparks fly as they admit their feelings for one another, and things heat up after they are forced to find shelter in a cabin because of rain. Will their few glorious days only be a memory after they make it onto English soil or will they find a way to be together?

For a book with a fairly traditional storyline and character types, the author manages to sneak in some important issues. The Catholic Irish Ian and Protestant English Lyssa are on altogether different societal strata, and rather than sweeping aside these differences, Maxwell makes it a problem for their budding romance. Ian knows he cannot provide Lyssa withe the lifestyle she's been accustomed to living, and compounding matters, needs the money her father offered in order to make a better life for his family. As for Lyssa, she knows that although Ian claims he's on the outs with God, he'll eventually want to come back to his religion.

Both Lyssa and Ian grow throughout the course of the book, although Ian is a more sympathetic character from the start. While Lyssa spent part of her life without money, she became a spoiled little rich girl with a lot to learn after her father earned his fortune. She learns the importance of sacrifice (and give-and-take) while Ian, through her, finds a way to forgive the sins of his past and move toward a future with his love.

There's a lot on this book's "plus" column, but there are some minuses as well. The historical animosity between the Irish and English, and the divisive role religion played throughout England's turbulent past may have been a bit more than this author of "light," comedic historicals could handle. My other quibble is that for all their growth, Lyssa and Ian don't bring much new to the table; they're not cardboard, but they are characters you've read before and will read again. Adventures of a Scottish Heiress is one of those books best taken "as is," without a great deal of analysis. When viewed in that light, it's a good read.

Reviewed by TaKiesha Smith
Grade : B

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : July 11, 2003

Publication Date: 2003

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