Reading Lyon’s Gift reminded me of the old Certs commercial – you know the one, “Certs is two, two, two mints in one”. This book is really two books in one. The one I preferred was the hilarious romp about a beautiful Highlands girl, the lamb she pretended was her grandminnie, and the Englishman who fell in love at first sight. The other book was a rather ponderous treatise on how beauty is only skin deep and that the wrong path can be taken for all the right reasons and still be wrong.
In the book this reviewer enjoyed, the right path was taken for all the wrong reasons, but it was still the right path. For, you see, when Piers de Montgomerie, named the “Lyon” for his fierceness in battle, chances to see the beautiful Meghan Brodie walking on his land with a wee lambie, he seizes her for poaching and decides to hold her captive.
Meghan’s brothers have been engaged in some good old-fashioned raiding, and although Piers has rather enjoyed the give-and-take, the one-upsmanship, he has fallen in love at first sight with Meghan. Though he is betrothed to Meghan’s best friend, the wan and docile Alison, he decides that marrying Meghan is best for him and best for gaining peace for his king, David.
Meghan invokes the madness the women in her family are known for. Not just your typical feisty kicking and screaming for her, she believes her way out of this mess is to convince the Lyon that she is loony and declares the lamb is her grandminnie Fia. Rather than being horrified that this woman he covets is loopy, he plays along with her, thrilled at the game he is playing with this beauty.
With lots of slapstick, this scenario plays itself out for much of the book. I adored it, especially the scene where Lyon wakes up in the morning and takes Meghan’s “grandminnie out to piss”. Granted, Tanya Anne Crosby found a clever way to bring in the same bodily function in the first book of this series, The MacKinnon’s Bride, but where that book fell very short of being a good read, this book comes much closer.
As with The MacKinnon’s Bride, this book’s dialogue is written with a Scots brogue. But whereas that was a problem in that book, it was not a problem in Lyon’s Gift, where the brogue enhanced Meghan’s earthiness. And, while in Bride I couldn’t relate to the heroine, I enjoyed Meghan a great deal.
The meat of this story comes from Piers trying to convince Meghan it would be a good thing to marry him. On the one hand, she’s trying to convince him she’s nuts so he’ll let her go. On the other hand, she knows if she marries him, she can secure the peace – maybe. But it rankles her knowing that he only wants her for her beauty.
This book became a bit cumbersome about two-thirds of the way through it , when Meghan and Piers begin to learn about each other underneath their skin. While this reviewer enjoyed the author’s use of Piers’ journal as a way for Meghan to get to know the real him, his musings moved things too much to an intellectual level. As for Piers, his re-awakening as a man was delightful, and I reveled in it. However, the author again lost me during part of Piers’ struggle between loving Meghan for her beauty and loving her for her mind.
I had no trouble when the struggle each put up was lusty or clever, but there was a bit of overkill in the dithering department and at times I wanted to say to each, “Get over it, already!”
The secondary characters in this book added much to the humor of the story. Meghan’s best friend Alison discovers herself and discovers true love along the way. While Alison’s secondary love story was interesting , I found it hard to believe that she was capable of concocting the plot she concocted in order to “save” Meghan. In the end, of course, her actions brought about Piers’ revelations about the true meaning of love, but Alison seemed to have come too far too fast.
I gave The MacKinnon’s Bride three hearts and found it an average read. Lyon’s Gift is clearly a superior book but does it rate four hearts? I try to be consistent in my reviewing, and when I see an author progressing from book to book, I cut her some slack. That slack, and the fact that there was no ridiculous villain concocted for suspense has resulted in my rating this book a four-heart read.
Tanya Anne Crosby has written a delightful romp here. If you like earthy, funny, Highland medievals, and can overlook about 60 pages that seem altogether too serious for these two kids, I think you’ll enjoy it. My recommendation to the author is to write more of what you write best – funny and sexy!