A Retro Review
originally published on February 1, 1996
Lion’s Legacy is the fitting finale to a Scottish medieval trilogy written by Suzanne Barclay. This book is a quick, but exciting romance that sets treachery and betrayal against the wildness and isolation of Scotland.
Set in the 1300’s, the trilogy explores the trials and tribulations of the Carmichael, Sutherland and MacLellan clans. The first of the trilogy, Lion’s Heart was exciting, romantic, and very easy to read – a strong B for me.
The second book, Lion of the North, did not live up to the promise of the first, although it was still an enjoyable and entertaining read (a B- for me). This third and final book revitalizes the trilogy and brings the stories to a wonderful conclusion.
Lady Laurel MacLellan is a beautiful, yet feisty (with red hair to boot!) searess acting as Laird in her injured Grandda’s stead. She misinterprets her visions of a knight with amethyst eyes and captures hardened-but-handsome Kieran Sutherland, the mercenary Grandda had hired to protect his clan. Grandda has more in store for Kieran and Laurel, and it is delightful to watch his scheme (and those he has enlisted to assist him) unfold.
It seems everyone in this book falls in love, with the exception of our hero. So single-minded in his intent on revenge, that he acts as heroes do, failing to admit his love for Laurel until it is almost too late. He readily believes she will betray him, and he mistreats her, though she has proven herself again and again.
This plot device seems believable until the last time the author utilizes it. It was very hard to believe Laurel would forgive Kieran as easily as she did (it took all of half a page), but if she hadn’t, Kieran would not be as utterly bereft as he is when, moments later, she is kidnapped.
Laurel’s visions infuse this story with an intimacy that counterbalances Kieran’s fierceness. The author teases us with Laurel’s visions. So much does she affect him that she can reach into his mind with her visions. One vision rents a hole in the fabric of the relationship they have carefully been weaving. Still another vision mends the fabric and saves Laurel from a wicked man’s torture.
Barclay’s handling of the violence against Laurel and how both she and Kieran deal with it is touching. She believes she is soiled goods to Kieran, he believes Laurel is now afraid of “men.”
I wish the author had added a more intimate moment when they realize their fears were unfounded. Barclay only alludes to their intimacy. I craved a better description and more detail of their “two parts joined together…in timeless passion.”
Whatever depth is missing from too-tame love scenes is made up for in Barclay’s skillful writing of the last pages of this trilogy. Hearing Kieran’s final words of love and seeing Laurel’s last vision when we truly know everyone will live happily ever after will bring tears to the eye of the most cynical reader.
LLB: Suzanne Barclay, who died a few years ago of breast cancer, was a wonderful woman in real life; I cherished meeting her in 1996. She wrote many medieval romances for Harlequin Historicals, and indeed, the Lion series is inter-related to a larger series set not only in Scotland, but England as well. I enjoyed her Scottish-set medievals more than those she set in England.