Desert Isle Keeper
The Blood of Roses
I was immediately drawn to this book by the cover. A blue plaid kilt in the background and an ornate sword with roses tied to it gave me the impression this would be a story of battles and love won and lost. Happily, that first impression was right on the money!
The Blood of Roses is the sequel to The Pride of Lions and continues the passionate love story of Catherine Ashbrooke, an Englishwoman who is married to Alexander Cameron, a Scottish Highlander outlaw. The book revolves around the Jacobite uprising and most specifically the Battle of Culloden, which takes place near the town of Inverness, Scotland in 1746 between England and Scotland, two countries torn apart by pride and war. The author’s research of not only the battle but the entire uprising from both the English and Scottish perspectives, was riveting. The scenes were so realistic, I could smell the sulfur and hear the boom of the cannons if I closed my eyes. Because of this realism, I sometimes found the scenes difficult to read.
Catherine and Alexander begin as adversaries, forced into a marriage neither one wants. After a very brief time together, they fall in love, only to have Alexander send Catherine back to England, where he believes she will be safe from the ravages of war. This is where The Blood of Roses picks up the story. As Bonnie Prince Charlie and his army of Scottish Highlanders march closer to London, Catherine and Alex reunite and reaffirm their love, until Alex is summoned away from Catherine’s side to fight for what he believes in.
However, Alex doesn’t count on Catherine’s spirit – her will to survive, her desire to stay at his side. Tragic and violent circumstances reunite the couple in the middle of chaos and war where traitors abound and betrayal runs high. Catherine and Alex vow to never let Man, King, or Country keep them apart again.
I was taken in by the sensual love story between these two strong-willed characters. Catherine loves a man whose beliefs go against everything she was brought up to believe. Alexander carries a painful past that has had him living the life of an outlaw until he can finally face the demons that haunt him and move forward. Both of these characters are stubborn and willful and love with a passion that burns.
There is a secondary romance I found to be fascinating. Catherine’s maid, Deirdre, who eventually becomes Catherine’s confidante and friend, is a spunky Irish woman who risks her own life for Catherine and for the love she has found with Alex’s best friend, Aluinn. Deirdre and Aluinn find love and happiness until war tears them apart. The story has several more secondary characters that add to the intrigue of this book.
The only weakness about this book are scenes that tend to be graphic. However, war isn’t pretty and the scenes are very real. The author did an excellent job of capturing the pain, death, and senseless loss of war. The Battle of Culloden was a very tragic and bloody battle and is a large part of Scotland’s history. I was able to clearly envision the death and pain of both sides with bodies littering the moor. A scene depicting Catherine and Deirdre making their way among the dead looking for the men they love was heart wrenching. They were strong women doing something I probably couldn’t. There is a happy ending to this story but at great cost to a lot of the characters – as was most likely true for the real life Highlanders and Englishmen.
This is a fantastic story that kept my nose glued to the book. I couldn’t put it down. Read both The Pride of Lions and this excellent sequel, The Blood of Roses. Marsha Canham is definitely an author to watch for and one I highly recommend!