Laird of Ballanclaire
This novel by Jackie Ivie is not what I expected. It is set in the years right before the Revolutionary War in America, but the hero is Scottish born and bred. I like that Ms. Ivie chose an unusual setting as well as an unusual matchup between the hero and the heroine. But the story was just a tad disjointed – it takes place over a number of years and while I like a saga as well as anyone, the time the hero and heroine spent together on paper was just a handful of days over 2 to 3 years. It left the reader wanting just a little more alone time with the main characters.
Constant Ridgely is the seventh daughter of an American family whose father runs a printing press and is very much anti-British in his political leanings. Most of her sisters are married and her one brother, Henry, is too young to do much work around the farm. Constant is therefore left doing most of the domestic work around the house. When one of her sisters goes into labor, even more work is dumped on Constant and when her niece Hester and brother Henry discover a man nearly dead in a ditch, Constant’s workload becomes almost insurmountable. Taking care of a man who is most likely wanted by the authorities is not the task she needs at this particular point in her life.
Kameron Ballan is in a pickle. After running afoul of some American patriots, he was tarred and feathered and left for dead. He is only in America because his aristocratic father sent him as a punishment and now even his rank cannot save him. He is thrilled when Constant Ridgely rescues him and hides him in her barn. Over a number of days, Constant takes on the excruciating task of removing the tar and feathers from Kameron’s body. A friendship is forged over those long hours and Constant begins to see herself as more than a too tall woman with few marital prospects.
The banter between Kameron and Constant is both lively and poignant at times and makes their eventual love for one another believable given the little time they have together. When Kameron is recaptured, Constant attempts to save him by telling the lynch mob (who includes her father) that she is pregnant with Kameron’s child. Her father forces a marriage and then proceeds to lynch Kameron anyway. Constant saves him and he is taken to a British Army post to recover. The commander sends her away and Constant does not see Kameron again for over a year.
The first third of the book is really wonderful. Kameron is very likeable and after a rough start, so is Constant. Her personality begins as griping and whiny, but over the course of their clandestine acquaintance, she opens up to Kameron and her true personality shines through. Kameron is portrayed as “God’s Gift to Women,” but he is truly a nice person and is thrilled that Constant likes him for himself. The middle part of the book is well written, but there is so little time in which the hero and heroine are in each other’s company, that it leaves a little bit to be desired from a romantic point of view. The final third of the book takes place in Scotland and while the ending is satisfying, there is just something about the method that Ms. Ivie comes up with for Kameron and Constant to be together that borders on the incredulous. I guess the theme of this book is “love will find a way.” Love did find a way, but the route to happiness was a little too convoluted for my tastes.
If you are looking for a romance based in Scotland, this is not one of Ms. Ivie’s typical Scottish romances. It is however, a better than average book that will keep you entertained if not enthralled.