Desert Isle Keeper
North American historical. Pre-Revolution historical, no less. Ambiguous villains, vivid descriptions, and some seriously scary situations – my cup overfloweth. It’s good to have you back, Ms. Clare.
What’s good about Defiant? Oh so much. I haven’t read the other books in the MacKinnon Rangers series, but it didn’t cause any confusion, and I’m definitely digging them up now. Who could not love the French-Indian War and guerrilla-like Scottish warriors as a setting? Maybe if scalping and bloodshed isn’t your thing – and normally it’s not my cup of tea either, but the setting is too compelling to be put aside for slightly gruesome (but never gratuitous) reasons.
It’s a violent, unsteady world, is 1760 upstate New York. French, British, First Nations, Scots, women, men – they all want something, whether it’s land, power, cultural respect or simple peace of mind. Connor MacKinnon wants revenge on Lord William Wentworth, who blackmailed him and his brothers to fight for the British. Lady Sarah, looking to escape an unwanted marriage, wants her Uncle William to help her. A Shawnee tribe want revenge on their dead wives and family, and kidnap Sarah as compensation. And by the time William sends Connor to rescue Sarah, Connor and Sarah really want each other, even though she’s being prepped as a Shawnee bride.
One of the best things about the whole book is its solemnity and respect for the time and characters. Very little is simple except, perhaps, each character’s initial desires, but these mutate quickly into intriguing complexities as others impose their wishes, or as circumstances change. Connor and Sarah have to constantly change their perceptions and preconceptions, but it is Connor and William’s relationship that is particularly intriguing. Could two such different men, with polar priorities, and such hatred between them, forge a new relationship? Well, the answer is yes, but how they get there is worth at least half the price of the book.
Probably the only thing I actively disliked, even a smidgen, was the eighteen-year-old heroine. There’s nothing wrong with Lady Sarah – actually, there’s plenty to like about her. She’s smart and brave and handles craptastic situations thrown at her with dignity, but also young and foolish and, because of her royal connections, a wee bit tunnel-visioned in her matrimonial expectations. Which, I might add, is just as it should be. But I just find it harder and harder to identify with anyone more than ten years younger than me, character growth notwithstanding.
Nevertheless, Defiant is an engrossing, powerful, and immensely satisfying historical romance. Brava, Ms. Clare.