Claimed by a Scottish Lord
Melody Thomas is fast becoming my go-to author for sober, emotional historical romances (and I did not say angst). Despite a predilection for slow beginnings, her books usually deliver solid, heartfelt stories with intricate subplots and Claimed by a Scottish Lord is a good example.
Rose Lancaster has been holed up in a convent for most of her life. Her father, Lord Hereford and king’s warden in Scotland, allowed her to live in peace on condition that her lands revert to him when she turns twenty-one and, with that day only a few months away, Rose is looking forward to freedom. But her plans and hopes take a very different turn when Ruark Kerr, Lord Roxburghe and the fabled “Black Dragon,” appears at the abbey and takes her hostage.
It turns out that Ruark’s family and Hereford have been involved in a long-standing feud, the latest episode of which involves Hereford kidnapping Ruark’s half-brother. So Ruark plans to kidnap Rose and exchange her for his brother. But matters become ultra-complicated when past histories come into play, secondary parties exhibit dodgy motives, and that most important factor becomes patently apparent – namely, Ruark and Rose’s mutual attraction.
Having read Melody Thomas before, I knew before even starting that I could not afford to whiz through the pages because otherwise I would miss something. The prose is rather dense at times and, even with a readjusted frame of mind, l found the first eighty-odd pages too plodding for comfort. But when Rose and Ruark get lost on their journey to his home in Scotland, they end up on a miniature road-trip and the story takes a permanent turn for the better. I do not need to be told that Rose is courageous and Ruark is kinder than appearances seem, because you know what? I’m shown. And Ms. Thomas doesn’t need to tell me they’re outrageously attracted to each other, because hey, ho, a derry-o – I’m shown.
As the tale unfolds, so do the revelations and the characters. The gradual unwinding pace will not appeal to everyone, but I relished it after a time. Things – people – take time, much longer than the accelerated world of romance often depicts, and events unroll at a realistic pace. The same applies to our main couple, whose romance is sweet and genuine; equally genuine is the Scottish accent, which neither grates nor irritates. I will quibble with an extremely (and I mean, really extremely) minor paranormal element that is out of place and irrelevant, and a solution to the suspense that made me mildly quizzical.
But few things in life are perfect, and proficiency is nothing to sneeze at. Ms. Thomas tells a good story and tells it well.