Sometimes I’m just in the mood to read a completely over-the-top romance. Those are the times when I’m looking for characters who are larger than life and have all kinds of vivid adventures. Pamela Clare’s latest novel, the first in a new series, has its rough spots, but her tale of romance set during the French and Indian War certainly has its fill of adventure.
Lady Anne Burness Campbell finds herself an indentured servant in the Colonies thanks to the machinations of her e-e-e-vil Uncle Bain. And if that weren’t bad enough, she also finds herself caught in the middle of an Abanaki Indian massacre. Just as her death appears imminent, she is rescued by Iain MacKinnon, a Ranger fighting with the British Army. Iain rescues Anne and takes her back to his camp, where she will be safe.
Anne is a Campbell and, like most Argyll Campbells, she comes from a family of Protestants and royal sympathizers. Iain, on the other hand, is an exiled Highland Catholic – and the sworn enemy of the Campbells. Fearing this, Anne does not reveal her true name and heritage to Iain. As their initial mistrust turns to respect and even to affection within the British camp, Anne’s misrepresentations lie heavily on her conscience. The love story between Anne and Iain is a passionate one, and Clare’s handling of the conflict inherent in their backgrounds is also well-handled for the most part.
Iain will likely be quite popular with those who like alpha heroes since he is probably the most alpha hero I’ve read in quite some time. He knows who he is and what he wants in life and does not flinch from doing what he thinks is right to accomplish his goals. His strength is largely admirable, but there are times when his decisiveness crosses the line into jerkiness and that did take a bit away from the romance for me. Though less forceful than Iain, Anne is also a strong woman in her own right and she has very definite beliefs and opinions of her own. At times, she and Iain relate well to each other, but on other occasions Iain takes an “I know better than you, so it’s my way or the highway” approach and forces Anne into decisions rather than discussing them with her. Some readers find this loss of power for the heroine romantic, but it’s a tendency I find distinctly unattractive. For me, the best heroes don’t prove their strength through coercion and the issuing of edicts, but rather by respecting the heroine and relating to her as an intelligent equal.
Clare’s novel is very well-researched, and the French and Indian War setting is an unusual, vivid one that many readers will enjoy. The author evokes her setting wonderfully, and her secondary characters are interesting for the most part. With the exception of Anne’s uncle, even many of her villains have a moral ambiguity that make them more interesting than the usual caricature of evil found in some novels. Iain’s tendency to be a little too alpha and one exceedingly unromantic love scene lead me to give this book a qualified recommendation, but readers looking for a passionate romance and plenty of adventure will likely enjoy this story.